Love Is Our Birthright

This is the third post about what happened on my 8-day silent retreat in July. If you haven’t read the previous posts. I encourage you to do that before you read today’s.

Erik suggested that I pray with Psalm 51. Since we both care deeply about what happened to the First Peoples after the settlers came to Canada, he encouraged me to allow that sin to enter into my prayers.

I opened Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying, and this portion of Psalm 51 spoke to me.

Have mercy on me, O Gracious One,
according to your steadfast love;
According to your abundant kindness
forgive me where my thoughts and deeds have hurt others. . .
Teach me, that I may know my weaknesses,
the shortcomings that bind me,
the unloving ways that separate me,
that keep me from recognizing your Life in me
For I keep company with fear,
and dwell in the house of ignorance.
Yet, I was brought forth in love
and love is my birthright.

There it was in black and white. My unloving ways–born of weakness and ignorance–separate me and hurt others.

I have hurt others. I breathed deeply, feeling the sadness in my heart, my throat and down my arms.

But the sadness did not overwhelm me. Grace was there too. These words were also true: I was brought forth in love and love is my birthright.

Jesus said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

We went with God and the Holy Spirit back in time and into a residential school. We saw children muzzled, scrubbed clean of their identity, robbed of their humanity. We wept from a bottomless well of grief.

“The government, the church, the average person–they all dwelt in a house of ignorance,” I said to Jesus. “I never want to be that blind.”

Then I saw that I was.

I too followed the church’s ways and trusted my elders. I even thought I was being compassionate.

Years ago, when my lesbian coworker and my gay youth group member asked me if it was okay to be gay, I told them what the Bible said. I didn’t realize then that I was muzzling, scrubbing, robbing them of life, separating them from Love.

That was a long time ago. I see things differently now. Yet, more recently, I ‘ve judged people as “less than” and justified myself when others did the same.

The Trinity encircled me and held me tenderly.

We are all brought forth in love and love is our birthright.

Forgive all that binds me in fear,
that I might radiate love.
–Psalm 51:7

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

On August 4, I attended my first Pride Parade. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family were in the parade. Organizations, businesses, government departments, support services and schools demonstrated their support. I particularly liked the signs that said, “Closets are for clothes; schools are for everyone.” The ones that said, “I love my gay son” and “I love all my children” brought tears to my eyes. For three hours my friend and I watched and hoped and finally, near the end, came a supportive voice from the Christian community. Parishioners from Christ Church Cathedral paraded with pride.

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:
Psalm 51:10 image from New Life Church Collingwood. Used with permission.
Psalm 51:1-5, 7 from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying; An Invitation to Wholeness.
Image of two hands from PxHere. Creative Commons.
Pride Parade photo by Ruth Zacharias. Used with permission
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, Ignatian Spirituality, Poverty of Spirit, Praying with the Imagination, Reflections, Spiritual Direction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Best Day Ever

This is the second post about what happened on my 8-day silent retreat in July. If you haven’t read last week’s post, I encourage you to do that before you read today’s.

“I’d like you to pray the third exercise in ‘Week One’ of the Spiritual Exercises,” Erik said. “This is the one where you have conversations with Mary, Jesus and God about the sin that has hurt others and creation. God knows we’re not wholly responsible for our actions. Culture, upbringing and unkind things that were done to us impact our choices.”

“Yet we don’t want to brush off what we’ve done,” I said. “We need to feel compassion for those we’ve hurt and make amends. So I need to meet God somewhere in between those two places.”

“Yes,” Erik said. “That uncomfortable sweet spot in between. We want to be aware of what we’ve done but not weighed down by guilt. In that place, ask for the grace of confusion–the bewilderment that God does not condemn or reject us but loves us all the more.”

With a clearer understanding of what to do, I met up with Mary in my prayer. What mother could I imagine playing this role? I settled on Maya Angelou. I loved being in her presence and savoured the way she looked at me. She made it easy for me to be honest. I talked with her about my wasted opportunities to love specific people. She knew who I was talking about and smiled when I mentioned their names. They are dear to her heart.

