Sunday, April 25, 2010

On the way to the Republic of Georgia

For months now I have been working with a small Worship Group in the Republic of Georgia to bring the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) back to that country. Last year I traveled to Georgia and visited with Friends. I expected to be back long before this but complications with my health and timing with Friends in Georgia have interceded. There are still challenges to overcome: I'm still working to get finances in place - the packing, the making of bean bags - all little things. On May 18th this phase of the Journey will begin as I travel with another AVP facilitator to the Republic of Georgia. The preparations with my employer have tested my resolve and faithfulness as they refused my request for a five week leave of absence; only being willing to grant me a two week leave. I have spent a great deal of time testing with others, with my oversight committee and praying for guidance. In the end, I was clear that I am led to this work and so gave notice. May 14th will be my last day of employment. Having made this decision and carried it out, I feel at peace. I don't know what will come next but I am sure that God will provide.

Hand in Hand

“As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you, O God.” Psalm 42 vs.1

Several years ago a friend asked me what I wanted more than anything else in life. The rapidity and clarity of my response caught me quite off guard. I said “I seek to be at one with God.” It is what I yearn for with all that I am. As a Friend, I firmly believe that there is that of God within me and every other being on Earth and so, in that infinitesimal part of my being I and we are one with God. I am not naive enough to believe that that is the sum of it for God exists far beyond the realm of my human understanding. Indeed, from time to time, when I have found the strength to do as God has required of me, I have drawn near, I have taken a sip from God’s cup and I long for more.

My personal journey has been long and winding: From the child whose secret playmate was God, to the nine year old girl who wanted only a prayer book for her birthday, to the acolyte, to the Novitiate, to the candidate for the priesthood, through failed marriages and broken hopes and dreams it has always been my relationship with God that carried me through: Faith and the fruit it bore. I have been blessed with pain and joy, challenges and gifts that have opened way for the many things that I’ve learned along the way. But we each have our own journeys. Mine is not so very different from yours.

The many twists and turns of life have led me through many changes and understandings that continue to shift and grow over time. It is not the questions that change but the answers. We learn to take risks in the name of L/love. The understanding that it’s not about me or what I think I want rather, what God wants for me. It is the understanding that “all that I am and all that I have” God has given to me. It is the Suscipe – a prayer that is one of the gifts of my time in the Novitiate “Take and receive O Lord, my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I am and all that I have you have given to me, and I give it all back to you to dispose of according to your good pleasure. Give me only the support of your presence and the joy of your love, for with these I shall be more than rich and desire nothing more.” After years of praying the Suscipe daily I suddenly understood that it was all of me that I was returning to God; asking God to transform me. That I was asking not that God take control of me but that I be opened to use all that I’d been given as God would have me use it. Not the giving up of all but the freely giving over to All. I began actively listening for God’s will for me and began testing what I believed I was hearing with a care committee. I believed I was being led to do the work of peacemaking. I labored, sometimes with great frustration, with a care committee that pushed me to dig deeper, listen harder, until I could say not only what the leading was but how I was led to live into it. It was grueling work and sometimes I wanted to forget about my care committee and just get going with “the work”. In the end, they were right. The foundational work needed to be done. I came to clarity that the message I need to carry is that the path to peace begins within ourselves; understanding that, as we find our way to inner Peace we radiate that Peace outward – the Peace that passes all understanding. The journey has taught me patience, and how to open to the voice within and the voices of God speaking through others. It has changed me.

Change can be a fearful thing when we try to do it alone. But when we open our hearts and minds and souls to the Love of God both inwardly and outwardly through the love and of friends and community we are supported and uplifted and even though the fear may persist we find the courage to move forward; to change. With God, all things are possible.