Loving Myself for God’s Sake

Am I being greedy?

I pushed the question aside, but it kept coming back. Should I really be co-facilitating both offerings of Living from the Heart that will be held in B.C.’s Lower Mainland in 2019? Even though I had carefully discerned with the other facilitators that this was the way to go, I began to second-guess myself.

I know a number of people who would love the opportunity to facilitate. And training new facilitators would enable SoulStream to offer the Living from the Heart course in other locations. Was my selfishness getting in the way of progress?

My spiritual director invited me to bring these questions to God. I closed my eyes and imaged myself again as a bird held tenderly in Jesus’ hands. But this time, instead of being snuggled into his chest, I was lifted up to his face. He was looking into my eyes and smiling. I heard what he was thinking: Don’t worry about taking someone else’s place, I can give them what they need in a thousand different ways. 

“I get the sense that this is a gift for me,” I told my director. “God will love others through it because that’s the nature of love, but it seems important to God that I know that facilitating this course in this time and place is a gift given to me, for me.”

When I said that out loud, it didn’t sound selfish or greedy. It sounded honouring to God. God, who knows me inside and out, knows what gives me life and wants me to receive it.

A week later, Fred and I are on the Sunshine Coast. In the early morning, I zip up my jacket and, with coffee in hand, go outside to pray with my eyes open. Low clouds cling to the hills along the shore. I hear a tinkle and three dogs emerge from a sailboat moored at the marina. Then a man gets out and closes the hatch to keep the warm air in. The dogs stretch and scamper up the wharf; the man follows.

I reflect on something I’d read in Gerald May’s book, The Dark Night of the Soul. May talks about how God brings freedom by transforming our desires. He writes,

The twelfth-century abbot and spiritual writer St. Bernard of Clairvaux explains one way in which this happens. We usually begin, he says, by seeking gratification and fulfilment through our own devices. He calls this “love of self for one’s own sake.” When life teaches that this doesn’t work, we then turn to God, a higher power, and seek the consolations that are given through grace. In Bernard’s words, this is the “love of God for one’s own sake.” Gradually, we find ourselves falling in love not with the consolations of God, but with the God of consolations: the “love of God for God’s sake.” In the atmosphere of this love, Bernard says we finally begin to discover how loveable we ourselves are: “love of self for God’s sake.”

I’ve read about these four ways of loving before but never liked them because I’d always understood them as stages of maturity. I felt disheartened because I never seem to get past loving myself or God for my own sake. But May says that transformation doesn’t happen in a linear fashion.

The dogs and their master return. It’s silent again, then I hear a creature break the surface of the water, exhale loudly, and submerge into the deep. I scan the sea beyond the dock and hear it again. A sea-lion.

This is my gift to you, for you, Jesus had said. I remember the joy it gave him to see me receive it. Now I know why. I was loving myself for God’s sake.

Jesus, the very thought of thee
with sweetness fills the breast;
but sweeter far thy face to see,
and in thy presence rest.
–St. Bernard of Clairvaux

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

I’ve taken up the challenge of keeping a gratitude journal for thirty days. Every morning after my silent prayer, I record at least three things I’m grateful for from the previous day. If you need a little inspiration to join me in this love mischief, spend five minutes watching this video by Brother David Steindl-Rast.

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:
“Stones in hand”  by Hugo. Used with permission.
Quote from The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald May, page 97-98.
Photo of the Backeddy Resort and Marina by the Backeddy.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Right Where I Am

I looked at this drawing of an injured bird and felt tender inside. I lingered for a while with that feeling and the sense of being held. Then, in the retreat’s spacious silence, I reflected on a poem by Mary Oliver. It began like this:

In the afternoons,
in the almost empty fields,
I hum the hymns
I used to sing

in church.
They could not tame me,
so they would not keep me,
alas,

and how that feels,
the weight of it,
I will not tell
any of you,

not ever.

I looked at the wounded sparrow again and heard the words explode with meaning.

The hymns I used to sing … could not tame me … would not keep me … and how that feels … the weight of it … I will not tell … not ever.

