“Yes. It’s like a painful ball in my throat.”
“You might want to say hello to it. Let it know you feel it and notice what more comes,” Donna said.
The ache in my throat led me back to my childhood when I was picked on by my siblings. “If I go to my mom, I’ll be a tattletale. If I don’t, they won’t stop.” I said as tears came.
This story again. How many times do I have to return to this story? I love my parents and my siblings, and they love me–a lot. I hold no anger or resentment for what happened to me as a child. I don’t blame them for what they did or didn’t do. I don’t blame myself for being too sensitive. Counselling, spiritual direction, a loving community, and prayer have brought healing and reconciliation. Yet, here I am again being led back to that old story.
“Something in you remembers what it was like to feel caught with nowhere to go.” Donna stayed right with me, reflecting back what I was feeling, helping me track how I experienced it in my body, and inviting me into a felt sense of safety whenever an emotion threatened to overwhelm me.
The constriction in my throat eased a little. I remembered, as a child, I would find a way out by going into my imagination. I was safe and happy in the stories I created.
The constriction hardened again. Something in me didn’t want to leave my body to feel safe, but the little girl in me was afraid to let down her defences. I felt her feelings in my throat. I heard her thoughts. She wanted to trust, but she was afraid that as soon as she did someone would pull the rug out from under her.
Donna and I stayed with her, listening and feeling while a calmness rose up from my feet and legs like a warm embrace. It gently welcomed her in. She came into it, panicked a bit, and went out.
Then I remembered the painting by Jaison Cianelli, a quote in the Cloud of Unknowing, and an image of my grandson as a young child with his arm around Fred’s neck, his hands in Fred’s hair. I remembered that feeling of embracing God and being embraced and melted into Love.
There was no separation between the little girl and me and God. We were colours swirling in delight and safety and wonder.
I remained there for a while. Then the constriction returned to my throat.
Donna invited me to welcomed it again, to return and feel and notice what more comes.
The image of a baby came to me. She was being held with her bottom on her mother’s arms and her cheek on her mother’s chest. I watched her startle awake, look around then flop back down. The constriction eased.
Then I saw that I was the baby and the mother was my mother. She was caressing my tiny arms and face. She was thinking, I wish this moment would never end. I breathed in the words, the picture, and the felt sense of being so loved.
“I have no actual memory of this,” I told Donna as our time come to an end. “But if I asked my mother now, I know what she’d say. She’d say, ‘Of course, it’s true. I remember that.'”
It is God, and he alone, who can fully satisfy the hunger and longing of our spirit which, transformed by God’s redeeming grace, is enabled to embrace him by love. No one can fully comprehend the uncreated God with his knowledge, but each one, in a different way, can grasp him fully through love. Truly this is the unending miracle of love: that one loving person, through his love, can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation. —The Cloud of Unknowing
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Our second lenten question comes in a cluster of others. What story in your life is returning to you unbidden? What old feelings have come to the surface and want your attention? You may feel frustrated and disappointed, thinking you’ve moved past that old hurt. What if you haven’t regressed at all? Maybe you have moved on, but Love has something more for you. Maybe there is a part of you that got left behind, and Love wants to bring her home. Trust your body. Trust what God is doing. Be brave and ask: What story do I need to return to? Then go, but don’t go alone. Take God with you and maybe a friend, spiritual director, or counselor.