“I tend to do what feels good in the moment and that takes priority,” I said.

“Yes,” she said shaking her head, “and that contributes to their low self-esteem. But I hear you. It’s hard to push against the ‘NO’ inside. Maybe you’re tired and need more rest.”

We talked about it with Jesus. I have always pictured him the way I first saw him in a painting in the basement of the church where I grew up–you know, light brown long hair, beard, a gentle face and a white robe with a blue sash. That’s how I saw him now.

He didn’t dismiss the severity of my problem either. “You can’t do it,” he said plainly. “Let’s go see my Father.”

I imagined God as Father Thoma Keating. His arms opened wide to greet us. “Welcome, my daughters! Welcome, my son!”

We sat down and had tea. “Yes, this is very serious. You know that yourself, Esther. Think of how many times family, friends, teachers and church members missed opportunities to love you when you were growing up and how that affected you. It made you seek love elsewhere.”

Then he stood up and said, “So I’m going to DO SOMETHING about that. Mary, Jesus, let’s take the opportunity we have right now to love Esther.”

They pulled out copies of my book and got me to read their favourite stories. They told me the parts that made them laugh and cry. They remembered each event that happened and told me what it was like for them to be there.

Then we played Scrabble. Jesus played a word that opened up the board. Mary made words like “peace” and “joy” regardless of the double or triple letter squares. God set me up so I could get the triple word scores. Then I told them to knock it off, and we played for real. Mary won. She has an incredible vocabulary.

We rode bikes and went to the beach. We sat by the ocean and watched the sun change out of its clothes and dip into the sea.

It was the best day ever.

Out of Christ’s fullness,
we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
–John 1:16 (NIV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

This is the love-mischief I’ve been up to lately. Four years ago, SoulStream used the poem “Seed Cracked Open” by Hafiz and the painting “Night Prayer” by Michael Cook at a Partner Gathering. I fell in love with both and was over the moon when Daniel Ladinsky, who translated the Hafiz poem, and Michael Cook gave me permission to use their art for my book. And they wrote something for the back cover! Today I ordered my draft copy. The book contains my blog posts from 2013-14 (freshly edited) and five prayer retreat outlines. All going well, Seed Cracked Open will be available on Amazon in September, and I will have copies to sell a few weeks after that.

Here’s what’s on the back cover:
“This book is full of stories about God’s intimate and attentive love for us. Through the events of Esther’s everyday life and her exploration of contemplative Christian spirituality, she is drawn deeper in love with God, her neighbour and creation. ‘The seed has cracked open,’ she says, “and I discovered, as the poet Hafiz did, that “there are two of us housed in this body”: God and me! Wherever we go, whatever we do, God is there—inspiring, transforming and enjoying me as I am. That’s led to some delightful “love-mischief” for the world.'”

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

Credits and References:
“Cold” (Lima, Peru) by Luis Alveart. Used with permission.
Sunset in Capetown by Phumzile Phala Creative Commons
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Reflections, Seed Cracked Open, Spiritual Direction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Prodigal Daughter

“Be gentle with yourselves,” Erik, our director, told us as we began our 8-day silent retreat. After a few more instructions, he sent us off to pray with scriptures that spoke of God’s enduring, present, and attentive love for us.

During my first one-hour prayer periods, I meditated on Psalm 139:1-18 and Isaiah 43:1-7. The wonder and truth of God’s love for me felt welcoming. The next day, Eric asked me to take a couple of prayer periods praying with special moments from the past year and spend another one praying with a few particularly painful moments. Together, God and I returned and lingered in those times of joy and sorrow. Tears came easily; I felt deeply loved.

Erik asked me what that was like for me.

“God sees me,” I said. Perhaps it was the tone of my voice, but I didn’t need to explain how complete and compassionate God’s seeing of me was and how wonderful that felt.

Erik suggested that I pray with the parable of the prodigal son. “Hold on to the grace of being seen and ask for the grace of confusion,” he said. “By that I mean, the surprise we experience as we discover that God loves us even more than we thought.”

