This is the fourth post about what happened on my 8-day silent retreat in July. If you haven’t read the previous ones, I encourage you to do that before you read today’s.
I pray with Psalm 51 again, trying to hold the reality of my sin and its cost in one hand and God’s all-encompassing redemption in the other. Sometimes what comes out of sin and redemption is better than if sin hadn’t happened. Maya Angelou’s writings would never have impacted so many had she not been sinned against.
In my prayer, I talk with Jesus about this.
He doesn’t beat around the bush. “Sin harms others and yourself. It does a lot of damage,” he says. “Would you like to see what the world would look like if more people followed Love’s way?”
He shows me fields and rolling hills of lush green vegetation.
I don’t ask him to show me what the world looks like because of sin. I have a pretty clear picture of that. And yet, I know this is not how the story ends. Love overcomes evil.
In my imagination, Jesus and I visit Maya Angelou. In an interview, she once said, “There isn’t one day of my life that I haven’t thought about [being raped as a child]. Not one. I have had to use an incredible amount of energy to keep balance in my life. An incredible amount. If I hadn’t had to do that I could have written ten more books or five more films.”
“But look at the good that’s come out of what you endured,” I say to her now.
“Look, honey, if God is in the business of making us whole–and God is–doesn’t that tell you that being whole and undamaged by the sin of others is better?”
I hear her. Yet, I’m still not convinced that my sin is that bad.
Jesus, Maya and I go to see God.
God greets us warmly, wrapping his long Thomas Keating arms around me. He looks into my eyes. I see tears. Every day he, too, remembers what happened to Maya. “Yes. I redeem all,” God says, “But I would like to have to redeem less of it.”
There is no harshness in his voice. There is no getting out of this either. My past, my fears, my false self and inordinate desires have caused me to act in unloving ways. God never forgets the pain others carry because of it.
That pierces my heart. I long for the compassion God has.
Then God says, “Would you like to join us in loving the world?”
I can’t believe my ears, God knows how insensitive I can be and how much I resist change. God knows me, sees me as I am–the good, the bad, the ugly–and yet God invites me to join the LOVE team.
I feel the same joy and excitement I did the day, Jeff Imbach and Deb Arndt asked me if I’d consider co-facilitating Living from the Heart with them . . . and like I did when I was twenty-one years old and on a beach with Fred, and he told me I was the woman he’d been looking for his whole life. I was thrilled to be on those LOVE teams. Here was another invitation.
Just as I am, I get to go with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Jeff, Deb, Fred and others and love the world.
What a grace to receive!
You lead me in the path of goodness
to follow love’s way.
Nan C. Merrill, Psalms for Praying; An invitation to Wholeness
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Wanda Mulholland, former Coordinator of the Society to End Homelessness and the Task Force on Homelessness in Burnaby, was awarded the 2019 George Doering Service Award from the governments of BC and Canada to recognize all her work on behalf of people who experience homelessness in Burnaby. In her acceptance speech, she said, “I am deeply honoured to receive an award remembering the legacy of George Doering, a man who worked tirelessly to help others and to actively support causes that he believed in. . . . Over 50 people who were homeless in Burnaby have died since 2006 because of the long term impact of poverty and homelessness. To these people, I am deeply sorry that we failed to provide you with housing and services which you absolutely deserved. I am very grateful that things are changing for the better in Burnaby.” —End Homelessness