Astonishing Things Can Happen

How might this moment be a gift to me, just as it is? I asked in last week’s post.

I fingered that question like a smooth stone in my pocket while I put on my jacket and shoes. 

“Okay then,” I said to myself. “I’m going to enjoy this moment.”

Immediately a thought pinged back: you might not.

I took a breath and let go of the expectation I was putting on the present moment and rephrased my intention. “Okay then. I’m going to be in this moment and see what happens.”

On another bike ride with Fred, I paid attention to what I saw, heard, felt, and smelled and what was coming to my mind in that moment. One recollection led to another. It seemed as if each event had arrived at my door with bags of new clothes, and now I was opening the bags, taking the things out, and trying them on.

Oh. That’s what that person was trying to say.

Oh. Wait a minute. I thought we agreed to . . .?

Oh. Perhaps what that person is not saying in their email is telling me that . . . 

I can’t read or work when I ride, and it’s not safe to listen to podcasts, so my mind is free to listen to what I’ve experienced and be changed by what I hear. 

In a Ted Talk, poet David Whyte said, 

There is no self that will survive a real conversation. There’s no self that will survive a real meeting with something other than itself. There’s no organization that will keep its original identity if it’s in the conversation. And after a while you realize you don’t want to actually keep that old static identity. You want to move the pivot of your presence from this thing you think is you, into this meeting with the future, with the people you serve, with your family, with your loved ones. It’s in this self-forgetfulness where you meet something other than yourself that all kinds of astonishing things happen.

Each moment is a conversation and, in it, an invitation to be changed by it. I overlook this invitation when I relegate some moments as bad or unimportant, when I only see them through the lens of their capacity to make me feel good, or when I cover my ears from hearing anything that makes me feel less than or challenges my typical ways of being. Instead, I want to “move the pivot of my presence” and receive what is actually happening and let it loosen my grip on my old identity. 

Recently, I spent a fair bit of time trying to book a vacation place on Airbnb for a week in March. I’m new at this and am learning what to look for to help me make a good decision. As I scrolled through the listings and used the filters, I could narrow my search down to ones that had the non-negotiables for us. We wanted a quiet place in a specific location with a comfortable bed and a kitchenette that was reasonably priced and had a generous refund policy.

That was hard to find. So I began playing with what I might take off that list to make it work and asking what a host might allow to make it work. No. The 48 hour cancellation policy was firm.

That email conversation with a person who had a name helped me pivot. Instead of being afraid that we could lose hundreds of dollars if we cancelled later, I thought of the person I had conversed with receiving the income. I can imagine that Covid’s been hard on her business. And haven’t I been hearing and saying that we’re all connected? I’m not separate from her.

I began to consider a new thought. What if I set aside what’s best for me? We could book the place we want, and if something unforeseen happens and we can’t go, we’d have an opportunity to be generous.

And that would be astonishing. 

It’s in this self-forgetfulness where you meet something other than yourself
that all kinds of astonishing things happen.
David Whyte

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Love Mischief for the World

In this Ted Talk, David Whyte speaks of what he witnessed in the Galapagos Islands. It led him to see how astonishing things happen in real conversations with life. The quote in today’s post is from this talk. Whyte begins the talk by reciting his poem Everything Is Waiting for You. Here’s the first mischievous sentence, “You’re great mistake is to act the drama as if you are alone.” Enjoy the poem and the talk, and may you be astonished by what happens next.

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:
“Rest” by Aftab Uzzaman. Used with permission.
“Winter Bench at the Strip Mall” by Cam Miller. Used with permission. 
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, compassion, False Self, Mindfulness, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Listening to My Fear

“I got out my old calendars and checked. We used that Groupon. I didn’t lose three hundred dollars, afterall,” I told Fred, and he gave me a hug and a kiss.

It was a sunny Friday, and we’d just gotten back from a bike ride in Pitt Meadows. On that ride, I told Fred what happened to me on Tuesday evening. It took me three days before I could talk about it. Then I finally had the courage to check my records and find out if I had lost the money. That took less than five minutes.

