The writings you encounter here usually emerge out of my prayer, meditation or digestion of life. I believe God is always at the center of these writings and I try to get out of the way, so as to be the vehicle to share wisdom and insight. I try very hard to cooperate with the primary author, God, and humbly accept my role in the process. I pray these words comfort and inspire you as God intends.
Extremes We Share
The ocean is a mystery. Its quiet majestic power is often times disguised.
Instead it sends off a message of calm, serenity with the constant movement of its waves.
The ocean is a paradox of extremes which is brought about by its depth and currents.
I am a paradox of extremes brought about by my depth and currents as well.
One moment it may look as calm and serene as a lake or be the reassuring constant waves, and at other times it can roar with such a power that it impacts the lives of others.
Some days I live my life in quiet contemplative waves. Reassured by the rhythm of my prayer and contemplation, and then there are days that the roar from my depths requires me to be as demonstrative as a hurricane, reminding us of God’s energy in ourselves and in nature.
It is the depth and power of the ocean that I understand as contemplation. How it is displayed in life is different – but the source of the movement, no matter how great or small are the same.
The ocean is one with itself; there is full and complete consumption – and this I seek!! To be at peace, being still in the greatest of the depth; THERE it is silence, waiting to let God take me to His depth – to accept, the peace, the silence, the darkness of the depth and KNOW it is the force that sustains me in the extremes of my work, my ministry, my call.
To not label the extremes, good or bad, for the ocean’s extremes remind us of its depth - so too, my extremes should remind me of the same.
Sea Isle 11/5/2014
The person called to solitude is a rare soul.
Identifying this hunger or need, in one’s soul is difficult.
The hunger for solitude is sometimes disguised as restlessness -- -
taking us the wrong direction.
The one who is called to solitude is purely content with their thoughts, prayers and presence with God.
There is no fear of being with self or being alone; the relationship with God and self, fill the mind, heart and imagination.
There is a fine line between isolating and seeking solitude – but how does one know the difference?....by its fruits.
Isolating comes from not wanting to see or interact with others.
Solitude is a desire to be still and alone with oneself and one’s God.
Isolating is usually a reaction to something or someone. (Usually moving away from something.)
Solitude is an action to seek silence of mind, body and spirit (usually moving toward something).
In seeking silence one must purify the motives and be able to more fully experience God’s voice and presence at that moment.
While silence and solitude have lost their allure in today’s world, it is still there beckoning the hungry heart to shake off the noise of this world and be still in the richness of a soul in solitude.
Seek solitude and the soul will soar!!
The Desert of Overwhelmed
I was at a conference last week and a presenter wanted us to name our deserts. Someone said ‘desert of over-whelmed' and I instantly connected and realized that so many others could relate to this as well. I must confess however, I am a single mom, who works full time, with full custody of three teenagers. So I always believe my ‘OVERWHELMED’ comes in capital letters.
Now the point of this article is not for us to die of thirst in the overstatement of our desert, but to know we are not alone and just like desert flowers, we will survive and blossom. How does our “overwhelmed” create the sense of desert? It is hard to breathe in the desert sometimes and when I am overloaded with fears, work, responsibility, I don’t breathe like I should. It is all shallow, or if it’s really stressful, I can hyperventilate. When in the desert we need to be aware of our breathing, or it could become dangerous. So I need to be more mindful and cautious about my breathing. Do it with purpose and with ease. I need to breath in the good of the arid air and release my fearful, stagnant air, trapped in my chest.
It can get lonely in the desert. I need to know when that is good and when it is dangerous. Being alone can be a great vehicle to self actualization and prayer. I need to steer clear of victim thinking and enjoy the riches from within me. And I need to know when to reach out and connect with others and community.
To tell you the truth I get thirsty in my desert of overwhelmed. I am thirsty for TIME. With more time I could nurture myself, my dreams and my connection with God and others. Attending to these things would more likely lift me out of my mental state of desert and empower me to deal with the issues causing the overwhelmed sensation.
