Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Week IV - Day 1 - Joy and Sorrow

A broken cup cannot receive.
I don't know if Joyce's poems or her insights are my favorite part of this book.  I look forward to her poem at the beginning of each new week, and the poem beginning Week IV is not a disappointment.  Simple words, yet they create thoughts and images that stir my heart and mind.

"Love pours out but the broken cup cannot receive

 Love that strengthens, heals, restores.
           "too pained, too discouraged, too shamed, too brokenhearted, too burned out, too lonely, too disenchanted

"Love waits to strengthen, Love waits to nourish, Love waits to be received, Love waits to heal

"in time the cup will be mended, in time the cup will be raised, in time the cup will receive again

"in time, in time ~ Joyce Rupp (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 90)

The most helpful discovery of today has been that right in the midst of my sorrows there is always room for joy. Joy and sorrow are sisters; they live in the same house. ~ Macrina Wierderkehr

Powerless/Without Hope/Vulnerable
Joyce shares the story of a woman battling depression.  I know I have had my own bouts of depression, I wonder how many of us walking up and down the streets every day, are suffering from some form of this despair or sadness.  Yet, I know there is a difference between "being" depressed and "suffering" from depression.

Joyce speaks of the natural cycles that make up life and that these cycles will not always be to our liking.
"Just as the trees have their seasons of blooming and barrenness, just as the land has its fruitful time and its fallow time, so does the human spirit." (Rupp, p 91)
Joyce gets back into the issue of "control" as she talks about this woman.
"Feeling powerless and vulnerable taught her that she could not always control every aspect of her life no matter how hard she tried. She learned that it took more effort to fight against the unwanted inner visitors than it did to listen to them. The memory of her brokenness helped her to accept the balance of life with its joy and its sorrow." (Ibid)
Joyce writes that this woman still experiences difficulties, but now she knows that these things are part of life's cycle and that they will eventually pass.  She understands that each has something to significant to bring into her life.

At this point...I cannot argue this.  It feels a lot like what I have been journaling about for the past few days. I have questioned if we must suffer brokenness in order to grow.

Yesterday, I said I thought I had become stronger through my brokenness.  My friend did not like the terms "stronger/strength", but today, I think strength is still my choice of words. Strength, not in terms of physical strength, but inner strength that gives me a focus and courage.

I preached about Jesus praying in Gethsemane a few weeks ago and I thought of the inner strength he possessed to have stayed focused to God's plan. Now, this is "my" thinking.  I know others would have a different response, and I honor those as well.

Joyce asks me if it is possible to accept the difficult seasons along with the joyful ones...

Honestly, there is a part of me that would rejoice if I were told I would have no more suffering, no more pain...yet, I know in my heart that each time I have been challenged, I have grown...

Joy/Pain - Bondage/Freedom
Laughter/Tears - Dark/Light
   Breathing in: Joy and sorrow...
   Breathing together

Pick up your cup and look inside.
Visualize a deep joy of yours in the cup.
Now, visualize a deep pain of yours also in the cup.
Let these two be there, intermingled into oneness.
Hold the cup to your heart.
Let this gesture be a willingness of yours to accept and to learn from both joy and sorrow.

Without death, there cannot be life.
Scripture: John 12:20-26; John 16:25-33
Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
You will have pain, but your pain will turn to joy.

Ask Jesus: "What helped you in your difficult times?" Listen. Write what he responds

Joy and Sorrow have taught me...

When I consider "listening to my pain," I...

One of the women at the Wednesday Lunch Bunch shared that through her reading of The Cup of Life, she had become strong (there's that word again) to say, "No." to two requests for her time. I appreciate how huge this was for her since I struggle from the same "Yes, I can do that..." disease.

We spent time talking about the inner joy she felt having gained the courage to do what was right for her, AND the sense of sadness/sorrow/guilt that was also present.  I asked, "Why is it so hard for us to say, no?" Another woman exclaimed, "Because I hate to disappoint someone."

Ohhhh, "Why do you hate to disappoint someone?"

After a few moments of weak explanations she finally admitted, "Because I feel bad."

We laughed at the irony.  We often "feel bad" because we have agreed to do something...feel bad in the sense that we feel overwhelmed, tired, stressed, sometimes a bit angry...

Yet, one reason we continue to say, "yes" is because we "feel bad" when we say, "no"!

Do you see how we set ourselves up!!!

Some of my difficult times have been self inflicted.  For instance, my overwhelm, sadness, fatigue at this moment, have all been self-inflicted because I said, "Yes" to many times.  But the bright spot in this difficult time is that I am learning! I to have said, "No" more since being on this Lenten journey. Saying "No" I have learned two things:

  1. I felt a sense of freedom, openness, joy in my heart! I felt as though I had a new strength that allowed me to continue working toward health and wholeness.
  2. I have caused other people to be hurt, angry, disappointed... because I acted out of character, out of my obsession to please.
So, I have had this learning.  How can I apply it to deeper joy and deeper pain?  I think that is the question for me to hold within the journaling questions.

Ask Jesus: "What helped you in your difficult times?"

What keeps coming to my mind is a verse from the fourth verse of Psalm 23:
Jesus walked...knowing
the glory at the end.
Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure. 

It doesn't say "stand", it says "walk".  That is an action word.  I am not stuck in that dark place...I am moving through it.  It is when I lose my focus on the Light, that I become stuck.  Like Peter, walking on the water. While he was looking straight ahead, to his ultimate goal....he was fine!  It was when he began to pay attention to the "chaos" around him, that he began to sink.

Jesus asked that the cup be removed, yet through his practice of prayer and study, he was able to do the Father's will.  He trusted God that good would come.  He trusted he would not be left in the pain and sorrow...that joy would come again.

"Listening to my pain"...

There have been times that "Listening to my pain" would have given me insight as to why I was suffering.  Mentally, emotionally, physically....I am no longer a 30 y.o. woman!  When I ignore my weaknesses, I end up suffering the consequences.  

He who knows not and knows he knows not, is simple - Teach him
He who knows not and knows not he knows not, is a fool - Avoid him
He who knows and knows not he knows is asleep - Wake him
He who knows and knows he knows is wise - Follow him

He who knows and knows
he knows is wise - Follow him
Even though Jesus had an important message, he still took time to get away from the crowd to pray.  Mark tells us that "the whole town" was at the door, and that Jesus "healed many"!  At some point, Jesus walked away.  Later, the disciples find him and exclaim, "JESUS! What are you doing here? EVERYONE is looking for you!"

And Jesus replied, "Come, we are going to another town."

Jesus recognized his strengths and his weaknesses as a man.  He listened to and appreciated the limitations of his physical body and mind. The people of the town were looking for him, he could have experienced great joy by staying...yet, he knew that joy is fleeting... 

Joy and Sorrow...Wiederkehr says they are "Sisters."

Life/Death.  Joy/Sorrow.

I cannot have one without the other!

Avalon expresses very well. Where Joy and Sorrow Meet

Prayer: God of joy and sorrow, help me to do less judging of my life experiences as "good" or "bad" and to do more receiving of them as a part of the process of spiritual growth. I trust that you will be my faithful companion and that you will strengthen me during my difficult times. Help me to grow through all of the seasons of my life. (Rupp, p 93)

Joyce asks that I look for and listen to what joy and sorrow are teaching me today.  

Lord, I will do this with the help and guidance of Spirit...of Wisdom...of Love.  AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

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