Insight: The Slow, Patient Love (Omid Safi)

image

Too often, at least from personal experience, busyness gets in the way of forming and sustaining bonds. Yes, we are busy, however we are robbed in the process, of something fundamental to life: intimacy.  Omid Safi shares his thoughts on this, in this article.

What kind of love do we show? Can we be more present? More attentive? More sincere?

Insight: Eternal Communion

It is by the love of God through his incarnate Son, joined in the Spirit that we are here. We are social beings, community-seekers and home-makers.

I found this insight cause for meditation tonight, so I share it with you.

I am created for eternal communion.

image

Hey, how are you going?

Hey, how are you going? Are you tired? Have you felt swamped under the weight of the various tasks you have to get done? Maybe you’ve been feeling a bit under the weather? Me too.

Let’s pause for a moment to hear God’s word:

image

“Abide in me,” says the Lord. “Come to me with all your troubles, worries and sighs. Come to me however you are, as you are, and come and rest in me. You’ve had a tiring day at work. You’re exhausted from running errands. You don’t sleep well at night, and your baby keeps crying. Your loved one is ill and your bills are piling high, stressing you out. Whatever it is, come. Rest in me. Abide in me. Take refuge in my warm embrace and know that I love you and am with you. For in me, you are home. In me and with me, my strength is your strength, my peace, your peace. Beloved one, I bless you and embrace you.”

Reblog: Making Safe the Shadowlands

image

Editor’s note: I was delighted to have Jane** send me a link to her reflection on companionship in the midst of depression. The area of mental health and wellbeing is in my mind, still largely misunderstood, as many who have depression for example,  are still seen as having weaknesses or conditions they can switch off. As such, here are a few extracts from the article, which I have selected for your consideration and personal reflection. The post can be accessed in full here. 

Wayne Hutchinson [in his blog post] laid bare his inner light, strength, insight and solidarity this week. What struck me is his reference to depression as a “companion”. I know there is something in trying to accept some of our struggles so that we don’t lose so much energy in denying them. However, I still see mental health challenges as more of a cross than a companion.

In citing Hutchinson:

As I walk downstairs, drying the tears on my cheeks, I encounter the most beautiful of smiles, worn by my beautiful two-year-old niece, whose face bears the look of someone without a care in the world, the way all kids should be.I ask her for a hug and she lovingly obliges. This small hug from a little girl will get me through this day. That hug felt like the best one I’ve ever received. It’s just what I needed….

And in another:

I called my Mother for help – she’d been in and out my room to me for days, trying to help, but I was too scared to even speak to her… Eventually I found my voice in her company. She listened to what I had to say and we both cried together.

On recounting her own experience, Jane writes:

I was experiencing debilitating depression… I was not getting out of bed let alone leaving the house. A friend of mine called over and didn’t tell me to look on the bright side or list all the things I had going for me or drag me out into a world I wasn’t able to deal with. Instead, he got into the bed beside me, put an arm around me and joined me in my darkness. I was not alone.

And finally, through empathy:

I see the blessing in how this enables me to sense others hurting, be compassionate and journey with them in solidarity, understanding my brother or sister’s fear and darkness as my own. (We are one in Christ/humanity/whoever your God). It allows me to do, in my own way, as my cherished friend taught me- to get in under the covers and hold others in my heart, join them in their hurt and hold on until, God willing, the grip loosens just enough to fathom that no shadow can exist without light.

Somewhere in all of this I grew in faith. I came to know a Jesus who joins us in our suffering while promising ultimate triumph over the worst of it.

“In the inner chambers of your heart, God steps past all your talent and hard work — all that you would think he values. He goes straight for the messy, broken places in you because it’s there that you can truly discover him. This is the way he frees your heart to love, to risk, to grab hold of life for the joy that’s there.” — Paula Rienhart from Strong Women, Soft Hearts

Bring to awarenees, the times where you’ve been messy and broken. Did you notice the companionship of God in there? Are you able to notice it now? How can we hold others in our hearts, join others in their hurt and hold on, until “the grip loosens just enough to fathom that no shadow can exist without light?”

