What Can I Bring Him?

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man, I would do my part;
–Christina Rosetti, In the Bleak Mid-Winter

Oftentimes it is easier to name the hopes we have for others than for our own selves. Easier too, sometimes, to place our hope in another—to follow someone else’s star—when the invitation might possibly be to stand on our own patch of ground and look at what our own sky holds for us.
–Jan Richardson

I beheld the stars in my sky
and followed
the star of oneness
and another that shines with the desire
that everyone would find their way home
to God’s heart.

They lead me on bleak paths
away from doing good things.
My heart feels hard,
water like a stone.

The stars in other people’s skies
lead them on warm roads
of baking and making
and finding the perfect gift.
But those are not my stars.
That is not my road.

I carry on through the snow
of cold thoughts,
a stranger in this season.

And then it happens.
My stars perfectly align.
Images come,
my throat swells,
and tears prick my eyes
as words are born–
perfectly formed stars.

This is what I give
the newborn Christ.

 

The scholars set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!

They entered the house and saw the child in the arms of Mary, his mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh.

–Matthew 2:9-11 (The Message)

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Love Mischief for the World

Churches in B.C. have been closed for worship until at least January 8, 2021 due to the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean our church can’t be open for personal prayer. St. Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church in Burnaby has opened their doors to anyone who would like to come in and pray. There are candles to light, a decorated Christmas tree, stained glass, wood, and silence. One woman teared up as soon as she sat down inside. “It feels so good to be here,” she said. “Life is really hard right now.”

If you would like to drop by, check the church’s website for more information, or call the office to find out when it is open for prayer.

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:
Stars in sky image by Kyle Gregory Devaras kyledevaras, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
In the Bleak Mid-Winter  by Christina Rosetti
Quote by Jan Richardson, Illuminated Advent Retreat, December 14.
“Nativity”  by violscraper Used with permission.
Photo of St.Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church, Burnaby by The Rev. Ruth Monette. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, Christmas, Mystical, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparing the Way Home

From the moment I stepped into this chapel, it felt like home. Wood, stone, glass, and flame together breathed a silent welcome. . . .

Advent invites us to prepare the way for the Holy One who comes to meet us. . . . What does “preparing the way” mean to you? . . . How do we open ourselves to being part of the path by which Christ comes into the world? —Jan Richardson

“Repent,” John the baptizer says in his blunt, awkward way.
“Return,” whispers my soul.
“Come home to God,
the ground of your being,
the Love in all love.”

“Prepare the way of the Lord,” John beckons,
and my soul hears,
“Come home to this moment,
this chapel in time.
Embody Jesus’ words,
‘I am in my Father,
and you are in me,
and I am in you.'”

We are one–
not separate from God,
not separate from others.

Sky and earth,
river and rock,
whale and bird,
friend and foe,
you are a part of me.

A voice finds me in the wilderness, and says,
“Prepare a way for all the parts of you
and all the parts of them
to come home to your heart.”

I am far away,
disconnected,
overwhelmed.
All the parts?
Of everyone and everything?

Advent calls me back
to God,
the ground of our being,
the Love in all love.

Here
all of me is welcomed with wood, stone, glass, and flame.
Here
I have room
for everyone and everything
and feel no angst.
I am
whole.

On that day you will realize
that I am in my Father,
and you are in me,
and I am in you.
–John 14:20

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Love Mischief for the World

Take a moment to pause right now. Imagine yourself lighting the fourth Advent candle, the candle of Love. Take a breath and notice where you are. Allow each breath to return you to the chapel of time in your body, to the truth that we are in Christ, all is in Christ. Picture every part of you and every part of everything and everyone being welcomed home by Love.

