Love Finds an Opening

As I continued to keep watch, I noticed a calmness here, a sadness there, delights and disappointments. But nothing wanted to be written about.

I told a friend about my day helping at our church’s thrift shop. “I was standing by a shelf of used books when I noticed a copy of My Grandmother’s Hands–the same book I wrote about on my blog and planned to buy. I was even listening to it on Libby on my way to the church. Incredible, eh?

“I only intended to stay and help out for an hour or two, but it began to rain. So I decided to wait for it to stop before I walked home.

“In the meantime, I had one meaningful conversation after another. Each person opened a door and invited me into their thoughts, feelings and experiences. I felt so privileged.

“Then the rain came down in buckets, and we needed to bring in all the wares that were under the canopies outside. When it was time to close, we began taking down the tents. Rain had collected in pockets of the fabric, so we began tipping the tents to let the water pour off. When we came to the third one–you know where this is going–I missed my cue and got drenched. You should have seen me. I looked like a drowned rat.”

“What a day,” my friend said.

I thought I might write about it, but I didn’t know what that day was saying.

During the week, I watched myself in meetings being present and distracted, hearing others and offering suggestions that moved things forward.

I watched myself write up notes from those meetings while Fred researched air travel requirements and deciphered airline speak. I saw myself sitting near him as he booked my flight to Minneapolis for my niece’s wedding in October. I felt so cared for and thanked him. “I know this kind of thing is stressful for you,” he said.

Still, nothing in my week was becoming a story or poem.

Wednesday morning, two days before I was due to publish a post, I still hadn’t written anything. I sat with Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds.

In the quiet, I saw Jesus scattering seeds on the hard path, the rocky soil and in the weeds. Then he found a tiny patch of good soil in me and sowed there. I pictured him pouring more and more goodness into that wee bit of receptive soil.

As I lingered with this image, I began to see that a deep hurt had caused me to protect myself with rocks, weeds and hardness which kept my experiences from taking root. But God found a soft opening and seeded hope, wonder, and stories.

I had thought there was nothing significant enough to write about. But I realize now that I wasn’t able to feel the significance of what was happening.

Love came–through people and circumstances–found an opening and helped me feel and see again.

I watch the rocks and weeds fall away. Birds fly off, looking elsewhere for sustenance. I see big patches of rich, dark soil and stories sprouting everywhere.

Some seed fell on good earth and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
–Matthew 13:8 (MSG)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Once a month St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church’s Thrift Shop is open for shoppers to come and find treasures. Volunteers work diligently to receive donations and make them available to our customers. The items are priced affordably with those who are on limited incomes in mind. For over 45  years, the Thrift Shop (newly rebranded as the New to You Market) has been serving the Lougheed Mall area of Burnaby with proceeds going to support, not only church ministries such as our Wednesday Lunch Club (an outreach for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness) but non-profits such as The Burnaby Food Bank, Cameron Elementary School, Doctors Without BordersUnion Gospel MissionCovenant House, Dixon Transition Society,  Crossroads Hospice Society. If you’re in the area come by and visit!

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:
“Watching” by deckerme. Used with permission.
Untitled photo of sprouting plants by Ryan Dickey. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-22  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, compassion, Homelessness, Reflections, Stories, Wednesday Lunch Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keep Watching

I lean my head against Love’s chest,
match the rhythm of Her breath,
and enter the darkness.

The light hurts my eyes.

I see 
what others have done that
I haven’t.
I notice habits I have that
they don’t.
I watch myself 
lose myself
disappear
and want a world with no mirrors.

I close my eyes
but I can’t unsee what I’ve seen.

Love puts Her hand on mine
and waits
until my breath slips back into Hers.

“Just keep watching,” She says
as if we’re at the movies.

She knows what’s coming
and doesn’t want me to miss a thing.

Watch and pray…
–Matthew 26:41

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Resmaa Menakem is helping me see and feel how trauma acts in my body. With God’s help, I am learning to be present and allow a new story of freedom and kindness to unfold.

“In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.

“The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. . .

My Grandmother’s Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.” (Amazon)

You can listen to Krista Tippett interview Menakem on On Being

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:
Moonbeams by Jessie Wilcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935)
Blackberries by Ed Dahl. Used with permission. 
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, False Self, Poetry, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dark Thoughts

I know the dark thoughts
that keep you awake at night

It can’t be true.
But what if it is?

