After our move to Arkansas a month ago, I find myself in a new place with new people. A new season. A fresh adventure. I do love adventures though they can be risky. Fortunately, when I find myself beyond myself, I do reach out for God. That has been a constant saving grace in my life, and I am so grateful for that gift. I like to think that God places me in my garden and asks me to tend it. I trust that God is with me. A pervasive, pursuing presence. I love God’s tenderness–how it makes me long to be tender to all in my life.
While many here do not know me, I have come to believe that no one knows and understands me like God does. I believe that God is constantly at work in creation and that includes me. Like Mary, I am to simply “let it be done unto me.” Allow myself to be loved, to be given to, and to be worked upon. To take a posture of receiving rather than controlling. To allow the power of the Most High to overshadow me. That phrase draws me in and causes me to pause and ponder its meaning. I’m left with, “It’s you God, not me! Thank goodness!”
Almost two years ago, I participated in something called, Retreat in Daily Living*, experiencing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in a small group. I was asked to put the program’s principle and foundation statement into my own words. At that time, I wrote:
“Life is God’s ongoing gift of love to me. All of creation is meant to be a gift. How I receive this gift, my response in love, is to allow God’s love and life to flow through me in praise, honor, and service to God and others.
I am to partner with God to lovingly build a more just and gentler world. I may use God’s created gifts to help in my mission, holding them with reverence and gratitude. I either embrace or release them depending on whether they help or hinder me in God’s plan but they must not become the center of my life, replacing God. With God’s grace, I face life as it is, indifferent to the outcomes, trusting God’s mystery and sovereignty. My holy preference is to choose what better leads to the deepening of God’s life and love in me.
I honor my own uniqueness in this particular time and space in which I live as well as the uniqueness of others. I can be me and honor you being you.
I’m struck by how meaningful these words are to me right now in this new season. How they comfort and guide me on the path before me. I pray they may be an encouragement to you as you go about tending your garden in your unique place and time.
I also ran across a scripture passage that spoke to me back in 2005 when our family was preparing to go on a family mission trip.
“Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Joshua 3:5
It is speaking to me afresh today as we enter this new adventure. Oh, that I would live every day allowing the Lord to consecrate me in order to participate in the amazing things God will do among us tomorrow.
I’ll leave you with a prayer that my youngest daughter made into a bookmark as a Mother’s Day gift to me this year. I have found it a fruitful way to start my days. I like to linger with it, allowing God to speak to me anew each morning.
A Liturgy for First Waking
I am not the captain of my own destiny,
nor even this day, and so
I renounce anew all claim
to my own life and desires.
I am only yours, O Lord.
Lead me by your mercies
through these hours,
that I might spend them well,
not in hurried pursuit of my
own agendas, but rather
in good service to you.
Teach me to shepherd the small
duties of this day with great
love, tending faithfully those
tasks you place within my
care and tending with
patience and kindness the
needs and hearts of those
people you place within my
reach. Nothing is too hard
for you, Lord Christ. I deposit
now all confidence in you
that whatever these waking
hours bring, my foundations
will not be shaken.
At day’s end I will lay me down
again to sleep knowing that
my best hope is well kept in you
In all things your grace
will sustain me.
Bid me follow,
and I will follow. **
*Retreat in Daily Living; Kevin O’Brien, SJ
**Every Moment Holy, Volume 1; Douglas Kaine McKelvey