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

Friday, April 29, 2011

Week VI - Day 4 - Disguised Blessings

 Aeschylus 524 BC- 456 BC
In our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. ~ Aeschylus

I am always humbled when I read such wisdom and rich insight from one who lived so long ago. Aeschylus was a Greek playwright and soldier.  I probably read about him in one of those Early Civ classes I loved at Purdue...

Joyce uses Aeschylus' insight to move me to consider that some of my (our) greatest blessings have been through difficult situations, uncomfortable ones that she suggests I might have wanted to throw out of my life as quickly as possible.  I'm wondering where she will take me with this thought because it feels much like the introduction to the Broken or Chipped Cup....
"Sometimes our greatest pain holds a gift for us that is hidden for a long, long time. The blessing is disguised amid the turmoil, confusion, heartache, and struggle. Sometimes we are unable to accept the blessing because we are still too hurt, too angry, too grieved, too overwhelmed, to receive it." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 143)
Still feeling a bit confused, I began reading the next paragraph and realize now that we are talking about a much deeper brokenness than before.
Loss of any kind must be grieved.
"My brother David drowned at age twenty-three. I was twenty-five a the time. It was fifteen years before I found my gift amidst the grief. It was his death that led me to write about goodbyes, loss, and grief. It was my struggle with this catastrophe that helped me become the writer I am today. I would never say that my brother's death was a blessing, but I can now say that the insights and spiritual growth that eventually came out of the experience were blessings disguised within the sorrow." (Ibid) 
I have seen tremendous gifts of blessing come from heart-wrenching tragedy.  A mother who, with her two children and good friends organize trips to the children's hospital...the same hospital where her own 4 y.o. little girl died.  A mother who collects Pooh-Bears for the children and elderly who come and go from another hospital, in memory of her daughter who died at the age of 18. A 5K Walk/Run to benefit a children's rehab hospital in memory of a 15 y.o. girl who died in very similar circumstances as my own accident twelve years.   ago. I organized my own Mini Marathon two years after my accident to benefit a new women's shelter in my county.  This paragraph could go on and on.

Wrestling with our unwanted life experience.
"Within each struggle, there is a blessing waiting to happen. The biblical passage of Jacob struggling with a messenger of God is a symbolic story of our own struggle with the unwanted parts of our life. All during the long night (the darkness) Jacob wrestles with this unknown figure (our unwanted life experiences). Jacob is wounded in the process (our memory of the experience.) He is wise enough to say to the angel, 'I will not let you go until you bless me.' ('Give me some meaning, some hope, some wisdom from this inner wrestling match.') Jacob goes away limping but he is wiser than he was before the struggle began." (Ibid)
Ohhhh...I don't know.  This is difficult.  Yes, I have seen great good come from tragedy and crises....  Yes, I agree that sometimes the blessing might become disguised for many years, yet I....I don't know how to articulate concern is that the "blessing" becomes the focus and the pain and grieving of the loss.... Personal story...people thought it so great that I had risen above my accident to organize a Mini Marathon to benefit the women's shelter.  What many did not realize was the "busyness" of training for the Mini AND the planning/implementing the Mini kept me from grieving. Joyce writes that it took her fifteen years.  It just seems as though we, today, expect someone to move on quicker...applaud them when they do...and we bypass so much necessary healing.  

I remember hearing how Steven Curtis Chapman would go into his backyard following the death of his five year old daughter and sing praise songs.  He told later that he felt like doing anything but singing praise songs and that his heart was not into the songs.  He often sang, through intense weeping and physical pain.  Looking back, he recognized healing had begun before he even realized.  He remembered one day when suddenly there was a bit of actual praise within his words, I said, in hindsight he realized the lifting of his pain had been going on before that day.

Disguised blessings.  Going through the process of grieving...for any kind of loss is important.  Death, yes...but loss from a disease or an accident, I believe the image/hope one had of a future is a loss. The loss of a relationship, even a bad relationship, there is a loss that needs to be grieved.  The loss of a job, even the loss of a beloved pet... Disguised blessings, yes often do appear, my hope/prayer is that they don't appear before grieving...good grieving...has taken place for me.
"Sometimes the pain of our life doesn't make much sense bu usually disguised blessings eventually come to light when we leave the fray behind and begin to let go of what has brought us so much misery. In the process of healing we begin to see the blessings that are ours. Today is a day to survey an experience that you wish you never had and to see if there might be a blessing hidden within it." (Rupp, p 144)
Breathing in: Divine Wisdom...
Breathing out: ...blessing me, blessing me.

Take your cup in your hands.
Stand and face the East, the direction of awakening, of insight, of new life.
Hold out your cup to God, the Wisdom-Giver.
Receive the wisdom from your disguised blessings.
Then hold the cup to your heart.
Stand for several minutes in quiet union with God.

Scripture: Genesis 32:22-32
Jacob was left alone; and a messenger of God wrestled with him until daybreak. When the messenger saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he stuck him on the hip socket; and Jacob's hip was put out of joint... Then he said, "Let me go..." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go until you bless me." (Gen32:24-26)

Something I wrestle with, try to make sense of, and wonder how it could ever contain a blessing is...
Some of my disguised blessings that I've gradually come to realize are:
All-knowing One, teach me...

Natural disaster seem to be happening somewhere, daily!
Something I wrestle with, try to make sense of, and wonder how it could ever contain a blessing is...  The disasters we have seen so often in the past few weeks.  Earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes.... Children born into poverty and abuse.  The killings that occur in Africa...and other places around the world.

Yes, people come together to work, pray, rebuild.... but at the cost of who and what?  It is one thing for me to go through a struggle/grief and to then become a blessing to someone else...but for a child or an elderly person...anyone to have to be killed or maybe even worse survive, in order to bring out the good in order for blessings to occur??? I struggle with this.  I struggle to think how these things contain a blessing.  I struggle with the feeling of anger that knots in my stomach as I sit here and type about a blessing coming from some of the images that have been burned into my heart during 2011.

Then, the disguised blessing of broken relationships? I can see this, yet, I know there is also a great deal of pain that sometimes never leaves. The Boss's song The River comes to mind. (once again, my eclectic taste in music) The River.  Listening as I think more about Joyce's words...some of the brokenness comes from our choices.  I've already journaled about this.  And...because we make less than good choices, there are opportunities....Bruce goes back to that Memory Cup...
Now those memories come back to haunt me, they haunt me like a curseIs a dream a lie if it don't come trueOr is it something worse that sends meDown to the river though I know the river is dry
Obviously, there is a lot in my heart as I work through this day's devotion!

Some of my disguised blessings that I've gradually come to realize are: Greater empathy. I listen better and am not as judgmental as before. I recognize I was "do-ing" a good Christian before so many things happened to teach me that I was missing the "be-ing" within my actions.  A greater awareness/appreciation for what is truly important while living this part of my on earth.

Obviously, this is a difficult lesson for me to hold in open hands.  I can see me coming back to this again...and maybe even work through some of what Joyce is trying to offer me.  I feel as though I am rambling at this moment.... I almost forgot to write how much I appreciate the thoughts/insights within the Jacob wrestling story...something else I intend to sit with longer...

praying for wisdom...
Holy Wisdom, come with your vast vision. Help me to sift through the rubble of my trying times, to find the teachings that can guide my life. You who see far beyond the devastation, lead me to believe that there might be gifts in what I want to toss away. I offer you my gratitude for all the disguised blessings that are mind.

If an unwanted experience occurs today, I will not toss it out until I struggle to find a blessing in it.

Wow...Joyce is really challenging me today!  I wonder what is hidden in my heart, that is causing such a reaction/knee jerk to her thoughts today? Like I said...this is going to be an ongoing reflection for me!

Still, I carry great hope in my heart and I hope I leave a sense of hope/blessing in my footsteps as I walk through this day.  I've a meeting with a young couple later today.  They want to get married.  Their six month old baby will be the ring bearer.  God, help me to be present with them as we talk.  Help me to be a blessing.

This has been a long posting and I am signing off with a whole host of mixed feelings. To take with me as I move forward into this day...With Hope - Steven Curtis Chapman

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

1 comment:

  1. God is with us even when we do not acknowledge Him or see His hand in the current circumstances. I am so glad that he will never forsake his own.
    May I "be" in my relationship with Christ, so I can know what He calls me to do and not what I am called by this world to feel compelled to finish first.