Sometimes the things that happen in my life amaze me...so much so that it becomes harder and harder to doubt that there is a good and loving God.
If you know me (or have been reading along), you know that I made a major change in my life in the last few months, leaving my psychologist job of 20 years, transitioning to a small private practice. The whole process, while challenging at times, has been grace-filled. I had never thought I could make such a change without great agony, panic attacks, guilt, etc. Yet it has happened and these horrors did not occur. Work, struggle, doubts and fears - something life is full of - but not agony. In fact, in the end, delight.
When I was on the brink of making my decision late last summer, I came across this quote:
"I ask for the gift
of a moment
to sit by Your side
The work that I have in hand
I can finish afterwards.
Now is the time to sit quiet
alone with You
and to Sing
a re-dedication of my life
in this Silent
and overflowing joy."
-- Rabindranath Tagore
A few weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, I was preparing to go to church as usual when my stomach felt a bit off. I decided to wait and then sought a church that offered a later liturgy. I had been wanting to explore a church that is near my new workplace and this became the opportunity. I was pleased to discover a friendly, welcoming congregation. I enjoyed praying with them.
However, something much more surprising occurred that day. As I have noted in other posts, I follow a blog written by an Orthodox priest (http://glory2godforallthings.com/author/fatherstephen/), even though I am not Orthodox myself. Following his writings, however, has left me interested in learning more about Eastern Christianity, such as the Orthodox or Byzantine Catholic, because of their deeply spiritual ways. In fact, I had been thinking about it that Sunday morning when looking for another church to attend.
Also, that Sunday morning, as the priest was giving his homily about the early ministry of Jesus, it occurred to me that I had not really sung "the re-dedication of my life" that I knew was part of my journey of change. The decision I made last summer was more to me than a simple job change. It was, for me, a deep spiritual movement into a new chapter of my life, though words cannot fully capture what this means.
As I left the church I visited that Sunday morning, I saw a flyer announcing that they were having a special celebration in two weeks: a Byzantine Catholic liturgy (though it was a Roman Catholic church) and an anointing for psychologists and other human service professionals. The time and place for my song of re-dedication seemed to have come to me as though part of a greater plan...
Though not a member of this parish and not knowing anyone there, I was welcomed when I asked to participate. The liturgy was beautiful and there was a simple prayer as my hands were anointed with oil (as were others'). It was what I needed - what I had been led to...
A couple of days prior to the anointing, I completed the following poem, expressing this movement in my life:
i am going to start living as a vessel in God’s hand
(an empty vessel, broken, one He has reclaimed)
in His hand,
i will be a feathery quill, wordless and hollow,
waiting to be filled with the ink of His compassion.
in His hand,
i will be an empty cup found upon a dusty shelf,
longing to overflow with the ocean of His mercy.
in His hand,
i will be an empty brush and palette,
thirsting for His colors to paint sad souls alive.
i am nothing, an empty vessel, broken…
yet He holds me in His hand
and i am His.
(to Him be glory)
(This is the third poem in the series of three that I have posted this week.)