5/24/13.

God is gracious to us and blesses us. The light of God’s countenance shines upon us, and He gives us His peace.

I find myself so incredibly thankful for the past several months that God has granted me. God is so good to us and so often provides for us in ways that we neither foresee or even hope for. And during the past few months God has given me a something that I even find hard to describe… probably the closest I can come is to say that God has granted me “rest of soul”.

I have been able to take a lot of much-needed time off this spring: time for travel, time for spiritual retreat, time even for visiting home during Holy Week. And by God’s grace in the form of a very good friend who entirely took over the work of the home building program for several months, I have had the immense relief of being nothing but a nurse and a young gal in SoCal who happens to go to church at an orphanage. My thoughts at this point, after several months of stepping back and in a certain sense “hiding”, are tumbling around mostly regarding different types of struggle.

It is so easy for me to toss all of my little and varied struggles into one big basket. I take a struggle with everyday fatigue and starting there I throw it in; then I take a difficult moment with a co-worker or friend and I put it in too; I reflect on a struggle with a certain sin or repetitive bad habit and I toss it on top; I have a little list of struggles with my work and I make sure that they, too, often most of all, are counted in the basket. And since in my particular situation I mostly find myself living within my work environment, and also since my work environment has as its mission the bearing of Christian fruit, at the end of many days I have this strange basket in which I have collected a rather strange and blurred mix of “all my struggle”. And it is so easy for me to view this entire jumbled basket as “my struggle for life in Christ”.

But in the past few months I have had the vast majority of what one might term “missionary struggle” removed from the equation. Instead, I have been given Christian struggle in the more traditional and unadulterated sense- here is prayer, here is fasting, here is almsgiving. Take up your cross, that you might see Christ say “Here am I.”

And it is within this context that I have been blessed with this certain “rest of soul”. I have been given this period of relief from the everyday struggles of “ministry” and instead been allowed a pure focus on my personal following of Christ. And when there is no job description hanging over me requiring the bearing of Christian fruit, then quite suddenly I can sit before the icon of Christ and there is no struggle except that which He is giving me. There is nothing but my labor of love and my labor of worship and the open arms of prayer. And there is such rest to be found in that undistracted relationship. Elder Aimilianos expresses this quite well: “That’s the way it is: The soul which takes thought for itself discovers that it loves repose. And it finds such repose in communicating with Him Whom it seeks, Whom it wants to discover, that is, with God.”

Struggle in the interior life- without anything else thrown into the basket. It is easy to forget that work is work when we acknowledge that it is holy work. But it is just that- it is the work which God has given us. And our life in Him is another plane of reality entirely (and this plane of reality may permeate the whole universe when we are immersed in it, but that is another point completely). Our life in God has not much to do with work and everything to do with relationship- that’s what I’m getting at. I am reminded as well of this quote from the same source, “You can’t seek Christ and at the same time be seeking something else. It doesn’t work that way, even if what you’re seeking is something holy.”

Work here is certainly Christian and it is certainly holy work. But struggle in my work, even when it is good work, is by no means The Struggle. Struggles in living and working at an orphanage may certainly be very real, but they belong in fact to a lesser arena that could more appropriately and simply be titled “problems at work”. God watches over this work (it is, after all, His work), and He knows exactly the problems and struggles of it. We pray fervently for those hardships and challenges, that He in His love might care for them and that He in His abundance might provide. It may be that these struggles show me where I fall short in my love for God, and certainly these struggles might reveal to me some of my sins. But whatever the “problem at work” might be, it still belongs to that other arena. It might reflect something about my interior life, but it doesn’t define it.

It is this focus on interior presence, this participation in the life of the Church and in the sacraments, this walk in repentance and in our soul’s discovering of God, which really takes center stage. To quote Hieromonk Irinei, “At the foundation of our missionary work in the world is the missionary work that must take place in our own heart… Missionary work begins in the Holy Mysteries, in confession and the communion in the holy Body and Blood of Christ…  It begins with an epitrachilion laid across our head, our heart laid open by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the sins which bind us to death and darkness defeated by the power of God.” And it is exactly this perspective which allows my soul such repose, such peace, such rest. It gives such clarity to my habit of life here and freedom from its weight.

