I have no idea who Becky Hemsly is, but she speaks to my soul
‘She sat at the back and they said she was shy,
She led from the front and they hated her pride,
They asked her advice and then questioned her guidance,
They branded her loud, then were shocked by her silence,
When she shared no ambition they said it was sad,
So she told them her dreams and they said she was mad,
They told her they'd listen, then covered their ears,
And gave her a hug while they laughed at her fears,
And she listened to all of it thinking she should,
Be the girl they told her to be best as she could,
But one day she asked what was best for herself,
Instead of trying to please everyone else,
So she walked to the forest and stood with the trees,
She heard the wind whisper and dance with the leaves,
She spoke to the willow, the elm and the pine,
And she told them what she'd been told time after time,
She told them she felt she was never enough,
She was either too little or far far too much,
Too loud or too quiet, too fierce or too weak,
Too wise or too foolish, too bold or too meek,
Then she found a small clearing surrounded by firs
,And she stopped...and she heard what the trees said to her,
And she sat there for hours not wanting to leave,
For the forest said nothing, it just let her breathe`
~ Becky Hemsley ~
Maybe this should be titled “Gratitude” or perhaps “Reflections by a Skeptic.” However, I think “Gift” works as that is what I’m reflecting on.
There are some relationships that of late have seemed strained and distant. I believe I have some understanding of why this might be. The misinformation that gives rise to it is painful. The desire to jump up and shout “You’ve got it all wrong!” and proceed with a defensive stance is strong but probably not a useful response. So I sit with the situation, and I wrestle with understanding and forgiveness. And I am seldom of a mind to believe in the Divine Intervention.
On Sunday, in the midst of much disorganization and chaos, I pulled a dear friend aside and asked her to pray over me. She obliged, calling the Spirit to bring healing and wholeness to the immediate situation. I felt a bit of calm, a bit peace and a hope that I would be able to work through the babble and chaos with grace. That was good enough.
Good enough until I was face to face with a couple of people that had exuded a coolness in my direction of late. In every case, there was warmth and peace. An unspoken closing of distance surfaced. Over and over I noticed these flashes. And I marveled. It seems that the Holy Spirit decided that my expectations set the bar a bit too low. The Spirit was not in to simply meeting my expectations – Her vision went far beyond.
Thanks to my friend for her presence in prayer. Thanks to the Spirit who breathes out healing and peace. Thanks for the gift that was, and is, so much greater than expected.
On my way to mass this evening, I had to stop to get gas. Distressing to see what it costs to fuel my car! Besides, I got notice that I was needed to play for mass in mid-afternoon and I wasn’t in a joyful, positive state of mind to begin with. There was a tornado watch in effect. I was tired, and grumpy and just generally out of sorts.
The rain was falling, but just as I finished filling the tank, the sun burst through the clouds. The rain began to fade away. And right there at the Exxon station, I was treated to a full blown, full arc, double rainbow. I had to step out and just gaze at it. My mood began to transform immediately and I thought to myself “Wow! God is reminding me of that there is good everywhere.”
On to mass. Running late. Couldn’t find the second page of the communion hymn. Somebody had made a major mess of the numbers for the hymnboard. No time to check my tuning on my guitar. Went to set the cell phone to silent and saw a missed call from my youngest child who was in an automobile accident yesterday (not his fault, thank goodness). My emotions are hanging out all over my face.
And Fr. Jack proceeds to focus the homily on how God shows up in the most unexpected places (water from a rock in the desert? get real!). Nothing spectacular required. God is present in wine, water, bread and oil. How common and basic can you get? And I thought of the rainbow.
Out of nowhere the sacred is injected into life. In a shared meal, a surprise rainbow, a baby’s smile. Life is good. There is hope.
This morning at mass we sang “Servant Song” for the presentation of the gifts. This is the one that starts out with “What do you want of me, Lord? Where do you want me to serve you.” It became even more moving to me than usual because of Mery. Mery is our newest music team member. She’s from Panama. She is in her 30’s, I would guess and full of life and enthusiasm and joy. She is the mother of a toddler and wife of a grad student. English is her 3rd language, probably (after Kuni and Spanish); Mery cannot sing “Servant Song” without being moved to tears.
It is still amazing to me that music and words can bring someone to such a place – tears of joy and/or sorrow. No wonder the little phrase “To sing is to pray twice” stays and stays and stays around.
Mery was embarrassed by her tears in front of the congregation. I had to hug her. It was so good to see someone so moved by the Spirit.
A couple of weeks ago, while on vacation in Maine, we occupied our slow moments with the construction of a jigsaw puzzle. Yes, we allow ourselves to display the box top with the finished product pictured… even so, with the image that we were seeking to recreate, we would find that pieces would seemingly hide from us, only to reappear later that day or the next morning. We would find that at times pieces were put together incorrectly, and had to be disengaged and reworked. There were pieces that seemed to belong in one part of the puzzle but in reality, went in a different place. Still, as I sat and focused on the pieces and fitting them together, I began to notice the subtle differences. I could begin to pick out the proper piece from those that needed a place.
Had I written about that jigsaw puzzle a week ago, I would have focused on the frustration and difficulty of getting the pieces in the right place, in the right order, despite having the finished image in front of me. So many times, that is how life (physical, spiritual and emotional) strikes me: Even if I have an idea of the image I’m working with, it is still difficult at times to get the pieces in correctly. It takes effort to focus on the piece I’m working with right now. If my image is Jesus (or my image is the Christ within me), I still have to figure out the placement of the pieces and how they go together.
But, I didn’t write last week. Instead, I let it sit. When that happens, the perspective often shifts. The puzzle was completed. Joy! No lost pieces – no lost sheep to seek out. It locked itself together so that I rolled it up and stored it in the box, complete, as it were… and returned it to my brother-in-law’s fiance. And that brings to mind a very different perspective on that ol’ puzzle.
My husband stayed up into the wee hours finishing that puzzle… well, all except for one piece that he couldn’t find. I got up the next morning and saw the puzzle with a missing piece. Aha! there it was on the floor by the table. I experienced the joy of fitting in the last piece. The puzzle was complete! Just as life is complete only when that last piece is put into place. Or, rather, when all of the pieces are in place, there is a whole that is different from the individual pieces. I began to see that all of those pieces — those with leaves of green, those with tiger stripes, those with sky or branches or water — all of those were necessary to the whole picture. With even one part missing, the picture was incomplete.
I may be only one tiny piece in the puzzle and you may be only a piece of the puzzle, but we are both necessary for the entire image to appear. And that is one of the joys of life.