struggling, rocking …

So this has been a really tough week. Including thoughts like “I just can’t do this anymore!” but since we need a roof overhead and food on our plates, I need to stick with it for now.

A couple of weeks ago I felt an amazing 20 min or so of lightness and grace – a feeling that God was truly with me. Later that day I had a conversation with the VP that really brought me down and took the wind from my sails … crashing down again.

And this week, moments of desolation. In fact, earlier this week I had a frenetic, frantic feeling that I had to get out NOW. I’ve felt that quality of needing to decide something *immediately* before, when I was working with a spiritual director through the exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, and she identfied it for me as not coming from God – if the quality of it is desperate and not peaceful, that’s something to note. So, I conclude that this is a time of desolation for me. And man, have I been depressed and down about it. (It’s also PMS time, I realized today – probably not a coincidence!)

So last night, I explored a link passed on to me weeks ago by a friend and found this amazingly relevant quote:
Nothing has the potential to create a sense of God’s absence like deep, unjust, and/or unexplained pain. During these times, we may, like Jesus and David, feel forsaken by God. When this happens, remember that a palpable sense of God’s absence is itself evidence of God’s reality and engagement in our lives. We don’t miss what we don’t know. We don’t long for what we don’t believe in. We don’t have a sense of absence for that which we’ve never experienced. Your very yearning for God is evidence that God has been and will continue to be involved in your life.
That had a real impact on me.

Today I practiced lectio divina with the passage about the two disciples walking to Emmaus. It’s just after Jesus has been crucified and died, and there are rumours about him having risen again. Basically the two are shocked, afraid, and totally unsure about why all this is happening. This is totally not the future they were expecting.

So, today I set myself up in the rocking chair my parents bought for me years ago. (I find rocking very calming – perhaps going back to the many cuddles I enjoyed with my grandma when I was small? Times of absolute, unconditional love.) I read the passage aloud a few times and then just tried to be, quietly and attentively. to my surprise, what came to me was that Mary met me along the road and invited me to her tent. She held me as I cried, and offered me tea, soup and bread. We talked about God’s great love for each person. We talked about how her life unfolded in such a different fashion than she had expected – the dubious pregnancy (from others’ point of view), going to Bethlehem at the worst possible time, going to live in a foreign strange place for many years … her need to trust God in all of these uncertainties … her need to trust in Joseph and his discernment of what to do, when it wasn’t really what she might have wanted, but she had to trust that he was following God’s guidance too.

Then Mary told me to go lay down and rest. I asked if it wasn’t hard for her to have this transient tent instead of a safe, secure home (you may have guessed, I am a homebody!) I don’t recall exactly but I think it was something about while she would have liked that, this is what God called her to and it’s a greater joy to be with Him. I actually did go lay down in my own bed and slept for at least 3 hours.

I still am wishing, hoping, praying for an “out’ from all the stresses we are currently under. But still praying to just stay close to God – to learn what I can from this situation. It may be accepting failure – something I’ve always had trouble with.

One thing is clear to me on so many levels, though, is how much love there is in my life. I am so thankful for that!

In “real life” news – we sold our house in 6 days – can you believe it? And over list price! And we closed on another house in town, in the older part. The house itself is likely in the range of 100-130 years old, a real character 🙂 We (DH) will have some changes to make to it so that we can rent out half and live in half, but it should be possible to do. It’s got a nice backyard and is walking distance to our little downtown. Big downsides: no wood burning fireplace 😦 and no attached garage. It will be much more “cosy” than our current big house but during the whole selling and buying process I felt so much lightness and joy, I think we are following God’s lead in this. I just wish He’d give us a path for both our careers so we could stabilize that way too.

Ah well. One day at a time. This weekend we’ll be visiting family to decorate my parent’s tree and visit in front of a real, wood burning fireplace. I am so looking forward to that!



A New Way To Pray

Well, I haven’t been blogging alot – as you can see. This school year has really been doing a number on me. I am teaching an age group that is relatively new to me and quite challenging (11-13 years old – I prefer older teens), and a subject that I know how to *do* but I don’t have a lot of background in how to *teach* – French. Previously I taught high school science, and believe there is a huge difference from that to elementary school French.

This is the most difficult challenge I’ve faced in my professional career. I am suffering. Yet I still believe that God has guided me here. In spite of all the stress and difficulty, I am experiencing times of consolation. I’ve been praying to be open to being like a clay pot that is ground into dust (that’s what it feels like is happening to me), so that the dust can be mixed with new clay and formed into whatever new vessel God wants – whether that means changes in me, or my career, or whatever. But it is hard to be “crushed” in this way.

I recently got the book “Sacred Rhythms” by Ruth Haley Barton to help me find a way to better meet my need for prayer. I’m about halfway through but I was really struck by some of the ways of praying that she describes. I think the “resting in prayer” idea has had the most impact for me right now.

“In the stillness we make yet another discovery: the Holy Spirit is the One who really knows how to pray. We discover that prayer is truest when it has passed beyond words into the realm where the Holy Spirit groans for us with utterances that are too deep for words (Rom 8:26-27). The silence becomes a time when we listen for the prayer that the Holy Spirit is praying deep within us as he moves between the depths of our human experience and the divine will, interceding for us beyond words.”

So, I tried what she describes a bit later in the chapter – basically sitting in quiet, asking for God’s help to discover the true prayer of my heart. I really didn’t know what it would be – to bring DH to a job, so that we have more security and options? To guide us in the sale of our house & the purchase of another? To open up a way for me to return to teaching in highschool so I don’t have to go through the enormously energy-sucking days that I have now? To miraculously make me the best teacher in the system? But no – none of these. The prayer that eventually welled up within was “Jesus, be with me.” And that prayer is one that I am turning to constantly, every moment I can and I think of it. Like the practice of the Jesus prayer – but because this one is so acute for me, it comes much more easily than the Jesus prayer as I tried to pray it in the past.

Another lovely part of this was the bit on intercessory prayer. I am probably a slow learner on this one … but really, does God need us to figure out what we think is needed in a person’s life (even our own) and struggle to put it into words, and ask for it? I guess I thought so, given the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. But to me it feels much more natural to take the approach in the book and just hold the person being prayed for in my heart, as I try to sit in stillness and silence. If a thought floats in about what I think they may need, I won’t shy away from bringing it forward, but really – if I can be in the Lord’s presence, and hold in my heart those I love – and those I may not feel love for, but I am still praying for – that feels very powerful to me.

I don’t think I could do this without the sense of Jesus beside me. I know there will be a time that this will all be behind me. I am learning much about finding joy in moments of suffering. I know there are far worse things that could be, and I have many blessings to be thankful for. But times are still incredibly stressful here. I can’t help but hope some relief will come soon. Meanwhile, my hope and strength is coming from the amazing love of my husband, family and friends – and from God. Jesus, please – be with me.