A Meditation for These Uncertain Times

Pause with me.

Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then take another.

Continue to breathe slowly and deeply. Notice where your body feels tense and send your next breath there . . . to your shoulders, neck, legs–whatever feels clenched.

Notice your breath going in through your nose, down into your lungs and out again.

Allow your awareness to drift down, down, down, like a falling leaf, from your head to your heart. Settle into your heart, the very core of your being, where all of who you are is held in all of who God is.

Is there an image that comes to mind of what it’s like to relax into being completely loved, accepted and cared for? Perhaps something from Psalm 23 or Psalm 131.

I imagine myself in a coracle. At first, I’m sitting up, hands gripping the sides, fearful of what I might bump into next. But gently I lean back, feeling the ribs of the coracle support my spine, shoulders and head. I let go of trying to control what I can’t and look up at the sky. I notice what it’s like to be unconcerned about where life’s current is taking me.

Now let this question float up from your soul into the air: What is giving you life these days?

Return to your breath. Notice any tension in your body and relax. Just as the question floated out of your soul, let an answer return.

For me, it’s taking time for silent prayer, yoga, getting outside, doing some good work, engaging with others and playing Sequence with Fred (even though I’m on a losing streak).

Hold those experiences with God and allow gratitude to rise.

After a spacious amount of time, allow another question to bubble up from your soul. What has been challenging for you?

Again, relax your mind and let your shy soul speak.

For me, it’s having too many things to do in too little time. It’s the rocking of my coracle when people do things differently than I do. It’s the bumping against the rocks when the way I thought I would go is not the way I’m going. It’s when I look at myself in this tiny boat and feel like I’m not enough.

Notice how you feel now that you’ve named what challenges you.

I feel a little panicky, disoriented, disappointed and afraid.

Imagine God coming close to your ear and whispering something to encourage you–not anything you need to do or change. What does Love want to say?

I hear: “This is hard. I am here. We’ll do this together.”

Savour those words for a few cycles of breath.

Now, look at your hands. Open them up. Is there anything you are holding onto that isn’t serving you? What is Love inviting you to let go of?

For me, it’s that feeling of urgency. I imagine experiencing it again and, instead of reacting, taking a breath and resting back against the rounded surface of the coracle. Once again I look up at the sky and recall God’s voice: “This is hard. I am here. We will do this together.”

Breathe that sense of love and wellbeing into your body and breathe it out into the world. Remember that we are all connected sharing the same air with all living creatures. We are all one in Christ.

Allow those who are hurting or struggling to come to mind and send out love and comfort to them with each breath. Breathe in all the darkness, all of Covid-19, all the misery and panic into God’s heart, in the core of your being. God’s heart expands bigger and bigger and bigger until all the darkness, all the sickness, all the misery and panic are absorbed and transformed and returned as love into the world with every breath you take. 

After a spacious amount of time return to following your breath.

Put your hands over your heart and thank God for being in your body, in your life and in the world and never ceasing to love. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
–Lamentations 3:22-23

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

A number of my friends are in choirs and missing singing together. I’m sending this love mischief out to them. Thanks, Boelle for sharing it with me.

Today’s post was inspired by the voices of Christine Valters Paintner, Parker Palmer, Adriene Mishler and Pema Chödrön.

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:
“Uncertainty” by anjan58. Used with permission.
“Coracle” by Mike Prince. Used with permission.
“Giving Hands” by Artotem. Used with permission.
Blue Skies of Scottdale by Dru Bloomfield. 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
Posted in compassion, Lent, Mindfulness, Prayer, Reflections, Resource | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Covid-19

How are you doing in the midst of this world-wide pandemic? Finding a new normal eludes us daily. We all are all experiencing losses of one kind or another.

It’s surreal.

My days have been occupied by Zoom meetings and emails with other leaders of SoulStream and St. Stephen’s. Gradually we move from denial, through grief, to acceptance and action.

I feel the effects of the pandemic personally too. Every time I make a trip to the store or touch anything someone else has touched, I risk spreading the virus to others or bringing it home to Fred who has a compromised immune system.

