A Free Gift from the Universe

It’s quiet in my heart these days. I hear the urgent faintly in the distance, but it’s easily ignored. My “work” is to bike or walk somewhere each day and fit everything else around it.

The movie I’m living could be labelled understated. No blockbuster moments to write about, and yet there are scenes I cherish.

Saturday I rode to North Vancouver to participate in the physically-distanced Dances of Universal Peace. We usually finish around 9 pm, so I’d planned to return by transit. But when it was time to go home, I wasn’t tired. I enjoyed the strength I had to pedal uphill without stopping and, of course, the rush of zooming down.

Nearing home I turned a corner to find the full moon smack dab in front of me, bigger than I’d ever seen it before. When my route took me east again, I kept looking for that smiling face to reappear.

Minutes later, I dinged my bell. “On your left,” I called out gently.

A woman stepped out of the way. As I passed her, I asked, “Did you see the moon?”

“Yes,” she gasped. “That’s what I was looking at.”

I was touched to share this moment of connection with a stranger.

When I got home, Fred was waiting for me with a glass of wine and a game of Sequence ready to go. It was neck and neck, and then he won in “sudden death overtime” (our name for the third tie-breaker round).

Then we went outside and looked for the moon. There she was, nestled behind the branches ready to be captured in our memory.

When I was six or seven years old, growing up in Pittsburgh, I used to take a precious penny of my own and hide it for someone-else to find. It was a curious compulsion; sadly, I’ve never been seized by it since. For some reason I always “hid” the penny along the same stretch of side-­walk up the street. I would cradle it at the roots of a sycamore, say, or in a hole left by a chipped-off piece of side-walk. Then I would take a piece of chalk, and, starting at either end of the block, draw huge arrows leading up to the penny from both directions. After I learned to write I labeled the arrows: SURPRISE AHEAD or MONEY THIS WAY.  I was greatly excited, during all this arrow-drawing, at the thought of the first lucky passer-by who would receive in this way, regardless of merit, a free gift from the universe. But I never lurked about. I would go straight home and not give the matter another thought, until, some months later, I would be gripped again by the impulse to hide another penny.

It is still the first week in January, and I’ve got great plans. I’ve been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broad­side from a generous hand. But–and this is the point­–who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

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Love Mischief for the World

What pennies have you picked up lately? My friend Gail finally got to see her husband face to face. He has been convalescing in a long term care facility, and she has not been allowed to visit him since March. Now that travel abroad is out of the question, our friends Marijke and Dave, who are in their seventies, purchased electric bikes and are planninig new adventures. At long last, the Minecraft board game our grandson Hadrian has been telling us about (endlessly) is available. This week he got it and cradled it all the way home from the store. 

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:
“Riding on Gracie” (in the Kananaskis, Alberta in 2017) by Fred Hizsa. Used with permission.
“Full Moon” by Kristen Bryant. Used with permission.
“See a penny” by John Lodder. 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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Fear and Grace

As soon as we gathered on the screen, I felt nervous. Insecurity jumbled my words and hid others. The twelve faces in front of me belonged to the facilitators of Living from the Heart, and I was in charge of our biannual gathering. I had co-facilitated with many of them who have become dear friends, but facilitating facilitators on Zoom? Now that was a whole new level.

The new team from Washington State was joining us for the first time, and I wanted them to feel accepted and inspired. We had a number of things on our agenda, so I had to keep things moving and yet leave enough space for the Spirit and for people to process and express their thoughts and feelings.

I was touched and encouraged by what transpired over the two days we met. Although we finished early, no one wanted to leave. We talked about movies and books for another half hour until finally, someone said they had to go.

As we closed our time together, the facilitators generously expressed their gratitude to me for organizing and leading us. They appreciated being able to simply come and participate. I was glad to provide that for them and yet, knowing how beautifully they facilitate, I can’t help but wonder now if they were frustrated with me at times. I responded to questions too quickly and too often and could have left more space for others to contribute. These are lovely people, but they are also real and can get irritated like anyone else. What if I irritated them? What if in the feedback I discover it’s true: I’m guilty as charged.

That thought makes my chest tighten. An “Oh-No” rises up in me as if I’m about to go over a cliff into an abyss where the rubble of those who commit the unforgivable sin lie wasted.

Something in me can’t let that happen. But as I stay present to this fear, I discover a calmness in my body that allows me to step back and watch myself go over the edge, fall, and get up again. What if I did irritate some of them? They love me enough to let it go. They are mature enough to attend to their own discomfort. Whatever feedback I receive, it’s going to be okay.

