Precisely because of the greatness of God, we don’t have to be great at all. Just in awe. The thoughts we bring to harvest in our lives—the compassion, the bizarre goodwill, the joy of simple living, the awareness of pain beyond our own, the humility to fail—are the seeds that make the world ripe for change. (Joan Chittister, superhuman Benedictine sister)
I got a very unusual and funny gift this week. Even now as I ponder it and its significance it makes me smile. This week I received the awareness that God has granted me freedom. You don’t know how many times I have prayed for freedom, even begged for it. Once I cried for days because my spiritual director told me I wasn’t ready to take on a spiritual discipline and process that promised freedom as one of its fruits. So, this is how it happened:
I was having dinner with my kids when one of them shared something that had been bothering for a few days. The kid said that his friend’s mother (whom I have never met) felt dubiously about me (and my significant other). In fact, she judged us based on a few facts and ideas…where we went to school, where we currently live, snippets of stories told to her by her daughter. And, this is the kicker: after being told one story of taking my visiting sister on a tour of local vintage shops, she responded, “Is that all they do…shop?!!”
My first thought is actually, “How did she know? How did she pinpoint my greatest weakness? I do love to shop…too much!” But my second thought is…amusement! Even now as I think about it, it makes me smile. I smile because she doesn’t know me at all, really. I smile because that judgement would have leveled me a few years ago. I smile because I know that God doesn’t see me that way. To God I am a much more complex creature…a bundle of strengths and weaknesses, joys and sorrows. I smile because I know deep down into my toes that I am beloved. I smile because my Beloved has given me the best gift…I am free.
A few years ago I would have plotted ways to win her over. I would have wooed her until she loved me. That was my ego. But today I am free! Its okay that she doesn’t like me, much less love me. I don’t resist this. I don’t try to change it. I don’t try to change her. And the beauty is that it decreases my suffering and angst. I am free of this too. (Caution: She is a stranger. It is much harder when dealing with a loved one. I am not sure how I would react to that kind of rejection but that is not my worry for today.)
I feel for this woman. I know that its only out of fear that she levels judgement at those she doesn’t know. I know this because I do it myself. It is a constant struggle. And so I am most grateful to people like Joan Chittister and Father Thomas Keating who remind me that it is our intentions, these little seeds, that the Divine One loves and nurtures in us. And so, I look around me and up into the sky in awe. I take a deep breath and let the gratitude pour in.
taken on a walk near Puget Sound a few days ago