Archive | November, 2013

The Heart of Mystery

17 Nov

This  weekend the community came together for a pre-advent retreat (you know, that time when you prepare to prepare). Yesterday we took a Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment to begin to understand how we each prefer to think. As it turns out, I prefer thinking with intuition and feelings rather than observations and analysis. I could have told you that—though this hasn’t always been the case.

Growing up, I was a very analytical thinker. I loved school, I loved brain-teasers, I loved efficiency and solving problems. There was a short stint in grade school when I wanted to be an engineer—I wanted to create tangible objects that could solve the world’s problems. During this time in my life I knew I had feelings, but I was very much aware that my thoughts came first—that I thought my way into being happy or sad, thus analytically deciding what my emotion would be. But then, my sophomore year of college, this all changed, and my whole way of perceiving the world changed along with it. I don’t know what caused this change—maybe it was living on my own, maybe it was falling in love, or maybe it was always there, and unbeknownst to me I was slowly and subtly growing more fully into the person I was meant to be all along. Whatever the reason, suddenly and seemingly without warning, my feelings came before my thoughts. I would cry without cause and laugh without tangible reason. I shifted from wanting to change the world in a palpable way to instead wanting to change the way people thought and felt about the world. Suddenly, feelings and ideas mattered. In fact, they mattered most of all. Because there will always be problems in the world, and sometimes our only defense is the way those problems are perceived. If we could be content on the inside, the outside wouldn’t seem so beyond our control.

Phew. So that was a tangent. Still with me?

Let me explain the purpose of this chaos, the method to my madness.

This week I have been overwhelmed with thoughts of my future. Not my future in a tangible sense (the things I probably should think about…grad schools, careers, etc.) but rather who I’ll become in the future. I get so caught up in trying to decipher my higher purpose—the inner workings of the universe and where I fit into them. It’s fun to dabble in depth, but to live there is exhausting. This week I’ve been consumed by thoughts of the meaning and purpose—and I’ve been exhausted. But something happened this weekend that rejuvenated me (maybe I should prepare to prepare more often).

Yesterday morning God sent me a little grace and let me hear His voice. As one with a background in psychology, I always feel the need to add an addendum to my statements where I discuss the Voice of God. Most people don’t take too well to the thought of hearing voices from people that can’t be seen, even if that person is the Almighty. When I’m discerning, confused, or just need to center myself, I slow it down, embrace silence, and see what comes to the surface of my soul. The thoughts that resound when all else is still become to me messages from beyond. Call this intuition, call this God, or call this witchcraft, the terminology you prefer makes no difference to me. All I know is that as I sat in the St. Clare retreat house yesterday morning, I heard through the silence a message, telling me to trust that right now, exactly as I am, I am enough. I will grow and learn more and delve deeper into the purpose of it all throughout my life—of this I have no doubt. But life is a process and I have to trust that I am being led where I need to be, that right here, right now, in this moment and in this place, I am enough.

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            I believe that if you keep your eyes open the universe gives you what you need. This morning, after my realization last night that I don’t need to fret about the future or my place in it, I poured myself a cup of coffee and went for a stroll. As I meandered back, forth, across and around the building, I noticed something that had been there all along but I hadn’t noticed before. A tiny little plaque on a shelf read, “Ask not what the future holds, for you know who holds the future.” This statement, in itself, is a bit cliché for my liking, but God is timing. My eyes were open to receiving what came to me, and that happened to be what they saw. And whether or not I believe that everything happens for a reason, I don’t think it’s wrong to imagine that something that brings us peace was sent to us from the beyond.

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            The world is full of magic that I can’t quite grasp. Around every corner, beyond every door, and in every stranger’s story, there’s wonder waiting to be uncovered. But there’s no way to find it all at once…and maybe that’s the point. I must trust that if I keep moving, open my eyes, and embrace what’s in front of me, each wandering step leads me closer and closer to the heart of mystery, the depth of my being, and the pulse of God.

A Sentimental Sunday

3 Nov

 “We must delight in each other, make others conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together,always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body.” 

― John Winthrop

            One time a dear friend taught me something that has changed my life, and it’s just too good to keep to myself. So get ready, readers! If this blog were a game of Clue, you’d win the game with Martha in the computer with the wisdom.

            Open your heart to people, wherever you are. Love. Love completely, love big, love  without inhibition. You may fall out of touch, it could be painful when the time comes to separate, but love is life. And love is worth it.

We are a quarter of the way through our time with Change a Heart. I am consistently cognizant of the fact that my time here is finite. I will not live in community forever, serve at Ursuline in the future, or reside in Pittsburgh for the rest of my life. The impermanence of it all can raise the question of its worth. I have nine months left…is it really worth devoting myself wholly to this temporary existence?  I could easily protect my heart, and not allow myself to get attached to the people or the place, for fear of the pain of goodbye. This is an option.

But though a beating heart means you exist, I think an open heart means you’re living. What’s the point if I don’t commit?

So, yes. I can say with 100% honesty that I have committed. I am attached. Pittsburgh, my seniors, and my community have stolen my heart, and I’m not getting it back any time soon.

While I’ve been moved time and time again by my Pals, I think the intentionality with which they live has struck me the most. That intentionality is the difference between simply living with people and living in community. My Pals take the time to look a little deeper, striving to be respectful, caring, and non-judgmental in all they do. They make me a better person.

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            Last Friday Chris had the day off from service. He very easily could have taken the day for himself, and no one would have thought about it twice. But, instead, he spent most of the day preparing an amazing dinner, so when we all came home from our days of service he could serve us. And when I woke up the next morning, there was a dozen donuts waiting on the table—Wes and run out to the local bakery to get us breakfast.

Last night, after the annual Change a Heart Gala, Amy had prepared an array of snacks for the Pals, so the party could continue long into the night. I wasn’t feeling great, so as the Pals kept the party alive downstairs Kim tucked me into her bed upstairs, giving me the space I needed to be well. How are these people so good?!?

            Friday was the Feast of All Saints. I usually think about Saints as awesome dead people who set the world on fire. But  not anymore. Now I see the Saints in my life as very much alive.

I’ve committed, I’m in love, and I am grateful.