As I sit with the intensity of my fear and the graphic image I used to describe it, I know that this present fear is rooted in the past. Something in my body still feels past hurts and braces for a fall. I put my hand over my heart and feel sadness and compassion. “It’s going to be okay,” I say softly to my fear. “You’re safe now.”

A few hours later, I go for a bike ride. There’s road construction and a flagger directs me to stop. While I wait for the oncoming traffic to pass, I watch him instructing a similarly dressed younger woman. When they direct me to go, I realize I’ve never witnessed that before. Why now?

As I pedal and think about the new flagger, God reminds me that I too am a beginner. I feel invited to receive grace, not only from my colleagues and God but from myself. Can I be patient with myself as I learn to facilitate facilitators and continue to be present to my body?

And might there be grace as well for that tender fear in me that may never leave?

O my Beloved, to You do I draw close;
when all my inner fears well up,

enfold me in your strong arms;
otherwise, like a fiery dragon, 
my fears will consume me,
I shall live in my illusions.
–Psalm 7: 1, 2
Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness

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Love Mischief for the World

Events in the United States and around the world have made us more aware of the racism underlying our lives and culture. In this unprecedented time in history. we are called to recognize hidden racism and help the world become equitable for all. But how do we do that? Sounds True organization is undergoing an in-depth Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training in their workplace over the next two years provided by TMI Consulting and led by Dr. Tiffany Jana. I’ve been listening to a 3-part webinar series Sounds True made for their staff and customers in which Dr. Jana answers a number of questions about bias and racism. Dr. Jana is the author of a number of books including Overcoming Bias: Building Authentic Relationships across Differences, and the founder of TMI Consulting, a diversity and inclusion management consulting firm. You can listen to the webinar here.

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:
“Measuring Up” by woodleywonderworks. Used with permission.
Painting of girls by Jessie Wilcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935)
Photo of protest from Pikist, a royalty-free image.
© 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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Inside a Living Temple


“If your body is a living temple, you are inside that temple,” Donna Varnau said near the end of our guided meditation.

I rested in my body-temple with deep gratitude.

The belief that God is incarnate in all things is foundational to contemplative living. I taste God in the Eucharist, hear God in birdsong, see God in budding flowers, smell God in the rain, and touch God when I hold my grandson’s hand. St. Patrick’s prayer reminds me that Christ is in the heart of everything and everyone–including me. My body is a sanctuary God always inhabits, and I can return there to experience God in me living from my whole self.

I have known that metaphorically and now, in this class on Focusing taught by Donna, I am learning to experience it physically. I am learning to bring my attention back and down in my body, breathe and feel myself inside my feet, my thighs, and all the way up to my head and down to my heart and belly. Then I invite whatever it is there that wants my attention.

One time when I practiced attuning to full body presence with a classmate,  I felt a slight clenching in my stomach. As my companion reflected back what I was feeling, I was able to stay present to that felt sense and follow how it was moving and changing, what it wanted me to notice, and how God in my body was welcoming and loving something in me.

Tears came as a painful memory returned. I named a fear: if I let go of my hypervigilant mind I might forget something or someone and the consequences could be drastic. As I stayed present to this fear, an image came to mind that a directee had shared.

He saw himself holding onto a high bar for dear life, afraid that if he let go he would fall. Jesus was there beside him gently saying, “You can let go.” He looked down and his feet were on the ground!

I sensed how my body felt as I thought of my feet on the ground and letting go of my hypervigilance. My shoulders relaxed, and my chest expanded.

Something in me was still afraid to let go and yet something bigger was also in me. This presence had the confidence of Jesus. It embraced my fear and allowed me to trust God and trust my body. Both are safe and sacred.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?

–1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)

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Love Mischief for the World

Dancers are joining in the porch-front jingle dress craze to share healing and joy. Skye, from the Navajo Nation in Arizona, wanted to be part of the movement during the pandemic and dance her prayer for everyone.

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:
Water lily by Plane777 at English Wikipedia / Public domain
Quote by Donna Varnau from Judith Blackstone and The Realization Process.
Image from my directee shared with permission.
Yoga Namaste image by Michael Pravin from Chennai, India / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
© 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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Stepping into This Moment

To live mindfully in the present, I have to slow down and take deliberate steps.

First, there is an awakening to this moment and noticing what is in it and me–what I see, feel, and think. I observe myself and what is taking place now. I notice my immediate attraction or aversion to “what is”–how I label it as good or bad and become entangled in it.

As my awareness broadens, I discover that I’m not alone. God, who is love, is here too, in and around me. This discovery helps me to slip out of my initial reaction and hold it with a sense of detachment.

At this point, I might notice a thought that has some energy in it. For example, I was talking with “Bob” about current events and felt uneasy when it became clear that our viewpoints differed. Then the thought emerged: I feel destabilized when we disagree.  Once that came to light, I was able to allow my discomfort and our differences to be there conscious that God is in and around both Bob and me. In this state of detached awareness, I was able to respond calmly and respectfully.

Later, I might return to that destabilizing feeling and pray with it or talk about it with my spiritual director. I might forget about it and find it returns when I feel it again in a similar situation or it’s stirred up by something I’ve read or heard. Eventually, when I go with God into the dark valley of my fear of being destabilized, I am anointed with oil, and my cup overflows with healing and freedom.

I feel such peace as I write about this. Yet I know that many thoughts and questions are about to descend and will anxiously clamour for my attention.

But I’m not in that future moment. I’m in this one, and so I will keep them waiting.

Even though I walk through the
valley of the shadow and of death,
I am not afraid;
For You are ever with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they guide me,
they give me strength and comfort.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of all my fears;
you bless me with oil,
my cup overflows.
–Psalm 23: 4, 5
Nan C. Merrill,
Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness 

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Love Mischief for the World

Richard Wagamese (1955-2017) offers us words of healing so needed in these troubled times. “I’ve been considering the phrase ‘all my relations’ for some time now. It’s hugely important. It’s our saving grace in the end. It points to the truth that we are related, we are all connected, we all belong to each other. The most important word is all. Not just those who look like me, sing like me, dance like me, speak like me, pray like me or behave like me. ALL my relations. It means every person just as it means every blade of grass, rock, mineral and creature. We live because everything else does. If we were to collectively choose to live that teaching the energy of that change of consciousness would heal all of us—and heal the planet.” Think of the love mischief we can do with God when we see and love all our relations.

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:
“Walkers!!! Ruun!!!” Jonathan Emmanuel Flores Tarello. Used with permission.
“Hand in Wild Grass” by Lloyd Morgan. Used with permission.
Photo of Richard Wagamese  by Dan Harasymchuk / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Quote by Richard Wagamese from Ember: One Ojibway’s Meditations
© 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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Grace and Practice of the Present Moment

Living in the present moment is a contemplative practice that has been difficult for me. You’ve heard me struggle with this in my blog posts. I am as addicted to thinking as I am to food. I’m constantly thinking about the future or the past.

But six weeks have gone by since my convergence. For six weeks now, I have, for the most part, been free of the compulsion to eat. I’m losing weight and have more energy.  I wonder now what it would be like to be freed from compulsively thinking–to lose the weight of worry about what might happen in the future or the pain of what happened in the past. Is God inviting me to pour my new-found energy into being fully in the present?

The past six weeks have shown me that freedom from any compulsion requires grace and practice.

By grace, I’m being awakened to the present moment, to the eternal now in which God lives. In this place, I want for nothing and am released from the illusion of separation from God, others, and all things. At this present moment–no matter what is in it–there is a gift that is for me and not against me. This is the grace I am given.

Practice is what I do with that grace. When I am given the awareness that I have wandered off into thinking about the past or planning for the future, I can gently return to what I’m doing in the present moment. I say to myself, “I’m holding this dish. The water is warm.” or “This is a wonderful moment.” Then I feel myself relax from the tyranny of belief that my thoughts are more valuable than my presence.

For most of my life, I believed I would be better off spending the boring moments preparing for future ones to be better. But when I’m finally in those “better moments” I think about how I can make them happen again instead of being fully there. It’s true that some moments are more enjoyable than others. But now I see that when I live each moment in the moment I am at peace. I don’t need to be anywhere else. Just to be present and aware of God and myself in this moment is what God desires for me.

Choosing to be present isn’t a decision you make once. It is a conscious choice with every step. It is choosing to be awake and accept what is in this moment now, and now, and now.

The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.— Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Love Mischief for the World

Here is a meditation by my friend Rod Janz that invites you to be present to the moment you are in.

