Hoping in the Fullness of Time

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM  December 15, 2018

Sometimes we may find ourselves drawn to a word, a phrase, an image, a sound, an energy, without fully understanding its power to attract. We simply know in a profoundly intuitive, almost primal way, that there’s something of substance or beauty or meaning that’s beckoning us to mine the attraction further.Blue coast copylarger

“In the fullness of time,” (Galatians 4:4), a phrase that we often hear during the Advent and Christmas seasons, might be one of those that grabs our soul even if we can’t fully articulate why. I suspect it may have something to do with our own experience of finitude, of inhabiting our human condition with its limitations and constraints, its reality of never being quite finished. How astonishing that the Holy One in Jesus chose to embrace these very limits in coming to live among us! No surprise, then, that when we hear the words,  “in the fullness of time,” we sit up and pay attention, we hear a language that speaks to our longing to be made whole, a recurring theme of our hopeful waiting in these Advent days.

Recently the day’s news highlighted one of many tragic stories of loss: a woman who had been vacationing in Costa Rica missed her flight home and was later found murdered. The media coverage descended on her heartbroken father, who was asked a question no one is capable of answering in the vortex of overwhelming loss: “How are you?” He choked on his grief. He wept, wailed, struggled to find words to wrap around the unimaginable. And then this father, who had abruptly lost his cherished daughter to violence, simply put words around how he was in that moment. He cried out, “I am incomplete! We are incomplete!”

Ah, that’s it exactly, I thought. This father named so well our deep longing to be whole. Our individual sigh, our collective wound. Our knowing when something is missing, interrupted, forever lost or disappeared. Our resonance with the elevator scene in Jerry Maguire where a deaf woman signs to her beloved, “You complete me.”

I have read that, in Italian, there are no words that actually say, “I miss you.” Instead, the phrase, “mi manchi,” more precisely translates one’s heartache as “You are missing from me.” In many ways, that is our shared wound, our incompleteness.

This unfinishedness is a central core of the Advent readings where we hear about the good work begun in us that will continue to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11), about mountains being leveled, depths and gorges being filled up, winding roads being made straight (Isaiah 40:3-4). About the call to work towards bringing to fulfillment the sometimes unfamiliar, evolving landscape of God’s dream for our world. What sounds like a lesson in geography and topography is actually an expression of Advent hope.

Walter Brueggemann’s commentary on Isaiah 11:1 breaks open this theology. In reading “A shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse,” Brueggemann notes that the stump is anything in our lives that appears dead or closed off or marked with futility and hopelessness. He reads Isaiah as insisting that God can and does bring forth life where none seems possible. That is the essence of hope, to believe in the Holy One’s generative power even in and especially in situations where the world sees only a lifeless stump.

When we dare to act out of a belief that no act of love is ever lost, forgotten or wasted, we are saying an emphatic “No!” to sin and death and “Yes!” to a hopeful vision of God’s dream for our world. When we give time over to prayerful, intentional, contemplative sitting, we are making an act of defiance against social sin and an act of hope that the promises of the Holy One are already being fulfilled in us and in our world.budsnowdrops

No matter what is unfolding in our lives this season, no matter where we may find ourselves, we are invited to bring to Emmanuel, God-with-us, our deepest longings, our yearning for healing and completion and wholeness. May we cry out to the Holy One in these words from According to Your Word, Daily Prayers for Advent:

Come, O Holy One!
To the dry and withered landscape,
to the thirsting root,
to the parched desert,
come!

To the lonely and severed branch,
to the shriveled stump that longs for green,
to the broken heart that cannot imagine wholeness,
come!

When I doubt my belovedness,
when my future stands uncertain,
when my life feels unfinished and incomplete,
come!

Even as I wait to celebrate your birth,
come, O Holy One,
green and bud in me this day.     

(Chris Koellhoffer, IHM © 2018, Creative Communications for the Parish)

Takeaway

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Bring before God any part of your life that may feel like “the stump,” any area that feels dead or marked by futility or despair.
Name this, and share your longing for wholeness with the Holy One.
Ask that the generative power of God bring forth new life in you and in your world.
Close by giving thanks that the Holy One is already at work in you.

