by Gwen Shipley
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. (Isa 30:15 NRSV)
Do you ever feel resigned to a situation you seem powerless to affect, one that continues to plague you despite your best efforts? If I’m honest, my attempt to authentically consent on the go can sometimes disintegrate into a feigned surrender to the present moment accompanied by a resigned, “Whatever.” Clearly, they’re not the same.
My intentions were good at the beginning of Lent: Each time the impulse to say, “Whatever” came knocking, I would resist as an act of embodied remembrance. I would give up entitlement to ease and “welcome everything that comes to me today because I know it’s for my healing…” because hope lies in knowing that the God who makes all things new is already and always at work. That was Week One.
Three weeks hence, I am painfully aware of “the slow work of God” and reminded that I’m exactly where I need to be: always returning to the love of God. Here are various ways people have learned to do so and are helping one another.
- Anything on the topic of returning must include a reference to Contemplative Outreach and their work with Thomas Keating’s centering prayer method. Find it here. (https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/category/category/welcoming-prayer )
- Here’s an app (http://reimaginingexamen.ignatianspirituality.com/ ) from Ignatian Spirituality.com offering a choice of daily, guided examens. A traditional version is included as well as more than 20 additional topics such as Name the Grace, Habits, A Shift in My Spirit, Surprise!, and Present or Absent.
- “Impatience is a primary spiritual problem in our day.” Read this fresh article from Richard Foster reminding us that essential practices such as spiritual direction and programs like Formation 1 & 2 “…are not presenting people with any ‘program,’ but with a life.” (https://renovare.org/articles/maturing-the-spiritual-formation-movement )
- As with any March Madness contender, a focus on the basics is essential. Here is an excellent online guide through the Book of Common Prayer, an age-old basic of encountering God daily. (http://www.missionstclare.com/english/ ) The table is set for you to simply come. Thanks to Grace Church, Seattle, ( http://www.graceseattle.org/ ) for the referral.
When exploring unfamiliar roads, Google often asks if I’d like to “re-center map.” Going deeper with God often leads me down similarly unfamiliar paths. It is reassuring at those times to remember that transformation neither originates with us, nor does it proceed by some perfectly executed plan of action. It happens as we return again and again and again, surrendering to the One who makes all things new, one present moment at a time.
In Week Four of Lent, looking toward the cross, hoping in resurrection, that’s…Really. Good. News.
*From “Patient Trust in Ourselves and in the Slow Work of God” by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin