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, September 9, 2011

I Wonder, I Wonder.... Symbolic Presence

If God had wanted to be a big secret, He would not have created babbling brooks and whispering pines.  ~Robert Brault

In honor of my saxophonist beloved brother who is recuperating from a procedure that will hopefully "fix" the problems with his head...

How Great Thou Art by Mr. P a saxophonist from San Diego.

Today I have been working to catch up from a hectic week of a my grand-baby being born, of a brother trying to discover solutions to the issues going on in his brain, of leading a Bible study, other regular responsibilities plus creating bulletins and two messages for two separate services this coming Sunday.

Feeling like I needed something to recenter my thoughts, I picked up Robert Hamma's book Earth's Echo - Sacred Encounters With Nature and read where my page opened.  With this reading, I moved from The Desert to The River that began with "Paying Attention" to the thoughts of Roger Housden:
"I had last seen the Ganges some years before, at Hardiwar. Chloe, my partner, and I had rented a room in the tourist bungalow. One day we were sitting watching the river through the open door. The cleaner emerged from along the corridor and crept into our room with his brown reed brush. He was stooped, older than his years, a sad little man. I was prompted to ask if he had a family. "Yes," he said, and then, after a pause, "but wife sick and children too. No money for medicines, very difficult." He made to start his work and then as if remembering something, he turned and pointed through the door to the river. "But Ma Ganga will take care of us." Without another word, he began sweeping the floor, 
"I had never heard of anyone speak of a river that way before. For this man, the Ganges was a living presence, a protector, a healer of ills."
"Pondering" (remember....Hamma's book is another lesson in Lectio Divina)

With the thoughts of Housden's reflection on Ma Ganges, Hamma writes:
"There is a story in the New Testament about a Roman centurion who approaches Jesus to ask for a healing of his servant. When Jesus agrees to go to the house, the centurion says that is not necessary. Jesus need only give the command and his servant will be healed. To this, Jesus remarks in amazement that nowhere else has he found such faith.  
"Often, it seems that the most awe-inspiring power is indeed the power of faith. For the aged Hindu man described by Roger Housden in this story, the river inspired such a faith. For him, the river was a compassionate presence. In it he recognized the benevolent goodness at the heart of life, even in the midst of his struggle and suffering. Ma Ganga was a spiritual mother to him, and he placed his trust in her." (Robert M. Hamma, Earth's Echo, p 131)
Tuesday, I led a Bible Study on Sarai, Abram's wife.

I felt as though the author of the study was a bit hard on Sarai and Abram at times.  I reminded the women participating in the study that 1. Both Abram and Sarai were new to this one God thing. 2. They did not have a Bible or even writings to guide them and give them insight. With this in mind, I wonder if Abram's character would have seen the God that was speaking to him within his surroundings?  Would he have stood watching the setting sun, and felt the blessing of God flowing over his head?  Would he have stood looking out at the vastness of his surroundings and considered the awesomeness of God?

I wonder how much he prayed to this God?  Obviously, as they entered Egypt and he warned Sarai to say she was his sister, he was not relying on the God he followed from Ur to protect him without him making his own precautions.  I wonder if Sarai prayed to this God asking for a child? If she did, she either didn't hear a response or she didn't believe God's promise since she decided Hagar could provide Abram with a child.  I wonder if this couple sensed Sacred Presence within their surroundings?

Unlike Abram and Sarai, I have a record of God's moving within and between the people of this world, yet I all to often also try to create my desired results.  Still, like Abram...I continue to learn and grow in my faith.  Still, like Abram, I continue to grow in my trust.
"Such a faith is awe-inspiring. I imagine that the Roman centurion only arrived at such faith because he allowed himself to be touched by the Jewish preacher. When he did, he must have discovered the embers of faith being fanned into a flame within him. So too the Hindu man must have sensed a loving presence in the river, inviting him to trust, to be hopeful when no reasonable hope existed."
So too the Hindu man must have sensed a loving presence in the river, inviting him to trust, to be hopeful when no reasonable hope existed.  I wonder if it was such a presence that invited the "hope", the "trust" that was beneath and within the story of Abraham taking Isaac to be sacrificed?
"Looking at a majestic river is awe-inspiring. But what flows out of that awe within me? It is easy to walk away with a sense of nature's power and beauty. But it takes a deeper sensitivity for me to allow that awe to evolve into trust. This only happens when I recognize that the river is a symbolic presence, through which the goodness and compassion that ever holds the world, holds me too, safely in her arms."
Oooo...this hits me between the eyes.  Daily, I find myself pausing to notice beauty and power within nature, yet...I struggle with trust.  I struggle with releasing my illusion of control to the symbolic presence that causes me to stop and pause.  Hamma's words, "...through which the goodness and compassion that ever holds the world, holds me too, safely in her arms." is a powerful image.

"Responding"  Hamma writes a short verse:
"I am blessed in your presence,  for you speak softly to me,  inviting me to trust,  offering me hope.
Let me stay by your side, and learn the subtleties of your voice, as you fill my awe with peace, and draw me beyond passivity.
Say but a word,  and my soul will be healed."
And "learn the subtleties of your voice...Say but a word, and my soul will be healed."

I wonder...I wonder how much I am depending upon "my" will to draw closer to God?

I wonder how much I am depending upon "my" efforts to study readings that will open my heart?

I wonder how much I depend upon "my" intention of being aware?

I wonder sometimes if I am trying to hard.

"Surrendering" Hamma offers an insight by Thomas Berry:
"Go to the earth...and ask it for guidance."
A few days ago, I agonized with my best buddy that I wanted the faith of Teresa of Avila, or of the Desert Fathers/Mothers.  I could "hear" the smile in his voice as he asked, "San, when you get to heaven God is not going to ask why you weren't like Teresa..."

"I know," I exclaimed! "God will ask why I wasn't more like Sandi."

God of the oak, God of the mountain, God of the hawk and sparrow, God of the dandelion... I strive and seek to have the faith and the trust of Teresa, of the Centurion, of the Indian man... I seek and constantly feel as though I come up short. Yet, you tell me you can do great things with the faith of the size of a mustard seed.  Maybe the problem is not your ability to broaden and deepen my heart as much as the problem is me trusting you to broaden and deepen my heart...trusting that "Sandi" is enough and that is is "Sandi" you are seeking to meet...right where I am. O, Dear God...I am so thankful you continue to call to my stubborn heart!!! AMEN!

With All I Am...... 

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

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