NOTE:
My next post for Mining the Now will be at the end of December, so I want to take this moment to wish you and those you love every blessing of peace as we celebrate the coming of Emmanuel, who embodies the peace for which we long. Merry Christmas, and thank you for all the ways you witness to the peaceable kin-dom in our time and place.

 

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Through the Lens of the Ordinary

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM  December 1, 2018

One of the surprising and unexpected blessings of slowing down by choice or by circumstance is this: that, as our speed or mobility diminishes, a new awareness of our surroundings can simultaneously expand.IMG_2053 copy

Though illness or limitation often feels unwelcome, difficult, painful, or isolating, it can also be illuminating. When we have no choice but to remain confined or restricted in some way, we may more clearly hear the inanimate world around us, we may for the first time notice the silent companions that contribute to our well-being, not as disinterested, impassive bystanders, but as helpers waiting and standing at the ready to assist us.

If we’re already living with deep mindfulness, this will not be a new concept. Perhaps we already thank the mug as we hold a steaming cup of hot tea in the morning or sigh a “thank you” to the bed when we crawl into it at day’s end. Passing through a doorway as we depart our home, we may bless the space we’re leaving and pray for its safety until we return. Checking the weather, we may grab an umbrella and give thanks for the protection it offers from a downpour. With all the devices that are now part of our everyday lives, we may whisper a prayer of thanks (sometimes more like a plea for help!) to the laptop as we boot it up, or offer gratitude to our Smart phone for the ways it connects us with worlds both near and distant.

Advent is a season that illuminates over and over the presence and promise of the small and the overlooked. In the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us, we see up close a baby born in the poorest of settings—a manger in a stable–and in a town, Bethlehem, which the prophet Micah (5:2) called one of the smallest, least noteworthy of locations. Yet Micah warns us not to be deceived by the ordinariness of it all: this seeming place of nothingness is the very one selected to welcome the arrival of the Son of God. Clearly, the Holy One has a different way of reckoning importance.

I read in Micah’s prophetic words one of the invitations of this holy season: to tend with singular care to the people we often take for granted, dismiss, or fail to acknowledge: weary delivery persons as well as weary parents working multiple jobs to provide for their children; the frail and vulnerable ones, refugees and migrants, homeless neighbors, the lonely or the mentally ill. May we pay special attention to them and recognize in them a sacred Presence.

Permit me to suggest that another Advent practice might simply be deepening our spirit of gratitude as we acknowledge and thank the inanimate and ordinary things that make our days more rich and eased and beautiful. Thank them, perhaps, by treating them with respect and care as they wait with us. No slamming of doors or angry driving, conscious of the energies we put out into the universe through these everyday companions. We might thank as well those who invent and manufacture these aids so that our world may live with comfort and wholeness and well-being. IMG_2061 copy

I so appreciate the wisdom of Pat Schneider’s exquisite poem, “The Patience of Ordinary Things”, for inspiring me to recognize the grace of the everyday and to enter into a new level of grateful awareness this Advent and all year round:

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How the soles of our feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

What indeed? In this loving, attentive spirit, may we enter this Advent awake and aware and grateful.

Takeaway

Sit in stillness in the spirit of this holy season.
Reflect on some of the ordinary things or experiences that are part of your everyday life.
Share this with the Holy One.
To what might you pay particular attention today?
Ask for the grace of noticing, and give thanks.

NOTE:
Please remember in your prayer all who will be part of an Advent retreat I’ll be leading for the Sisters of Mercy and Associates in Sea Isle City, NJ, December 7-9. Thank you, and Advent blessings to you and to all those who claim your attention and care through these days.

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At the Table

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM   November 16, 2018

Showing up is a good start.

A pastor who engaged in quite a bit of marriage counseling often remarked that he believed many challenges and problems in a relationship could be resolved if he could get the struggling couple to come together and meet in a room with a fireplace—warm, welcoming, designed to provide the ambiance to thaw and soften differences. The real challenge, he acknowledged, was getting people to the point of showing up.breakingbreadfragments copy

I’m reminded of his words as many of us here in the United States and beyond prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Beyond the questions of menus, traditional family favorites, and customs is also one of the practical details of any family or group gathering: where to seat everyone, how to find the optimal place for those who do show up. In my family, Aunt Mary always expected a place at the table with the light behind her (“More flattering,” she insisted.) Then there had to be end or corner seats for those  of us who were left-handed so that there was no knocking of elbows as forks were raised during the feast.

In some families or groups, consideration must be given as well to who sits next to whom. Story People’s “Rules for a successful holiday” humorously describes what sometimes can occur where deep-seated political, religious, or relationship issues come to the table:

“1. Get together with the family.
2. Relive old times.
3. Get out before it blows.”

The table illumines questions of belonging and fitting in, questions of boundaries,  priorities and values. Yes, there may be the annoying relative or the sibling who knows just how to push everyone’s buttons. But the table invites us to embody, if not genuine spaciousness of heart, at least an effort to accommodate differences, to be open to the other. Showing up and making it to the table is a promising beginning.

What Henri Nouwen says about the table of the Eucharist is also true of other tables in our lives:

“When we gather around the table and eat from the same loaf and drink from the same cup, we are most vulnerable to one another.  We cannot have a meal together in peace with guns hanging over our shoulders and weapons attached to our belts.  When we break bread together, we leave our arms—whether they are physical or mental—at the door and enter into a place of vulnerability and trust.”

Richard Rohr echoes this sentiment in describing the Eucharist as “the place where a vulnerable God invites vulnerable people to come together in a peaceful meal… Somehow, we have to make sure that each day we are hungry, that there’s room inside us for another presence.  If we’re filled with our own opinions, righteousness, superiority, or self-sufficiency, we are a world unto ourselves and there’s no room for another.”

So let us enter Thanksgiving with an awareness of how our coming to the table mirrors “eucharist with a small e.” Let us reflect on our circle of acquaintances, colleagues, loved ones, friends, neighbors, and ask how we might cultivate living most inclusively.

Because much more happens at the table than satisfying hunger and quenching thirst.  A meal together is one of the most intimate and sacred human events. At the table, we become and are becoming family, friends, community in the ways that Joy Harjo describes in “Perhaps the World Ends Here”:handstogether

“The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table.
So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it.
Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human.
We make men at it, we make women.
At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.
Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children.
They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.
This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.
Wars have begun and ended at this table.
It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.
We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.
At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow.
We pray of suffering and remorse.
We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.”

Takeaway

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Reflect on the different tables at which you’ve gathered and on what has happened around them.
At what tables have you most clearly experienced the presence of the Holy One?
Give thanks for those who fill the tables of your life and add a leaf for those yet to come.

NOTE:
In this season of gratefulness, I’m giving thanks for your following of Mining the Now and wishing you and those you love every blessing of this season of giving thanks.  

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Readying for the New

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM  November 4, 2018

At this time of year in the Northern hemisphere, we’re surrounded by reminders that it’s time to prepare for change as an integral part of life. Landscapes of solid green are gradually giving way to the spectacular farewell of autumn in brilliant yellow, flaming orange, fiery red. The trees, it appears, are preparing to welcome the next phase of life, fall leavespexels-photo-355302 copyletting go into barrenness, into dying, into decay. Along the rolling hills of farmlands,  fields are being plowed and hay bailed and stored for winter reserves. Squirrels are digging for, then burying, acorns. People are winterizing homes and preparing cars for cold weather and icy road conditions. Yes, it’s clear, change is coming and we need to be in a state of readiness.

Having recently experienced total hip replacement surgery, I’ve been struck by the parallels between getting ready for a change of season and getting ready for a new hip. In my last blog pre-surgery, I remarked on how we writers are shameless to the point of feeding on just about anything, so here I am, asking you to indulge a reflection on my own limited experience and my attempts to extract some meaning from it.

A month in advance of surgery, I was advised to begin a regimen of vitamin supplements and exercises so that my body might be optimally primed to welcome the elements of a new hip. In the nearly three weeks since surgery, I’ve had a front row seat to observe how I’ve responded to accommodating something new, adapting to a foreign body, and responding to its presence with pain, swelling, and bruising. As with any change, some days moving forward are uncomfortable, stretching, frustrating. Some days, encouraging and full of hope. But all days have provided an invitation for reflection on how we prepare for and welcome the new.

We can experience the newness of change gradually, wondering when those gray hairs or hard-earned wrinkles appeared, when our pace and energy subtly slowed, when our child started to look more like one parent than the other. Change can also be abrupt–a sudden profound insight or a truth about who we are. Or violent—the arrival of a brutal storm or a diagnosis that upends our world in a matter of seconds. What seems a constant is that change often brings with it an invitation to accommodate the new, to adapt and adjust, to do deep inner soul work and widen the space of our hearts. We may be ushered into a foreign landscape where the old maps, signposts, and landmarks no longer work and we’re called on to improvise and discover untapped reserves of creativity, imagination, fresh thinking. We may be invited into profound and deepening trust in the Holy One whose loving accompaniment of us is the one constant in a sea of change.boyplaying inleavespexels-photo copy

As creation prepares for a shift in temperature, sunlight, and stillness, perhaps we’re also being invited to ready ourselves already now for whatever might be part of God’s plan awaiting us. These autumn questions might help in assessing where we are and in discerning our readiness for the unknown:

  • What is nearing a harvest of completion in you?
    Where might you feel a sense of fulfillment, of God’s grace and action become visible in you?
  • What do you need to gather into your barns and store in reserve?
    What sustains, supports, and nourishes you?
    What qualities or attitudes will you, with God’s grace, depend on in the days ahead?
  • What fields are still unexplored and inviting a fresh imagining?
    What future possibilities grab your soul? excite you? energize you? stir your imagination?
  • What untended or fallow pastures call for your attention and speak to the deepest longing of your heart?
    What do you desire for yourself and others at this time in your life?
    How do you experience Spirit moving within you?
    Where are you being led now?

May the ongoing and outward change of seasons invite us to deepen an inner spaciousness of heart. May it call us into profound and growing trust in the Holy One whose faithful accompaniment is the one constant in a forever changing universe.

Takeaway:

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Pray the reflection questions above and stay with one that speaks to your heart.
Close with the words of the psalmist: “My heart is ready, O God. My heart is ready.” (Psalm 57:8)

NOTE:
Thank you for your prayer for my successful total hip replacement surgery. I’m delighted to be back with you in Mining the Now.

I’ll be on the road again offering retreats and presentations in just a few weeks and hope to take with me any wisdom I’ve mined from the slow work of God in healing and recovery. Thank you for your prayer and words of encouragement. You have mine always. 

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Noticing Delight

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, October 7, 2018

Sometimes, if we’re truly attentive, our minds can be upended, our imaginations can be broken open, by encountering God with skin. Yes, we have a God enfleshed in the witness of Jesus, who in history inhabited our human condition and embodied the presence of the Holy. Jesus, who showed us what God might look and speak and act like. But in our time and place, we may sometimes also need God with skin, God that we can see and hear and touch.

Silhouette of Happy Family and Dog

Recently God with skin showed up in a form I hadn’t considered. I received a text from a friend who lives at a distance and who was unexpectedly going to be in my geographic area. He wondered if I would be around and available for a visit, and happily, I was.

Although we’d stayed in touch over time through social media, we hadn’t actually seen each other in nearly a decade. When my friend arrived, we hugged. And then he burst into tears, a weeping so powerful that he couldn’t speak for several minutes. As the tears continued, I became alarmed and anxious, wondering what terrible, unnamed burden, what devastating news he must be carrying. An unwelcome and unexpected diagnosis for him, his wife, his children? An overwhelming loss? An experience of anguish that cut to the core so deeply that he could find no way to express it except through weeping?

When he was finally able to speak, he told me what had so dramatically opened the floodgates of his soul: he was simply overcome with profound joy and delight at seeing me after so many years. I was stunned by his tender words, words that evoked tears of my own; stunned also by the palpable presence of the Holy One in that room at that moment. It was, for me, an image of the way God must weep with rapture and utter delight on beholding our belovedness.

God weeping for joy. Why do we not notice this more often? Perhaps because if we Google “God weeping for joy,” we come up empty. There are plenty of references to God weeping with us in our pain, our sorrow, our grief. Jesus weeping over Jerusalem or Jesus weeping over the death of his friend, Lazarus, come to mind. There’s a long list of the Divine companioning us in every aspect of loss and heartache but there’s a rather limited list of the Holy One’s ecstatic delight in our attention and our company. There are abundant references to the truth that we’re not alone in our times of darkness and anguish, that joy will come in the morning. But why only in the morning, we might wonder? Is delight meant to be limited and time-sensitive?

One image of a jubilant God can be found in the parable of the ecstatic shepherd sweeping up in his arms the lost, inattentive sheep out on a hillside. Or the joyful parent who has been, minute by minute, scouting the horizon in the hope of sighting the longed for return of the willful, wasteful prodigal child.roomheartineye copy
But it took my friend to show me in the clearest way possible an image of the Holy One unable to contain divine delight in my presence and letting it all out in a torrent of salt and water. God with skin right in front of me. Until that moment, I think I hadn’t fully imagined the Holy One as so overcome with joy that it bubbled up and out in the only way possible, an overflow of tears.

Since that graced visit, I’ve found myself looking with intention and awareness everywhere, more conscious that opportunities to encounter the Holy One’s unrestrained joy might be just around the corner. God at play, God dancing, God doing a jig in the embrace of a friend, the comfort of community, the midnight sky brilliant with moon and stars, the stillness of prayer, the lines of a cherished poem. Here, there, and everywhere. All we have to do is show up, be present, and pay attention. Who knows when a God bursting with delight might be as near to us as our very own selves?

Takeaway

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Call to mind a time when you experienced, witnessed, or imagined God’s delight: in you, in a relationship, in an encounter, in the natural world.
Savor the joy of that memory and sit with it.
What does delight look like, feel like, sound like?
Offer deep thanks for knowing yourself as beloved in the eyes of the Holy One.
Ask for the grace to affirm that same belovedness in those you encounter today.

Images:
Fotolia, Patrizia Tilly
Fotolia

NOTE:
Please be aware that I may not be posting a new blog for a while because I’m going to have total hip replacement surgery mid-October. I’ll be grateful for your prayer for full healing (Thank you!) and will be back to Mining the Now as soon as possible. And, since a writer can feed on almost anything, I suspect this experience might offer lots to mine for a future post. Stay tuned!

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Present through a Different Lens

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM September 23, 2018

How encouraging that our prayer can transcend the boundaries of space and time and offer us new ways to be in communion with the Holy.

For me, one of these ways is what I call photopraying. I have a box of loosely organized prints that I occasionally rummage through, then select one as the focus of a day’s intention. This practice lends itself just as easily to photos stored on one’s phone or on social media, photos in a frame in one’s living room, or photos on memorial cards. Simply gaze at the chosen photo for several moments, take in all the details of face and scenery, and return in memory to when and where the scene occurred. Breathe compassion for the people and places in the photo and place all in the heart of the Holy One. Sometimes a song or poem or a phrase from Scripture may be stirred up by the image before you. Pay attention to all that fills your consciousness.

Today the photo I randomly selected brought me back to the year 2000 and my third trip to Haiti. That year on the feast of Corpus Christi I was awakened at sunrise by laughter, clapping, and joyous harmonies. Hurriedly dressing, I followed the sound of excited voices outside, gasping aloud as I took in the scene unfolding before me. There the Little Sisters of St. Therese and children from the village had decorated the road with the outline of a heart, a ciborium, and a host formed by the lush, colorful petals of  hibiscus, orchid, and other tropical blossoms. I was truly fed by what was at hand, by the creativity and resources that could be summoned to the moment.

EPSON MFP image

I was struck by the gospel (Luke 9:11-17) for that feast, one of many occasions when Jesus fed a crowd. When the disciples called his attention to the reality that there were no supermarkets, no 7-11 or McDonald’s in that desolate, lonely place, Jesus told his followers, “Give them some food yourselves.” Picture the puzzled disciples hanging their heads, averting their gaze, and wondering if anyone had snacks to pool or coins to dig out of their pouches.

How different the moment captured in my photo from Haiti. In that place, on that day, the disciples–those creative neighbors who had scarcely enough food to sustain their own bodies–were undaunted by this command of Jesus, “Give them some food yourselves.” In their desire to celebrate and honor the Body of Christ, they tapped into their own creativity and imagination, offered their time and their labor, and fed me with exquisite natural beauty that both nourished and inspired my soul. All this was stored in a single photo.

EPSON MFP image

Perhaps today might offer us a call as well, an invitation to look within at what we have to offer that might feed a hungry crowd of another sort: feed with hospitality, with a spacious and generous heart, with a deepening sense of belonging and community, with the gift of our time and presence.

“Give them some food yourselves,” the Holy One invites. Can we picture it now?

Takeaway

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Place before yourself a print or image.
Notice what moves within you as you gaze at it with an open heart.
Hold in your prayer today whoever and whatever this image awakens in you.
Give thanks to the Holy One who is present in your remembering.

Images:
Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, in Riviere Froide, Haiti

NOTE:
Please hold in your prayer all who will be part of these coming days: 

October 3:  Mining God’s Dream for Us: Autumn Day of Prayer, Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville, PA  http://www.jesuitcenter.org/2018_Calendar  

October 5-7:  Directed Prayer Weekend, Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth, Wernersville, PA. I will be one of the directors for the weekend.

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Leaning into Resilience

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM  September 9, 2018

During these last lingering days of summer, a seasonal image that keeps returning to me is resilience. A dictionary might describe that quality as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability of a substance or object to spring back and return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, or bent.spider.animals.sandiegozoo.org

Summer has been rather generous in providing a daily visual aid to demonstrate resilience for me. Each time I left my apartment this summer, I had to open an iron gate outside, a favorite home for spiders weaving their webs. My passing through pretty much obliterated those works of labor and artistry, undoing in seconds what had taken hours or days to build. Amazingly, by the next morning those exquisite creations already showed signs of beginning again.

But what about when life can’t be returned to its original shape, when the web simply can’t be rebuilt in its original location? When we find ourselves in the role of a modern-day Job, one daunting loss or challenge heaped on top of another? When the slip or fall shatters beyond repair? When the fire leaves nothing but ashes or the flood carries away every familiar, cherished memory? When the world of our daily lives has been pulled, stretched, pressed or bent to the point that elasticity is impossible?

When we can’t return to the same shape or space that we were in before illness or loss or circumstances changed the direction of our path, what allows us to be resilient in a new normal, a reality that calls on all our reserves of patience and tenacity and fierce determination to hold onto hope?

It may be that those are the times for leaning in.

Lean into prayer.
Cry, and wail, and shout your pain to a loving God who does not break the tender reed nor extinguish a flickering flame. Lean into prayer when the well is dry and your voice is barely a whisper. Lean into prayer when you have no words but to ask the  Holy One, “What do you want to pray in me?”  Irene Nowell’s Pleading, Cursing, Praising: Conversing with God through the Psalms, offers some of the ways you might pray when an unwelcome, unexpected new normal manifests itself in your life.letting go stars

Lean into the tribe who love and support you.
Lean into the support of friends or family, those companions who enter your life owning their inability to save or fix or rescue you. Lean into the ones practiced in deep listening and faithful companioning, the ones who know it’s beyond their power to change your circumstances or take away your painful realities, the ones who remain present, who stay with, who accompany, no matter what.

Lean into compassion both for yourself and others.
Reflect on what Teilhard de Chardin calls “the slow work of God,” an acceptance and understanding that the Holy One’s sense of time is very often different from your way of measuring or counting. Be patient with the detours you may need to take. Bring fresh thinking and imagination to making a way forward through unfamiliar terrain where the old road maps may no longer work. Use your own suffering to bless someone else whose wounds are fresher than yours.

Lean and lean and lean into the grace of God. And in that graced place, in your new normal, may you not only survive. May you thrive. 

Takeaway

Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
Call to mind a challenging experience of your life, present or past.
What did/does that look like? feel like?
Who or what helped or is helping you to hold onto hope?
Spend time in quiet gratitude for the faithful companioning of the Holy One in your life.

NOTE:
Thank you for returning to Mining the Now after my hiatus for my own retreat and renewal in August. I’ve missed you and am delighted to be back. 

May I ask you to hold in prayer all who will be part of this upcoming retreat: 

September 10-17:  Directed retreat at St. Mary by-the-Sea, Cape May Point, NJ. I’ll be one of the spiritual guides during these days. Thank you.

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