There is no peace
turning one way
or the other.

This is too much for you to bear, my love.

Come inside.
Let me wrap my arms around you.
Lean your head against my chest
until your soul is stilled.

We will go into the darkness together
and see what light we find there.

I have stilled and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child with his mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

–Psalm 131:2 (ASV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Steve Bell sings the words of St. John of the Cross. He wrote this while imprisoned in a cell by a group of Carmelites who opposed the reforms he and Teresa of Avila were bringing to the order.

“Despite [St.John’s] argument that he had not disobeyed the ordinances [of his superiors], he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. He was jailed in a monastery where he was kept under a brutal regime that included public lashings before the community at least weekly, and severe isolation in a tiny stifling cell measuring barely 10 feet by 6 feet. Except when rarely permitted an oil lamp, he had to stand on a bench to read his breviary by the light through the hole into the adjoining room. He had no change of clothing and a penitential diet of water, bread and scraps of salt fish. During his imprisonment, he composed a great part of his most famous poem Spiritual Canticle, as well as a few shorter poems. The paper was passed to him by the friar who guarded his cell. He managed to escape eight months later, on 15 August 1578, through a small window in a room adjoining his cell. (He had managed to pry open the hinges of the cell door earlier that day.)” Wikipedia.

St. John’s powerful words remind us that nothing can separate us from God and that in that union there is peace, joy and wonder.

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:
“Dark Night” photo by Matthew Kane. Creative Commons.
Poem “Dark Thoughts” written by Esther Hizsa
“Summer Saturday Moon” by Eric Verleene. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Love Asks for More

Love always asks more of us.
–Wendy J. MacLean 

Love always asks more of us.

Love didn’t ask me
to say yes to everything.
Love asked me
why I wanted to.

Love didn’t ask me
to shove my fear aside and trust.
Love asked me
to befriend my fear
and wonder what it wants to do for me. 

Love didn’t ask me
to put away my rage.
Love asked me
to have tea with it.

Love didn’t expect me
to do what Jesus asks.
Love asked me
to keep trying. 

Love didn’t keep a record of my wrongs,
didn’t shame, blame, judge, punish or give up on me.
Love told me
to run home
to God’s prodigal embrace.

Love always asks more of us.
Love asks us
to come into the light when we want to hide in the dark.
Love asks us
to love ourselves when we think we don’t deserve it.
Love asks us
to hope when that feels like
the scariest thing in the world to do.

Love never fails
to question our beliefs,
beg us to forgive,
and awaken us to know that
 Love is never gone,
simply waiting to be found.

Love asks still more of us.
Love asks us
to listen to our bodies,
care for the earth,
and love our neighbours as ourselves.
Love asks us
to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.
Love asks us
to try and fail
and try and fail
and do it again
and again.

Love doesn’t ask us to
do it all or do it well.
Love doesn’t even ask us
to do small things with great love.
Love asks us
to do this small thing with the love we have.

Love always asks more of us
and Love never gives up.

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.
–Ephesians 5:2 (NLT)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

“Weeks into the war, Russian missiles struck the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary in Kyiv, blowing out most of the windows and causing extensive damage to the buildings. Reverend Ivan Rusyn is president of the seminary. His faith in God has only gotten stronger–but he has a different perspective on pacifism than he did before the war.” (Tapestry, June 10, 2022) You can listen to Mary Hynes interview Rev Ivan Rusyn on this CBC podcast

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:
Opening quote from the poem Equinox Scales by Wendy J. MacLean in On Small Wings.
“Love Asks for More” written by Esther Hizsa.
The poem references 1 Corinthians 13, Luke 15:11-31 and Micah 6:8 and Mother Teresa’s quote, “Do small things with great love.”
It also refers to previous blog posts particularly Having Tea with My Rage
Illustration Depicting Oliver Twist Asking for More Food by J. Mahoney Rightsholder: Supplier Corbis, Supplier NTB scanpix Source: http://www.scanpix.no Creative Commons Licence.
“Love” by Theophilos Papadopoulos. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hiding Places

You may be wondering how the little girl at the window is doing. She’s still there and let me know she kind of liked meeting up with her younger fearless self.

