My last post had to do with connected events that led me to a conclusion. This post has to do with the connectedness of the things I am reading and how those connections inform my life and relationships.
Over this past month I have been reading the first four chapters in the Gospel of Luke, Mindful Jewish Living, A Generous Presence, My Grandfather's Blessings, Tattoos on the Heart, Crucial Confrontations and The Element. All of these works have been mingling in my brain as I have been going about my days. What follows is the way I believe God has been impressing me with words to address the four things I've been wrestling with:
1. How can I be more mindful in situations and see what God wants me to see as opposed to feeling turned off, irritated or annoyed?
Have I been able to be more mindful at work? No. Epic fail. I know how I am supposed to respond. I know I am supposed to be trying to see the divine spark in everyone instead of the story in my mind becoming what I see. (Mindful Jewish Living). I was also impacted by a chapter in the Tattoos on the Heart book. The author, a Catholic priest, walks the reader through his days of being in community with gang members. Time and again these hardened people would "crack" or soften to God. I would like to be a part of this process in my community but I am never going to get there with my human feelings about the people I come in contact with. I need some God-sized feelings.
2. How can I have a relationship a better relationship with Dawn?
Over the past month I have come to realize just how hard it is to know that I have failed my child and continue to fail her. It was difficult to realize how my parents failed me. In an epiphany moment in my early 30's I realized my father was never going to be the father I wanted and it was OK because I realized he was doing the best he could with the cards he had been dealt. Over the years I have been able to come to that with my mom but it was harder because her influence in my adult life had more negative moments. Eventually I got there. I don't know how to "get there" with Dawn. I'm pretty sure I need to go back to counseling. While reading My Grandfathers Blessings I realized that because my expectations for this relationship and my relationships with my grandchildren have not been met I need to get to a point of acceptance and that is not going to happen without grieving the loss. I am not having the relationship with Dawn or with her kids that I wanted and hoped for. That is a big loss to me especially given the fact that I had intended this to be a very big part of my life. If I can move on then maybe I can just pray about my concerns instead of trying to get Dawn to see things the way I see them. If I can do this then maybe I can give Dawn the gift of acceptance that she deserves. In Tattoos on the Heart the priest asked a gang member how he thought God viewed him. He thought long and hard. "God...thinks...I'm...firme." (could not be one bit better) I want to feel this about my children and my grandchildren.
3. How can I best help my sister as she is going through another life transition?
It's great to have some healthy relationships in life and one of my best relationships is with my sister Patti. She has really been struggling and I have tried listen well, which is part of being mindful or present. (Mindful Jewish Living and A Generous Presence) When she has said things that are only partial truths I have been able to give her a better perspective by showing her where she has not been failing. Usually I can give myself the same gift of perspective and whole truth but with Dawn and the grand kids, she often has to remind me of the support and love I have given over the years. I loved a section in A Generous Presence that talks about the coach as a light bearer. First they shine a light at the edge's of the clients life by asking questions that help bring clarity. Second they illuminate the path. I believe I have done this for Patti in word and deed. And she for me.
4. How can I support Hollie's desire to memorize scripture?
Hollie and I had a plan to memorize scripture together. I had the BIG idea to memorize The Sermon on the Mount. Both of us struggled with doing this and eventually I just told her I didn't want to do it, that I had been reading the Bible for forty years and it just wasn't a priority to continue to memorize scripture. It was very important at one point in my spiritual development but I just didn't want to invest time in it any more. What do I happen to be reading in Luke right after we had this conversation? Chapter 4 about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. How does Jesus, the Son of God combat the devil? He uses scripture. BAM! Jesus had the presence of mind after 40 days of not eating to quote the truth to the devil. How often am I confronted with similar temptations when the evil one finds an opportune time to attack me. Perhaps part of my inability to respond to my patrons with the light of Christ is because I am not memorizing and meditating on scripture. OK Hollie, I've changed my mind. Let's come up with a new plan.
I would like to thank God for the books he puts on my radar, how my brain processes the books and how the Spirit brings my life circumstances into contact with what I've read. The result is a desire to grow or change areas of my own life and if I'm really blessed the opportunity to bring light to the paths of others so they can do the same. What could take this process to an even higher level would be to read the books with others and discuss how we are being impacted.