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, May 12, 2011

Little - Great - One, Come Home - III

Sarah Young
"Learn to relate to others through My Love rather than yours. Your human love is ever so limited, full of flaws and manipulation. My loving Presence, which always enfolds you, is available to bless others as well as you. Instead of trying harder to help people through your own paltry supplies, become aware of My unlimited supply, which is accessible to you continually. Let My Love envelop your outreach to other people." ~ Sarah Young

33 Miles, is a new group to me, which is one of the things I so love about doing this journal! I have become acquainted with so many great people and artists! Again, I literally stumbled across this song, looking for something else. Being curious, I listened and thought, "Interesting, but it doesn't really fit." But then, a small voice asked me to listen again...

OMG! I thought, "This would have been so perfect a few weeks ago!" 

"Listen again, Sandi." The lyrics for this song may be found at this site. The song, Jesus Calling...
You see there's always another story, another side to every coin
And how you see your circumstance is all about a choice...
What do you see when you look at your world today?
Do you see a glimmer of hope, or has it all turned to gray?...
Because the darker the night, the brighter He can shine...

An FYI.....I attended my presbytery's quarterly meeting yesterday.  For many many reasons, I have not been a frequent attendee the last two years so I had much to catch up on and many to greet.  One man, upon learning that I was journaling on Macrina's book shared that her last name is pronounced like "Whi-da-cker." Alan had attended school in Alabama, near Macrina's monastery. Smiling, he told me she is a really big deal in Alabama.

Moving on....I have read Macrina's insights on Hansel and Gretel over and over again.  I love these new ideas on looking at popular fairy tales! While I have known Fables have a deeper meaning, I honestly had not considered looking for anything other than a fanciful story within fairy tales.  Oh, how I wish I had followed my heart all those years ago at Purdue and gone into something like journalism instead of suffering through organic chemistry!

Again, the idea that the evil stepmother is Macrina's false self is not a new idea for me. I have journaled about my Gremlin or  Demon that gives me false information that can cause fear, reactions...behavior that keeps me from wholeness or emotional and spiritual health.  I recognized this Gremlin when I worked through course work from Coachville.  I even worked through a workbook on Taming Your Gremlin. Whether one thinks of this false self as an evil stepparent or a Gremlin, we all have a voice that tells us there isn't enough, I need to be afraid, I'm not good enough, you don't know enough..... Depending on how healthy one is emotionally and spiritually determines how loud that voice sounds in one's head and heart. And yes, thinking of myself as "my home", my false self does its best to drive "me" away from my source of peace, joy, and love.  Macrina says, "That evil stepparent often succeeds in driving me from my family, my friends, my church, my community, myself, my God."
I have chosen to give the evil  stepparent
 its power by choosing to not care for myself

Evidently, Macrina's faith journey within the Church has not always been easy.  I was so glad to hear someone, especially someone like Macrina, articulate many of the same struggles that have accompanied me!
"Leave your community; you'll never find the love you really need to grow there. Leave your church; it has lost the vision of the simple Christ. I am even, in some strange way, asked to leave myself. I do that by not believing in my gifts, by comparing myself to others, by allowing discouragement to control me. Every invitation to self-pity is an invitation to leave the home of myself. Every time I reach out to embrace power, people, possessions in an exclusive kind of way, I leave a little. I become a little more lost and in need of homecoming." (Wiederkehr, A  Tree Full of Angels, p 9)
I appreciate that word, "AGAIN".
 I have felt and experienced all those thoughts and reactions!  And, I have often beat myself up afterward for thinking such things, which is simply another way my Gremlin/Demon keeps me from my true self, from God. Yet, all is not lost!  Remember, we worship a God of Second Chances!

In the Hansel and Gretel story the second chance is provided by the crumbs they have dropped to HELP THEM GET HOME!  Why have I never seen this message to "my self" before! I could blame my Gremlin/Demon, but that is giving it power.  So, I will accept responsibility by admitting I have chosen to not the time.
"...I've remembered that it's truth I want, not lies. Like Hansel and Gretel I dropped crumbs along the way, hoping, often subconsciously, to find my way back home. The crumbs are the memories of all the good that was mine at home, of all the good that was mine even in a home that was not perfect. My time of being lost, those times when the birds ate the crumbs, turns out in the end to be a marvelous time of growth for me. On the way home I discover both my need and my strength. Coming home is a process. I find the way on the way." (Wiederkehr, p 9) 
 I used a song by Laura Story recently called Blessing.

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home
 ~ Laura Story

My best growing has often occurred during pain and through raindrops. Part of me wishes that was not so, I wish I would be healthy when raindrops fall so that I don't get lost!  But again, that is my Demon talking.  Telling me that I do fail, that I do get lost, that I am "little"...  My self rejoices that, "YES! You are 'little' because in my recognition of my "littleness" I can recognize my "greatness"! Praise be to God! And it is from this place, that like Macrina, I find the strength to shove that witch (Demon) in the oven, to take charge of my true self and begin the process of finding my way home.

