Turn to Wonder

Everything belongs: God uses everything.
There are no dead ends. There is no wasted energy.
Everything is recycled.
–Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs

Saturday morning of the opening weekend of Living from the Heart in Abbotsford, we gathered for morning prayers in the Mark Centre. Audrey led with a few words from the printed liturgy that helped us open to God and to the day. Then we paused to listen to a song. We were well into it when I noticed that the name of the song written on the page I held was not the one I was playing. That was unsettling.

We were a new team, in a new location, in a new retreat space, offering the Living from the Heart course in a new format. “That’s a whole lot of new,” God seemed to say when we arrived. “Be gentle with yourselves.”

I looked around the room. People had their eyes closed and were drinking in the sound and images. I chose to let it be and as I did, I realized that I could play the “right” song at the end, and I did.

It wasn’t the way it was supposed to go, but I’m intentionally not using the word “mistake” to describe what happened. As Richard Rohr says, “God uses everything.” Could it be that the “wrong” song was just what someone needed to hear at that moment?

The idea that everything belongs was a theme we taught and lived as the weekend unfolded. God used whatever happened–planned and unplanned–to love and heal us and to deepen our love for each other. Some divine love mischief was happening. I’d love to tell you specific examples, but that would be telling tales out of school.

On the opening night, before we invited everyone to share a bit about themselves, we reviewed Parker Palmer’s Circle of Trust Guidelines. One of those guidelines says, “When the going gets rough, turn to wonder.” That’s been my invitation when life doesn’t go the way I’d like it to–when I lose my passport, play the wrong song, or meet a part of myself I’m not so fond of.

The journey from “Oh No!” to “Oh, well” begins with an uncomfortable surprise, at best or a shock, at worst. I feel anxious, concerned, sometimes panicky. I’m learning to feel what I feel, hold Jesus’ hand, and breathe through it, the way I did with labour pains that heightened and passed before our son was born.

Ever since I was young, when life didn’t go the way I wanted it to, I labelled it “bad.” But the story of the farmer has moved me to a “maybe.” Maybe it’s not good or bad. Maybe it just is. Maybe God is birthing something wondrous in it–and in us.

God changes water into wine, death into life, and a new team of facilitators into friends of the Bridegroom. That fills me with wonder.

Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
—Romans 8:28 (The Message)

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Love Mischief for the World

I’m so grateful to be co-facilitating  SoulStream’s Living from the Heart (Abbotsford) with Audrey Hoehn and Brent Unrau. I’ve learned so much from them, and they are a lot of fun. SoulStream is a dispersed contemplative Christian community that seeks to live authentically with Jesus by encouraging one another to receive the gift of God’s intimate and loving presence in all of life.

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Photo of water droplets on a leaf by Brent Unrau. Used with permission.
“Moonbeams” by Jessie Wilcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935)
Photo of Audrey, Brent and me by Donelda Seymour. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, Mindfulness, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fred Saves the Day

“I have my passport,” Fred said on Sunday night, “but I can’t find yours.”

We were going to Bellingham, Washington the next day to pick up my books and have lunch with friends. We needed our passports to cross the border.

I’ll spare you the minute-by-minute anguish we went through as we looked everywhere we might have put it, knowing there really were only a few places where it could be. Fred ended up going online and getting a business licence as an importer/exporter and picked up the books the next day without any difficulty.

Meanwhile, I had an empty day. I spent it reviewing what I needed to present at Living from the Heart this weekend. I was grateful for the time to put everything in order unrushed. Fred returned tired but grateful for the lunch and conversation he shared with our friends and pleased that he had saved the day.

It sounds like an “Oh, well” story–shrug your shoulders and look on the bright side. But it didn’t start out that way. As I write this on Tuesday morning, it’s been thirty-six hours since we discovered my passport was missing. The adrenalin in my arms tells me my body is still bracing itself for what else might go wrong while the boxes of books in front of me raise an eyebrow.

Thirty-six hours ago, I was someone who doesn’t lose their passport and had things under control. Now I see I am not the person I thought I was, and it rankles me.

Something similar happened last week when I saw that I can be arrogant and bossy at times. A friend saw it too. When I apologized, she laughed and said, “I know what you’re like and can accept who you are.”

That didn’t make me feel good. I wanted her acceptance but I didn’t want her to validate my faults. She sent me a text later telling me how much she valued our friendship. That was sweet. I value our friendship too, especially her honesty, even though it’s humbling.

Here is God again, coming to my rescue, meeting me in my delusions about myself with scratchy self-awareness and loving acceptance.

