Embracing the Unexpected

On Friday my brother texted to see if I would be free on Saturday night for a visit. He and my sister-in-law would drive from the Quad Cities (4 cities that border the Mississippi River between Illinois and Iowa) for Mass and dinner. It was a lovely and unexpected surprise.

We had a delightful conversation with our parish priest after Mass. Then my other brother joined us and we celebrated family time together with bottles of wine at a local winery tasting room and then dinner. By the time we got home I reminded myself that I usually write this blog on Saturday evenings. Instead of shifting gears and putting pressure on myself to sit down and write, I embraced the theme of my Abbey of the Arts retreat, A Different Kind of Fasting. Our theme was fasting from multi-tasking and in-attention and embracing full presence to the moment. I opted to write this in the morning, this Sunday morning. When you are used to making sure every deadline and commitment is met, that no one is disappointed, or that I don’t disappoint myself by not following through on a plan, that my friends, was a big step for me!

In another mini-retreat I participated in this week, 5 days of reflection on Life as a Sacred Pilgrimage with Grateful Living, we were introduced to a poem by Maya Stein “in praise of I don’t know“. All week this verse has danced and repeated in my mind and soul “What if we could let ourselves rest for a little while in this halo of I don’t know, feel its soft touch against our urgent skin.” Perhaps that was the invitation I needed to allow change and flexibility in my routine. To be present to the unexpected adventure in my journey through the weekend. We begin journeys with a map but the memorable ones are those when we veer from the path to explore something new.

I woke up early this a.m. to very heavy fog. Everything was still and quiet. I read a morning prayer from the book of Kings, where after walking forty days and forty nights, Elijah encounters God not in the strong wind, earthquake or fire but the “light silent sound”. I let gratefulness for my family, for a lovely evening, for my faith and our parish overflow into a blessing of the day. Then I thought about today’s Gospel reading of The Transfiguration. I am so much like Peter! Jesus, knowing what lies ahead and the despair the apostles are going to experience during his arrest, crucifixion and death, gives three of the apostles a glimpse of heaven and his Divine Presence. Peter immediately wants to organize and put up tents. God’s voice interrupts the planning and reminds them, be here right now, listen.

What would happen in our daily lives if we just paused and listened more? Maybe it’s a poem that you read or a foggy morning that provides some insight for a situation in your life or decision you have to make. Perhaps it will be an unexpected invitation to break from the endless list of “have to’s” and accept the proposition to embrace something more life-giving. It is in those moments that we have to opportunity to listen to Spirit, to embrace activities that will nourish and sustain us.

I think John O’Donohue’s “For The Traveler” conveys this perfectly:

When you travel,
A new silence 
Goes with you
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

Listen a bit more closely this week.

Peace, Deena

Image: A pillar on the Camino heading towards Santiago de Compostela.

I have had a longing to walk the Camino before and after my visit to Spain and seeing pilgrims end their journeys at the Cathedral. So, last year I walked a virtual Camino and this was one of the lovely images shared on the app as we walked towards Santiago de Compostela.

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