Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Becoming real

These thoughts were sparked by a conversation both elsewhere and offline; in the comments at Paul's place, he and Padre Mickey were discussing how they practice what is essentially holy mischief. One described it as, “loving people into wholeness.”

I seized on that. I’m still thinking about it, not necessarily in the Velveteen Rabbit sense of being loved into reality until your fur falls off, but truly being loved into deep and fearless authenticity—into the human being and child of God you were created to be.

Pause here for a minute. Hold yourself in your mind’s eye. What do you love about yourself, without even trying? What are you proud of? What are you happy about? What makes you smile, when you think about it?

Can you see it? Hold that joy, for awhile.

Now, look deeper. What wounds you? What keeps you from living up to your idea of perfect, or even good enough? What do you regret? Where have you disappointed yourself? What do you struggle with? What do you wonder if you’re ever going to get?

Our wounds make us human. They make us whole; they make us strong. They give us the ability to truly connect with other human beings, with creation, with our beloved, injured planet. They give us empathy, and compassion. They make us truly able to love.

Paul somewhere recently told a story about an airport experience he had. (I think it's in one of his Advent thoughts; not sure which, and don't have time to find it.) I don’t remember what inspired him to do it, but watching passengers pour into the gate, he looked at each and said quietly, “The Body of Christ.”

What if, when we looked into the eyes of human beings we’ve never spoken to, we saw, truly, who they are? What if we gave them the reverence we would show God?

In college and for about two years after, I volunteered at a domestic-violence shelter in Olympia. On the last night of training, we played the web game with a ball of yarn. Standing with us all in a circle, the leader asked,

“How do you want to love the world?”

I’ve never forgotten that question. We tossed the ball around, and each of us answered, catching a strand in our fingers until all were connected. I’ve no idea what I said; I was 21, as wet-behind-the-ears as they come, and interested in working with traumatized kids. But it’s not the kind of question, that you ever stop living.

What moves me now? The love of God, and the souls of humans. I was the shyest, most introverted, most terrified child on the planet; now I love being with people. I thrived on retreat ministry, last summer when I did it; I’m also passionate about mission. I don’t know what my ministry will end up looking like. But I know that I’m already doing it, now. Everyone gives who they are to the world. Skilled or not; intentional or not. We are all giving our lives, right now, to everyone around us—including those we’re unaware of.

What stirs your soul? What work do you most love? How do you play? What gift is your deepest challenge, deepest joy? What do you absolutely have to do, or you’ll go completely mad in the absence of it?

How do you want to love the world?


FranIAm said...

Now there is a provocative question... and one that I will be praying with today.

Beautiful post!

fjorlief said...

You always give me something important to think about...

And happy Christmas to you and yours

Suzer said...

Great questions. Unfortunately, I all too often find myself stuck in the "wounded" place, not having enough hope to get to the "love" place. Right now, what stirs my soul and what work do I most love lead me to some very cynical "what does it matter anyway because I'll never get there" answers. I feel like a jack-in-the-box that was pushed down one too many times, never to pop back up again.

Well, this would probably be a better post on my own blog! I'll try to think about these questions, and give them enough of a chance to sink in before I dismiss them with thoughts of impossibility.

Thanks for these -- I definitely *need* to ponder these questions, and the fact that I don't let such questions into my life very often.

Kirstin said...

Thank you, Fran!

Hi Fjorlief! Good to see you. :-)
Happy Birthday and Solstice, tomorrow.

Suzer-- Dear God, have I been there. (((hugs)))

Sometimes this kind of writing helps me get out of it. I'm in a better place in my own life than I've ever been--but trust me, I still struggle.

I'm very much with you.