Remember however, you are not alone in the desert, real or figuratively. Jesus, John the Baptist, the desert fathers, (the mystics) used desert time to strengthen their interior worlds. Maybe that is what God is calling on us to do as well. So be attentive to the inner workings of the Spirit. Don’t let the evil spirits have any leeway, always set your eyes on the good and holy activities within, anything else, negative or judgmental, command it to leave, for your God is at work within and no one else will reign there.
I personally believe that Jesus understood this desert of overwhelmed better than most. He was overwhelmed by His human side and by His divine side. Prayer was His answer to the desert of overwhelmed and I think this might be our most useful tool too. It will take a conscious effort to be in prayer, when overwhelmed. We must try to turn off the fear and the list making, long enough to be available to God’s voice, presence or silence.
Taking action, doing the next right thing, is proactive, but attending to the chronic overwhelmed feeling is our head and our hearts takes intentional actions of another kind: rest, prayer, meditation, service, baking, and/or needle point, etc. It is figuring out where in this desert we can find a respite and then intentionally be there. If we fail to do this, the desert expands in size and the feeling of overwhelmed will highjack our minds, hearts, relationships etc., and we miss out on the simple beauties of our life and perhaps the desert. We must try to learn to enjoy the landscape of the desert. We are in it for goodness sakes, so we might as well glean some of the beauties unique to this vantage point. The desert of overwhelmed will have a beginning point and an ending point, just as real deserts do. Just because I can’t see the end points, doesn’t mean it is not there or coming. Rest assured it will come and we will journey with God till that time and place.
A Broken Heart and the Garden
I have been called on in these last few days to reflect on the broken heart and/or divided heart. I know that a broken heart is totally different from a divided heart, but this is how it came together. I have been distracted, okay really devastated with a broken heart and as I have brought it to prayer, I realized that it has really divided my heart and my attention to God. I guess the brokenness literally makes me feel less able to give my whole heart to God in pray, diverting my attention and intention. Not only do I feel wounded by this broken heart, now I feel like I am limping through life and I know God doesn’t want that. I find it interesting that these disturbances in my human heart, are now affecting my spiritual life and my communication with God.
What I realized after limping through my days like this, I need to acknowledge what is going on inside, invite God into my pain and ask Him to heal and bind my heart together. I did this; I was literally imaging God gently binding my broken heart, and this visual led me to the image of the Sacred Heart. For me the image of the Sacred Heart is God’s way of saying “I understand your emotional pain caused by love.” This has been very comforting to me over the years. But this most recent reflection has taken this thought a little bit further. Jesus had to deal with the pain and division of a broken heart as well. Where in his life do we see it and how did he handle it? Before going into the desert was Jesus aware of potential division in his heart? Did he sense the various things in his life that were distracting him from giving God his whole heart? Perhaps he went into the desert for the healing and discernment: deciding there, whether he wanted to dedicate his whole heart to this ministry in which he was being called. Then, when faced with the temptations of Satan, did Jesus fear it might prey on his heart still somewhat divided, thus protesting “Step aside Satan”? Almost as a fearful cry for the
safety of his own heart? After which he was then able to say that he wanted and was willing to give his whole heart to his call and to his Father.
How about us?? When are we faced with temptation that may divide our heart? Or know that when facing a temptation my heart is only half its strength and fear my ability to stay steadfast to my desire to give God my heart?
What I have realized in examining the life of Christ, is that his broken heart was magnified in Gethsemane. It was downright painful, like the pain many of us experience in love, which didn’t have the intended outcome. There was Christ wailing, begging and even being angry with God in the garden that night– but it had to happen as it did. And somewhere in the garden God was able to heal and bind the heart of Christ to move forward. It is that way with
us!! Here is the reward such a painful garden experience of a broken heart, knowing and experiencing the hand of God in our emotional wreckage. God does heal our hearts and can, if we implore him to, just as Jesus did that night in the garden.
