Monday, February 18, 2008

Reclaiming Holy Ground

Last week I experienced the profound blessing of reuniting with my covenant group from the Two Year Academy. We had been planning this event since our last formal week together last August. It was an event that we had all anticipated. It was a blessed time of reconnecting and practicing the spiritual discipline of fellowship. As it turns out I needed that time and space more than I imagined. Returning to the Mercy Center was like returning to the spiritual womb. As I walked through the gates, I new that I was walking on holy ground. It was a time of healing that put me back on the path of intentional spiritual formation. The following an entry from my journal that speaks of the healing.

February 9, 2008 Mercy Center

It has been far too long. In so many ways I have been absent from this level of openness to God. Through a season of great turmoil, truly a wilderness experience, I have emerged…a little more scarred, a little more worn, a little wiser and certainly more blessed. I am willing to more deeply embrace my need for God’s grace. I am more willing to come to terms with my own sin, brokenness and insecurity. In this vulnerability I am much more able to see and understand God’s gifts to me. The freely given, unmerited reality of God’s grace is a much deeper experience. I also see more clearly that gratitude is the proper first response.

Living gratefully can’t be quantified merely by a series of prescribed tasks. The whole of gratitude is vastly greater than the sum of its parts. True gratitude is practiced when I am willing to trust God completely even though there are things I’d wish to hide, even through I have questions, even thought there is much that is yet to be understood. True gratitude is engaged when I open myself to God’s touch to the very core of my being…even to that place of deep hurt that I’ve covered out of both ignorance and self-preservation. The fullest expression of gratitude for this gift of God’s grace doesn’t end with what happens inside of me and inside of my experience. The fullest expression of this gratitude comes when I live this gift incarnationally, even sacramentally, as I journey this path.

In my relationship with Christ I find the key, the gateway to understanding this mystery of healing and redemption more clearly. Through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, this path takes shape before me. The lesson today is an advanced lesson in grace. I’ve always know that this path, this life of gratitude is an everyday reality and an everyday practice. I’m not sure I could always articulate an adequate answer as to why. Perhaps I had not reached a full enough awareness of my own vulnerability and need. Perhaps I was so ashamed or afraid of my vulnerability that I was fearful of coming to God with the radical openness that I learned through the Academy. Perhaps there was enough of me that figured I could do this on my own. Today, this myth has been shattered like so many other myths that have fallen in my life in the past few months. Today there is emerging a deeper peace that comes with this myth being dispelled. Whatever the reasons for this recent absence for a deep and radical openness practiced in a disciplined spiritual life (and the reasons are by no means adequate excuses), the bottom line is that I didn’t share this struggle with God. In spite of trying to hide this from God, I do know (and am still blown away by the fact) that God remained close by me…as close as my next breath.

I now know God’s redeeming and transforming love more deeply in that I have experienced how mercifully and compassionately God cares for my deepest hurts, my deepest vulnerabilities and even my most persistent sins. I know now that God’s grace is sufficient for my deepest need. I can trust God’s love completely in that need and I can seek God’s presence without fear anytime any place and with any need.

What has been hope is now experience through my deepening relationship with Christ’s incarnational presence that dwells in me through faith. Now I can be a fuller expression of that grace through my grateful response in creation.