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:
St. John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness by Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1799) Creative commons.
Quote from In the Mary, Mother of God Chapel, Jan RichardsonIlluminated Advent Retreat, Dec 10, 2020
The phrase “a chapel in time” is adapted from “a palace in time” by Abraham Joshua Heschel Sabbath.
Collage: I made this collage on a retreat in March 2019 after my nephew, Lee, passed away.
“4. Advent” by grosskopf_photography. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, Christmas, community, compassion, Creation, Mindfulness, Mystical, Poetry, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In the Shadows

Those who have sat in the darkness know how the shadows give way to desire. Without sight, without our heads swimming with the images of what others tell us we want, we can turn our gaze inward and search our souls . . . What longs to be born in us in this season? Jan Richardson

In the shadows
I hear what has been silenced by
loud voices telling me
what I should do,
what I should be.

In the stillness
I know
what I don’t want to do.
I know that
trying to make myself do it
isn’t working.

As I wait and listen deeply to my soul
I hear
possibility.
I can stop doing what I should.
I can let go of trying to make myself become.

A kind voice asks,
What would you like to do?

Relief and spaciousness fill my chest
as I hold the possibility
that my soul glorifies the Lord.
If I listen to it,
I will become
aligned
with the mysterious forces
that overshadowed Mary.

I hold the possibility
that I can be as brave as Mary
and do what isn’t expected of me,
and become exactly what is needed.

Mary said,
“My soul glorifies the Lord. . .”

–Luke 1:46

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Love Mischief for the World

On Sunday, we light the third Advent candle for joy. What possibility is your soul offering you that brings you joy? What do you hear when, as you “let your shy soul speak”? When you read today’s post, what resonated with you, disquieted you, or inspired you? Could this be the mysterious forces at work in you?

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 by Jan Richardson, Illuminated Advent Retreat, Dec 5, 2020
Shadow” by myrealnameispete. Used with permission.
Annunciation” by Fra Angelico, 1437. Wikimedia. Non-commercial usage allowed.
“3ter Advent” by grosskopf_photography. Used with permission.
Quote “Let your shy soul speak” by Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, Mystical, Poetry, Prayer, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Peacemaking

“Sensing your feet on the floor. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing,” Maureen said. It was her turn to accompany me in a focusing session. “Bringing your inhale inward through your head, use your inhale to make deep inner contact with yourself and the exhale releases.”

Maureen’s gentle voice slowly guided me to feel my feet inside my feet . . . my back against the chair . . . the heart space within my chest . . . the whole pelvic floor.  After eight or ten minutes had passed, she said, “Now sense that you are inside your whole body at once and that your whole body is breathing. Pause there to invite in whatever it is that wants your attention now, waiting until you’re ready to begin.”

Before we started, I’d told Maureen I wanted to keep losing weight, yet I seem to be fighting with a body that wants to be fat. Halfway through the opening meditation, I felt an uncomfortable pressure along the right side of my chest extending up into my throat. This is what wanted my attention.

With my eyes still closed, I described what I felt to Maureen. “It’s fear,” I said. “Fear that I will always be fat.”

“Something in you is afraid that you’ll always be fat,” Maureen said, following the focusing format. “You might notice what more comes.”

“The discomfort is extending now up to my right ear. At the same time, the left side of my body feels calm.”

After acknowledging that, Maureen invited me to sense what was happening now.

I began to notice that something in me felt strong and determined and wanted the fearful part of me to be patient. Something else in me felt helpless and unheard. That was the part that was loudest. The tension on the right side of my body hadn’t eased. It was still lit up like a string of light sensors from my belly to my ear.

As I stayed present to the opposing voices, the calmness I felt seemed to put one arm around the determined part in me and the other arm around the fearful part, lovingly embracing them both.

“As we end, is there anything your body would like you to know?” Maureen asked.

I sat for a moment. From the deep calm, I felt an invitation to listen to and keep company with both parts in me and let them be heard.

Before I could publish this post, I needed to contact Donna Varnau, who taught the class on focusing that Maureen and I took, because I wanted to use her material. I thought she would need to know what I planned to write, so I sent her a draft of this post.

From the email conversation that followed, I realized that my determination and my helplessness were driven by the same fear. Both were fuelled by my attachment to a specific outcome. Donna wrote this:

Great tracking! You are getting to know the parts in you that both desire and fear something related to your weight. And as you are able to listen to all aspects of these parts from a loving and embodied perspective, you realize: Something wants to party, something wants to eat organically, something wants to toss it all to the wind, something wants to chow down on French fries and ice cream, something wants to feel healthy and strong, etc. etc.  Everything is welcome!  “We welcome and entertain them all…”.

Your loving presence keeps the fear places company. From the space of your loving, fully embodied presence, you can create a life-giving intention for your body that incorporates the essence of all the parts, e.g. “I want to feel strong, attractive, healthy and in love with my body and enjoy my relationship to food.”  (That’s just an example of an intention.) Then you invite your body to show you “what more comes about this”… an interesting journey.  Yes!

Donna’s words made me laugh. I felt encouraged and grateful that the war in my body could ease. I wasn’t just keeping company with my fears and desires until they went away. There’s something invaluable that each one brings to my awareness. I feel relief when I name what that is. Donna’s example works perfectly for me.

I want to feel strong, attractive, healthy, in love with my body, and enjoy my relationship with food. And God, who dwells in the temple of my body, wants that too.

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1 (NRSV)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

The second advent candle is lit for peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14:27). You might want to ask yourself: Where is there tension in my life? What two opposing thoughts or desires need to be heard and acknowledged? How might God be inviting me to make room for both and be at peace within myself? 

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:
“Calm” by Mike Green. Used with permission.
Maureen’s words in the first two paragraphs were from “Brief Attunement to Full Body Presence” © Donna Varnau, MA, LMHC Embodied Presence Counseling. Used with permission.
Donna’s quote “We welcome and entertain them all” comes from “The Guest House” by Rumi.
“Friendship” by Felipe Bastos. Used with permission.
“2 Advent” by grosskopf_photography. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, Overeating, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Safe

“You are joy. You’re our hope. You are gen-tle-ness.”  Then I heard the Poor Clares sing, “You are safe-ty” and teared up. I noticed the impact the word “safety” had on my body and remembered a similar sensation I’d had the day before when I heard someone speak of love as safety.

A day or so later, I was on my laptop looking for a creation image to go with last week’s blog post. Nothing fit. I paused, and a thought came: Search with the words “Let there be light.” I did and found a picture of a flower, delicate with morning dew, facing the sunlight. It spoke to me of unselfconscious beauty and receptivity.

At another moment, the question, “Do you feel safe?” came to me. I opened to it as gently as the pink flower opened to the sun and saw myself on the ground with my legs drawn up trying to protect myself while being kicked. It lasted no more than a second. Another image came of a dried, curled up leaf on the ground being angrily crushed underfoot. My heart pounded and thoughts came. It’s not safe to be vulnerable. If you say what you think–that you’re loved– you’ll be ridiculed and crushed. 

That evening, I watched a documentary on trauma and how trauma is buried in our bodies and forms beliefs in our subconscious. Therapies that integrate the body in healing, such as Focusing, yoga, and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or tapping), help the body release the pain around the traumatic memories and reveal unconscious beliefs. Expert after expert had strong words to say about suppressing or hiding our trauma. They all said we have to let it out.

So the next morning in prayer, I opened to the thoughts and images that had come to me and the hurts that had hardened into beliefs.

With the fingers of my left hand gently tapping on the outer edge of my right, I said softly, “Even though a part of me believes that if I open up and let people see who I am I will be kicked, I love and accept myself as I am.” I thought of the person I’ve been trying to forgive who caused my dismissal.

I continued tapping. “Even though a part of me fears that if I believe it when someone tells me that they love me, I will be ridiculed, I love and accept myself as I am.” I felt the beginning of tears as I pictured the beautiful, brave flower opening to Love.

“Even though a part of me feels like a leaf that will be crushed if I say I’m good or loved, I love and accept myelf as I am.”

