Tag Archives: healing

"I've been waiting for you."

I had just finished making my purchase at Office Depot and complimented the young cashier on her earrings. I asked if she had made them. She hadn’t, and she told me where she bought them.

“Are they something you would wear?” she asked.

“I would.”

“I have been waiting for you,” she said. “Stay right there.”

She bent down, retrieved a package from the shelf beneath the counter and handed it to me.

I thanked her and walked out of the store with my gift—a small bag containing the same earrings she was wearing and a card with “Thank you” printed on the front and this handwritten message on the inside:

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. -Steve Maraboli.

Pass the kindness on. The world could use it.

She had drawn two hearts on the card and signed her name.

Since that encounter, I keep thinking of her intentionality and thoughtfulness. I am amazed at how planful she was in her act of kindness. It was only random in the sense of her having no idea who would receive it.

That encounter reminded me of a woman I met years ago after her one-woman show performed in a small chapel at my university. I had approached her to thank her for her presentation and we discovered we had both lived in l’Arche communities.

She shared that she decided to move to l’Arche after meeting a man from my community who was visiting her college for a weekend workshop designed for students to learn about l’Arche. She said that Ross had walked right up to her, lightly touched her arm and said, “I have been looking for you.” She knew in that instant that she was supposed to live in l’Arche.

I didn’t tell her that Ross did that to many people, because it did not really matter. What mattered was that she was the one who was open to hearing his message; she was the one who responded to the invitation.

How many of us are waiting for someone to choose us to hear a certain message or receive a gift? How many of us are waiting for an invitation?

Conversely, how can we be instruments of change by acknowledging someone, by inviting others to see in new ways or by acts of kindness?

After I had met the woman from l’Arche, I often thought about how Ross knew which people to approach. I wondered if he had an intuition that certain people were waiting to be asked.

Now I can see that we are all waiting, even if we don’t know it.

I walked into that store with a list of things I needed to buy; I walked out with a deeper understanding of generosity.

I was deeply moved by that young woman’s act of kindness, and I find myself telling this story with a sense of wonder.

Have you had similar experiences? The world could use more kindness, so please share your stories.

God-kindness-generosity

Immerse yourself in love

How big is my God? How loving? Forgiving?

Accepting of me and my many faults?

How small am I? In loving? Forgiving? Accepting?

The empty shells sit at the water’s edge, beyond the reach of the waves, feeling safe.

I can stay there, nursing my brokenness or

I can swim out and join the dolphins, dancing in the water beyond the surf.

Jump in, the vast ocean invites me.

Immerse yourself in love.

Telling our stories

I had a dream the other night that I was facilitating a writing workshop, and I woke up remembering a workshop I facilitated about fifteen years ago called Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography. I enjoyed doing it, but I only did it once. Why is that? And why am I dreaming about a writing workshop now?

As I enter 2020, and get closer to retirement age, I am thinking more seriously about my next act. Is my dream offering direction? Is facilitating writing workshops part of my next act? Does the dream have something to do with my own writing?

God-mindfulness-story

The thing about my dreams is that they are not usually as clear as when an angel appeared in Joseph’s dream and told him to flee to Egypt. My dreams usually need some unpacking; the message is in there somewhere and it is up to me to figure it out.

I used to be in a dream group, and I loved sharing my dreams and having others ask probing questions to help me suss out the meaning of my dreams.

Now when I am trying to figure out the meaning of a dream, I imagine what probing questions my dream group members might ask, and I try to look at my dream through their eyes to see if I can get a different perspective.

I believe dreams carry messages for my waking life, and I try to honor my dreams as part of my spiritual practice, as much as I do prayer and meditation.

God-mindfulness-story

So, about writing.

I have been writing this blog for close to seven years, sharing my story in bits and pieces and gaining clarity about what parts of my story are most important to me.

I know my writing has themes, and that the stories I tell and retell have a message and an invitation to me. Those are the stories that I need to hear because those stories hold deeper meaning and healing for me.

God-mindfulness-story

Each of us has a story to tell, and each of our stories holds healing messages. Sharing our stories helps others to get in touch with their own blessings and brokenness and to gain insight into their own healing.

What invitation do your stories hold for you? How are you sharing your story?

Telling our stories

I had a dream the other night that I was facilitating a writing workshop, and I woke up remembering a workshop I facilitated about fifteen years ago called Writing Your Spiritual Autobiography. I enjoyed doing it, but I only did it once. Why is that? And why am I dreaming about a writing workshop now?

As I enter 2020, and get closer to retirement age, I am thinking more seriously about my next act. Is my dream offering direction? Is facilitating writing workshops part of my next act? Does the dream have something to do with my own writing?

God-mindfulness-story

The thing about my dreams is that they are not usually as clear as when an angel appeared in Joseph’s dream and told him to flee to Egypt. My dreams usually need some unpacking; the message is in there somewhere and it is up to me to figure it out.

I used to be in a dream group, and I loved sharing my dreams and having others ask probing questions to help me suss out the meaning of my dreams.

Now when I am trying to figure out the meaning of a dream, I imagine what probing questions my dream group members might ask, and I try to look at my dream through their eyes to see if I can get a different perspective.

I believe dreams carry messages for my waking life, and I try to honor my dreams as part of my spiritual practice, as much as I do prayer and meditation.

God-mindfulness-story

So, about writing.

I have been writing this blog for close to seven years, sharing my story in bits and pieces and gaining clarity about what parts of my story are most important to me.

I know my writing has themes, and that the stories I tell and retell have a message and an invitation to me. Those are the stories that I need to hear because those stories hold deeper meaning and healing for me.

God-mindfulness-story

Each of us has a story to tell, and each of our stories holds healing messages. Sharing our stories helps others to get in touch with their own blessings and brokenness and to gain insight into their own healing.

What invitation do your stories hold for you? How are you sharing your story?

Overcoming fear

God-fear-trust

Recognizing my fears and moving beyond them has been a big part of my spiritual journey.

Too often, I speak or act out of fear, then feel an interior uneasiness and later wonder what is hiding beneath the fear. What brokenness is waiting to be healed? What understanding needs to be awakened?

I have come to believe that fear is a shackle, and that only trust leads to freedom. My desire is to have nothing to fear, nothing to prove and nothing to hide—to live transparently.

During a recent day-long workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, I thought of times I have felt excluded and was afraid to call attention to my situation. I also thought of times when I was with people who were different from me and was irrationally afraid.

One of the panels that day consisted of four white men—talking about diversity, equity and inclusion. Bad optics, I thought. And as I watched these men, I could almost see their fists clenched as they grasped tightly to their control. I wondered what needs to be healed or awakened in them that would enable them to share the stage with someone who does not look like them.

And then I wondered where in my life I am unwilling to share the stage with someone who does not look like me.

Another workshop session was about being an ally. One of the panelists shared a story of being singled out in a grocery story because her head scarf identified her as a Muslim. A man walked right up to her and called her a terrorist. I was shocked that someone would do that, but apparently it is not that uncommon.

The panelist said that as hurtful as it was for this man to accuse her of being a terrorist, what was even more hurtful was that no one came to her aid—neither to challenge the man nor to offer her support. No one asked if she was ok after the man had walked away. No one was an ally to her in her time of need.

Her story prompted me to consider if I would be willing to stand up to someone who is being confrontational or to stand beside someone who is being confronted—if I could be an ally to someone who is different from me.

Last week, our local newspaper ran a piece about a man wanting to make our county a more welcoming place for people in the LGBTQ community. He is organizing a Pride event. I was both happy that he is doing this and afraid for him. I don’t think of our community as being particularly welcoming toward any minority group, and I imagined his announcement produced some push-back from fearful people.

This week, I happened to meet that man, and I shared my reaction to the newspaper piece. I applauded his courage and offered my support because I, too, want our community to be less fearful and more inclusive.

Seeking

My morning meditation began with a quote from St. Francis: You are that which you are seeking.

What am I seeking? Good question.

Is that the same as, what do I desire?

That reflection led me to the question, what is my deepest desire?

As I pondered that question, the answer appeared: I want to be accepted.

This is not a new thought. I have long known that rejection is my primary brokenness; l’Arche taught me that.

People often asked me why I moved to l’Arche, a community where people with and without developmental disabilities live together in the spirit of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12).

What was the draw for me?

At first, I thought it was because I was already working with people who had disabilities, and this was just a more radical way of living out that mission. (I was trying to find the most radical way to live the Gospel, and this certainly seemed radical.)

As time went on, though, I came to understand my connection with people who had disabilities in a different light.

Jean Vanier, the founder of l’Arche, talked about the rejection people with disabilities can experience. Even at birth, a mother can involuntarily react negatively when told her newborn is disabled. She may change her opinion in time, but that initial reaction can be experienced by the newborn as rejection.

After I left l’Arche, I read How to be an Adult by David Richo, which invited me to discover my original wound. For me, it was rejection.

My mother’s first child was a boy, and she was thrilled. He was the proverbial apple of her eye. The next year, she had a girl—me.

I have often wondered if my mother knew beforehand that she did not want a daughter or if she only realized it when I was born. When the doctor said, “It’s a girl,” did she involuntarily blurt out ugh?

That is something I will never know.

What I have always known, though, is that I was not wanted, that something about me rubbed my mother the wrong way and that from the moment of my birth, she rejected me.

The people who lived in l’Arche seemed to intuitively understand this brokenness in me—much more clearly than I did at the time.

I remember praying in chapel one day and two of the men—both named Ross—entered chapel and sat on either side of me. They bowed their heads and joined me in silent prayer. I had never felt so accepted, so safe. It was as if they, and God, were saying, “We know your hurt, and we accept you as you are.”

In that moment, something cracked inside me. It felt like there had been a glass globe surrounding my wound, and their acceptance shattered the glass.

Their acceptance revealed to me this vulnerable place inside me.

Accepting my vulnerability and embracing my brokenness is what I seek.

What are you seeking? What is your deepest desire?

God-vulnerability-healing

The Mystery of God’s Love

Why God chose me is a mystery—inexplicable and unimaginable, really—but a truth I have known my whole life. Visions, dreams, and intense prayer experiences have all revealed God’s presence in my life and the depth of his love for me.

Living with mystery—accepting it and embracing it—is the invitation God extends to me every day. And I have tried to live by accepting the mystery of how God interacts with me and the ways he intervenes in my life.

Until recently, I have held my “God moments” as private, but now I feel invited to share them. This is a shift in my thinking, and as I reflect on it, I think of Moses in the desert for forty years. I was twenty-one when I started having mystical visions and sixty-one when I started blogging about my spiritual journey.

God-mysticism-spirituality

As a child, I felt a strong connection to Jesus and a deep desire to grow in my relationship with him. But at twenty-one, I went through a very dark period in my life and was in deep emotional pain. Unhealthy relationships and overindulging in alcohol were the outward signs of my pain, and, at the same time, I started to attend daily Mass to pray for a conversion.

“I want to be zapped like Saint Paul,” I told my pastor. He was quite certain that would not happen and encouraged me to be diligent in daily prayer and to keep turning away from unhealthy behaviors and relationships.

Then at the end of Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest said, “Go now, cleansed in mind and body, to love and serve the Lord.”

Cleansed in mind and body was exactly what I was not.

I began to cry and knelt to pray: “Please, God, cleanse me.” As I prayed, I saw in a vision a large sword cutting me open, and I watched as all kinds of darkness and filth spilled out. It was like a river flowing out of me until I was empty.

I felt gutted, as though there was nothing left to me. The space that had been filled with so much darkness was now ready to receive light.

God-mysticism-spirituality

All of a sudden, I felt free, and I knew God had zapped me with grace.

“God zapped me,” I shouted to my pastor as I left church, tears of joy running down my cheeks. He conceded that God did sometimes “zap” people, but he cautioned that I would still need to be diligent in prayer and monitor my behavior.

I remember the reactions of people at work that morning. Apparently being “zapped” by God’s grace was visible because all day I was asked what had happened to me. “You are glowing,” people commented.

I wish I could say that experience signaled the end of my dark days, but it took years before I could completely turn away from destructive behaviors—years of prayer and lots of therapy.

But that Ash Wednesday vision and the experience of knowing God’s love and compassion stayed with me and helped me trust the mystery of God’s love.