In God I Play

While Fred installed the new radiator, I set out on Gracie to do my first century ride in ten years. The hundred-kilometer route I chose was accessible by public transit which allowed me to get home on my own if I had a breakdown. I cycled the Greenway in Burnaby into Vancouver, along the waterfront to UBC, over the Skytrain bike/pedestrian bridge to Richmond, out to Steveston, through blueberry fields to the Fraser River, over the Queensborough Bridge into New Westminster and back to Burnaby.

When I ride on my own, I tend to keep going and don’t stop often enough to rest and refuel. So I promised Fred I would text him where I was and what I was eating every 20-25 kilometres.

I loved it. I enjoyed views of the ocean, mountains, and rivers, riding under leafy canopies, and chatting with cyclists I met along the way.

A few days later, Fred and I took the ferry to Langdale and cycled the hilly Sunshine Coast to Sechelt and camped in the biker site at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park. We stopped often to sit by the ocean, have coffee, or eat out. We found seaside trails we hadn’t been on before and met a couple from Terrace who were bike-camping with their baby for the past six weeks.

Before the fall, we plan to ride the Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria and through the vineyards around Oliver.

It’s been the first summer in a few years that I haven’t done an 8-day retreat, formatted a book or written sermons. In fact, except for seeing people for spiritual direction, I’ve done nothing but play.

I haven’t had to strive to get close to God. God has come to me in the taste of cherries, the wonder of the night sky when we are far from the city, and the stillness of the forest.

In God, we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:28 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

I have featured the love mischief of trees before but Suzanne Simard, professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, has more to say.

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

Photo Credits and References:
Kitsalano Beach by fujitariuji. Used with permission.
Boat in Steveston by Bruce Foster. Used with permission.
Horses and bikes on the Galloping Goose trail Vancouver Island by Joe. Used with permission
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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A Big Problem and No Guarantees

“What’s that?” I said, pointing to the profusion of what first appeared to be dust. Fred turned off the engine. Steam continued to billow out from under the hood, and an “Oh no!” clenched my stomach. We were in Manning Park, seventy kilometres from help.

We’d gotten up early to hike the Skyline Trail to Snow Camp Mountain and were now parked at the trailhead. After Fred looked under the hood and determined the vapour was likely caused by leaked radiator fluid, we decided to go ahead with the hike. But how could I enjoy it now, without knowing how serious this was? Eventually, I was able to put the problem out of my mind, going with the scenario Fred suggested, that perhaps he hadn’t put the cap on properly when he’d last checked the level of radiator fluid.

Skyline is a beautiful trail, that begins shaded with trees and leads up to glorious views of Goat and Redcap Mountains nearby and the jagged peaks of  Mt. Hozameen in the North Cascades.

The next day, I stayed at our campsite while Fred drove ten kilometres uphill to fish at Lightning Lake. He came back at noon with the story of the fish that got away and the news that there was at least one significant leak in the radiator. While he thought about what he might do, I began making lunch. But I had no appetite. My stomach was knotted with anxiety as I thought about how this story might turn out–that it could involve a tow truck, finding accommodation in Hope, and would certainly end our time away sooner than planned.

As I paid attention to the anxiety and my body’s reaction, I recognized I was caught up in the future. I pulled my thoughts back to the present, reminding myself, “We are here under the trees eating a delicious lunch. We are safe. We are fine.” Whenever my mind wandered off into the “What Ifs” and “Oh Nos!” I brought it back to the present, appeasing it with the thought that this is a problem that money can solve, and we can afford it.

After lunch, Fred figured out how he could fix the leak in the radiator with what he had on hand  (see picture below). It looked like it would hold. Then he found another small leak and glued that. Meanwhile, I was able to relax and read.

The next day we got up early, packed up and left the campsite. “If we can make it to Hope, there’s a chance that when we get some stop-leak and Goop, we can get all the way home,” Fred said.

“And then?”

“Then I’ll put in a new radiator.”

I love this guy.

So we babied the car to Hope, keeping the speed down, the heater on to divert heat from the engine, and stopping every twenty kilometres to let the engine cool down and to check the radiator fluid level. We got to Hope then inched our way home on back roads for another 150 kilometres. On our stops, we went for walks or I biked ahead and Fred caught up with me. We bought a bag of Chilliwack corn and twenty pounds of fresh-picked blueberries at roadside stands. It was actually pleasant, although we breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived home twelve hours later.

We didn’t get to do the Three Brothers hike, but I was able to enjoy being in the moment even when the moment was in a day with a big problem and no guarantees. That was a huge gift.