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:
“Raindrops of day lily leaf” by Martin LaBar. Used with permission.
“Goutte d’eau” by Bernard Ruelle. 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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Planting Mustard Seeds

While others have been baking bread or planting gardens during this pandemic, I’ve been focused on Living from the Heart. For the past few months, our team of facilitators has been figuring out Zoom, revising lesson plans, and meeting frequently so we could finish the retreat-like courses online.

Though it was a lot of work, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I continue to hold what the participants experienced and the transformations we witnessed with deep gratitude.

When the courses finished, life became more spacious–and more ordinary. All the less urgent things I pushed off my plate were waiting for me. My “To Do” list was long and uninspiring, but the weight of it propelled me to get on with it. So I began.

I love completing a job and crossing it off my list, but to my surprise, I noticed that I actually enjoyed what I was doing. I sensed God’s presence as I wrote letters, arranged chairs six feet apart in the church hall, and delivered the Burnaby Now.

I still had a habit of rushing through mundane moments to get to more exciting ones. But I was aware of it.

Sometimes our transformation is big and comes with a storyline and tears. Sometimes it’s so small it’s barely noticeable.

Jesus put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field;  it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” –Matthew 13:31-32

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Love Mischief for the World

The violent events of the past week in the United States have shaken us all. I am grateful for Bishop Michael B. Curry‘s sermon given at Washington National Cathedral on Pentecost Sunday. May we be encouraged and inspired to be the change we want to see.

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:
“Hard Working Life” by Px4u by Team Cu29. Used with permission.
Stained glass of The Parable of the Mustard Seed by Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. 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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The Fourth Event

On Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost, the fourth big event chronicled in the New Testament.

Christmas names the first one: the incarnation of Christ. God comes into our lives–into our joy and suffering. They called him Immanuel, “God with us.”

Reading the gospel stories, we, like Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and the disciples accompany Jesus and come to love him dearly. And he loves us as no other has ever loved us before. Then, we are heart-broken. At 33 years of age, Jesus is crucified. Good Friday marks the second event.

On Easter, we rejoice in the third event: Christ has risen. Death does not have the last word. Jesus is alive again. But he has changed, and he doesn’t stay. Jesus disappears into a cloud, and we are without him again.

The fourth big event is Pentecost. The Spirit of Christ comes in power giving visions and dreams, not only to those who loved and lost Jesus but to all.

Though there is no feast to celebrate the fifth event, it is a watershed moment. Peter has a vision and hears, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” The message is clear: non-Jews are to be allowed to worship in the synagogues and temple as equals. As Peter tries to wrap his mind around the unthinkable: uncircumcised Gentiles are baptized in the Holy Spirit. The outcast and marginalized are included in God’s family.

Here we have the pattern for our lives. Jesus spells it out for us.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. –John 12:24

Christ comes and awakens us to the reality that God is with us, in us–divine Love at the core of our being. Then there is a death of something good that we thought we could never live without. But after it, comes a resurrection and an anointing. Not only do we survive what we thought would kill us, we’re transformed.

Our transformation is not for us alone. Our eyes are opened. We see those who are poor, unfree, blind, and oppressed. Like Jesus, we are moved with compassion and see ways to alleviate suffering, end injustice, and participate in watershed moments.

This cycle of life>death>resurrection>empowerment>acts of compassion>life doesn’t just happen once. It happens again and again, and each time there is a death. Remember the Soul of Christ prayer.

On each of my dyings, shed your light and your love.

So here’s a question for you. What have you lost? What good thing is life releasing from your grip?

In your grief, look to the light. Look to love.

New life is coming with power, enlivening the Spirit of Christ in you, and you’ll be able to do things you never thought possible.

Dropping Keys

The small man
Builds cages for everyone
He
Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.
–Hafiz

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Love Mischief for the World

It’s hard to believe that not long ago some people thought of other people as less than human and bought and sold them as slaves. This story of William Wilberforce and those who ended the slave trade inspires me to keep doing the good work we were created and empowered 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:
Image of Pentecost if from Needpix.com. Creative Commons.
Soul of Christ” prayer,  paraphrased by David Fleming, is the Anima Christi prayer that Ignatius included at the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.
“Keys” by Patrick McFall. Used with permission.
“Dropping Keys” is in The Gift: Poems by Hafiz translated by Daniel Ladinsky, 1999. 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 Christmas, community, Creation, Easter, Homelessness, Reflections, Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Convergence

When I wake in the morning
and all through the day, you are there
to comfort and lift me up.
Even at night, when emptiness threatens,
you fill me with yourself.
At my mother’s breast
and now that I am old,
you have been my friend my whole life long.

