The Song That Is My Life

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
patiently,
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.
Martha Postlethwaite

It happened again. I was asked to do something that I was particularly gifted for. I got excited about it and jumped in. Months later, I realized my ego had talked me into this. I was caught again by the lure of seeing the person I wanted to be and following a shortcut to it.

Eight years ago, when I began this blog with a quote from Frederick Buechner: “Listen to your life.” “Notice what you notice,” Father Elton said as he listened to my life with me when I prayed the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. In Advent, Jan Richardson challenged me to let go of what other people tell me I should want.  At the edge of the year, I considered Teilhard de Chardin’s claim, “Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.”

If I have been doing one thing in my weekly writing it is this. Paying attention. Listening. Noticing. Waiting for the song of my life to fall into my cupped hands.

Recently I noticed that my first reaction when any social gathering is cancelled is relief. The same week, I noticed that the last visitor in my day is a ping of anxiety in my chest just before I fall asleep.

I have also begun to notice how often I don’t understand some aspect of what’s going on in a situation. Eventually, I figure it out, but I wonder how much energy that has taken accumulatively. It makes sense now why I like going back to vacation places I’ve been to before. No wonder I like long stretches of time alone. Then I don’t have to figure out why that person said what they did and what I was supposed to get.

For my whole life, I’ve learned to function well by looking outside myself to discover what a good person is, does and feels. I’ve become accomplished at it. People like that me. But who will I find as I continue to look inside myself? What song will I sing when I fall into my own cupped hands?

Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write this.

I hear Love say, Fall. I will catch you. 

I don’t know what life I will greet. So far it has far more noes in it than yeses. It will disappoint people. It disappoints me. So many good things I will not do. So many people I will not be.

I got my COVID shot at the Anvil Centre in New Westminster two weeks ago. The building was liberally signed, and assistants were clearly identified and ready to direct. I needed directing. More than once. And when I thought I knew how it worked and where to go, I was wrong.

There was an elderly woman in front of me who, I suspect, didn’t speak English. She needed even more help than I did. She stood there not even knowing she was not where she was supposed to be until an attendant came and moved her along.

She didn’t know she didn’t know. I think I have lived a lot of my life that way.

I left the vaccination centre feeling fragile.

So often I think I’ve reached the bottom of my cup of self-compassion only to find Love filling it up again. This is hard, I hear You say.

So often, I think I’ve rested too long, and I need to get doing something. But You’re not moving me on from these still waters.

You wait with me in the clearing. You can hear the song that is my life falling into our hands. You close your eyes and smile.

And so, now our dilemma then becomes something intimate, for now we see our tendency not to see the divinity of ourselves that alone is real as a capacity to be actualized. That is, I am this because God says so. This is who I am. I am the beloved. God is seeing me here now. God’s seeing you here now, through and through and through and through, as precious as God is precious, as vast as God is vast, in your nothingness without God, in my nothingness without God. This is true. –James Finley, Turning to the Mystics, Teresa of Avila 1

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

The City of Burnaby has proclaimed May 10th, 2021 as A Day of Action Against Asian Racism.  In light of the over 300% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in Burnaby over the last year, members of the Burnaby Together Table, Burnaby Inter-Faith Committee and the City of Burnaby are looking at ways to address this issue within our City. Burnaby resident and Stand With Asians Coalition (SWAC), Doris Mah wirites, “The National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism is a nationwide movement that was initiated by a group of grassroots activists in Burnaby, BC. Organizers include residents of Burnaby, Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Event description: https://www.facebook.com/events/322523849293072. May is Asian Heritage Month. . . . SWAC is organizing a National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism E Rally on Zoom on May 10 at 5 -6 PM PT/ 8 -9 PM ET. Sign up herehttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe8REOUWaRhNCYW9NwoYCa1-w7WMC6asOW82hrcalXMTsjZlw/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1&flr=0&gxids=7628

What love mischief are you and God doing for the world?
Let me know and I will include it in an upcoming post.

Credits and References:
“Clearing” by Martha Postlethwaite used with permission. Note that what I have above is an earlier version of her poem. She has since revised it. The line that was “the song that is your life” is now “the song that is yours alone to sing.” Thanks, Martha!
Girl Seated on Hillside Overlooking the Water by Winslow Homer, 1878. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 
366 • 36 • Two hands, one cup” by Svein Halvor Halvorsen. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2021.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2021.  http://www.estherhizsa.com

About Esther Hizsa

Esther is a spiritual director and writer. She lives in Burnaby with her husband, Fred, and they have two grown children and two grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Aging, compassion, Reflections, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Song That Is My Life

  1. Charleen Siemens says:

    Love this Esther!!!! I am not alone in this busy ego-driven life. I’ve felt this invitation…there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the should lies down in that grass……
    Rumi

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Esther Hizsa says:

    Thanks, Charleen. So glad that was meaningful for you.
    I know that Rumi quote. Such a lovely invitation.

    Like

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