Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Chihuahua is Alright

The Chihuahua has been alive and well and completely manic for the last long while so entering into worship has been seemingly less than rewarding. I sit still with my body mostly quiet, so I suppose I appear to others to have an Old Argus mind (Argus is my dog, the most gentle, mellow, wonderful dog ever). While my body is still, my mind is racing like a young greyhound after a jackrabbit. Mark and I have tried to remember to have daily worship with one another. We sit in the Quiet Room in The Burrow for 15 or so minutes in worship and then perhaps will do a bit of worship sharing around a query or whatever came up for one of us out of worship. I sit, quiet my body, and try to quiet my mind: I express my gratitude to God for the myriad blessings in my life, sometimes try to hold someone or something in prayer but generally by then The Chihuahua has been yipping with the determination of a fly at a picnic. This has been the pretty consistent state of my mind for months and months.

I don’t feel frustration with myself or feel I am failing or doing something wrong. I accept that this is the way my brain works and have found other ways I am able to connect with God. Although I’m not generally able to feel God’s immediate presence in the stillness of worship, I am aware of God with me and around me and sometimes through me. I know God is with me when I sit in silence waiting with others, even when The Chiuhauhua is yapping so loudly I’m utterly distracted from my awareness of God.

Last weekend, when working with Mark on our goal for Couples Enrichment, I felt God’s presence intimately and purely. God was with us, guiding us, as we held our relationship in prayer. When we sat in worship together on Monday, I thought about my inability to center into mental stillness in worship but how God is so near to me. In the past, it seemed to me that when The Chihuahua held ownership of my mind, I tended to be distant from God, unable to be immediately aware of God’s presence. But for the past year, year and a half or maybe longer, I’ve been more deliberately attentive to the practices I know bring me closer to God: writing, reading and especially talking with f/Friends about God and spiritual matters. I realize that not being able to be all Good Quaker by centering and quieting and going deep into worship is ok with God. I feel sure that God is good with whatever works for each of us. My intention in worship is to become aware of God and maybe I won’t be able to do so as centeredly, weightily or consistently as other Friends, but I will do it in my way, the way God made me to be, and it will be good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Turning Outward

Mark and I were edified this week by participating in an FGC Couples Enrichment weekend. Couples were encouraged to identify and define a goal for the next year for their relationship. Our goal is spiritual in nature. Our main obstacle is our own tendencies toward procrastination so we decided to try to do a weekly worship—like a meeting for worship for the conduct of business for us as a couple—in which we hope to listen to any leadings God may have for us, set our intentions for the week, and create structure for ourselves in order to help us meet our goal. Scheduling our time somewhat will allow us to pursue things we feel are important--worship sharing, reading, studying, writing--but that we’ve not been attentive to recently because of more frivolous distractions. We trust that seeking God’s guidance will allow the myriad facets of our lives to take their rightful places.

As Mark and I sat together discussing our vision, I was given a clear message that we are to stop being so self-indulgent and prepare ourselves to take responsibility for what we have been given. Our goal is spiritual, learning to live together in Christ, but it seems that realizing this goal is grounded in the physical reality of The Burrow and so we are to apply ourselves to readying our home to offer hospitality. I think, perhaps in a feng shui-y kind of way, the boxes of books and dusty bookshelves are symbols of inattention. Making The Burrow comfortable and interesting for guests and for our family is the beginning of a larger calling, I think.

I do not in any way believe in a “name it and claim it” kind of theology. I don’t believe that God wants us to prosper in material wealth but in Truth. When I say that all I identified as wanting to bring into my life—and more—has been given me, it has. But I believe it has because stating my desires was done while seeking God’s will for me: listening, praying, waiting and discerning. When I wrote the blog in December 2010 about what I wanted to create in my life, it was informed by years of prayer and learning, conversations with centered and trusted Friends and even a Clearness Committee. After I wrote it, I lost my marriage, my job and my home and, against reason and my own impulses, was clearly instructed by God to… wait. Waiting is hard, especially when one hasn’t a clue why one is to wait. But the message to me was clear and so I waited. It wasn’t easy; at times I felt fear, anxiety, frustration, even despair, but I trusted God to have a plan and waited.

And then Mark entered my life bringing love and great joy! Our love brought this home and the amazing miracle of all my intentions into existence. I’ve spent the past two months awed at how good God has been to me, grateful every moment for Mark and the wonder and beauty of the life we’re creating together. But especially grateful to have been given the lesson of listening and waiting, the gift of faith.

The last two months with Mark have been a honeymoon, learning the day-to-dayness of how to live together, share, work side-by-side, balance needs, and rely on one another. We’ve had a marvelous time playing, laughing, and loving together. I wouldn’t say we’ve been irresponsible; what I would say, though, is that we’ve spent a lot more energy between us than directed outward. "To everything turn, turn, turn…" It wasn’t inappropriate for us to do that for a time. When we talked about our goal for the year, however, I had the clear message that it is time for us to use our energy to begin to actively bring the gifts we’ve been given to fruition. It is time to act.

I’ve no idea where this is going to lead, no clue what the outcome will be. God’s guidance is like that of a GPS—you only get the next little bit of the map, the part you need right now to act. Mark and I are learning to pray, wait, listen and discern together. When I said that I felt God clearly telling me that we are to begin turning our energies outward, he responded by saying the leading sounds true to him. I feel blessed beyond words to have this kind, passionate, hilariously funny man who is also my true spiritual helpmeet.