I invite you to pause with me and notice. What are you feeling? What do you notice?

I feel both restrained that I can’t do what I want to and relieved as my days become simpler and more spacious.

I feel sad for the huge losses others are experiencing.

I feel the weight of figuring out how we will manage to continue the Living from the Heart course with video conferencing and still make it a life-giving experience for our participants.

Notice how you felt when you read that my feelings were similar or different from yours? Open to those feelings too.

God sees and feels all these things with us. Allow yourself to sink into God’s love and notice.

As I open to God in the silence, I realize that I’m afraid to stop moving. If I don’t stay on top of my emails, things will pile up, and I will be buried so deeply I won’t be able to get out from under it.

I could not hear this until I was silent. Now that I have, I know God has heard it too.

God says, “Rest, my love, I will take care of everything.”

I stretch out in God’s sheer silence and breathe with those words. On the in-breath: Rest, my love. On the out-breath: I will take care of everything.

I breathe and rest for a generous amount of time.

Another noticing comes to me: I’m not ready to open to all the pain in the world right now. I allow myself to be there without judging or trying to change myself. I continue to rest and trust that God will take care of this too.

Near the end of my silent prayer, I feel invited to breathe in love and breathe out love for the world and for a few people that come to mind. I can do that.

What feelings emerge as you hear God say to you, “Rest, my love, I will take care of everything.”?

I feel hope rise and trust. I even feel a tickle of curiosity and anticipation. What might God have for us that we never expected?

I feel a lightness in my chest that all this will work out for good in some way or other. I recall one of SoulStream’s core values: 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.

God is accomplishing God’s loving and redeeming purposes in us with every breath we take.

May we live with compassion for ourselves and for others. We are doing many things for the first time.

And when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted or afraid, God, help us to share those feelings with you. Remind us that you are right here. Tell us again: Rest, my love, I will take care of everything.

Rest, my love, I will take care of everything.
–God

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Here is some love mischief you can participate in as we flatten the Coronavirus curve. Join Christine Valters Paintner for a Novena for Times of Unravelling. Do yoga at home with Adriene. Continue to meet with your prayer or Bible study group on Zoom. Apparently, Zoom has temporarily lifted the 40 minute limit on groups of 3 or more for those with the basic (free) plan. Tune in to the Metropolitan Opera’s free streaming of spring performances or enjoy Steve Bell’s weekly concerts on FB. Share a poem, song or article that you found encouraging. Call a friend who doesn’t have internet access. Did a vacation or dinner out get cancelled? Consider donating that money where it is needed.

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:
“Covid-19” image by Prachatai. Used with permission.
Keep calm” by Melissa Hillier. Used with permission.
“Sleeping girl on a wooden bench” by Albert Anker (1831-1910) / Public domain
© 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 Lent, Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Even When

I’m here as promised. I have lots of time but nothing I want to write about. I’m waiting, listening, remembering that You always come through. We’ve done three hundred and ninety-five blog posts together, and You’ve never let me down. Even when I had no time and no words, we squeaked out a poem.

What do you have for me today? What can we offer our readers?

I look back on my life lately. It’s a mix of surprise (“I did that!”) and humility (“I did that?”) and You, quietly in the background.

In our Lenten book group at my church, I’m reading Richard Rohr’s The Universal Christ, looking for a morsel to move me. So far, it’s all good stuff but more affirming than enlightening–except one part.

I felt my heart dial in when Rohr talked about You pulling back to create a vacuum that only You can fill. He talked about Mother Teresa and how she’d had many years of darkness. Then Rohr makes this confession:

“For the last ten years, I have had little spiritual ‘feeling’, neither consolation nor desolation. Most days, I’ve had to simply choose to believe, to love and to trust. . . The simple kindness and gratitude of good people produces a momentary ‘good feeling’, but even this goodness I do not know how to hold on to. It slides off my consciousness like cheese on a Teflon pan. But God rewards me for letting him reward me. This is the divine two-step dance that we call grace: I am doing it, and yet I am not doing it. It is being done unto me, and yet by me too. Yet God always takes the lead in the dance, which we can only recognize over time.” (78-79)

When You pull back and I don’t have a felt sense of your presence, I fear I’m failing. I’m not focussed enough in prayer, not disciplined enough in my ways, or perhaps I’ve wandered off the path. One of the reasons I was so touched by my experience in spiritual direction was that I had such a tangible sense of Your presence and love. You had not left me. You had not given up on me.