When I prayed with the prodigal’s story, I was struck by how the young man wasted what was given to him. I thought about the wasted opportunities I’ve been given–specifically, opportunities to love. I miss those opportunities when I’m stuck in a NO. In that place, I don’t see past what will make me feel good.

I imagine myself returning to the Father who is waiting for me. He sees how often I get stuck. He knows how much I want to love.

He embraces me and kisses me; he is relieved and glad that I’m home. He puts a ring on my finger and calls his servants to get me a robe and shoes. “Prepare a feast!” he orders. Then he reaches into his pocket and says, “Here are more opportunities to love.” He opens his wallet and thousands of opportunities fly out.

He can see the “Why?” on my face.

He laughs. “Because you’re my daughter!”

It isn’t a reward for the opportunities I have taken to love. Nor is it because I need to make up for what I’ve done wrong or need to get this right.

He showers me with gifts simply because I am his.

But while he was still far off, his father saw him
and was filled with compassion;
he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
–Luke 15:20 (NRSV)

* * *

Love Mischief for the World

Erik Sorensen, SJ, flew out to Vancouver from Montreal this July to direct an 8-day silent retreat for the Jesuit Spirituality Apostolate of Vancouver (a group of spiritual directors who lead people through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life). Erik grew up in Red Deer, Alberta and completed a degree in aerospace engineering. But instead of pursuing a career with NASA or a prestigious engineering firm, he joined a religious order. His desire to love God has led him on a number of adventures including the Canadian Canoe Pilgrimage from Midland, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec to promote reconciliation with the first peoples of Canada.

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:
“Angel of Healing” sculpture by Susan Lordi. Photo by Anne Davis 773. Used with permission.
Prodigal Son FranzMayerstainedglass  Creative Commons
Photo of Erik Sorensen used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Prayer, Praying with the Imagination, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Get Real Still

Feather 2 Jim Champion

I’m on retreat right now. So I here’s a post from a few years ago for you.

It was easy to pick out Hadrian in the line-up of swimmers. The eight-year-old wore a life jacket and stood a foot or two shorter than the rest. Like those ahead of him, he waited for his turn to try the obstacle course that stretched the length of the pool.

Large blue and grey inflatable tubes, eighteen inches in diameter, were attached in parallel and perpendicular configurations with a slide at the far end. I watched one swimmer after another attempt to walk on water over this deceptively simple looking course. Nearly every person ended up losing their balance and falling in.

Then it was Hadrian’s turn. He dog-paddled out to the first tube and pulled himself onto it. Gingerly he got to his feet. He paused for a moment then stepped slowly onto one tube then another. When he felt his body waver, he paused until he regained his balance and then moved on, stepping and pausing along one and onto the next. Then he scrambled up and slid down the slide.

When he got out of the pool, my husband gave him a high-five.

“How did you do it?” Fred asked.

“I got real still inside me,” Hadrian replied.

Hadrian’s words spoke to me. In the course of my day, I tackle one obstacle, and before I recover my balance, I’m onto the next. Perhaps this is why, at day’s end, I feel overwhelmed and just want to watch TV and eat. But the God who sees all this comes “disguised as my life” and invites me to pause between activities and get real still inside myself.

For me, that means taking a deep breath and opening myself to God’s love in the present moment, in whatever is before me.

Hmm. Will this really make a difference to my life?

Well, it’s working for Hadrian.

54 Vernon Walk

I have stilled and quieted my soul.
–Psalm 131:2a (NIV 1984) 

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

brene-brown-home-360x239

Any social worker that is willing to do research in the area of shame and vulnerability, face her own stuff and talk about it has been up to much love mischief! Brené Brown is that person. I just watched her talk, “The Anatomy of Trust.” So helpful. Catch her Ted talks here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “Brené Brown, you’re my hero.”

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:
“Feather 2” by Jim Champion. Used with permission.
Quote: “God comes to you, disguised as your life.” is by Paula D’Arcy in Falling Upward by Fr. Richard Rohr.
“Hadrian in Vernon Walk 2015” by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
Photo of Brené Brown from her website.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mindfulness, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yes

“I tell people you need to pray as long as it takes to get to YES, a foundational yes–yes to reality, to the moment, to God present in the grass, to God present in you and in me,” Richard Rohr told Oprah in an interview.