I tapped specific points on my head, face, and chest while naming the images and thoughts that evoke fear in me: “This flower that is open and vulnerable, this leaf that can be crushed, this thought: who would ever love you?” All the while, I was tearful and calm but acutely attentive.

Then I tapped with some recent loving experiences: Deb’s enjoyment of my writing, Jeff’s smile on Zoom, Brent’s words in an email, a directee’s gratitude for a spiritual direction session,  Fred’s hug, the affection of my sister, my kids, and grandkids. As I named and recalled in my mind’s eye each experience, I felt panic rise up in my chest and began to weep. I took deep breaths to enable myself to keep tapping and remain receptive to the messages of love.

The little girl inside me was panicking while the mother in me continued to soothe her. My breathing and gentle tapping reassured her. “It’s okay. You’re safe here. You can believe you are loved. No one’s going to hurt you.”

A half-hour later, I was on a Zoom call with my friend and Living from the Heart co-facilitator, Audrey. I wanted to tell her what happened, but we had a ton of work to do and limited time. However, one thing led to another, and I ended up telling her anyway.

We were both in tears. It was good, but I was nervous. I wasn’t able to read the look on Audrey’s face when she was listening to me. I took a brave step. “Can I ask you what was going on for you when I was sharing that? Were you wishing I would just hurry up and move on?”

Audrey looked me right in the eyes. “I wasn’t thinking that at all. You know what I was thinking? I was honoured that you would tell me. I was glad that I was able to listen to your stuff because you listen to mine! I was so glad to there for you.”

She was essentially telling me I was loved and safe. I expected my body to panic and my mind to rise up to protect me with thoughts like, “You know she’s just saying that to make you feel better.” But my body and mind were at ease. For the most part, I could meet Audrey’s eyes and receive her love. When I told her that, I saw tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Can you come alongside the scared little girl in you?” Audrey asked me.

“I can,” I replied with my hand over my heart. She’s safe here.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
–Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

Love Mischief for the World

Illuminated 2020 retreat-banner

This year I will be attending Jan Richardson’s online Advent Retreat. Jan writes, “Beloved friends, it has been hard to wrap my head around what the season of Advent might look like this year. But I do know this: I will be offering a new online Advent retreat, and I would love to spend the season in your company! Registration is now open for the Illuminated 2020 Advent Retreat. In a chaotic time, this retreat will offer a space of elegant simplicity. Intertwining writing, art, music, and community, this online journey creates spaces of reflection and rest that you can enter into from anywhere you are, in the way that works best for you.”

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 dried leaves from Max Pixel in public domain.
“Just right!’ she sighed.” by Steve Corey. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Advent, community, Prayer, Reflections, Spiritual Direction, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Joyful Mysteries and Silent Dreams

“Let there be Esther,” I heard God pronounce, speaking right into my life-long struggle to exist.

During the Ignatian prayer retreat I was leading last week, I had a chance to pray with one of my “joyful mysteries.” As I instructed the retreatants to do, I returned to a moment in which I felt loved by God.

That morning, I’d shared the poem Book of Genesis with the retreatants gathered online. Whenever I hear read this poem, I find myself close to tears. In prayer, I returned to that feeling and lingered there. I imagined God saying, “Let there be Esther. Let her be soft and strong. Let her be short and like biking and. . .” More tears came as I got a sense of God creating me with the same wonder and delight God had when s/he said, “Let there be mountains and trees and birds and fish,” and they came to be.

The subject of my birth took me back to a pre-cognitive memory I had when I was praying the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises eight years ago. I was a baby and, being the third child, there was no room for me on my mother’s lap. One of my siblings squeezed my cheeks, and I heard, “Be quiet. Nobody asked you to be here.”

Whether this was an actual memory or my child’s mind trying to make meaning, it seeded a fear of rejection I unconsciously internalized from a very young age. This fear has plagued me ever since.

In prayer, I saw myself with my siblings and mother again, but this time the heavens parted. A chorus of Let was pronounced over me in the presence of my family. God had spoken. I was beautiful and good and deeply loved.

This led me to look back on my life-long struggle to exist.

At times, I experienced bouts of depression and a desire to disappear whenever life validated that what I feared was true. Other times, I experienced anger and barked back when I felt dismissed or silenced. A recent experience of that woke me up and allowed me to notice moments in which I can now hold uncomfortable feelings, notice the pinch, and not react. In these moments, I didn’t need to bark back or disappear.

More “Lets” are being spoken from God’s heart as I continue to be created. “Let Esther stand strong, and let her know the freedom of feeling her fears and not being overwhelmed by them. Let her be free to respond in love. And let her believe that she is beautiful and good and deeply loved by her family and friends.”

God “continues in rounds saying let, and let and let until even silent dreams are allowed.”

The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
    a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
    he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
–Zephaniah 3:17

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Love Mischief for the World

I am so inspired by Jim Kwik’s story. He was called “the boy with the broken brain” but there was a “Let” for Jim. God shared his silent dream of becoming a superhero, and he became one. He uses his superpowers to help others find theirs.

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:
“Let there be light” by Sylvia Sassen. Used with permission.
The quote in the last paragraph is from Kei Miller’s poem, Book of Genesis.
Photo of Rudy Hizsa and Hannah-Lynn Hizsa-Munson by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in Childhood, Creation, Ignatian Spirituality, Poetry, Prayer, Praying with the Imagination, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

When You Are In Over Your Head

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said to Sally after she shared the news that her mother was dying. “Don’t worry about the retreat. I’ll find someone to fill in for you.”

She’d been looking forward to co-facilitating the Ignatian silent retreat with me. I saw a mix of sadness and relief on her face.

I reached out to my friends Katherine and Thelma. Thankfully, they were available to step in last minute, and together we would offer spiritual direction to each of the participants. The retreat could go ahead as planned, but I would need to facilitate the input sessions by myself. I was comfortable with the material and the format. It should be fine, I thought.

An hour before a Zoom check-in a few days before the retreat, I got a phone call from a participant who lives in Alberta wondering why I wasn’t online. I suddenly realized that I hadn’t allowed for the time difference between provinces. Another participant lives in Saskatchewan. Would the schedule still work for her? During the check-in, I discovered that a couple of people hadn’t received the handouts and another didn’t have the schedule for the spiritual direction sessions. Addressing issues like these were the reason I scheduled the check-in, but what transpired rattled me. I felt alone with the weight of it.

“This is exactly why we have co-facilitators in Living from the Heart,” I said to Fred. Why did I think I could facilitate alone? I caught myself. I didn’t choose this. It’s just how it played out. But the hard facts landed. There was more stress in facilitating alone, and it was not likely going to be as enjoyable as working with others.

The next day I settled into a full day of offering spiritual direction online. In a moment of silence, I looked over at my Christmas cactus and thought I saw a bud on it.

When the session was over, I remembered what I saw and got up to take a closer look. There wasn’t one bud. There were fifty or more facing the window. I turned the plant around and saw that many of the buds were pink already. One would likely bloom on the weekend of the retreat.

A sense of awe filled me. The coming of the blossoms at the darkest time of the year has always been a visible sign to me of God’s presence and of hope.

You are not alone, the cactus reminded me. God will be with you.

And God was. As I explained Ignatian prayer to the retreatants sitting in little boxes on my computer screen, God was with me–invisibly and visibly. The cactus was blooming and Katherine came to every input session even though I hadn’t expected her to. How good is that?

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Saviour.
–Isaiah 43:2 (The Message)

∗ ∗ ∗

Love Mischief for the World

One of the participants in the Ignatian retreat told me about the music of the Poor Clares of Arundel. I listened to it and feel my body relax and my heart open. What a gift. Here is the story behind the music. In it, one of the sisters says, ” Our hope for the album is that people will have an experience of God and know they are loved by God.  And if people can have an experience of God, then we will have achieved what we set out to do.”

