Change. Attachment. Liberation.
The past month I’ve been consumed with upgrading the Gravity Center to a new and improved space.
As some of you may know two and half years ago, my husband Chris and I made a huge life transition. After 20 years directing the international organization Word Made Flesh, we broke new ground and started Gravity. It was the natural progression in our shared vocation. Having worked so many years helping build a better world among survivors of human trafficking, children of war and children living on the streets, we had come to appreciate the depth of spirituality required to heal our world.
So, with a lot more to lose than we had in our 20s when we joined Word Made Flesh, we took a huge step of faith, calculated the risks and started this little center for contemplative activism.
Having much more to lose in terms of those programs for happiness that don’t really bring lasting happiness (power and control, affection and esteem and security and survival), we experienced a lot of sleepless nights in those first days and weeks. Decisions and circumstances of life that unhinge us from what is known, safe and secure have a way of bringing to the surface our attachments and un-freedoms.
In those days 2 ½ years ago, at new depths in our psyche and spirit, we had to contend with our attachment to being in control, caring about what others think of us and worrying about how we would make it.
One of my wise spiritual directors helped me at the time by revealing to me how sometimes the Spirit moves in our lives before there is form for the Spirit to inhabit. The experience feels like chaos.
That really resonated with me. I was being challenged to expand my faith and trust; to walk by faith and not by sight, to essentially make room in my being and in my life for this work that is greater than me.
And truthfully, a big part of me didn’t feel ready or capable, and I guess that’s the point, because it’s not about me. It’s about saying “yes” to the one who chooses to make his home in me. Mary, the mother of God, remains always and everyday a beacon lighting the way for me. It’s about making room in my life for God. Saying yes. Just like she did.
But I’m not Mary as she’s portrayed in Luke 1:26-56. And my “yes” often comes with a lot of resistance. But that’s familiar to me. It’s an old struggle with self-abnegation.
So as the Spirit pushed me along, I resisted and waves of fear sometimes threatened to send me running and hiding. Perhaps I’m not so unlike Mary. Maybe she also experienced her own degrees of resistance and fear.
Thankfully, the Spirit won out I’m happy to say. I got through those early days of birthing and launching Gravity. And layers of fear and inadequacy fell away, leaving greater courage, strength and freedom in its place.
When I look at my life, I’m overwhelmed by Grace. Grace is the point of intersection between my humanity and Divine presence. It’s always there. We’re just not often conscious of it. That’s why contemplative prayer is so crucial. It helps us wake up to what is. The intersection of Grace consciousness is where the best of life happens and is lived. It’s the place of freedom, courage and joy.
Well fast-forward to today. We were busting out of our little 500 square foot collaborative space. The work of Gravity had taken off so fast and sure that Chris and I had to constantly work around one another, often interfering with each other’s workflow and having to leave the office every time one of us had a Spiritual Direction appointment or Enneagram Consultation or other private meeting.
In the same urban industrial building that we’ve been, in another space opened up. It’s twice as big and just perfect for our needs at this point in the life of Gravity. So, this spring we took another step of faith.
It’s now been two months of the process and I’m weary. Change is hard. No matter how small.
I’ve been stressing over the color of paint for the walls that resulted in a re-paint job. We changed from blue walls to grey and I spent a week stressing over which shade of grey! There really is at least 50 shades of it! I never knew! Grey can have every undertone of color: green, blue, brown, purple…it’s dizzying! And what makes the decision all the more difficult is my attachment to worrying about what others will think about the color I choose. Pitiful. People are dying without access to clean drinking water and I’m worried about what others will think about the grey paint on my walls (note my attachment to “affection and esteem”).
Yep. That’s some of the ugliness in me.
In the process of moving, I’ve had to contend all over again with my attachment to power and control, affection and esteem and security and survival. Hopefully it’s not the same stuff I’ve dealt with before, but deeper attachments to the same stuff.
Spirituality is like excavation. As we yield to God, a work of Grace is done to us at deeper and deeper levels. The struggles are similar, but the excavation is happening at deeper depths, carving out space for greater capacity of indwelling Spirit. So like Mary, we can make room for God. And God is big! So, it takes a lot of work to make big enough space for God in our life.
God is always breaking in; breaking into the material world and creating the heavens and earth, the galaxies and planets. And God breaks into us. This breaking in is hard for us. Our compulsion is to resist. And that’s what makes it hard.
As I was sitting in my library this morning, trying to pray and resist the stress of all the decisions and purchases that have yet to be made to settle Gravity’s new space, I got a text from Chris. He’s presently offering support to our friends in Nepal who survived the deadly earthquake and I’m in Omaha tending to the final details of Gravity’s move. I was in-between the compulsion to get things done and the desire to rest in God. And Chris texted, “I hope you have a quiet morning.”
Just seven simple words that I could have easily dismissed, but instead thy cut to my heart—“the organ of perception of divine purpose and being.”
“The heart, in the ancient sacred traditions, has a very specific and perhaps surprising meaning. It is not the seat of our personal effective life—or even, ultimately, of our personal identity— but an organ of perception of divine purpose and being. It is our antenna, so to speak, given to us to orient toward the divine radiance and to synchronize our being with its more subtle movements. The heart is not for personal expression but for divine perception.”
~ Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing
My mind is far from quiet. But Chris’ text alerted my heart that it is out of synch.
The circumstances of our move is bringing to the surface my attachments and those attachments threaten my rest.
As I continued to pray, I realized, I’ve been resisting God’s presence. I’m out of alignment with Spirit. I’m worried and stressed about many things, but only one thing matters (Luke 10:38-42)
The invitation is familiar. Once again I’m invited to trust, have faith, cooperate with God in this season, rather than resist, worry and fret. And contemplative practice helps me do that. It seems like in busy, stressful seasons, the first thing to go is contemplative practice—but it’s in these seasons when we need prayer all the more.
- Are you resisting God in the circumstances of your life?
- What are the signs that you are out of alignment with Spirit?
- What are the signs that you are cooperating with God?