You are not giving up on me now. I bring nothing to our meeting today because you have not given me anything to bring. You are doing it so you can give me something now.

I think the word you have for us today is: persevere. “Keep going, I am with you,” You say, “Choose to believe, trust and love. Something is happening even when you can’t do some of the poses in yoga, even when you find yourself snacking at 1:30 in the morning, and even when you notice, after the fact, a way to be more generous or kind. I am in the even-whens.”

God does not know how to be absent.
–Martin Laird

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

The love mischief we need to do for the world right now is to wash our hands and to keep our distance. This will help stop the spread of Covid 19. This article from a doctor in Western Europe woke me up.

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:
“Eastern Phoebe.” is by Doug Greenberg. Used with permission.
Quote by Martin Laird is from Into the Silent Land.
“Eastern Phoebe” by Denis Fournier. Used with permission.
“Man washing hands” by Marco Verch. Used with permission
Banner image “EasternPhoebe” by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren / 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 Lent, Poverty of Spirit, Prayer, Reflections, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Being Counted

“I talked to a nurse practitioner about my gastric reflux,” I said to my spiritual director. “I changed my diet, don’t eat after supper and raised the head of our bed. And that’s not all I’ve been doing to care for my body. I’m still doing yoga every morning. I’ve never been able to be consistent about exercise before. But now if I don’t do it, I miss it.”

The changes were significant and my director was duly impressed.

“But those aren’t the only changes. I’ve decided to be vegan for Lent. It’s the single most effective thing I can do to care for the earth and future generations,” I said and was surprised to find myself tearing up.

I reached for a tissue and explained. “Our priest and I suggested at a debrief about our church’s community meal that we serve vegan food because it’s ethical, economical and hospitable. Almost anyone can eat it. But not everyone there was convinced. People really liked the beef stew and turkey dinner, and there are rarely more than two vegans that come. Although we made the decision to provide vegan meals for the time being, I realized that to help make a lasting change, I needed to be added to the number of vegans that come, even if it’s only one more.”

As I spoke, I felt a hard lump in my throat. It was so painful, I began taking slow deep breaths. I sat for a moment and then told my director about it.

“I think this is really important to God,” I said recalling another time I experienced this.

Years ago I was on retreat and joined in a community prayer time. The leader asked what hopes we hold that have yet to be realized. People shared various things, and I said, “A home for everyone.” Suddenly I had this painful lump in my throat holding back a wail of sorrow. I didn’t know what was happening. It was weeks before I could name it as God expressing God’s feelings in my body.

It was happening again. God feeling strongly about the earth, about all the living creatures on it and about one person being counted.

It’s almost shocking to feel God’s feelings, to be one with the divine in such a visceral way. It’s humbling to step back and let my body have a voice.

It’s also awkward. God has weighed in about what I eat on a subject that’s dangerously divisive.

Ignatius warned about adding things to spiritual experiences like this one and making assumptions that God never intended.

As I write about it now, I return to the feeling, the lump in my throat, the experience in spiritual direction. I breathe and listen.

What is God saying in this?

God isn’t saying everyone should become vegan. But I’m hearing that God cares deeply for this earth and all living things.  When we act with compassion for our bodies, others–all God created–we express God’s compassion. And that compassion, unlike empathy or pity, leads to actions that free and transform.

Five Contemplations Before Eating

1. This food is a gift of God from the earth, the sky, the universe, numerous living beings and much hard work.

2. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.

3. May we transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.

4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of all beings, preserve our planet and reverse the process of global warming.

5. We accept this food so we can nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all beings.

Source: Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Lilian Chueng. Italics mine.

