For reasons that might be obvious later in this post, my commitment to a weekly blog about writing has fallen by the wayside. There are days when the writing seems to eek out of me in a slow drip, no matter how much I squeeze. But despite that, I have progressed on the book. I'm writing two sections at once, trying to figure out how they fit into the larger narrative. I'm exploring how my notions of family have been changed by my faith and commitment to community. And I'm also exploring solitude and how our ideas of prayer and contemplation might be too limited.
This morning on a walk, I was listening to the podcast "Pray as you go," and the speaker read the passage in Luke 19:45-48 when Jesus clears the temple of those who were desecrating it with commerce. The speaker asks how we might see this as a call to ponder how we neglect our own sacred spaces, even the ones inside our own hearts.
I thought this was an interesting notion: that Jesus needs to clear out the clutter of the holy temples of our hearts, minds, and bodies.
I wonder if this clearing out looks different for each of us. For me, a strong introvert, I've had times in my life where I've hoarded my quiet inner spaces, trying to keep them free of stress, to-do lists, and the expectations of others. What I've felt God whisper into these spaces is that perhaps they need to be expanded to let others in.
St. Francis knew this well. As he got older and tired from the demands that his lifestyle of poverty exacted on his body and spirit, he entertained the notion of becoming a hermit, of living in a cavern alone and spending his life in contemplation. Instead of making that decision alone, however, he asked his two most trusted confidants, Clare and Sylvester, to pray for discernment. They did as he asked and they both returned to him later with the same answer: you must stay with your brothers and continue this ministry in the world.
Though it cost him, Francis submitted to their wisdom. It seemed that God was telling Francis that his desperation for solitude and complete union with God would have to happen in what Clare would later call the "cloister of the world."
I wonder if God is answering my prayers in unique ways too. For some time now, I have been praying that God would help me to be open to ways of hospitality that might be difficult.
Then, a few weeks ago, I discovered I was quite unexpectedly expecting our fourth child.
I'm not sure if this was God's answer or a question. Was God asking me if I was really serious?
Maybe the greatest gift of hospitality I can offer right now will continue to happen in the quiet spaces I expand for my children. After that, I trust that God will continue to surprise me. I am grateful for the gift and mystery of being able to share not only my heart with others but for the space that is literally being expanded inside of me for new life.
May you discover how God is using your spaces in beautiful and mysterious ways.
Here are some links to some of my recent pieces across the web:
The Comfort of Luminous Lights at the Mudroom
Checking My Vulnerability at SheLoves Magazine