Sadness welled up in me. For Mary Oliver. For myself. I thought of my leaving of one church to attend another nearly four years ago. The weight of it is not so heavy now, but apparently, it’s heavy enough to bring me to tears.

I saw Jesus’ hands holding me, gently bringing this wounded sparrow to his chest and stroking my head with his finger.

“Tell me about the weight of it,” he whispered.

I went for a walk and let the losses come to mind. It felt like a divorce: amicable, irreconcilable. It felt like walking by the house I grew up in and seeing a stranger through the window, washing their dishes at the sink, looking up at their family’s photos on the wall.

What stands out for me as I write and what I talked about in spiritual direction a few days later, was not my grief, but the experience of being held and seen. God saw the traces of my sadness and knew that I loved more deeply than I thought I did.

I talked and wept for the hour-long session, voicing the trembling beliefs I held in my cupped heart: God hears what I haven’t told anyone ever, not even myself.

“And where does that take you?” my director asked softly.

I shook my head. “Nowhere. There’s nothing I need to know … or do  … but rest and lean my head against God’s chest.”

Soon after that, I had the dream of the car crash. The next day I wrote about it. Later that week, my shoulder began to hurt. It got increasingly worse until I finally went to the emergency department of the hospital. I was convinced I’d pinched a nerve, but it was bursitis.

“Just rest and take anti-inflammatories,” the young doctor said.

I did and, though the pain was relentless, God was with me. God held the weight of it; God was in the core of my being, breathing in the pain and breathing out peace. God was behind the closet door whispering, “You’re not alone.” God was holding me tenderly, stroking my head.

Thankfully, my body began to heal. I’ve even had a few good nights’ sleep.

Mary Oliver goes on to say,

Once a deer

stood quietly at my side.
And sometimes the wind
has touched my cheek
like a spirit.

I know what that feels like. It feels like being okay right where I am because God is here too: the deer at my side, the wind touching my cheek.

He Will Know

When your heart is in despair
He will know
When you feel beyond repair
He will know
When your day is filled with tears
He will hear
When your night is filled with fear
He is near
When this world leaves you behind
He will know
When it all seems so unkind
He will know.

–Music and Lyrics by Byron O’Donnell and Brian Wakelin,
Performed by Steve Bell on Devotion.

Love Mischief for the World

I am so grateful for the Love Mischief of Steve Bell. He finds and sings songs that God wants to sing to us. Thank you, too, to Byron O’Donnell and Brian Wakelin who wrote this song (lyrics above). Thank you for sharing your experience of God’s love in those days when the weight of life was too much.

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:
Drawing of the wounded bird in hands by Olive B. Chan. Used with permission.
The excerpt above is from “The Beautiful, Striped Sparrow” by Mary Oliver, in Thirst 
Brown Deer under Tree by Photo by Devon Rockola from Pexels. CCO Creative Commons
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Helpful Images, Poetry, Praying with the Imagination, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Caught One

I caught a dream.

I dreamt I was driving someone else’s car and giving a few friends a ride. We got in and I took off, then traffic slowed down. I applied the brakes but the car didn’t respond as quickly as I expected. We slid into the car in front of us. The impact was not hard, but it was hard enough to cause damage to both cars. Another friend was driving behind us, and he took my passengers where they needed to go. I was left to deal with the accident which wasn’t in my plan for the day. That’s when I woke up.

The day before a directee told me about a dream she’d had. It had profoundly impacted her. This made me pay attention to my dream. The first thing I noticed was that my reaction to the mishap wasn’t catastrophic nor was the outcome. In the past, if I imagined having an accident, I would feel panic and shame, but I was calm in my dream. I did all I could to prevent hitting the car in front of me except anticipating that the car I was driving needed extra time to stop.

I was disappointed that my day was disrupted. I had to change my plan and deal with the damage. I also had to learn to drive this car differently if I was going to keep driving it (or get the brakes fixed.)

The pivotal question was the significance of the car. I thought about my life and what seemed to fit the metaphor. It didn’t take long for me to admit–even though I didn’t want to–that it was my body. It’s not the body I used to have even ten years ago. It needs to be driven differently and, if it isn’t, I will feel the effects and others will too.

God’s message was gentle without a hint of blame or shame. Take care of your body. Be careful how you drive it. 

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
–Psalm 32:8 (NRSV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Last week a fellow came to the Wednesday Lunch Club. He was sick from sleeping in a moldy sleeping bag and tent. I called Progressive Housing Society to get a number for a local shelter and they told me to call 211, a help hotline. I did and the woman who took my call told me what shelters in our area had space available and emailed me their addresses. It would have taken me hours to get the information she had at her fingertips. According to bc211‘s website,  it “is a nonprofit organization that specializes in providing free information and referral regarding community, government and social services in BC.” The website and hotline help BC residents find help when in an emergency or crisis or in need of counseling, financial assistance, housing, employment, medical services, victim services and more. If you’ve contributed to United Way, you’ve supported bc211’s Love Mischief.

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:
“dream catch me when I fall” by Joslynn Gallant. Used with permission.
keys in hand by Sephelonor at Pixabay. CCO Creative Commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mindfulness, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sardines in the Dark

“Hannah? Hannah?” Hadrian called out in the dark. But there was no answer. The silence confirmed his deduction: Hannah had found our hiding place. He was on his own.

Our grandchildren, Hadrian and Hannah, love to play Sardines in the Dark. It’s a version of Hide and Seek. The person who’s “it” hides. When the seekers find the one hiding, they squeeze in beside them until the last person discovers them draped over each other. Playing this at night with the lights out is what makes it so much fun. You’d think that after a few years our grandkids would get bored with the game. Our three bedroom townhouse isn’t very big. But here we were again.

It was my turn to hide. I sat on shoes in the hall closet, closed the door and waited. One by one, counting to twenty in between, the eleven-year-old cousins and Fred came through the front door. Fred found me almost immediately. Then Hannah. We stifled our giggles and were as still as mice.

I heard Hadrian search the bedrooms a second time and come back.

He was inches away when he called out again.”Hannah? Fred?” His voice trembled; it wasn’t fun anymore. My compassion for him made it too hard to sit still. I knew Fred was feeling the same angst. We squirmed in our cramped spots “accidentally” bumping into the closet door.

Hadrian pulled open the door. “I found you!” he said with great relief. I gave him a hug.

“That was scary,” he said. Then a minute later, he grinned and shooed us outside. “Now it’s my turn to hide.”

I kept thinking about Hadrian’s mounting fear of being alone and my mounting desire to be found. It gives me such a visceral sense of God’s desire to be found that it has lingered with me all week. I’m often in the dark, wondering what to say next in spiritual direction or trying to figure out how to handle a complicated situation.

“You’re not alone,” I wanted to whisper to Hadrian in the darkness.

“You’re not alone,” God whispers to me.

I will let you find me, says the Lord.
–Jeremiah 29:14 (NRSV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

I made Buddha bowls with miso gravy for Scrabble night. A study, published in the journal Science, shows that avoiding meat and dairy is the single most effective way we can help the environment. According to The Guardian, “The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75% – an area equivalent to the US, China, European Union and Australia combined – and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.” My love mischief got two thumbs up from Hadrian’s mom who owns Vegan Yarn and her pal, Karina Inkster, a personal trainer and the author of Vegan Vitality, a plant-based cookbook and active living guide.

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:
“.jus let me iN” by Sippanont Samchai. Used with permission.
Photo of Buddha bowl by Ingrid Dahl. Used with permission.
“Found Me” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Shame’s Spell

Jesus pushes me out of uncomfortable places
and pulls me into them.
–Steve Garnaas-Holmes

I almost said no to co-facilitating Living from the Heart next year because it makes me uncomfortable at times. I’ve told you how it tosses me about. I don’t like feeling anxious that I’ll do something wrong or fearing the sting of messing up. Yet, when I was at the intensive this fall and experienced those feelings again, although they were uncomfortable, I survived. The world didn’t come to an end, and I was able to recognize that whatever “mistakes” I did make could be used–like everything else–for God’s glory.

I returned from Living from the Heart with energy and lightness, a deeper trust in God and more affection for my co-facilitators.

Not long afterwards, we met on Skype to debrief our week together. We welcomed each other warmly, began with silence and prayer, and checked in. Then we held the question: What stood out for you as a gift or a challenge during the intensive–or in our team?

