Here? Again?!

4717434835_63839f70f4_bWhile I was co-facilitating a week-long intensive on spiritual formation, I noticed a familiar feeling: the desire to protect myself. It caused me to subtly close myself from God and others.

Once I recognized what I was doing, I took a deep breath and asked God to help me open up again to the Spirit and to what was going on in and around me.

Disappointment bubbled up. How many times do I have to regain this posture? In the past three years, I have written about this theme of opening to God in this post, and this one and, oh yes, that one too.

Salzburg cross 2Meanwhile Deb Arndt, Jeff Imbach and I invited the participants of Living From The Heart to welcome “what is” in their lives gently and compassionately, without judgement. So I too opened myself to God as we meditated on the image of the Salzburg crucifix (right).

This time, when I looked at Jesus on the cross, I first saw his head bent like mine in resignation. Then I saw God holding Jesus’s arms up and helping bear the weight of his pain and sorrow. But, in a way, God was also holding his arms open in love and surrender. As I continued to gaze at God and Christ, I felt understood and supported. Once again I was sweetly reminded that God is the one who makes it safe enough for me to open to the reality of life within and without me. God will help me open myself again and again and again.

“Opening to God and others is a lifelong dance of invitation, acceptance, avoidance, and invitation again, ” I said to the participants (and to myself!) that morning. “Jesus continually invites us to pay attention, to see and live into what is real and true in each moment.”*

In each moment, God welcomes us again and greets us with delight.

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

rivendell

Those of you who have read Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim will know how formative  Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island has been for me. So it was wonderful to return there for our Living From The Heart intensive. The centre is hosted by a volunteer Christian community who live by two “A”s: availability and ambience. Rooted in the gospel values of Jesus and the practised traditions of prayer, silence, simplicity and hospitality, Rivendell community offered a warm welcome to us and others seeking spiritual renewal, respite and growth and is accessible to people with limited resources and special needs.

 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:
“Stand Again” by Joel Olives. Used with permission.
Photo of Salzburg Cross by Steve Imbach. Used with permission.
*Quote from Living From The Heart class notes “Foundational Truths: How We Can Be with Our Barriers to Receptivity” by Deb Arndt.
Photo of Rivendell Retreat centre used with their permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Insight and Encounter

jesus-and-the-samaritan-woman1When our grandson was diagnosed with high functioning autism, we felt like we had cracked a code. We finally understood why he interacts with the world the way he does. With these insights, we can make adjustments that enable him enjoy life and accomplish goals.

Insights help us all manage our behaviour. When I notice myself overreacting to something, I wonder if I could be a reacting to an unresolved hurt from the past. Knowing this frees me to engage with both the present and the past in a healthier way.

However insights only take us so far. I know why I overeat, but it doesn’t stop me from overeating.

Father Richard Soo, SJ likes to remind those praying the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises that “Insights are a dime a dozen. What we really need is encounter.”

“Get up close and personal with God,” says Father Soo. As we explore with God the thoughts, feelings and desires that come to our awareness, we can experience God’s loving response. We get a sense of how God sees us and our situation.

In last week’s post, I described how God was with me–lovingly present as each awareness emerged. God didn’t fix me or tell me to do anything. Instead, God invited me to hold all that was true about myself on various levels the way God does–with compassion. And then I was invited to hear a deeper truth that is so often drowned out by my fears.

Deep truths emerge as we encounter God: we’re made to connect with God and others; we’re never separated from God; we’re unconditionally loved, and so on. These insights are not new. We read them in scripture, hear them in church, and remind ourselves of them in prayer.

But here’s the difference. When we encounter God face to face and hear these words from God’s lips, in God’s embrace, and through God’s touch, we know it. We know it the way we knew it before we were born–without question.

And that changes everything.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
–Psalm 139:13-18 (NIV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

street-farmMichael Ableman is a lifelong farmer and founder of the Vancouver social enterprise Sole Food, a five-acre farm in the city’s grittiest neighbourhood that employs people who have been abandoned by society,” writes Randy Shore in the Vancouver Sun. Shore quotes Ableman, “When we started Sole Food, we had two primary goals: We wanted to provide meaningful training and employment to people with challenges like mental illness and addiction, but also to do something on a scale that was truly agricultural . . . We produce 50,000 pounds of food every year. ” He goes on to say, “There’s something physiological that happens when you work with living soil. . . I always noticed how much better I felt psychologically after a day of playing in the dirt. Studies demonstrate that the change is real, when one is intimately working with soil. When people have a reason to get out of bed each day—and that takes courage and perseverance for some of the folks we work with—a change takes place that is pretty profound. When they know there is a team of people depending on them, when living things rely on them and they know that those plants produce food for the community, they come out of themselves, they move forward.” Isn’t that incredible? You can read more about it here or in Ableman’s book, Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs and Hope on the Urban Frontier.

