At our writers retreat last weekend, we spent some time working through different prompts. Some of the prompts helped us explore a genre or style of writing—several provided a lens through which we could examine our own inner landscapes. One of the beautiful effects of writing with these prompts is that it gives us the opportunity to step outside of ourselves for and look at our lives and experiences more objectively. I find that I'm less judgmental in this process and more open to seeing the complexities of my personality and experience.
One theme that seemed to arise in our retreat was that of the river. Like Rohr suggests in this chapter, there is a space we can inhabit where we find ourselves in the river. We are part of the river, and faith helps us trust that the river is love. Though the river is still unpredictable and beyond our comprehension, faith can help us rest in the mysterious flow of God's loving grace.
I believe that faith might be precisely that ability to trust the river, to trust the flow and the lover.
I tend to struggle with anxiety. Often I feel anxious about rather small tasks. When those tasks pile up, I can get overwhelmed pretty easily. I've tried all kinds of productivity solutions and have even designed my own planner combining many different techniques that work for me. Though the routine is helpful, the underlying problem is still present.
One thing that this book has encouraged me to do is to not run from these feelings or avoid them with work or procrastination. I don't have a good explanation for what this process is, but it's something like sitting down in the river. I don't need to stop the flood of fears and anxieties—I can leave those just as they are. Instead, I can stay where I am and sink down into the present moment, trusting that things are okay right now. God is here. I am here. These fears and doubts are here. Sometimes, there's perspective in this place that lets me see more clearly. Sometimes there's just enough distance to let me be okay with the mystery and know that I am not my feelings.
Lastly, one of the passages in this chapter that I found incredibly moving was "To Be Forgiven is to Know God." This section was a beautiful exploration of God's forgiveness and love that truly feels like Good News.
Jesus tells us in the Gospels, “Don’t be afraid.” He’s saying it is radically okay. You can trust yourself because God trusts you, using your journey, your experience. Nothing will be wasted; all has been forgiven; nothing will be used against you. In fact, God will even use your sins to transform you! As Julian of Norwich heard from Jesus, “Sin shall not be a shame to humans, but a glory…. The mark of sin shall be turned to honor” (chapter 38, Showing 13 of Revelations of Divine Love).
Thanks be to God.
So, what do you think? What lines made your heartstrings resonate? What parts confused you or frustrated you? What things will you meditate on this week? Reply in the comments below to share your thoughts.