As I thought about her, I realized my fearful self was using a contemplative thought to keep from being hurt. When it came to putting my writing out there, she leaned into the old, “Let go and let God.” stance. “If God wants to do more with my writing, I will trust God to do it.” With the help of spiritual direction, I realized that I hid behind that stance to avoid rejection. Behind that stance was the belief that my writing wasn’t good enough or valuable enough to market. Now God was challenging that belief. The Spirit lifted the bushel I was hiding my light under

The fearful little girl in me kind of liked that too. She went along with me living more confidently in my own skin. . . until it didn’t work so well.

Honestly, the uncomfortable things that happened were no big deal. I learned stuff. I could allow myself to be disappointed. But the fearful girl was upset.

I found her in one of her old hiding places. She was under a familiar fear. “They don’t really love me. They’re just being nice,” she told me.

I’ve been unfettered by that fear for a while now, and the thought of going back to living under its tyranny made me want to weep. A few friends came to mind, and I pictured their response to my fear’s accusation. I saw the sadness in their eyes that I would doubt their love for me. 

 I wondered what it would be like to trust this loving picture?

Then the thought came to me that I shouldn’t be attached to needing people’s love and affirmation. When I looked behind that thought, I discovered my fear of being hurt if I ever lost that love. 

The little girl in me had a picture on her wall of all the moments when she felt unloved and unlovable. What made her feel safe was God’s love. Everyone else’s love was suspect and untrustworthy.

I smiled at her and the beliefs she hid behind that kept her from receiving the love she desperately wanted.

I showed her the beautiful picture I had of the people in our life who love me and love her too. Each one had expressed their love for me in significant ways. I watched her look at each face, look into their eyes, and allow her whole body to feel the delicious sensation of being loved. 

I asked her if I could hang this picture on her wall. She liked that idea. We took down the old picture and put up the new one. Neither of us was ready to put the old one in the trash, so we tucked it away in a closet behind a few boxes where we wouldn’t see it very often. 

Indeed, I shouldn’t be attached to needing other people’s love. Otherwise, I would live my life doggedly pursuing it. Instead, secure in God, I’m invited to come out from my hiding places and receive the love that’s given to me. Receive it, enjoy it, and trust it. 

For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.–Ezekiel 34:11,12 (NIV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

It’s hard to believe you are loved and loveable when someone wants you dead. This video was created by young people in London, Ontario in response to the murder of a Muslim family one year ago. It reveals the depths of Islamophobia and a cry for welcome, compassion and acceptance. May we open our hearts and unravel our prejudice. May we grow in love and welcome.

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:
“Found Me” by Anne Yungwirth. Used with permission.
“Joy Is Measurable” by Funkybug. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, compassion, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Home Again

I love our camping adventures–
being outside
exploring by bike
hiking trails to a view
sipping wine from a jar
watching flames turn to coals
musing about what we forgot
and how we made do
cozy and warm in our tent
grateful for tarps and when
the rain comes with the dark
and leaves with the dawn.

One morning we find
a family of mushrooms has pushed through the soil.
Maybe that’s what the birds were singing about,
that’s why the leaves rustled.

We come home
full 
of astonishing
ordinary
moments.

After the last load’s brought in
before the cooler’s unpacked or the laundry’s begun,
I say hello to my plants,
give them a drink,
welcome the new baby leaves.

“My, how you’ve grown,” I say.
And they say the same
to me.

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

–Mary Oliver, from the poem Sometimes

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Near the beginning of the Baldy Mountain Trail in Sorrento, B.C., we walked through this gate. It was lovingly created out of discarded bike parts and a few shovels. This work of art invited me to celebrate each person’s uniqueness and creativity. What a gift we are to each other when we become who we are, do what gives us life, and offer it to the world. In Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes, “The most important thing each of us can know is our unique gift and how to use it in the world. Individuality is cherished and nurtured, because, in order for the whole to flourish, each of us has to be strong in who we are and carry our gifts with conviction, so they can be shared with others.

