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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Week IV - Day 5 - Recognizing Resistances

Benedictine Sister, Macrina Wiederkehr
"I am entirely ready to have the chains that keep me bound be broken. I am entirely ready for the walls I've built around myself to be torn down. I am entirely ready to give up my need to control every situation. I am entirely ready to let go of my resentments. I am entirely ready to grow up." ~ Macrina Wiederkehr

This is the same woman who said Joy/Sorrow were sisters and lived in the same house.  I became curious about Macrina Wiederkehr . I learned  is an author and spiritual guide and a Benedictine monastic of St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Frederic Brussat says of Macrina, "she is a master at everyday spirituality."

I have been wondering who/what I might read when I finish The Cup of Life...Macrina definitely has a way with simple words and images...

"...I am entirely ready to grow up." ...I am trying to live into this statement.

Last night I shared a story from Jack Kornfield with a friend that has to do with the slow and painful process of spiritual transformation.  I was surprised, yet at this point I shouldn't be, to see Jack's name in the first paragraph of today's reading.  Jack's stories contain figures/individuals that are simple enough they connect AND STAY in my memory banks.  Their plight, like the story of the father and son, are normally intense and full of symbolism and truth. 
"In this story, the father resists the truth that can bring him joy and freedom from his loss because he clings so much to what he thinks is the truth." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 102)
Another truth...When we are in pain, we can easily live with illusions. Joyce writes, We may think such things as "No one loves me. No one cares. I will never feel happy again. It was all my fault. I can't do that. I don't know enough yet," etc.

A familiar picture, why don't
I pull it up when I'm hurting?
The beginning of healing may be knocking on the door of our heart, like the son knocking on the door of his father's house, AND we refuse to let it in because of our resistance.

Joyce continues to nudge my heart with her words...
"Our resistance can take many other forms as well. They might be a silent withdrawal, apathy, running away, talking incessantly, defending and challenging, constantly being busy, ignoring or pretending not to understand, being critical, or making excuses. Resistance is like placing a hand over the opening of the cup. Nothing can come into or be poured out of the cup. So, too, with our spiritual life. (Ibid)

This past Sunday the lectionary reading was the raising of Lazarus.  Martha believed her brother would rise again in the final days...but not then.  "Lord, he has been in the tomb four days! There is a stench!"

I offered the thought that resurrection [transformation] is not always clean.  Sometimes things have to get messy for resurrection [transformation] to occur.  When I wrote that sentence, I was thinking of all the writing, thoughts, sometimes pain...of this Lenten journey.

Joyce asks me to consider the hard questions: "Is there anything in your life that you think cannot be restored to life? Are there any blocks to your spiritual growth?"
We "choose" whether to hang on
or to let go and receive healing.

Breathing in: Let go...
Breathing our: ...let go.

Hold your cup in your hands.
Place one hand over the open space of the cup.
Reflect on your resistances and refusals.
How do these block your openness to growth?
Picture yourself held in God's hands.
Lossen your grip on your worries and insecurities.
Listen to God speak to you about trust.
Take your hand off your cup.
Notice how ready it is now to receive.
Hold the cup to your heart.
Stand and make a deep bow as a sign of your surrender to God.
Roll back the stone...

Scripture: John 11:1-44
Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days."

One excuse I often give for not growing spiritually is...
I cling to and clutch onto... I push away...
Dear Life-Giver

What surprises me is how willing and open I am to discovering and reflecting on symbolism from other faith stories, yet when I read my own sacred scriptures....I just read the story or the account!

Martha was resistant to having the stone rolled away from Lazarus tomb, and Joyce asks me to think about what I am resistant to moving.  In a days the Church will be celebrating the resurrection of Christ.  Several years ago those coming to a Sunrise Service were given stones as they waited outside the locked church doors.  They were asked to think about what stone they needed to roll away in order to meet the resurrected Christ.  As they came through the door, nearly two hundred "butterflies" floated above their heads.  A basket was available to drop their stone into as they entered the worship space with the choir singing "Were You There?"