 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:
Orthodox Icon of the Woman at the Well. In the traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Samaritan woman at the well is considered to be a saint, named Photine or Photini/Photina (the luminous one, from φως, “light”).
Knit Together by Kelly Dycavinu © 2011. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Ignatian Spirituality, Overeating, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Wonder What’s Under

Linnington KOG paintingAs I listen to directees share their struggles and listen to my own, I notice that there’s a strata to our feelings and desires. Like an archaeological dig, the top layer–the first one we experience–gets our attention. It’s the hurt right under our feet. Archaeologists don’t care about that dirt. It’s where they need to dig, but mostly they need to get it out of the way to find what’s underneath. They shovel, sift and gently brush the soil away to find relics of past civilizations. These give them clues about who we are and what has affected how we live.

As pilgrims on a journey with God, we don’t need to go digging. We can simply rest in God and wonder (like I did last week): What’s under my jealousy? What’s under that feeling of being horrified when I let someone down?

God is the one who prompts me to ask, and God is the one who enables deeper awarenesses to emerge.

What was under my feeling horrified? I suppose it was the fear of rejection. The old tapes began to accuse, “Now you’ve done it.”  When I named that fear while God held me, I felt accepted. I somehow “heard” God inviting me again to let go of the lie that I have to perform well to be loved.

I sat longer and a deeper awareness emerged: My desire to be perfect distances me from others. It makes me strive to be better than them. In God’s loving embrace, defended from the Accuser, I was able to hear these words without judgment.

As I continued to sit with God, an even deeper awareness emerged: I don’t want to be better or distant from others.

Then an ancient desire which I share with every creature that has ever lived stirred in my womb and rose up into my throat: my desire to be one with them.

Ah, said God to my humble soul. That is my desire as well.

Feelings and desires prompt our actions. When I stay on the surface of mine, I fall prey to the Accuser and am propelled to do whatever I can to salvage my self-esteem. But as I rest in God’s presence and look under my initial reaction to whatever is disturbing me, I find the seed of the kingdom that God has planted deep within me and am freed to tend it.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” –Luke 13:18,19

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Love Mischief for the World

wendy-lIt was an arts worship service and the theme was “The Kingdom of God.” Artists at New Life Community Church submitted their creations based on the theme, and we worshiped God with our senses and imaginations. That’s when I first saw Wendy Linnington’s painting Mustard Seed (above). It spoke to me of the seemingly small and unseen kingdom that is within us–potent, powerful and growing. I am so grateful for the love mischief of Wendy and other painters, potters, dancers and singers that open us to the kingdom in tangible ways.

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:
“Mustard Seed” by Wendy Linnington. Used with permission.
Photo of Wendy Linnington by Colin Linnington. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This Hero’s Journey

Jeanne d'Arc

I love being the hero. I want to be the one that fixes the problem or has the answer. If someone is in great need, I find myself ruminating about how that need can be met. Meanwhile, if someone else meets that need, I feel jealous. I wanted to save the day.

As I allow this jealousy to dissipate, another feeling emerges: relief. I didn’t have to do anything.

Then I feel wonder. Under my relief is a deep appreciation for the heroes around me. Lately I have become more aware of what God is doing in others. I’m amazed at how they welcome people, show up at the hospital, speak up and effect change, leisurely listen, or collect unsold baking to give to those in need.

Jealousy. . . relief . . . wonder.

I remember when being the hero was the only game in town. I couldn’t imagine not rising to the challenge that was before me. Then a gentle awareness came of how much I liked it when I had the answer, when I felt indispensable.

Not long after that, I began to notice occasions when I said the wrong thing, let people down or made things worse. Initially I was horrified, and then I felt humble. The world didn’t come to an end, people didn’t stop loving me, and someone else stepped in to help.

On my hero’s journey, God keeps bringing one awareness after another, and with each one I find a little more freedom. I can now hold my desire to be a hero loosely. When I was able to name the jealousy I felt, it ceased to be so menacing. More and more I find myself enjoying both the relief of knowing that God is looking after us and the wonder of how God is doing it.

And sometimes I even get to be a part of that.

Group at Jug Island

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
    from where will my help come?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.
–Psalm 121:1, 2 (NRSV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Anne Yungwirth

Anne Yungwirth enjoys taking photos and playing with them.  I have often used her photos in my blog (a favourite is here). But her love mischief doesn’t end there. For a while Anne served soup at the Wednesday Lunch Club.  When that no longer fit her schedule, she and her family picked up Starbucks’ donations of baked goods weekly and brought them to her church where they were enjoyed by the customers of New Life’s Free Store and those who attend the Wednesday Lunch Club. Now, after many years of Monday night pick ups, it’s time to pass the baton to someone else. Anne, we salute you!

 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:
Joan of Arc miniature, 1450-1500, public domain by Wikipedia Commons
Photo of Fred, me, Hannah and Hadrian on Jug Island, Belcarra Regional Park by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Photo of Anne Yungwirth used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poverty of Spirit, Reflections, Stories, Wednesday Lunch Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Resting and Rowing

Rowboat Winslow_Homer_-1024px wikiPerhaps last week’s post left you thinking about that age-old question: How much of our transformation is up to God and how much is our responsibility? Thinking of this in terms of a boat that is going from one shore to another, we might ask: How much should we rely on the wind to get us there? Does God just want us to be still and receive the help we need no matter how long it takes, or are there times when God wants us to pick up the oars and row?

As I live with this question, I am thankful for the values I share with others in our SoulStream community. Modern contemplative communities (e.g. Northumbria Community) and ancient ones (e.g. the Benedictines) typically share a Rule of Life which articulates what they hold true.

Here are a few of SoulStream’s values that speak to this question of sitting or rowing.

  • God constantly takes the initiative in love, expressed most profoundly in Christ.
  • We live with a receptive orientation to life rather than achievement.
  • We trust that despite all evidence to the contrary, God will accomplish God’s loving redemption toward the fulfillment of all things in Christ.

These values invite me to trust that even though it feels like my boat isn’t moving, God is still at work “fulfilling all things in Christ.” It isn’t my job to get myself to the other side. My job is to look for God’s zephyrs of wind and open my heart to them. As I do, I am reminded of Jesus’s words, that his Father loves to give good gifts to us, God’s children.

Receiving these gifts opens me to others, as this value says.

Being fully embraced in GRACE, we embody God’s loving presence at work in our world.

I am fully embraced in God’s grace! I embody God’s loving presence at work in the world! As I let these truths sink into my soul, I am inspired to pick up my oars and respond with these commitments:

  • Observe regular times of prayer and solitude to nurture our life in God’s love.
  • Attentively respond to the Spirit’s presence and action in our daily choices.
  • Act with compassion for justice and peace within the whole of creation.

Rowing and resting in Love, we are nurtured and transformed as we, in Christ, nurture and transform the world.

What values and commitments resonated with you? What would your Rule of Life look like?

St._Benedict_delivering_his_rule_to_the_monks_of_his_order

‘The Rule we embrace and keep will be that of AVAILABILITY and VULNERABILITY.’ —Northumbria Community

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Northumbria communityNorthumbria Community is a dispersed network of people, hugely diverse, from different backgrounds, streams and edges of the Christian faith. “As Companions in Community, we are united in our desire to embrace and express an ongoing exploration into a new way for living, through a new monasticism, as Christians that offers hope in our changed and changing culture. We are A Way to express The Way and acknowledge there are many other valid expressions of the desire to follow Jesus Christ in today’s world. Our Rule of Life [expanded here] is at the heart of who we are.”

 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:
“Rowboat” by Winslow Homer , 1880.[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Complete list of SoulStream’s Values and Commitments here.
Matthew 7:11
St. Benedict delivering his Rule to St. Maurus and other monks of his order. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Am I Waiting For?

John the Baptist gecomprimeerd Geertgen tot Sint Jans wikimediaAs I mentioned last week, stillness is not something I easily gravitate toward. When I do try to be still, fleeting and few are the moments when I’m walking on water,” blissfully free from distraction. Even though I know (and teach) that God is doing something on a deeper level, and the success of the prayer is measured by the fruit that appears in our lives, lately I’ve found my life less peaceful. I seem to be going through a season in which I’m acutely aware of my shortcomings.

One evening–at the time of day when I’m more prone to be inundated with self-deprecating thoughts–an idea came to me. What if my prayers are making me more aware of the dogged disappointment I feel? Could God be wanting to do something with this awareness?

The thought returned the next morning when I sat down to pray. I reached for some encouraging words from Anthony de Mello and read about a young man who found centering prayer frustrating but persisted with it. Finally six months later, he began to experience change. De Mello writes,

“This constant, painful, distraction-ridden attempt he was making day after day to expose himself to what seemed to be nothingness and emptiness, to attempt to just quiet his mind and attain some sort of silence through concentration on body sensations or breathing or sounds, was bringing him a new power in his daily living that he hadn’t noticed there before–and power in so great a measure that its presence in his life was unmistakable.”

De Mello goes on to say,

“This is one of the major benefits of this form of prayer: a change in oneself that seems effortless. All the virtues you formerly tried to attain through the exercise of your will power seem to come to you effortlessly now–sincerity, simplicity, kindliness, patience . . .  Addictions seem to drop off without the need for resolutions and effort on one’s part. . .”

As soon as I read that, I remembered how I felt about the virtues I haven’t attained and the addictions I can’t control. Then another thought came to me: what if God just wants to give me what I desire?

God wasn’t drawing attention to my shortcomings in order to scold me, nor was God minimizing them. Instead, God wants to save me from them–even if that simply means finding a way to be at peace with with who I am.

This is what I am waiting for.

sunrise Carlo Scherer Flickr

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
–Lamentations 3:26

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

candlesFred and I attend an Imago Dei group where we gather with other Christian contemplatives for fellowship, worship, sharing, and prayer. Twenty minutes of our time together is dedicated to silent prayer. We are greatly encouraged by this love mischief, and in all the years we have been meeting, no one has ever asked that we shorten or skip this portion of the evening–even though some have fallen asleep and even snored! Many find it easier to pray in silence with others present. De Mello writes, “Silence, when it is deep, can unite.” We have found this to be true and treasure the sense of love and unity we’ve experienced. If you are ever in the Tri-Cities area of Vancouver on a Thursday night and want to join us, let us know. You’d be more than welcome.

 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:
Geertgen tot Sint Jans (circa 1460-circa 1488) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sadhana A Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form by Anthony de Mello, Image Books 1984, p.57.
“Another Day in Paradise” by Carlo Scherer. Used with permission.
“Candles” by Arne Hulstein. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mystical, Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Peace, Be Still

Jesus-calms-the-storm-sisters-turvey-abbeyMark’s gospel says that one evening Jesus got into a boat with his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee. He was exhausted after a day of teaching and healing and fell asleep on a cushion at the back of the boat. A while later a fierce squall threatened to swamp them. The disciples woke Jesus. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Unperturbed Jesus stood up and addressed the elements. “Peace! Be still!” The wind died down and the sea calmed.

I picture the disciples sitting in that boat, hands clenched to the railing as the rolling seas begin to settle. I can hear the last few waves lap against the boat’s hull until finally there is no sound at all. I can see the disciples, surrounded by stillness, rising in awe.

When I was in college, I swam twice a week at the YWCA. One morning I was the first one there. I rushed onto the pool deck, goggles in hand, to do my lengths, but the sight of the pool without one ripple in it stopped me. I had never seen the water this still before. I was reluctant to dive in and disturb it. What would it be like to embody such stillness?

I am rarely still. Even when I sit down to pray, my mind doesn’t stop whirring. I shut my eyes—as if this were a switch that makes me instantly present to God—and, without wasting a minute, I shout over the din of the waves and strain to hear Christ’s voice in the tumult.

But when I read this story again, Jesus whispers to my busy mind, Peace! Be still.

It takes time to become still. There is no way to hasten the process; Jesus knows that. But eventually my soul quiets down.

What does God do in this stillness? Who knows? For when I am finally at peace, I entertain neither thought nor feeling, so I have nothing to report. But when I think about it afterwards, I notice a delightful warmth residing in my chest. In the days that follow, I discover new freedoms.

I can imagine that as I waited for the waves to settle, the Holy Spirit hovered closer and closer then finally came to rest on the still surface of my soul. 

breath

 Calm the waves of this heart, O God;
calm its tempests.
Calm yourself, O my soul,
so that God is able to rest in you,
so that God’s peace may cover you.
Yes, you give us peace, O God,
peace that the whole world can never take away.
—Soren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) 

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

SoulStream-Home-Slide-Founders-1140x328God can accomplish so much love mischief by seeding a desire for stillness in us. Many years ago the Imbach brothers followed that desire and went for spiritual direction. Little did they know then what would unfold. Eventually they began to offer spiritual direction and teach it to others and ended up founding a dispersed contemplative community that offers spiritual direction to the world. Here’s how it got started.

 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:
“Peace, Be Still” by Esther Hizsa reprinted from Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim, © 2015.
Jesus Calms the Storm © 2000 The Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey and McCrimmon Publishing Co. Ltd(UK) /Used with permission of www.mccrimmons.com.
“Breath” Artist unknown.
Image of SoulStream Founders (Sue Vander Woude, Karen Webber, Steve Imbach, Andrea Kastner, Jeff Imbach) used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mystical, Reflections, Stories, Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Walking on Water

Walking on water Flickr ted

Jesus sends me off to pray
in my boat of words.

I begin to row.
Even though I know
he’s gone off to the hills,
I keep looking for him
beside me, hands touching,
asleep in the stern, head on a pillow.

A sprinkling of thoughts
are soon droplets of desire,
driven by restless winds
and desolation.

Why isn’t he here? 

I row my thoughts,
press them harder,
beg my prayers to carry me across the divide.
But the shore remains distant.

Then he appears
a ghost
walking on the water.
Come.

I step out with nothing solid under my feet,
praying without words or strategies,
trusting only his gaze.

It’s exhilarating
until
waves of doubt slap my feet,
soak my pants,
pull me down
into the cold, dark sea.

You’re going to drown, says the wind.

Water swallows my ankles, my knees, my thighs.

He grasps my hand.
My heart leaps open,
and then
we’re walking on water.

Then by Anne Y

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” –Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

KeatingI first began praying without words when I ran out of them and found myself  drawn to just rest in God’s presence. A few years later, in what is now called Living From The Heart, I was introduced to the practise of Centering Prayer with a video of Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk and founder of Contemplative Outreach. Keating’s life is vibrant example of the freedom and joy that is the fruit of prayer. His enthusiasm is contagious.

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:
Icon of Jesus walking on water by Ted. Used with permission.
“Then” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mystical, Poetry, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Held

leaf cropped

This picture called to me from the table covered with photos at a silent retreat earlier this year. I wasn’t sure why until I sat with it in prayer.

What stood out for me at first was the bronze colour. It spoke of the aged leaf’s beauty and worth. The nubs on the thin branch reminded me of lives spent. Soon there will only be a nub where this leaf once was. Though its days of photosynthesis are over and it has no more oxygen to give to the world, it’s still firmly attached to the branch–held, upheld, hallowed.

God had been listening to my thoughts again. Thoughts about aging and death come more frequently now when I notice changes in my parents and changes in myself. As I looked at the photo in my hands, God spoke to those thoughts. I am held. God is with me in this second half of life, revealing beauty that was not evident before, beauty that has nothing to do with what I can produce.

One day on our camping vacation this year, I noticed a sadness had settled on me. I listened to it and traced its source to a conversation I overheard while trying to go to sleep the night before. A fellow in the next campsite was talking about the long, steep and challenging trail he’d hiked. Fred and I have hiked trails like these in the past and were not up to tackling them this year. The sadness I felt made me realize I missed the thrill of bagging another peak.

I thought about the books I’d been reading: Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward and Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns. Their words, the trails we could hike, and the weather I couldn’t control invited me to find joy in what’s given instead of what’s planned and accomplished.

Rohr writes,

The ego clearly prefers an economy of merit, where we can divide the world into winners and losers, to any economy of grace, where merit or worthiness loses all meaning.

I always feared I would die wishing I had done more with my life. But I’m starting to see that there’s nothing big I still need to do, no more mountains I have to climb to prove myself. In this second half of life, without the need for winners or losers, it’s enough to know that I am held.

Mariam wished for so much in those final moments. Yet as she closed her eyes, it was not regret any longer but a sensation of abundant peace that washed over her. . . she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back. —Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Khaled_Hosseini_in_2007

Khaled Hosseini is an Afghan-born American novelist and physician. He has written three books set in Afghanistan: The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed. A year and a half following the release of The Kite Runner, he left his medical practice and devoted his time to writing. But that is not the only love mischief he’s been up to. He is currently a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and has been working to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan through the Khaled Hosseini Foundation. The ending of A Thousand Splendid Suns told me what kind of love mischief Hosseini holds dear.

 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:
“Leaf’ by seyed mostafa zamani (cropped slightly). Used with permission.
Photo of Khaled Hosseini” from Wikipedia.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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DIY Retreat #7: Circle Me, Lord

Here is another one-day prayer/silent retreat outline prepared by my friend Joy Richardson, a spiritual director in Coquitlam. You’ll find the introduction to DIY group prayer retreats here and other outlines under resources.

circle me Lord

CIRCLE ME, LORD

After people have gathered, begin with a time of quiet. Light the candle and welcome God’s presence.

Song: Encircling (based on St. Patrick’s prayer from Trust by Gemma)

The mighty Three my protection be
Encircling me
You are around my life, my home encircling me
Oh sacred Three, the mighty Three

Preparatory Prayer (Ignatius of Loyola):

O Lord, I acknowledge that I am in your presence.
I offer this time to you.
Lead my heart and mind.
May everything I feel, think and do be directed purely toward your greater praise and service. Amen.

Morning Prayer (SoulStream)

Blessed Trinity,
I receive your love, your presence and this day
as a gift from you.
I open my heart to you.
Please lead me deeper into your transforming love
as we spend these next hours together. Amen

 

Introduce and practice circle prayers by drawing them on paper (tracing a toonie or quarter works well) or encircling yourself with a scarf.

double circle prayer

Disperse in silence. In the silence, participants can schedule for themselves three times of personal prayers of 45-60 minutes each with breaks in between to eat or relax.

First Prayer Period: SEE, HEAR, CONSIDER

Luke 13: 10-17   The Healing of the Crippled Woman

  1. Read this passage slowly.
  2. Pray for the grace to know Jesus more clearly, to love him more dearly, and to follow him more nearly.
  3. Read the passage again slowly
  4. Set the scene. Who do you see? What do you see? Who are you?
  5. SEE: Watch the story play out.
  6. HEAR: Listen to the conversations.
  7. CONSIDER: Consider the actions of Jesus and others.
  8. What does Jesus say to you in your own condition/situation? Allow the conversation to evolve.

Second Prayer Period: CIRCLE ME

This is an encircling prayer, asking God to encircle us and others with the Trinity’s love. It is from the Celtic tradition. As you pray it, imagine yourself and others surrounded by our Three Personed God. Imagine the Creator, Son and Spirit loving each other and inviting you into this circle of love, care and protection.

As you pray, draw a circle around yourself with your finger, or place a scarf in a circle on the floor around you before you pray. These symbolize the encircling love of God.

Prayer for yourself:

Spend time with God. Perhaps it is helpful to picture yourself as a child with Jesus or held in the soft down of the Holy Spirit. Let God hold you gently. Enjoy the sense of God we receive from Psalm 131:2

I have stilled and quieted my soul
Like a weaned child with its mother
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

As you spend time with God (and this may be as you go for a walk, knit, or colour), what thoughts or feelings come to you? Ask the Holy Spirit if there is anything God would like to show you. Lift this or anything else that is on your heart to our Lord in prayer. Here are some examples of circle prayers:

 

Circle me, Lord,

Keep __________ in.

Keep ____________ out.

Draw Your Prayers:

Trace a circle, and write your prayer in it. Be as creative as you wish as you use colour and design to accompany your prayers. Here are some examples:

Triple circle prayer

Third Prayer Period: CIRCLE OTHERS

“Praying for other people is a hospitality of the heart.” (Celtic Illustrations, p.140)

Joy explains, “God has been drawing me deeper into prayer for others. Many of those I love and care about are going through very difficult times. Many of my family and friends have people in their lives that God is drawing me to pray for as well. As I listen to the news, I am becoming more and more aware of people and situations that need prayer. We can use circle prayers to lift all of these people up to God.”

Take time to be with our Triune God. Lift one person to this Divine Community of Love. Sense the Trinity’s love for this person and God’s heart for them. Allow yourself to share in that love. Use a circle prayer to pray for them. Take your time. There is no hurry. Move on to pray for someone else when you have a sense your prayer for the first person is finished.

 

Circle __________ Lord,

Keep ____________in.

Keep ____________ out.

For example,

second triple circle prayer

Variations:

You can vary the words circle/encircle, keep/bring, in/within  or out/without. What makes it meaningful to you? Make changes as you wish.

Example:

Encircle Stan, Lord.

Keep bitterness without.

Bring a sense of Your presence within.

 

Closing: Gather together at the end for a time of sharing. Allow each person to speak without comment. Receive what each person has offered as a gift, pausing to pray silently for each one after they have spoken.

Credits and references:
Celtic Daily Prayer, from the Northumbria Community,  HarperSanFrancisco, 2002.
Celtic Illustrations: A Prayer Journal, Northumbria Community, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1997.
Ignatian Preparatory Prayer from The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola
Morning Prayer of SoulStream Community. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2016.
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, 2014, 2015, 2016  http://www.estherhizsa.com.

 

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