Saturday, July 3, 2010

the retreat - day 3 - Jan. 10, 2008

Things to focus on today:  gratitude for the way God works and has worked in my life, what graces do I receive and do I need, be aware, attuned to God's presence - "I become aware of God contemplating me in love."

Journal:  Did sleep well last night - thank you.  Woke up feeling rested, full of sleep, happy.  Looked at hand (tree shadow) on window and closed my eyes and imagined putting my hand up against it, palm to palm.  A light flashed (not lightning).  Dozed some more, heard the 7:00 bells for mass, rolled over and dozed some more again, enjoying the luxury of staying in bed.  Around 8:15 I sensed the call to arise and join the day, and I got up.  Went to 3rd-floor sun porch on my way down to breakfast - a very cozy room with chairs, plants, windows, afghans, and pillows - was delighted to see it was snowing!  Mused a bit downstairs over my Raisin Bran, but then finished up because I wanted to watch the snow.  Got some stuff and set up camp in the 2nd-floor exercise/sun room (3rd floor room is for Sisters only - oops!).  Had a delightful time watching the snow fall fast and light, big and little flakes.  Thought about how perspective can affect your perception, and therefore beliefs and actions about things - the snow falling, as seen through the mini blinds on the upper part of the window, where the spaces between the blinds was narrower, looked frenetic, super-fast and busy.  The snow seen through the larger spaces in the lower part of the blinds was still fast, but less so, less tight and pressured.

It's 10:40 now.  The snow has stopped.  I've been watching and thinking and resting and enjoying this time, in your presence, tremendously.  I went back to my room to get something, and I realized as I walked that something felt different, funny - I realized I was standing up and walking straight, shoulders back, chest up.  Read #579 in Appleton's Oxford Book of Prayer, which reminded me of the lesson for today and the reference to Ps. 136 in its style.  (The sentences below that begin with "Come" are from the OBP, prayer by St. Symeon.)

Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one,
Come with me.
Listen!  My Lover!  Look!  Here he comes, the God of my life.
Who taught me of himself before I entered to world.
Come, true light.
Who gave me joy; I delighted in him.
Come, life eternal.
Who hid himself in between the words and ways of the old church, Calvary.
Come, hidden mystery.
Who hid beneath the scales over my eyes and heart.
Come, treasure without name.
Who rejoiced with me, taught me, cried with me in my growing up as a girl.
Come, reality beyond all words.
Who hid (or so it seemed to me), remained behind the walls of pain in my high school years, but whose presence and love were there, nevertheless.
Come, person beyond all understanding.
Who laughed alongside me, worked, rejoiced, loved, taught, and communed with others during the missions trip in summer '86.
Come, rejoicing without end.
Come, light that knows no evening.
Who went with me to Wheaton, that new, wonderful, frightening place.
Come, unfailing expectation of the saved.
Who wept with me and lifted me up as my Wheaton dream ended and the fight to live a life on my own began.
Come, raising of the fallen.
Who hovered over me, held me tightly, and saved my life when I fought to live in a more literal way, in the hospital with an asthma attack.
Come resurrection of the dead.
Who led me from Calvary to 1st Free, to a new vision of you and a door to a new life.
Come, all-powerful, for unceasingly you create, refashion and change all things by your will alone.
Who gave me people, resources, and experiences that opened a door, showed me ways to access a realization of you that I had hardly imagined, barely remembered, dared not hope for.
Come, invisible whom none may touch and handle.
Who gave me friends for life.
Come, for you continue always unmoved, yet at every instant you are wholly in movement; you draw near to us who lie in hell, yet you remain higher than the heavens.
Who wooed me then ran ahead - who granted me a taste of your incredible goodness, love, holiness, is-ness, then suddenly drew it away, to pull me further in.
Come, for your name fills our hearts with longing and is ever on our lips; yet who you are and what your nature is, we cannot say or know.
Who left me, but never fully released me, to look for you, to get to know you and myself and life, to grow up (in my early- to mid-20's) feeling utterly on my own, abandoned.
Come, Alone to the alone.
Who led me to special education and to a new discovery of you and of meaning in the souls of the kids I met and interacted with.
Come, for you are yourself the desire that is within me.
Who reminded me of my deepest, ever-present desire for you, even as the days grew darker and the burden grew heavier.
Come, my breath and my life.
Who would not let me die, who kept the dying fire within me smoldering, kindled, even when I was ready to let it go.
Come, the consolation of my humble soul.
Who led me back to life, to rest, to hope, to delight, to love, to new beginnings.
Come, my joy, my glory, my endless delight.
Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Your love endures forever.

As I wrote this, the snow stopped, clouds moved away, sky became clear and blue, and the sun shone, rising higher.  See!  The "winter" is past.

Stayed in sun room until lunchtime.  Enjoyed lunch, then took shower, started laundry, washed my mug, paid for the retreat, and am now in the library at 1:30 p.m. to pray, enjoy some new reading, and write.  Am holding onto my small, wooden cross from St. James Episcopal....Reading some of Ps. 139 and Mt. 11:28-30 - freely, thank you - couldn't do that yesterday without feeling the old chains (of how I used to interpret the verses in Mt.)

I have enjoyed taking care of my stuff the last 2 days - it started when I saw and appreciated my place set for me at the table.  Then at the next meal I realized that my (cloth) napkin would remain and greet me as I left it, so I folded it more neatly afterward, to care for it and myself - hospitality - making bed, too....I'm finally doing these things in freedom - I want to do them.  Thunder clouds on the horizon - it won't last, you'll get trapped again, etc.  I don't fight them or try to eradicate them, but I do turn away from them, put my head down and look at where my feet are now vs. worrying about the future, and choose not to listen to those thoughts.  (Now I'm learning to actually love, show love to that part of me from where those thoughts come.)

I am clinging to my cross (from St. James)...

A bit hard to read, but this is my "autobiography" of my life with God - landmarks in my spiritual life - SJ asked me to draw it.  The girl at the top/center/right is me when I first became aware of God, and knew him well.  Pic. at top left is when I decided to leave behind what I knew/had been given by my parents, church, etc. and struck out to "find myself" and discover what I really believed.  At first I felt that I leapt off the cliff of safe familiarity into the unknown and God just let me keep falling and wouldn't catch me.  Later I realized I just fell further than I thought I would - God was waiting to catch me the whole time.  Next drawing is my crash in Iowa, same theme, falling further than I expected before being caught, and winding up safe.  Bottom left and center pics are times when I sensed God was wooing me, calling to me to draw closer to him and showing me that he loved me and desired to be close to me.  Bottom right sideways pic is my summer in Sweden, when I was free and there was little in the way of my communion with God.  Above that drawing is me arriving at Manna House, tired, dry, worn to nothing.  Desperately needing healing, rest, and reconnection with God.

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