The assignments for today were:
- Try asking the printed page where grace is. Look in a book of poetry for phrases to explore. Jot down those phrases to which you respond – all creatures sleep, kiss the rose of your skin, birth and craving quieted for a while. Then write what grace has to do with these random phrases.
- Image yourself visualizing grace around someone difficult in your life. How would that help you to deal with this person? Write down a prayer for her. Write down a prayer for yourself.
- Try to recall when you have been more generous then would be expected from your past responses. Perhaps you did a kindness for someone who isn’t always kind to you. Perhaps you were kind when you were not feeling joyful yourself. Write and explore this feeling of grace.
Here I am at towards the end of this first week and loving that I am taking the time in the midst of grading papers to take care of me. as I sat down to read Janelle’s reflection on grace, I found myself giggling like this little school girl because she talked about sitting at a church that I had once visited, MCC San Francisco, and the pastor there was in charge of education for the denomination when I was considering being ordained through MCC. What a small world this truly is. It is moments like this, when I become aware of how interconnected we truly are. How, even when we do not know it or realize it, the Creator has this way of bringing us all together at just the right time. And some folk do not think the Creator has a sense of humor.
Ok, so I was giggling until I got to the choices and I realized I do not have a book of poetry. I have books of prayers, and quotations, and spiritual writings, but could not think of a book of poetry in my collection. Oh wait, I do have one snap. My two books of poems by pat parker. I so love pat parker. There are some awesome women who have died because of breast cancer. She and Audre Lorde are two of them and their writings continue to inspire me. Ah so, I have four books of poetry, because I have two books by Audre Lorde. I probably have more then I think I do.
The reality is that I know that I need to reflect more on grace in my life, then images of grace in poetry. As Meg Christian once said, “great wisdom through painful experience is an inside job.” there are those people in my life with whom showing grace is so easy. They are generally the people in my life who are loving, king, and supportive and for the most part are a joy to know. There have been those, however, whom I have continuously had to choose to love and to show grace. I keep trying to remember that we are not at the same place in our journeys. I try to remember that I do not know their entire story. With some people, I have to take a deep breath and say, “Bless you,” but not like Whoopi Goldberg did at the end of sister acts. Sometimes I have had to look at some folks and say “go with God,” when inside I really want to have said “go with God, but go.” Oh, how many times have I wanted to just slap you and tell you GET OUT, but then the spiritual and loving side of me would kick in, and reclaim control and remember that there had to be plenty of times when the Creator probably got frustrated with me and never said that to me. Rather, the Creator loved me through it all, stayed patient, gentle, loving, and kind with me.
Oh and right now, there is Herbie (not his real name). I love him and I have compassion for him, but sometimes I do not know whether he is lying to me or telling me the truth. So it makes me want to give up and walk away. I get frustrated because he doesn’t seem to hear what I am saying to him or at least does not seem to want to hear. And so there is this part of me that wants me to leave because I get tired of not being heard and not feeling respected. And then I try to remember what his life is like, at least what he has told me his life is like. And I find myself coming back to this place of wanting to terminate the relationship because sometimes I feel disrespected. Then there is the voice of Sister Helen Prejean who comes to me in my sleep and reminds me that we cannot judge someone for the single worst thing they have ever done. So even if he lied to me, it does not mean he is not worthy of having someone to keep praying for him. So even if he is disrespecting my requests and boundaries, does not mean I stop praying for him. Because then I have to think about all the times I have not been very honest with the Creator and I was not abandoned. And then I think about all the times I have been in constant communication with the Creator saying listen I need for you to do x and y and z for me. and how many times have I sat in the shower and cried my eyes out because life was so hard at the moment and I needed to know that no matter where I was in my journey, you would be there and show me grace and help me to become more loving in my daily life. So I come back to Herbie and realize that the only way I can help him to know love in his life, is to practice it with him until I master it. See it is easy for me to practice loving people who are loving and kind and supportive and respectful. Loving people who work to get on my last nerve is another thing. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful for them because they wind up saving me countless hours in therapy but pointing me to exactly what I need to heal. But yes, I am constantly reminding myself that I was created in the image of love and to be love in all circumstances, not just when it was convenient.
Living Spirit, Creator, Infinite Presence, thank you for modeling grace for me in my life. There are times that I get frustrated with this situation, but I have yet to hear you tell me to leave, so I stay and continue to write letters of love, hope, and inspiration to a man who has not been outside the walls of the various prisons he has lived in for 17 years. I think you for always reminding me that I do not know the whole story, and that I am called to continue to bring forth a message of love and hope in all circumstances and in a manner that is non-violent. I thank you for the reminder that abandonment and neglect are forms of violence. So be with me as I continue to minister to his soul. Give me the words to help him release the fear that holds his soul prisoner. Help me to touch his heart, mind, and soul that he might experience your presence even in his prison cell. Bless him that he might find peace. Continue to touch his heart, mind, and soul. May he be blessed with ears that hear you speaking to him in his cell? Bless him with eyes that can see you in some of the other prisoners. Bless him that he might have the courage to reach out to those there that might be of support to him. Help him to know that there are people at this prison who are there to support him in his journey to develop a deeper relationship with you. Bless those at the prison who you have sent to minister to him and others. Direct them to him and help them to witness to your loving grace, mercy, wisdom, and compassion. I ask this in love, knowing you are love, you created me in love to be love and to share love with others. Amen. Ashe. And so it is.