"New people are necessary. They see things to do that experienced people don't."
While my daughter is traveling around the world this year, I too, am traveling a solo journey. Yes, my husband and I share this experience in some ways, and yet my experience of my daughter's courageous year of exploration is largely my own.
This morning I feel some sadness. I miss her and she assured me yesterday that the only city she would consider living in upon her return is the city she has been living in for the previous 8 years: San Francisco. She is not considering living anywhere on the east coast. If she does not return to San Francisco, she will not be returning to the USA.
San Francisco is a very long way from Mechanicsburg, PA.
I miss her.
I have been thinking about grace. Maybe the grace allotted for today is a daily portion, like these raspberries I picked yesterday morning. They don't last for much longer than one day when stored in a glass container in my refrigerator.
I picked them as soon as the field opened knowing it would be a very hot day. They were ripe and ready to be taken.
As I filled my basket I heard several "pops" that the farmer sets off to scare birds away.
Could it be that God's graces are for just today? Unique spiritual gifts to be taken in, eaten strengthening us for the day's challenges?
And does God work to keep those gifts in perfect condition to give to us, as the farmer works to protect his fruit?
Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burnt. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, so that we may no longer suffer disgrace.’
On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
he sets up victory
like walls and bulwarks.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
I have been meditating on the image of ancient walls being rebuilt in order to protect something precious to human life and thus to God or I could say to protect something precious to God and thus to human life and to me.
The image is one that our daughter made of a ruin on the grounds of an organic farm where she lived and worked for most of one week in Italy. To me, it is beautiful, even in its ruinous state. And look at that rabbit inhabiting the space below the altar? How sweet is that?
What are you called to rebuild? What have you experienced in its broken state? Are you called to be a part of the rebuilding of those walls that could one day bring benefit to human kind and glory to God?
What is unintegrated can become toxic. This is why we do inner work and for me now, why I write.
True virtue is relational, it connects in life-giving way for both parties, one to another. Sometimes we misinterpret addictive behavior for virtuous behavior.
"When is the last time you tuned into your heart and listened for what it carries? The more we practice listening to the conversation in our own hearts, the better prepared we are to tune into others' hearts and listen for what their hearts carry. Moreover, being still, getting quiet and listening within increases our attunement to the voice that dwells deep in our hearts . . . . As we become more mindful of the conversation in our own hearts -- our joys, griefs, hopes and concerns -- we are more likely to speak the truth of our hearts and to listen for the voice of the true self yearning to be revealed in another's heart." (from Conversation: the Sacred Art-- Practicing Presence in an Age of Distraction by Diane M. Millis)
Diane gently directs us in our work as spiritual beings. Sometimes I think of spirituality as the intersection of psychology and theology. An encounter with God will be personal. But we have to be honest to hear the conversation going on deep inside.
When I began listening, I was frighted. You may not be. I experienced God in the shadows and there found a priceless treasure, my true self, being held in God all this time.
What relevance do our feelings have? They are passing, aren't they? Always, changing. So what good are they? Our feelings instruct us in the quality of our relationships, which is one pathway to honest engagement in our lives.
I believe that God comes to us from without and from within. I recall a time when I was deeply troubled in my marriage and wondered why the Risen Lord Jesus did not ring the doorbell of my house. Why didn't he come? Didn't he know I needed his help? Or didn't he care?
One day I brought home a phrase from the beautiful liturgy at church, "Sanctify us also that we may love and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace . . . " I declared that that grace-filled standard would be ours from now on. That Sunday afternoon was one of the key turning points in experiencing God with me/us.
I did not need Jesus to come to my front door. I needed to let the Spirit of God labor amongst us, changing us from within our relationship.
This message is in other places on my website. I repeat it here, in this shortened form because it is such an important piece of what I have learned in my healing process.
Perhaps this is an example of the darkness of God being the brightest experience of God. No, I think not. It might be one of the ways one moves out of darkness, out of a dark night of the soul.
When I pray, the image of clasping my right hand with the right hand of the Risen Lord Jesus often comes to mind. This symbol holds a lot for me. United with Christ, how am I to be in my complex web of relationships?
Sometimes I need to speak up, saying or asking something that is potentially very awkward. I did this yesterday and although an uncomfortable conversation resulted within five minutes more information was given that moved our relationship to a more authentic one. When I told a friend about this, she responded, "So, it was good that that happened." That, being the initial offense, awkward confrontation, difficult, short conversation that resulted in the truth-telling, needing to occur.
At other times, I believe I am called to rest and recreate. There are many, many things in my life that are beneficial, pleasant, or maybe just ordinary and almost dull. I can live amongst those experiences, too. I do not always need to be working on clarifying this relationship or that.
From Psalm 91 with some minor adjustments:
She shall call upon me, and I will answer her;
I am with her in trouble;
I will rescue her and bring her to honor.
With long life will I satisfy her,
and show her my salvation.
Here is a reading from today's daily office.
Canticle: A Song of Pilgrimage
Ecclesiasticus 51:13-16, 20b-22
Before I ventured forth,
even while I was very young, *
I sought wisdom openly in my prayer.
In the forecourts of the temple I asked for her, *
and I will seek her to the end.
From first blossom to early fruit, *
she has been the delight of my heart.
My foot has kept firmly to the true path, *
diligently from my youth have I pursued her.
I inclined my ear a little and received her; *
I found for myself much wisdom and became adept in her.
To the one who gives me wisdom will I give glory, *
for I have resolved to live according to her way.
From the beginning I gained courage from her, *
therefore I will not be forsaken.
In my inmost being I have been stirred to seek her, *
therefore have I gained a good possession.
As my reward the Almighty has given me the gift of language,*
and with it will I offer praise to God.
Today, let's ponder how our prayer life has brought us wisdom.