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:
A view of Shuswap Lake from a lookout on Mount Baldy near Sorrento, B.C. by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Nibbled on Panthercap (Amanita pantherina) in Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, Scotch Creek, BC. by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Gate at the beginning of the Mount Baldy trail, Sorrento by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Creation, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cross I Take Up and Lay Down

Then Jesus said to them all, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” –Luke 9:23

What does it mean to take up our cross and follow Jesus?

Plenty has been written about it, but at the end of the day, it comes down to this: we are summoned to follow Jesus’ example and do what we are called to do to save the world, no matter the cost.

As Jesus’ followers, we participate in this salvific venture in some small way for the greater good of all. It’s wonderful work but, as Jesus makes abundantly clear, it’s hard, painful and involves death. To do what we are called to do, we have to die to what we are not called to do and, perhaps, die to what we thought our life would look like.

What it means theoretically is less important than what it means to each of us personally. It’s worth meditating on.

When you sit in silence with Jesus, what is most important to you? What makes you want to weep thinking about it? What makes your heart sing when you imagine doing what you were created to do?

What challenges, distracts or derails you? What might you be avoiding? Does fear of failure or judgment keep you stuck?

How do you feel knowing that your deepest desire is Jesus’ desire as well, and he is walking beside you carrying this responsibility with you? Even if few people value or understand what you hold dear, Jesus gets it. He sees what you see and feels what you feel. 

The crosses we bear differ greatly, and we often have more than one. Here is what I heard as I sat with Jesus and thought about one of my crosses.

When You called me to follow You
and asked me to pay attention
to how You are loving me
and then write about it,
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Then You challenged me to take up my cross 
and not just to write 
but edit–
take out all the words that don’t belong,
open up to what more comes,
rework and revise
until nothing gets between the reader
and You.

The cross I take up
is not just to pay attention, write and revise
but to publish
and not just publish,
but get out there and market it,
(which is the last thing in the world I want to do)
and not just make my writing available
but make myself available
and vulnerable.

The cross I take up
is not just to write, revise, publish and market
but to keep doing it even when
I encounter those who don’t like my writing,
don’t need it,
and don’t want it.

The cross I take up
is to continue to believe that what I do
is significant, valuable,
and worth my attention.

But not all the time.

The cross I bear
is to have courage and humility:
the courage to keep taking up my cross
and the humility
to keep laying it down.

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known?
Will you let my life be grown in you,
and you in me?

Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell that fear inside and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you’ve found
to reshape the world around
through my sight and touch and sound in you,
and you in me?
John L. Bell, The Summons, vs 1 & 4

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

This song makes me cry every time. I am so grateful that John Bell said yes to Jesus and wrote the songs God gave him–such salvific work in the world.

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:
Jesus carrying the cross by Titian, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Walking” from Pixabay. Public Domain.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Reflections, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Kingdom Tale

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕺𝖓𝖊

WHEREIN the King proclaims that all taxes are forthwith suspended. In return for his generosity, the King requires that all his subjects love one another–including their enemies. The Everyday Pilgrim, who lives in this magical land, is filled with gratitude and sets an intention to love everyone in the kingdom. She has no enemies. However, she finds Certain People irritating and annoying. As hard as she tries, she cannot stop judging and trying to fix them.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕿𝖜𝖔

WHEREIN the Everyday Pilgrim visits the Sage and inquires about how she might learn to love these Troubled People. The Sage reveals the problem lies–not with Certain People–but within the Everyday Pilgrim.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕿𝖍𝖗𝖊𝖊

WHEREIN the Humbled Pilgrim goes far and wide, seeking healing for the wounds that causes her to react ungraciously. She learns many things about herself and her past, but the healing is slow. Years pass.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕱𝖔𝖚𝖗

WHEREIN the King sends the Everyday Pilgrim on a mission with Certain People. The Pilgrim tries to love them the best she can. There’s a Terrible Incident with huge misunderstandings. poor communication, and significant consequences. Everyone behaves badly. The King disbands the mission.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕱𝖎𝖛𝖊

WHEREIN, the Grievously Wounded Pilgrim regards Certain People as her enemies and retreats to the far reaches of the kingdom. As a follower of the King, she knows that she must forgive Certain People. She tries and tries. More years pass.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕾𝖎𝖝

WHEREIN the Everyday Pilgrim meets a Traveling Minstrel who instructs her in the Ways of the Heart. One evening by the fire, the Minstrel shares her stories of frustration, pain, and loss and how she has learned to not be afraid of her feelings. The Curious Pilgrim invites the Minstrel to stay with her a while and she, too, learns to welcome her feelings and befriend them. Eventually, she can feel sad, rejected, or lonely, and the feelings do not overwhelm her. They come and go and tell her things.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕾𝖊𝖛𝖊𝖓

WHEREIN the King invites the Everyday Pilgrim to a banquet honouring all those who have tried to love others including their enemies. The Proud Pilgrim prepares for the grand event and looks forward to enjoying it with her friends. However, she is dismayed to discover she will be seated at a table with Certain People who have hurt her and still annoy and irritate her.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕰𝖎𝖌𝖍𝖙

WHEREIN the Everyday Pilgrim petitions the King’s Counselor for a change of seating. The Counselor listens to the Troubled Pilgrim’s story with compassion. He gently tells her that the King has assigned the seats himself, then adds, “It’s too bad that you feel hurt, annoyed, and irritated when you’re around Ones so beloved of the King.”

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕹𝖎𝖓𝖊

WHEREIN the Conflicted Pilgrim spends a restless night deciding whether go to the banquet or not. She tries to imagine ways she can nicely ask Certain People not to do the things that hurt, annoy and irritate her. But, no words come to her. Then she remembers the last thing the King’s Counselor said, “It’s too bad that you feel hurt, annoyed, and irritated when you’re around Ones so beloved of the King.”

Suddenly the Everyday Pilgrim knows that all she needs to do is welcome these feelings, too.

𝕮𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗 𝕿𝖊𝖓

WHEREIN Our Dear Pilgrim goes to the banquet with a sense of hope. When she remembers the Terrible Incident, she realizes no one’s to blame. Each person is wounded in some way or another and has a limited capacity to love. Even though they hurt each other, they were all doing the best they could.

At the banquet, the Everyday Pilgrim greets Certain People courteously. Inside herself, she greets feelings of hurt, annoyance, and irritation when they arrive. She also greets feelings of delight and compassion as she interacts with the People at her table.

As the evening progresses, Our Beloved Pilgrim begins to see why the King loves these People so much. She even finds a gentle stirring of love for them growing within her heart.

𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕰𝖓𝖉

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. –John 14:34.35

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

I am so grateful for the love mischief of the Sages and Minstrels in my life who have helped me in my pilgrimage, particularly my spiritual director, the founders of SoulStream, and the facilitators and participants of Living from the Heart and Art of Spiritual Direction. I am also grateful to my co-Counselors whom I met with biweekly this past year to learn about and practice Nonviolent Communication.

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:
Image by unnamed_terror from Pixabay CCO Public Domain
Forest image by Dorothe from pxhere. CCO Public Domain
Image of rock with an arrow by Lynn D. Rosentrater. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, compassion, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Little Girl at the Window

“I feel so vulnerable,” I said to my spiritual director on the day I clicked publish. “Even though I sense from God and others that my writing is significant, something in me feels the risk of putting it out there to be judged. A part of me is on guard for the next disappointing response.”

In the silence, an image came to mind. I see that part of me as a little girl looking out the window, watching for who might hurt me now. As I stayed present there, Jesus came. I thought he would lead me away from the window, but he didn’t. He put his arm around my shoulders and stayed with me there.

“It’s not like I have much of a choice. I can’t imagine myself not putting into words what I experience.” As I said that, tears fell, and a huge lump hardened in my throat. My director asked me about that, and I told her the story of  A Home for Everyone.

“Years ago, I was at Rivendell Retreat Centre and, in their five o’clock community prayer time, we were invited to share our hopes. I said, ‘A home for everyone,’ and suddenly a felt this huge lump in my throat. A sob rose up in me and ached in my throat. It was so strong that I wept and wept. Eventually, I understood that the sob came from God’s heart in mine. God wants a home for everyone. I think that story came to mind because God wants me to know that my writing leads them there.”

That thought wouldn’t have been safe to say in many places. But here, in this sacred space, these words could be said aloud and believed.

As I welcomed that thought, another memory came to mind. My younger brother and I were preschoolers in Sunday School. When the pianist began to play and the children started to sing, I recalled my parents dancing the night before. So, I grabbed my little brother’s hands and led him in a partner dance. We quickly discovered that wasn’t appropriate, but I don’t remember being scolded. I remember being fearless.

