“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 Buechner (Now and then- A memoir of vocation)
Today I am choosing to practice kindness and compassion towards myself, I am feeling the weight of change that is ongoing as I continue to prepare to move fom one city to another. There are lots of loose ends that need tying up and sorting out, and I know that not all of them will be sorted, and some just can’t be! There are memories too, for a whole variety of reasons this just isn’t a good time of year for me, too much happened in a short time and I find myself in a cycle of needing to forgive and let go all over again, it is, it seems an ongoing process for me at the moment, maybe it always will be!
In many ways it feels wrong for me to be in this place, I have just returned from a weeks holiday which I really enjoyed, and I have crashed back into reality with a thump. Life is like that I guess, but with so much going on I can choose either to push myself or as Frederick Beuchner so wonderfully puts it I can choose to “listen to my life”. So I am choosing to listen, to listen to my heart, my mind, my emotions and my body; to accept that it is often a mystery to me and that I need to take time to listen to my reactions which can often be hidden from myself.
Alongside Buechner I am also grateful for the wisdom of Richard Rohr who calls our attention to the importance of entering into the second half of life, saying that many of us live lives of conastantly striving for sucess in home, family friendships and work etc. , and yet he says there is more;
“It is when we begin to pay attention, and to seek integrity precisely in the task within the task, that we begin to move from the first to the second half of our own lives. Integrity largely has to do with purifying our intentions and being honest about our motives. It is hard work. Most often we don’t pay attention to that inner task until we have had some kind of fall or failure in our outer tasks.”
I suspect that this is what Jesus was challenging us to do through the Sermon on the Mount, again and again telling us to pay attention to our motives and not just to external appearances. I find myself called to consider the times when outer appearance has seemed more important to me than knowing what my deeper life contains, and how my deeper life speaks.
I am challenged also to consider that very often as a church we are more interested in outer appearance than we are our deeper God-given, God-breathed lives, sometimes silencing compassion and kindness through fear of what others might think crazily daring to lay our fears and pretences at God’s feet declaring that the outer appearance is what he wants. The tyrrany of perfection is very unhealthy!
So my response is to treat myself with kindness, to say to myself that it is okay for me to acknowledge that I am feeling fragile and vulnerable, and it is okay for me to take a step back to consider where those feelings are coming from. In facing and noting memories as they surface I can hold them as prayers and allow the Spirit to do a transformative work in me. Change brings chaos, and chaos unearths questions and fears, listening reveals truth and truth brings healing.