Last week I was in Cochrane, Alberta attending a week-long course for spiritual directors. The first night I anticipated the Will-I-fit-in? jitters, but instead, I found myself unconcerned about whether I belonged or not.
I was beginning to relax into this new freedom when something disconcerting came to my awareness. I noticed how much I enjoyed any special attention I got from our teacher, Lucy Abbott Tucker. I also noticed a bit of disappointment whenever she recognized someone else and made them feel special. I experienced the same dynamic when I interacted with the other participants as well.
All week long a little child in me kept wanting to say, “Look at me! Look at me!” It was so annoying; I wished that kid would tone it down and give me a break.
In one of our sessions, Lucy talked about our feelings and the importance of welcoming each one and caring for it as if it were a vulnerable child.
What if I did that with my need for affirmation? What if Jesus and I did it together? I imagined how Jesus might be with her.
I pictured him looking her in the eyes and telling her how special she was. He didn’t ask her to tone it down or go away. He was kind to her and wanted me to be kind to her too.
At one point, Lucy stood in front of our class with a smile as wide as her outstretched arms. “This is how God receives us and this is how we want to receive everyone too–no one is excluded.”
No one. Not even my in-your-face little girl.
Will you welcome her? Jesus asked me.
When Jesus asks me stuff like that, looking all serious, I know he doesn’t mean just once. I have a feeling this little girl is going to be with me for the rest of my life.
Just when I was wondering how I felt about that, a thought popped into my head, You probably wouldn’t have become a writer without her.
I’d always wondered if I write and publish because I want people to notice me. I know it’s not the entire reason I write. But it’s in there and maybe that’s okay.
∗ ∗ ∗
I’m so excited. Our church is offering a free meal to our community once a month. It’s an opportunity for our neighbours to eat together and get to know one another. St.Stephen the Martyr is in the Lougheed Mall area of North Burnaby. Everywhere you look there are cranes and new buildings being built. The population is expected to increase by 20,000 people in the next few years. That’s 20,000 new neighbours, and I’m hoping to meet some of them.
During my 8-day retreat this summer, I prayed with the story of Jesus feeding the 5000. I imagined him sharing a meal with all his new friends and saying, “Isn’t this the best?” I think I’m not the only one who’s excited.