I was fine until I heard the last three words. I felt myself go cold and a little ball of panic gathered in my chest. Would I hear that I had hurt my friends or let them down in some way? I bit my lip and focused on my breathing for a moment. I could trust that their kindness and love was real.

We shared many things we were grateful for. I can’t remember any challenges that were voiced that I needed to be concerned about. After the video call, I noticed I was tired. The ball of panic had eased, but I could still feel it. I gave it some space and realized it was shame. Now the uncomfortable feelings that toss me about have a name.

It’s shame that makes me want to avoid whatever or whoever triggers it. Yet, I have never felt shamed by my colleagues.

As I held that feeling of shame, I knew I didn’t need to be afraid of them or the situations that trigger it. It’s an irrational reaction tied to past experiences when I felt betrayed by people I trusted. Besides, I know what it’s like when the shoe’s on the other foot and what I’ve said causes someone else to feel ashamed while I feel nothing but love for them.

Yet shame’s spell can be strong. It must be ten years ago now that I ended a friendship because every time I was with a certain person, I felt bad about myself. Despite the fact that no one else who knew the woman had a bad thing to say about her, I was convinced that she was the source of my shame. That’s how real it can feel. It has taken me this long to realize it isn’t true.

Shame’s spell has been broken. Maybe not completely. But because Jesus pulled me into that uncomfortable place and pushed me out of it, it doesn’t have the power over me it used to.

God reached all the way
    from sky to sea; he pulled me out
of that ocean of hate…
He stood me up on a wide-open field;

    I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!
–Psalm 18:16,19 (MSG)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

I was saddened to hear that beloved pastor and author of The Message (and many other books), Eugene Peterson, has entered hospice care.  Here is a video of Bono and Eugene made in 2016. They talk about how the Psalms help us pray honestly.

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:
Shame image by Pixabay. Creative Commons.
Opening quote from Who do you say I am? by Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Painting of girls by Jessie Wilcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935)
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, Mindfulness, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Enliven Us

Open in me the gates of the kingdom, I prayed before church on Sunday, hoping something in the service would enliven me. But God’s still, small enlivening was not in a hymn, the sermon or Eucharist as much as it was in the people and what I heard in conversations before and after worship.

Aggressive cancer … exhausted and weeping … what a little girl needed to do to be loved … overwhelmed and just getting through.

If these four people were my directees and the conversations happened in spiritual direction, we would have an hour to open to God and what is going on for them. We would share an intention to receive God’s loving action in their lived reality.

But what can I do in these brief encounters? I hold what they carry and feel compassion rise. I can pray for them as they come to mind through the day. But it doesn’t feel like enough.

This time of year I prepare those who are praying the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises to meditate on the Principle and Foundation. I offer them a few translations or paraphrases including this one by Jacqueline Bergen and Sr. Marie Schwan. It begins like this:

Lord, my God
when your love spilled over into creation 
you thought of me 
I am made from Love,      of Love      for Love. 

I close my eyes and recall the people who spoke with me on Sunday. I imagine God’s love spilling over and creating them “from Love, of Love, for love.” Their creation or enlivening (en-life-ing) began at the genesis of all things. Enlivening is happening now–moment by moment–whether we see it or not.

Further down in the prayer, it says,

Teach me reverence for every person, all things.

I hold each person, tenderly, lovingly. I reverence not only them but what God is doing in “all things”–the cancer, the weeping, the memory brought to mind, the heavy load.

The next line says:

Energize me in your service.

Yes, I will help carry their burden. Energize me, Lord, to do what you ask–no more, no less. Enliven us, your church.

Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

–Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

The Grade Two teacher asked the facility manager at the school (aka my husband, Fred) if he could tell her what’s in the storage shed. Two of her students were trying to break into it to see what was inside, and she thought the information would assuage their curiosity. Fred had another idea. “Send them to me,” he said.

He placed a huge wad of keys into the boys’  hands and announced, “You’re holding the keys to every door in the school. What would you like to see?”

Their eyes grew wide. Every key. Every door. “The shed! The shed!” they exclaimed. And that’s where they started.

