When I grow up I want to be Elizabeth


I can see them very clearly.  The younger one, Mary, can hardly contain her secret joy but also looks into the older woman’s eyes in search of reassurance.  Mary has come to the right place.  The older woman, Elizabeth, embodies confidence and courage.  For, as Holly Near says in her song, 1000 Grandmothers, “An old woman holds a powerful force when she no longer needs to please.”

When Elizabeth sees Mary, she immediately recognizes the truth and from her depths there is a stirring.  She and the life within her recognize Jesus, God’s unconditional Love about to be birthed into the world.  Embued with Grace herself, Elizabeth says exactly the right words that Mary needs to hear.  “Blessed are you among woman…blessed is she who believed that there would be fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”  In between those words of scripture I can hear her add, “Trust your intuition, listen to your body…God speaks to us in our depths…you are right to believe all things.”

 

When I grow up I want to be Elizabeth…powerful, wise, completely embodied, totally free and still able to give birth to something new.  Like Elizabeth I want to help others find meaning in the great joys and sorrows of their lives.  And even more than that I want to suspend what I know and have the unwavering confidence that nothing is impossible with God.

One of the great gifts of my life is to have known women like Elizabeth.  They have sat in quiet confidence next to me in discussion groups, sharing their thoughts on the bible, faith, books they have read, and most importantly reflections on their lives.  A holy wisdom seeps from their pores.  Their eyes light up with inner joy.  Their hearts pour forth a divine love.  They embody the peace of accepting their lives and those in them as they are.

Listening to their stories, I begin to understand that they have not arrived here easily or alone.  It happened day by monotonous day…moment by sometimes painful moment and with the companionship of the Divine.  “Pay attention,” they share, “really savor the moment…trust yourself…be yourself…it gets better.”

When I grow up I want to be just like Elizabeth…powerful and free…creative and willing to give birth to Love within and all around me.

 

Letting the sparks fly

I have to admit that about this time of the Advent season, I am shamefully filling with resentments and abiding in boredom rather than feeling the joy that the third pink candle suggests.  Countdowns always stress me out.  They become a pronouncement of how I am lacking.  What started as visions of the perfect holiday have degenerated into moments of panic at what remains to be done as my dreams crash headlong into the reality that I can’t make everything perfect and everyone happy.

Children will be disappointed and be left with an ache that whispers they are not truly known.  The pines needles will dry up along with the Christmas spirit.  And a very blah feeling will settle into my soul as I realize that once again I have bought into the American Norman Rockwell myth of peace and harmony around my hearth.

Enter the Scripture.  What else can quench the thirst of my parched soul?  In Wisdom the reading for today is that incredibly dry, boring one about the genealogy of Jesus.  If you need a refresher, its the one that contains fourteen generations of names, most of them men, some of them saints and many of them sinners.  My heart sinks and I think, “not here too!  what am I to do with that?”

Fortunately I come across a sermon spoken by someone far holier and wiser than me.  She says:

“If so much powerful stuff can have been accomplished down through the millennia by wastrels, betrayers, and outcasts, and through people who were such complex mixtures of sinner and saints, and through so many obscure and undistinguished others, isn’t that a pretty hopeful testament to the liklihood that God is using us, with our individual flaws and gifts, in all manner of peculiar and unexpected ways?  Who of us can say we’re not in the process of being used right now, this Advent, to fulfill some purpose whose grace and goodness would boggle our imagination if we could  even begin to get our minds around it?”

Here it is again.  And once again the awareness pierces my heart and not only quenches my thirst but washes over me and brings me back to life.  I am being called to co-create.  What is needed is that today, right now I say “yes” to my messy, dry, boring and sometimes disappointing life.   What we will birth together will blow my little mind and life into bits that will scatter far and wide.  I take that secret and hold it very close to me.  I feel the flicker of warmth within…it must be that pink candle.

 

 

The Truth…I am more like Zechariah

 

This is the truth…I am more like Zechariah than I am like Mary or Elizabeth.  Zechariah, the man who would be the father of John the Baptist, is praying before the sanctuary when he sees the angel Gabriel standing beside him.  Gabriel speaks these marvelous words.  He and Elizabeth are going to have a child.

Zechariah had given up hope.  For a couple in the ancient Jewish world, being barren was beyond devastating.  It meant real and certain death once their life ended.  Because they would have no descendants, they would not have an eternal life.  Who can blame Zechariah, really, when he asks, “How can I be sure?” Sometimes living with hope is just too painful, isn’t it?  Sometimes we just want to hunker down and guard our heart for all its worth.  Sometimes believing that salvation is ours for the taking is too much to hope for.  After all, we know the real story of who we are…or so we think.

I constantly ask, “How can I be sure?”  As if that matters in the least bit!  Today I cry out, “Lord, save me from myself.” Save me from my ego that thinks it knows it all.  The self important one who thinks I am beyond saving.  As if my small self was too much for God to transform!

The good news for the world is that Christ is coming whether I am on the band wagon or not.  The good news for me is that despite himself, Zechariah is still a person of Advent.  Deep desire dwells alongside his doubt.  I imagine that after he is struck mute he collapses to the ground at the awareness that he has failed again to surrender to Love.

But as the Psalmist writes, “How often the Beloved weeps with compassion over those who are crushed in spirit…though we are beset with many fears…the Beloved is ever ready to comfort us in our sorrows, to strengthen us on our soul’s  journey to wholeness.  The Beloved renews the life of all who surrender to Love.” (Ps 34 translated by Nan C. Merrill)

Like Zechariah I walk out of the sanctuary and face my friends with no words to do justice to the Generosity of God.

 

What desire in your life is too much for you to hope for?  Can you surrender a little fear today and entrust yourself to the Generosity of God?

An Angel’s Words

We are the Generosity of God.  Nothing is missing!

A couple of days ago I was walking Tobi, listening on my ipod to a talk given by Jim Finley last year in New Mexico on the message of the mystics.  Much of what he said was inspiring and interesting but these words above struck me, resonating in a very deep place:

We are the generosity of God.  Nothing is missing.

In early fall in moments of quiet reflection I had begun to ask for an answer to a question that has long plagued me:  Am I enough?  I know its a girl’s question, not the question of a maturing woman and yet, this question has plagued me on and off for years.

The world has often told me I am not enough.  I have always had insignificant work and a small life.  I am just a mom; just a religious educator; just a yoga teacher…only teaching one class a week.  Overtime I have come to believe more in who I am not than in who I am.  I am not a writer, not an artist, not an accomplished entrepreneur, not a missionary, not saving the world.

But perhaps because I am a maturing woman, I have also grown “sick and tired of being sick and tired!”  In my depths I knew the world was wrong but I needed the Ultimate reassurance to once and for all begin to believe in something new.

It was with this background that I heard these words:  We are the generosity of God.  Nothing is missing!  Here was my answer…nothing is missing.  Not only am I enough, those around me are enough, my life is enough, this single, solitary moment is enough.

Are you, like me, not blinded by the light of this message?  Do you, like me, want to bury yourself in the comfort of this message?  Is not your heart, like mine, so filled with the joy of this message such that it spills over and you can’t help be share it with everyone around you?

Once again, repeat after me…We are the generosity of God.  Nothing is missing.

Angels, Angels Everywhere

Living with an awareness of the companioning presence of angels . . . we come to realize angelic joy is working with us, surprising us, and reminding us that we are loved beyond measure. Limit not the myriad ways your angelic companions may knock on the door of your heart. Spending time in the Silence draws them nigh.

~ Nan Merrill, in Friends of Silence, December 2007

I feel like one of the challenges of the season of Advent (along with consumerism) is to truly believe in Angels.  Remember your Guardian Angel?  I wonder when I decided that I needed to let go the belief in her. Perhaps it was when I no longer looked like the little girl in this picture…

Today I look for them…the angels who carry divine messages sent directly to me.  Sadly, even when I receive them, after the first few moments of recognition, I let doubts creep in.  I second-guess the messenger and in doing so, I also second-guess the One who sent her.  I long to “believe all things” as St. Paul reminds us.  I sit in silence each day to allow God to strengthen my believing muscles.  A part of me knows that for the rest of that day they try to reach me.  I am sure there must be dozens and dozens.  They use music and nature and laughter and tears.  They appear in images and text and voices.  Their message is clear:    Be still and be loved.

“Blessed are all virgins, male and female who believe that there will be fulfillment of what is spoken to them by the angelic messengers of grace.”  Loretta Ross-Grotta

What is keeping you from “believing all things?”

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