I was neurotic for years. I was anxious and depressed and selfish. Everyone kept telling me to change. I resented them and I agreed with them, and I wanted to change, but simply couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried. Then one day someone said to me, Don’t change. I love you just as you are. Those words were music to my ears: Don’t change, Don’t change. Don’t change . . . I love you as you are. I relaxed. I came alive. And suddenly I changed! — Anthony de Mello

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Love Mischief for the World

Brent Unrau, who also co-facilitates Living from the Heart, forwarded this video by The Kwerks who are a part of Southpointe, the church he attends. It’s so beautiful; it makes me want to “find my loud.” The Kwerks’ are Laura and Ryan Koch. Their website tells me they are “a married couple who dropped everything to pursue music, and in a few short years have built up an eager west coast fan base that has been itching for each new release they offer. The Kwerks’ warm harmonies and fresh folk sound will have you tapping your toe and singing along in minutes, only to realize the lyrics are as authentic as the duo’s straightforward acoustic vibe.”  Thank you, Laura and Ryan for the love mischief you do with God for the world!

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Photo of mural of little girl and balloon from Pixabay. Creative commons.
“Friendship” by Felipe Bastos. Used with permission.
Anthony de Mello quote from The Song of the Bird
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, False Self, Poverty of Spirit, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Into the Light

Life has slowed down. My books have arrived; my calendar isn’t jammed. I can linger over meals and leave my phone in my pocket when I walk to the store.

I shed an old skin in the rough darkness. After writing about it last week. I’ve been pondering these questions: What did I leave behind there? What did I receive?

This is what I noticed.

Generally, the only time I write is in the morning and the only place is in my study. In that hallowed space, I feel safe enough to listen deeply to my life. But this past month, I’ve found hallowed ground other places. I’ve written at the airport, while away on a course, and in a spare thirty minutes in the evening.

I noticed that in the endless editing to prepare Seed Cracked Open for publication, I would see something that looked odd and pass it off, see it again and pass it off. After a third or fourth time, I’d looked more closely and discover an error. It was only after I made this discovery that I noticed the pattern of look/deny etc. Becoming aware of this made me want to pay attention to any internal noticing and investigate it the first time I feel it.  It also made me appreciate that my inner teacher is persistent and will keep speaking up until it’s heard–not just in editing, but in all of life.

I noticed that when I’m anxious, I panic more easily. I’m more apt to misread an email or misinterpret a directive. Just knowing that calms me. I also noticed that God was aways calm even though I was anything but. That helped me do what I needed to do in the midst of my fear.

In the Mary Oliver poem I mentioned last week, the forest is a place of danger for the snake. He is somehow more vulnerable without his old skin. During that patch of darkness, I became more vulnerable too and talked with friends about the look-at-me little girl. I risked being judged for what I shared. Instead of judging me, my friends were vulnerable as well and shared their “me too” moment.

I have taken a bold step of faith. I’ve come to believe that my writing and publishing is a divine calling and a worthwhile investment of time, money and energy, even though I’m not a bestselling author, even though some people never finish reading my book and many will never read it at all.

I also know that while I value and honour writing and the time it takes in my life, it’s not all of my life. It’s not my identity.  I can forget about it a lot of the time and do.

In this new skin, I find that when I have to, I can do a lot more than I thought I could. I also know I don’t always have to.

The common theme in all these things is freedom. God has me free from thoughts and fears that have enslaved me for a long time. What a spacious place this is!

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves
be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
–Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

While I was writing this and last week’s post, I kept thinking of this song by David Wilcox. That led me to listen to more of his songs and watch a few youtube videos of his performances. What delightful love mischief! I also watched his Tedx performance and was surprised to see quite a few empty seats in the audience. I guess some people don’t read his “book” either. That didn’t seem to bother him one bit.

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
“Into the light” by Chris B scorpkris Wikimedia Creative Commons.
“Hand in Wild Grass” by Lloyd Morgan. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poetry, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Narrow Space Given

This fall life has been packed tightly, jobs tucked into every spare moment. I write emails on the fly, make phone calls while I walk. I have to keep moving.

It isn’t just that I have more commitments than usual. It’s that one of those commitments, publishing Seed Cracked Open, has been complicated, time-consuming and stressful. Uneasiness is a frequent, lingering visitor.

One morning I read Mary Oliver’s poem The Forest. It begins like this.

At night
under the trees
the black snake
jellies forward
rubbing
roughly
the stems of the bloodroot,
the yellow leaves,
little boulders of bark,
to take off
the old life.

I felt tears gather. I’ve been rubbing up against the bloodroot of self-doubt, little boulders of panic, and endless leaves of the tedious and necessary.

As I sit in my uneasiness now, I hear God’s gentle voice in my heart. “This is hard.”

I sit longer and remember the moment I was in church and knew that Jesus was calling me to publish this book. I recall the moment I was at Living from the Heart and understood that committing myself to this process wasn’t taking me away from the path; it was the path.  While receiving spiritual direction, I  heard, “I am so with you in this.” Those words echoed in my heart the morning I took a deep breath and pressed “Publish.”

The constricting, unrelenting unease is not telling me I’m doing anything wrong. This is what it feels like to shed an old skin.

Here’s how the poem ends.

At the back of the neck
the old skin splits.
The snake shivers
but does not hesitate.
He inches forward.
He begins to bleed through
like satin.

Does the snake hear the old skin split? He must feel it. I do. The tingly release, the slipping out of old ways of thinking.

Do not run or fly away in order to become free.
Rather go deep into the narrow space given you.
There you will find God and all things.
–Gustave Thibon

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Love Mischief for the World

This Saturday a bunch of my friends in the Wednesday Lunch Club who have been sleeping rough will be moving inside. They will have a home that is warm and dry. They will have the luxury of locking the door, clicking off the light and sleeping soundly, without fear of rainstorms, bears or being attacked. Fifty-two new homes with supports have been completed at 3986 Norland Avenue for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Burnaby. It will be operated by folks I know at Progressive Housing Society who have big, kind hearts. I am so happy for my friends.

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Image of forest from Pxhere. Creative Commons.
The Forest, New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver, 1992
Narrow path in Chandigarh’s Rock Garden, Chandigarh, North India, by shankar s. Used with permission.
Photo of door keys from Pixabay. Creative Commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poetry, Reflections, Wednesday Lunch Club, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arms Wide Open

Last week I was in Cochrane, Alberta attending a week-long course for spiritual directors. The first night I anticipated the Will-I-fit-in? jitters, but instead, I found myself unconcerned about whether I belonged or not.

I was beginning to relax into this new freedom when something disconcerting came to my awareness. I noticed how much I enjoyed any special attention I got from our teacher, Lucy Abbott Tucker. I also noticed a bit of disappointment whenever she recognized someone else and made them feel special. I experienced the same dynamic when I interacted with the other participants as well.

All week long a little child in me kept wanting to say, “Look at me! Look at me!” It was so annoying; I wished that kid would tone it down and give me a break.

In one of our sessions, Lucy talked about our feelings and the importance of welcoming each one and caring for it as if it were a vulnerable child.

What if I did that with my need for affirmation? What if Jesus and I did it together? I imagined how Jesus might be with her.

I pictured him looking her in the eyes and telling her how special she was. He didn’t ask her to tone it down or go away. He was kind to her and wanted me to be kind to her too.

At one point, Lucy stood in front of our class with a smile as wide as her outstretched arms. “This is how God receives us and this is how we want to receive everyone too–no one is excluded.”

No one. Not even my in-your-face little girl.

Will you welcome her? Jesus asked me.

When Jesus asks me stuff like that, looking all serious, I know he doesn’t mean just once.  I have a feeling this little girl is going to be with me for the rest of my life.

Just when I was wondering how I felt about that, a thought popped into my head, You probably wouldn’t have become a writer without her.

I’d always wondered if I write and publish because I want people to notice me. I know it’s not the entire reason I write. But it’s in there and maybe that’s okay.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
–Psalm 17:8

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Love Mischief for the World

I’m so excited. Our church is offering a free meal to our community once a month. It’s an opportunity for our neighbours to eat together and get to know one another. St.Stephen the Martyr is in the Lougheed Mall area of North Burnaby. Everywhere you look there are cranes and new buildings being built. The population is expected to increase by 20,000 people in the next few years. That’s 20,000 new neighbours, and I’m hoping to meet some of them.

During my 8-day retreat this summer, I prayed with the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. I imagined him sharing a meal with all his new friends and saying, “Isn’t this the best?” I think I’m not the only one who’s excited.

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Photo “Teacher’s Pet” by Matthew. Used with permission.
Image of Look-at-me kid from a collage I made in 2014 
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, community, Humour, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hopelessly Lost

“I don’t know where I am,” I shouted into the phone.

In truth, I had a good idea where I was, but I couldn’t quite explain it to Fred who was at home furiously trying to nail down my location on Google maps.

