Notice what you notice.
You’ve heard me say that countless times in my book and blog. It’s become a contemplative practice for me ever since I prayed the Ignatian Exercises in 2012-13.
I notice experiences that warm my heart. I also notice ones that irk me. My initial response to my noticing is to receive these experiences as calls to action. If I like what happened, I wonder how I can make it happen again. If I’m bothered by an incident, I wonder what I can do to resolve or avoid what I caused it.
What I have been slow to realize is that these noticings are not calls to action but calls to prayer. They are invitations to share my joys and disappointments with God.
In an Advent reflection, Monica Brown helped me identify with the barren-hearted or displaced and name my own struggles. I felt invited to bring my struggles to prayer and let God be God, “the one who comforts us and makes a difference to our lives simply by being with us.”
I held that thought. God makes a difference in my life simply by being present. This means I need to be present to God’s presence. That’s exactly what God desires: to be present with us, not as a means to an end (and that end being our perfected selves), but as an end in itself. . . an end to our striving, an end to the belief that we are on our own in this, an end to our disconnectedness from others, and an end to ourselves apart from God.
Brown said, “God’s desire to be one with us is greater than our desire for God” and that “we can only experience the fulfilment of God’s promise in and through our own humanity.”
Let me slow that down for you as God did for me.
God’s desire to be one with us is huge.
God accomplishes oneness with us by meeting us in our human struggles and feelings of disappointment.
So often I want to tell myself something that will make me feel better about whatever’s gone wrong. I look for ways to comfort myself instead of letting God comfort me. My own counsel keeps me from union with God.
It’s taking me a long time to believe that God makes a difference simply by being present with me in my disappointment or difficulty.
So here’s my New Year’s resolution. Whenever I’m in a conundrum or funk about something, I want to notice my urge to counsel or comfort myself and hear instead a call to prayer.
Let me not run from the love which you offer.
–from the Soul of Christ prayer
paraphrased by David L. Fleming.
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It’s been two and a half months since Mike Hurley became the new mayor of Burnaby and already our city’s citizens who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are being cared for. In December, four temporary warming centres have been set up in different locations in Burnaby and are open from 8pm to 8am daily until the end of March. Beginning in January, the fifth location will be at St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church, my home church which is within walking distance from the Lougheed Skytrain station. The centres will provide basic shelter for the night, washroom facilities, mats, tables and chairs, hot beverages and snacks, and space for people’s belongings. Thank you, Mayor Hurley and city councillors, for your wonderful love mischief. Thank you, Pastor Ruth, for helping us be good followers of Christ.