When the facts were before me, I felt relieved but not sorry that I went through what I did, as uncomfortable as it was. I felt compassion for that part of me that was so panicked. It was paralyzed, afraid to look in case what I feared was true. I’m grateful that this part of me got to speak up and reveal the fear it carried. Now it’s in the light and, together, we can notice when that fear comes again, hold on tight to God, and let it pass.

As I was writing this, the phone rang. Fred took the call, and I left my writing to listen. I overheard that Hadrian, our grandson, was not going to come for a sleepover as planned. I felt a pinch, a little “Oh, no!” It sounded like he preferred to do something else.

He just turned fourteen. I always knew the day would come when this could happen, but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel the loss, and I was feeling it. I looked at the chocolate cupcakes and the veggie dogs defrosting on the counter and felt sad.

After Fred hung up the phone, he explained that Hadrian was feeling under the weather. He wanted to come alright, but needed to stay home and rest.

We were disappointed he couldn’t come, but I also felt a sweet relief. He still wants to come.

I returned to my laptop, writing and reflecting. The wave of sadness I felt when I thought Hadrian didn’t want to come revealed a fear. Something in me is afraid of how I will feel when our grandkids stop coming regularly for sleepovers. It will happen, and we will feel sad, but I don’t need to be afraid of the sadness.

I almost ended my post there and then realized later that I’d dismissed my fear.

What if it wasn’t ready to go? What if it had more to say to me?

Sure enough, it hadn’t gone far. I welcomed my fear to take a seat and tell me why it was so afraid of losing this pleasure?

I heard that it isn’t that I won’t feel loved or lack worth. I don’t like losing something that I count on to make me feel good, like being responsible with my money makes me feel good.

Then I saw it plainly: I believe I need to feel good to be happy.

I see how that belief winds me up. If I don’t feel good, I think there’s something wrong that needs fixing or I think about what I can do so I can feel good . . . or I just eat something.

What would it be like to let go of that belief? What if I simply surrender to this moment and receive what’s in it with openness and curiosity? How might this moment be a gift to me, just as it is? 

Welcome, welcome, welcome.
I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem,
approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation,
condition, person or myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and
God’s action within. Amen.
–Father Thomas Keating

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Love Mischief for the World

In this short video, Cherry Haisten introduces the practice of Welcoming Prayer taught by Father Thomas Keating. Welcoming prayer, spiritual direction, and focusing practices have helped me understand how feelings reside in my body and need to be welcomed and heard. They express how a part of me is feeling. When I am grounded in God, I am more able to move to a place of observing that part and welcoming my feeling instead of being identified with it. I can hear what my feeling wants me to know and see how it’s trying to help me, even if that help is not the help I need. In an interview with Tami Simon, psychologist and founder of Internal Family Systems, Richard Schwartz, talks about these parts of ourselves and explains why he believes there are no bad parts. 

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:
Leaf, fall, autumn, walking” from Pixabay. Public Domain.
“Giving Hands” by Artotem. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

Posted in compassion, Mindfulness, Overeating, Prayer, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Sannyasi’s Gift

After my playful summer, I had literally hundreds of unread emails to clear. One thing led to another, and I ended up on Groupon. In my history, I found an expired coupon a couple of years old worth three hundred dollars. I went instantly cold inside. My mind whirled. How could that have happened? There was nothing I could do about it now. 

I got ready for bed but knew I wouldn’t sleep.

I listened to a guided meditation and then another to calm my body. I prayed. I sensed God saying, “You’re very careful. It’s likely a mistake. Even if it isn’t, it doesn’t change anything–not your life, your worth, or how much I love you.”

It doesn’t change anything, I repeated to myself like a mantra. 

The constriction in my body eased, but whenever I remembered what I saw on my computer screen, I tensed up again.

Begin here, I told myself.

I had just written last week’s post. I thought about the tree that fell. Help me, God, I prayed and imagined Mother God stroking my forehead, gazing at me lovingly.

Something in me was cracking. Now I could name it: my attachment to money. 

I can give money away, but to lose it through carelessness or to have it taken from me throws me into a panic. There. I named it. It bothers me, but I noticed that it doesn’t bother God. 