I've admitted I struggle remember what I preached three weeks ago, so obviously, even though I was involved in the planning and the making/hanging of A LOT of butterflies, that morning had a tremendous impact on my heart.

The Excuse Game....
The excused Joyce listed?  I am a master of several!  My favorites are:

  • I don't know enough.
  • I can't do that.
  • constantly being busy
  • being critical
I am still carrying my Trust Stone I made several days ago, so learning/leaning into "trust" has been a near-by companion.  Through Joyce's thoughts, my own reflections and writings, tangible things like my cup and stone...I am s-l-o-w-l-y working through the transformation of which I have yearned.

 I am part of a group from my presbytery that will be offering a One Day, Lead Like Jesus, Encounter.  The day long event will be based on Ken Blanchard's book Lead Like Jesus. I had been GUN HO for this leadership training, yet as we have prepared for the event, my heart is less involved.  I have tried to think what has happened to my enthusiasm and it occurred to me that everything that engaged my heart in the lessons to begin with, has been replaced with technical stuff, critically analyzing...

"I" feel as though we have gone from offering a chance of transformation to a feel day event.  I'm not sure what we could be doing differently, but the technical stuff has pushed out my heart.  And I think that is a lesson for me to remember in terms of transformation.  It isn't a quick fix!  "Read this...and BE TRANSFORMED!"

It is work.  It requires a lot of soul/heart searching.  It is SLOW and if I let it become crowded out of my "cup"...the growing will stop because either my cup is full or I have placed my hand over the top of my cup.

Dear Life-Giver...I continue to yearn for a place, a group, a community that is looking for more than "head knowledge".  Lord, I yearn for relationship with you, and I know this occurs not only by my own study and reflection, but also within community. I know transformation does not occur by simply being with people who think like I do...believe like I believe...  Transformation occurs when I am willing to hold my own thoughts/beliefs and honor those of another, listening to their thoughts AND their questions with an open heart. You have asked that I trust you.  My Brother and Friend, it is difficult, yet I am making strides! I ask that you continue to hold me close and to help me be aware of your voice/your wisdom within the voice of others.  Whether it be face-to-face, within blog comments, with reading, nature, or music...I know you continue to reach out to me...teaching me in all the ways that connect to my heart. Thank You... AMEN.

I haven't been sure what I am searching for in terms of a worship song this morning.  I keep coming back to this, but the setting has felt a bit edgy...I finally sat watching the all those woshipping together and decided maybe I was a bit "jealous" that "they" had found such a place.  Again, I yearn for such a place...a community that wants to delve into scripture not to be "smarter" but to be transformed by relationship with the Divine.

Prayer: God of truth, help me to discover my resistance to growth. Shine your light on my illusions. Uncover my fears. Reveal my strongholds. Soften my grip on my security. Open my closedness. Lead me to greater freedom and inner healing. (Rupp, p 103)

Today, Joyce asks that I notice the excuses I make for avoiding the things that I dislike doing, and then I will do one of these things that I dislike.

Ummm, I know what my day holds, and I know that if I do what I have said I will do...I will accomplish this! Now, my challenge is to do more than simply do it so I can check it off a list.  What can I learn? How might I do this in a way that isn't as stressful?

Ordinary/Everyday life is full of lessons and opportunities to be more aware of the presence of the Divine and how I fit/work/live within that presence in those moments.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. More than once on my way, I have left on the search for the type of community that you speak of. Sometimes I have found it, sometimes...I have not. I yearn to be in that community at this point in my life, yet I know that where I have been when I have found it before does not fit my current situation. May the Spirit continue to lead us as we work to know Jesus more. I cannot begin to know how much time this blog takes for you to complete. Please know that you have an audience of at least 2 (although I am not really the audience that matters.)