The Sound of Freedom Rising

It came like a low, distant hum, barely noticeable at first: a momentary sadness after a conversation.

The drone grew louder as I noticed it more often–after a suggestion I made evoked a negative response, after a compliment went nowhere, after an attempt at humour fell flat.

The incessant noise heightened whenever I didn’t get the response from others I was hoping for. Although my need for approval isn’t as strong as it used to be, I was disappointed that I couldn’t shut it off and be at peace.

It hummed in the background when I reflected again with my spiritual director about the incident that happened to me two months ago.

“I can easily see what they did wrong. But what do they see when they look at me? I suppose they see a person who doesn’t take no for an answer,” I said.

“And what does Jesus see?” she asked.

I closed my eyes and thought about my stubborn forthrightness. Then I heard Jesus say, “That’s what I love about you!” and burst into tears.

In one hand, I held my desire to be rid of what keeps me from fitting in and, in the other, Jesus’ desire that I cherish how I’m made.

“It seems that there is a cost to being your true self,” my director offered.

“Yes. Sometimes people aren’t going to like me or what I do.”

In an odd way, that felt freeing.

Perhaps the sadness I experience when I feel dismissed or don’t fit in is the sound of my true self rising. It’s the sound of new freedom.  And maybe, I don’t need to do anything about it.


The most courageous thing we will ever do
is
 to bear humbly the mystery of our own reality.
–Richard Rohr

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Jean Vanier, passed away on May 7, 2019 at the age of 90. Vanier was a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian. In 1964, he founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 countries, for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. He continued to live as a member of the original L’Arche community in TroslyBreuil, France, until his death (Wikipedia). In his book, Community and Growth, Vanier wrote, “I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” The truth of his words has helped me share my weaknesses and difficulties with you.

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

Credits and References:
“Lonely Tree” by Mika Hiironniemi. Used with permission.
“Wheat” by FarbenfroheWunderwelt. Used with permission
Photo of Jean Vanier by Kotukaran, from Wikimedia. 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 Poverty of Spirit, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Legend of La Loba

There is an old woman who lives in a hidden place that everyone knows but few have ever seen. . . . The sole work of La Loba, [the Wolf Woman], is the collecting of bones. She is known to collect and preserve especially that which is in danger of being lost creatures: the deer, the rattlesnake, the crow. But her specialty is said to be wolves.

She creeps and crawls and sifts throught the montañas, mountains and arroyos, dry river beds, looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white scuplture of the creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing.

And when she is sure, she stands over the creatura, raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the rib bones and leg blones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes into being; its tail curls upward, shaggy and strong.

And La Loba sings more and the wolf creature begins to breathe.

And still La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes and as she sings, the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Hope leaps up in me when I hear the legend of La Loba (known in other lands as La Huesera, Bone Woman or La Trapera, The Gatherer). My soul declares, “It’s true. It’s true. That woman is God and I am the wolf. God is enlivening us all.”

My mind concurs. Ezekiel and the valley of dry bones, the shepherd that searches for the lost sheep, the prophet Zephaniah who sees God rejoicing over daughter Israel with singing are echoes of the same story. They’re stories of the resurrection and the coming of the kingdom.

God is always at work, searching relentlessly for the lost parts of ourselves, our communities, the earth and everything in it–and breathing life into us.

When I live out of this truth, I can trust that I will receive what I need to be whole. I don’t need to take it from someone else. Nor do I need to remain victimized by what’s been taken from me.

La Loba keeps collecting bones and bringing wolves to life; that is our work too. Every time I pause to hear God singing over my bones, I rise up with new eyes to see the lost bones of others. What song shall I sing over them?

When You send out Your breath, life is created,
    and the face of the earth is made beautiful and is renewed.
–Psalm 104:30 (Voice)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Maya Angelou (1928–2014) was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. In this video,  Maya Angelou shares how she was liberated by love. It brought me to tears. I just had to share it with you.

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

Credits and References:
Ezekiel 37:1-14, Luke 15:3-7, Zephaniah 3:17.
“Wolf” by Barnaby_S. Used with permission.
“Wolf Howling” by Steve Felberg on 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 Creation, Mystical, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Empty

Empty

Before you go to bed,
shake the dust off your feet.
Open your front door and
–with a shoe in each hand–
smack those soles together.
Like a TV preacher,
tell those demons: “Be gone!”

