Praying Through Loss and Longing

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It is my hope that if you read this, you will find a way into a new rest, into new peace – in whatever you are going through.

About two years ago, I was introduced “Ardas Bhayee” a prayer in sanskrit comprised of these words:

Ardas Bahee, Amar Das Guru, Amar Das Guru, Ardas Bahee.

Ram Das Guru, Ram Das Guru, Ram Das Guru, Sachee Sahee

If you click on the link above and listen to it, you’ll see it is really beautiful.

When I was taught this prayer, I was taught it is the perfect prayer. The meaning behind the words are the collection of mind, body and soul – when you pray these words, your voice threads together the needs of each of aspect of your life and you lift up your exact everything to God.

I think that a lot of times, what holds us up in prayer is the “figuring out” of what to pray for. We end up blocking our own faithfulness with over analyzing if God gives us “this” than that means “that” is likely and we are not sure how we feel about “that”. Or – because we know that what is best will take place – we don’t boldly approach the throne with what is we really long for. And then we may even question what it is we long for and feel like maybe we don’t deserve it, maybe we messed up too much to still qualify for it, or you long for a past chance.

These thoughts compound, the tea kettle sounds, the day starts and the prayer never happened. Because you could never figure out what to pray for.

So, there is a lot of freedom in this mantra and just the opportunity to hear the sounds of the beautiful sanskrit and fumble through singing along until all the sudden your heart has figured it out: you hum some words while sounding the ones you are confident in.

I cherish the freedom in knowing that this silence of mind and this sound of the heart and voice are doing all the work I didn’t have to do in the first place. The work I felt I had to do in master planning my life in order to know what to order from the divine is relieved. Instead, I can just lift it up through these words while I clean my house, brush my teeth, sit still.

This whole thought originally came about two days ago when I was in a moment that involved the remembrance of two very important people in my life: Kristi, who passed maybe 6 years ago now and Spindley, who passed about 3 years ago. Kristi taught me trustworthiness and loyalty. Spindley taught me good humor and friendly motivation.

To say that losing these two people was hard would be an understatement. Even now, my heart twists at the fact that they died. And I think that a lot of times, when we lose people in our physical life that had significance to us emotionally or spiritually, we try to will them back.

We look for signs of them. We want them by our side in moments. We feel their presence and breathe it in and are so thankful for the visit. And we want them to come back again for a visit through a cardinal or a butterfly or ladybug.

And this is awesome.

Equally – what is awesome – is when we take the opportunity to shift this perspective just a little bit. What happens when we feel the inclination to will their spirit and character to our moment and resolve, instead, to dedicate the moment to them.

In their honor, to their spirit – a nod to their legacy – we perform the work, we move forward. Not because they showed up and gave us the chills and gave us what we needed. But because they were here on this planet and taught us, loved us, at one point in time and now we can honor them with strength, courage and action.

In doing this, I believe, we balance our consumption of the supernatural with a generosity of spirit and a commitment to being the person they loved so much, a commitment to the attributes we have that made their eyes twinkle and their smile go wide.

I think that, if you try this in the new year, while we are all so set on a new world – a new culture – a new sense of community, that we can free ourselves from the dependency we have created on our capacities to understand God’s subtleties. As surely, we know not all the ways we are loved. Rather than ask, sit and wait for a sign. What if we, instead, identify the spirit and the underlying prayer in our hearts not (only) as something to know and speak and share but something to feel and fumble through and breathe into? It is my thinking that this will make us bolder and light up our spirit from the inside. We will become stronger people of light.

In Romans 8 there is a verse I love love love love love – (vs. 26) where scripture teaches to breathe. Just groan. Just sigh. Don’t think. Just heave it out. In that connection of your physical body and your breath, the spirit intercedes – the spirit prays – on your behalf.

We don’t need to figure it out, friends. We just don’t. If we get knowledge and gain understanding from that knowledge, what a blessing! But it is not our job to seek “knowing” out in a way that distracts us from the true fluidity of the spiritual nature of our souls. That inner pool where God wants you to just sit.

Rest.

–Let your waters be still.

Know the Lord is with you.

There is a lot of peace in this.

XO, erin

 

Faith in Faithfulness

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I think it is easiest to look at a situation we are in, identify what we want to see in our life, come up with a couple of options for how it will play out / what that chapter could look like, and then figure the future will hold one or the other.

This makes sense.

We have seen a lot of lives take on new chapters. In other people’s lives. In our own lives. In movies. We pretty much know the ways typical story lines end. People with cancer get chemo and either get skinny and lose hair and survive or they don’t. People in bad marriages either get counseling and experience change or they get divorced. Rebellious teenagers get a come to Jesus wake up call or grow out of it. People waiting for a baby either have fertility treatment and end up twins or adopt (or maybe even adopt and then get pregnant.) These are examples of big things that happen in life for which we predict the next chapters.

Then there are small ones: people longing to live without clutter either never organize that closet and take that on as a part of their identity or spend a Saturday and finally purge. People wanting to change their body either lose weight and tone up with some kind of cross fit hi-jinx or maybe find the right pair of yoga pants and jeans and smile and accept their body.

The bottom line: I think we should want our chapters to change. We should want growth. Even if we are in a good place, we should be excited for possibility – newness – connection. It is important to know that next chapter is out there. Especially so if you are in a current season you would like to see change.

I love the idea of being really honest about what that next version of your self looks like in order to be aware of ways to get there.

It’s empowering, really.

But then what happens when you’ve drummed up that vision and then you’re stuck in the middle of September: you’re super tired, you haven’t woken up early like you have planned, the paper you subscribed to has been stacking up, you paid your car payment twice, your face doesn’t look right and you throw away the brussels sprouts you were really really excited to broil when you ran into them on a beautifully calm evening at a farmer’s market? You feel wasteful, unintentional, and a little bit confused.

What happens when you are on a very odd tangent of what you want your life to look like?

When you know the outcome you want but seriously have a hard time aligning with it?

What do you even pray for? Why do you pray? How do you pray? You’re close. You can sense change but it isn’t there yet so HOW DO YOU GET THE PAGE TO TURN?

In preparation for a presentation to my yoga peers towards my certification (I graduate in NOVEMBER), I pulled out a bag I keep close to me: in it are all of the prayers from the past three women’s retreats I have attended. I have made it a part of my experience to pull them down at the end of the retreat and pray over them, pack them up, and visit with them (in reverence) every once in awhile.

The weight we carry in our lives never ceases to amaze me. The healing we crave, the baby we want to meet, the iteration of ourselves we want to operate from, the clarity – the peace – the love, the relationship, the satisfaction, the confidence. These are real things.

The human experience is legit heavy.

But – I think I stumbled into a lightness. Seriously – I think I had a breakthrough coming into October.

If there is one thing I know in my 35 years, it is that there is *always* something revealed to us. There is. I am going to avoid a whole tangent on suffering right now. Because I want to focus you in on considering the difference here between these two statements:

“Staying determined on what you want from God for your next chapter”

“Being faithful to God’s faithfulness”

Truly, they should *feel* different from each other when you read them. Read them again. On the next inhalation, read them again.

These are wildly different statements though they are both rooted in the same perspective: you are one place, yet you see something different for your life.

The other night, I sat with a string of mala beads and just rolled through them. My meditation: “I am faithful to God’s faithfulness”.

Meaning? I will serve, I will pray, I will share with others, I will love, I will work hard, I will honor my parents, I will do my dishes, I will be accountable, I will eat well, I will give, I will get rest, I will read scripture, I will study spiritual text, I will listen, I will learn *all while knowing* that next version of my life (whatever it may be) will occur.

Growth does happen.

Change happens.

God does reveal.

Like the morning sun, God is faithful. (Hosea 6:3)

This switch in thinking makes our relationship with God less like the one we have with a restaurant server at a restaurant with no menu and more like the one we have with the waves on an ocean shore where you can sit, allow what comes, play, dig, relax, refresh, walk, move, pick up, and let the elements change you.

I know it’s abstract. But I feel, when I look at the prayers of these women – when I look at my journal from September – that I can’t help but see some low hanging peace fruit available to us if we commit to being faithful to God’s faithfulness without ordering up our future.

And for those of you thinking as you read this that it is total horse shit because you are in the middle of a rough hand dealt or because you had a rough hand dealt and it has not changed. I just challenge you to say in your prayers tonight, “God, I am faithful to your faithfulness.” And let it rest. Take out all the other variables.

Focus on the rising sun.

May we have ears to hear and eyes to see. XO, erin

 

The Peace that Meets Longing – My Experience of Divorce’s Heart Ache

This is my ten year old daughter, Ellen, and her biological grandmothers. My mom is on the right in the white. Both the women and the girl in this picture hold such a profound part of my heart that words just simpy don’t work here.

It’s real love.

The realist of the real.

It has been ten years that I have spent loving this child but probably closer to twenty five years that I have spent dreaming about her.

I remember laying in bed as a young girl, imagining being a mother and picturing a room for two daughters. I imagined award ribbons and pictures and momentos tacked to a cork board.

I had such good ideas for how my life would work.

Relationships.

*sigh*

Relationships (of all kinds) are simply put the best and worst part of human living. It’s incredible to love even with the inevitable grief. For in the suffering that comes with human relating we get to experience compassion. And it’s this compassion that is the core of what makes “relationship” so much to be prized: to have love is to have hurt is to have compassion.

In John 14:27, Jesus says “my peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you”. He says this to secure the comfort of our hearts. Even when he is gone – beloved teacher, shepherding friend – his peace is present.

Tonight my house filled up with people and love and laughter to celebrate Ellen’s birthday. For the first time in ten years, the dinner was on – house set – candles lit – prior to first guests arriving. Throwing a dinner for twenty gets easier but the following does not..

Hours later the house emptied. Until even my lovely ten year old and her darling sidekick Lucy were buckled into their dad’s car which pulled out of the driveway to go back to the land of Netflix and cocoa puffs, cable and ping pong to complete “dad week”.

I walked back into my colorful home that smelled like the warmth of red sauce with a hint of cinnamon and overall calm. I found the silence and the emptiness both soothing and shattering and allowed the wave of it all to wash over me.

As I sat crying – heavy tears – I thought about all the mothers longing for their babies as I longed deeply for mine. The ones born, the ones to be born, the ones that may never be born, the ones born and passed.

I thought of the marriages and relationships that suffer from demons and closets and skeletons. That suffer from selfishness and fear. That are choked by anxiety and drowned with depression.

I thought of how I wished I knew the root of sin. How I wished I could close in on the little tick of sin that breaks good things and lock it away. This way people don’t have to hurt. This way longing and sadness and loneliness don’t happen.

This way birthday parties last forever.

Then I thought – “Erin, my peace I give to you – my peace I leave with you.” And instantly I allowed my heart to enter the loving compassion of Christ and I cried not needing answers.

Surely we want to understand so much! Surely we want plans and tactics. We think of what we need that may relieve us. We think of how to get to the root and change the course. But really –  perhaps in these moments when our hearts gasp, we are to resist allowing our minds to stir and the urge to try and figure something out.

Maybe, instead, we are to accept an invitation to enter into God’s peace.

It was left for us. We should rest in it.

In Phillipians Paul writes “May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.” (Phil 4:7)

And it’s so true, guys, it’s so true – peace is here for us. We are invited into peace when our hearts are quaking. This peace guards us.

It allows us to cry and drip snot on our floor and not have answers. It is when we enter this without the need to know that we get to experience divine compassion.

And it’s this —

Hmmmmm….

It’s this experience of compassion that I guess really allows us to be free from the world. It’s like when we fell as kids, skinned our knee and freaked out at the blood to then have somebody’s loving warmth and care calm us down. All was made right. We forgot about the trauma.

What we want from people and relationships is valid… our sadness is valid. Our longing is valid.

So feel it —

— in doing so, I have found equal to this is the validity of calm and freedom.

Which we can also so feel. 

Valid is the power of God to be compassionately present and working always and forever in our lives.

Amen. Namaste.

ps: hug your babies if you got em ;) for all the mamas who can’t.