“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”-Frederick Beuchner
I love this quote from Frederick Beuchner, but I have to admit that it is not something I have been very good at. I have in the past tried to live so much in the future that I have lived a life in a kind of future the grass will be greener when mentality. When I have achieved this or that, when this or that is no longer a factor in my life, when I have moved, when , when, when…. the list goes on and today, the moment that is Gods gift to me here and now is ignored or hidden from.
To see, to really see and to sit with our reactions to current events and even memories that come to us in a given moment is to celebrate life, even the pain of life, and of course it invites us to be gentle with ourselves. It has taken me a long time to realise this, I truly believe that I lived the first 50 years of my life in a partial denial, always waiting for the next thing! For this I guess I need to apologise to my family, particularly my children who have given me many happy and joy-filled memories that make me wish I had been more present. Perhaps the key to my developed way of thinking lies partially in the past.
I do not have many happy childhood memories, in fact there are vast swathes that I cannot remember at all. I have spoken to a counsellor about this and she wisely told me to simply accept the memories as they come, and to be gentle with them, gentle with the people brought to mind and particularly gentle with myself. Prayer for healing has helped, and I find myself engaging with bad memories in a gradual process of letting go, and with good memories by noticing celebrating and storing them. The grace through which God reaches me means that I do look to apportion blame any more, I don’t blame others or myself, what was was, what is, is, and how I choose to respond to it is also how I choose to trust in the love and grace that God holds me in.
This process of noticing memories also calls me to notice the present moment and to be equally gentle with myself within it, to notice my desires and hopes, to notice my reactions and even my reluctant and reticent responses is to know myself. To allow myself to feel anger and pain and not to try to hide from or mask them is a challenge, but a challenge that is worth rising to. It also calls me to notice the reactions of others, for none of us is an island, and how I live also impacts the people around me, so I am called to notice my mistakes and learn from them, again I am able to do this because of grace.
Grace tells me I am loved, grace draws me into love, and grace calls forth love from me! The challenge to love myself and know myself as loved by the creator and sustainer of my life has become an ongoing act of listening, not just to the myriad of my own thoughts but to the still small voice deep within that reminds me constantly that I am not alone, the still small voice that speaks a love deeper and more expansive than I could ever express, that is the still small voice of God who has revealed to me in Christ the fullness and depths of the love that I am held with.
To plumb these depths I need the cross, I need the cross to absorb all of the horrors of my life along with the horrors of the world, while they may seem insignificant in relation to things like the the Holocaust and the recent Syrian refugee crisis to name but two, they are significant in the life that I live here and now. I need the cross every day, every moment for it is only throght the cross and a multiplicity of dyings to myself that I find resurrection, in fact resurrections as I begin to become whole by participating in the fullness of life that is gifted to me as I listen, become aware and act.
I need the cross to show me that life even in the dark times can be beautiful and full of hope, as I die to my selfabsorbtion I notice the support and love that surrounds me. I notice each message of support, each hug, each expression of love, and in noticing I respond and my heart swells as I experience the new life revealed by noticing, by listening!
In short I am finding that listening, deep listening calls forth life, it calls me to be present, to notice my reactions, to be aware of others and most of all to be aware of God working in me and through me bringing healing and calling forth love.
Perhaps that is what Jesus was calling us to when he invites us, weary and burneded as we are, to take his yoke upon us, or as my favourite verse from Eugene Peterson’s the Message says:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11: 28-30)