You may resonate with these words and say how good God is. But what if I told you that I wasn’t referring to God? I was talking about food.

I don’t recall what upset me that day, but I do remember the relief and comfort I felt when I bit into the saltine cracker. I must have been three or four years old because I needed a  step stool to get onto the kitchen counter and into the cupboard where the crackers were kept.

I have never in my sixty-three years of life known a significant period of time when I was free from the compulsion to eat.

Until now.

For the past three weeks, I’ve stopped snacking. My meals are high in fibre, plant-based and rich in Omega 3s. Sugar and junk food are out. I’m learning to “love the foods that love me back,” as John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America says.

I’ve also been consistently practicing centering prayer and yoga and going for walks or bike rides daily. I go to bed at ten pm and get up at six. I’ve never been able to do that before.

How did God bring me to the freedom that I’ve longed for my whole life? (I certainly didn’t get here on my own.)

There was a convergence.

Doing the Radical Compassion Challenge in January opened me to have compassion for the earth and future generations. This led to eating a plant-based diet for Lent.

Fear of throat cancer from acid reflux and heart disease from high cholesterol woke me up.

Listening to the Food Revolution Summit and Justin Michael Williams and the sudden death of a dear friend who was younger than me helped me stay woke.

The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr enabled me to face the death of food as my god and be resurrected into a new life in which I actually like spinach, blueberry, banana, and chia seed smoothies. I don’t enjoy them the way I do crackers or pizza, but I like how they satisfy me and restore my body.

Meanwhile, consuming whole foods was healing the pre-frontal cortex of my brain and giving me more impulse control. Without sugar and junk food in my diet, I began to enjoy the flavours of the wholesome foods I put in my mouth.

Covid-19 has allowed me the protected spaciousness to eat what nurtures my body without being tempted by what others are eating or having to be concerned about how my food choices affect them. Food is a touchy subject, way more controversial than sexual orientation or views about hell. It helps that right now the only one I eat with is Fred, and he supports me.

I feel great, and the day that I will no longer be obese is approaching.

God’s insatiable desire to set us free knows no limits. God is setting me free from past hurts, self-judgment, false beliefs, and crippling fears. God is also freeing me from compulsive behaviours that rob me of life.

I know that grace got me here and only grace can keep me here. I won’t maintain my resolve if I don’t stay woke, and I can’t stay woke without God’s help.

But today I can trust that the One who has been faithful will continue to give me the grace I need. Today is the only day I have.

There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces.
What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised.
–Matthew 27:52-53 (Message)

Lord, You have always given
bread for the coming day;
and though I am poor,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept
me safe in trials;
and now, tried as I am,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked
the road for the coming day;
and though it may be hidden,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened
this darkness of mine;
and though the night is here,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken
when time was ripe;
and though you be silent now,
today I believe.

–Evening Prayer
from the Northumbria Community’s 
Celtic Daily Prayer

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Love Mischief for the World

Don’t dig up those dandelions or cut your lawn so often. Let the dandelions grow, and you’ll be helping bees survive. Here’s love mischief for the world that requires us to do less! You can read more about dandelions and bees here.

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:
“Sunrise” by Sachin Inamdar. Used with permission.
Empty tomb by pxfuel. Royalty-free.
Taken from Evening Prayer from the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer published by Collins. 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 Aging, Lent, Mindfulness, Overeating, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Spaciousness

More and more I’ve noticed that I live on a continuum between panic and peace.

A misplaced click makes a document disappear, and suddenly I’m in “fight, flight, or freeze. My body, mind, and focus are constricted; my ability to think clearly is disabled. I’m wound up tight.

Just below panic is the place I most often live. Tara Brach calls it “The Trance of Anxiety.”

This is also a constricted space. I vigilantly watch out for the next thing that’s going to derail me. Pressured with deadlines, expectations, and scarcity of one sort or another make me feel like I’m in the trash compactor from Star Wars and the walls are closing in.

I know I’m in the Trance of Anxiety when I lack patience or have no space for others to be different. My hands are in tight fists, mirroring the constriction I feel and the instinct to defend myself.

Anxiety is a real place. But there’s another place I live that’s just as real.

It’s where I feel “Aah!” and my hands relax in a vulnerable, open posture.  This is a place of peace, abundance, and spaciousness. I taste it when I have a Saturday with nothing on my agenda or when I can finally unwind after I’ve finished a week of facilitating.