I was biking to Tsawwassen for a meeting and got turned around trying to get over the Alex Fraser bridge.  My friend Mei was driving to the same meeting. When I realized I wasn’t going to make it there on time, I called her. Thankfully I caught her before she left home. She could pick me up along the way, but the tricky part was that I needed to get over the bridge and onto Hwy 17 in time or she would drive past me.

With Fred on the other end of the phone, I found the bike route, but it was closed and signs pointed me to access the bridge a different way. When I got over the bridge no signs seemed to direct me to Hwy 17.

“Can you see Planet Ice?” Fred asked.

I looked around and saw the arched roof of a large blue building on the other side of four lanes of busy traffic and three concrete barriers.  “Yes,” I said, hoping I’d find a way under the highway to Planet Ice. I called Mei back and arranged to meet her there.

I retraced my route, and there was the blue building right in front of me! But the sign said Boomer’s Bar and Grill. My heart sank. I sped up and entered the parking lot where I saw a man lifting a bike out of his vehicle.

“Excuse me,” I said.”I’m hopelessly lost. I’m looking for Planet Ice.”

The man smiled and pointed to the entrance to the building behind me.

The words PLANET ICE couldn’t have been bigger.

“Hopelessly lost, eh?” he said with both humour and warmth.

Within a few minutes, Mei pulled into the parking lot, and we were on our way to Tsawwassen. We weren’t even late for our meeting.

I feel the adrenalin in my body now as I recall that crazy morning. When things like that happen, I blame myself for not taking a map, not giving myself more time, and not being more patient with Fred. I wish I wouldn’t get into situations that make me panic.

But when I shared my story over lunch that day and felt my friends’ compassion, I realized sometimes stuff just happens and, when it does, I panic. Even though I  know God is with me as surely as Planet Ice was right in front of me, I still panic. I wish I wouldn’t, but I do.

It’s humbling. I recall a time when a participant in Living from the Heart became aware of a disconcerting trait in herself. She too was hard on herself, but Deb, one of the facilitators, looked at her lovingly and said, “Can you be kind to yourself in this place?”

Deb’s words return to me now. I say to myself, “Esther, can you be kind to yourself when you get anxious and can’t do a thing about it? Will you be with yourself the way God is with you?”

I imagine God with me, like the man in the parking lot was–smiling warmly. I don’t feel blamed, just loved and reassured that I am right where I need to be.


A gentle word turns away wrath
.
–Proverbs 15:1 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

I met Susan Adams at our SoulStream retreat on Saturday. She writes Haiku poems daily as a spiritual practice. “The poems are not premeditated, they just seem to come out of nowhere and involve a very quick, very visceral response to my surroundings (usually nature). I felt moved to just jot down a few at our gathering.  Divine mischief?” she says. “So they are not high art, just me being quiet in the moment. Here are three from Saturday.”

O Lord be with me
When I am oft disheartened.
Walk with me t’ord light.

Let your heartbreak go
Blessings flowing from above.
Take this time – breathe deep.

Steam rise from kettles,
Muffins warm on plates abound,
I’m led to this place.
–Susan Adams

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
“Slightly confusing signs” by Dano. Used with permission.
“Bike on trail in Tsawwassen” from Wikipedia. Creative Commons.
Poems by Susan Adams used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, Poetry, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Seed Is Born

“Think of a situation that takes up considerable time and energy,” Jeff Imbach said to the participants at the Living from the Heart intensive last week.  We were at Rivendell Retreat Center on Bowen Island, sitting in a circle, opening to God who is with us in our everyday lives.

Jeff explained, “For example, the situation could be a co-worker or family member who is driving you crazy, a task that is tiresome and boring, a feeling of insecurity about a job. Close your eyes and notice how you respond to this experience? What are your first feelings, your first thoughts? Fear, anger, blame, analysis, fixing, judging?”

What came to my mind was the previous morning. I had a number of jobs to do before I left for Living from the Heart but felt anxious about one in particular. I had to submit my book Seed Cracked Open to be published. Pressing PUBLISH evoked a feeling of panic.

“Take a few moments to simply be with the situation from deep within yourself without thinking, judging, interpreting, or blaming, ” Jeff said. “What surfaces for you as you get beyond the thoughts and emotional responses to the situation? What physiological responses emerge–warmth, churning stomach, fear, pleasure?”

I pictured myself working at the computer. I hate being rushed for time. I recalled the unyielding tension in my throat, chest and arms. I felt it again sitting in the room as Jeff continued.

“Be with that response for a moment. Allow it to rise up in you. In this moment, you are engaged with the experience directly. Stay in that engagement.”

I felt like I was being squeezed into something that was getting smaller and smaller. I wanted to put it off and relieve the tension. But the book launch was set, and if I waited until after I got home again, my books might not arrive on time.

Fear. Panic. What if I missed something important? What if something goes wrong, and I get a shipment of books I’m disappointed with? What if people don’t like it or don’t care about it?

“Now, go deeper,” Jeff said, “until you are awake and aware. You know what you are thinking, you feel your reactive emotional responses (either positive or afflictive), but you are no longer consumed or controlled by the situation or your responses to it. You no longer need to deny it, conceptualize about it, or react to it. You are simply there with it and in it but not overwhelmed by it.”

As I became aware of my fears, a ribbon of space wove in between those feelings and my experience of pressing the key. In that space, I saw what God saw.

My “baby” was being born. She was coming into the world vulnerable, fragile and beautiful. I felt a sense of wonder and joyful responsibility.

“In that place open your heart to God’s loving presence deep within you, at the core of your being and rest there,” Jeff said.

I rested with this picture of God and me, proud parents of our new baby. With curiosity and delight, I wondered what was ahead for her on this journey. How would she be received? How will the world be different now that she has arrived?

You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
the days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.
–Psalm 139:14-16 (The Message)

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Love Mischief for the World

Here’s my baby. Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) hopes to make it available on Amazon next week. The book launch will be Friday, November 15 at 7:30 at St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church, 9887 Cameron Street, Burnaby, BC. If you’d like to come, please let me know. I’d love to see you there. Copies of Seed Cracked Open and Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim will be available for sale. I will read a few stories from my new book and tell you about my adventures on her journey from conception to birth.

Fred read Seed Cracked Open over one last time before I submitted it to KDP. He says, she’s a keeper.

You will find more about her here.

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Images are from Michael Cook‘s painting Night Prayer. Used with permission.
Quotes by Jeff Imbach © SoulStream 2019, used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Humour, Prayer, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Spiritual Direction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Step of Faith

I promised you that I would wear an orange shirt on Orange Shirt Day before I owned one. That made me nervous. I could have ordered a shirt specially made for that day, but the shipping was expensive, and I was sure it wouldn’t fit me well. The local store I thought had them, didn’t.

Fingers crossed, I went to a couple of thrift stores. I didn’t find one orange shirt; I found a dozen to choose from. I like the one I chose so much, I want to wear it every day.

God closed one door and opened another to something more than I hoped for.

I hold onto that story as the date for my book launch inches closer. I need to press “Publish” so the books arrive on time. But I can’t. I’m still waiting for permission from a publishing company to use a poem. It’s been over ten weeks now. Will it ever come?

On Sunday I’m trying to listen to the sermon and not stew about it. Ruth, our priest, talks about staying with uncomfortable feelings and taking them to God.

God, you know I don’t like uncertainties and having to rely on something that is out of my hands. But, I’m not in this pinchy place alone. You are here and know what I need.

Could the Provider of Orange Shirts be up to some love-mischief?

Ruth ends her sermon with a poem, I can’t believe it. That poem would work even better than the one I originally planned to use. God, do you really work that fast?

I email the author and the next morning, I receive permission to use his poem. In fact, he is delighted that what God has given him has found a place in my book.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.

–Hebrews 11:1 (NIV, 1973)

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Love Mischief for the World

Bases and Orphan Aid thrift stores are run by volunteers who want to make life better for children and families. Bases provide opportunities for children, youth, families in Burnaby that lead toward success and independence. “If a child wants to join a sports team but can’t afford the equipment or fees, we can help them,” a volunteer told me. The proceeds from Orphan Aid Thrift Store go to support the care and education of HIV-AIDS orphans in Zambia through the Abbottsford charity, Seeds of Hope Children’s Ministry.

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Photo of painting of knights attempting a leap of faith to reach the Holy Grail (from the feature film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) by Mary Harrsch. Used with permission.
Foggy Mountain by Lauri Sten. Used with permission.
Photo of Bases Thrift Store from basesburnaby.com, Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Humour, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Frog Trainer Retires

The image of trying to get all my frogs in a bowl keeps coming to mind whenever I notice a desire for things to go my way or fear that they won’t. This noticing brings a little more freedom. I can take a breath and let my desires and fears loosen their grip on me. I can envision letting go of what I think I need and begin to rest in the reality that I am enfolded in God. God is all I need.

