A physical reminder of hope

There are things I experienced as a child that left so much unresolved pain deep inside that it began to express itself in physical ways.  At seven years old I began a habit every time the pain would feel so overwhelming that I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to take another breath.  I would cross my arms and dig my fingernails into my inner arm until the emotional pain felt under control.  In ways I cannot explain it created a false sense of comfort in my darkest days.

Over the past few years I’ve been able to work through many of these painful experiences.  I’ve identified them, worked through them, offered forgiveness and asked for forgiveness.  A loving husband, compassionate friends, knowledgeable counselors, and in prayer I’ve realized that this part of my story, however difficult to share-actually connects me to the people around me in meaningful ways.

During this time of sabbatical I am becoming more aware of other ways I have allowed compulsion to direct my actions rather than being physically, spiritually and emotionally prepared to live life in a way that allows me to be fully present.  I’m discovering ways I need to let go and put on a new self in order to become better equipped to love those around me.  This is the making new that seems increasingly necessary to let go of my old ways and move towards  maturity.

I’ll end my sabbatical in a few months visiting a monastery here in Kentucky-something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  As someone might prepare for a long physical race I’m practicing silence now in preparation for the prolonged silence I’ll experience there.   As a full time farming mother silence comes in hidden places that I must make more room for.  I’m learning to just be-whenever possible.  I’m also learning to see the everyday moments around me as more significant and holy.

While I will end my sabbatical in silence I started it with a very physical reminder of hope.  I am fondly calling this My Girl.  The friend I’ve finally found the courage to meet.  She’s placed at the exact spot where my physical pain would momentarily silence my emotional pain.  A reminder that life is a journey of both pain and joy. While most like a swallow she’s a combination of several inspirations I’m drawn to in nature combined with suggestions from Nathan.  Most importantly, she is in a position of openness and vulnerability that is the starting point for strength.  From there I simply let go of all control and trusted the artist to introduce us to her.

He heals the brokenhearted : and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:  3

I’m realizing that much more than this physical reminder of hope is the carving out of space for contemplative prayer and intentional living.  It’s the letting go of the things that I once thought necessary that is creating opportunities to get to know my true self.  Not the self created by the intentions and desires of others, but my true and original self that was made for unconditional love.

“No man has a right to lead such a life of contemplation as to forget his own ease of the service due his neighbor; nor has any man a right to be so immersed in active life as to neglect the contemplation of God.”  Augustine of Hippo