Of course, so was Fred.

Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”
Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
–Mark 4:39 (NRSV)

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Love Mischief for the World

Snow Camp Mountain and Three Brothers hikes are in Stephen Hui’s book 105 Hikes In and Around Southwestern British Columbia. Hui offers “an at-a-glance summary of all the hikes in the book; tips for hiking safely and ethically; full-colour topographical maps; a rating system for hike quality and difficulty; Indigenous place names where appropriate; and shorter or longer options for many outings. The book is extensively researched and field-tested and a portion of the revenue from its sales  will benefit the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC), one of the province’s oldest outdoors clubs.” (from website)

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 the car are by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Photos of Skyline trail and Snow Camp summit are by Esther Hizsa. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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The Way God Is Transforming Me

Even your own life is not your business. It is also God’s business.
Leave it to God.
–Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

So I left my life in God’s hands
and trusted
that if I kept listening
to God’s still small voice
I would know what to do
and how to love.
I thought
I would be transformed
by grace
into Christ.

I thought
in entrusting my transformation to God
that eventually
kindness, generosity, and compassion
would flow from me effortlessly,
accessible on the surface.

But that has not happened.

The kind word
the generosity action
the compassionate sigh
keep arriving late to the party
and only after I’ve seen it in others.

I do not lack these attributes.
They are in me
buried
under layers of stuff
about me
about life
and what needs to be done
under layers of memories, desires
and responses to all that stuff.

A new thought came.

What if, in my design,
kindness, generosity, and compassion
never get dislodged and bubble up to the surface?
What if
God doesn’t intend them to?

I know that when I sink down under the layers
I find them.

What if
sinking down is something I must do
if I want to learn to love?

I want to do what comes naturally to me
but, for the most part, this doesn’t.
I want love to come easily
but often it doesn’t.

What if knowing that
is the way
God is transforming me?

This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time,
but now it’s out in the open.
God wanted everyone, not just Jews,
to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out,
regardless of their background,
regardless of their religious standing.
The mystery, in a nutshell, is just this:
Christ is in you,
so, therefore, you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory.
It’s that simple.
–Colossians 1:26-27 (MSG)

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Love Mischief for the World

Over my lifetime, I’ve experienced a lot of self-judgment and shame about my inability to be more other-centred. But whenever I talk about it in spiritual direction or with ones dear to me, I see the face of Jesus, the face of compassion. Slowly I have learned to offer myself compassion and keep trusting that God is doing God’s business. When I signed up for the Radical Compassion Challenge in January, I was introduced to Kristen Neff, Ph.D. She is one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion and yet remains “the girl-next-door.” In this Ted Talk, she explains why practising self-compassion is so important and how it differs from pursuing self-esteem.

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 first image is from a collage I made in March 2019.
Painting “Mustard Seed” by Wendy Linnington. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Staying the Course

It’s been almost three months since my convergence, and I can feel the difference. I fit into clothes I haven’t worn in years and can now bike up Burnaby Mountain and down again in just under an hour.

But the energy that first motivated me has lessened. I still have a way to go, and I’m not giving up. So whether I feel like it or not (and right now I don’t), I will stick to my routine of prayer, yoga, eating healthy foods without snacking, and getting outside for a bike ride or walk every day.

I’m reminded of something Ignatius of Loyola taught: when you are in the dark, don’t change a decision you made in the light. I remember my Rule and how I promised to only discontinue a practice after a time of discernment. I remember a friend who often wakes with a “no” to life and has learned to open to God and wait patiently for a “yes.”

So I sit in this lackluster mood and open to God in the silence. The distractions are relentless.

I pray tonglen for those who are grieving a great loss and others who carry great weight.

I pray tonglen for myself, breathing in my malaise and breathing out trust.

Then I roll out my mat and cue today’s Yoga with Adriene.

Awaken, O Love. O You who created me, 
return to my side;
forget me not in my weakness.
–Psalm 10:12,
Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying, An invitation to Wholeness

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Love Mischief for the World

During this pandemic, we are repeatedly reminded to stay home. As a result, many have discovered a wonderful new restaurant called the kitchen. This is a great time to try out new recipes. A friend of mine sent me this one. It’s delicious.

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: “Feet on bathroom scale” from Wallpaper Flare. Creative Commons.
“Yoga Surrender Pose” from by Stocksnap for Pixabay Creative Commons.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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A Free Gift from the Universe

It’s quiet in my heart these days. I hear the urgent faintly in the distance, but it’s easily ignored. My “work” is to bike or walk somewhere each day and fit everything else around it.

The movie I’m living could be labelled understated. No blockbuster moments to write about, and yet there are scenes I cherish.

Saturday I rode to North Vancouver to participate in the physically-distanced Dances of Universal Peace. We usually finish around 9 pm, so I’d planned to return by transit. But when it was time to go home, I wasn’t tired. I enjoyed the strength I had to pedal uphill without stopping and, of course, the rush of zooming down.

Nearing home I turned a corner to find the full moon smack dab in front of me, bigger than I’d ever seen it before. When my route took me east again, I kept looking for that smiling face to reappear.

Minutes later, I dinged my bell. “On your left,” I called out gently.

A woman stepped out of the way. As I passed her, I asked, “Did you see the moon?”

“Yes,” she gasped. “That’s what I was looking at.”

I was touched to share this moment of connection with a stranger.

When I got home, Fred was waiting for me with a glass of wine and a game of Sequence ready to go. It was neck and neck, and then he won in “sudden death overtime” (our name for the third tie-breaker round).

Then we went outside and looked for the moon. There she was, nestled behind the branches ready to be captured in our memory.

When I was six or seven years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of my own and hide it for someone-else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I’ve never been seized by it since. For some reason I always “hid” the penny along the same stretch of side-­walk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of side-walk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY.  I was greatly excited, during all this arrow-drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way, regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight home and not give the matter another thought, until, some months later, I would be gripped again by the impulse to hide another penny.

It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broad­side from a generous hand. But–and this is the point­–who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

What pennies have you picked up lately? My friend Gail finally got to see her husband face to face. He has been convalescing in a long term care facility, and she has not been allowed to visit him since March. Now that travel abroad is out of the question, our friends Marijke and Dave, who are in their seventies, purchased electric bikes and are planninig new adventures. At long last, the Minecraft board game our grandson Hadrian has been telling us about (endlessly) is available. This week he got it and cradled it all the way home from the store. 

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:
“Riding on Gracie” (in the Kananaskis, Alberta in 2017) by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
“Full Moon” by Kristen Bryant. Used with permission.
“See a penny” by John Lodder. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Fear and Grace

As soon as we gathered on the screen, I felt nervous. Insecurity jumbled my words and hid others. The twelve faces in front of me belonged to the facilitators of Living from the Heart, and I was in charge of our biannual gathering. I had co-facilitated with many of them who have become dear friends, but facilitating facilitators on Zoom? Now that was a whole new level.

The new team from Washington State was joining us for the first time, and I wanted them to feel accepted and inspired. We had a number of things on our agenda, so I had to keep things moving and yet leave enough space for the Spirit and for people to process and express their thoughts and feelings.

I was touched and encouraged by what transpired over the two days we met. Although we finished early, no one wanted to leave. We talked about movies and books for another half hour until finally, someone said they had to go.

As we closed our time together, the facilitators generously expressed their gratitude to me for organizing and leading us. They appreciated being able to simply come and participate. I was glad to provide that for them and yet, knowing how beautifully they facilitate, I can’t help but wonder now if they were frustrated with me at times. I responded to questions too quickly and too often and could have left more space for others to contribute. These are lovely people, but they are also real and can get irritated like anyone else. What if I irritated them? What if in the feedback I discover it’s true: I’m guilty as charged.

That thought makes my chest tighten. An “Oh-No” rises up in me as if I’m about to go over a cliff into an abyss where the rubble of those who commit the unforgivable sin lie wasted.

Something in me can’t let that happen. But as I stay present to this fear, I discover a calmness in my body that allows me to step back and watch myself go over the edge, fall, and get up again. What if I did irritate some of them? They love me enough to let it go. They are mature enough to attend to their own discomfort. Whatever feedback I receive, it’s going to be okay.

As I sit with the intensity of my fear and the graphic image I used to describe it, I know that this present fear is rooted in the past. Something in my body still feels past hurts and braces for a fall. I put my hand over my heart and feel sadness and compassion. “It’s going to be okay,” I say softly to my fear. “You’re safe now.”

A few hours later, I go for a bike ride. There’s road construction and a flagger directs me to stop. While I wait for the oncoming traffic to pass, I watch him instructing a similarly dressed younger woman. When they direct me to go, I realize I’ve never witnessed that before. Why now?

As I pedal and think about the new flagger, God reminds me that I too am a beginner. I feel invited to receive grace, not only from my colleagues and God but from myself. Can I be patient with myself as I learn to facilitate facilitators and continue to be present to my body?

And might there be grace as well for that tender fear in me that may never leave?

O my Beloved, to You do I draw close;
when all my inner fears well up,

enfold me in your strong arms;
otherwise, like a fiery dragon, 
my fears will consume me,
I shall live in my illusions.
–Psalm 7: 1, 2
Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness

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Love Mischief for the World

Events in the United States and around the world have made us more aware of the racism underlying our lives and culture. In this unprecedented time in history. we are called to recognize hidden racism and help the world become equitable for all. But how do we do that? Sounds True organization is undergoing an in-depth Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training in their workplace over the next two years provided by TMI Consulting and led by Dr. Tiffany Jana. I’ve been listening to a 3-part webinar series Sounds True made for their staff and customers in which Dr. Jana answers a number of questions about bias and racism. Dr. Jana is the author of a number of books including Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships across Differences, and the founder of TMI Consulting, a diversity and inclusion management consulting firm. You can listen to the webinar here.

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:
“Measuring Up” by woodleywonderworks. Used with permission.
Painting of girls by Jessie Wilcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935)
Photo of protest from Pikist, a royalty-free image.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Inside a Living Temple


“If your body is a living temple, you are inside that temple,” Donna Varnau said near the end of our guided meditation.

I rested in my body-temple with deep gratitude.

The belief that God is incarnate in all things is foundational to contemplative living. I taste God in the Eucharist, hear God in birdsong, see God in budding flowers, smell God in the rain, and touch God when I hold my grandson’s hand. St. Patrick’s prayer reminds me that Christ is in the heart of everything and everyone–including me. My body is a sanctuary God always inhabits, and I can return there to experience God in me living from my whole self.

I have known that metaphorically and now, in this class on Focusing taught by Donna, I am learning to experience it physically. I am learning to bring my attention back and down in my body, breathe and feel myself inside my feet, my thighs, and all the way up to my head and down to my heart and belly. Then I invite whatever it is there that wants my attention.

One time when I practiced attuning to full body presence with a classmate,  I felt a slight clenching in my stomach. As my companion reflected back what I was feeling, I was able to stay present to that felt sense and follow how it was moving and changing, what it wanted me to notice, and how God in my body was welcoming and loving something in me.

Tears came as a painful memory returned. I named a fear: if I let go of my hypervigilant mind I might forget something or someone and the consequences could be drastic. As I stayed present to this fear, an image came to mind that a directee had shared.

He saw himself holding onto a high bar for dear life, afraid that if he let go he would fall. Jesus was there beside him gently saying, “You can let go.” He looked down and his feet were on the ground!

I sensed how my body felt as I thought of my feet on the ground and letting go of my hypervigilance. My shoulders relaxed, and my chest expanded.

Something in me was still afraid to let go and yet something bigger was also in me. This presence had the confidence of Jesus. It embraced my fear and allowed me to trust God and trust my body. Both are safe and sacred.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?

–1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

Dancers are joining in the porch-front jingle dress craze to share healing and joy. Skye, from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, wanted to be part of the movement during the pandemic and dance her prayer for everyone.

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:
Water lily by Plane777 at English Wikipedia / Public domain
Quote by Donna Varnau from Judith Blackstone and The Realization Process.
Image from my directee shared with permission.
Yoga Namaste image by Michael Pravin from Chennai, India / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mindfulness, Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stepping into This Moment

To live mindfully in the present, I have to slow down and take deliberate steps.

First, there is an awakening to this moment and noticing what is in it and me–what I see, feel, and think. I observe myself and what is taking place now. I notice my immediate attraction or aversion to “what is”–how I label it as good or bad and become entangled in it.

As my awareness broadens, I discover that I’m not alone. God, who is love, is here too, in and around me. This discovery helps me to slip out of my initial reaction and hold it with a sense of detachment.

At this point, I might notice a thought that has some energy in it. For example, I was talking with “Bob” about current events and felt uneasy when it became clear that our viewpoints differed. Then the thought emerged: I feel destabilized when we disagree.  Once that came to light, I was able to allow my discomfort and our differences to be there conscious that God is in and around both Bob and me. In this state of detached awareness, I was able to respond calmly and respectfully.

Later, I might return to that destabilizing feeling and pray with it or talk about it with my spiritual director. I might forget about it and find it returns when I feel it again in a similar situation or it’s stirred up by something I’ve read or heard. Eventually, when I go with God into the dark valley of my fear of being destabilized, I am anointed with oil, and my cup overflows with healing and freedom.

I feel such peace as I write about this. Yet I know that many thoughts and questions are about to descend and will anxiously clamour for my attention.