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:
Photo of a person on a bus from Pixabay.com. Creative Commons.
This statue was carved for Father Thomas Green, SJ (1932-2009) by Joe Crawford, December 1988.  Steve Imbach writes, “We visited Father Tom in the Philippines and when our visit with him was over he told us to take it home; it was ours.  It now sits in the room I offer direction in.” Photo by Steve Imbach. Used with permission.
Photo of keys in a child’s hands by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Creation, Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Reflections, Spiritual Direction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

This Is My Prayer

The kingdom of God is justice and peace 
and joy through the Holy Spirit
Come, Lord, and open in us
the gates of your kingdom.
Taizé Community

Notice it’s not “open to us” but “open in us.” The gate is in us and it’s God who opens it.

Come, Lord, and open in me the gates of your kingdom.

This is my prayer. It helps me when I’m in that not caring that I don’t care place. It opens me to cherish what I do care about and let go of what I don’t need to be responsible for. It also helps me be gentle with myself when I haven’t quite found the balance.

Sometimes I have blinders on. I don’t see how what I’ve done affects others–until I’m told. Then my apologies can’t be stacked high enough. Oh, that uncomfortable discovery of awareness.

This time when it happened, I spent a restless night wondering how I’d missed something so obvious. I was grateful that my friend told me how she was affected and that she said it without blame or judgment. Although I regretted what I’d done, I didn’t beat myself up or fear rejection as I have in the past. Instead, I wondered what God might bring out of it all.

Is that not evidence of the kingdom? God opened the gate for me to receive justice and peace: awareness and compassion.

I’m humbled that I needed God to open the gate of self-awareness. Yet that is a gift as well–even if it isn’t warm and fuzzy.

A participant at Living from the Heart was caught in the old “doing” versus “being” dilemma. Jeff Imbach, a co-facilitator, said, “The contemplative way isn’t about doing or being; it’s about receiving.”

Yes. Receiving the kingdom–humbly like a child. This is my prayer.

Jesus called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” –Matthew 18:2-5 (NRSV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Today’s post was inspired by the Pray As You Go meditation for October 2, 2018. “Pray as you go is a ten-thirteen minute daily prayer session, designed to go with you wherever you go, to help you pray whenever you find time but particularly whilst travelling to and from work, study, etc. It is not a ‘Thought for the Day’, a sermon or a Bible study, but rather a framework for your own prayer to help you   become more aware of God’s presence in your life, listen to and reflect on God’s word, and grow in your relationship with God.” —Pray As You Go

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:
The Open Gate by mario. Used with permission.
Jesus with the children by Michael D. O’Brien. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Ignatian Spirituality, Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sometimes I Don’t Care

Sometimes
I don’t care

and I don’t care
that I don’t care.

I’m tired of feeling guilty
for my lack of compassion
for eating too much
for not trying to be more Christlike
and
I don’t want to figure out
what makes me not care
that I don’t care.

I carry not caring around with me
as if it were an empty clay pot
shifting it from hip to hip
without relief.
Sometimes
I want to climb into it
and stay there.

There’s a message on my answering machine.
A friend who’s disabled wants a ride home from Bible Study.
The person who usually drives won’t be there.
It means I have to bring my car when
I wanted to walk.
It takes a while before I come to my senses.
I phone him back. Sure I can do that.
I drive others home too.
It feels good to be kind.

But not good enough to relieve me of my burden.

If I could put down this pot
believe me, I would.
It’s as awkward as hell
shifting the weight
resisting temptation
waiting for the gift
–if there is one–
to be revealed.

I’m just me, with my own journey, with my own unique pain, my own experience of rejection, my own needs. Can I just claim them and trust that if I am faithful to my own unique story, I will meet God right there, right in my pain.—Henri Nouwen, Interview with Brian Stiller

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Here’s a new film on Father Greg Boyle, SJ of Homeboy Industries and their work helping former gang members on the road to recovery and wholeness. Father G’s book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion tells his story. I can’t tell you how often I quote it.