Again, I have never linked the story of Gretel shoving the witch into the furnace with the fire of scripture, but it is an interesting thought!  She writes, "...all that is preventing us from being at home in our own and God's heart must be burned away." (Ibid)

Macrina compares tales and myths with parables in that they have been used as vehicles to teach a truth that is too deep for ordinary words. 
"Our invitation to become one with God is too deep for ordinary words. How do we talk about a call to be like God? The early Christians were much more concerned about being divinized than about keeping laws. Sadly, somewhere a long our historical journey we got preoccupied with law and doing things that would keep us out of hell. We lost sight of our original union with God and the continuing call to be like God. In fact, we became so busy keeping out of hell that we forgot we were on the way to heave. We started loving God for the gifts we would receive or the punishment we avoid...What about wonder and possibility of being simply and utterly in love..." (Wiederkehr, p 10)
The Church talks about being like a child, but do I fully appreciate what that means.  I have normally thought of having the wonder and the trust of a small child.  Macrina invites me to consider the "freedom" of an infant who has nothing to boast! To be so little that I did not protest when good was being done for me. I did not refuse when gifts were being given to me.  There were moments or receptivity when I acknowledged my helplessness. But, then I grew up and became "smarter and independent".

In my independence, I was no longer able to experience my poverty acceptance. I did begin to fight it so that my littleness lost its power and its meaning. "It became something to deny and run from rather than a way of be-ing, .... as a beggar waiting for each moment's new gifts." 

Yes, Joyce! I do remember those lessons from The Cup of Life!

When I recognize and appreciate my gift of "littleness" I can become a grateful Child of God by yearning to be fed, to be led, to be cared for...
"It is pure gift to be able to recognize our littleness as valuable. We are a treasure waiting to be discovered. We are often the very last to discover the treasure of ourselves." (Wiederkehr, p 10)
I know this! I've been taught this truth since I was very little! Yet, I did not fully appreciate where I was in this parable or those other wonderful parables from Matthew 13:1-52.

Because I am a treasure, God did not hesitate to go all out in order to purchase me, which means this ache, this emptiness in my heart is also felt by God.  Again, I know that from scripture.  Hosea especially shows God as a Lover whose heart aches: Listen to this truth as Eugene Peterson paraphrases Hosea 11:3-9:
1-9 "When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, 'My son!'—called him out of Egypt.
But when others called him,
   he ran off and left me.
He worshiped the popular sex gods,
   he played at religion with toy gods.
Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim.
   I rescued him from human bondage,
But he never acknowledged my help,
   never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon,
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek,
   that I bent down to feed him.
Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria—
   anything but return to me!
That's why his cities are unsafe—the murder rate skyrockets
   and every plan to improve things falls to pieces.
My people are hell-bent on leaving me.
   They pray to god Baal for help.
   He doesn't lift a finger to help them.
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim?  

  How can I turn you loose, Israel?
How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah,
   devastated like luckless Zeboim?
I can't bear to even think such thoughts.
   My insides churn in protest.
And so I'm not going to act on my anger.
   I'm not going to destroy Ephraim.
And why? Because I am God and not a human.
   I'm The Holy One and I'm here—in your very midst.

"What God most longs to discover in us is our willingness to embrace ourselves as we are at our beginning - empty, little, and God free space within us to work out the Divine Plan..Our littleness is not a choice. Our greatness, however, is a choice. ...when we allow God to fill our emptiness, we are choosing greatness." (Ibid)
Leviticus 11:45 -  45 I am the LORD, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.
1 Peter 1:15 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;
John 14:1212 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Macrina reminds me that I am called to be a saint. "Why not" she asks, "have you not felt the stirring of the Divine deep within?"

Along with this reminder, she also gives me a warning that I cannot become preoccupied with my littleness because that leads to discouragement just as if I become preoccupied with my greatness that can only lead to disillusionment. Littleness will cause me to despair and greatness will cause those around me to despair!

How do I know what is healthy?
Yet another truth of Littleness and
Greatness from Kakuro Okakura
"The difference between healthy and unhealthy is the difference between embracing and wallowing in. What we wallow in will make us sick; what we embrace will make us whole." (Wiederkehr, p 13)
Home.  Come Home Little-Great-One!

What is home but the merging of our lost selves? What is home but our divided selves finally embracing? Our "house" is no longer abandoned. We have entered and we hear a voice saying, "Come home, Little-Great-One! Hansel and Gretel, come home. The birds have not eaten all the crumbs. Gather up the crumbs and come home!"

God, O my God, I do long to come home to you and to myself. Thank you for the gift of Macrina's words, her insights and her challenge to me. Thank you for the blessedness and the gift of crumbs that are like a feast. Bless my efforts of gathering the crumbs.  AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

P.S. Another "crumb" a Poem by Macrina that can be found on p. 13-14 of her book:

A Magnificat for Coming Home
O Most Creative One, ever bringing me to new life
O Most Powerful One, empowering me for life's journey
O Indwelling One, calling me to my Center
O Beloved One, loving me as I am.

Have you noticed I'm coming home?
I have seen you, the All-Seeing One who sees me
I can remain away from home no longer
I just want to be there in you who are in me
for I have hear your call,
Make your home in Me
I can stay away from home no longer.

My soul proclaims the wonder of your friendship
My spirit is weeping within me for joy
My heart spills out tears with delight
They mix with my joy and I tremble
feeling totally claimed by your love.

You showed me that your home was within me
that living in me was your joy
I wept still more tears at the thought
of you in me and I in you,
A dwelling place I am, I kept saying
A home for the God of my life
My soul has turned into heaven
I am little and great all in one.

And then from within me, your voice came
giving me a name that was new
Little-Great-One, you called out, Come closer
Little-Great-One, Beloved, Come home
Come home to the truth that you are
Little-Great-One, you called out, Come closer
Little-Great-One, you kept saying, Come home.

You cam with your all to my nothing
With such a reverence you called out my name
You lifted me back into my poverty
the littleness I was trying to escape
Embracing that poverty, I felt wealthy
I was free at last to be great.

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