Inspiration from the week

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

— Thomas Merton in Thoughts in Solitude

 

It strikes me as so comforting that such a holy and grounded man prayed this prayer.  I think its one of his most quoted and it must be because it resonates so deeply within so many of us.  We feel the urgency of going, moving, being somewhere new.  And for those of us who try to follow God, there are moments too, when we question whether or not we are even on the right path.  But once again, we are reminded that our intentions go a really long way with God.  I imagine God watching me as I fumble and foible, sitting back and with a smile, whispering, “That’s my girl!”

 

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This week’s gift

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

For my friend

I was with a very dear friend last week.  I was reminded of the fragility of life and circumstances.  At the same time I was reminded of the strength of LOVE…divine Love, human love, even puppy love…outlast, persevere and always, always wins.  Together we called to mind this poem/prayer by Pierre de Chardin.  It is a most consoling piece of love.

Above All,
Trust in the Slow Work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.

Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

Amen.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit, paleontologist, biologist, and philosopher. 1881-1955