What does it feel like when you leave a conversation with someone when you know they truly heard you? What about when they understood? How about when they help you make a connection or see something more clearly? That feeling of connection is what our humanity thirst for …. When quenched: elation.
How many phrases or cute sayings do you know about losing your way or disruptions? “The detour is the road”; “Want to hear God laugh? Tell him your plans.” “It is not the destination it is the journey” There are so many sayings and quite a lot of efforts to provide comfort because this occurrence is so common for us all. And still we are compelled to solve it, even if only through sayings meant for a pillow. Yet in the moments when we do feel permitted to be lost and maybe even clarity around the reason, we feel immense relief.
Connection and relief in our wayward journey – these powerful experiences meet the desires that are built into every human. We all need them for different reasons. Everyone approaches looking for them in their own unique way. And we all distract ourselves from the need with a myriad of solutions. The only commonality is the desire to be connected and feel relief exists for us all, while we all also find they are not readily available. We are all waiting on one or the other – or both – most of the time. And in my own wait, I have found incredible comfort, connection, relief, and peace in “stepping into the the story.”
To feel that connection we need a specific human interaction. To know the relief we need to find the story that reminds us this us normal. We need other humans. To identify with them, to see the experience through their eyes and/or be able to place ourselves in their lives, to watch their journey and celebrate their joy.
This year while experiencing different faith practices, I have been forever changed by looking at the humanity that exists in the Bible. Seeing each story as an opportunity to become alive within the readings has brought the most unexpected moments of connection and relief. Spoiler alert: there are so many humans throughout the Bible you are destined to find several people battling your same sins or looking for the similar answers. You also find they too mess up often, doubt, cry out about the lack of fairness, worry about God not being there, or expressing frustration at changes in their life’s course. Each story exposes you to a new character who offers an invitation to take your place among the many humans. God has known who we are as a group and by learning about how he loves and provides for his people we begin to experience him in our individual lives.
There are a few tools that have helped me discover how to step into the story:
- Mother & Home Community: this Catholic Community of women has had a profound influence on my faith life. The retreats, the featured books, and the women who openly share their stories. I was afraid to join with my family life so messy, but you know what I found: I was in good company. Stephanie is the founder and her ability to place you in the story has left me moved to tears several times. There is a cost to join this community, but I have found the investment well worth it. This a great time to think about joining before their Lenten program begins at the end of the month. http://www.motherandhome.co
- Lectio Divina: this practice of sitting with the daily gospel helps you to connect more fully and regularly with the daily gospel. There are a variety of resources that are free or paid for when learning this practice. And I would encourage you to start small. When I had started to learn about it I saw 20 and 30 minute practices. That is excellent and a good goal, but I also found one that is 5 minutes and that has helped to cultivate the habit.
- The Chosen: this series has been such an incredible way to see the gospels come to life and comprehend Jesus as a true human. The way he meets people on their level, seeing him laugh, eat, rest and cultivate friendships. It has opened up an awareness for the personhood that came when Gods sent his son to us on earth. That provides a pathway to connecting to our Lord through a relationship with the familiarity of another human.
This new approach to experiencing God’s word has had such a large impression I have decided to take my social media Sunday Gospel reflections and enhance them. Each post will still appear on my social media platforms, but they will have an extended version on the blog that will highlight the human factor of that week’s gospel and a resource that has helped in my faith journey.
My human nature struggle often focus around control and perfection. Thus I am always in search of “the thing” that is going to fix it all. The habit I will cultivate that solves my worries, while giving me a particular identity. In my faith life I have tried a few things: devotions to a particular Saint, a particular prayer book I read daily, a practice that I do daily which grows with me. What have I found and subsequently decided to embrace in 2023? That I am human and there are few things that stick with me almost daily (rosary, Jesus Calling, Prayer Journal) – but none of it is 100% perfect. And none of it is the solution to life’s questions. Rather the answer is to just keep walking on the journey. For me that means experiencing different tools that lead me to new aspects of the faith life. Which has also led me back here: why don’t I share them? Hope you can enjoy these too….first reflection will be end of this week!
Thank you so much for reading and remember to make it a great day!