This time I want to find my way, explore my way, take my time. I want more than I have ever asked of myself before. Maybe it requires a silence and a centering that I have not yet – in my whole life really – given myself. ~ Pat Schneider
Sunday my ex-husband who is also my landlord, and I had the following interaction as we left a family supper: Me. “Oh, the gate was ripped off by the wind.” He replied, “Yes, it is on the ground.” I said, “No, I picked it up.” He questioned “Why?” “Because, “I didn’t want it in the way.” I shrugged and we said goodnight and left.
That night as I drifted off to sleep I started to laugh. We were talking about two different gates! He’d taken the back fence down to pull out the trailer stored in my back yard. Because the winds were heavy he realized that taking the mast off the large boat was a fool’s errand, so left the “gate” on the ground hoping for better weather. I was talking about the much smaller gate into the back yard. I’d left it open. The wind caught it and tore the old rusty screws from the post, dumping the gate cross-ways across the entry to the back yard.
How often do we believe we’re in conversation, from Latin conversationem nominative conversatio, “act of living with” and we’re just jabbering?
On Monday in an early morning meeting with two co-facilitators, L. said she was tired. She’d spent the night in ER with her husband who needed stitches in his arm. I interrupted to show-off a huge, ugly bruise on my arm. After we oohed and ahhed and talked about how we need to be aware of where our bodies are, my friend returned to her story. When I got home I felt bad for jumping on her story and emailed an apology. I felt especially silly because in the conversation about assigning participants to small groups we were wondering about those whose needs are so great they can derail a group. There I sat, exhibit A!
In the famous dream of King Solomon, he was asked what he would like to receive from God. Above all the material blessings of this world, he requested, “a hearing heart … that I may discern between good and evil” – (I Kings 3:9). The word for a hearing or listening or obedient heart is lev shomea, from the same root as shema, hear.*
The path for this 8 month journey we’re facilitating, begins with Thomas Merton’s book New Seeds of Contemplation. Our motto is “awareness, awareness, awareness!” We’re encouraging practices based in body, mind, heart and soul that invite us into awareness of our relationship with what/who some call the mystery with capital M. Along with meditation, spending time outside and contemplative reading, (Lectio Divina*), we’re inviting participants to write a spiritual autobiography as a way of deepening awareness of multiple dimensions of spirituality in our lives.
…my own writing that matters most to me are those pieces that have taken me out to the very edge of what I know and do not know I know. ~ Schneider
A year ago I began a quilt for my oldest grandson with a pattern he choose. Sewing the pieces together went terribly wrong. Clearly I’d cut once before measuring twice. Last Friday I tore it apart one more time and cut triangles into squares and sewed them together in a totally different configuration. This will form the centerpiece for a new pattern I’m creating based on his love of kayaking.
Sometimes, like the missed conversations and this quilt, pieces of my life are jagged triangles that twist and pull around me. I trust that by peering into the truths I “keep company with;” that by measuring my story twice the pieces “turn about” and provide a bigger picture of my own relationship with the Mystery.
*Pat Schneider, How the Light Gets In, writing as a spiritual practice, 2013.
*Conversation definition from the Online Etymology Dictionary, ( http://etymonline.com).