I have needed to be compassionate toward myself when I was hurting. I have also needed to offer compassion and kindness to others. One of my best sparks for love and for forgiveness of old relationship hurts came from an image of myself at the Last Supper table, seeing my “enemies” seated next to me, all of us being loved equally by God. Another image that gave me courage and also freed me from mistakes and wounding behavior of the past was that of a beehive in my heart with golden bees making “honey of my old failures.”
Images have also reminded me how valuable a sense of humor is for healing. Mary Lou Sleevi portrays the widow Anna, in the Gospel of Luke, as the image of a woman who could laugh through the tough things of life: “Anna comes to Her Moment laughing. Those eyes have twinkled as she wrinkled…Her face the free expression of all that’s inside.” Perhaps, most of all, images have helped me to name my need to surrender and to trust God with my life. In order to be healed, I need a desire to let go, to get on with my life, rather than cling to the pain and memory of my old wounds. Some see surrender as negative because, for them, it implies a patriarchal approach to God, a giving in to a “higher power.” I do not envision it this way. I see surrender as a natural part of the cycle of life and, thus, it includes the spiritual path as well. I have learned much about having to let go of control by observing seasonal surrendering such as the plowed fields of spring accepting heavy rainfalls, summer’s fruitful days giving way to autumn harvesting, and winter’s wind whirling snowflakes into banks of beauty. My surrender does not seem passive to me. Rather, it feels like a strong trust in a loving One whose wisdom stretches far beyond mine. God can empower me, work through me, and weave patterns that I do not dream possible. I experience this as a great gift of love.
Dear Heart, Come Home (p. 127-128)
Photo Thanks to Evan Wise
I’ll be away from writing original content for a couple weeks. We welcomed our new son the other day, and in lieu of posts, I’ll offer a quote of the day. To anticipate that, here is a post by Seth Godin whose good work you can find here.
Depth of field
Focus is a choice.
The runner who is concentrating on how much his left toe hurts will be left in the dust by the runner who is focusing on winning.
Even if the winner’s toe hurts just as much.
Hurt, of course, is a matter of perception. Most of what we think about is.
We have a choice about where to aim the lens of our attention. We can relive past injustices, settle old grudges and nurse festering sores. We can imagine failure, build up its potential for destruction, calculate its odds. Or, we can imagine the generous outcomes we’re working on, feel gratitude for those that got us here and revel in the possibilities of what’s next.
The focus that comes automatically, our instinctual or cultural choice, that focus isn’t the only one that’s available. Of course it’s difficult to change it, which is why so few people manage to do so. But there’s no work that pays off better in the long run.
Your story is your story. But you don’t have to keep reminding yourself of your story, not if it doesn’t help you change it or the work you’re doing.
I can’t tell how you interpret most of what I say. We talk enough for me to have some understanding. Perhaps, I’m simply slow. Still, you remind me that conversations are full of so many more things than words. I suppose, in that way, you push me into contemplation, into the long corridor where words are far behind us. As for what you said, about the writing project in front of you, I hope you know that I’m in the circle of your biggest supporters. Get it done, and savor as much of the getting as you can. I’ll be the one wearing glasses at the end of the finish line, reminding you of your greatness and of the next race that’s set before you. Please keep going.