At This Table

“I’ll start,” says one spiritual director after we blessed the lunches we brought. One by one, we go around the table, sharing what’s been significant to us in the past month.

One speaks of disappointment, another rages at loss, a third savours a gift. At this table, we’re not looking for approval or even understanding; we’re not fearing rejection or judgment. At this table we’re simply listened to and loved.

After lunch we gather in the living room. Alfred begins a short time of reflection with a quote from Wendell Berry.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Silence invites us to let the words release the tension in our souls: our work is not to know, fix or advise. It’s okay to be baffled.

After a quiet “Amen,”  the facilitator for that day divides us into two groups. My group of three returns to the table where we had lunch. It’s my turn to share about an experience of offering spiritual direction; it’s their turn to be baffled and, to quote Douglas Steere, “listen my soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery.”

Being supervised by one’s peers takes a bit of courage. Can we trust them with our soul’s disclosure?

It helps that we regularly remind each other that our focus is not on improving skills or figuring out how to help our directees. Our intent is to hear the fear, longing or desire a direction session stirred up in the supervisee’s soul and bring it into the light of God’s love.

Alfred sits on my left, Mary on my right, like a Rublev icon. Then, protecting the privacy of my directee and maintaining confidentiality, I tell them about the trepidation and restlessness I experienced in a recent session. Our joint listening leads me to notice and make space for my feelings and recall other times I’ve felt this way. Eventually, their gentle questions uncover a crippling fear. Now that it’s on the table, a strange thing happens.

Neither Alfred nor Mary are under its spell. God isn’t either.

I try on their freedom. Instead of trepidation, I’m excited about what God is doing in my directee’s life and in mine.

I think back to the Wendell Berry quote Alfred brought. What if he or Mary had known which way to go and given me advice? They would laugh at the thought of it–not that they wouldn’t have been tempted to save me, but they really didn’t know what to do. What a wonderful gift to bring to the table.

He brought me to his banqueting table,
his banner over me is love.
–a Sunday School song based on Song of Solomon 2:4

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

My brother Ron (second from the right) and his wife, Deb, along with others from their church, served an Iftar meal to their Muslim neighbours during Ramadan last month. Pastor Joel Bergeland wrote about it on Mount Olivet’s blog. He writes, “At every turn of the night, we were greeted and recognized. It was difficult for me to cross the dining hall without being stopped multiple times by people wanting to shake my hand and let us know how grateful they were for our presence with them: ‘No one has done this before–what an act of goodwill.’ , ‘You give me hope that we can have a future filled with peace.’ . . .
‘This is God’s house, and that means everyone is welcome here. I hope you, too, feel welcome.’ I did. And judging by the laughter and conversations I saw the other Mount Olivet folks engaged in, they did, too.” God’s banner over us is love!

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

Credits and References:
Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev (1360-1430) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Wendell Berry quote from “The Real Work” by Wendell Berry, from Standing by Words. © 1983.
Quote from Douglas Steere, “To listen another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being performs for another.” was in On Listening to Another.
Photo from Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Minnesota, used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Changes

I smell freshly mown grass and my chest expands. A sense of freedom, gratitude, wonder and delight emerges.

I follow my senses to my childhood, lying on the lawn looking up at the clouds in a blue, blue sky. No more school for two whole months.

In the next breath, I’m taken to another lawn–my parents’ back yard in Vernon on the May long weekend. Dad’s pushing the electric mower, just about done. He’s already tanned, though it’s been a wet spring. He loves his lawns, back and front. Not a weed in them. “I cut the lawn on my 89th birthday,” he says proudly when he sits down to join us. His biking, hiking, and driving days are over, but he can still cut the lawn–for now anyway.

I return from my reverie and look out the window. Up until a month ago, Fred cut this lawn. Birds would follow him, grateful for the food he served up with every pass of the mower.

Now someone younger does the landscaping in our townhouse complex. The birds have a new hero, and I have more time with mine.

Another breath of fresh-cut grass and an old Gordon Lightfoot song comes to mind.