Sometimes I wake up with a NO to life. I don’t want to do what needs to be done or what’s good for me. NO turns me inward and away from others.

When I’m in a NO headspace, I feel stuck in it. But Rohr reminds me that I always have a YES in me. I just need to sink into it. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’m simply out of the flow of love.

My breath returns me to that flow. As I follow each breath, I can let go of my NO and open to God present in me right now, freeing me to receive and give love.

I came across a talk about HeartMath, the science that shows that opening to our YES and breathing it out into the world helps others open to love, peace and gratitude.

We’re all connected and always have been ever since God breathed life into Adam. “From our very first breath,”  Richard Wagamese wrote, “we are in relationship. With that indrawn draft of air, we become joined to everything that ever was, is or will be… Our breath comingles with all breath, and we are a part of everything. That’s the simple fact of things.”

As I was practising centering prayer one morning, I opened myself to God’s love and realized that my ability to receive that love was in part because others were opening to the YES in them and breathing it out into the world. By receiving their love and breathing it out, I too was contributing to the flow of love.

Pastor Ruth reminded us on Sunday that we contribute to the flow of love when we look into each other’s eyes and pass the peace at church. We pass it on to others in our communities with heartfelt “Good mornings” and “Thank yous.”

Remember this song?

Peace is flowing like a river, 
flowing out of you and me,
Flowing out into the desert,
Setting all the captives free.

Yes. Indeed, it is.

Sometimes Creator blinks. Sometimes She is not looking at me. Those instances can feel really, really long some days . . . that’s when I should blink too. Close my eyes and breathe, feel the unceasing current underneath everything, surrender to it, then open my eyes again to possibility and walk on. That’s how I learn to be graceful. Full of grace. In the blink of an eye.
–Richard Wagamese

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Today I begin another 8-day silent retreat with colleagues who direct the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in Vancouver. For eight days, we will be sinking into God’s Yes. I’m looking forward to the love mischief God has planned for us and am grateful that more love will flow into the world because of it.

 

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:
“Peace” by Matthias Ripp. Used with permission.
Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations
by Richard Wagamese, 44,65.
Genesis 2:7
“Peace Is Flowing Like a River” Words in public domain.
“Vulcan Stream” by Reza. Used with permission.
Photo of chairs on lawn by Katherine Tam. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mindfulness, Mystical, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Resolutely I Set Out

“Where is Jesus asking you to go? Will you follow him?” Pastor Ruth asks at the end of her sermon on Sunday.

Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. He knew what he needed to do. “Foxes have holes,” he said to a would-be disciple, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

I know what I need to do. It isn’t grandiose. I’d been wondering if it even mattered until I read this in Embers earlier today.

When the muse is full upon you, you move to the chair at your desk as if entranced, and in that ghostly glow against the full dark before sunrise, story becomes a shape-shifter, a presence that cajoles you, tempts you, coaxes words to eke out onto the page, creating worlds and people from the fire deep within you so that this alchemy of creation becomes transcendent, making time lose its properties. There is just you and the universe and this creative fire moving through your fingers in bold palettes of colour chasing the dark away until you emerge in the sure, calm light of morning and feel like a writer again.

I am affirmed by Wagamese’s words. I feel like a writer because I am a writer. God values this gift in me–the process of writing and the publishing of it.

The hymn after communion brings me to tears.

Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord.
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

The call to hold God’s people in my heart touches me deeply. I connect this desire which is grand to the unpretentious act of formatting my first blog posts into a book which a small number of people will read.

The final hymn beckons.

Will you come and follow me
if I but call your name?

Will you love the you inside
if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear inside
and never be the same?

Loving the “me” inside means loving the writer in me and not neglecting my gift. What I fear is that I’m being prideful and self-indulgent. Or that I’m wasting my time and could be doing more important things.

But in “the sure, calm light of morning,” people I hold in my heart–Jesus, Richard Wagamese, Dan Schutte and John Bell–tell me, “Go be a writer. Do what writers do.”

So resolutely I set out to self-publish my second book.

Do not neglect your gift. –1 Timothy 4:14

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Dr.David P. Gushee has heard and responded to Jesus’ call to follow him and hold LGBTQ people in his heart. He explains that for hundreds of years, contempt for Jews was justified in the church based on history, culture and a few scripture references. Then Christians began to see how unChristlike this was and repented. We must do it again for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Dr.Gushee (PhD, Union Theological Seminary in New York) is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He is the author of many books including Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust, The Sacredness of Human Life, and Changing Our Mind.

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:
“Walking” from Pixabay. Public Domain.
Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations by Richard Wagamese, 52.
“Here I Am, Lord” by Dan Schutte, SJ, 1981
“The Summons” by John L.Bell, 1987.
Luke 9:51-62
“Christ and the Adulteress” by Follower of Lucas Cranach the Younger [Public domain] 1515-1586
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Reflections, Songs, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Moment, This Conversation, This Life

Summer has arrived and life is more spacious. Nothing urgent demands my attention. I can finally get to the mundane jobs that I’ve been putting off for a while. However, cleaning cupboards and straightening drawers are not as appealing as writing, offering spiritual direction or riding my bike.

Fred sprained his ankle, so I’ve been doing the driving–one of my least favourite activities. Behind the wheel, stopped at a light, I think about how boring this is. But my recent reading about mindfulness reassures me that this moment is not better or worse than any other. The choice before me is whether I will be awake to this moment and receive it as it is without judging its value. Will I wake up to the richness and depth of what I am experiencing right now?

On a walk that morning, Hadrian, our grandson, talks about Minecraft; Hannah, his cousin, is beside herself because Season 3 of Riverdale has ended on a cliffhanger. I know nothing about either topic. I want to change the subject and talk about something more meaningful to me. And yet, there is a judgment, a rejection of this moment as it is.

They walk faster than I do and take their conversation with them. I look at the trees, the sky and clouds. My knee hurts. The pain is likely exacerbated by my extra weight. I notice how easily my thoughts leave this sidewalk, these trees, this body and go somewhere else. I’m figuring out how to make future moments better.

I notice that I’m not present and choose to return to the earth under my feet, my grandchildren laughing, my life in this moment.

In this moment, I am grateful that I notice my judgment, the pull to be elsewhere, and my desire to be present.

Mindfulness means moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness.
It is cultivated by refining our capacity to pay attention,
intentionally, in the present moment,
and then sustaining that attention over time as best we can.
In the process, we become more in touch with our life
as it is unfolding
.
— Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

 

“Take a book. Leave a book.”

Little free libraries are popping up in neighbourhoods all over the place. My daughter has one for children’s books outside their house. Hadrian gets to meet the neighbours, pet their dogs, and see if anyone’s left a book about Minecraft.

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:
Photo of driving a car by George Hodan. Public Domain
“Sidewalk Flowers” by Steven Harris. Used with permission.
“Neighbourhood Book Exchange” by Richard Eriksson. Used with permission
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Mindfulness, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Each Other Make It Home

As you can imagine, I have been reflecting on the love mischief of tears and paying attention to what has come to my awareness.

Five truths have emerged.

1. I didn’t deserve to be bullied.

That statement alone brings me to tears. The Dam Keeper, Laurel’s kindness, and my friends’ responses to what I wrote about last week reassure the little girl in me that what happened when I was a kid was not right. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. Not then and not now.

2. A person’s behaviour reveals their limitations.

My siblings felt bad about the way they treated me when we were kids. I don’t hold it against them. They would have treated me differently if they could. I’m grateful that they have been liberated to love well now. And they do.

3. My judgment reveals my inability to accept the limitations of others.

For months I’ve been bewildered and resentful toward those who gave me that punch in the gut. I kept trying to understand why they did it, fearing that somehow their actions were justified. When I recognize that they weren’t, I can let go of my resentment and accept their limitations. I can see that these people are similar to my young sister and brothers: they were doing the best they could too. For some reason, they didn’t have the capacity or freedom to see the possibility of another course of action.

4. Compassion is evoked when a wider understanding is revealed.

In the past few weeks, I have seen example after example of this.

I was talking with a friend about a series we both enjoy on Netflix and going off again about how much it bugs me when there are inconsistencies in the plot. “If the man who lives alone is deathly allergic to tomatoes, why would he have a can of tomatoes in his cupboard?”

“By the time someone working on the episode noticed the discrepancy–if they noticed–everyone on set was likely too exhausted and too pressed for time to do anything about it,” she replied.

Her viewpoint softened my heart toward the ones I’d judged.

A few days later, my heart was softened again. I was with friends for a meal and afterwards, we meditated on John 10:22-30. In this passage, those who were not following Jesus asked him to tell them plainly if he was the Messiah or not. I had assumed the inquirers were being antagonistic, but one fellow in our group said, “Maybe they were wondering if they could trust Jesus. I think they were afraid.”

5. We are all connected.

In Embers: One Ojibway’s Meditations, Richard Wagamese writes,

We are all connected … we all belong to each other.

Every year, once spring has sprung, my world regains proper proportion because baseball is back. I love the central metaphor of the game–all of us helping each other to make it home.

Relationships never end; they just change. In believing that lies the freedom to carry compassion, empathy, love, kindness and respect into and through whatever changes. We are made more by that practice.

I think about what I will say to friends who ask me what happened. It feels good to have the freedom to say what helps them make it home.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.
–Romans 15:7 (NIV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

The Vancouver Sun reported that on June 15 more than 1,500 people gathered outside China’s consolute in Vancouver to oppose an extradition bill and condemn the Hong Kong police force’s use of violence against protesters. Among them, was my friend Father Richard Soo. The Sun also reported that the next day Father Soo and Chris Chiu (who is leading the Intro to Ignatian Exercises retreat with me in October) and more than 200 others gathered Sunday afternoon for a prayer rally organized by Metro Vancouver Christians to support the human rights of the people of Hong Kong.

I just heard from Chris that they are having another ecumenical prayer meeting for Hong Kong on Thursday, June 27 at Tenth Church in the Lower East Hall at 7:30pm. Everyone is invited and welcome! Please spread the word. More info here https://www.facebook.com/events/345405429690045/

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:
Photo of woman on dock by Matthias Zomer from Pexels. Creative Commons.
Quotes from Embers are found on pages 36, 45 and 44.
Return of the Prodigal by Jan Weenix in 1669 [Public domain]
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, community, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Love Mischief of Tears

“Find your pitch and hum it,” Donna said on the first morning of the seventh annual SoulStream Partner Gathering at Sorrento Centre. We hummed in harmony and in unison following her instructions. Then she stopped and remarked how beautiful we sounded. “That child that told you to stop singing, that music teacher that wanted you to just mouth the words, they were incorrect. You can sing. Every voice matters,” she said.

I noticed Susan looking up at Donna. She was listening intently and smiling. Her face bore such a sacred witness to this truth that I was moved to tears.

The night before, the twelve months of the year were posted around the meeting room.  We were asked to go and stand under our birth month. I was the only May baby, so Laurel left April to join me. I looked at the first question we were invited to talk about and tears began to form at the base of my throat.

Laurel shared a memory of a birthday party she enjoyed.

“I can’t remember my birthday parties,” I said. I was relieved the question didn’t ask about a sad memory, so I didn’t need to tell her about the year it was Hate Esther Day on my birthday. But of course, that was the next question. So I did and tears filled my eyes.

Saturday afternoon we had a “Cinema Divina.” We watched an animated short called The Dam Keeper. It’s about a young pig who has the job of keeping the darkness from coming into the town and how he is rejected and bullied by others that attend his school.

After the film and a few minutes of silence, we broke into small groups. I didn’t know how deeply I was affected by the film until I tried to tell Fred and Glen about the scene that impacted me the most. I could barely get my words out for the flood of tears.

Eventually, I said, “I loved how the fox reached out to the pig, but my strongest emotion was when I saw the crocodile and hippo drag the pig into the washroom and close the door.”

Saturday night a band played oldies but goodies in the open air Kekuli. We shed our “dance shame,” as Brent put it, and had fun dancing in twos or threes, alone or with a broom. When we knew the words, we’d sing along.

Laurel made eye contact with me from the other side of the Kekuli and invited me to slow dance. “We’re celebrating your birthday,” she said. When everyone sang, “I can’t help falling in I love you,” she sang it to me and my tears returned.

Sunday morning, Doug and Laurel challenged Jeff and me to a game of bocce on the lawn. “Come on,” Laurel said to me. “It’s what you do at birthday parties.” We were tied after the first two games, then Jeff and I won the rubber. They may say they let us win, but I wouldn’t believe them if I were you.

Near the end of worship on Sunday morning, Irene read Psalm 23 from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying. The last line stirred up my tears again. “And I shall dwell in the heart of the Beloved forever.”

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of all my fears;
you bless me with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will
follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the heart
of the Beloved
forever.
–Psalm 23:5,6
Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

The Dam Keeper is a 2014 American animated short film directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi. It tells the story of Pig, an introverted youth who lives in a windmill and keeps a dark fog from engulfing his town. Although socially rejected by his peers, he is befriended by the artistic Fox (Wikipedia). I wonder what love-mischief will happen to you when you watch this film and talk about it with others.

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:
Photo of Partner Gathering 2019 by Doug Schroeder. Used with permission.
Photo of Sorrento Centre used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, community, Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Inseparable

Fred and I gathered on Vancouver Island with family and friends of my nephew Lee to spread his ashes. Some came just for the ceremony, some for a few days and, others, like us, stayed for the whole week to wander in the mountains and forests and along the seashore–the places Lee loved best.

The afternoon of the ceremony was sunny and warm. We assembled at the beach, and I led with quotes by Richard Wagamese and Dostoyevsky, and poems by Hafiz. Others present shared their memories and reflections. We remembered how Lee loved, then lovingly, we let him go.

Over the week, we played outside, cooked together and visited microbreweries and cafés. I enjoyed conversations with siblings and nieces and their spouses who live far away. I loved watching them interact with my son and daughter and their spouses and my grandson. But, I didn’t enjoy my recurring feeling of inadequacy. I was often disappointed in myself, that I wasn’t more thoughtful, compassionate, or calm. I wished I was more well-read, more physically fit. I also didn’t like how my feelings of inadequacy and disappointment shifted my focus from others to myself.

And where was God?

Silently with me–the eagles circling above, the owl perched stoically by the river, the deer wandering down to the beach at dawn–not saying a word.

The morning after we returned home, I read this in a poem by Steve Garnaas-Holmes:

Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
Not your sin, not your most horrible awfulness …
Nothing can separate you from the love of God.
You are in it like the air, like gravity …

My “horrible awfulness” didn’t separate me from God’s love. But that love didn’t take away my horrible awful feelings either–and I wanted it to.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. –Romans 8:38-39

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

Thursday morning, before we packed up again and left for the annual SoulStream Partner Gathering at Sorrento, BC,  I received this email from a friend. “Karen and I will truly miss being with the community of SoulStream gathering… as we tread Le Chemin de St. Jacques (Camino) in France. In almost every church here, there is an icon in statuary or in paint of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which has been a powerful entry into the welcome of Jesus for me. I have recently become aware that each of our hearts is sacred to Jesus.  Your heart is sacred to Him. As you gather, I offer this prayer, which worked well for me today as a repetitive prayer while walking:

Jesus, heart of the Father,
Holder of our sacred hearts within your sacred heart,
We welcome you.
Spirit of Jesus, pray for us and with us.”

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:
Photo of Miracle Beach by Suzanne Tucker. Used with permission.
Photo of whitetail deer by Russ [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D
Photo of Sacred Heart by Doug Webber.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2019.
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 2013-2019.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments