What does she want to talk about? What am I doing wrong? I wondered when I received an email from SoulStream‘s Executive Director asking if we could set up a Zoom time to check in.
A wise inner voice told me that I had nothing to fear. Deb’s checking in with every person on the leadership team regularly. She’s there to support you. Besides, when has she ever criticized or belittled you? Never. You know your fear is irrational.
I knew it. I also knew that if I was doing something unhelpful, she would be gentle, and it would be for our good, and yet–
And yet, I can be oblivious at times, totally unaware that what I’ve done or said may have undermined or hurt someone. Having it pointed out is so embarrassing.
Even though my fear was irrational, I promised God I would listen to it. So, I welcomed it, tapped with it, and God and I listened. It didn’t keep my anxiety from rising again or my mind from trying to figure out what Deb wanted to talk about, but it did enable me to return to picturing her loving smile and sensing God’s comforting presence.
I had a reasonable night’s sleep before our Zoom call. Thankfully it was in the morning. We had a lovely conversation. No big reveal. No big agenda. She just wanted to get my help with something (which is exactly what she said in the email when we set the time to meet, but I missed that part).
I felt rather sheepish afterward and took that feeling to God, too. God reminded me of what I heard James Finley say a few days before in an interview with Kristen Oates.
One week I was working on this talk. I think it was on Meister Eckhart, but I don’t remember. And I personally thought the talk was particularly profound. I thought it was really, you know, “This is a good one.” And when I got to St. Monica’s church, I realized I forgot my brilliant talk at home. I only had thirty minutes before the group started. So, I tried to find a room to sit down and scribble out what I could remember, and all the doors were locked. I had to sit on the floor at the end of the hallway on the back of an envelope writing out what I could remember. And as they were walking up the stairs, all the people were coming up for the sitting, about a hundred people, or so. And as I walk up the stairs, because it happens to me all the time because I’m dissociative from the trauma, and I said to God, I said, “You know, I just wondered am I ever going to get my act together?” And God said, interiorly inside of me, “I don’t see it coming.” [laughter] “I don’t think you’re going to get your act together. I just don’t see it, to be honest with you.”
Am I ever going to get my act together and stop being oblivious and need to have my missteps pointed out? Will I ever stop being afraid of being hauled up on the carpet? What if God doesn’t see that day coming? And what if that’s okay? What if God is inviting me to befriend these weaknesses and continue to come home to God in them?
What is serious to men is often very trivial in the sight of God. What in God might appear to us as “play” is perhaps what God takes most seriously. At any rate, the Lord plays and diverts Himself in the garden of His creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear His call and follow Him in His mysterious, cosmic dance. — Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
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James Finley‘s story (in Turning to the Mystics) invited me to befriend my unawareness and fear of being blindsided. In this sixth week of Lent, what weakness are you being invited to befriend? I’ve just started listening to and praying with Turning to the Mystics “a podcast for people searching for something more meaningful, intimate, and richly present in the divine gift of their lives. James Finley, clinical psychologist, and Living School faculty, offers a modern take on the historical contemplative practices of Christian mystics like Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross. Leaning into their experiences can become a gateway to hope, healing, and oneness. Together with Kirsten Oates from the Center for Action and Contemplation, they explore listener questions and examine their own paths as modern contemplatives in this beautiful and broken world” (from the Centre for Action and Contemplation).