Sit by my side come as close as the air
Share in a memory of gray
And wander in my words
And dream about the pictures that I play, of changes

When I was in my teens, I’d sit on the front steps of my parents’ house in Ontario on warm summer evenings. My whole life spread out like the lawn in front of me–fresh and green. Oblivious to the occasional car passing by on the gravel road, I played my guitar and sang songs like this one, songs of love and loss, freedom and change.

God is still by my side as close as the air, feeding the birds, wandering in my words, and bringing new life in the changes.

God made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
–Psalm 104:19 (NIV)

***

Love Mischief for the World

On July 1, Canada will celebrate its 150 birthday. On this great occasion, I would like to honour Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples. This image (left) represents the Anglican Church’s solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Canada. The fish and cross were the first Christian symbols. In the middle is another ancient symbol: the medicine wheel. “The circle, being primary, influences how we as Aboriginal peoples view the world,” writes Elder Jim Dumont in Culture, Behaviour and Identity of the Native Person. “In the process of how life evolves, how the natural world grows and works together, how all things are connected, and how all things move forward toward their destiny, Aboriginal peoples see and respond to the world in a circular fashion and are influenced by the examples of the circles of creation in our environment.” Thank you to our First Nations, Inuit, and Métis sisters and brothers for your gifts of wisdom, healing, and forgiveness. May we listen and use what you have given to bring reconciliation to you and to our land.

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

Credits and References:
“Long Green Grass” in public domain.
Changes, ©1966 by Phil Ochs, as sung by Gordon Lightfoot
 © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Love Mischief

God’s been up to some love mischief.

I have three pieces of evidence.

Last Sunday I preached on the lectionary readings for the day. I was captivated by an image I found in Psalm 116 which said that God inclines his ear to us. I wove my sermon around this loving picture of God and also used it in last week’s post. Minutes before the service began, I looked through the bulletin and discovered the alternate psalm, Psalm 8, had been used instead.  If I’d read that one, I would have never found and used that image which spoke so intimately and compassionately to us.

Recently I received a letter in the mail from someone who made my life quite difficult a number of years ago. I opened it to find a heartfelt apology.

This week I was working on the summer schedule for the Wednesday Lunch Club, an outreach for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Every time I thought I found a good day for our mid-summer barbecue, I noticed a conflict and needed to move it to a different day. The only date that would work was just three weeks after our Canada Day barbecue. The next morning I remembered that one of the fellows who comes to the Lunch Club is turning eighty and had hoped we’d celebrate this milestone on the Wednesday before his birthday. Guess which day that is? Uh-huh. The only one that would work.

God inclined his ear to us and heard our desires to be listened to, to be reconciled, and to be celebrated.

One of SoulStream’s core values is to trust that, despite all evidence to the contrary, God will accomplish God’s purposes in Christ. It often looks like God has left us to fend for ourselves, but sometimes we see the love mischief God’s been up to and know our prayers have been heard.

We trust that despite all evidence to the contrary, God will accomplish God’s loving redemption toward the fulfillment of all things in Christ.–SoulStream

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Often I am touched by the embodied compassion I see in the people who come to the Wednesday Lunch Club. “Home” is the word most often used to describe what it feels like to be there. There’s a lot of love in that place. There’s also a lot of love mischief that goes on behind the scenes–by the two churches that support this ministry, by the soup and sandwich makers that prepare food, and by the drivers who pick up the Starbucks and Cob’s Bread donations we distribute. All who gather weekly to receive these gifts are filled with gratitude.

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

Credits and References:
“God the Father” attributed to Cima da Conegliano [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
“Hold On” by Luc De Leeuw. Detail of a stained glass window representing Father Damian and a leper. Used with permission.
“Comfort Food” by Quasimime. Used with permission.
 © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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God Inclined His Ear to Me

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
–Psalm 116:1,2

I imagine God inclining his/her ear to me, bringing it so close to my mouth that I can whisper what I can’t say out loud.

God has heard my supplications, my pleas for assistance, direction, and relief. He has heard my rambling thoughts, my half-baked intentions. He holds my sighs and groans, my laughter, my despair. He listens to it all and leans closer still.

“To listen another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being performs for another,” Douglas Steere wrote in On Listening to Another.

I’ve been listened to that way. When I was praying the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in 2012-13, I met with Father Elton Fernandes weekly. Early on in the exercises, I told him I dreamt that Fred and I had taken our four-year-old grandson, Hadrian, to the beach. “We let him play while we took a nap for a couple of hours–something we’d never do. When we woke up, we realized, to our horror, he was gone. We looked everywhere for him, grasping onto the hope that he was alive and well somewhere. We looked and looked for him until… I woke up. I was so relieved that it was only a dream.”

Father Elton waited for me to go on. I told him what it was like growing up as one of five children in the fifties and sixties. “When I prayed about the dream, I felt that God was going to retrieve and redeem my childhood.”

Father Elton was silent for a moment, then said, “What stood out for you were two things: looking and waking up. You talked about looking, that you sensed God was looking for you. But what about the waking up? What are you waking up to?”

“That I’ve lost someone precious to me.” Tears came as I continued, “And that someone is me. I’m waking up to the belief that I’m as precious as Hadrian is. The dream is asking me: Will I cherish and love myself the way God cherishes and loves me?”

I could hardly get the words out. I looked through blurry eyes for a tissue. “Thank you, so much. I never saw that coming.”

“Neither did I,” said Father Elton and I loved him for it.

God listens like that. In the silence, he waits for that still small voice in me to say out loud what I fear is true and what I hope is true.

Then God inclines his lips to my ear and tells me what he knows is true.

“Come,” God says, “let me wipe your tears,
and let my mouth come close to your ear
and say to you, ‘I love you. 
I love you. I love you.”

–Henri Nouwen,
Show Me the Way: Daily Lenten Readings

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

I found Michael Cook’s “Burning Bush” (in post above) three and a half years ago when I was looking for an image that illustrated the holy listening that happens in spiritual direction. In our conversations and in Michael’s art, I hear and see God’s embodied compassion again and again–leaning in, loving, protecting, listening, always listening. His painting, Night Prayer, so impacted our SoulStream community when we were together for our annual gathering in 2014, that we brought it again the next year. When I told Michael how it had touched people’s lives, he said, “Sometimes it is hard to believe that a painting might truly help anyone on their path; it seems such a weak thing.” Yet in this “weak thing” we encountered God. Michael, thank you for the love mischief you do as your life with God is poured out in colour for the world.

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

Credits and References:
“Burning Bush” and “Helichrysum: Memory of the Sun” by Michael Cook and photo of Michael Cook used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, Helpful Images, Reflections, Spiritual Direction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stones, Slivers and Silence

I love being with people and look forward to social gatherings, but I often come home with a stone in my shoe. When I shake it out and it falls to the floor, I recognize that moment when something went wrong. I had little to contribute to a conversation and felt inadequate, or I said something I regretted. I detected a look of disapproval or a differing opinion made me rethink mine.

I pick up the stone, remind myself that God is with me and I’ll be all right, and toss it away. But a sliver of doubt remains. Am I good enough? Will they stop loving me?

I don’t even know this sliver’s buried itself in my soul until it begins to fester, making me sensitive to anything anyone says or does. Then I pull back, watch my words and try to be more acceptable. It’s so stinking hard, I want to run away and become a hermit.

But in community–the very place where I pick up stones and slivers–a moment comes when something goes right. Someone says or does something that finds that sliver and plucks it out.

Just last week, it happened again. I rub the tender spot where I was afflicted and look back on what transpired. I’m grateful for the Healer who came to me “in the mouth of friend and stranger.” But I’m disappointed to discover I still have insecurities. I wonder: if I sat longer in the silence, would God rid me of these stones and slivers?

Or perhaps it’s the silence that reveals how God does.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
–St. Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Friends of mine are hiking and biking to raise money and awareness for mental health.

Done in a Day is a charity hike that raises funds for mental health. On June 24, Patty and Dale Wagner will hike a section of the 24 km stretch of the Baden Powell Trail, from Cleveland Dam to Deep Cove on Vancouver’s north shore to support subsidized counselling for the clients of Burnaby Counselling Group.

