Fi led this Sunday and this is her stuff – which we all found so helpful…
One of the things I’ve really appreciated about my community at Third Space is its flexibility to bend and respond to what’s going on –personal and/or world wide. Recently, when P and I were going through a potential health scare, I had a real sense of my community reacting to that, rallying around, praying, adapting to where we were ‘at’. It meant a great deal. No expectation to put on a happy face.
Even within this small church, our week to week experience of life can be so different. I’ve been celebrating the joy of a new member to our family, whilst for others of us……things have been more challenging. Gump’s Mama was right, you just never know what you’re gonna get. The toffee? (no thanks) The Malteser? (yuk) The coffee cream? (yes please)
The Sufi mystic Rumi echoes with the same sentiments.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The writer of Ecclesiates would agree with Forest I think;
For everything that happens in life—
there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:
2 A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
3 A time to kill, a time to heal;
a time to tear down, a time to build up;
4 A time to cry, a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, a time to dance;
5 A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
6 A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
a time to keep, a time to throw out;
7 A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
8 A time to love, a time to hate;
a time to go to war, a time to make peace.
We live in this tension of what life throws at us and yet the knowledge and faith (even if it is a bit shaky at times) that God is with us, for us and in all things. What do we do with that?
From the bandstand this morning, we used the practice of The Examen to help us reflect on the past week – whatever it had brought us – good, bad or indifferent.
The Examen has been referred to as : ‘rummaging for God – going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there.’. We look back on the previous day, week, rummaging through the “stuff,” and finding God in it. We know He is there.
St Ignatius, in his teaching of the Examen expected that God would speak through our deepest feelings and yearning; what he called consolation and desolation. Consolation is whatever helps us to connect in love to ourselves, others, God and the universe. In his language – whatever leads to an increase in faith, hope and love. Desolation is whatever blocks that connection…
What in our life connects us to Life, love, faith, hope, peace… the qualities of the Spirit
What is it that drains us of that Life….? What should we ‘embrace’ What whoudl we ‘keep at a distance’?
Here’s one sequence of Examen meditation and prayer to use that you might find helpful.
Replay the day you’ve had. Freeze frame the people or moments you’re grateful for.
Look for Hope and Joy
Where have you seen moments of forgiveness, compassion, courage, joy, unexpected love…….
Notice any sadness or regret.
Some news you heard about or event you were part of? Some word you regret or action you neglected? Recognise the down as well as the up.
Consider, in light of all this, how might tomorrow be different regardless of whether it’s a toffee, coffee cream or Malteser you get?