The healing can be so thorough and complete, that it can then generate enough love for Jesus to sustain and embrace the crucifixion. As too it is with us: having had turned our hearts over to God in our moment of despair, we can be made strong enough to endure our crucifixions which come in big and small ways daily.
To me this is the most powerful message God has given to us with the life of Christ. It is the true expression of him saying, through Christ, ‘I understand your emotional pain’. Here in the Garden Christ witnesses to us his unity with us in the emotional world and on the cross he tells us clearly he understands the physical pain of our life. These two messages are clearly sent to us in the image of the Sacred Heart. The crown of thorns lay on the heart piercing it. There we find the emotional and physically empathy of Christ in one image.
Gaining this clarity on this potential for emotional healing has been a huge help to comfort me through many crises. When I am too raw even to bring words to my lips in prayer, I imagine myself in the Garden, waiting on the Lord who heals all wounds with his eternal love and compassion. It might take me many visits there till full healing occurs, but it is my respite in the waiting for him to bind the wounds of my heart. It is then that I can accept the scares of the
wounds as reminders of God’s amazing ability to heal an injured heart and be a part of my human condition. I was comforted by these insights into Christ’s hurt or fragmented heart, which he took to his father in prayer, and so I will do the same.
By Kathy McCauley
When I was a girl my parents threw lots of parties, and the morning after each one we would all sit around the kitchen table talking about the people, the stories and the food. In my early years, the day after was what I loved most about those parties. Years later when I was in graduate school, which refer to as my analytical years, I thought that “that day after processing” of my parents parties was so judgmental. But now that I am close to fifty, I see what that “processing” really was “digestion”.
“Digestion” of life events is perhaps one of the most neglected processes of our social life. To digest life is somewhat like food digestions. We need to savor it, the moment, the people, and the fragrance. We must have time to absorb all the nurturing that each experience has to offer.
Recently I was thinking about my daughters and realized that they both had experienced significant moments in their lives these past few weeks. One daughter took her First Holy Communion and the other one her Confirmation. I hardly remember the events because I was so focused on making sure everything was just right, that everyone was dressed properly and that they all arrived on time. These types of events are rites of passage, and if I miss these important moments, my girls will be grown up and on their own before I even know what happened in those years.
I have only come to see the value in taking the time to digest life since I have begun working full time, away from home, while trying to balance the needs of my family. As the weeks turn into months so many important events and experiences begin to blur together in my mind. Life is beading off me like rain on a good London Fog. It feels as if nothing is being absorbed into my heart. Most days, it seems that I am just going through the motions of living, trying desperately to find enough energy and orangization to start another week on the tread mill of life.
I recall an old wise tale as I reflect on this topic; not to swim right after eating, you must wait an hour for your food to digest. This advice always made sense when we were young and naïve, but it doesn’t appear to be accurate for swimming any long. Perhaps there is some wisdom to be discovered in this saying. If we could take an hour or a week or a day to digest life as it is coming at us, we might be able to savor the juices that would quench our thirst for more.
As much as I know the methods and means of “meditation” and prayer, that all seems to get lost inmy crowded schedule. I often wonder about the joys that I would discover if I were to take the time to sit and reflect on my life. Perhaps it could be as simple as taking a few moments to remember the big and the small events of each day or week. As I seek to understand the process of “digesting” life events, I will choose to allow myself the luxury of time to experience life in all of its wonder. And at the end of each day, my heart and soul will be nurtured and illed with god’s goodness, just as He plans for me to feel.
Lord, there is pain and I want out!!
I call to you, but I know it is mine.
Emotional pain is so lucid – at other times mysterious.
Where are you in it? How can you help me? When will you help me?
I will ride the waves of joy and ecstasy and give you your due glory –
But in despair, what am I to do? Thank you or curse you?
It extracts all my energy and vision…how am I to serve you in this state?
You, hold and contain ALL!!!
You make all things holy and whole.
I know this to be true –
So I must blindly believe
That my shattered inner world can become whole- and holy- when abandoned to you.
Hold me then, until all that is within me is healed, whole and holy in your sight.
Kathy McCauley, October 2015