Anne Duifhuis writes, “On June 25, 2017, thousands of cyclists will come together to celebrate and strengthen mental health for all Canadians while raising $1,500,000 for mental health programs and services–and I will be one of them! I rode the 60km route with the Vancouver Police Department team last year and will again. I invite you to join the movement and show your support with a donation or by joining me as a rider. Thank you!”

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

Credits and References
“Mustard Seed” by Wendy Linnington. Used with permission.
“Community…” by Kamaljith K V. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Poverty of Spirit, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Flies and Cold Fish

I’ve been doing too much, thinking too much. I’m so full of thoughts about what I have to do, my prayer times are inundated with them. I try to push them away, but each one promises to be the thought that will end all thoughts.

One of my doings landed me in a contemplative gathering on a Saturday night. Someone read Jan Richardson’s poem, “Stay: A Blessing for Ascension Day.” Together we listened for a word or phrase that drew our attention. Without fanfare or feeling, these words stood out for me.

Wait with your hands open
to receive what could never come
except to what is empty
and hollow.

The sentence sat on my lap like a cold fish while more thoughts buzzed and bumped against confines of the silence.

A few days later, I attended a one-day prayer retreat. Though I’d carefully guarded that time, I had to leave early to attend a memorial service.  For a couple of hours, I sat with more words, more dead fish on my lap.

Abide in us.
Holy God. . .
Mighty One. . .
Guiding One. . .

Then a thought emerged with a hint of a sob–not from the buzzing in my head but from the stillness of my heart: God is holy enough, mighty enough, present enough for me to let go of my thoughts and trust the hollow emptiness.

Just Sit There Right Now
–Hafiz

Just sit there right now.
Don’t do a thing.
Just rest.

For your separation from God,
From love,

Is the hardest work
In this
World.

Let me bring you trays of food
And something
That you like to
Drink.

You can use my soft words
As a cushion
For your
Head.

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Once when I was on a silent retreat, I feasted on the delicious poems of Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky (left). I felt so loved and God was so pleased. I often find myself quoting a Hafiz poem when speaking, directing or writing and smile inwardly in gratitude for Ladinsky and the permission he has given me to use these poems in blog posts. He commented, “You say, ‘I did a little dance,’ in reading something I sent, posted. That is really my sole care in the world now. . .  to help every creature boogie ever higher—become more free and safe.” Thank you, Daniel, for the love mischief you and God do for the world.

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

Credits and References
“Another Foggy Morning” by Carlo Scherer. Used with permission.
Jan L. Richardson, from “Stay: A Blessing for Ascension Day”
“Alone in the Woods” by Carlo Scherer. Used with permission.
“Just Sit Right There Now” from 
The Gift: Poems by Hafiz  Translation by Daniel Ladinsky.
Photo of Daniel Ladinsky by Kevin D. Mann
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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The Gift I Received

During teaching sessions of Living From The Heart, the participants and facilitators sat in a circle. In the centre was a low table adorned with a cross and a candle, and around it were a number of icons, two pictured here. This familiar, sacred space held many memories for us.

In our final closing, I invited each person to share a blessing, gratitude or gift they received during our time together. Many shed tears as they talked or listened; the affection we had for each other was palpable.

When I was certain everyone had had a turn, I began to speak. As I did, I felt a gentle hand on my arm. Deb, the co-facilitator sitting beside me, realized one of the participants had also begun to talk. That touch was all I needed to stop, look and listen.

Of course I felt bad for messing up. I’m quite sensitive about not leaving anyone out. But as I look back on that incident, it isn’t my remorse that stands out like it has in the past; it’s Deb’s gentle, loving gesture.

Whenever I’m in community for an extended period of time, I’m hyper-aware of my faults. I notice how often I draw attention to myself or cut someone off in conversation. All my shortcomings stack up until I’m convinced that’s all anyone sees. But each day, in one interaction after another, I heard that what I feared wasn’t true. People weren’t blind to my faults, but they weren’t blinded by them either. They could see me, and they liked what they saw.

