by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM November 6, 2022
One of the lingering side effects of the pandemic has been the way in which food is served. Although I’m still missing the amazing salad bar at Wegman’s, I understand the safety and health concerns that led to its disappearance. (And of course, I still live in hope of its return). In most retreat houses, conference centers, and motherhouses I’ve traveled to this summer, retreatants no longer served themselves from a buffet line, but instead were served by gracious professional people waiting to hear of their selections from the options offered.
For me, this has been something of an issue because of the servers: they are simply too generous! I eat well but don’t eat huge helpings of anything, even my favorite mashed potatoes. So the first few days of a retreat, I’m continually whispering, “Just one spoonful, please” over the buffet table to the servers. Whose joy seems to be in giving me more. Whose puzzlement seems to be that any human would want less than two heaping serving spoons full of the delicious food being offered.
Lately the refrain of “Just one spoonful, please,” has led me to reflect on some wisdom a spiritual director offered me decades ago, wisdom that has enlarged my appetite not for food, but for the divine. My director encouraged me to be less cautious, more intimate, and bolder in my relationship with the Holy One. She reminded me that God is longing to be more. To me. That the Holy One desires to share the fullness of divine love. With me. That God’s grace isn’t a limited supply that has to be rationed out bit by bit, a spoonful at a time. That when it comes to grace, God doesn’t want to hear “Enough!” from me. That my call is to let God be God. Big, extravagant, unconditional, beyond limits when it comes to loving me and all of creation.
Some spiritual leaders note that the longing we feel for God is actually the Holy One’s first longing for us. What we experience is a mirror, a window into the immensity of God’s desire for us. This divine desire isn’t dependent on our goodness or worth, isn’t diminished by our failings, isn’t lessened by our lack of attention or awareness. No matter what is happening or has happened in our lives, God’s love for each of us is there for the taking, available and unending.
Our challenge is to keep listening to the echoes of longing that we notice, the nudges that claim our attention, the moments that resonate, and to realize, “Ah, there you go again, God!” Then to simply bow down in amazement and gratitude at the Holy One’s wild extravagance, serving up heaping spoonfuls of love from an endless buffet.
Sit in stillness with the Holy One.
If you have a symbol of God’s love, place that before you.
Be bold and ask for more: more grace, more love, more intimacy.
Sit in a spirit of trust that your desire will be heard.
Give thanks for the extravagant and always available love of the Holy One.
Featured Image: Chris Koellhoffer, IHM
Thank you for your prayerful support of the guided retreat I offered for the Sisters of St. Francis at Assisi House, Aston, PA, this past week. My deep thanks to all the retreatants whose prayer and presence continue to bless me and all of our beautiful yet wounded world.
Please hold in your prayer the mid-term elections in the United States this week, that all who are elected will commit their service to the common good and to building a more just, inclusive, and compassionate country. Thank you.
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