""Blessings Strengthen life and feed life just as water does." Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

This blog is a digital blessing bowl, a place to record the small blessings that are often missed or forgotten but which make life holy. Feel free to add your own blessings to my blessing bowl. Or perhaps you'll be encouraged to start your own.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Traveling in patterns of God's making

Christine Valters Painter, in a guest post on Godspace  , writes about Lectio Divina:

"In my morning prayer I make space to just notice what experience is rising up in me, and in my daily life I become attentive to those experiences which stir strong feelings or trigger an unexpected memory. Perhaps I am driving in my car and a song comes on the radio which carries me back in time to a moment from my past and I am filled with emotion. Lectio cultivates my ability to make space to allow the fullness of my experience. Rather than holding back my tears and judging them, I let them flow and in the process discover a moment of healing and grace."

When I first read this, my reaction was "yes, letting the tears flow brings healing and grace."  But after thinking about it more deeply, I realized that it isn't the tears that bring healing.  It's making space for the fullness of the experience. And I realized, too, that moments are measured in linear time but that they aren't fully experienced that way - especially life-changing moments.  We don't move neatly and smoothly through our days, with a clean beginning and end to each experience.  Life isn't really a highway, but more like a body of water, and the best mode of travel is to "travel in patterns of God's making"*, allowing dips and swells of emotion.

We talk about reliving moments through our memories and through photographs.  But isn't it more of a continuation of the experience? Often it's only through reflection that we understand the emotion of the moment.  It's only through opening ourselves to the floodgates of feeling that we can fully celebrate joy or learn to carry the burden of loss.  Most often when we are in the moment our senses can't absorb it all, our brains can't process it all. The moment in linear time passes but we carry it with us, tucked away as we go about our routine daily tasks.  Smells, sounds, sights, words . . .all of these may bring the emotion of the moment back at a later time.

When I read a good book I read it quickly, in a hurry to turn the page and find out what happens next.  To do a book justice, I have to go back and re-read it at least once, sometimes twice, in order to fully absorb and understand it.  I've wished I could relive every joyful experience in my life the way that I re-read a book - focusing on the details, imprinting them on my heart.  I can't do that - I can't go back in time - but I can continue to experience the moments by making room for that joy to well up in me once again.

If it's a moment of loss that's been tucked away, the emotions well up when my emotional guard is down.  A song, a story, a movie, a photo, a newspaper article - all of those have been triggers that have brought the moment back.  The tears come, the pain comes, but over time healing also comes.  The loss stays, but there is salve for the pain.  There is healing and grace.

*I want to travel in patterns of God’s making. . .
Moving to the rhythm of the surging of his spirit,
A journey which when life ends, in Christ has just begun
    -Julia McGuinness

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