All of Me

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope,” I read in The Message and was comforted because that’s exactly where I was.

But the beatitude didn’t end there. It went on to say, “With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.” Suddenly I was a kid put in her place, poked in the chest: You think you’re so good.

I’m sure Jesus didn’t intend for me to hear his words that way, nor did Eugene Peterson who translated Matthew 5:3. But the verse made me angry whenever I thought about it, so I didn’t.

Soon afterwards, I read in Gerald May’s The Awakened Heart: Living Beyond Addiction that God is hoping for “unexpurgated prayer. . . our being with God consciously just as we are with no censorship, no cleaning up our act, no posturing or posing–just be real.”

This means showing up in prayer with my anger at feeling shamed into humility.

For Lent this year, I’m praying with  Meeting Jesus in John, daily meditations by the Society of St. John the Evangelist. In Week 1 Day 2, Brother Mark reflects on John 3:16, explaining that “the world” God so loved is both the created world and the fallen world. Then he adds, “So if I were praying with this passage, I think I would personalize it and reflect on how God loves all of me, not only whatever I might be in my heavenly perfection eventually, but all of me, even now–the good, the bad and the ugly, all things together.”

I try to picture God loving all of me . . . all the time. I can easily imagine God loving me when I’m helping a homeless man, but it takes longer to feel God loving me without an iota of judgment when I’ve chosen again and again to do what robs me of life, when I face my regret and am afraid to hope, and when I’m at the end of my rope.

I pick up my pen and, without stopping, write in my journal until the page is full. As I do, God listens to my anger, hears my disappointment, and feels the weight of my shame.

An image comes to mind. I see myself nailed to a cross of desires, stretched out by the tension between two worlds. I also see God’s hands supporting my aching arms.

Later in the day, long after my prayer time is over, I remember the poke in the chest that brought me down a notch when I was a kid. I wonder what God, who loves all of me, saw when that happened.

I don’t remember the incident which prompted the accusation, but I do remember my shock. I didn’t think I was good or bad. I was just happy to be me.

That’s it. That’s what God saw: the part of me that disappeared that day. God wants all of me back.

* * *

Reflection questions for your Lenten pilgrimage:

  • Be real with God in your prayers today. Let the real you meet the real God who is far more loving than we can hope for or imagine.
  • As you bring all of yourself to God, what do you notice? Do you feel settled or unsettled? Tell God about this.

* * *

Join Father James Martin, S.J. as he guides you through the Daily Examen. He writes,”I’m overjoyed to share with you something that many of you had asked for, and something that America has long hoped to provide for you: a Daily Examen Podcast. In this podcast, which is not only available on America’s website, but is also downloadable (and subscribeable) on Apple and Android devices, I’ll lead you through the “examen,” the traditional Jesuit prayer that helps you see where God has been in your day. And by the way, it’s FREE.”

Credits and References:
“Half a flower” by Daniel Novta Used with permission.
Photo of Salzburg crucifix by Steve Imbach. 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 Lent, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ash Wednesday

pilgrim shell and boots

Pilgrimage

Ash Wednesday
He’s on the road
PUT waiting for me

today we begin
a forty day walk
to Jerusalem

I lace up my shoes
and follow
PUT from a safe distance

but it’s bound to happen
His eyes will catch mine
and I must summon the courage
PUTnot to look away

for in His loving gaze
questions arise
PUTmemories
PUT
hopes

PUTand fears

and we will
carry them all
PUT to Jerusalem

*

Brian Whelan

 Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51

* * *

Reflection questions for your Lenten pilgrimage

  • Where have you seen Jesus on the road?
  • What are you carrying?

* * *


For Lent this year, Bishop Melissa Skelton encouraged Anglicans in our diocese to pray with the 6-week series Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of JohnThis offering has been designed and produced by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, a religious order for men in the Episcopal Church, and by the Center for the Ministry of Teaching of the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. There is a video for each day and a lovely journal you can order or download. I’ve already started it and am loving it so far.