Then a thought came. What if I’ve been given an experience of living into what I fear and surviving it to loosen that fear’s grip on me? If everything belongs, as Richard Rohr says, then losing the money (assuming I did), isn’t bad. What if sometimes when we can’t let something go, the universe lovingly takes it out of our hands for us?

Let it go, Mother God whispered. Let go of the regret and shame. Let go of the belief that you can’t make a mistake. Let go of the belief that if you do make a mistake, even though you know it’s okay, that you won’t feel it. This is suffering, and suffering is painful.

“The root of sorrow is attachment,” said Anthony de Mello. I remember being in the trees at our campsite at China Beach this summer and reading one of de Mello’s favourite stories. 

This is a story of a guy who is moving out of his village in India, and he sees what we in India call a sannyasi. The sannyasi is the wandering mendicant. This is a person who, having attained enlightenment, understands that the whole world is his home and the sky is his roof and God is his father and will look after him, so he moves from place to place the way you and I would move from one room of our home to another. 

Here was the wandering sannyasi, and the villager, when he meets him, says, “I cannot believe this.”

And the sannyasi says, “What is it you cannot believe?”

And the villager says, “I had a dream about you last night. I dreamt that the Lord Vishnu said to me, ‘Tomorrow morning, you will leave the village around 11 o’clock, and you will run into this wandering sannyasi.’ And here, I’ve met you.”

“What else did the Lord Vishnu say to you?” asks the sannyasi.

Ands the man replies, “He said to me, ‘If the man gives you a precious stone he has, you will be the richest man in the whole world.’ Would you give me the stone?”

So the sannyasi says, “Wait a minute.” He rummages in his little knapsack that he had. He asks, “Would this be the stone you are talking about?”

And the man couldn’t believe his eyes because it was a diamond–the largest diamond in the world. 

He holds the diamond in his hands and he asks, “Could I have this?”

And the sannyasi says, “Of course, you could take it. I found it in a forest. You’re welcome to it.” And he goes on and sits under a tree on the outskirts of the village. The man grasps this diamond and how great is his joy. . . .

And then instead of going home, he sits under a tree, and all day long he sits, immersed in thought. And toward evening, he goes to the tree where the sannyasi is sitting, gives him back the diamond, and says, “Could you do me a favour?”

“What?” says the sannyasi.

“Could you give me the riches that make it possible for you to give this away so easily?”

God is granting me that favour. Some attachments fall away easily, as softly as a leaf falling from a tree. Other attachments break away with a crash. And if I don’t panic, I won’t run off trying to get the dead thing back or run around trying to figure out how I lost it in the first place so that mistake won’t happen again. Instead, I can stay right here in the middle of the pain of loss and let God give me the freedom my heart desires.

I still feel it now, the constriction in my chest, the feeling that something terrible has happened. I can be present to that part of myself, and gently give it space and time to see for itself that everything’s okay. I can let go of my desire to recoup my loss or regroup my inner defenses so it never happens again. I can give thanks that I’m being given an invaluable gift–to be able to lose what I have and be okay with it. 

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.–John 12:24-25 (MSG)

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Love Mischief for the World

AN IGNATIAN PRAYER RETREAT

November 5-7, 2021

Online

I will be co-facilitating another Ignatian Prayer Retreat weekend online with my friend Sally Ringdahln on November 5-7, 2021. It would be awesome if you could join us. Register early. Space is limited. A past participant said, “This Ignatian Retreat offered me an opportunity to have encounters with God like never before. It has opened a door for me that I didn’t know exists and is possible.” Another said, “The Ignatian Silent Retreat created beautiful space within a chaotic time to meet with Jesus. The assigned prayers and times of spiritual direction were useful ‘structures’ within which to  stay present to the holy.”  

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:
“Bye-bye Summertime” (floating leaf) by Patrik S. Used with permission
Anthony de Mello, Rediscovering Life: Awakening to Reality p.37, 105.
“Cascades, Gleann nan Eildeag” by Tim Haynes. Used with permission.
Retreat photo by Ed Dahl. Used with permission.

© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Begin Here

Begin here, the mystics say.
Humbly and honestly,
name where you are,
what you love,
what you feel,
and wait there
until the eyes of your heart
adjust
to the dark.

