When 2020 started going sideways, I rediscovered some notes from a 2019 seminar.
“Chaos is the earth re-ordering itself,” our teacher, a Catholic nun, said at Springbank Retreat Center in Kingstree, S.C.
When change comes on such a large scale, she told us, the question is whether we will open to change ourselves or “re-entrench.”
I continue to ponder her words whenever I feel myself digging in and clutching at life as it was instead of opening to what is (aka reality).
Wisdom is written inside a lengthy catalog of crises and opportunities, if we’re paying attention. I wonder: What was the context of her own wisdom? What life experiences drove that wisdom?
Life is short. I don’t want to miss my joy, and I pray I’m not wasting my pain. I hope I’m learning to trust the storm.
St. Julian of Norwich
Hundreds of years ago, another nun wrote: “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.” Author Mirabai Starr tells us in this Huffington Post article that Julian of Norwich “had already witnessed three rounds of the plague, had probably lost everyone she loved and had nearly died herself,” before entering the convent.
Somehow I missed this context of suffering around Julian’s greatest writings until recently, even when quoting her in my June 2020 post, You Are So Very Loved. (I tip my hat to another author, David Anderson, and his book, Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul, for underscoring this aspect of Julian’s history.)
One thing I love about Suzanne Scurlock-Durana’s Full Body Presence, and its accompanying exercises she calls “explorations,” is her invitation to connect with the pain inside, to “dialogue” with it instead of flinching or ignoring it. For me, this pain could be physical or emotional, but either way, pain is a messenger. What’s really bothering me? What do I REALLY want?
I cry when I feel like crying. Then I listen up.
In the painful chaos surrounding us today, we have more time to examine our own inner pain, if we’re willing. We are not burdened by our previous consolations of routine pleasures, which – speaking for myself – were often just distractions in disguise.
What do we want from our work? From our life? Do we want to “reorder” or will we, intentionally or unintentionally, “re-entrench” by rushing to fill these empty spaces with busyness or even the numbing effects of intellectualizing what we’re feeling?
I don’t know the answers to these questions yet. But I pray for the courage to find out.