Credits:
Photo of hiking boots and scallop shell on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from Paulo Coehlo forum. Labelled for reuse.
“Pilgrimage of Sight” by Brian Whelan was featured in explore, a magazine from the Ignatian Centre of Jesuit Education in Santa Clara California. The painting is owned by the vicar of Blythburgh Church in Suffolk, UK. Used here with permission.
“Pilgrimage” by Esther Hizsa from Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
© 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 2013-18.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Lent, Poetry, Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When the Son of Man Comes

Tuesday night I met a friend for coffee at Tim Horton’s. Just as I was leaving, a young man with a cardboard sign asked me for money.

“Want a pair of socks?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said and smiled.

I took a pair out of my bag and handed it to him. “There’s a Tim Horton’s card inside and a power bar. My name’s Esther.”

“Mine’s Matt.”

“Matt? As in Matt and Jessica?”

He stared at me in disbelief and began to cry. “Yes. But Jess went back home to live with her parents,” he mumbled. “I miss her so much.”

A few months ago, I was volunteering with the Progressive Outreach Van at St.Stephen’s. We were having a slow day, so I decided to tour the area on my bike and see if I could drum up business. The outreach worker asked me to keep an eye out for a couple named “Matt” and “Jessica” who were on the list for housing.

In a pedestrian underpass, I saw their shopping cart and the outline of two bodies in sleeping bags. Jessica stuck out her head and greeted me warmly when I said hello. I put muffins and cereal bars in their cart and let them know we’d be around until two. She thanked me and said they’d drop by, but they didn’t.

I saw Jessica again panhandling on Christmas Eve. I was driving home after the late service and had to circle back to talk to her. I rolled down my window to give her a pair of socks and was instantly chilled by the frigid air. I invited her and Matt to the Wednesday Lunch Club’s Christmas dinner. “The directions to the church are inside,” I said. She called me an angel and said they’d come, but they didn’t.

Now here was Matt with tears rolling down his cheeks.

“Let’s go inside and sit down,” I said. “Want a coffee or hot chocolate? Something to eat?”

It was the first meal he’d had all day. He reminisced about Jessica and how the people who ran the hostel loved them and would often give them a two-for-one deal. But today had been hard; people were unkind. He prayed that something good would happen. Now it did and he was grateful.

I watched him enjoy his food. His hands were swollen and his lips chapped, but he had beautiful teeth. So many people I meet who are homeless have rotten and missing teeth. “I don’t do drugs,” he said and pushed up his sleeves. His strong unblemished forearms looked like my son’s.

“I want to call Jess but I can’t. I won’t or she’ll come back in a minute, and that wouldn’t be good. Not for her.” He teared up again. “I’m sorry.”

I asked him about his family. He told me his father had disowned him and his mother died of a heart attack at fifty-six. “She was my best friend.”

I gave him money for transit and the hostel. (Burnaby doesn’t have a homeless shelter.) “This is good. I’ll get work at Labour Ready tomorrow, then I’ll be set.” He looked me in the eyes, “I thank you. My mother thanks you,” he said. “I want to stay in touch and let you know how I do.”

“I’m at St. Stephen’s on Sundays. You don’t need to come to church. Come afterwards for coffee and cookies. I’ll be there.”

“I like coffee and cookies. And church, too.”

I hugged him goodbye–like a mother hugs a son.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name,
you are mine.
–Isaiah 43:1 (NRSV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Since 1981, Progressive Housing Society, outreach workers like Nicole (left) have provided support services to adults living with mental health issues or facing homelessness. They are a registered non-profit charity, working with over 250 clients in the Burnaby area. “We believe in empowering people to live well. That’s why we help clients with their basic needs while also helping them to live as independently as possible in the community. Access to food, shelter, and healthcare is essential, but we also help clients to develop and maintain life-skills. All of our programs are designed to support clients with their individual needs and preferences in mind.” –Progressive Housing Society

Burnaby’s Society to End Homelessness, which includes organizations such as Progressive Housing Society, has been urging our city, provincial and federal leaders to work together to provide impoverished citizens of Burnaby more than an emergency shelter which is only available in extreme weather conditions.