But I’m not in that future moment. I’m in this one, and so I will keep them waiting.

Even though I walk through the
valley of the shadow and of death,
I am not afraid;
For You are ever with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they guide me,
they give me strength and comfort.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of all my fears;
you bless me with oil,
my cup overflows.
–Psalm 23: 4, 5
Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness 

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Love Mischief for the World

Richard Wagamese (1955-2017) offers us words of healing so needed in these troubled times. “I’ve been considering the phrase ‘all my relations’ for some time now. It’s hugely important. It’s our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are related, we are all connected, we all belong to each other. The most important word is all. Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL my relations. It means every person just as it means every blade of grass, rock, mineral and creature. We live because everything else does. If we were to collectively choose to live that teaching the energy of that change of consciousness would heal all of us—and heal the planet.” Think of the love mischief we can do with God when we see and love all our relations.

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:
“Walkers!!! Ruun!!!” Jonathan Emmanuel Flores Tarello. Used with permission.
“Hand in Wild Grass” by Lloyd Morgan. Used with permission.
Photo of Richard Wagamese  by Dan Harasymchuk / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Quote by Richard Wagamese from Ember: One Ojibway’s Meditations
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Grace and Practice of the Present Moment

Living in the present moment is a contemplative practice that has been difficult for me. You’ve heard me struggle with this in my blog posts. I am as addicted to thinking as I am to food. I’m constantly thinking about the future or the past.

But six weeks have gone by since my convergence. For six weeks now, I have, for the most part, been free of the compulsion to eat. I’m losing weight and have more energy.  I wonder now what it would be like to be freed from compulsively thinking–to lose the weight of worry about what might happen in the future or the pain of what happened in the past. Is God inviting me to pour my new-found energy into being fully in the present?

The past six weeks have shown me that freedom from any compulsion requires grace and practice.

By grace, I’m being awakened to the present moment, to the eternal now in which God lives. In this place, I want for nothing and am released from the illusion of separation from God, others, and all things. At this present moment–no matter what is in it–there is a gift that is for me and not against me. This is the grace I am given.

Practice is what I do with that grace. When I am given the awareness that I have wandered off into thinking about the past or planning for the future, I can gently return to what I’m doing in the present moment. I say to myself, “I’m holding this dish. The water is warm.” or “This is a wonderful moment.” Then I feel myself relax from the tyranny of belief that my thoughts are more valuable than my presence.

For most of my life, I believed I would be better off spending the boring moments preparing for future ones to be better. But when I’m finally in those “better moments” I think about how I can make them happen again instead of being fully there. It’s true that some moments are more enjoyable than others. But now I see that when I live each moment in the moment I am at peace. I don’t need to be anywhere else. Just to be present and aware of God and myself in this moment is what God desires for me.

Choosing to be present isn’t a decision you make once. It is a conscious choice with every step. It is choosing to be awake and accept what is in this moment now, and now, and now.

The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.— Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Love Mischief for the World

Here is a meditation by my friend Rod Janz that invites you to be present to the moment you are in.

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:
“Raindrops of day lily leaf” by Martin LaBar. Used with permission.
“Goutte d’eau” by Bernard Ruelle. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Planting Mustard Seeds

While others have been baking bread or planting gardens during this pandemic, I’ve been focused on Living from the Heart. For the past few months, our team of facilitators has been figuring out Zoom, revising lesson plans, and meeting frequently so we could finish the retreat-like courses online.

Though it was a lot of work, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I continue to hold what the participants experienced and the transformations we witnessed with deep gratitude.

When the courses finished, life became more spacious–and more ordinary. All the less urgent things I pushed off my plate were waiting for me. My “To Do” list was long and uninspiring, but the weight of it propelled me to get on with it. So I began.

I love completing a job and crossing it off my list, but to my surprise, I noticed that I actually enjoyed what I was doing. I sensed God’s presence as I wrote letters, arranged chairs six feet apart in the church hall, and delivered the Burnaby Now.

I still had a habit of rushing through mundane moments to get to more exciting ones. But I was aware of it.

Sometimes our transformation is big and comes with a storyline and tears. Sometimes it’s so small it’s barely noticeable.

Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;  it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” –Matthew 13:31-32

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Love Mischief for the World

The violent events of the past week in the United States have shaken us all. I am grateful for Bishop Michael B. Curry‘s sermon given at Washington National Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday. May we be encouraged and inspired to be the change we want to see.

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:
“Hard Working Life” by Px4u by Team Cu29. Used with permission.
Stained glass of The Parable of the Mustard Seed by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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