But this spaciousness is not limited to a day of the week or outer circumstances. It’s an inner reality, and (I love this): it’s always there.

The spaciousness that God gives is in the core of my being. In this place, I know that God is here, God is with me, and no matter what happens, all shall be well.

Listen to how the psalmists experience God’s spaciousness.

I’m leaping and singing in the circle of your love; you saw my pain, you disarmed my tormentors. You didn’t leave me in their clutches but gave me room to breathe. —Psalm 31:7-8

God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life. —Psalm 56:12-13

Pushed to the wall, I called to You; from the wide-open spaces, You answered. —Psalm 118:5

I can sink into those “wide-open spaces” simply by slowing down for a moment, taking a few conscious breaths, and remembering what’s true.

One spring, I was biking with my brother in the Okanagan. I said more than once how much I loved the rolling hills and the wide-open spaces.

“You could always move here if you really want to,” he replied.

Yes. I have a choice about where I want to live. I can choose to return to God’s spaciousness at any time.

When I reside in spaciousness I’m more able to slow down and allow ‘what is’ to be there. I’m more comfortable in my skin and more accepting of others.

I cannot choose to live in permanent residence there. I can only, in this moment, choose to return or rest there.

God stood me up on a wide-open field; 
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! 
Psalm 18:19 (The Message) 

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Love Mischief for the World

Every day we enjoy the love mischief of trees.

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:
“Death Star Trash” by Manoel Lemos. Used with permission.
Psalms quotations from The Message.
“Sunset over wheat fields near Palouse, Eastern Washington State” by Diana Robinson. 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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Embracing the Power I Have

If Jesus were my spiritual director and had read Becoming What I Eat and Drink, he wouldn’t ask me about my desire to be Mr. Rogers. He would ask me about the agitation I felt watching that scene from Jesus Christ Superstar.

“There’s a scream inside you,” he repeats softly as I sit in silence one morning.

My shoulders tighten and the energy in my belly is like a trapped cat. I sense pressure in my throat and tension in my thighs.

Jesus listens deeply to what I’m feeling in my body and waits.

Gradually the energy in my belly becomes still and heavy; my shoulders and legs relax. It’s just there, this wishing there weren’t so many demands.

Now I picture Jesus’ hand on the still animal of desire, stroking its head, feeling its fur, speaking kindly: “This is so hard.”

“Yes,” I reply to his compassionate presence. “Demands come from people I want to love, who deserve to be loved, but it’s all too much.”

He continues to stroke the animal’s head and furry cheek. My entire body is relaxed except for a pressure in my belly and throat. Perhaps it’s the scream still poised.

But I don’t feel like screaming now. I feel like reaching up from my belly through my throat and out to the person who wants something. I see their face. I imagine myself touching their cheek and looking into their eyes. I realize, in that moment, I can be present to them.

Now I feel a tenderness in my throat. The animal of my body is purring. It loves to love.

The next day I was preparing a talk about Tonglen prayer for Living from the Heart. Tonglen is the practice of breathing in the suffering of another and breathing out comfort, peace, and well-being. These words were in my notes.

All it really takes is the courage to believe that suffering cannot hold a candle to love. We give evil power through fear. When we trust that the Spirit within us has the power to transform the negative energy of suffering into the creative energy of peace and well-being, we can let go of fear and embrace our power–a power we have in Christ.

The following morning, as I sat again in silence, I understood that I had been afraid that an avalanche of suffering would come in if I opened the door to any more people. My agitation wanted to protect me from that possibility.

Now that this fear has been revealed, I can thank it and let it go.

Only one moment at a time can come through the door of my life. At each moment, I can take a calming breath and welcome the one before me and listen. Whatever suffering I let in me can be transformed into love.

I have told you these things,
so that in me you may have peace.
In this world, you will have trouble.
But take courage!
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 (NIV, adapted)

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Love Mischief for the World

What love-mischief might God be doing in Covid-19? Might it lead to a great realization? Probably Tomfoolery tells us about it in this “simple poem in complicated times.”  On his Facebook page he writes, “In the bad, we find the good.”

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:
“Cautious Kitty” by Riik@mctr. Used with permission.
Quote from my notes was written by Jeff Imbach, one of the founders of SoulStream community and a co-facilittor of Living from the Heart.
“Courage” by jridgewayphotography. 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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