Before you go to bed,
empty your pockets.
Pile up your
precious portfolio of plastic,
cell phone, cash, keys,
loose change, receipts, and Kleenex.
Pull your side pockets right out.
Flick those fabric ears clean of identity.

Before you turn back the sheets,
take off those dangly earrings, necklace, bracelet, watch.
Give your wrist a rub
until it forgets what it lugged around all day.

Before you turn out the light,
take a warm, wet cloth,
close your eyes and wash your face.
Wipe away all you heard, all you saw, all you tasted.
Brush off every word you spoke, tooth by tooth.
Gargle, spit, smile.

Before you lay your head on the pillow,
grab your ankles,
flip your body upside down and give it a shake,
hard,
like your mother did when she brought washing in from the line.
Snap out that lingering thought, that clinging regret
till it falls to the floor and rolls under the bed.

When you are
completely
empty,
pull the blankets up to your chin
and say goodnight to your life.

Go to sleep
filled with God.

Like a waterwheel of divine love, the Father empties all of himself into the Son. The Son receives and empties all of himself into the Spirit. The Spirit receives and empties all of himself /herself into the Father. The Father receives and the cycle continues. It’s no good telling people to let go if they can’t be assured they will be refilled, but the Trinity gives us a model for how that can happen. I can let go, because I trust I will always be filled up again.–Richard Rohr

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Rod Janz, my friend and SoulStream partner (members of SoulStream Community are called “partners”) does some amazing podcasts. Letting go is another way of emptying. May you be filled with all the fullness of God.

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

Credits and References:
Banner: Goodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd, 1947.
“Bed” by Erika Wittlieb on Pixabay. Used with permission.
“Empty” by Esther Hizsa. Used with permission.
A Good Night’s Sleep by 
Seán Ó Domhnaill. Used with permission.
Richard Rohr quote from Center for Action and Contemplation Meditation “Self-Emptying,” March 5, 2017,  adapted from Richard Rohr with Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (Whitaker House: 2016), 90-91.
This post was originally published on March 31, 2017. I thought it worked well with what I wrote last week. 
© 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, Poverty of Spirit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Surrendering to God’s Action Within

At the beginning of Lent, I downloaded Welcoming Prayer: Consent on the Go and committed to taking a few minutes a day to welcome “what is” in my life. If you have been reading my blog lately, you’ll know that hasn’t been easy.

In the morning after I had some time of silent prayer, I’d read a short chapter of the book and let the words guide me.

Feel and sink into what you are experiencing this moment in your body. . . Don’t think about it . . . The Spirit of God within invites us to just sink into it, feel it, welcome it and let it go. (28, 30)

Then I’d take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and notice what I was feeling and where I was feeling it in my body. Anger, disappointment, sadness and helplessness were frequent visitors.

As I sank into those feelings, judgment and blame often came to accuse me. I’d feel myself cower. Then I’d take another breath and remind myself that judgment and blame are not feelings. They are thoughts and I can ignore them. I am invited to welcome my feelings without thinking about them–without analyzing, fixing, or judging them or myself.

I’d greet my guests. “Welcome, Anger.” “Welcome,  Disappointment.” “Take a seat, Sadness and Helplessness.”

I also welcomed the Spirit of God, loving me deeply and accepting me completely–just as I am now with these feelings about all that is going on in my life.

I’d take another breath and say, “I surrender to God’s loving action within.” That “within” meant within my feelings and circumstances.

Usually, in the letting go to God’s action, I’d feel a gentle shift in my body. A sense of calmness and hope would emerge. I could enter the day with more freedom.

This five-minute practice keeps grounding me in the reality that my transformation is received and not achieved. Often when a new self-awareness arrives on my doorstep and I discover how I’ve fallen short or my actions have hurt another, I feel discouraged. Stopping right there and then and welcoming that feeling of discouragement and inviting God’s loving action into it reorients me to God and others and away from being preoccupied with myself and how well I’m doing.

I’m reminded of what I learned from Anthony de Mello‘s book Awareness: It’s my job simply to notice. It’s God’s job to transform me.

The Welcoming Prayer is a deceptively simple practice. Simple–and powerful. We don’t try to fix, improve, try harder, or change anything. We simply feel, sink into, welcome God’s presence and action–and let go. This is the “how” of our transformation. With daily practice, gradual transformation happens and attitudes begin to change. We cannot transform anything on our own power. Instead, we turn everything over to God. This is our prayer for help. It is a prayer to be free, but in God’s own time and in God’s own way, not ours. (70)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for God . . .  You’ll be changed from the inside out. –Romans 12:2 (MSG, adapted)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

I love Anne Yungwirth’s photography. What joy to be able to share her pictures with you on my blog! I got to know Anne when I attended New Life Community Church. Anne and I were regular contributors to the church’s annual arts worship service. Anne continues to show me the many faces of God.

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

 

Credits and References:
“If You Can’t Beat It, Enjoy It” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
“Ready to Burst” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
Welcoming Prayer: Consent on the Go was written, compiled for Contemplative Outreach by Pamela Bergman, Mary Dwyer, Cherry Haisten, Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler and Therese Saulnier
Photo of Anne Yungwirth by Anne Yungwirth 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 Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Each of My Risings

The deacon poured last year’s blessed oils onto the wood, newspaper and palm crosses. She lit them on fire and our Easter Vigil began. We read stories from the Hebrew scriptures, gospels and epistles, as God’s people have done for centuries. The readings remind us where we’ve come from and how we’ve been led–through suffering and death–to new life.

In her homily, Ruth Monette, our priest, talked about fire, how it lights the way and how it also burns and destroys. Our church, St. Stephen the Martyr, had a fire half a century ago and had to be rebuilt.

“Fires can be devastating,” she said. “When a forest catches fire, firefighters work hard to put them out. We don’t want people living nearby to lose their homes. But we’ve learned that for the forests to survive, we need to let them burn down so new trees can grow.”

While Ruth spoke, she glanced at me a couple of times. Although she told me afterward she wasn’t thinking about what had happened to me when she did that, I got the point.

A line from the Soul of Christ prayer came back to me. On each of my dyings, shed your light and your love. During the forty days of Lent, I died to what was, my power to change it, and my ability to get over it. All through Lent, Christ shed his love, but the light to see what would come of this death has not yet emerged.

We ended the service with timid shouts. “Hallelujah! Christ has risen!” Then we heard the pop of a cork and champagne and apple juice was poured for everyone. (Don’t you wish you went to my church!)

Celebrate, Esther! the Spirit seemed to say. Light is coming. 

Lent is over. Now, in this Easter season, we have fifty days of rising.

On each of my risings . . . what will Christ do?

I don’t know, but it’s going to good.

God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” –Romans 8:14-15 (MSG)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Jenny Konkin is the co-founder of a Downtown Eastside Vancouver organization called Whole Way House that works with vulnerable seniors and veterans. Jenny found out what happens when you end severe isolation and loneliness by inviting people into community. This video clip is taken from an interview with her on a podcast by Rod Janz on Fuel Radio. It’s truly inspiring.

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

Credits and References:
“Flames” by sk_vel.Used with permission.
“Sunrise VIII” by Bart-s. 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 Easter, Lent, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beginning to Forgive

Jesus said, “Father, forgive these people! They don’t know what they’re doing.” –Luke 23:34 (CEV)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.–Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV) 

I always thought Jesus asked us to forgive so many times to match the number of offences. But lately, I’ve wondered if he also meant that sometimes we need to forgive a person who has hurt us seventy-seven times before we can actually let go of the offence.

“Consider this: Many people have trouble with forgiveness because they have been taught that it is a singular act to be completed in one sitting. That is not so. Forgiveness has many layers, many seasons. In our culture, there is a notion that forgiveness is a 100 percent proposition. All or nothing. It is also taught that forgiveness means to overlook, to act as though a thing has not occurred. This is not true either.

A woman [or man] who can work up a good 95 percent forgiveness of someone or something tragic and damaging almost qualifies for beatification, if not sainthood. If she is 75 percent forgiving and 25 percent “I don’t know if I ever can forgive fully, and I don’t even know if I want to,” that is more the norm. But 60 percent forgiveness accompanied by 40 percent, “I don’t know, and I’m not sure, and I’m still working on it,” is definitely fine. A level of 50 percent or less forgiveness qualifies as a work-in-progress status. Less that 10 percent? You’ve either just begun or you’re not really trying.

But, in any case, once you’ve reached a bit more than halfway, the rest will come in time, usually in small increments. The important part of forgiveness is to begin and to continue.
–Clarissa Pinkola Estés,
Women Who Run With the Wolves, 369

I am encouraged by Estés words. I hear three things. First, forgiveness is complicated. It takes time and can’t be rushed. Second, I need to participate in the process. Third, it is received; God does the majority of the work.

I know where I need to end up: being able to do what Jesus did. He stood up, secure in who he was, then knelt down and washed his disciples’ feet–including Judas’. I know Jesus. He would have looked at Judas and loved him, even if Judas despised him. Even if Judas believed that Jesus was the enemy and needed to be taken down.

To look at my “enemy” and love them, that’s where Jesus is leading me. Every time I have tea with my rage, name and welcome my feelings, and let go of my desire to set things right, I get a little closer.

Seventy-seven times I need to let go of wanting to make my offenders see things my way, and trust that God will bring them self-awareness in time.

Seventy-seven times I need to release the debt of what they owe me into God’s hands.

Seventy-seven times I need to let go of believing that my healing is in their hands.

Seventy-seven times I need to release my guilt in this.

Seventy-seven times I need to surrender myself to Christ’s love and care.

And then one day, I will be released to love as Jesus loves and be reconciled to my brothers and sisters.

We trust that, despite all evidence to the contrary, God will accomplish God’s loving and redeeming purposes toward the fulfilment of all things in Christ.-SoulStream

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Many thanks to Brad Jersak. His article “Bury the Hatchet” walked me through what it looks like to let go and forgive. Brad is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC and, like me,  a member of SoulStream, a dispersed contemplative Christian community. He serves as a reader and monastery preacher at All Saints of North America Orthodox Monastery. He also occasionally teaches at The Bridge in Abbotsford. Through his books and seminars, Brad shares the good news that God is Love, perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. He is Editor in Chief of CWR Magazine, Faculty (New Testament / Patristics) of Westminster Theological Centre (UK)., Adjunct Faculty of St. Stephen’s University (New Brunswick), an author, and a blogger of Clarion Journal and CWR blog.

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

Note: I won’t be posting anything new for Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter this year. But you are welcome to enjoy previously published posts from 2018, 2017, 2016. Have a blessed Easter.

Credits and References:
“Christ on the Cross” by Sonnenstrahl on Pixabay. Creative Commons.
“Christ Washing the  Apostles Feet” Dirck van Baburen (circa 1594/1595–1624) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (John 13:1-11)
Photo and article by Brad Jersak 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 Easter, Holy Week, Lent, Prayer, Reflections, Songs, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Having Tea with My Rage

I knew I needed to forgive, so my friend loaned me the book Women Who Run With the Wolves. I turned to the chapter on forgiveness. Near the end of it, Clarissa Pinkola Estés outlines the stages of forgiveness. But before I could go there, I needed to read about rage.

All emotion, even rage, carries knowledge, insight, what some call enlightenment. Our rage can, for a time become our teacher–a thing not to be rid of so fast . . . The cycle of rage is like any other cycle; it rises, falls, dies and is released as new energy.

Allowing oneself to be taught by one’s rage. thereby transforming it, disperses it. (352)

So rather than trying to “behave” and not feel our rage or rather than using it to burn down every living thing in a hundred-mile radius, it is better to first ask rage to take a seat with us, have some tea, talk a while so we can find out what summoned this visitor. (353-4)

I’m still pretty angry. I don’t want to think about that punch in the gut anymore or feel it tie me in knots. But I can’t let it go. So I make a pot of tea and offer my visitor a seat.

Rage barely sits down before she shows me pictures of the room where it happened. She recites the words that were said and reminds me of the judgment that slammed a door in my face.

It felt like someone shoved their fist down my throat and blackened my insides, leaving no trace of goodness, no grounds for recourse.

I’ve felt this way before.

“Remember when,” she begins, and I start to cry.

We sit and drink our tea in silence.

I remember being accused and judged in elementary school. I remember the principal’s furrowed brow, angry tone, annihilating glare. He pronounced my shame and walked away. Never again did I find kindness in his eyes. It was a life sentence without parole.

“It wasn’t right,” rage says, seething. “It wasn’t fair and you didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Not now, not then.”

She takes a few sips of tea to calm herself down. “I’ve been watching you. You keep looking to see if the ban against you’s been lifted.”

I know what she’s talking about. It happened again yesterday. “I’ve noticed that sometimes I look at people I hardly know in the eyes as if I want something from them,” I say. “Now I know what I’ve been looking for. I want them to see me and smile. As if somehow, that will reverse my sentence and let me go free.”

I look sideways at my visitor, but her chair is empty.

In the morning, I practice the Welcoming Prayer. There she is. Rage is barely noticeable next to my heart. I feel her soft pulse. I welcome her and the divine action within her. I recall her revelation and feel energy gathering. I think about trying to get people to look at me, see me, and love me. I feel powerless. Trapped inside my chest, rage flows down my arms. The desire to attain affection and esteem is strong.

I take a deep breath and slowly breathe out, surrendering my desire to find a way to get what I need. I take another breath trusting that the One who is choosing to give me life at this moment will give me all I need.

I pray, “I let go of my desire for affection, security and control and open myself to God’s loving action within.”

The door of my heart is open for my guest to come and go as she likes. I welcome her to have tea with me again.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
–Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

My daughter, grandchildren and I attended the Walk the Talk rally on April 6. We heard speeches from indigenous and non-indigenous leaders of faith communities in Vancouver.  The dance troupe Butterflies in Spirit performed, bringing tears to our eyes. We declared our solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters to support their rights as human rights.

My conversation with rage showed me how much God desires reconciliation. I am hoping that by attending rallies, learning more, and speaking truth, Canadians will have a meeting of eyes and healing of hearts.

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

Credits and References:
Bentley Tea Cup by snap713. Used with permission.
Butterfly photo from pxhere CCO Public Domain
Photo of Heidi Hizsa, me and Hadrian Hizsa at the Walk the Talk Rally April 6 taken by my granddaughter, Hannah-Lynn Hizsa Munson. 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 Childhood, Lent, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Holy Place

Of course I told my spiritual director what happened, and she listened compassionately as I talked and cried. She asked me to name my feelings and notice how they felt in my body.

I told her that I felt betrayed, misunderstood, judged and rejected. I don’t remember what I felt in my body at the time but, as I sit with these feelings now, I notice a tenseness in my chest that extends across my shoulders and down my arms and queasiness in my stomach.

She invited me to hear again what God said to me about being with me. I imagined Jesus beside me, holding my hand. Eventually, those feelings eased, and they felt more like waves settling after a storm.

My director and I had recently attended a lecture by John Bell from Iona. “Remember how he encouraged us to imagine Jesus fully human with a full range of emotions? Jesus was betrayed, misunderstood, judged and rejected too. Perhaps he lay awake at night wondering how Judas could have betrayed him. Maybe he felt emotions as deeply as I do.”

That reminded me of my directees who are praying the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. “They are in the stage of their prayers when they accompany Jesus through his passion, crucifixion, and death. When I heard that in their prayers of imagination they never left his side–wiping his brow and speaking tenderly to him–I sensed Jesus’ deep gratitude. It meant a lot to him that these friends had not deserted him.”

“And how might Jesus be feeling toward you?” she asked. I closed my eyes and saw him holding my hand. “He’s grateful that I’m willing to feel what he feels and be with him in it.”

I realized then that I didn’t feel deeply hurt because of sin or pride. I felt this way because I’m human. I’m not saying that sin and pride didn’t play a part, but God didn’t seem to be interested in that part of the story. God was intent on communing with me in the place where we shared deep pain.

“It’s kind of holy,” I offered.

“It is holy, ” my spiritual director quietly affirmed.

As our session came to a close, I told her about the sailboat that was washed up on the shore on Bowen and Scott Erickson’s video clip. New life and goodness were going to come out of my shipwreck.

We talked about the Welcoming Prayer practice that I was (sort of) doing for Lent. It will help me keep meeting God in that holy place and receive God’s loving action within.

O Compassionate One, You reached
  from on high, You took me. 
You drew me out of many waters. 
–Psalm 18:16,
Nan C. Merril, Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

A few hours after last Friday’s post was published, I happened upon this video by Nadia Bolz-Weber who is a Lutheran pastor. In it, she talks about forgiveness. That is the ultimate love mischief. That’s where Jesus went with his pain, and it looks like I’m going with him.

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

Credits and References:
The Betrayal of Christ by Ugolino di Nerio 1!280-1330) [Public domain] Wikimedia.
Picture of boat aground by Esther Hizsa
© 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 Ignatian Spirituality, Lent, Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections, Songs, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Punch in the Gut

Sometimes self-awareness bubbles up gently and slowly expands to softly widen our world view and make more room for love to flow in and out of our hearts.

Sometimes self-awareness comes like a punch in the gut.

I know this. I’m living it. Last week I learned something that knocked me off my feet.

Getting up again isn’t quick or easy. Taking steps in this new reality is scary. What else will I find out? 

That punch caused a chain reaction. Other awarenesses surfaced and kept surfacing. Thoughts synapsed as I tossed and turned at night. If I’m capable of this then . . . How did I get here? What is “here”? Is it the reality I’m being told? 

As soon as it happened, I went home. Adrenalin coursed through my body. My gut pressed up against my spine feeling for a back way out and into the world I knew an hour before.

I had enough presence of mind to recognize I was in shock and shouldn’t be alone with the sharp images and words that kept replaying in my mind. I talked with Fred. I phoned a friend. Their love and compassion grounded me. They could hold this in a way that I couldn’t–not yet. I breathed in the thought that I was going to be okay, even if that thought had very little power to stop the aftershock.

The next day I met with eight other spiritual directors who gather monthly for peer supervision. The table where we eat lunch and “check-in” is one of the safest, most holy places on earth. I’m not kidding. Everyone there would agree.

I told them what happened, and they listened and held my pain, loving me all the more.

One of the directors, Mary Wolfe, had brought several her art pieces that we’d purchased. I brought home this one. Fred hung it above our dinner table. Every time I sit down for a meal, I see God’s mysterious, brooding presence.

Friday morning I took transit and a ferry to Bowen Island. On my way,  I opened an email that contained a prayer by Scott Erickson. In it were these words,

I ask for eyes to see . . .

To see my inadequacies not as something that dismisses me but as a main ingredient in my unique voice.

I held onto that thought and the hope it gave.

Outside the library on Bowen, I replied to a few emails, then reread one from a friend. I wanted her words to soak into my bones. Months ago, I booked this time away and was looking forward to the solitude. But now, I didn’t relish being alone with myself and my thoughts for the next two days.

Of course, God was there. Quiet as usual. Water healing my body, my soul. Trees, strong and faithful. But nothing I read over the weekend inspired me. Not even the poems of Hafiz.

Saturday morning, thinking it was the reading for the day, I mistakenly read Psalm 110. I didn’t make it past the first verse without crying.

The Lord says to my lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”

What stood out for me in my Lectio was harsh.

Don’t get me wrong; not one shred of me heard blame from God. Love’s hand was tenderly on my forehead. God knew this was hard. Later, on a walk, I admitted, “I guess I’m an enemy.”

God said, “And what did I have to say about enemies? Love them. I did and I do and I am.”

Eventually, I relaxed into the rest God offered until the eve of my return. That’s when I realized I was still in a dark valley. Over the next week, I would need to tell people about the painful event and that thought let the adrenalin hounds loose in my body again.

I turned off the light and lay my head on the pillow.

“I’ll go with you,” said the God of few words.

Back home at the end of another work week, I’m still not on the other side where Easter joy displaces Good Friday misery. I think I’m fine then I read an email or get a phone call, and reality smacks me again.

But just as the blind man’s sight was restored in stages, clarity is coming. I’m beginning to see how my inadequacies co-create my unique voice, and that it is, in fact, a gift to others.

New awarenesses come–sky blue, sea green and cloud white.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. –1 Corinthians 13: 12,13 (NIV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

When I was on Bowen, a sailboat similar to one we used to own was washed up on the shore. I walked out to have a closer look. It was damaged beyond repair. This vessel that once carried dreams and offered adventure, beauty and solitude was now was an eyesore and a problem. Was it a coincidence that a week later I came across this video by Scott Erickson, “Curator of Awesomeness”? I think not.