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church in Burnaby loves to eat together and seeks to love our neighbours in practical ways. So we put those two desires together and invited the neighbours to come for dinner. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is host and guest. No one has to eat alone or go hungry or fear they don’t belong. Community meals like this are happening in other places too. Maybe there’s one in your neighbourhood. Or maybe you could start one.

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:
“Être homme, c’est précisément être responsable” photo by Vassilis Londos. Used wth permission.
The story of “A Home for Everyone” is in my first book Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim.
Ignatius speaks of this danger of adding onto what God has given in the Second Week Rules for Discernment Spiritual Exercises, 328–336.
“The Potato Planters” by Jean-François Millet (1814-75)/ Public domain
© 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 community, compassion, Ignatian Spirituality, Lent, Mindfulness, Mystical, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories, Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Am Both

It’s Ash Wednesday.

Tonight our priest will press her thumb into ashes and impose the truth of our mortality on my forehead. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” Pastor Ruth will say.

When I think about it, fear kicks in and desperation to make the most of the years I have left.

I watch these feelings pull me away and sense that something’s not right. God is loving and compassionate. This imposition of fear isn’t from God–or Ruth, for that matter.

On cue, I read Steve Garnaas-Holmes’ poem “Dust and breath.” He didn’t introduce it with Genesis 3:19, where “dust to dust” comes from but a verse from the chapter before it.   

God formed a human from the dust of the ground,
and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life,
and they became a living being.–Genesis 2:7

The poem begins:

You are dust and breath,
matter and energy,
earth and Spirit.

I am both. I am both mortal and immortal, weak and strong, darkness and light, sinner and saint.

That’s what I carry on the road to Jerusalem. I’ve carried these pairs, one in each hand, for so long, and for so long, I’ve wanted to let go of the one I didn’t like so I could take Jesus’ hand.

But in this poem says dust and breath need each other, and God has wedded them in a dance of love.

What if I held all of who I am in one hand?

That’s what Jesus is doing when he holds the other.

Dust and breath

You are dust and breath,
matter and energy,
earth and Spirit.

Neither alone:
their need for each other,
their love of each other.

God is the love, the dance,
both wedded.

That’s what makes us human.
Return to the bothness.

God, to be true to our dust,
true to our breath,

your breath, your dust,
your bothness, your usness.

Give our love flesh,
our dust breath,
our death life.

Give our us you,
so we may give you
our us.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

I’m going vegan for Lent. The Radical Compassion Challenge and preparing to co-facilitate The Way of Compassion led me to this decision. I want to care for the earth and for future generations, and eating a plant-based diet is the single most effective thing I can do for them.  Here are some facts about how what we eat impacts 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:
Image of cross on forehead from Pixabay. CCO.
Photo of two children walking by Pikrepo. Royalty-free.
Dust and breath by Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light. Used with permission.
Photo of produce from Pixaby. CCO
© 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 Lent, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ash Wednesday

pilgrim shell and boots

Pilgrimage

Ash Wednesday
He’s on the road
         waiting for me

today we begin
a forty-day walk
to Jerusalem

I lace up my shoes
and follow
from a safe distance

but it’s bound to happen
His eyes will catch mine
and I must summon the courage
     not to look away

for in His loving gaze
questions arise
        memories
        hopes
        and fears

and we will
carry them all
        to Jerusalem*

Brian Whelan

 Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. – Luke 9:51

Questions as you begin your Lenten pilgrimage:

  • What feelings does this poem or these images evoke in you?
  • What do they tell you about what you are carrying on your Lenten journey?
Credits:
Photo of hiking boots and scallop shell on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela from Paulo Coehlo forum. Labelled for reuse.
“Pilgrimage of Sight” by Brian Whelan was featured in explore, a magazine from the Ignatian Centre of Jesuit Education in Santa Clara California. The painting is owned by the vicar of Blythburgh Church in Suffolk, UK. Used here with permission.
“Pilgrimage” by Esther Hizsa from Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
© 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 2013-20  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Lent, Poetry, Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Cave

Pain. Sharp, deep and relentless. That’s what I feel when I’ve been treated unfairly. I keep wondering why they did that to me?

I can imagine that it’s hard for them to admit they made a mistake. If I confronted them, they would probably justify their actions and distance themselves from the impact. Even if they could see what they did wrong, apologizing might be as far as it goes. Say they’re sorry, and it’s done without looking, without really seeing how they hurt me.

Forgiveness comes slowly and releases an event from having the power to define me or keep me in a “How could they?” loop of anger. I let go of blame, have compassion for myself in moments that I can’t, and allow the wound to hurt until it heals.

I’ve been a victim, and I’ve been a perpetrator. In small and big ways, I’ve hurt others too.

It’s true. I know it theoretically, but when I’ve dared to look specifically at how I’ve wounded another–when an incident has come into the light–it’s too bright for me. I turn away. I can’t stand the blame and the thought that I was a bad person who did a bad thing. Even now, as I write about it, I feel anxiety in my chest and shoulders.

But Truth wants to be seen. Time passes; it waits.

When I dared to look again, I had more ground under my feet, more understanding and compassion for myself. I did the best I could. If I’d had the capacity to do things differently I would have. Tears came. I felt sad that I wasn’t able to be kinder and more proactive and sad that others were harmed as a result.

More time passed. Truth patiently waits to show me more.

Once again, I’m faced with the reality that others still carry deep wounds because of what I’ve done. Since the last time we went down this road, I’ve learned to let go of blame. I know that many people contribute to a hurtful event, not just the perpetrator and the victim and their dispositions and life experiences, but all those who influenced them–generations of misbeliefs and harmful habits. I can let go of being responsible for another person’s pain whether I contributed to it or not. It’s theirs. They’re on their own journey of forgiving and discovering that their healing doesn’t depend on my actions.

As more time passed, I realized that even after I’ve owned what I’ve done and made different choices, those I’ve hurt may still see me as a bad person, even if they don’t want to. It may take a long time for their wound to heal and for them to let me come close.

That’s so painful for me because I want to come close. I want to be seen as good and loving. I’ve made amends for the past, and there’s nothing more I can do. But I want to do more. I want to make them believe that I’m good, but that’s a deep hole I can’t fill. It’s also all about me and what I need.

God invites me to welcome my pain, feel how it expresses itself in my body, sink into it, allow it to be there and rest in another Truth: that I’m good.

God calls me good, even though I make bad choices sometimes. My ego categorizes some people as good and others as bad. Believing I’m better than others and could never be as bad as so-and-so bolsters my self-esteem. But I’m no better or worse than anyone else–even if, in their pain, someone sees me as bad.

Days pass. What comes into the light now is even more painful than being thought of as bad. I still have not looked at, really looked at, the pain another carries because of my choices. I’ve cried, but I haven’t cried for them.

They don’t need that from me for their healing–although I’m sure it would mean a lot to them–but I need to do it for my healing, to reconcile me to myself and others.

There’s a cave in my chest lined with sharp, jagged rocks. I see myself as a wolf, pacing back and forth in it, unable to lie down. Truth pokes and pierces.

For a long time, I’ve been unaware of this cave and just kept moving. Decades ago, whenever I tried to lie down in it, it was so painful I’d black out in depression.  Eventually, I learned to peek at the cave from a distance. I put it in a room, shut off the light and only looked at it when I felt safe.

But I don’t want to put it back in the dark where the cave doesn’t change. It needs to be in the light, and I need to rest.

I open my eyes and see the sharp rocks overhead, on the walls and under my feet.

Love comes to me and says, “This is hard.”

Love paces with me–has always paced with me–never leaving my side.

Love sees I’m exhausted. I need to lie down; I need to let reality pierce me. Love lies down with me on the sharp surface. We are both pierced down one side. Love never takes Her eyes off me.

I remember what it was like to be hurt by others, how it accused, crushed and abandoned me. This cave is made up of all the times I’ve done that to another. I see how my actions have caused them to suffer, and I feel for them. If I came in here without compassion for myself, carrying blame and responsibility, I would bleed to death. It’s good I didn’t come here too soon.

