Tuesday, November 1, 2011

...grace for the journey


Intersection: grave design by Carlo Scarpa




We measure the moments not by duration but by grace


Early this morning I read my friend Connie’s post on FB: “One never knows the appointed day and hour. Get your house/heart in order. It is heart breaking when a long time friend, younger than yourself, dies suddenly and unexpectedly. RIP Scott.” Connie, of the big heart and wonderful smile, pours time and love into the care and recognition of our military men and women, those alive as well as the fallen. And when her big heart breaks, the love inside spills on all around.
Her words have lingered. I am sixty. Sixty. Hard to believe. As far as I can tell, there is no official “sixty” feeling. I am aware that I have much more time behind me than I have in front. And that I am beyond blessed by all who populate my life. All. Not just the pleasant ones, the ones I love who love me back. All. The ones who are difficult to love, impossible to like, and just plain unsafe to be around. They have taught me much about boundaries and forgiveness. Falling flat on my face has forced some humility on me. I know that I can make a u-turn when my thoughts veer in the wrong direction before I drive off a cliff with them. Sixty is good. Death is a fact. Today is gift.
Before I moved last year, I sorted bits of paper and the odd dinner napkin or deposit slip that I had filled with my scribbles...the piecework of my life. I had not revisited these thoughts for years. The winter afternoon turned dark before I finished. After all were read and a few set aside to record, I sat by candlelight in the silence. All those words poured out on paper had been an emptying. And I knew that I had finally come home. Not to a place. Not to a final destination. But at home within my own skin. 
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Thomas Wolfe, You Can’t Go Home Again
Mr. Wolfe, you are right. Everything changes. But the past is woven into every day. And the home to which I journey rests within. One that can’t be swept away by flood, fire, wind or earthquake. I have, Mr. Edgerton, been walking through Egypt* for a long time. With each passing year, with every letting go, though, the journey grows lighter. 

C.S. Lewis wrote of the early death of his wife Joy, “The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That’s the deal.” The peace I know today is the struggle I had before...just as much a part of the deal. 
In my stash of papers I found a brief but loving sympathy note from a friend: “In the quiet of a caring heart, Celeste, know that you are loved.” I often pass this on in those moments when other words would ring hollow. Today, Connie, for you. You are right. We do not know our appointed time. But Joanne posted a Greek proverb this morning, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.”  I believe it’s planting time.  

Love and good thoughts, Connie. Here’s a prayer, written by my friend, Gerve. It helps me keep my house in order. I share it in memory of Scott and your reminder this morning.
Gracious Lord,
Into Your Hands I commend my spirit and my entire being 
I pray for the acceptance of exactly where I am with all its positive and negative aspects
Help me to go forward this day from even the darkest and most fearful depths of my soul 
I will turn over to You at this time all my daily activities, my thoughts, problems, pains, fears, and inconveniences
Praying for alertness and awareness when difficulties arise 
Remembering they are already in Your Hands so that I can immediately let them go;
And, with Your help and my willingness to accept that help, to go forward doing the next best thing, 
Knowing that everything will be taken care of and "all will be O.K. at the end of the day."
I pray for compassion, patience, kindness, and tolerance for all, 
And that prejudice and judgment be removed and replaced with willingness to be helpful.
I also pray that Your grace this day will make me an instrument of Your peace, 
Illuminating my mind, 
Listening through my ears, 
Speaking through my voice, 
And working with my hands 
So that all with whom I come in contact may receive your blessing.
May I continue to pray for high hopes but low expectations, 
For flexibility to change according to Your Will, 
And for BALANCE in my life.
Lord, please, grant me the great gift of HUMILITY that I may be worthy to receive these and all your graces. 
AMEN

*Walking Across Egypt, Clyde Edgerton

3 comments:

Jeannette said...

amen

Carolynn Thomas Jones said...

Our time gets wasted in the game of trivial pursuit, when instead we should be doing God’s will.

We always ponder this “call” to do God’s will. Church tells us to seek God’s will. Traditional prayers suggest it. Our DNA pushes us in that direction. But in our quest, we get distracted on what that urge really means- because we want to harness some bigger understanding, some specific little thing that we can claim that God put in OUR PATH just for us to give us the golden answer, the golden ring to make us feel secure, better, accepted, and worthy of our place among mankind.

And so we journey aimlessly in this phantom quest for God’s will. It is phantom because it is so simple, so elemental that we don’t see or hear it. The still small voice. It is phantom because our interpretation of God’s will is often guided by our ego, by our personal assistant, called pride. We want a “brand” a “logo” to stand out to get that special, secure feeling in our place called mankind.

But in reality- we are only doing God’s will when we simply love those who GOD has put in our paths. Who is in our paths? Our immediate family are one, our children (the precious gifts put in our path for sure), our friends, the person who we make eye contact with in the checkout line, even though we are in a hurry and they are not. The person behind the wheel, who seems lost (as if we weren’t) and can’t decide which way to go, just when we are the ones positioned behind them, wanting them to move faster. Yes, we even want to direct others to seek God’s will in a direction we think it should be- God’s appointed ones. (NOT!).

And Celeste’s blog tells us that life is short. The end is unpredictable. Life is fleeting, fragile. Relationships are especially fragile and fleeting.

We were given a beautiful example of seeking God’s will is Christ. He came, he loved. Blessed, broken, taken and given. We killed him for it. Too much reality- too much taking us off the ego path. Pride kills all love. Pride killed Christ. All the cute crosses won’t even let us see that truth. But we display and wear them- like little jeweled electric chairs.

Where’s the damn love?

If we unlock our hearts, open our ears (for those who can hear), open our eyes (for those who can see), unfolding, turning toward, peaceful acceptance of our vulnerabilities and our call - - - just simply to love, to express it, to act it out, to say it, to emanate it, to be it. An unfolding journey, like on a labyrinth, each turn, we have to say- here I go again. Each twist we realized, I’m still entrapped. We live desperately. But if we can reach center and release those bonds, the love is there to guide us- always- by Grace.

Everything else is pure ooze, excrement of the ego’s quest to steer us by pride, away from our source.

That’s my take on it anyway.

PERIOD, AMEN!

PS- And please accept my apologies and amends to those out there who I did not show love, or ignored, shunned or judged. Sometimes it is hard to get out of the duck taped straight jacket of my own will.

Peace, fellow travelers. And LOVE!

Celeste said...

I quote Jeanette: amen. Carolynn, you have been a light for a long time. Love your words, your heart. I love the dialog that blogging affords...the new neightborhood. Thank you for sharing this.