Tuesday, May 17, 2011

This is your life...

"I haven't got anything together and I can stop looking for some hidden door that's going to someday open up to my real, perfect life and I can stop waiting and I can start laughing praise, because this wondrous mess, this is it." ~ Ann Voskamp


Sit still.

Take a deep breath.

Who are you, right now?

How do you experience your days?

What are your greatest accomplishments?

Who do you pour your love and energy into?

What brings you the most joy and fulfillment?

This is who you are, right now, in this place and time, laying aside all dreams and expectations.

Embrace that reality and allow it to be enough.

Don’t worry about what tomorrow may bring.

Love someone today, right where you are.

Rest in the knowledge you are loved.

Be present here and now.

Take a deep breath.

Sit still.


You do not have to have a grand story of redemption and reconciliation leading to a life of great service.

You do not have to boast of heroic deeds and sacrificial accomplishments.

You do not have to fit into unrealistic societal expectations.

Do not dwell on what you are not, or what you could be, or what you might have been.

Rest in who you are – a dearly loved child of the creator of the universe, summoned with the task to love God back, love his creation (which includes yourself), and love one another.

Rest in the fact that as you wake each day with the purpose of receiving, being and giving love, that your life will continue to grow and change, and that you don’t have to be anxious about where that change is leading.

Rest in the knowledge that God Is.

Rest in God’s grace.

Rest in God.


“People always say how you should be yourself. Like yourself is this definite thing, like a toaster or something. Like you know what it is, even. But every so often, I'll have, like, a moment when just being myself, and my life, like, right where I am, is, like, enough.” ~ Angela Chase (My So-Called Life)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


All stories, even the ones we love, must eventually come to an end and when they do, it's only an opportunity for another story to begin. (from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium)

This past weekend I enjoyed a silent prayer retreat, led by my dear, lovely friend Ines Velasquez-Mcbryde. Ines and I have had many prayer, study and retreat experiences together, and this is the third time I have participated in a silent retreat she has led.

As we were wrapping up the retreat, and reflecting on our time, I started seeing a picture emerge of this retreat being a sort of bookend on a difficult season of my life, a five year period of loss, change, manipulation, confusion, anxiety, grief, anger and bitterness. Not that it was all laid on me at once, but rather it was more of a snowballing effect, and then I was trapped beneath the weight.

Before that period started, before I had any idea what was in store, I was on the first of the three retreats Ines led. We gathered in a cabin (read: small lake mansion) with friends and spent the evening enjoying each other’s company and preparing our hearts for the next day. We awoke in silence, prayer guides in hand, and after breakfast and brief instructions, scattered about the property to commune with God. I thought I would start my morning off inside, and eventually make my way to the porch or the water. I never made it out of the cabin.

At the top of the stairs, I found a utility closet that was clean, carpeted, spacious and bright, with nothing but the dim hum of an air conditioning unit to abide with me. I settled in, quieted my breathing, and decided to begin by listening to some of the scriptures on the first page of the guide. I didn’t get very far before I was gripped by a passage, and I stayed in Psalm 37 so long I was late returning to the group sharing time several hours later: Do not fret. Trust. Dwell. Delight. Commit. Be Still. Wait patiently. Refrain from anger. Hope.

I’m still learning what all of those words mean, but they pierced me then, and they still have a hold of me now. That was a special time of immersion in communion with the Spirit that I go back to often.

It seems that every prayer retreat and every spiritual direction session since that time found me bringing some burning question or deep wound to the table, something I needed answered, healed, explained or fixed. I wrote a few posts back about the forgiveness process I went through in March, and I like to think that because of that experience, this past weekend was able to seal one part of my story and allow another to begin.

I went into this silent retreat filled with peace and joy, and that’s the way I left.

No, I was not delusional that the world around me is still full of hate and destruction and things wildly beyond our control. But the sun was shining, I had no grand expectations, I just came to rest and enjoy, and that’s what I did.

I left with a poem inspired by the rolling breezes in the prayer garden, and a simple hope that perhaps I can put this season of frustration behind me. But even if I’m wrong, yet I will rejoice:

Approaching Winds
Yet determined
Pushed through distant forrest
To breeze
Through my hair
To graze
My cheek
With a kiss
Light as air

As limb and leaf
In canopy above
Lifted into dancing
Whirling dervishes
Swept into joyful frenzy
By subtle beams

That beyond tree
Is sky
Beyond sky
Is universe
And I am but a part

And yet
Wholly significant
Fully known
Deeply loved

By the One who created
And sky
Tree, limb and leaf
Fed by sun and rain and soil

By the One who created
Climbing vine
And clinging branch
By the One who is
Climbing vine

By the One who invites
Me to cling
To abide
To trust
To dwell

By the One who created
Soft carpets
Of electric green moss
Split open
By twisted roots
Anchoring dancing forrest
To earthly hallows
Even as it longs to soar

To be swept up
In the rhythm
Of the wind
As it moves past
Carried further down the path
By the One who created

Out of love
To be love
Out of grace
To be grace
Out of mercy
To be mercy

By the One who forgave
So that I can forgive
Who comforts and heals
So that I can extend healing & comfort
The One who says
Be still
So that I can be peace
In the midst
Of the chaos
Of life

The wind travels past
And I remain
With the One who created
With the One who was
With the One who is to come
With the One who Is
With the One
And we
Walk on