It’s a hard place to be, having compassion for another. I can’t move without being pierced in a different place. But I’m not alone. Love feels it with me, breathes it into Herself.

I can’t stay in the cave long, nor do I need to. But in these moments when I find myself here, I need to stay, feel and look into the eyes of Love.

I breathe in our pain and breathe out compassion for them and for me.

Forgiveness is for the victim, reconciliation for the perpetrator.
–William Paul Young

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

There were three spiritual practices embedded in today’s post: The Welcoming Prayer Practice, Tonglen and spiritual direction. In the video clip above, Cynthia Bourgeault explains Welcoming Prayer. You can also learn more about it from Contemplative Outreach. I love this podcast about Tonglen by Pema Chodron. Although she explains it as a Buddhist practice, Christians can do it by breathing in suffering into Christ at the core of our being and breathing out Christ’s love, compassion, peace, healing etc to others, the world or ourselves. The image of the cave and myself in it came when I was in spiritual direction. The feelings I am often too afraid to feel come out when I’m accompanied by my director who holds a compassionate, safe place for me to voice my fears, feel them and find God loving me in them.

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:
“Hurt by PierreKarl Schnyder, Used with permission.
“Reconciliation by Josefina de Vasconcellos at Coventry Cathedral” by Ben Sutherland. Used with permission.
Quote from Wm Paul Young at Embrace retreat, St. Dunstan’s Anglican Church, Aldergrove, B.C. 2019.
© 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 compassion, False Self, Poverty of Spirit, Reflections, Spiritual Direction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Forgiveness

“I’m so sorry!” I said to my Christmas cactus when I brought it home from my book launch in November.

I wanted to brighten the room by putting some flowers on a table behind me when I was being interviewed. I could have bought cut flowers, but my bushy Schlumbergera was in full bloom and gorgeous. Plus I’ve written about it a number of times on my blog.

Fred prepared a place for the large plant in the back seat of the car and strapped it in. I sat beside it to keep it steady, but as soon as we got to the church, I knew it was a bad idea. Strength seemed to have drained out of it, and all its branches drooped.

A week later, it still had not returned to itself, so I used some ribbon to tie the weaker branches to a heartier one. The last bloom fell when Advent began.

For years now, my Christmas cactus has bloomed in Advent and given me hope in the dark season of waiting. But last year, it had no words for me.

Tiny buds appeared mid-December, but when I touched them they dropped to the floor.

“I’m so sorry,” I said again.

I watered my friend, gave it fertilizer and felt deepening respect for my Schlumbergera. In January, new buds appeared and are now blooming.

“Look at you!” a directee said beholding the flowering beauty.

“I’ve been forgiven,” I replied and told her the story.

What I didn’t say was that my dear Christmas cactus hadn’t revived to wag a finger at me. Although it wanted me to know that it didn’t like being moved, it bloomed because I needed hope.

I needed to be reminded that we do things that hurt others, and it can take a long time to be forgiven.

Meanwhile, Love forgives me, and Love asks me to forgive myself.

I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes–it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, “Well, if I’d known better, I’d have done better,” that’s all. —Maya Angelou

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

“Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project. She was born and raised in Clovis, California, where her family settled as Sikh farmers in 1913. When a family friend was the first person killed in a hate crime after September 11, 2001, she began to document hate crimes against Sikh and Muslim Americans, which resulted in the award-winning film Divided We Fall. Since then, she has made films and led story-based campaigns on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality, and Internet freedom. . .  During her work, whether inside supermax prisons, on the military base at Guantanamo, or at sites of mass shootings, she identified a surprising key element for social change: the ethic of love. Today she leads the Revolutionary Love Project to champion love as a force for justice and wellspring for social action.” valariekaur.com/about-valarie/

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:
“Happy Cactus” by spablab. Used with permission.
Photo of blossom of the Schlumbergera (Christmas Cactus) from Wikipedia Commons.
Maya Angelou quote from The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids: 90 Days to Raising Healthy Children, by Phil Parham and Amy Parham, September 1, 2011.
© 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 compassion, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What My Heart Wanted to Hear

 

A friend asked
if I had written any poems about
loneliness.

I hadn’t.

Then I listened to
Brad Aaron Modlin’s poem
What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade
and Pádraig Ó Tuama talk about it.

Tears came to my eyes.
I didn’t feel
so
alone.

Someone else
missed out.
Someone else
didn’t know.
Someone else
had to find out on their own that
they were enough.

I didn’t know I was
lonely
until this me-too
came along.

Now I know that
loneliness feels like
not being at home in your own house
not knowing how to pump gas or peel potatoes
being lost in the dark
and forgetting the sound of a loved one’s voice.

Loneliness is waking up to find
there is no Mrs Nelson
or even worse.
There is
but you were absent the day she said everything
your heart wanted to hear.

Thank God for poems.

They are Mrs Nelson.
They come
to where you are.


With That Moon Language

Admit something:
Everyone you see, you say to them,
“Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud;
otherwise,
someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this,
this great pull in us
to connect.
Why not become the one
who lives with a full moon in each eye
that is always saying,
with that sweet moon
language,
what every other eye in this world
is dying to
hear.
–Hafiz

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Love Mischief for the World

Image result for on being podcast

 Poetry Unbound is a new series from On Being that invites you to “immerse yourself in a single poem, guided by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Short and unhurried; contemplative and energizing. Anchor your week by listening to the everyday poetry of your life, with new episodes on Monday and Friday during the season.” Pádraig Ó Tuama, is a poet and theologian who leads the Corrymeela community of Northern Ireland, an ecumenical community dedicated to reconciliation.

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:
“Lonely Leaf” by Rob. Used with permission.
“With that Moon Language” by Hafiz (1325–1389) translated by Daniel Ladinsky in Love Poems from God, 2002. Used with permission.
“Loneliness” by Alice Popkorn. Used with permission.
On Being logo Ghz89med [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D
© 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 Childhood, compassion, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Is Your Focus?

Where attention goes, energy flows.

Day 23 of Home, a 30-day yoga journey with Adriene. The theme for today is focus. We return to rest after a challenging pose that has stretched us. Adriene asks, “Where in your body is your attention drawn? Focus on it. Energy will automatically flow there.”

Once again, Adriene goes on to relate this to our lives. “What are you focussing on today? Where do you want your energy to go? Where attention goes, energy flows.”

I think about the day ahead and watch it unfold as if I’m standing at a railway crossing. I watch one moment after another come into view and pass by coupled to the next and the next and the next. I don’t see the conductor, and after a while, I don’t see the cars–just a blur of rusty red and green and words that mean little to me.

I watch as if I have little power, few choices. Things have to be done, so I get to it.

But right now, I have a spacious moment. No train. No noise. Nothing urgent pulling at my pant leg.  What do I want to focus on today?

Presence. God’s presence. I want to open to God, in this moment and the next.

As I name that intention, I realize I don’t want to just focus on God being present to me, but God present in others. In the Radical Compassion Challenge, Tara Brach says that we see some people as real–those who are dear to us–and others as unreal, stick figures. We don’t really see these people. They fulfil a function but don’t really exist for us–the woman who doesn’t speak English, the man who delivers our mail, the child making a fuss in the grocery store. Tara invited us to awaken and see them as real people.

Today I want to notice who is not real to me, who is a nameless car on the train of life. I want to see them, give them attention, and let my energy flow to them–even if it is just for a second. In that second, I have the power to make them real.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ” The challenge for Day 8 in the Radical Compassion Challenge was to wake up from bias by talking to a person who identifies differently than you do.  We have no idea what it’s like to be them unless they tell us. If we offer open-hearted interest, perhaps we will get a window into their world and their heart . . . and ultimately into ours.

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:
BNSF Cajon 4 by John Mueller. Used with permission.
Image from  The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, 1922 [Public domain] from Wikimedia.
Picture of girl from pxhere. CCO Public Domain.
© 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, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment