Monday, December 5, 2011

Gates, Paths and Diamond Castles

Dear friends,
Christmas 2011
 I can barely comprehend that a year has passed by without a single word to you on this blog. Its as if the gate to my year was kept quite private and I guess some years are like that.

So much has happened in one sense and yet at another level things are still rolling along as life does. Matthew of course is now closer to three than to two and is still the joy of my life.  His mother is back living at home much to Matthew's delight (and mine also).  She also has a job and he is in daycare but seems to be taking all the changes in his stride.

I have had a busy year with all the issues of maintaining a home with a toddler plus the joy of doing some teaching with both adults and teens in parishes, a small support role in the parish and my spiritual direction ministry and other activities.

We have also squeezed in great holidays with friends both here and in Australia, a trip to Taupo with Matthew shared in part with Fiona and family, and my three one day commitments in Wellington.  The country has endured earthquakes, Rugby World Cup (which was enormously enjoyable because it became so social with everyone meeting at each others homes for games), financial earthquakes, the aftermath of the Mine explosion, oil slicks with the Rena shipwreck and elections. Phew what a year!

On the home front weddings have been a feature, (we must be at that age) as are 21st's and 50th birthdays and special wedding anniversaries for friends. There has also been the sadness of cherished friends who have passed into the hands of the Lord and for whom we pray. At the last moment I attended a symposium on prayer at Palmerston North which in many ways became a catalyst for what looks like may become a whole new adventure with God for next year. You'll have to watch this space for more on that as it unfolds but suffice to say that Mary seems very busy in my life!

I am writing this as I give myself a break from preparation of three lectures
for Hearts Aflame  . I haven't been to or presented at Hearts for nearly twenty years so I am looking forward to it and thoroughly enjoying putting it all together on my favourite topic,  "The Marian Dimension of the Church; The Essential Role and Mission of the Laity". 

St Teresa of Avila says prayer is the gate to
our inner soul, our interior  castle.
 Six Days Silence:  I was blessed with a six day silent retreat in November...yes I really managed to hardly talk at all for a whole week believe it or not.  It was in Epsom and I spent a good chunk of most days roaming free in One Tree Hill domain and environs.  It was wonderful.  I had never really explored this wonderful jewel in the heart of Auckland.  I became fascinated with trees, volcanoes, new life bursting out all over and gates.  Epsom has a huge variety of gates of every size, shape and style. It set me musing on the gates we have on our lives and even what our prayer gate is like, the gate to our interior castle where God dwells in waiting silence.

 What is my prayer gate like?
Lush and private?
friendly but a bit dilapidated?
Fat happy caterpillars

Solid, reliable but a bit imposing?
Anyway you get the idea.  Gates were fruitful for reflection and also a novel way to pray while I walked. Can't go without sharing  my monarch caterpillar though.  They were beautiful, fat and happy, feeding blissfully on leaves totally unaware that any time soon they would morph into chrysalis for the apparent dying to self involved in bursting forth as gorgeous butterflies.

New Life bursting forth
Sheltered by trees from the rain
So I am far from certain where the road is taking me. I am simply certain it is a good road and God travels with me and has given me Mary as a beloved companion on the way. It is a time of new beginnings for me.  A returning to old paths in some ways, but with new perspectives and new knowledge that will make the journey quite different this time around.  I am living in Advent with anticipation of gates to enter, lots of ordinary daily living to embrace like a caterpillar, and the hope of new paths with uncertain destinations to lead me into new adventures with life, accompanied by God who in Teresa of Avila's words views: "the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms... the soul of the righteous …is nothing but a paradise, in which, as God tells us, He takes His delight."
So happy advent waiting and happy anticipation of New Paths and New life bursting forth with the God who cherishes you and takes delight in you all.

Let nothing disturb you,
   let nothing trouble you,
     everything passes,
God alone remains (Teresa of Avila)

God Bless, Bev