God is right beside you,
in and around,
above and below.
You don’t need to go anywhere else
to find God,
to be loved,

to become good.

So I begin here
on this rainy day.
I want to feel passionate
about God.
I want to want only God,
but I don’t.
I want to be distracted,
entertained,
indulge my appetite.
It’s hard to be still
and trust that anything is happening
as I sit in the silence.

I feel restless, helpless, confused.
I want to think my way out of this place,
but an ache rises up in my throat
and says, No.
Stay here.
Keep watch. 

This is a holy place.
I am doing a new thing.

I remember my morning walk.
Part of a maple tree had fallen.
A branch over a foot thick
broke.
A branch as big as a tree itself
vibrant with green, yellow, and red leaves
lay across the path.

In summer’s drought, the tree must have grown weak.
When the heavy rains came,
the tree drank until it was too heavy to hold itself together.
What looked healthy fell away
with a loud crash.

Something in me is cracking.
Something dead is falling away.
Life isn’t in the branch.
I thought it was in the tree,
but when I went back to look,
it was dying too.

My head wants to figure it out,
know what this means.
My heart says, Of course, you do.
It’s okay not to know.

I reread, reshape this poem
until it says what it needs to,
what’s true

and then I see it.
I feel it.

God is the ache.

“From now on I will tell you of new things,
    of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago;
    you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
    ‘Yes, I knew of them.’
–Isaiah 46:6b-7 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

These Sockeye salmon have travelled five hundred kilometres–from the Pacific Ocean to the Adams River–to spawn. Sometimes these courageous mothers need help to reach their destination. On a walk by a nearby salmon spawning stream, Fred and I met two women who told us where and when to see the Coho and Chum salmon swimming upstream to spawn. They told us how they look forward to this momentous yearly event. “One year, the water in the Brunette River was so low we found a number of salmon stranded and nearly dead,” said one of the women. “I’ll never forget picking up a huge salmon full of eggs. She was barely alive. Then I put her back in the river, and she swam away.” I loved the way these two friends witness, celebrate, and participate in the salmons’ epic journey.

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:
Photos of maple tree by Esther Hizsa.
Orange Maple Leaf” in banner by ☼☼Jo Zimny Photos☼☼. Used with permission.
“Sockeye Salmon in Adams” Theinterior, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Creation, Poetry, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come Back

As autumn arrives, I find myself with little energy or enthusiasm. I have responsibilities, work to do, and practices to return to but lack the desire to do any of it. I don’t see a clear path forward as Covid continues to threaten and restrict. It bugs me that six hundred million dollars was spent on a federal election that didn’t change much.

This past weekend, our grandson invited us to join him for a Lord of the Rings movie-watching marathon. For three days, we accompanied Frodo on his journey to Mount Doom to dispose of the treacherous ring.

The scene that haunts me most is the sacrifice of Faramir in The Return of the King. Denethos, the ruling steward of Gondor, indulges himself with a meal of wine, fresh fruit and meat while the army he sent into battle, led by his son Faramir, faces certain defeat. While he eats, Pippen sings reluctantly for Denethos at his request. Scenes change from the crushing battle, to Pippen sorrowfully singing, to Gandalf sitting helpless, to Denethos eating heartlessly.

Denethos never does snap out of the spell that has trapped him in self-absorbed darkness. Thankfully, Faramir survives.

Why does this scene bother me so much? I think it’s because it shows the stark reality that, as humans, we’re all capable of such evil. Denethos could have stopped this tragedy, but he didn’t. He couldn’t becuase his heart had grown hard.

The movie’s pathos overly dramatizes my transient feelings. Yet, I recognize a disconnect and lethargy in me and fear what I will become if I give in to it.

Perhaps God, with the wisdom and kindness of Gandalf, is gently calling me back to the world and my place in it. Perhaps, like Merry and Pippen, I’ve had time to play, and now it’s time to attend to my tasks. Frodo was given his, and I’ve been given mine. No one can do them for us. They are ours and ours alone to complete.

Find me in the darkness, Lord.
Open my eyes to see you.
Give me the strength to move through the acedia,
so I can take my place, and do good.

