Meditation of the Heart (Yaconelli) Day 5

Today’s contemplation is on suffering.  Mark Yaconelli, in his book Wonder, Fear, and Longing, brings forth the parable of healing a guy who gets carried around on his mat by friends who are determined to get him to Jesus for healing. This Mark 2 pericope focuses on a guy I call Matt.  I envy Matt.  He’s got (at least) four friends who stop at nothing, not even crowded doorways, to see that Matt goes before a man whom they know has been healing folks all day long in this one house.

The narrative doesn’t tell us what happened to Matt, but he is paralyzed. We don’t get any insight to his friends’ knowledge of what happened to Matt to make him paralyzed.  Maybe he was injured; or maybe he’s been paralytic since birth.  We are not given any of Matt’s back story to know his hurts, frustrations, issues, or challenges beyond being paralyzed. But, if we were to put ourselves in Matt’s place, we would know our own hurts, frustrations, issues and challenges.

When Jesus sees Matt being lowered down from the roof inside the house, he addresses the paralytic and his friends. Mark tells us, when Jesus saw their faith (meaning Matt’s friends too), he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Whhuttt??!!  He doesn’t say ‘be healed’; he says, the things that have deterred you from a relationship with God have been cancelled and forgiven.  I guess Jesus was saying, yeah you’re physically struck but what’s more important is how you relate to your Creator.

The Pharisees asked about this too because they didn’t think anyone but God was able and allowed to forgive sins. Jesus asked them “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?”  In other words, Is it easier for us to be confident is God’s willingness to forgive us when we do things that jeopardize our relationship with God, than it is to restore movement to a paralytic?

Yaconelli asks us to spend some time thinking about our own suffering which we usually keep hidden – shame, fear, frustration… and, he asks this, which I found insightful: How does this hurt live inside your body?

Six years ago I had breast cancer and I spent time in my cancer-fighting days reviewing my life events considering what I might have done to enable cancer to present itself in my body. I thought about how stress impacts your well being – heart disease, neck and back pain, etc. and how not living according to your heart’s dream compromises your integrity, These questions still come up when I’m on my yoga mat. So, this Marcan story and Yaconelli, in this contemplation, has me connecting the way I take care of my body (or don’t) with my relationship with God.

Meditations of the Heart (Thurman) Day 2

Rev. Howard Thurman begins his second day of devotions this way: “There is very great virtue in the cultivation of silence, and strength to be found in using it as a door to God.” (18)

I remember my cancer days when I was living alone, trying to fight in and through the imposed silence of illness and recent divorce.  I remember the endless days of prolonged silence, prayers and tears.  I remember focusing on pink healthy tissue and talking my body into warrior mode. I remember thinking God was disciplining me for some infraction in my past – some direction I had or hadn’t taken, some choice I had made that went against God’s divine will for me. I remember, and still experience at times, a depression so pervasive that not only my spirit but also my body ached.

And, during those cancer days, I’ve come see that I cultivated a silence that sanctioned an opening to the Presence of the Holy One.  I was sent messengers who cradled my broken spirit, e.g., Rev. Alois Ososo, a pastor from Kenya who was in the country for a few months and in my care for a few weeks. My most-honored-best-friend, Pat, who was my ever present island of refuge. And, I developed new and strong friendships that would not have come to pass, had I not traveled that debilitating road and truly needed others.

A man, a musician and mystic, whom I met right after finishing my protocol treatments, has engendered my mystic soul through his pilgrimage retreats.  Each August I found myself in a wooded retreat center practicing a monastic rhythm with Stefan, aka Macushla, and a wide variety of other retreat participants. These retreats included long periods of silence and featured original chant music with a profound alchemy of Celtic joviality and spiritual transcendence.  I learned to sit through the painful renderings, mine and others’, that comes from being still in the presence of God, and particularly while sitting quietly in community.

I miss those days.  I miss how we usher one another to God’s door and then step aside to allow each other our own entrance.

Draw Me Nearer                             

Deep…

          O My Heart’s Desire

                    Dip me deep beneath the surface

Lower…

          Let me glide effortlessly to you in the center of life                        

                    in the depth of senses                                    

                                in the nook of what can be possible

Nearer…

           Draw me into the cubby that fits my shape

                    that serves my work

                                that protects my heart

                                              that prospers my contentment  

water-flowers