“Scott is a touring painter, performance speaker, and creative curate who mixes autobiography, mythology, and aesthetics to create art and moments that speak to our deepest experiences. He is the writer and performer of two one-man shows. Wrestling with his own professional burnout and clinical depression, “We Are Not Troubled Guests” is a performance story-telling piece in which he navigates the surprising gift of an existential crisis. His current show, “SAY YES: A Liturgy of Not Giving Up On Yourself”, juxtaposes story-teaching, participation, humour, and image curation as Scott walks us through the very personal and universal conversation about the death of a dream and the overwhelming voice of Giving Up in our lives. He is the co-author of Prayer: Forty Days of Practice and May It Be So, a Spiritual Director to brave women and men, and a professional dishwasher for his food blogging wife.” —www.scottericksonart.com

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

Credits and References:
Collage by Esther Hizsa; photos by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Fibre artwork by Mary Wolfe; photo by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Psalm 110; Matthew 5:43-44; Mark 8:22-25; 1 Corinthians 13: 12,13
© 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 Easter, Lent, Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections, Songs, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How God Waits

On Monday I participated in a one-day silent prayer retreat with friends using last week’s post as our guide. I listened to Steve Bell sing Lenten Lands and a feeling of hope rose up in me. God has turned the world and brought spring to the Northern Hemisphere and to me. God is turned toward me, returning me home and enabling me to rest.

The time of year is come when all things turn.
The sun returns to warm the wintery earth…

I break the bread for her and pour the wine
And all I am is turned towards her now.

I heard the Lord say more to me about running away and returning in the Isaiah passage, “You couldn’t sit still,” God observed calmly. I wasn’t being chastised or guilted. God wasn’t disappointed or annoyed with me. God knew that for the past week or two, trying to be still has been as hard for me as trying to sit on a steel bench covered with ice. I just couldn’t do it.

Meanwhile, the Eternal One yearns to give you grace
and boundless compassion;
that’s why God waits.
–Isaiah 30:18a  (The Voice)

I love how God waits for me. I imagined what that waiting looks like. I recalled times others have had to wait for me and resented it (or vice versa). Or times someone knew the obvious and was waiting for me to FINALLY get it, internally rolling their eyes.  Or times when I imagined the worst and was unable to sleep until I heard the front door open and close and knew my son or daughter was safely home.

God doesn’t wait like that. God accompanies me while I ride off on fast horses. God sits beside me when I’m a single flag on a hill, vulnerable and depleted.

“But you refused. You couldn’t sit still;
instead, you said, ‘No! We will ride out of here on horseback.
Fast horses will give us an edge in battle.’
But those who pursue you will be faster still.

When one person threatens, a thousand will panic and flee.
When five terrorize you, all will run pell-mell,
 until you are as conspicuous as a single flag standing high on a hill.”
–Isaiah 30:16-17  (The Voice)

As I sat in the silence imagining God’s waiting, a picture came to me. I was a horse that had run and run but was now back in the barn, breathing heavily, mist rising from my nostrils. God was brushing me gently while my breathing slowed–brushing and stroking from backbone to belly, ready to listen to what happened out there.

What if God doesn’t expect us to stop running off on horses? What if in the running we shed something we can’t shed in the resting? What if I accepted that sometimes I have to run and trusted that God will bring me back to rest?

I held these wonderings as I collected pictures for my collage, paying attention to what evoked a strong emotion in me: the icy bench, the squawking bird, the galloping horses, standing alone in beauty without a path and nowhere to go, the bird who sees her reflection in the water and it isn’t as pretty as she thought. The surfer reminded me of Lee and that he’s gone. These pictures showed what’s inside me: restlessness, disappointment, grief, hurt, confusion, hope. Others bore witness to God’s gentle, faithful presence accompanying me like a whale, a dog and happy birds. God soothed my soul with a tender hand.

It wasn’t until I looked at my collage again the next day that I saw that water flowed from one image to another. I remembered Coco Love Alcorn’s The River. I let the song wash over me.

Water heal my body
Water heal my soul
When I go down, down
To the water
By the water I feel whole

The river calls me over 
It’s calling out my name 
In the day and in the night 
I hear that river all the same 
It’s calling me over 
Calling out my pain 
Oh a river gathers tears  
Just like a river gathers rain 

Water heal my body
Water heal my soul
When I go down, down
To the water
By the water I feel whole

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

On Fridays, a group of Muslims meets to pray in the hall at St.Stephen the Martyr. In response to the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, Pastor Ruth wrote this message to them on an easel. If you look closely, you can see what the Muslim men wrote in reply.

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

Credits and References:
Collage by Esther Hizsa; photos by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Lenten Lands Music by Steve Bell; Lyric by Malcolm Guite on Pilgrimage.
Isaiah 30:15-18a (The Voice)
© 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 Lent, Mystical, Prayer, Reflections, Songs, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments