Advent III: Retreat

Three cancelled appointments and a no show at Bible study
gave me the breathing room I needed.
I know that was You
looking after me.
Sometimes You’re about as quiet as a three-year-old
trying to sneak up on mommy.

Then I go on retreat
to be with you alone.
I let myself be bored,
refuse to be distracted,
turn off the lights, scrunch up against the window
and watch the moon
slip behind the clouds and out again
while the earth turns
slowly.

You have my full attention
yet, You don’t
say
a word.

So I go to bed early.
I rest well
the first night
and the second.

When I awake,
You are still
silent.

Not a word do You say
as the light caresses the land,
clouds huddle on the shore,
the wind gently wakens the sea.

Not a word do You say
as I pack up my things
lock the door,
and walk through the trees to the ferry.

I return to the noisy city
and my busy life.
I come through the door
and something has
changed.

The moon, the rest,
the light, the trees
the silence
have followed me home.

I see You,
eyes twinkling,
smiling like a three-year-old
who is immensely proud of herself.

Maybe you could spend some time today getting low:
renew your outlook or alter your vantage point
or change your posture
so you can see again the ordinary things
you may be overlooking.
God may meet you there.
–John Pavlovitz

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

I have been using Low: An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz for my daily advent readings. I’ve been surprised by how often his words resonate with my life. “  

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

Credits and References:
Photo of the moon by Josh Kelahan. Used with permission.
Quote from Low: An Honest Advent Devotional by John Pavlovitz, p.27
“Bark Cabin Natural Area” by  Nicholas A. Tonelli. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, Poetry, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Advent II: Choose

God comes to you disguised as your life.
–Paula D’Arcy

It wasn’t Jesus who thanked me for not to giving up on him. It was God in disguise. God in my neighbour, my body, my Christmas cactus. God invites me to open myself to this moment and love God who is incarnate in whatever and whoever is before me.

In this season, we typically hear the message to slow down, clear the clutter, and make room for God. Sigh. The “clutter” in my life needs my attention, and it seems to be breeding.

What if the clutter is God? What if making room for God is simply a choice, a choosing to welcome God in this task, in this feeling, in this person.

The other day I was rushing to get things done and irked by something Fred had done or not done. I can’t remember what, but I know I thought about bringing it to his attention. But for some reason, I had the capacity to let it go and chose to.

A few minutes later, I was filling a jar with sesame seeds and bumped my elbow. Sesame seeds spilt all over the floor. I decided to finish what I was doing and clean it up later. But before I could, Fred came into the kitchen and, without a word, swept the floor. I was grateful for him and the choice I’d made.

This week, I listened to an interview with David Steindl-Rast. He was talking with Krista Tippet in an On Being podcast about the practice of gratefulness. He said that first, we need to stop. It doesn’t take long, he says. Sometimes a split second is enough to look and see the unique opportunity the present moment gives.

I found that when I do, choosing to be grateful, doesn’t seem like a choice at all. It just happens and loving God, who is no longer disguised, seems to follow.

[Our daily existence] is an ever-unfolding trip through a day we’ve never been to, where we notice beauty, move with compassion, have grace revealed, and within a wide and expansive space–we get to choose.
–John Pavlovitz

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

In BBC TWO’s Winterwatch, Chris Packham goes bird watching with Joe Harkness, author of Bird Therapy.  In this video clip, they discuss mental health, suicide, birdwatching, nature in general and the five ways to wellbeing.

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

Credits and References:
Advent 2 by Susanne Nilsson. Used with permission.
Sunset@ Gandipet by Vijay Bandari. Used with permission.
Quote from Low: An Honest Advent Devotional  by John Pavlovitz, p.11
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Advent I: Step into this Season

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

It’s Thursday morning, and I’m just sitting down now to write tomorrow’s blog post. The narrow space given is the next hour and a half before my first directee of the day arrives and life follows without many empty spaces in it.

This week I spent five days with my sister who lives in Quebec. We visited family and art galleries, planned our biannual siblings’ bike trip, and surmised how best to help our ageing parents while I showed her a bit of the British Columbia coast. Out of my regular routine, I went from one moment to the next, one conversation to another.

I travelled through joys, disappointments, sadnesses, beauty, surprise, awkward moments and wonderful ones on a steadily moving train of time.

The afternoon she left, I went to the Wednesday Lunch Club, an outreach for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. After we’d had something to eat, we gathered in a circle to remember a First Nations friend who had recently passed away. It was only after we lit the candle that I remembered that we needed to acknowledge that we were on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Kwikwetlem nations, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the names of those nations. But our priest did, and we muddled through.