I am so thankful for these past few months and in them the perspective which God has granted me. It is with gratitude that I am now beginning this summer of home building this week, and it is with joy that I behold the work which God has placed before us. I feel like an entirely new person who is just beginning to experience everything afresh. It reminds me of the verse from second Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

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12/21/12.

I want to go to a church and slide into the very back pew. I want to stand in a far-reaching corner, going almost unnoticed, with nothing but a head covering and a prayer rope. Without acknowledging anyone, without singing, without having to smile, I want to just be. To be present, but just almost not present at all, but actually worlds more present than it is possible in any other way to be.

Today in the mail arrived several Project Mexico internship applications.  I love reading intern apps, and so tonight, as Mary was making dinner, I began to peel them apart. For whatever reason (possibly that my little sister’s application was in the pile), I began to think about all of my own experiences as a part of Project Mexico and about my own internship application- which I wrote only five years ago at about this same time.

It seems like a lot longer than that since I first thought of coming down to volunteer for a summer- that was what first really hit me as I was reading. I’ve experienced and learned so much, and yet it was only five years ago. And next the obvious question occurred to me: Would I hand over my same experiences and struggles, my same burdens and joys, to the next person? And as I sat down this evening to journal, thinking about this question, I came across the paragraph above (which I wrote about a month ago).

It is this theme of desiring Christ that I reflect on. Five years has taught me so much about desiring Christ, about following Christ, about tearing out every little part of me in order to better run after Christ. It’s maybe a shame that after five years I’m nowhere near holy. But I can at least say that I’ve finally made it to somewhere around step one in my spiritual journey: desiring the right thing. I think before I didn’t really know what that meant. I wanted a lot of things… salvation, to be a good person, to do good, to love people, a pure heart, to serve… Now, I can’t say that I really hold anything on that list of things as my end goal; my heart is instead struggling just for presence, for silence, for that communion. It is a simple yearning for God.

I flipped through my journal and from the last year pulled a number of other short thoughts jotted down. So many of my entries carried this same theme:

I have never before had this experience of deriving every bit of my strength from prayer. I have never before been so depleted of my own steam, and so clearly had the awareness of God dwelling in me and carrying me forward. St. Paul’s words make so much sense- “It is not I who live but Christ who lives in me.”

Is God enough? I want to say yes. But I don’t like where I’m at right now and I don’t like where things are headed and so I don’t want to trust Him. But God is enough and I wish I could just say it and have peace… Throw away all of my desires and control and need for comfort, and just trust Him.

I remember being in high school and sitting in Bible class, and the teacher trying to get us to define what it meant to be made in God’s image. It seems like it would have been better to discourage that kind of talk. I would hate to have defined it, and then missed the experience today of sitting down with three different mothers for home interviews, and in each of their faces encountering Christ.

Accepting what God gives us. If I could just sit, with my hands outstretched and palms upward, and just receive. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Because Lord, I am yours.

My heart is full of so many failures. I marvel that God loves me so much as to keep pulling me forward.

I am God’s. That’s it. Nothing extra. I don’t even want to insert “child of” or “servant of” or any of those things because it means there is some identity tag between me and God. And I just want to be His. 

Five years ago I never would have dreamed that I’d still be involved in PM homebuilding. I never would have believed I’d be leading it. I never would have guessed I’d be working at a hospital in Chula Vista. I would have laughed if someone had told me I’d be living in an apartment in downtown TJ.

In the past not even two years, the work that God has given me here has been more often internally challenging than easy. However, I can’t imagine who or where I would be without the challenge. I find myself so much more aware of my shortcomings and at the same time so much more struggling in the right direction.  That is to say, even when life is as clear to me as a mud puddle at the end of a rainy season downpour, I cannot deny the fact that God has put me exactly where I am, and that with each sunrise He is granting me an opportunity for salvation.

The best part of all this is that my experiences are not “lessons learned”, which I might forget a few years down the road. Instead I have been challenged, and my heart has been changed, and neither the condition of my heart nor my relationship with Christ are “lessons” that can be forgotten.

A wise man recently brought my attention to a beautiful psalm:

“O Lord, You test me and know me;
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thoughts from afar;
You search out my path and my portion,
And You foresee all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether,
The last things and the first things;
You fashioned me, and placed Your hands on me.
Your knowledge has become too wondrous for me;
It has become too overwhelming; I am unable to grasp it.
Where could I go from Your Spirit,
Or Flee from Your face?
If I should ascend into heaven, You would be there;
If I should descend into Hades, You would be there;
If I should take up my wings at dawn
And pitch camp at the furthest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand would lead me,
And Your right hand would hold me…”

“…Test me, O God, and know my heart;
Examine me, and know my paths,
And see if there is a lawless way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”

Jen

9/18/12.

A few days ago, at the hospital, I cared for my first brain dead patient. For a couple of days, actually. She was a beautiful woman and by no means old, but she had had a massive brainstem stroke and was left with only a drive to breathe and some peculiar reflexes (lip-smacking, some random muscle contractions, and some eyelid movement).  The family was unaccepting of her status and prognosis. Her husband had a lot of angry questions aimed at God. And none of them knew what to do with her.

The rest of the staff was not too thrown off by this patient. I get that; I’m the newbie. But you only get to have fresh eyes for it once. And what I saw was a lot of mystery, and what I felt was a real presence of God (and who knows, maybe also of the patient). It was an interesting day for me- I had four patients, three of them very much alive, and then this fourth woman’s room I would enter off and on for this and that… flipping back and forth between a loud reality and a very full silence.

I found myself singing to her, in the hours when her family wasn’t present.  I sang the Trisagion hymns, I sang from the Holy Week services “Verily I Behold thy Chamber” and “Behold the Bridegroom”, and I even sang the 40-day prayers, “Among the righteous spirits departed this Life, O Savior, rests the soul of your servant…” as I had no idea as to what was really appropriate.

I felt strangely small, and quite humbled. I had a very strong conviction about the sanctity of the body in front of me, and I hope I never lose that.  At one point she had to go for a final test in another department and I cringed at the sight of the transporters using a slide board to transfer her from the bed to the gurney. I even carefully asked them beforehand if it would be possible to just take the whole bed; needless to say I got a strange face and a no.

I don’t quite know how to describe the thickness of the silence or the weight of the mystery of it all that day. Or how to communicate how small and unworthy I felt, to be caring for the physical body of a woman whose being was somewhere in the process of moving on, and to be even an insignificant piece of that process for her.

I’ve only felt that way once before, while I was still in school and caught myself in an OR observation that turned out to be an organ harvest. I stood behind some sterile curtain in a state of spiritual shock as organ after organ was lifted out of a man’s body and put into coolers, and people had jokes and small talk and finally stapled him right back up, disconnected. I hummed some prayers amidst the loud drone of all the machines and then when it was done had to just walk away. I remember the distinct feeling of being the only person in the room who really desired to be present for what was happening in that surgery, who really recognized the personhood of the man on the table.

It is one thing for me to be personally aware of the work of God in my life, to be sensitive to His guiding hand over the course of my existence. It is quite another kind of privilege and blessing for me to witness the presence of God and His work and divinity in the lives of others. And I’ve had several of these blessings lately- moments when God is so undeniably present, and I find my heart simply striving for that same fullness of presence. These times at once give me peace, and make me feel incredibly small. Sometimes these moments are when I’m sitting and talking with one of the boys about his day, or maybe I’m speaking with a mother who’s having trouble putting food on the table, or maybe I’m listening to a coworker who is contemplating “x” struggle, or maybe I’m working with a patient who is no longer mentally together. Or maybe a woman is brain dead and dying and I am the only person to witness the holiness inherent in that process.

It’s always the same overwhelming sense of God’s presence, and it is always humbling and reminds me of my own smallness. It is nothing emotional. It is just an acute awareness. It is the peaceful joy of being witness to the presence of God with His children and the love that He shares with them. And there is a great contentedness in my role as witness- not as giver, or doer, or provider- just as witness to His presence and work.

If my heart were more present, it would not be just glimpses that I catch into the mystery of God’s presence among us. The real problem is that my heart is only intermittently capable of opening up to this reality. Someday I pray I might have such an increased awareness. For now though, it is a joy to strive for presence and communion with this God who loves us more than we can imagine and who truly is “everywhere present and filling all things.”

-Jen

6/26/12.

Every single one of my troubles with people around me originates within myself. This is a plain and yet new realization for me. I tend to think that some problems with other people come from me, and some from them, and that the ones that come from me I need to work on, and that the ones that come from them I need to treat as opportunities for forgiveness and humility and growth.

But this just isn’t true. Every single one of my difficulties with anyone on this earth starts with me.

Mostly it’s that I’m needy. I need a lot of things: understanding, consideration, respect, love, kindness, affirmation, thoughtfulness, decency. It seems that as young children we are taught that we owe all of these things to others, and that therefore, somehow, the whole world owes them back to us.

But this just isn’t true. These needs are just expectations that I have declared; they are not part of me and they are not intrinsically mine. And the people around me are not fulfillments of my needs.

For example, say that, while living in the near vicinity of about 25 little boys, I decide that I am tired and need a night of adequate sleep. It doesn’t matter if I’ve decided that or not, at about 5am the noise will start: banging, shouting, singing, the kicking of a soccer ball. At about 6am the knocking on my door will start, and at 7am the breakfast bell will ring for much longer than is necessary, about 10 feet from my head and with only one layer of cement blocks separating us. I can say, “I’m trying to sleep!” and spend the majority of the morning angry, rolling over upset and trying to fall asleep again. Or I can give up my demand/”need” for uninterrupted sleep, and say that while sleep would be nice it isn’t really an option right now. In so doing I accept that boys are boys, that I won’t be able to change them, and I begin to love them exactly as they are.

But that’s a simple example. Say I have an argument with someone because we view an issue differently. And say at the end of the argument I am hurt not because the other person disagreed but because of his lack of even trying to see my side. I have a “need” for understanding. But me getting hurt and expecting that other person to be the satisfaction of my need for understanding is rather silly and fairly unproductive. By beginning the discussion I was asking for an attempt at understanding. It wasn’t given. I can then either give up my “need” for understanding, accept that person exactly as he is in that situation, and work for love and communion with him despite the fact that he did not fulfill my “needs”- or I can get angry, deny the other person the same understanding that he is denying me, and forget any chance of communion.

When others are mean to me I get upset because they have not loved or respected me. But who declared that need for love or respect out of others? I did. The problem started with me. I kind of wonder if this is at least part of what St. Paul meant when he called himself the “chief of sinners”.

People are not the fulfillments of my needs. They are something far better- they are images of Christ. And they sit before me, radiantly reflecting that image. But when I treat them as the answers to my needs, I can’t see that.

By declaring my own needs I cause my own anger with others. It doesn’t matter if my need sounds reasonable or not. God will give me exactly what I do actually need. Why do I assume that my basic, “human” needs are most readily met by my brother? This is a temptation that keeps me from loving him and deprives us both of real relationship.

The only problem is that not getting what we desire from others is tiring. And that’s where I get stuck a lot. When it stops being upsetting it is just tiring- to continually give up those things that I think of as needs and to just rely on God for all of life.

Eventually though, communion with others, the vision of Christ in them, and the joy that these things bring, far outweigh the former fatigue of casting my demands to the side. And this is the real joy that God offers us.

“Let us be very sincere in our dealings with each other and have the courage to accept each other as we are… see and find the good in each other, for each one of us is created in the image of God.”

5/29/12.

God is gracious. This is the realization that I keep coming back to time and time again. God is so very gracious.

I’ve been thinking about this especially as our summer build season is starting, and as I find myself settling into my nursing job, as I am able to watch my little sister graduate high school and be present for it amidst everything else, as I received three beautiful godchildren last weekend and watched their baptisms with such joy, as I return to this same home of noisy boys and now friends who are around to stay (for at least the next few months). God is so gracious.

I am not always able to see this grace in my life. Without much effort, I can very quickly turn at least several of these statements around. The build season is starting but I am underprepared and so tired. The nursing job is fine but it is far too much and they are always requiring more in unexpected ways. Hannah’s graduation was lovely but now I have to face several shifts in a row and also a small group the minute I get back to make up for a weekend off. So many good people are around and I hardly have time to sit down and spend time with them.

See that? Complaining is the ultimate stealer of joy. 

What a poverty it is to complain- it is such a total distraction from everything good and blessed that God has placed in my life. I can see holes where there are no holes at all and create hardships out of challenges that are really just opportunities for communion with God. Why do I question what God gives me?

“God knows.” I keep repeating these two little words to myself whenever I tend towards complaining, towards thinking of weariness, towards self pity. God knows. Stop questioning.

For example I’ve been thinking since the moment I started my nursing job that I wanted to go down to part time as soon as possible. I’ve been dreaming for months about how much easier that would make my life, about how that’s originally what I was planning on anyway moving out here, about how soon it might be okay to ask. I’ve spent altogether too much time thinking about this. Anyway a few weeks ago I finally asked and the answer was no. I had this gut feeling that it was going to work out for some reason. Something like, “God knows I’m tired and that that is the only answer to ending this. It will work out because it has to.”

Well, the answer was no from a variety of random people who do not know me but who work in that dumb office called HR. The answer was not only no but it was a rather rude no- a no with things added to it that I’m not entirely sure were even legal for them to say. And while I did get frustrated with these several random HR people who clearly thought they knew me, at the same time I felt a rather strange, yet overwhelming sense of peace. God knows.

When I was at home this past weekend, I was entering the church and venerating the icons, and beneath our table with Christ on the cross, I came across a large icon of Christ the Good Shepherd- of Christ walking with a lamb literally slung over his shoulders. I’ve always seen that icon and thought that it was a bit “cutesie”, maybe sentimental. But I looked at it this time and immediately sighed, “Well of course.”

What is not possible with man is possible with God. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. Well of course.

I was driving home from the hospital a few weeks ago after what had been a pretty rough day, and I was thinking that I felt rather beaten. Not in a complaining sense, just in a tired-dazed-processing-commuting home sort of sense.

I had this thought of preparing a piece of meat- how I used to watch my mom in the kitchen whack at some piece of raw meat over and over again before she cooked it, with one of those grotesque-looking kitchen tools. Clawing away at it. I remember asking and she told me it made it more tender.

The Bible talks about God being the potter and us being the clay. That’s a nice thought. We’re this wet, readily moldable, pliable material, and we sit on a table whirling round and round- and God reaches out and shapes us, gently and knowingly, into something quite beautiful.

I don’t know how often it feels like that though. I feel whacked at, weakened. Like God is pounding all of my self-will out of me. That’s okay, I think. I just have to learn to be the meat- to accept that God is making me more tender.

God knows. I want to just accept it like that: God knows. And then look for the ever-present element of joy, which I have surely been missing if I end up at these two little words.

I’ve shortened my Jesus Prayer lately. It comes out so naturally when I really need it: “O Lord Christ, O Lord Christ, O Lord Christ.” That’s all I really need to say, to ignore the difficulty and find that peace. Because God just already knows.

4/18/12.

Life would be so much better if I could just shut up. I think that so often. So many unedifying things come out of my mouth. If I could somehow keep myself from vocalizing all of my useless/harmful thoughts, I think it would kill them. And spare others the trouble of hearing them of course.

Mostly they’re judgments against people. I’m quite practiced at judging. Sometimes I do it so well that I struggle to even see good in someone.

There’s that verse from James, “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” If I could consistently keep my mouth shut, and refrain from letting judgments escape, I really think it would end up killing my entire spirit of judgment anyway.

Another quote from Mother Teresa, too. She talks a lot about the kind of spirit that should be behind our words when we do speak. “This is what we have to learn right from the beginning: to listen to the voice of God in our heart, and then in the silence of the heart God speaks. Then from the fullness of our hearts, our mouth will have to speak. That is the connection. In the silence of the heart, God speaks and you have to listen. Then in the fullness of your heart, because it is full of God, full of love, full of compassion, full of faith, your mouth will speak.”

That is an even greater challenge. Not only do we tame the tongue but we use it primarily as a means to share the presence of God.

Anyway. I thought I had more to say than that but I don’t.  :)

Christ is risen! If you read this I hope you had a lovely Pascha.

Jen

 

4/2/12.

I have been thinking a lot about the concept of surrender lately. And also about its corollary- something along the lines of “detachment”.

First let me say that I have too much on my plate. Two jobs in two countries. It’s more than I bargained for- in the sense of work, in the sense of keeping myself pulled together, and in the sense of ending the game with something left to offer to others.

I find myself in two very different worlds. Some days I say “Hi, this is Jenny Zimmerman, I’m Project Mexico’s work trip coordinator”, and others, “Good morning, my name is Jen, I’m your nurse for today.” The flipping back and forth between roles is interesting, to say the least. And what’s hard is that it makes it rare for me to just be “me” without a job title behind my name.

But if there’s one thing that I have learned since I began this whole post-college-Mexico deal last May, it is that I am not my work. I am not my work; my work is not a part of me; my work is not mine; my work does not make me who I am.

Work is just something God gives us with each sunrise. Whether it’s building houses, or caring for sick patients, or flipping burgers at McDonald’s, or performing a task on an assembly line- it is just work. When we can use the work God has given us to minister to others, it is a blessing to us (and hopefully to them). But it does not make us better people for having had the chance to take part in “good” work.

It would be easy for me to take identity in my work. In fact, this is the initial steam that I think we run on whenever we begin a good work. Helping others feels good, initially, because I am helping others. This is something that I have the power to do. And it is good. And Christ commanded it. Our attitude doesn’t necessarily seem prideful. But we take ownership of it, in a sense. We take a bit of identity in it.

And then somewhere along the line, the steam burns off. This I can tell you for a fact. At some point these words leave our mouths: “I keep giving, and giving, and giving, and I never get anything back. How am I just supposed to keep on giving?” I wrote in a journal sometime last fall that, “I had a lot of bread. Then I gave it to you, and you ate it all. Stop asking me for more bread. I don’t have any.” It sounds so stupid. Yet at some point working because “it’s what I’ve decided to do for the glory of God” or “this is how I can love people” is just not enough.

I remember last fall there would be days in the kitchen when the dishes in the sink were piled high after lunch. And Eva, our cook, would just be sitting down to eat herself at the end of the meal. And if I could make time I would do the dishes for her, because she had been cooking for hours anyway, and there were a lot of dishes, and it was a nice thing to do. I didn’t think I did it out of pride; I didn’t think I was a better person for having done it. But I did it out of my own will to love, my own will for goodness. I may not have thought anything better about myself after, but I did it because it was, in a sense, “part of me”. I took identity in goodness.

There came a day when I realized I didn’t have the strength to do the dishes anymore. I didn’t have any more will to love, any more hunger for goodness. People had taken it from me, and they hadn’t given any of it back. I very clearly remember driving down the road and thinking about this- about why I no longer could bear to do the dishes. And it occurred to me that I had been doing them out of this sense of identity. And that I had never received anything back for “being the person with the desire to love”. That in fact, I had received a lot of hurt and humiliation for trying to be that person. And that I no longer had the energy or the will for love to keep on trying to be it. It no longer mattered to me. And so then, without aiming to fulfill this selfish sense of identity, I really had no strength for goodness. How sad, I remember thinking, that my will to love others had only ever been based in the belief that “I love/desire to love others.” Not a drop of it had been out of any real, intrinsic love or purity (because we don’t have any of that, intrinsically).

So beaten down. I had to get so beaten down before I was able to give up trying to be “the person who loves others”. Before I was content with being “nothing in particular”.  Before I desired to just belong to God and simply take identity as His creation. Before my goal was actually communion with Christ.

And suddenly that really is where our life is rooted- in communion, in prayer. In stillness. Because God meets us right in that moment when we surrender our identity. Suddenly our hearts really are open to communion. Suddenly He says, “For I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” and we really do take comfort in those words.

And so that brings my thoughts back to surrender. Because it is here, in this place of not needing to be anything, and in this place of not getting anything personal out of life/our work, that surrender makes a lot more sense to me. People ask things of us and we do them, not because we want to be nice, and not because we’re nice people, but just because they asked. Someone comes to us and needs us to listen, and we listen not because we’re nice people and not because we have any answers, but just because they need us to listen, and maybe because we see beauty in them. The alarm goes off at 4am and we need to head to work, and so we clear our head and get up and get ready- not because we take identity in our work and not because it’s noble- just because it is what God has given us for that day. We don’t put stock in anything that comes our way- instead we have this sort of detached relationship with life. In fact, anything could come our way and we would just accept it. Nothing that comes our way matters; it is our communion with Christ that matters, and it is that stillness that gives us strength. Surrender is that continual acceptance. “It is no longer I that live but Christ who lives in me.” That means something different now.

Joy also makes a lot more sense, in this context. Our presence is in stillness and we simply witness and accept the life before us. But what we witness is beautiful indeed, and this is the joy. People are beautiful, the world is full of God, and communion with others touches on something eternal. It is a new meaning of joy. Maybe that’s all a thought for another day…

Jen