When my toddler wakes up, earlier than any us want to, my husband and I have a silent competition to see who can stay in bed longest. We are on vacation, so the prize of sleeping in is even more coveted. This morning, I lost. B and I went for a early walk into the fields of my in-laws’ farm. Watching B delight and discover every bird, bug, and little clover puts me in remembrance of the Garden. All of this, put on display, the beauty of an untouched morning, an unblemished day, it is intoxicating. Here is all of creation, waiting to be enjoyed and inhabited. I make myself notice the grass blades, tiny mushrooms budding, and the sounds of cars zooming to work in the distance. But I am not zooming. I am slowly watching the first sights and listening to the first sounds of this day. Good. Morning.
How do you get up each day? With feelings of expectation or dread? How are you right now?
Scrambling around on my hands and knees in a pebbly Michigan cornfield was the last place I expected to find myself. I am by no means a fan of cats, so what had brought me to this position under waist high cornstalks searching for a wild kitten? Her meowing had caught our attention one evening while we were visiting my husband’s family in Michigan. We could see her from a distance, but as soon as we would approach the cornfield, she would dart farther and farther from us. We set out milk and cat food that she was happy to eat. But as soon as we stepped too close, she would hop just out of arms reach.
My daughter, unlike me, was convinced that we should continue after this cat. I tried to explain to her that, in Michigan, cats often lived in barns and fed on field mice. But her response was still: “this cat has no one to take care of her!”
So, an hour later, I was back out in the fields doing my best impression of meow. To my surprise, as I lay on my stomach facing this cat, the cat inched towards me. I smiled. The cat came close. I meowed. The cat came closer. We played this game until the cat was near enough for me to grab her. A surprising sense of relief and accomplishment came over me. This cat was beautiful, small, scared and alone in this giant forest of cornstalks. And I had rescued her!
My daughter helped me to understand a very important characteristic about the nature of God. As logical as it might have been for God to abandon me when I wandered away from Him, He pursued me by sending loving people and words from Scripture to remind me that I was still worth His love. How powerful it is to know that God rejoices when the lost are found even after we’ve been running in the opposite direction!
I admit. I don’t grieve well. I am a keep-moving-forward-and-believe-for-the-best kind of gal. So lately I have been considering what it would look like to practice the spirituality of grieving. What a road this has been. Instead of my usually numbing, controlling, manipulating, and avoiding, I have stood in the shower of my sadness and pain and let its waters splash all over me. Sometimes I drown for a minute in it all and feel so exhausted that I almost want to stay under water.
These are truly transforming moments where one page folds over and a new page appears. I long to read the new page, but can only do so as I remember what has been written on the previous page.
Rolheiser (and many others) call this a part of the Paschal Mystery. This process of dying and rising, death and new life, tenderness and brokenness. We see this all around us and in our own lives. Jesus makes an example of this in His actual death and actual return to new life. Death is no longer the final answer, rather, the pathway to a whole new way of living.
As we think about our own life, we may notice relationships, ideas, dreams, employment, dying. How will this transform me? How will this transform you? Notice yourself aligning with Jesus on this magnificent journey of faith.
Growing up as a native California beach girl has its simple advantages. Many wonderful childhood memories were built around lazy impromptu beach days where chips and cheese could sustain us all day and my siblings and I could play at the waters’ edge for an entire afternoon without fighting. On sunny days, I fill our wagon and take my own four children to the same beach that my own mother took me. We are engulfed with simple sandy beauty. God’s fingers stir the waves that crash along the shore and every shell is treasured like an unearthed jewel. It is the backdrop for a lovely day where I am able to be entirely present with my children and with God’s enticing creation
It is the ocean that draws us, that literally engulfs us in salt and mist and current and tide. The ocean seems too cold for me, but never for my children. They respond to every invitation to leap over waves and plunge their little bodies into the powerful surf that carries them back to the shore. Today I will show them how much I love to be a part of their world, so I will join them for a swim in this ocean. I am at once contained in a buoyant embrace where I feel the joy of youth and the thrill of knowing that this embrace is keeping us all together. Holding hands with my children, we float over waves together, sharing a unified experience that I hope they will pass to their own children. In this ocean, we are equal in our dependency on this powerful presence to hold us together and keep us moving in the same direction. If I go under, so will they. If I stay afloat, so will they.
My experience with the Holy Spirit is like this simple swim in the ocean. When I realize how present and all encompassing the Holy Spirit is, I am compelled by worship to run and jump into the presence of this unending love. It is this unifying experience with the full expression of God that keeps us together.