Thursday, September 22, 2011

a few barred gates

Lord, a dream of [You]
lies on my soul,

but I cannot reach [You]
for all my gates are barred.

--Gertrude von le Fort

I just love this quote. I used it for my 'Lectio' a few weeks ago and sort of gagged on the words. I can feel it in my bones. Yes, I have a few barred gates. I, who think I am so open, am sometimes aghast at my closed heart . However, I am working with even my barred gates. They, too, speak eloquently about who I am and who I am becoming. I am trying to look at the bars and the ‘why’ of them. The 'why' is very good reflection material. I try not to be over analytical in regard to my path of life but recently I have become so aware of how everything can be brought to prayer. Of course I would like to always bring an open heart, a joyful spirit, an unbarred gate to my prayer. I would like to bring a willingness to be transformed. But the truth of the matter is that I must bring what I have and sometimes what I have to bring is not all that attractive. So I say to myself, "Bring what you have even if it is a closed heart. Bring what needs transforming and just sit with it in faith. Your barred gate is compost for future growth." Coming before God with my closed heart opens me to humility. Humility, that beautiful word that I sometimes struggle with and yet it keeps me close to the earth: ground, humus, compost, soil conditioner....and just maybe this soil conditioner will turn into soul conditioner and from unexpected stony, rocky places some kind of miracle will blossom right through your barred gate. There is something within you so hallowed and consecrated it is bound to show its face eventually like a surprise in the desert. Life happens!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

hip-deep in tears

The world is knee deep in tears or maybe it is hip deep or even higher. Sometimes I have to find ways ritualize the grief I hold because of all the suffering in the world. These are not necessarily people I know but they live in someone's heart and that's what matters. So this morning, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, remembering the beautiful earth-labyrinth on our monastery grounds, I thought perhaps it was just waiting for a pilgrim . I decided to be that pilgrim. I went early when the sun was just thinking about rising and a small bit of the glow could be seen. I begin slowly walking the path carrying the suffering world down the trail. I thought of Jesus with his cross. I thought of so many people, animals and all of nature with their crosses also. At ever curve of the labyrinth I stopped and named places and people. Every step was a prayer and sometimes I called out names as I took another step. Of course I missed some whose names needed to be spoken. You can speak their names in a ritual of your own.

  • Japan: earthquake, typhoon, death, terror, hopelessness
  • Christchurch, New Zealand: more death and destruction,
  • Fires: Texas, California, Oklahoma (perhaps more) the firefighters—death and courage,
  • the cattle that died because fences couldn't be moved fast enough, the devastation of nature,
  • The lingering effects of Katrina. We who are far from it sometimes think it is over but the effects are still alive. For some it may never be over! Moving down the path I kept offering them to God
  • 9/11! What more need I say? Suffering washes over me like waves of the sea: the terror, the unspeakable loss, intense sorrow, anger, the courage and bravery and love of so many. I stand for a long time in silence. I try to hear the cries. Truly the world is knee-deep, hip-deep, shoulder-deep in tears.
  • I pause on the path: There is just too much pain to name. People uprooted from their homes because of floods.
  • The Joplin, Missouri tornado, a war zone of suffering.
  • [Please name your own great losses that I missed]

I arrived at the Center of the Labyrinth with all this pain, with all these beautiful people, with their courage and their life (which I wasn’t fortunate enough to know) Symbolically I lifted them to God, I raised them to the heavens, to the center, to the four directions and then I carefully placed all these events, these people these sufferings onto the earth. I knelt there for quite some time. Tears came and they were healing.

On my journey out of the center, back down the pathway, I heard the Holy One, the Source of all life, telling me to take joy with me on my return. I went back to my ministry with a joyful heart, It is not helpful to take back the pain and sorrow. It is not helpful to add my despair to an already hurting community of people. And so I breathed in their courage, hope, love and strength. I breathed in their beautiful lives. I walked down the return path with a lighter heart, somewhat healed. I asked for the grace of living aware. I would like to live in such a way that I am always mindful of the sufferings of the world just as I am also aware of the joy and peace that can mingle with the suffering. I want to live AWARE..