_____________________________

Jane** (not her real name) is one of our readers from Europe. She graciously allowed me to share her article.

*Do you have an insight, question or understanding about ‘companionship’ that you wish to have published here? For contributions and to discuss possible authorship, please contact Geralyn via email: missionandidentity@fcjasau.org.au.

Prayer: For Looking Beyond the Visible

The following are the words of fellow blogger, Cookie, in response to the image of Pope Francis embracing the disfigured man. Her post touches on the importance of recognition – of being present to another, and in that, recognising them as who they are in the love of God.

Keeping Company Pope Francis

Photo credit: Unknown

Prayer for Looking Beyond the Visible

May we, may I,
Look beyond the visible surface of appearance, reaching out to those who yearn to be touched and loved and connected; to those who just wish to be sure of the companionship of another human being who recognizes that they too are human beings, longing for recognition and for the connection of a deep intrinsic bond – to touch and be touched; to love and be loved.

Amen, Amen

The World as Icon

I was greeted this morning by this sight:

image

Yes, indeed, the world is charged with God’s holy grandeur, and nature serves as icons into the divine.  I invite you then perhaps for prayer today, to make it a priority or conscious effort to contemplate something from nature.

However, try to remember that:

When you are standing in front of an icon, it is as if you are looking through a window into the heavenly world of the mystery. But this is a two-way window. As you look though the window, you are also being seen with the eyes of love by those in the icon. It’s like you become a part of the mystery that the icon seeks to express.

Give thanks from the heart. And let God take you in loving embrace.

References:
Icons as Religious Art

The Shared Work of Friendship

It was Aristotle who observed that authentic friendship had to begin with shared work toward the good. | Tim Muldoon

What might this mean? Friendship, authentic friendship, indeed love, has to be founded on the basis of shared work toward the good. The emphasis on the nature of things shared is an important qualification, since sharing requires among other virtues, that of humility. In sharing, we say to the other, “I entrust to you, a part of what I have,” because to hold on and to keep for oneself is just that – for oneself only. How often we observe in children this dynamic at work when we encourage them to share! Some give happily, letting what they have go to another, trusting that the toy or object will return to them. Others more reluctantly cling on to the object, afraid that if they give up what they have, it’ll be lost from them forever. Learning to share is a lifelong task of refinement that also requires patience.

image

To share is to give a part of oneself to another. Image source: Mom 2 BB Reviews

How might shared work contribute to friendship? To have an aim, a cause, a goal, a desire, a dream or a vision for one’s life or worldview is worthwhile, but to let someone else in on that is to entrust another with a certain care and responsibility for a part of that which is near to you, and a part of you. This, I believe, is what Ignatius wrote, taught and practiced: that love ought to be shown more in deeds than in words. [Spiritual Exercises #230] To let another walk with you in this life, to share in the journey together is indeed an act of friendship and love, as much as is accompanying another. True love works mutually in the exchange of giving and receiving. It is breaking bread with one another.

image

Prayer:
Loving God, help me to see the good to which I’m called to work. Help me to share in this work, that with the grace of humility I may let go. Give me the courage to say ‘yes’ to you in accompanying another, and the humility to let them accompany me. Help me to enter ever more deeply into your invitation of friendship and love. Amen.

—–
Editor’s note: The rest of Timothy Muldoon’s insight may be found here.

In Celebration of Twitter Joy

Keeping Company

There’s celebrity (noun., a well-known or famous person) and then there’s celebrated (verb., originally of the Mass, from the Latin celebrare, meaning ‘to assemble in honour’).

Keeping CompanyWe are celebrating that editor of America magazine, author and prolific Ignatian voice, Fr James Martin SJ (a celebrity-of-sorts in our view) is officially our first ‘follower’ on Twitter. This may sound like childish star-struck glee combined with a certain geekiness for all things Ignatian, but perhaps it is also in fact, a real celebration of life and the makings of connection.

Let me explain.

There is no fanciful media circus here, but a simple acknowledgment and recognition of the other. In our following of @JamesMartinSJ, we expand our network and even horizon by reading what he’s tweeting about. Likewise in his following of Keeping Company fcJ (@walkwithyoufcj), he too will receive tweets and updates about our work and mission. Of course in no way does it mean that we’re now best buds, but a connection has been made, especially so for us, I feel, because he is our ‘first’. (Oh gosh, maybe I am a star-struck geek!)

It always feels good, it is always affirming and it is always good news when people work together. This is what community is about, what Church is about, ekklesia. Too often we hear of one party in opposition of another, or of one group as distinct from another, what about drawing on what we share in common?

Inclusion, community, welcome, mutuality, humility, acceptance, recognition and connection – these are the values of the gospel. We may never meet, Fr Martin and our mob down under, but that doesn’t matter because working for the Kingdom of God is already gift and grace itself. To be called, to be chosen, to be followers of Christ, that is something to celebrate!

So don’t mind my geeky exuberance about this little and seemingly insignificant gesture – I am celebrating that God really is present here. Even on Twitter. Even on the Internet. Please join us on Twitter, and celebrate life with us. Like us on Facebook if you haven’t already. And keep reading, talking and giving us feedback! At the end of the day, it’s not about our cause of “FCJ mission and identity promotion”, but about working together with one another for the coming and already-present Kingdom of God. And don’t you think it’s already a little like heaven?  As Jesus said to his disciples: “I no longer call you servants, but friends…” (John 15:15)

For reflection

  • How have you spread the good news today?
  • How has joy shown itself in your day? Is it something you have shared?
  • Has an encounter made a difference to your day? Or perhaps you’ve made a difference in someone’s life?
  • We are not random and separate entities. Through our baptism and through the Spirit of God, we are united. By our very creation in God, we are all held together in love.

AMDG.

A Conversation With God

God Delights In YouI recently came across an exercise of the imagination, where God speaks and you are invited to respond. I suggest going through each point slowly, savouring each with a deep breath and pause. However many you respond to is of course, yours to decide. But let the gentle and loving, forgiving and understanding voice of God speak to you, from this excerpt from a book called God Delights In You by John T. Catoir:

  • You don’t have to be clever to please Me. Just speak to Me as you would to anyone who cares about you.
  • Are there any people you want to pray for? Tell Me their names and ask for as much as you want. I am generous. Trust Me to do what I know is best.
  • Tell Me about your pride, your touchiness, your self-centeredness, your laziness. I still love you in spite of all your faults. Do not be ashamed in My presence. There were many saints in heaven who had the same faults as you. They prayed, and little by little their faults were corrected.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for blessings for body and mind, for health, memory and success. I can give everything.
  • Tell me about your failures, and I will show you the cause of them. What are your worries? Who has caused you pain? Tell Me about it. Forgive them and I will bless you.
  • Are you afraid of anything? Have you any tormenting, unreasonable fears? Trust yourself to Me. I am here and will not leave you.
  • Have you no joys to share with Me? Tell Me about them. What has happened since yesterday to cheer your spirit and comfort you? Whatever it was, big or small, remember that I prepared it for you. Show Me your gratitude.
  • Are there temptations bearing heavily upon you? Yielding to them always disturbs the peace of your soul. Ask Me, and I will help you overcome them.
  • Well, go along now. Get on with your work or play. Try to be humbler, more submissive, kinder to others. Come back soon and bring Me a more devoted heart. Tomorrow I shall have more blessings for you.

Lessons from the otters

I will never cease to be amazed by the wisdom embedded in the created world. I just learnt that when otters sleep, they do so holding each other, to keep each other from drifting apart.

image

What does such a gesture evoke in you?

Please share your comments below.