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:
Geertgen tot Sint Jans (circa 1460-circa 1488) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Image of Christmas cactus by Esther Hizsa.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
Posted in community, Ignatian Spirituality, Prayer, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gifts of Joy

On the ferry from Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, I checked my emails. Among them, was a yes in response to an urgent plea. The relief I felt was delicious.

The weather held and I was able to ride the rest of the way home, about forty kilometres. As I settled into the three-hour ride, I remembered that I still hadn’t written my blog post for Friday, and it was Thursday already.  Here I am again, Lord. What do you have for me?

Up and down the hills in West Vancouver, I thought about my restless night and what I’d said in an email to a friend about trying to trust. I recalled my ride to the ferry that morning and how one person led me to another which led me to trust. By the time I biked by the Lions Gate bridge, a poem was taking shape.

I had five kilometres to go when my pedal and crank arm fell off. I got off my bike and stared at my dismembered bike in disbelief. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I had no phone to call Fred. Thankfully, I was not far from a Skytrain station.

I came through the door just in time for a scheduled Zoom call which laid to rest another worry I’d been carrying.

Before I connected to Zoom, Fred had fixed my bike. No exaggeration. He fixed it in less than five minutes.

After the call was over, I said an unrushed hello to Fred and opened to the joy that was rising in me like a chorus of crickets at dawn.

I gathered the gifts I’d received around me as I did as a child on Christmas morning. My blog post was composed. Two worries were gone. I’d gotten to bike to and from Nanaimo–despite a few obstacles. I was back home with Fred, my own bed, and all my vegan options. And there was something else.

This year and last, I’ve had to let go of directing the Ignatian Exercises. It’s been a loss, but the biggest loss for me is not meeting with the other directors regularly. Now I was working with two of them again on a silent retreat next weekend. They were the ones who answered yes to my urgent request.

I sat there in my living room savouring the delight that God noticed that I missed them.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
 They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
–Psalm 36: 7, 8

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Love Mischief for the World

I just heard that the University of Alberta is offering a free course called Indigenous Canada and signed up for it. “This course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Indigenous Canada is for students from faculties outside the Faculty of Native Studies with an interest in acquiring a basic familiarity with Indigenous/non-Indigenous relationships.” (website)

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:
Panoramic of the Lions Gate Bridge by Ken Lane. Used with permission.
“Joy Is Measurable” by Funkybug. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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Trying to Trust

Away from home
at the end of a full day,
I read an email and received
a problem–
a big problem that I had to solve.

I noticed the absence of
butterflies in my stomach
and “Oh Nos” in my head.
I knew who to ask for help
and sent them an email
with “urgent” in the subject line.
There’s nothing more you can do, I told myself.
You just have to wait, I added
and went to bed.

But I didn’t sleep.

I tossed and turned and tried
to trust God.
Apparently trying to trust
is not the same as trusting.
But trying
was all I could do.

The next morning I woke early,
put on my biking clothes,
packed up my things,
and headed out before dawn–
without a phone
(It had an untimely death.)
or a map.
I did have
the directions from the ferry to the retreat centre
that I’d scrawled on paper two days before.
I just had to follow them in reverse,
easy-peasy.

But it wasn’t.
Nothing looked familiar in the dark.

I flagged down a pickup truck.
The driver told me to turn left at the light.
That road led me to the cyclist
who let me follow her until she had to head up to the hospital.
“Go this way,” she said and pointed.
That road led me through a tunnel and past a school I recognized in the growing light,
by one intersection, then another.
Was I supposed to turn there?
At that moment, I saw a woman walking her dog.
She told me to turn back and take the next road right
which led me to the ferry terminal,
and the ferry worker
led me to the ferry

and that led me
to trust
a little bit
more.

The Eternal One will never leave you;
    God will lead you in the way that you should go.
-Isaiah 58:11

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Love Mischief for the World

This A Rocha Talk explores the lived experience of ecological grief and seeks to foster conversation on how we might engage in this grief in ways that promote sustainability and well-being as humans who care for Creation.  The panelists include Anupama Ranawana, a theologian and writer based in Oxford whose work focuses on decolonial theology, feminist religious thought, faith and international development and ecological justice, Brent Unrau, a Registered Clinical Counselor, and spiritual director, who lives in an intentional community on Kingfisher Farm in Surrey, B.C. Canada, and Hannah Malcolm, who is training to be a priest in the Church of England and writing a PhD on climate and ecological grief. In her spare time, she writes and organizes around the theology of climate justice. The Panel Discussion is hosted by Matthew Humphrey, Director of Theological Education at A Rocha Canada.”(A Rocha website)

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:
“Can’t sleep” by Jonas Lönborg. Used with permission.
“Sunrise over Nanaimo Harbour’ by Steve. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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How the Light Gets In

On the afternoon before the opening weekend of Living from the Heart at Bethlehem Centre on Vancouver Island, I took a walk around Westwood Lake to allow my jostled soul to settle. That morning, I’d read the poem Vessel by Steve Garnaas Holmes. It invited me to be a vessel that opens to God’s light. I echoed that desire and sighed. Would I be settled and open enough to let light in?

I set an intention to notice whenever I was feeling anxious and to invite myself to relax and open to God.

Because of COVID, we had distanced fixed seating. So every time I sat down for our gatherings, I returned to the same two participants on either side of me. They were so lovely, I felt like I was coming home each time I sat between them.

Saturday evening before we began, I got chatting to the woman on my left. I was so relaxed that I forgot I was the one who was speaking first. As soon as I realized it was me that was on, I looked at my watch. We should have started five minutes ago! I got everyone’s attention and asked someone to relight the Christ candle and sound the singing bowl. After a moment of silence, I opened my binder and suddenly realized I had missed reviewing this section of notes when I went over the course content the day before. I stumbled through an explanation of assignments and then accidentally changed the order of what we were doing next, which affected my co-facilitators, Audrey and Brent.

At the close of the evening, I apologized to them for messing up. Audrey told me not to worry about it. Brent just smiled and said, “Oh, you wonderful human.”

The next day Audrey led us through a prayer of imagination. In it, I met Jesus who was so kind to me. When it came to the part of the story where Bartemeus followed Jesus, I looked up at Jesus. Life would be so much simpler if that’s all I had to do.

Jesus looked at me and smiled, “Just to let you know, I’m a wonderful human too. I don’t always know where I’m going, and I might make some mistakes along the way.”

But you are Jesus and Jesus was sinless, I thought. Then the penny dropped. Mistakes are not sins. Not doing things perfectly is a part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow. It’s how the light gets in.

Later that day we played Leonard Cohen’s Anthem. I heard Jesus again in Cohen’s gravelly voice, “Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Forget your perfect offering.
–Leonard Cohen

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Love Mischief for the World

On October 20, 2020, Archbishop Melissa Skelton came to St. Stephen the Martyr to dedicate our Pet Memorial Garden and our newly erected statue of St. Francis. In her homily, she talked about her own dog, Teddy. “At first I felt completely incompetent to care for him. But over time I learned more from Teddy about standing my ground than I had from any assertiveness training. I learned more from Teddy about curiosity than any class I had ever taken. I learned more from Teddy about constancy than I had learned from some of my relationships with human beings. And this is to say nothing about what I learned from Teddy about devotion, about physical closeness, about being alert to the natural world, about finding peace in the midst of anxiety, about joy, and about play. I learned a lot about play!” Then, during the reception, we were delighted to meet Teddy.

Anyone is welcomed to have their pet’s ashes interred in our memorial garden. Arrangements can be made by contacting info@ststephenburnaby.ca.

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 Westwood Lake trail by Kevin Brown in alltrails.com.
Autumn sunrise through Bradford pears by Martin LaBar. Used with permission.
Photo of the dedication of St. Stephen’s Pet Memorial Garden by Elaine Renforth. Used with the permission of Elaine Renforth and Archbishop Melissa.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2020.
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 2013-2020.  http://www.estherhizsa.com
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