While I was co-facilitating a week-long intensive on spiritual formation, I noticed a familiar feeling: the desire to protect myself. It caused me to subtly close myself from God and others.
Once I recognized what I was doing, I took a deep breath and asked God to help me open up again to the Spirit and to what was going on in and around me.
Disappointment bubbled up. How many times do I have to regain this posture? In the past three years, I have written about this theme of opening to God in this post, and this one and, oh yes, that one too.
Meanwhile, Deb Arndt, Jeff Imbach and I invited the participants of Living from the Heart to welcome “what is” in their lives gently and compassionately, without judgement. So I too opened myself to God as we meditated on the image of the Salzburg crucifix (right).
This time, when I looked at Jesus on the cross, I first saw his head bent like mine in resignation. Then I saw God holding Jesus’s arms up and helping bear the weight of his pain and sorrow. But, in a way, God was also holding his arms open in love and surrender. As I continued to gaze at God and Christ, I felt understood and supported. Once again I was sweetly reminded that God is the one who makes it safe enough for me to open to the reality of life within and without me. God will help me open myself again and again and again.
“Opening to God and others is a lifelong dance of invitation, acceptance, avoidance, and invitation again, ” I said to the participants (and to myself!) that morning. “Jesus continually invites us to pay attention, to see and live into what is real and true in each moment.”*
In each moment, God welcomes us again and greets us with delight.
∗ ∗ ∗
Those of you who have read Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim will know how formative Rivendell Retreat Centre on Bowen Island has been for me. So it was wonderful to return there for our Living From The Heart intensive. The centre is hosted by a volunteer Christian community who live by two “A”s: availability and ambience. Rooted in the gospel values of Jesus and the practised traditions of prayer, silence, simplicity and hospitality, Rivendell community offered a warm welcome to us and others seeking spiritual renewal, respite and growth and is accessible to people with limited resources and special needs.
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.
To “welcome “what is” in their lives gently and compassionately, without judgement” stood out to me. Thank you for sharing another treasure with us Esther. I think it’s worth a try 😉
LikeLiked by 1 person
Glad it was meaningful to you!
Thanks for the reminder to listen to what’s going on inside when stuff goes on outside. It is so easy to be distracted. Thank you for the reminder of Gods grace. Again and again and again
LikeLiked by 1 person
You’re welcome. Yes, we are so easily distracted. Glad we have an attentive dance partner in God.
Pingback: The Dance of a Loving Community | An Everyday Pilgrim