I left there and muddled through my weekly chaplaincy visit with a ninety-four-year-old woman in a care home. As is our routine, I read a Bible passage and reflection, prayed with her, and we sang a hymn together. She struggles to express her thoughts; I struggle to make sense out of what she’s trying to say. As I listened again, she said clearly, “Thanks for not giving up on me.”

Without a second thought, I said, “I love coming to visit you.”

Just as my internal voice kicked in to challenge the truth of that, she looked at me and smiled. I smiled too. It was a beautiful, holy moment.

I look back on the past week in which God never got my full attention even in the hour at church, and what do I hear from Love? “Thanks for not giving up on me.”

That’s what I heard God saying to me.

The good news is we don’t need to discard our messiness
to step into this season,
and we couldn’t even if we wanted to.
Bring every bit of your flawed self
and all your chaotic circumstances to this day.
–John Pavlovitz

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

The New Media Gallery at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster, B.C. has innovative and unusual art exhibitions. The current installation Carooney explores the impact of animated cartoons. “The seven artists in this exhibition don’t create cartoons, they deconstruct those that already exist; from Looney Tunes to The Simpsons to Charlie Brown. They exploit this potent material to reveal the inner and outer workings of our human world. . . For example, Andy Holden’s Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape is a two-channel audio-visual installation in which Holden becomes a cartoon avatar, giving both a lecture on cartoons and a cartoon lecture describing how our world is best now understood as a cartoon. This five-year project incorporates Greek philosophy, Stephen Hawking, critical theory, physics and art, the financial crisis and Donald Trump while adapting 10 laws of cartoon physics to create a theory of the world and a prophetic glimpse of the world we live in.” (New Media Gallery).

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

Credits and References:
“Looking Back” by Lisa E. Used with permission.
“The First Sunday of Advent” by Susanne Nilsson. Used with permission.
Quote from Low: An Honest Advent Devotional  by John Pavlovitz, p.7.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, Reflections, Wednesday Lunch Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Grateful

“You looked so happy,” Fred said Friday night after the book launch. We were sitting in front of a crackling fire with a glass of wine.

I was happy. We had a good turn out of people excited about Seed Cracked Open. I read portions of the book that made them laugh and feel a tear or two.

“You cover a lot of different topics in your book–prayer, listening to our emotions and our bodies, caring for the earth and the poor. Is there a central theme in all of these?” asked Joy Borthwick, my excellent interviewer.

“Yes, that God loves us and is present in all we do, leading and opening us to what to do next and how to do it. In it all, God transforms the world and frees us to be who we were created to be.”

I loved being able to talk about God’s love and was grateful that I got to be a part of God loving all my readers.

That was Friday night. Gratitude spilled over all weekend. On Saturday, I attended a workshop with others from St. Stephen’s. At lunch, a fellow in our church I hardly knew shared about what was going on in his life right now. He seemed to materialize before my eyes. I was grateful to get to know him and that he shared so honestly and vulnerably.

That night was a family games night at St.Stephen’s. Three generations of Hizsas were there eating pizza and playing Exploding Kittens and Buzz Word Junior. When it was all done, we got in the car to go home and the engine light came on. The black car, as Hadrian calls it, was not happy. Fred babied her home. I was thankful this didn’t happen when I was on my way to Abbotsford for Living from the Heart or while travelling to the Sunshine Coast with my sister. I was grateful too for Fred who saved the day again. He was able to diagnose and fix the black car and not miss his Tuesday morning date with our daughter.

I love the way God takes care of us, shows us how amazing each person is, and is invested in us becoming ourselves. I love that God trusts that who we are is enough–enough to do all that needs to be done in this world. We are being “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” and that makes me grateful.

There is no closer bond than the one that gratefulness celebrates,
the bond between giver and thanksgiver.
–Brother David Steindl-Rast

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Brother David Steindl-Rast is a Benedictine monk and the founder and senior advisor for A Network for Grateful Living. His books include GratefulnessA Listening Heart, and a new autobiography, i am through you so i. Krista Tippet interviewed Brother David for On Being. An Anatomy of Gratitude.

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

Credits and References:
“Flames” by Tassoman. Used with permission.
“Joy Is Measurable” by Funkybug. Used with permission.
Quote by Brother David Steindl-Rast, from
The Way of Silence: Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turn to Wonder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

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

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

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

Fred Saves the Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Love Mischief for the World

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

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

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

Into the Light

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

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

This is what I noticed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

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

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

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

The Narrow Space Given

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how the poem ends.

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

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

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

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

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

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

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

Arms Wide Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will you welcome her? Jesus asked me.

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

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

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

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

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Love Mischief for the World

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

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

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

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

Hopelessly Lost

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

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

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

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

“Can you see Planet Ice?” Fred asked.

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

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

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

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

The words PLANET ICE couldn’t have been bigger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

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

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

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

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

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

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