Home is behind the world ahead
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadow to the edge of night
Until the stars are all alight.

Mist and shadow
Cloud and shade
All shall fade
All shall fade


–Pippen’s Song from The Return of the King

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Love Mischief for the World

September 30 is Orange Shirt Day. and Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Put on your orange shirt, and open your heart. How is God inviting you to participate in our calling to hear the truth, reconcile, and live justly and kindly?

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:
“Fall Leaves” by Douglas Hill. Used with permission.
“Orange Shirt Day 2018” by Province of British Columbia. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, Justice, Reflections, Songs, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sages

Fred and I spent a week camping on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island and met many trees there.

Sages, you are.
You welcome each moment as it is

for hundreds of years

alive in death

content
where you are

content
in what you are.

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Lone Tree in Fairy Lake

On our way from Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew, we passed the protestors at Fairy Creek. “In August 2020, a blockade was set up near the Fairy Creek Watershed after it was discovered that Teal-Jones, a privately owned timber harvesting and primary lumber product manufacturing company, was building roads in the area. Since then, the Fairy Creek movement has been on track to become the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history based on the number of arrests — over 800,” writes The Concordian in an article about a Fairy Creek protest that took place in Montreal. According to the Ancient Forest Alliance website, only 2.7 percent of B.C.’s old-growth is still standing, and 75 percent of that is slated to be logged in the coming years.

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:
I took the first five photos in this post. The first and third were from our campsite at China Beach Campground, Juan de Fuca Provincial Park. The second photo is of the Harris Creek Sitka Spruce Tree on the Pacific Marine Road between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew. The fourth photo was taken on China Beach. The arbutus tree is in East Sooke Regional Park. 
“Lone Tree in Fairy Lake” by Public Domain Pictures. Creative Commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

Posted in Creation, Justice, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop Teaching a Pig to Sing

“Don’t teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and irritates the pig.”

I read that quote in Anthony de Mello’s little book Rediscovering Life: Awaken to Reality right after I wrote last week’s blog post. Tony’s words woke me up to recognize that I’ve been looking to circumstances, people, or events to make me happy. 

Although Tony used this saying to explain why he didn’t bother trying to convince people to agree with him, it clearly illustrates his message that we can be happy right here, right now. Stop trying to get life out of the things that aren’t made to do that. Stop trying to get real joy out of what gives pleasure.

I enjoy biking, sunny days, and harmonious interactions, but I don’t need those things to be happy. Disappointment, sadness, and being in a “funk” are signs that I’m trying to teach a pig to sing again. I’ve attached my happiness to something other than God.  

I sat with Tony’s words for a while and recalled Jesus, Ignatius, John of the Cross and other mystics and teachers past and present saying the same thing.

I need to let go. . . again.

It’s not like I haven’t been here before. I wrote about this a few years ago when I re-read Awareness. 

“Let go,” Tony says. Let go of trying to get or hold onto what thrills. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the things that make me happy in the moment. I just need to loosen my grip and remember that what I’m experiencing isn’t real happiness. It’s just a taste of it. It’s a bit of the infinite reflected in the finite, to paraphrase Jim Finley in his talks on John of the Cross

Letting go begins with noticing what I’m attached to–having space in my day, being a person who doesn’t hurt others, having clarity and predictability, among other things. 

But Tony wonders if we really want to be happy. By happy, he means a deep sense of peace and well-being grounded in God. It’s the joy that Jesus talks about having “to the full.”

Tony invites us to test ourselves.

Suppose you could be blissfully happy, but you’re not going to get that college degree. Are you ready to barter your degree for happiness? You’re not going to get that girlfriend, or that boyfriend? Are you ready to barter them for happiness? Huh? How about this? You’re not going to be a success; you’re going to fail, and everybody is going to call you a bum. But you’ll be happy, you’ll be blissfully happy. Are you ready to barter the good opinion of people for that? 

Here’s what I hear Tony saying to me.

“Esther, what would you barter for real happiness? Suppose you could be blissfully happy, but your day will be chaotic. Are you ready to barter your calm day for happiness? Suppose you can be blissfully happy, but you’ll be a person who upsets others. Are you ready to barter who you’d like to be for happiness? What is more important? To be blissfully happy or have have clarity, predictability, sunny skies, long life, health? What if you gain all the weight back you lost, your kids believe you’re a terrible parent, your friends give up on you, your church calls you a heretic, your house burns down, or your government turns on you? What are you trusting to make you happy?”

The truth is that I’ve been unconsciously choosing to be miserable so I can have all the things I think will make me happy–and they don’t, not for long, anyway. I’ve been “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes. And I’ve been trying to teach a pig that song. 

It’s not working.

I need a new view. 

Jesus is showing me that view. I hear him saying, “You’re waking up and finding that you can be happy without the things you’re attached to. You can be lonely, hurt, confused and be at peace. It’s a peace that surpasses understanding and is possible as long as I’m around–and I’m right here. Always.”

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.
Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. –Philippians 4:11-13 (MSG)

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Love Mischief for the World

Here is a video of Tony de Mello, SJ (1931-1987) giving a retreat that is the basis of the book I read Rediscovering Life: Awaken to Reality. Note that letting go or choosing happiness now doesn’t mean suppressing or denying our feelings. It means sinking below them to a deeper reality.

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:
“Piglet lying down” by Tambako The Jaguar. Used with permission.
Quotes from Rediscovering Life, p.25 and 31.
“Happy pigs” by BrotherM. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Humour, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Come Home, Sweetheart

Sunny days
long bike rides
peaches and time–
lots of leisurely time 
to enjoy moments
without
conflict
deadlines
or problems to solve.

Then the rain we needed came
to put out the fires
along with the restrictions we needed
to keep us all safe.
News kept coming
from Haiti and Afghanistan
prayer requests
cancellations
dominoes toppling
dominoes

toppling me. 
Loud feelings
tight schedules.
I move too fast
knock things over.

I hope the evening’s contemplative group
will snap me out of the funk I’m in.
But nothing.
“Would anyone like to share anything?”
I shake my head.
Then I do. 
Tears come.
I sense that
God is with me
in the swirling.

I want summer back.
I crawl into bed and play Scrabble on my phone
until I can’t keep my eyes open.

But I don’t fall asleep.
I wonder if I’ve let God down again
then hear 
a gentle voice I know so well.
“You’ve had a hard day.”

The next morning. I can’t pray
and, I promised the family that just lost their son that I would.
I open my emails to find a poem
that tells me all my words are prayers.

I can’t stop my mind from thinking about
what I have to do,
what I should have done,
what I did.
Then I remember something someone said,
“When my mind gets on the crazy train,
I say to myself,
‘Come home, Sweetheart.'”

“Come home, Sweetheart,” God says.
“All your words are prayers.
I’m right here.
You’ve had a hard day.”

Is there even a little bit of love? That’s me. I’m with you. I’m there for you. Always.
Unseen, but never letting go, right here. Keep the faith.
Love, God

–from “Postcards from God” by Steve Garnaas-Holmes,
Unfolding Light, August 27, 2021

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

I am grateful for the love mischief of Melody Owen, who led a SoulStream contemplative group on September 1, Steve Garnaas-Holmes for his poem “Everything you’ve said” published September 2, 2021, and Cheryl Richardson for her insights at the Tapping World Summit 2021. Thank you for helping us come home to Love.

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:
“Peaches” Pen Waggener. Used with permission.
“Rainy Day” by Nicholas Erwin. Used with permission.
“hug” by Bernal Saborio. Used with permission.
Melody Owen can be reached at melody@musictherapywithmelody.ca
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Offering Kindness

“When I read your blog I hear how much you’ve changed in the past year,” my friend said. “You’re a lot kinder to yourself.”

I smiled and recalled how often I used to hear, “You’re so hard on yourself.” I suppose I believed what many do. If we aren’t hard on ourselves we won’t improve, and it’s all about improving ourselves.

Now I know that isn’t true, I’ve become a kindness evangelist. Whenever I hear someone blaming themselves, I try and offer them a kinder view.

They say, “I’m so lazy.” I say, “You sound tired.”

They say, “I’m such a failure.” I say, “You wished you’d done more.”

In spiritual direction, I hear directees say, “I don’t want to be so angry (or jealous, judgmental, impatient, etc.).”

I respond, “I hear that you’re angry.” Then I invite them to explore what they’re angry about and imagine God listening with compassion. Something beautiful often unfolds.

“Humankind. Be both,” says a bumper sticker. “Be calm. Be kind. Be safe,” says Dr. Bonnie Henry. “Be kind and compassionate to one another,” wrote Paul.

We know how important it is to be kind to others, and yet we can be so unkind to ourselves. I wasn’t even aware of it until I kept experiencing God’s kindness and the kindness of others.

Where do you experience kindness?

Perhaps it’s in a friend’s smile or in the way your dog greets you with those soulful eyes.

Perhaps it’s in a song that brings you to tears or the taste of a plump, sweet blackberry.

Our grandson Hadrian likes to give us our “daily boops.” He smiles and taps us on the nose four times and says,”Boop, boop, boop, boop.”

Brené Brown offers herself FFTs. If you don’t know what that is, listen to this podcast.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That love is patient and kind.

What would it be like to offer yourself patience and kindness the next time you get down on yourself?

Talk to yourself as you would someone you love.
— Brené Brown

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Our need for loving-kindness is deep and real. God knows we didn’t get enough and wants to do something about that. Raffi says that in this song. When I listen to it, it brings me to tears because it names what’s true and gives me hope.

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:
“Care” by Tanti Ruwani. Used with permission.
Woman drinking tea from pxfuel. Creative commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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The Valley of the Shadow of Blame

Twenty-four hours before leaving on a bike trip, I had two conversations in which I learned that I’d hurt people I love very much.

For the next three days, I was going to be alone with that thought for long periods of time. This could be a very uncomfortable ride through the valley of the shadow of blame.

Steep cliffs of shame towered above me on one side and on the other was a strongly defended fortress.

I’ve been undone by shame a number of times, fearing I will be abandoned. But I noticed I wasn’t undone now. Neither person pushed me away, and, for the moment, I felt less dependent on them for my security.

In my defence, I knew that what I’d done touched into a bigger story. Although I did apologize, I didn’t need to take responsibility for all they were feeling. Yet, I didn’t want to distance myself from their hurt either.

In the narrow space between shame and disconnection, I felt sad. As I rode past blackberry bushes and mailboxes, I breathed in pain and breathed out wholeness and healing–for them and for me.

Recently I listened to the Pádraig Ó Tuama read Ilya Kaminsky’s poem We Lived Happily During the War. I thought about how I live happily while forest fires consume towns and trees. I ride comfortably while others can’t get out of bed or walk to the store. I enjoy trips with my wonderful husband, the finder of routes and fixer of flats, while others die in their apartments alone.

Pádraig said, “Toward the end of the poem there is this request: ‘forgive us.’ There is tremendous tenderness in that. I don’t hate the person speaking, even though I pity them and even though, also, that person might be me. . .  The whole way throughout this poem, when someone’s saying, ‘We lived happily during the war,’ we’re hearing a voice that’s accusing itself. . . it’s begging for forgiveness for having taken a chair out to watch the sun while a country is falling all around you.” 

The poem invited me to turn from shame and move toward suffering. 

In a talk on trauma, Gabor Maté said that the space between overwhelm and numbness, where we are not shut down, is where we are able to learn and grow. 

For a long time, I rode on feeling sad and powerless. Then I began to see the power I did have. I could do things differently in my relationship with others and the earth. As I moved past what I couldn’t change, I saw what I could change.  And I was grateful for my awakening.

Awake, awake! Put on your strength!
–Isaiah 52:1 (NKJV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

After my bike ride, I watched Breaking Boundaries on Netflix. May Love awaken each of us to notice when we are overwhelmed or numb in response to the global crisis and do what we can to restore the earth. 

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:
“The Valley of the Shadow of Death” by contemplativechristian. Used with permission. 
“A Tree Planting activity in celebration of the Pistang Gubat at Inosari Agro-forest Farm (7)” by Trees ForTheFuture. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
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 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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