Monday, September 15, 2014

Waves of Life

 Dear Friends, I write this week’s blog from Mercy Center at Madison, CT, where I am spending a week’s retreat. ( Mercy Center is a warm, welcoming place, if you are keeping a bucket list.) The room where I am writing overlooks Long Island Sound, and not too far offshore is a cluster of small islands – actually more like oversized boulders. Every day, every six hours or so, I watch them give way to the incoming tide, only to reappear in due time.

What in our life is like these islands? What gets submerged in us, only to resurface later?

A whole eco-system of interior feelings, self understandings, hopes and aspirations are buffeted by the waves of life and become so submerged in us that we wonder if we had misunderstood ourselves, and we are not really the way we think we were. What submerges these tender parts of us? The unkind word, the scornful laugh., failure in some sort of test, self doubt, the challenge of the culture, the negatively critical attitude  that we cultivate in in ourselves, sometimes inadvertantly? All of these, and more.

The danger in us, unlike these off shore sturdy islands, is that the good, the true, the holy can stay submerged in us. But the good, true and holy in us are like these islands which are embedded, and while they are worn away over the centuries, they are here now and in the foreseeable future. That ought to give us heart.

As the islands are embedded in the deep recesses beneath the water, we are embedded in God. When we are threatened by forces within ourselves or from the outside  to disown, disclaim, dismiss these life-inspiring qualities in us, our culture bids us to seek help from one of the many good professionals in the psycho/social  fields. That’s a good idea. Do it, if you need to. But before you do, start in another place.

Make room in your life for being with God in the great outdoors, with its many lessons of endurance, acceptance, growth, multiplication and just plain being.

Young Anne Frank wrote in her much read diary: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauties of nature.”

God, our shelter in a storm, our foundation is there. Here too, of course, but there in intimate, surprising ways We deny ourselves healing and deepening when we are too busy to go to these not-so-secret places where God awaits us, eager for our company.