Be thou my vision,O Lord of my heart,
Be all else but naught to me,
Save that thou art;
Be thou my best thought
In the day and the night,
Both waking and sleeping,
Thy presence my light.
Lyrics: unknown but attributed to Iris Christian poet, Saint Dallân, translated by Eleanor Hull
“let the quietness of God enfold… all who have no peace”. as we watch our world fill with people who have no peace, may these words be offered as an act of solidarity.
artist Roger Hutchinson
A bowl of cereal, a new caregiver and a stack of notebooks filled with bills and correspondence – what did these things have in common? They were all in the right place at the wrong time. . Too early in the day to have gathered my defenses, I sat wide-eyed and speechless as a bowl filled with milk and cereal, slipped out of my new assistant’s hand only to land upside down on an ordered stack of paperwork and notebooks. It was a moment when my patience and desire to be in control were challenged beyond words.
I spend a lot of energy creating ‘systems’ that keep the details of my daily life, both items and routines, accessible to me and the people who assist me. When someone has worked with me for a while these systems become familiar, reducing the amount of time necessary to give directions or search for things. It all appears logical and routine until a new person is added to the team.
Certainly the one most challenged is the new assistant. Already on the spot, it is easy to see the anxiety rise as new tasks are introduced.
At least that what I must say to myself. So many details in life are not in my control. If I focused on this fact for too long a wave named ‘overwhelmed’ could quickly wash over me. So I sit in my beautiful home taking deeper breathes to settle my nerves as I help to reassure my assistant and clean up the breakfast spill – one simple direction at a time.
‘I learn whatever state I’m in, therein to be content.’ What an amazing woman, Helen Keller. Her wisdom is my encouragement and for this I give thanks.
Make us sensitive, God. Sensitive to the sound of the words which others speak, and to the silences in between.
May we find ways to experience more of the silences – where selfish anger might be turned to compassion and concern for one another.
(image and quote found at The Episcopal Church – Facebook page)
to live a life of gratitude –
this we choose each day.
If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.
– Meister Eckhart
(j. ricci energy)
Today — I celebrate twenty years as an ordained priest. Reflecting on one’s experience in ministry can be a risky endeavor. I share these thoughts inviting the wisdom and insight of those who read this blog.
My life as a priest has been unique and filled with surprising moments. On a day such as this, many of these memories greet me for celebration and reflection.
We planned my ordination for May the 8th to correlate with the feast day for Dame Julian of Norwich. A holy woman – devoted and faith-filled, Julian lived in the middle ages during a time of plagues and war. While struggling with a life–threatening illness she experienced a compelling and personal encounter with God. Surviving – she knew the gift of health and life and vowed to live a mystic’s life. Most of her adult life was spent living in a small room connected to a church in Norwich, England. Like an anchor to a boat, Julian anchored herself to the church. From her room, through a small window, she met and counseled people who came to her, offering comfort and holy wisdom to the village of Norwich and beyond. Within one room, she counseled those in need, spent hours in prayer and put into words her insights about God’s love and mercy. These writings would come to be known as: Showings – The Revelations of Dame Julian of Norwich. It is believed that she was the first woman to have her writings published in English.
We planned my ordination for May the 8th and welcomed the communion of the saints led by Dame Julian. Twenty years later I find myself curious about the connection between my ordination and Julian’s feast day. Being a woman and a person with a disability, living my life as a priest would present unknown challenges for me and others. As time has passed I know my ministry has been filled with courage and grace. Courage–unashamed of my differences, I have entered doorways into churches and homes that had previously not been opened either to women or people with disabilities . Grace- all has been possible through a vision beyond me.
Anchored in her one-room home, Julian of Norwich shared her wisdom and faith with confidence and compassion. Her story has been encouragement and inspiration for me. I know something of being held in one place–anchored if you will. From this wheelchair I have been present to people in their joy and sorrow, prayerfully spreading God’s good news.
In many ways twenty years is just the beginning! What have I learned up to now? I have learned there are many more questions than there are answers and much of our time is spent learning to live with the questions. I have learned that while we live in a world wrought with anxiety, people long for the presence of peace–not a lot of words just peace. I have learned that miracles do not always manifest as we might have envisioned but miracles they remain. I have learned to be grateful for hope and honesty in moments of despair.
Most important, I continue to reflect on the wisest words ever shared from Dame Julian. “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” We do not get to know how life’s story ends. Carrying these gentle words along the way has brought light for the journey.