This was how God loved me: with embodied kindness and compassion, without disapproval. This was the gift I received from Living From The Heart.

God would seem to be too occupied in being unable to take Her eyes off of us to spend any time raising an eyebrow in disapproval. Gregory J. Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Finland is engaging in some love mischief at school. Here is a clip from Where to Invade Next, a documentary by Michael Moore that made me wish I were growing up in Finland today.

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

Credits and References:
Our Lady of Vladimir (12th century), the holy protectress of Russia, now in the Tretyakov Gallery public domain by Wikipedia Commons.
Icon of the Holy Trinity by Andrei Rublev (1360-1430) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Questioned by a Strawflower

JpegThis week I’ve been away at Living From The Heart. Here is a post I wrote two years ago when I was co-facilitating this course for the first time.

Five tight buds, glossy purple lollipops, greeted me as I passed them on my way to morning prayers. Many flowers that I recognized were blooming at Twin Creeks Lodge–iris, geraniums, petunias, pansies, and daisies–but I had never seen buds like these before. By mid-morning, one had opened up to the sun. “It’s a straw flower,” someone told me.

Next morning there were five buds again. Had I been seeing things? Where was the flower? Before noon the blossom reappeared: it closed at night and opened in the day!

Every time I passed the straw flowers during Living from the Heart, I looked to see what they were doing. They, in turn, looked at me and asked, “Are you open or closed?”

In the week-long intensive I co-facilitate with Deb Arndt and Jeff Imbach, we introduced ancient prayer practices and explored contemplative living. We had the privilege of watching the participants open to God and to one another. Our job was to help them recognize the Real Teacher in their lives.

It sounds easier than it is. At times, I was as tight as a bud, anxious that I might say or do something that would inhibit God’s work. The strawflower invited me to relax and open myself to the light. So did morning and evening prayers, the silent times of reflection, and the gathering of this little community as we ate, shared and laughed together. Even the rhythm of my breath–full, then empty, then full again–encouraged me to trust that God was recreating us.

By the end of our time together, spring had ended and summer arrived. The strawflower no longer needed to retreat at night. I long for the day when I will remain open to God and bask in Love’s warmth. But for now, I sense, it’s enough to listen to the flowers.

bracteantha_magenta_500px

“Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me
and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

— Matthew 11:29-30 (MSG)

Love Mischief for the World

I want to honour the participants of SoulStream’s Living From The Heart course. It’s not easy to live from the core of who we are. Do we even know who we are? And can we trust that God is there, actively loving and leading us? As poet Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes, “It is a difficult lesson to learn today, to leave one’s friends and family and deliberately practise the art of solitude for an hour or a day or a week. . .” But what they’ve gained from their time away has led them into much love mischief for the world.

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

Credits:
“Strawflower buds at Twin Creeks” by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
“Bracteantha Magenta” by Fleming’s Nurseries. Used with permission.
SoulStream logo used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-17.  http://www.estherhizsa.wordpress.com
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Here Be Tigers

People in authority can make me nervous. I’m always afraid they’ll turn into a tiger, pin me in a corner, and pounce on me for doing something wrong. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. For the most part, the leaders I work with are kind, humble, and vulnerable and would never pounce on me. I’ve also had uncomfortable conversations with superiors that have ended well: I not only survived these dialogues, but I was the better for it. And yet–

I’m still nervous. I want to blame it on the other person and how they don’t handle conflict very well–and that may be true. But I have to own my own stuff: what goes on in me when I hear a certain tone of voice and feel talked down to. This has nothing to do with them.

“So what does go on in you?” my director asked.

“I feel like I’m five years old,” I said and began to weep. “I shut down and don’t hear a word they’re saying. And then they have to tell me again.”

I wept through the whole hour of spiritual direction. By the time it was over, I had a wet mound of tissue on my lap. I grieved that I couldn’t avoid people who trigger this reaction. I bemoaned whatever was done to me in the past that traumatized me. I wept with joy that Jesus would never turn on me; he always makes me feel safe.

“I know I don’t need to be afraid of anyone, but I wish Jesus would convince the little girl in me,” I said.

I listened in the silence for Jesus’ response and realized that he never stops working for my good. He helped me notice what was going on and bring it into the light.

I felt spent by the end of the session, but I also felt comforted. I knew I was not responsible for the trauma I carry in my body or how long it takes to be healed. It will be triggered again, and I will feel anxious and want to shut down. But I could see now that I have more freedom to stay present and more strength to speak up for myself when I need to.

I also knew that God was not going to get rid of the tigers that trigger my shame.

“So how do you want to be with them?” my director asked at the end of our time together.

“How do I want to be with them?” I asked, feeling cheeky. “Wearing a full suit of armour! But, how does Jesus want me to? With an openness and a willingness to feel whatever I feel and trust that God is with me.”

I Can Dance with the Tiger
–Esther Hizsa, 1989

I can dance with the tiger on my journey;
I can read his eyes; I know his steps.
I know every trick he uses to hunt,
How he looms and stalks and threatens and growls.

I can let his roar enter my bones,
Pass me through and leave me whole.
I can smell his breath and taste its steam
And stand within my fear.

Chorus:
I can dance, I can dance, I can dance with a tiger
I can move, I can breathe, I can twirl all around
All the fear in the world cannot silence Your melody
Oh my Lord, in your love, I can dance.

So we meet face to face so close I can reach out
And feel his fur and touch his wound
And with fear lying dead and trampled down
I behold his majesty and might. (Chorus)

Then he leaps high over me on his way
And I turn round to watch him go
But he doesn’t look back to see me wave
or hear me say goodbye. (Chorus)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

 

Thank you to everyone in British Columbia that got out to vote on Tuesday. Now let’s pray that our leaders engage in some love mischief for our province that includes affordable housing for all–especially my friends in the Wednesday Lunch Club.

 

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

Credits and References
Tiger at top of post and in banner by Mathias Appel. Public domain.
“I Can Dance with the Tiger” by Esther Hizsa © 1989
Tiger (resting)  by Angelo Antonelli. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, Reflections, Songs, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Aching for More

It’s Tuesday and I haven’t written Friday’s blog post yet. I’ve finished praying and have nothing scheduled for the rest of the morning; it’s an ideal setting to write.

Often the story has already come together, and I just need a chunk of time to get it down, but today I have nothing. I know from experience that I can’t make a story happen; it has to come to me like a spiritual awakening.

Last night I listened to James Finley talk about awakening to God. Finley, who wrote Merton’s Palace to Nowhere, said, “Thomas Merton, as a young man, was spiritually awakened to the presence of God in life itself.” Merton was awakened to the reality that he was in God and God had all he needed.

“For in him we live and move and have our being,” Finley quoted, and I ached to live more fully aware of God.

Once we’ve had a moment of spiritual awakening, Finley says,

We begin to ask ourselves: “Why do I spend so much of my life trapped like this, on the outer circumference of the inner richness of my own life? Why do I spend so much time unaware of that which alone can fulfill my heart?” This aching or longing is our teacher.

My throat throbs. I long for the inner richness of God, but I’m trapped by the inability to waken myself to it. How do I get free?

Here’s Finley’s response. We can “assume an inner stance that offers the least resistance to being overtaken by the oneness we cannot make happen.”

So I wait in this spacious morning with the One who holds all my stories.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.
–Psalm 5:3 (NIV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a writer and Trappist monk at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. His writings include The Seven Storey Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation. Merton is the author of more than seventy books that include poetry, personal journals, collections of letters, social criticism, and writings on peace, justice, and ecumenism. I love this quote from Essential Writings, “Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. This is not just a nice story or a fable, it is true.”

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

Credits and References:
“Blank page, new day” by Rick Stilwell. Used with permission
James Finley quotes taken from “Interview with James Finley” and Stories of Thomas Merton.
Acts 17:28
“Eurasian blue tit” by Benjamin Balázs. Public domain.
Photo of Thomas Merton by cistercaminante. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2017.
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 2013-2017.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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