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:
Photo of the pots by johannatherealtor on Pixabay CCO Creative Commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poetry, Poverty of Spirit, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Living from the Heart

Today a new cohort will gather at Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island to begin the Living from the Heart course. I’ll be there too, co-facilitating with Deb, Jeff, and Brent. I expect the participants will be excited and a little nervous, perhaps wondering: Where will this way of living take me? Will I fit in? Some will ask themselves what the heck they were thinking and consider changing their minds. I know, because I’ve heard confessions like this a few days into the course. I also hear, “I’m so glad I stayed.”

What does it mean to “live from the heart”? We know how to live from our heads: obtaining good counsel, thinking things through. But I heard of a study showing that most decisions are not made with our minds but with our emotions. That’s a tricky prospect. And what about our bodies. How many times do we sacrifice our health to meet a deadline? Often our bodies don’t have a say.

In scripture, the “heart” is not synonymous with emotions. The heart is the core of all of who we are. It contains our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and volitional energies. And right in the middle of that is God who dwells within our hearts (1 Co 3:16).

Imagine the conversation that happens in that place! Imagine God listening with compassion to all that is going on in you–all that has made you who you are, all the mess, all the glory, and all your deepest longings. When we are listened to, understood, and completely loved by our Creator, we are freed to be good and just. We are freed to be ourselves.

We all want that. Of course we do, because God at the core of our being wants that. And that’s why, despite the nervousness of a new beginning, people come to Living From The Heart. That’s why you keep showing up for prayer. That’s why you are reading my blog.

We were made to live from our hearts.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
–Psalm 32:8

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Love Mischief for the World

I made the collage above at a SoulStream annual gathering a couple of years after I joined this dispersed contemplative Christian community. Praying with the images that I cut out and glued down helped me listen with God to my heart and let go of what I was holding onto out of fear. Living from the Heart is one of the courses offered by SoulStream, and I am so glad I get to participate in the love mischief that happens there.

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:
“Love Heart” By Louise Docker from Sydney, Australia (My heart in your hands) CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of my collage by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission:).
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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A New Kind of Happy

It was raining and the forecast was for rain all week. I wouldn’t have minded if it was a typical week of writing, seeing directees, and going to the Wednesday Lunch Club, but all that was scheduled for the next seven days was camping with Fred on Vancouver Island, bike rides and walks on the beach. The weather changed all that.

After my initial disappointment, I felt invited to let go of what I’d planned and open myself to something new. What could we do on a rainy week at home?

I didn’t want to fill it with work, but I was grateful to get caught up on a few things. However, those few things took longer than I thought they would and the fun stuff we did wasn’t as much fun as we’d hoped.

Midweek, there was a break in the weather. Fred and I drove down to Point Roberts and walked along the shore under blue skies. Fred said that the moment he smelled the ocean, he was able to relax and be in vacation mode. But I had a headache and an unresolved issue I kept thinking about.

It poured rain on the drive home. “Maybe we should have gotten a last-minute flight to some vacation spot,” I said.

“Yeah,” Fred replied. “We could have been sitting under a palapa eating hamburguesas right now.”

Thursday morning in prayer, I remembered Fred coming to the ocean and being instantly at peace. I couldn’t do that until I fixed my world or flew out of it. But what if God was offering what Fred found: peace in the middle of it?

The “something new” I was being invited to wasn’t a different pleasurable experience. It was receiving pleasure at God’s right hand.

I am happiest when the sun is shining, all my work is done, and no one is upset with me. But God didn’t deliver those things. God just took my hand and showed me that a new kind of happy was possible.

You will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
–Psalm 16:11

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Love Mischief for the World

The Society To End Homelessness in Burnaby is inviting people who live and work in Burnaby to participate in the four public dialogues on the overdose crisis. Karen O’Shannacery of the Society writes, “While the health providers and social services are responding, the health care system alone cannot keep people safe from the poisoned illicit drug supply.  The community is part of the solution, and needs to come together to understand the crisis, the resources available, and think differently about people who use drugs.” The dialogues are scheduled for Sept 26, October 16 and 27, and November 8. More information here.

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:
“Splash!” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
“If you can’t beat it… enjoy it.” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
Photo of hands painted on fence from Pxhere CCO Public Domain.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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 2013-2018.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Homelessness, Mindfulness, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments