Not sure how this all fits together. My first reflections this morning were on how to “let go” — I read the readings before mass; I thought of Solomon asking for wisdom and letting go of his own glory. I reflected on Jesus’ words about finding a treasure and selling all to be able to buy the field where the treasure lay. So many ways to let go of what is no longer useful.
I thought about the gospel and how the fishing net collects many things which are sorted later — and what is good and necessary is kept, and the rest thrown away. So many times I’ve not been willing to throw the net and see what is caught before I throw things away. I want to decide ahead of time what I will catch and keep. My judgement first.
As I listened to the choir practice before mass I realized that it was going to be difficult to “go with the flow.” I hear the music at a different tempo than those who lead it at church. I felt called to try to let go of what didn’t really matter, to let go of my own way and try to follow the timing of that other drummer without all the negative stuff. That’s hard.
You see, there is no closure. When I let go of the timing I hear in the music it’s a small death. When I can’t let go of my drummer and fail to enjoy the other drumbeat, it’s a small death. There is no winning or losing. I must accept both. So, I can get closure in either direction.
I can’t say I succeeded. The closing song was sung at a tempo that felt dirge-like to me. It might have been beautiful to others, but it sucked the life and energy out of me. I can say I made a stab at letting go of how I would have led it and in that way I could search for a certain beauty/joy in the way it was sung. Perhaps one day I will be able to appreciate it. Perhaps not. But certainly, it’s not an anger of frustration that deserves to hold on to my life and my spirit. It just is a different approach to the music. And, the music is what calls me and soothes my soul.
I’ll try to focus more on what’s good and important and let the rest of it work itself out.
I waited anxiously for this election to be over. I was massively let down when my fears proved true. And the first week or so of aftermath has not eased any of my concerns or fears. Even if some folks have been reasonably quiet.
This morning I read a tirade from a white woman who, during the election season, was so anti-Hillary it just about burned in her eyes. She wanted to know why she, as a “white woman” should feel guilty for any transgressions/aggression against minorities. She took the stand I hear many, too many, of us take: I didn’t do anything wrong. The past is the past. Get over the past.
And I thought about it. And I tried to listen to God and glean some wisdom in this area.
Jesus said “Follow me.” I believe that means all the way to the cross. Yes, we believe that Jesus died for all our sin(s). If you follow Him, I think you must also be willing to die for the sin(s) of others. To truly follow is to walk with, and to emulate that which you follow. And so, to those of us who profess to be Christians: Doesn’t if follow that we take on the sin(s) of the world, just as Jesus did? And be willing to die to it and be recreated in Christ? To rise again?
Just as those yellow arrows appeared in so many different places along the Camino, God’s arrows can come be seen in some very unexpected, not-traditional places. You just have to be open to seeing them wherever they appear.
This summer, I took up a yoga practice. The physical stretching is good. The physical challenge in even beginning to attempt some of the poses is excellent. The deep physical calm that comes at the end of a practice is much needed in my life.
More than that, I find the emotional and mental practice to be a way to open up. It is, for me, truly an occasion of prayer. To get the benefits of a Yin Yoga practice, I must learn to stay where I am and stay with a bit of discomfort. I must learn to relax into the present moment and allow my entire self (body and mind and soul) to relax and sink deeply into whatever is being asked of me. I must listen to my body and learn what is pain versus what is discomfort. Sharp, shooting pain does damage. Staying with discomfort gives me a way to learn to be here now, to listen, to progressively relax and accept the limits of my current condition while pushing ever so gently to new depths.
To me, that is such a picture of my relationship with God and myself as a child of God. It is a picture of prayer. Learning to rest in God’s love. Learning to see from a new place. Being transformed into someone/something that is more than I knew before. And trusting that I can stay with the discomfort and not run from it.
I had a chance to practice that on the Camino. One step at a time — just one more step. I might have had a name for my goal for the end of a day, but I had to trust that this would be a good place. I had to take one step at a time and travel to places unknown. There were times when that was easy because the sun was shining, the view beautiful beyond belief and the light a photographer’s dream. And there were days when it was cold, blowing rain, slippery rocks and many hours of solitary walking. Each involved one step at a time. Each involved being open to what was happening in the moment and trusting where I was being led. And each involved an openness to being transformed by Presence.
I do not often find this type of prayer in a church, or in a mass or other organized group. But, I feel it is essential to my growing in love and wisdom and living the call I feel as a baptized Christian. I will look for these opportunities wherever, and however God puts them in my path.
Advertising is targeted — it’s really obvious if you pay any attention at all to the ads that show up in the sidebar of a google account or a Facebook page or have every bought anything from Amazon and get on their mailing lists. Some of our other utilities try to figure out what we will like – It seems that Tivo will try to figure out by the shows you record what it thinks you might like to watch and can record things for you. It seems that programs — just like people — can draw some very odd conclusions.
There’s a story about a guy who had a Tivo that thought he was gay. When he tried to make it change its mind, by recording lots of war movies (“guy stuff”) it decided he was a crazy who wanted to see everything about Nazi bigwigs. I have ordered books from Amazon so I get email because they want to sell me everything Mary Daley and Sue Monk Kidd have every written… and watches, fancy lotions and camera equipment. Facebook sure seems to think I want desparately to lose weight and get rid wrinkles while studying photography. And just this morning, as I read my email from The Daily Gospel I found ads for The American Monk (Accelerate your spiritual growth…), Speaking in tongues today, Dr. Oz’s Real Age Test (???) and the Gnostic Bookstore. But, the ones that intrigued me the most were the learn more about the Easter Bunny and Kindergarten Sightwords.
Kind of scary, huh? I find it to be a warning to me. As one human in a community of humans, I hope that I do better at seeing the whole, real person underneath these external expressions. But, I probably don’t. We all make two mistakes — we observe through the particular focus of our own eyes, and we so often see only the things that we are keyed in to see (keyword searching, anyone?). It might be all I CAN do — so just be aware: I’m only slightly better at judging you than Google Adsense… and therefore I shall attempt to leave that judgement to God.
Fr. Jack got distracted by the readings, and wound up giving the homily I needed. He used the Hebrews reading which ends this way:
By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises was ready to offer
his only son,
of whom it was said,
â€œThrough Isaac descendants shall bear your name.â€ He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.
That last verse caught him and he decided to reflect on just what Isaac was a symbol of… and after wandering through his thoughts, he came up with the thought that the symbol here referred to faith in the Giver, not based on the visible result. I’m not sure how he got there, and we didn’t record the homily. It seems that faith at one level relies on “results.” Like “I ask for this and it is granted.” Request -> Result. But Abraham went a step further by his willingness to do something whereby the desired result seemed impossible: to offer his son, the only visible way to fullfuill the promise that his descendants would number as many as the stars.
I sometimes do petition God — but, I have discovered it to be generally a better method to lay a situation in front of God and ask Her to be present. The outcome seems to work out best — often not the way I would have invisioned it – better… sometimes more painful, sometimes more joyful.
And so, when I found myself very disappointed yesterday, the homily rushed in on me — I’m still disappointed, but I rest in faith that whatever happens, it will be for the best in the long run.