Tag Archives: blind spot

heart-prayer-vulnerability

Still noticing what I notice

My annual retreats can have long-lasting effects, and some themes from this year’s retreat continue to affect me. One theme was to notice what I notice; another was my heart and how I over-protect it.

A few weeks ago, I was searching for images related to prayer when an image of a partially-covered heart caught my attention.heart-prayer-vulnerabilityI kept coming back to this image, even though it was not what I had been seeking. But something in that heart was speaking to me, drawing me in. It was as if God was whispering to me, reveal your heart.

Perhaps God was using this image to remind me of the connection between my heart and prayer and how I need to be more vulnerable in prayer. Perhaps God was using this image as an invitation to open my heart to God and to the people I see every day.

I find my heart being stirred as I listen to the stories of people at the cancer support center where I work. Listening, I think, requires a soft heart, one that can hear without judgment, one that can hold pain and suffering alongside gratitude and hope.heart-prayer-vulnerabilityI have come to believe that most people who come to our center want to be heard as much as anything else. They want to talk about their fears and anxieties and hopes. They want to be acknowledged and affirmed.

My role is to listen to what is being said and to listen even more deeply to what is not being said. I try to pause before I speak, and I am learning to ask more questions than to offer answers. I hear myself asking, “What do you think it means?” or saying, “Tell me more about that.” And then I listen.heart-prayer-vulnerabilitySometimes, things seem much clearer to me than they seem to be to the person sitting in front of me. A significant weight loss or a change in skin color can indicate something has changed, even though the person may be unaware or in denial. Is it my job to say what I notice? I wonder.

It is so much easier to see things in others than in myself; my blind spots keep my own truths hidden. But, I believe that God is clueing me into my blind spots by what I notice in others—and inviting me to reflect back on my own issues.

So, for example, when I am particularly aware of someone being critical or judgmental, I ask myself if that awareness is connected to my own tendencies to be critical or judgmental. When I notice someone being impatient, I check my own level of patience; the same goes for fear or anger or resentment or….

Noticing what I notice helps slow me down and pay attention what is in front of me—whether it is a word in scripture or an image on my computer or someone sharing their fears. God continues to invite me to slow down and notice.
heart-prayer-vulnerability

 

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The gift of my journal

Even though it has been more than two years since I moved to Michigan, I can sometimes still feel as though I am in transition and not completely settled in. It may be because the move piled grief on top of grief or because there has been transition within transition since the move—or both.

In my prayer, I have been asking what God has planned for me and I wonder if, for some reason, I am missing something—some new opportunity that will help me feel more settled. What I know for sure is that my life here does not look like my life did in Pennsylvania.

It occurs to me, though, that the primary reason for moving to Michigan was to be near my family, so it was inevitable that my new life would not look like my old one. I had no family in Pennsylvania.

Here, though, I have both planned get-togethers with my family (holidays, birthdays, weddings, etc.) and also those wonderful, unexpected encounters that can happen because I live nearby.

Last week, I was at the car dealership waiting for my car to get serviced when one of my nephews walked in. He, too, was having his car serviced there. It was a total surprise to see him, and the time we spent together in casual conversation was pure gift.

Last summer, another nephew was working on a road construction project near my home and I stopped to chat with him when I happened to pass by on my bike.

Another day last summer, when a friend was visiting from Pennsylvania, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant in Detroit and there sat one of my sisters and her husband. “That could never happen in Philadelphia,” my friend said. “No,” I agreed, “it could not.”

Yet here, the possibility for chance encounters exists, and each encounter delights me. Every one of these chance meetings affirms that moving here was right for me and reminds me how blessed I am to be here.

My New Year’s Eve tradition is to read my journal from the past year. This year, I was amazed at how many times my family appeared in my journal. Monthly sisters’ dinners, watching my niece figure skate, kayaking with my brother and sister-in-law, attending bridal and baby showers, another niece’s wedding, and many more family events fill the pages of my journal and filled my heart with gratitude as I reflected on them.

I don’t know why I could not see it before, but I am grateful for the lens that my journal offered me. Through it, I can see how my family connections and interactions have helped shape my new life and added a dimension that was unfamiliar to me. I can now see that I am actually quite settled and that I have the life I hoped for when I moved here.