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:
“When the Son of Man comes” are the opening words of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 in which he says. “I was hungry and you fed me.” That phrase is also found in Luke 18:8 in which Jesus says, “…when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
“Homeless Jesus on a Bench” by Ancho. In public domain.
“Homeless” by Mark O’Rourke. Used with permission.
Photo of Nicole and Progressive Housing Society‘s outreach van 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 Homelessness, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

At the End of My Rope

I was doing well for a while, then I gained back the weight I lost.

Paul’s words in Romans come to mind.

 I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.
–Romans 7: 18-25 (The Message)

So here I am again, Lord, I pray.  I’m at the end of my rope. Save me. Free me to do what I most deeply desire.

I wonder if I’ll ever be freed from my addiction to food or if I’ll ever be a healthier weight. Every time I see myself in the mirror, I don’t like seeing what I’ve done to my body. I feel ashamed, powerless and discouraged. It’s hard to keep trying and risk failing again.

And you, Jesus. You’re not letting me off the hook. But you’re not getting me off the hook either.

Every scripture I read lately holds a promise that you can, you will, you are saving me.

Help me believe it.

For I am the Lord your God
    who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
    I will help you.
–Isaiah 41:13

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Judging by the number of cars in the church parking lot when AA is on,  I’m guessing that a lot of love mischief happens there. “Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem.”–AA.org

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:
Climbing photo by Adventure Jay.
“Hold On” by just.Luc. 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 Overeating, Poverty of Spirit, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Waking Up

I want to be fully awake to God. I’d like to live so aware of being in Christ that I rely on nothing other than God for my security or identity. A bird held by a single thread is still not free, says John of the Cross. John tells us that we need to let go of everything we love more than God–anything that has us entangled and unfree to follow Jesus. Ignatius talks about the same thing in his meditation on the Two Standards.

Some attachments are obvious. We can be addicted to food, work, the news, or pornography, for example. These addictions are strong and generate shame. We pray that God will give us the grace and power to live rightly related to them or without them.

But I am discovering other attachments that are so subtle I wasn’t aware of them. However, my feelings began to reveal them.

I noticed when I was praised, I felt proud that I’d done better than someone else.

I noticed I was surprised and disappointed by a comment someone made.

I noticed I was anxious after I said what I thought. Would people think less of me?

All I did was notice these feelings, and I saw what I’m attached to–the need to be a notch above, my own expectations, and what others think of me.

When we notice our emotions, Anthony de Mello said in Awareness, our attachments are brought into the light, and we are eventually freed from them. He said that all we have to do is observe what’s going on in us as if it were happening to someone else. Just be aware of it.

In Breathing Underwater, Richard Rohr reminds us that many of the mystics and saints emphasized this detached awareness because it helps us

“. . . see ourselves calmly and compassionately without endless, digging, labeling, judging or the rancor that we usually have toward our own imperfection. Don’t judge, just look can be our motto—and now with the very eyes of God.”

Freedom comes when we remain wake to our feelings, thoughts, desires, and motives and bring them to God.

I was formatting a poster for a retreat. When I put my photo alongside those of my colleagues, I wished I could use an old picture of myself which was more flattering.

Then a new feeling emerged. I felt more at peace with how I look. I smiled as this thought came to mind: My unflattering photo could make the others look even more attractive.

Joking aside, I hear: Don’t judge, just look. What does God see? 

SOUL OF CHRIST

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood
be my food and drink.
May your passion and death
be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side
enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek
be the shadow of your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.
On each of my dyings
shed your light and your love.
Keep calling to me
until that day comes when, with your saints,
I may praise you forever.

–Paraphrased by David Fleming, SJ.

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

“I think Christians should be at the forefront of those who recognize the scandal of current practice [of mistreatment to animals]. We kind of sleepwalked into this situation. . . . Christians don’t necessarily need to feel terrible over the practices we have found ourselves immersed in, but recognize the responsibility to become conscious of what we are doing to these other animals and ask whether these practices are compatible with our faith,” said David Clough in an interview published in Church for Vancouver earlier this year. Dr. David Cough, Professor of Theological Ethics at the University of Chester (UK), has been eating a vegan diet since he was 18. He recently gave a lecture at Regent College, sponsored by A Rocha and the Vancouver School of Theology entitled Eating Peaceably: Christianity and Veganism. 

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:
“Wake Up” by Simon Bleasdale. Used by permission.
Center for Action and Contemplation‘ s webinar, Through the Dark Night by James Finley, is not available at this time.
Anthony de Mello, Awareness; The Perils and Opportunities of Reality..
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality for the 12 Steps, Chapter 10.
Image of Mary in public domain
Soul of Christ is a paraphrase by David L. Fleming, SJ of the Anima Christe prayer which Ignatius included in the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. 
© 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 False Self, Ignatian Spirituality, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adrift in an Ocean of Love

I’m thinking about my desire to know God’s love for me on God’s terms, not mine. James Finley said in a recent webinar Through the Dark Night, that we long for a sense of union with God that we will experience only after death. But God says, “Why wait till then?”

Summarizing writings from John of the Cross, Finley said we hear three things from God. “First of all, this cannot happen until you die to the last trace of dependency on anything else for your security and identity. Second, you can’t do this. Your survival instinct is too strong and your efforts are finite. Third, you can count on Me to wean you off of finding love on your terms.”

Finley went on to use this illustration. It’s like we are in a boat moored in a slip at the harbour. God quietly sneaks out at night and, being careful not to laugh and wake us, unties one mooring line after another and until we are set adrift.

Twenty-six years ago Fred and I were sitting on a beach one evening watching the sunset. We had spent the day at several marinas looking at sailboats built for ocean passages. Were we crazy? Should we really be selling everything, leaving life as we know it to sail off around the world?  I looked out at the darkening sky and listened to the waves crash onto the shore. My biggest fear was being offshore at night. In the darkness, the ocean seems colder, noises and fears bigger and louder.

But as you can see from the photo above, we went. We went because the pull in us to do it wouldn’t go away. And I had this crazy picture in my head of Jesus all excited, saying, “Let’s go. Come on. What are you waiting for?”

From 1992-95 our family lived on a 40-foot boat and travelled from Vancouver to Turkey, west around the world. And what do I miss most about our adventure? The serenity and beauty of being at sea in the middle of the night.

Being unmoored from all we hold onto and all that we think will give us life is scary and uncomfortable. But eventually, when we give up trying to refasten the lines that hold us back, we realize we are adrift in an ocean of love, held in the current of God.

For in Christ we live and move and have our being.
–Acts 17:28 (NIV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

When we let go of our mooring lines with a seven and a ten-year-old as our crew, we needed to bring along lots of books to keep them happy. One of our favourites was Where the Sidewalk Ends. We laughed our heads off and, thanks to Shel Silverstein, we could imagine sitting on them. According to Bustle.com, “These eight lines [in ‘Listen to the Mustn’ts’] pretty much sum up everything that Shel Silverstein and his children’s poetry are about—throwing off conventionality and negativity, and embracing the power of imagination and possibility. It’s not just a great message for kids—it’s a great message for everyone.” Thank you, Shel, for sharing your love-mischief with the world.

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:
Center for Action and Contemplation‘ s webinar, Through the Dark Night by James Finley, is not available at this time.
Photo of the Hizsa family on Tieras 1992 by Marja Bergen for the Burnaby Now
“Setting Sun, Malecon, Miraflores” by Geraint Rowland. Used with permission.
“Listen to the Mustn’ts,” Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
© 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 Mystical, Poverty of Spirit, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Glorious Thing

Two days before Christmas, I’m praying with the story of the shepherds. I imagine myself on a hillside with them, but I’m unaffected by the angels’ song. The shepherds hurry off to see this glorious thing that has happened, but I have no desire to go with them.

After they’ve gone, I see myself sitting alone, missing one of the most important events in history. Eventually, an angel returns and sits with me. Gently, patiently, he encourages me to go to Bethlehem.

“I’ll go with you,” he says. So we walk side by side, not saying much. We walk a long time, and I imagine what it will be like when I get there and anticipate a private moment with baby Jesus.

But when we arrive, the stable is crowded. I can’t even see inside, let alone get a glimpse of the child. I wonder what to do when a woman in the crowd, sensing my presence, turns to see who’s behind her. Her face is aglow. Whenever I see a face in the crowd, it too is aglow.

But my face isn’t glowing, and I never do get to see the baby.

Two weeks later I tell my spiritual director about the prayer. There’s something profound about being in the presence of someone who, as James Finley says, “will not invade or abandon you.” All the emotion that was absent in my prayer comes to the surface.

I blow my nose and add the wet tissue to the others on my lap. “I listened to James Finley talk about the Dark Night and infinite love, and I could feel my desire for God awaken. But much of the time, it’s asleep. It’s so easy to love other things more than God.”

“And where does that take you,” she asked.

“I feel. . . ashamed.”

“I wonder how Jesus feels about this.” She invited me to ask him.

I closed my eyes and was given a picture of Jesus holding me as if I were a newborn. Like the angel that joined me on the hillside, Jesus met me where I was and patiently waited. He loved holding me whether my eyes were open or closed, whether my desire was awake or asleep.

His eyes were fixed on me. He didn’t want to miss the glorious moment when I woke up and saw him looking at me.

Was I asleep or awake? 
I heard a voice it said, “Wait, 
I know the plans I have for you 
plans not intended to hurt or to harm you 
though struggles in life tend to get in the way 
though the path, looking back,
is more crooked than straight
though so often you find that there’s no words,
there’s no words to say.” 
–Jeremy Braacx, Night Vision

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

In a recent Center for Action and Contemplation webcast “Through the Dark Night,” James Finley explained that the purpose of a Dark Night is to detach us from loving God on our terms so God can love us on God’s terms. How can we participate in this? I’ll be talking more about that next week. But I want to leave you with a question Finley gave us: What is the most loving thing I can do in this moment?

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:
Luke 2:8-20
“Girl Seated on a Hillside overlooking the Water” by Winslow Homer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo of our son Rudy and granddaughter Hannah by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
“Night Vision” (based on Jeremiah 29:11) is by Jeremy Braacx, from the album The View from a Hospital Bed by Geometric Shapes (Jeremy & Heidi Braacx).
“Love” by Dustin Gaffke. 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 Christmas, Praying with the Imagination, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Underside

Christmas Day jangled me into another dimension. I found myself on “the underside,” living in a parallel universe where survival meant the monsters (anything and everything that causes me stress) had to be contained. Not an easy few days for Fred.

If you’ve watched Stranger Things, you can picture my metaphor. In Season One of this Netflix series, a boy is lost in The Upside Down (or underside) and his friends are trying to find a portal into it. Eventually, the boy’s mother and the police chief don hazmat suits and, with flashlights and a gun, go through a portal looking for him. The Upside Down is predictably macabre.

My underside was not so cold and creepy, but it did make me tense and fearful. When my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw what was going on. I saw that being a good person doesn’t mean I make good choices, and I saw how easily I make bad ones. I saw how vexation was my monster, and also saw it’s not everyone’s. Some people can live quite easily with things askew. Topside I forget I’m not one of them, but on the underside, there’s no hiding from it. I see how it rattles me.

What brought me back to this universe were conversations with friends. In one conversation, we got talking about the Enneagram, and I was reminded that Ones like me can’t stand vexation. In another, three friends described their Christmas. They too found it chaotic and were almost pushed over the edge. Hearing this helped me normalize what I’d experienced without minimizing it.

