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, letting 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.
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.
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)
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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