“I see a younger me now sitting by the window with Jesus. She’s not looking for people who might scold her. She’s looking for anyone who wants to come home,” I said to my attentive listener.

I biked home from that spiritual direction session with two beautiful invitations: to be tender with the little girl in me that’s afraid of rejection and to set free the younger one that wants to dance and believes everyone else does too.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

In a pocket of fearlessness, I wrote and recorded Ride Your Dreams, an album of children’s songs, for my kids and the other children I taught in Sunday School. Back in the early nineties, most of the music available for children’s spiritual formation focused on trying to get them to be good. I wanted them to know they were loved. As I wrote this post, a song from that album came to mind–a song called Dance.

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:
Photo of the girl thinking by Marja Bergen. Used with permission.
Image of the child at the window by victortsu. Used with permission.
Image of Ride Your Dreams cassette cover by Esther Hizsa.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in compassion, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

In the Heart of the Beloved

When readers open my new book, I invite them to open it up and flip it over. In the introduction, I wrote:

Look at the whole cover. Take in the beauty of the image: vibrant pink, glowing edges, green stem, white centre, light, droplets of rain, petals wide open.

This book differs from the first two in my Everyday Pilgrim series. In Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim and Seed Cracked Open, the beauty is all on the front cover. But, in this one, you don’t get the full impact until you open it up and turn it over.

A tulip this open is near the end of her life. Vulnerably, she surrenders to the One she is turned to now. Her Creator beams and emboldens her to blossom and bless the world with all she is, and will not forsake her in death.

Sylvia Sassen, who took this photograph, has given us a wonderful metaphor for what the stories in this book do. They open us up and turn us around to meet the eyes of our Beloved and see the beauty God sees in us. This image captures what it feels like to be in the heart of the Beloved.

I struggled for years to come up with a title for my first book. I’d get excited about one and then, a week later, it was in the trash. Eventually, my biggest supporter and husband, Fred, couldn’t coax up any enthusiasm when I announced a new candidate. So, he was surprised—we both were—when the title of this book came to me before I published Seed Cracked Open.

Nan Merrill’s paraphrase of Psalm 23 speaks of how I have often experienced the Beloved gently restoring my soul, walking with me through dark valleys, and helping me face my fears. The last verse declares:

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life
and I shall dwell in the heart of the Beloved forever.

You can see why the title In the Heart of the Beloved stayed with me and never left.

The stories and poems in this book were written and published weekly on my blog, An Everyday Pilgrim (estherhizsa.com) from January 2015 to December 2016. They remain in chronological order.

As I read and revised these stories of my day-to-day experiences, I heard how often I was dogged by self-criticism and fear of rejection. Recently, friends who read my blog told me that I’ve changed. I’m much kinder to myself now. This caused some unease as I got reacquainted with the person that I was seven years ago. I winced at how often I felt the weight of my faults, mistakes, and sin. Yet, in every post, I was tenderly invited back into the heart of the Beloved.

God meeting me there in my shame has enabled me to live less disabled by it now. I can more easily join God in finding the part of me that feels disconnected and bring her back into wholeness.

So I hold that old me with deep gratitude and am pleased to honour her. In this book, she invites you to honour yourself and where you are on your pilgrimage.

Are you hounded by self-criticism? Ever feel like you don’t measure up or don’t belong? Do you wonder if you’re good enough or do enough? You are not alone.

This book is full of “me, too” stories. As you enter into the dark valley of your fears and insecurities, I hope you find God meeting you there with strength and comfort.

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Would you like to join me in some love mischief?

Take a moment and notice how my stories or poems have touched your life. As you stay present to what you’ve experienced, is there something in you that would like others to experience this as well? Perhaps you are drawn to gather friends and host a pop-up book reading (online or in-person) in your home, small group, book club, or church. If you would like me to join you in some love mischief, please contact me.

You can purchase In the Heart of the Beloved, Seed Cracked Open, and/or Stories of an Everyday Pilgrim from me. They are also available on Amazon.

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:© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2022.
The 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 2013-2022.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in In the Heart of the Beloved, Poetry, Reflections, Stories, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment