In the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, after Theses has slain the beast in the center of the underground labyrinth, he guides himself back to the surface by the thread given him by Ariadne, the King’s daughter, retracing his steps through the dark maze of tunnels. I’ve been wondering where the thread went that seemed to be leading me through these last two years. This blog has been silent as to the journey….not that it was too personal, but that words seemed a much smaller container than the expanding silence.
Richard Rohr said, “Silence is often a momentary revelation of your deepest self, your true self, and yet a self you do not know”. How true that has been in these past seasons of glancing at the compass unable to read the signs and symbols. I have been living my days and moments like the coffee spoons that T.S. Eliot speaks of. The focus has been surrender of the maps I kept scribbling on napkins and lifting them up for God to nod His head and say ‘let her pass’. These silent years have been pregnant with voids and darkness and mystery. What they have birthed….I can’t quite name, even now. I have been learning the ancient practices of monks and mystics. That hasn’t made me either, but my soul has been tattooed by the places I’ve been.
What words and pictures will come forth in the near future? No one will be more surprised than I.
“Spirituality is our lived relationship with Mystery”- Steven Sunborg
Is your life a mystery, even to you?
Saint Augustine says “it is solved by walking”. I’ve walked a lot of places for a lot of years and there are many questions that are not solved. There are many places in my heart that are still broken, tender and sore from life. I’ve been on a spiritual quest since Jr. High School….wondering if there is purpose and meaning for my existence on this planet.
So…I’m left wondering am I walking in the right direction? Is there a spiritual GPS I can purchase? I’ve found some hope and wisdom along the way and it satisfied for a while. I am a lover of Jesus and I go to church, but there has been an unquenchable thirst that I haven’t been able to name.
“To receive Spiritual Direction is to recognize that God does not solve our problems or answer all our questions, but leads us closer to the Mystery of our existence where all questions cease”.
On this sacred path I’ve stumbled into the blessings of fellow sojourners. I am so grateful to all those who have walked with me thus far. I have found a “new tribe” that seems to have ancient wisdom of getting me closer to the “Mystery”. It’s the Monastics that have captured my attention, specifically the Benedictine community. I discovered books, then a website and then Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs.
I am now the the Monastery’s Spiritual Formation course for two years. Stories will be sure to follow. Today I wanted to share with you a video on line by my Abbey of the Arts (Christine Valters Painter) It’s a photo meditation on silence. It’s really lovely. Just look under Blogs I Love to find her.
Pause. Breathe. Rest. Connect.
May God bless the place where you are and the places where you are walking-
“Now let us welcome the new, full of things that have never been.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
Right now, I’d like to be doing that…welcoming the new. But unfortunately I’m struggling with the now. I’m feeling trapped in a narrow box of life circumstances. My days are filled with the question, how did I get here? Is this the place that God intends me to be? Have I chosen wisely on the paths that have twisted and turned or am I completely off course?
I’m super excited for some things in my life to begin, like learning about Spiritual Direction. Yet questions arise about the daily tasks in front of me that pay the bills but leave me longing for a different job? How do I find contentment, joy, peace when I don’t like my job? How can I find the presence of God in the place where I am? You may have figured this out, but I have been blessed by loving everything I’ve put my hand to….until now. This leaves me feeling broken not by tragedy…but slightly broken none the less.
From caring for children, to the elderly and disabled to selling Real Estate I’ve woken up to a sense of purpose and delight. Where did that go and why? Is it the job or is it me?
“When all about you lies in pieces, may the Holy One make of them a passage” – In the Sanctuary of Women
I need a passage back to feeling whole.
I want to feel the rush of beauty. The glory of a new day. The freedom of choice. So in this place of grey I recall a verse that comforts.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness O Lord is everlasting. Ps. 138:8 Well, I’m counting on it.
“An unanswered question is a good traveling companion. It sharpens your eye for the road.” – Kitchen Table Wisdom
I must confess I believe this. If I didn’t struggle with questions, I don’t think I would notice the “whale that ate Jonah”….the rose that holds the prince in the form of a beast until he learns to love unselfishly.
If I didn’t yearn, I wouldn’t pray. And if I didn’t pray…I would be asleep and missing the star that glimmers just for me. Prayer wakes me up. Fairytales and stories help me discover the buried truths and take notice of the song that the fountain sings.
It’s the mysteries and unanswered questions that keep me seeking. It’s the lack of understanding and doubts that sharpen my eyes to look for God.
And it’s the finding Him that makes me feel like Sherlock. Even though He’s actually the one finding me.
I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to finish the last line of this book that has inspired me. Then I discovered Ann has a web site for all who want to make their own list of one thousand gifts. It’s called a holy experience….it truly is that. Won’t you come and join me in the Never Ending Story of “Eucharisteo”. This morning it ended and this morning it began.
I want to live a lifestyle of gratitude and willingness to eat the bread He gives in the moment. Counting blessings will wake me up from counting losses and seeing ugly. It’s not that I haven’t try before….I just gave up before one thousand. At one thousand I can reach for the next – One Thousand. His mercies are new every morning.
#1) Poem by Christine Valters Painter
Holy Giver of Silence, sustain me in these sacred places & embrace me with your presence.
I pause each day to listen to your whisperings, which call me to a deepened way of being.
I enter the quiet and ask for the courage to respond to what I discover in that tabernacle of time.
May you hear the whisperings of the one that loves you –
A Holy Longing, A Disquieting Hunger, A Gnawing Loneliness, A Burning In The Belly…What Ales Me?
My heart is restless with the hope of finding God on the same road as me. Needing to see Him before He breaks the bread and disappears again. My heart cannot take the loss of another Emmaus Road.
The light is diffused, but if I look carefully there glowing with the colors of the early dawn lays the manna with the morning dew. All I must do is eat. Eat the “what is it”….eat the mystery.
“Let mystery have it’s place in you, do not be always turning up your whole soul with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place for the unexpected guests, an alter for the unknown God” – Amiel’s Journal
For me some of the mystery lies in God’s portions. I struggle to not look into the hands of another with envy or compassionate concern. Why is it not more fair? I recently mentioned a hurt. It may seem silly to you because it was over rocks. Yep, rocks…geodes to be exact. A coworker told me he wanted to bring me some geodes as he discovered I was nuts about them.
He brings about 40 breathtaking geodes to give away. They are the most unique wonders I’ve seen and I’m thrilled. Another coworker leaves with 90% of them. I was stunned at the lack of sharing since he brought them for me.
Then I prayed. The Holy Spirit explained that He had determined my portion of earth’s beauty and He wanted his other daughter to have the bounty. Compared to me she has very little to give to her children and her excess was her love for them. I need not feel slighted only blessed.
I wrote the rock giver a Thank You note feeling the Unknown God kiss my check or was it just the wind?
I don’t know if anyone reads my blog. Truly, it’s more about me talking to myself….telling my soul the things I should notice and not forget. I’m half way through the book 1000 Gifts. I’m reading it very slowly because of the deep impact it’s having, or I thought it was having.
Yesterday, I lived with my eyes closed. I’d driven through stop & go traffic, waited for Emissions testing and a Ven Verification. Then back at the DMV waited some more….and left empty handed for the second time. I was far from grateful.
There was another situation where I felt as if I was given the left overs. I felt ripped off. My eyes were closed to seeing and my heart for understanding.
I had driven by this...and did not "see"
Ann says “Contemplative simplicity isn’t a matter of circumstance; it’s a matter of focus”
For out of His fullness All received. Had I looked at my portion of sunlight, spring’s bounty, friendships being born and said thank you? No, not until I slowed down did I realize all the things that where given to bring me joy. They were tucked in my day just waiting for me to notice them.
It took the beauty of the setting sun and a lovely piece of cake to jolt me into remembering that gratitude is to be practiced over & over on days such as this. May I stop rejecting the hiddeness of God in moments of frustration or even hurt. May I remember He sees Me….may I turn to look for Him. May I remember what I want most is to deepen the seeing and deepen the praise.
“See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained it for before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it.”
-Julian of Norwich
It’s been a while yet….sometimes I struggle to believe this. Sometimes…my heart is broken and all I can pray is one word “mercy.” Sometimes the pain is so raw I feel like I’m walking around without skin on. Sometimes grief is so deep my lungs can’t get enough air to walk around the block. That’s when the manna sticks to the roof of my mouth like dry bread. What words can come out of my heart when the water tastes bitter? Can I say Thank You to God and mean it?
Within the mystery of suffering is the best place to practice saying “Thank You” to God. It’s the place where the words thank you become golden. I’m not saying it’s instant or healing in the first moments, but like Ann Voskamp had found….speaking gratitude warps Satan’s hope for bitterness. Our fighting against the darkness gripping thankfulness breaks through pain and drips seeds of joy to spring forth out of our barrenness. I’m glad that someone wrote this book and reminded me. I want my daughter’s tattoo inscribed on the marrow of my bones…..Thankful.
How do we learn a new language? We start by naming things and then repeating the words over and over. Naming things was Adam’s first job. I wonder if it helped him to see God’s glory….and maybe a little of his own glory. I wonder if he felt thankful for all the beauty, the creativity and uniqueness of each gift. When did I stop naming things and noticing the holy?
Ann Voskamp didn’t start out to write a book. She began to make a list of the ordinary, daily gifts that surrounded her. She made the list because there is something about writing that helps us to see. Are there eyes in pencils and in pens? Writers seem to think so.
I named this Blog “Within the Moment” because there is power in a moment as there is power in an atom. I’ve always tried to live within and see the beauty. Simple, yet not so easy to do. I lose focus and get caught up in the stream of rushing. I could have missed this tall reflection of sunlight on the bluest summer day. My hope is that I begin my own list and within the habit and tiny steps of writing that I too may rediscover a thankful heart.
One Moment On a Walk
“A Book is an axe to break the ice in your heart.” I found one of those. It’s called “One Thousand Gifts” Written by Ann Voskamp
It’s not that unheard of to consider that Satan’s sin becomes ours….the sin of ingratitude. He, Adam and Eve had it all – and they found God lacking. The consequences are what we live with, a planet not so kind, even dark and ugly. A place where we long for joy, but miss it as we are rushing to achieve or accumulate the “more” we think will fill us up.
Ann ( A word meaning full of Grace) stumbles upon a deep and simple truth. One we all know but rarely act upon. That is in everything……give thanks. If your like me you’re rushing through your day trying to be “productive and efficient” so you can hand in the check list to your inner critic. There will be no day dreaming, no slowing down. Stop by Starbucks and add caffeine to get you through the body’s thought of a nap.
No time to wonder at creation or enjoy the art in a cake, much less stop and thank God for pansy’s.
Even as I write this, I confess I have quite the list of things to accomplish nagging and pulling at me. Yet, I must write this…I must tell you what power there is in noticing and saying “Thank You”. It has taken and axe to my heart and brought me a fuller life. The grace of being ever mindful of God’s Loving Kindness heals the deepest wound and brings JOY to an ordinary day.
“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50:23 NIV
That comes from another book that breaks the ice off the heart!