Christmas Day taught me that I should carefully consider my level of responsibility in putting on events, knowing that things can and do go wrong. Although I have a better understanding of how stress affects me, vigilantly avoiding this monster will suck me underside again. Knowing how to handle stress is tricky, and I can’t do it alone. I need the guidance of the Spirit and the counsel of friends.

Once you’ve been on the underside, you don’t forget what you saw, and that makes topside living a lot more real. I begin this new year with greater self-awareness and a deeper appreciation for my Saviour and my friends.

A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.
–Proverbs 17:17 (NRSV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

We all end up on the underside at different times of our lives. No matter where we are on the Enneagram, we are tempted to avoid, numb or amuse ourselves until we’re topside again and blissfully unaware of our shadows. Resisting temptation and facing our demons takes a lot of courage. We need the love mischief of friends who will walk with us through a dark valley. When we are loved “warts and all,” our way becomes lighter and our hearts more spacious. We find we have a little more compassion for ourselves. And when we are topside again, we discover we have a lot more compassion for others.

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:
“Stranger Things” by Greg2600. Used with permission.
“Friendship” by Felipe Bastos. Used with permission.
“Walk in Woods” 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 Christmas, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Celebration Fit for a Down-to-Earth King

For a number of years now, Fred and I have hosted a Christmas meal for a dozen or so people on Christmas Day at New Life Community Church. Our guests are folks from the Wednesday Lunch Club who would be otherwise alone on Christmas Day. Regular volunteers who would also be alone that day help prepare the meal and clean up.

Whenever anyone asks me how I spend Christmas Day and hears about this, they think it’s a lovely idea, and I do too. But I always forget how much work it is and how easily I get stressed out when something unexpected happens.

This year I was blindsided by nine (I counted them) eventualities that nearly put me over the edge–including the security alarm going off twice, no heat and a new thermostat without instructions, and a last-minute delivery of eight boxes of fresh food. Except for the ten minutes, I sat down to eat my meal–which was incredibly delicious–I was not able to relax and enjoy myself. It saddened me that I wasn’t the only one who went home exhausted and re-thinking how and why we do this.

So don’t believe me if I tell you Christmas was fine this year. We loved spending Christmas Eve with our daughter and her family, but Christmas day was a bust, and I didn’t sleep well that night.

On the Feast of Stephen (aka Boxing Day), Fred and I slept in. We read a story a friend wrote during Advent and talked about it on the way to an open house where I received much sympathy for what happened the day before. Afterwards, we strolled along the Fraser River. Then  Fred had a nap and I went back to the church to put a few things away. While I did, I had a good visit with a friend who’d had a difficult Christmas.

Back home, I got out a bottle of wine, lit the Advent and Christmas candles, put on Steve Bell’s Keening for the Dawn, and Fred and I sat down to reheated turkey dinner leftovers. The meal was just as delicious as it had been the day before.

And that’s how we celebrated our Saviour’s birth.

This is my little town,
My Bethlehem,
And here, if anywhere,
My Christ Child
Will be born.
— from “Housekeeper” by Elizabeth Rooney

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

If your Bethlehem is like mine, you’ve seen cold, wet folks with cardboard signs asking for help. A friend put me on to a great idea. Carry a few pairs of socks to give away. Tuck inside them anything you want: a soft granola bar, a favourite poem, a gift card, or chocolate. Then give them to people who need them. The next time you put on a fresh pair of socks, you’ll remember someone else who got to do the very same thing.

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:
“Dishes” by Chef Keen/Pixabay. Creative Commons.
“The Adoration of the Shepherds” by Lorenzo Lotto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“Typical Socks” by Jsm193 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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The Word Became Flesh

Emmanuel

when Jesus came
he didn’t sneak in
through the back door
of poverty selling
magic tricks for
applause

no

Jesus came poor
entered every day
of every life
and never
left

The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighbourhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.
-John 1:14 (The Message)

Credits and References:
“Emmanuel” by Esther Hizsa © 2014
“Nativity”  by violscraper. Used with permission.
“Star Walkers” by Paul Kline. (Banner not visible on home page). Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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