I couldn’t decide whether to call this post the grace of letting go ~ or the grace of letting be. I went for the letting go ~ because I thought in the letting go ~ the letting be would be.
I have prayed for a long deep time ~ for a long while now.
Each morning first thing when I wake up, I look at the Ariel Aggemian portrait of my Lord His face is so alive ~ He is almost the way I could imagine Him in the transfiguration ~ spiritual ~ radiant ~ alive ~ human ~ Divine ~ (it’s just that type of picture) . . . and I tell Him I Love Him.
Throughout the day randomly He catches my eye . . . and I tell Him I Love Him.
And at night-time before bed ~ I say those very same 3 words . . . I Love You.
In prayer I share my Love ~ my thanks ~ my hopes ~ my dreams ~ my struggles ~ and my sorrows with my Lord. I share my life with Him.
A couple of days ago I told a special person I was frazzled ~ she told me to hand everything over to Him. At that point I realise that I share everything with Him all the time ~ but I never actually just hand it all over to Him ~ and let go of it myself . . . . . . . . I guess this is the grace of letting go.
Sometimes I respond to others . . . without discernment ~ but with hindsight I believe, at times, that this is just as valid as responding after a long period of discernment. Why? . . . Because it is raw, real, authentic, true and not measured ~ and despite what spiritual others might say, the response read correctly allows perceptive others to hear/see the root of the affliction or joy, more accurately and authentically than any measured response, that one of prudence and caution might disguise.
A couple of months back I went on a retreat with the Sisters of Our Lady of Walsingam. It was a Saint Teresa of Avila retreat, which I had so longed to go to. It was mostly out of my price range but I managed 3 days non-residential (I stayed at Mums) at a still staggering cost of £35.00 per day. It was gentle but so inspiring. St Teresa’s birthday is one day before my own and in many ways she has become a spiritual aunty. However what was more precious than anything was the being accepted, received, secure, and internally warmed for the 3 days. And then to top it all, on the eve of ‘The Celebration of 500 years of St Teresa of Avila’ we attended a wonderful Mass in the Carmelite Church in Kensington Church Street, where the readings were literally out of this world ~ and I felt met ~ and alive ~ and understood ~ and stimulated.
It was absolutely fascinating sitting 3 rows back from the front, right before the wonderfully animated signing lady (for the hard of hearing people,) It was alive and beautiful. Then all of a sudden one of the elderly congregation a few pews before us turned around ~ and much to my delight it was Sister Bernadette from my days at Heythrop ~ and in her seeing me she raised herself slightly from her seat, blew me a kiss which she caught in her hand, and threw it to me for all to see ~ and right there I felt God bless me before everyone ~ and I felt held, and Loved, and alive, and safe, and welcome.
Later that evening on the journey home I had a beautiful and difficult chat with one of my favourite Sisters ~ a gentle hearted polish soul. And in the unfolding conversation and in our close sharing, and in her gentle tactile questioning, my answers could no longer disguise my hidden pain. And as the warmth from her soul enshrouded me from all others on the journey home, my guard lowered ~ and so the silent emotion spilled ~ exposing all hurting beyond any superficial smile ~ in truth.
The next day this beautiful gentle woman blessed me with a sheet of A4 paper ~ which held a beautiful powerful prayer for Reconciliation between 2 people. She reassured me of her powerful faithful prayer ~ and left me blessed and relieved and lighter at the sharing ~ and at once I felt closer still.
That weekend when I got home having delighted in my now deeper knowledge of St Teresa of Avila, and having felt renewed and inspired to read more of her works ~ I immediately ordered myself a £4.00 vintage (Oxfam) copy of a collection of some of her other writings. It was such a special retreat and so very special to pray Mass in the Carmelite Church, where during my time in Heythrop I had spent some very special time in prayer before St Therese of Lisieux. Later that evening upon my return home ~ feeling blessed ~ I turned on my laptop, and there on the ‘Our Lady Of Walsingham’ Facebook page was a fantastic photo of all the retreatant’s standing together around the new St Teresa of Avila icon, in the Carmelite Church ~ Minus Me ~ after such a great three days on retreat with them all, the pain of such publicly visible exclusion bit me very hard. The humiliation stung. I realised at this point what it is to feel forever held other.
I saw it as a lack of Love ~ courage ~ + generosity ~ on their part.
A couple of weeks back I put my name down for the publicised ‘John of the Cross retreat’ being ran by the same Sisters, and the same Fr Matt Blake OCD at Abbotswick. This retreat although independent is closely related to the St Teresa of Avila retreat, purely because of St John of the Cross’ and St Teresa’s intimate spiritual relationship, their mystical insight, and for together reforming the Carmelites. I couldn’t quite afford the same £35.00 donation per day (at this time of year) so I enquired to see if I could cut the cost by not eating the hot meals with the Sisters ~ bearing in mind the charge is supposed to be a donation only request anyway ~ otherwise I thought I might just be able to do two days at the full price. I was so looking forward to the John of the Cross retreat ~ I love his poetry ~ and I Love the mystics ~ I find exploring deeper beyond their familiarity so inspiring.
Last week I received an email telling me ‘Unfortunately, due to the very low response we received from parishioners around the diocese, we have taken the decision to close the attendance list so only members of the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham will attend.’ ~ How terribly sad first of all that so few people responded to such a wonderful opportunity, but even sadder still that even though the retreat was still going ahead, the community’s generosity could not have extended itself to welcome me ~ having expressed my desire to attend. I have met with a similar lack of generosity in the Church before now, and it’s incredibly sad ~ and exclusive ~ and un-Christian.
I thank God that in my lifetime I have witnessed the Grace and generosity of the poor, those who in their material poverty are so very generous of spirit, and would share anything they possess. This is God turning poverty to riches ~ this is Love ~ just as my Mother witnesses each year in Goa with those living in poverty, and yet who are so very rich in spirit ~ And yet once again those privileged closer to home, (at no extra cost to themselves) choose not to be so. Its sad ~ disheartening ~ not of kindness ~ and not of Christian Love.
I at this point in absolute grief give up.
I realise that in grace I have to Let Go.
I am never ever going to be fully accepted ~ welcomed ~ or openly loved within this Diocese as a Vocational woman. I am always forever going to be ~ held other ~ excluded and rejected, because of history. And yes it both is, and isn’t personal ~ and yes it’s because I have been historically portrayed as a stereotypical ‘Eve’ a mother and woman of sexuality ~ rejected by those in ‘Vocational’ power. I know absolutely what it feels like to be excluded ~ unwelcome ~ rejected ~ and outcast in a Church which proclaims to treat people otherwise ~ and the hypocrisy Kills me. And yes it would be different if I were male.
I’ve had it!
God is Love ~ and I think God wants me to stand in solidarity with the rejected ~ those who are kept outside of the city walls. Where my faith and my Vocation in God, despite my exclusion, can be a witness to others ~ that God never rejects or excludes Anyone ~ even when the Church and her clerics and her religious do ~ and that He whom I Love, and who Loves me ~ Loves Everyone regardless ~ and calls everyone to a vocation in Him and not only at the Catholic Church’s invitation to the Lords (else the Lord of the manors) table.
I pray that none of my brothers and sisters in Christ ever know what it is to feel the pain of rejection ~ and exclusion from sharing fellowship with their own brothers and sisters in Christ ~ who claim to be living the greatest of all the commandments.
Today I Let Go.
And now I pray for the grace to Let Be.
I am currently reading Gerard W. Hughes God of Surprises ~ “For him I have accepted the loss of everything” ~ and in this poverty ~ this loss ~ He shows me the greatest riches ever.
His Unconditional Love.