Julian of Norwich says,

This is the reason why our hearts and souls are not at perfect ease. We seek refuge in small things, but cannot find comfort there. We do not recognize our God who is all-powerful, all-wise, and all-good. He is our only true rest.

Recently, I noticed my heart was not at ease and was tempted to “seek refuge in small things.” Julian’s words led me to ask:

What is bothering me?
What do I hope will bring comfort?

Sometimes it takes a while to name what’s going on. Eventually, I recognized that one of my life-long desires has been to be myself and be accepted. I have begun to notice that when my heart is not at ease, it is often because I’ve done something that I fear will cause another to pull away. Then I scramble to find ways to get the frog of acceptance back in my bowl.

But I have chosen to retire from frog training and let go of all the I-would-be-happier-ifs. That means letting go of my desire to be authentic and still belong. I already have that in Christ. What if I don’t need it from others as much as I think I do?

Wow. That’s a biggie. I can be misunderstood or ignored and not be undone by it. I admit, it will be uncomfortable, but I don’t need to change myself or try to change others to satisfy my desire for acceptance.

When I feel accepted, it’s golden, a gift I deeply treasure. But when I feel the pinch that I’m not acceptable, I can begin to picture myself saying “Oh, well” instead of “Oh, no!”

That “Oh, well” allows me to turn my gaze outward. My focus is no longer on getting what I desire. Instead, I can welcome and be present to the ones I am with.

Julian writes,

This lesson of love became the foundation of all the showings that were to come. Contemplation of God’s love gives the soul perspective. In light of this vastness, we behold our own littleness, and this fills us with awe and humility. It also awakens in us abundant love for all our fellow beings.

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
–Psalm 36:5 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. Phyllis Webstad’s story is the reason I am wearing an orange shirt that day. Every child matters.

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References
Image of frogs from pxhere. CCO public domain.
The Showings of Julian of Norwich by Mirabai Starr, p. 14, 17.
Two friends” by ASIM CHAUDHURI. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poverty of Spirit, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

All Shall Be Well

While Fred and I were camping at Rathtrevor Beach on Vancouver Island last week, I had an unusual dream. I dreamed that I was co-facilitating Living from the Heart and looked at the schedule. My name was next to the upcoming input session. How had I missed that? Seized with panic, I looked in my binder for my notes and wondered if I’d copied the handouts.

I often dream that I’m in charge of a situation I’m unprepared for and utter chaos ensues. But what was unusual in this dream is what happened next. My panic subsided and an inner confidence in God arose. I didn’t have a clear picture of how to proceed, my session started late, and one interruption followed another. Yet I was certain that something better would come of this than if things had gone as planned.

As I reflected on the dream, I sensed that God was inviting me to rest and trust. God knows I have a couple of busy months ahead. God also knows that when I get stressed about all I have to do, I relieve the stress by working harder to get things done. This dream encouraged me to relax and enjoy the beauty around me. All shall be well.

Back home again, that gift of peace remains. There is enough time to do what needs to be done. God is with me as I prepare for the Living from the Heart intensive later this month and what’s coming up in October and November.

“All shall be well,” wrote Julian of Norwich, a thirty-year-old medieval Englishwoman, after recovering from a life-threatening illness. During that ordeal, sixteen “showings” were revealed to her and, as soon as she was well, she recorded the details of them. Julian wrote,

It is the grace of God’s goodness that our souls seek and always will, until we come to know God directly and realize that he already has us enfolded in himself . . .

And so we can approach our Beloved with great devotion, asking for our heart’s desire, knowing that what we really want is God, and that all God really wants is us.

As I sit with my dream and Julian’s words, I am touched by how tenderly and completely God cares for us. I reawaken to the reality that even in the chaos I am enfolded in God. I have what I desire.

God is inside us and inside God is everything.
–Julian of Norwich

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Love Mischief for the World

My friends Nancy Bailey and Marcia Frethiem are co-facilitating a half-day prayer retreat called Connecting with God. It will be at St. Stephen the Martyr in Burnaby on October 5, 9:30 am-12:30 pm. Find out more and/or register here. I’ll be there and hope you can come too. “The Lord will fulfill God’s purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” —Psalm 138:8

What love mischief are you and God doing to care for the earth?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
Photo of Rathtrevor Beach by Yummifruitbat Creative Commons.
Photo of Evening high tide at Rathtrevor by Ruth Hartnnup. Used with permission.
The Showings of Julian of Norwich by Mirabai Starr, p. 68, 16,17, 24.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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