Monday, March 29, 2010

What Wondrous Love is This

On the journey that is my life, I often look to the external structures to find a sense of Being. Am I my work? Is my sense of Being found in the day to day realities of a paycheck-earning position? Am I my marriage? Is "who I am" someone in relationship to one specific other? Am I the mother of my children? Do I find myself in the rises and falls of my patience with them each day?

My therapist and spiritual director has been subtly, gently, insistently encouraging me to look to inner experiences rather than outer realities for the wellspring of Being. It is quite possible that I understandably, but perhaps incorrectly, assume that experiences of inner resonance find their meaning in the details of the moment outside of me. If I lean in at night and smell the sweet scent of a child's freshly washed hair, I might be transported--or transformed--to the place of connection and wholeness. But it's not necessarily the hair or the scent that matters--it is the energy that springs forth within.

As I ride the most recent wave of questions about vocation (my most contemplated outer reality), this same therapist has suggested that I look to my day-to-day experiences of love and joy and awe....and watch what happens inside when I notice them. Do I cut off my breath--and thus the breath of the moment as well? Do the experiences lose their energy in comparison to another's? Do I share them or ponder them quietly? She asked for examples of love in my life--rapturous, glad to be alive love--that I might focus on and expand. A single image came to mind--I am at home, and I look out the window and unexpectedly catch sight of a bird flying across the yard....a common bird, a robin or bluejay. In brightest moments, perhaps a cardinal. As I described to her my image, I sighed with deep contentment.

Days later I arrived home later than usual from work, and Matt and the kids were already eating at the dining room table. I tossed my coat into the closet and dropped my keys in the drawer, rushing into the bathroom before joining my family for dinner. In the bathroom, I lifted the curtain for a quick glance at our backyard, and gasped as the brown and white feathered underside of a hawk passed right in front of me, momentarily taking my breath away. It lifted off from the ground as quickly as it landed, and settled on the branch of a tree on the edge of our yard. I called to the kids to come and see, and for minutes that stood beyond time, our entire family was gathered at east-facing windows watching the preening of our unexpected visitor. It flew from one tree to the next, and finally to the broken branch of a long-ago fallen tree before taking off for new feeding grounds.

Sacred scriptures have foretold this story in a hundred different verses, in a hundred different ways:

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

"...For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..." Jeremiah 29:11

"Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing." Isaiah 40:26

The source of Being--my being--is the Maker of Heaven and Earth, God, who intends far more for me than I imagine for myself.