Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When God swoops in

Florence convent: God helped lead me here during a 3-mile walk at midnight

Listen to post:

What's the hardest thing you ever been asked to or felt compelled to do? I believe mine, so far in this life, is just beginning. Perhaps the hardest and the simplest, in that I am following my heart, but it's leading me to a more exterior life than I have had in quite awhile... one that, in fact, scares me.

Since I left full-time work to raise kids, flirt with freelance, nurture training and volunteering, I have had the flexibility to deal with chronic issues. It's also what has allowed me time for introspection and a spiritual journey. What, I ask out loud, happens if I don't have the energy and stamina to make this next, big step of taking my nurture work out of a faith-community context and into the real world?

In a surreal labyrinth walk when I wrestled with this question, Jesus met me in the center with the promise that I would not be asked to give more than I would be assisted with. As my shamanic counselor says: "You've got the Big Guy in your corner." He, the counselor, also understood my fear: "Well, you have struggled with that issue before."

Nevertheless, I am forging ahead: beginning to negotiate for a space and applying for a grant ... though I know full well I will secure that space with or without the grant. My Quaker clearness committee for this work and the grant  suggested a partner may help. I agree, but am not sure who or where that support lies. I am being called, I think, to walk forward even in the doubt and trust that I will be given what I need when I need it.

When I inspect my history, I always have:
– Like the time I devastatingly discovered my nurture training in Philadelphia was happening NOW, not next week when my flight was booked, my childcare was lined up and my mother would be back in town. I fell apart but, with my husband's strong support, I was on my way in 12 hours. After three delays, the elder who picked me up suggested that  I unpack and re-ground before joining the group. In doing so,  I noticed I had, fortunately, forgotten only one item: dental floss. As I opened the empty dresser drawer to put my clothes away, something tucked away in the corner caught my eye; an unopened package of floss. This discovery was accompanied by the message of "Trust and I will give you what you need." The bigger gift I received that very day was to know how much I had been missed by arriving late. Until then, I had not felt a very integral part of this community. Apparently, I was traveling on God's time.

– Or, when I was sitting in the bath tub one morning contemplating just slipping away because the pain and violent vertigo were too much. I glanced at the clock and realized Lily would be home from kindergarten in an hour and I could not let her find me. I dressed, then threw a tantrum, pounding my fists on the floor and screaming at God to help me. A small voice said: "Go to what you know." "What the hell is that right now?" I snarled back, then sat down at my nearby computer and began researching drug reactions. It was all I could do. I soon learned that I was having withdrawal from a nasty drug used to treat fibromyalgia my now ex-doc had recommended stopping altogether. But, you know, that little piece of information made all of the difference; it didn't ease the chore of going back on and weaning off, but it showed me just how much God cared and completely altered my attitude.

– On a solo trip to Italy, arriving after 17 hours of planes, shuttles, trains and a bus with no English speakers, I pointed to my map and was anxiously shoved off, completely lost, into an abandoned-looking district. I eventually found that street names are embedded on the sides of buildings and, in tears, not knowing how much farther my journey, noticed a sign in English in the back of a small Italian car window that read: "I am with you" and I knew I was not alone ... not ever.

– Also at midnight in Florence, with no buses in sight,  I began walking the three miles to the convent, praying to arrive safely. I figured out a general path back, ducked into a small hotel to check my map and a kind employee, who spoke English, pointed me in the safest direction. "You have a long way to go," he said. I responded: "But you don't know how far I've come." I felt God's presence the entire way back, returning late and exhausted, but in one piece. When I awoke the next morning, I was exhilarated that we had made that journey together.

When I think about these instances, I am stunned by how much God does, indeed, show up of me, whenever I ask and even when I don't. I am certain there are so many other times, probably daily, that I don't even bother to notice. Wow.

• What is God currently asking of me?
• How have I responded?
• When has God given me what I needed when I needed it?
• How am I able to trust that will happen?
• How can I practice awareness of where God is working in my life?

always at my weakest
alone and frightened
overwhelmed, perhaps
unable to continue

God swoops in
in some unexpected way

and rescues me

that I CAN
count on

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