Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Grey Nuns + Soul Consonance


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I find with increasing amounts of amazement that the deeper my heart opens to God, the more I let go of the things I once thought I had control over God sends me gifts in the shape of words, images, people and experiences. I feel him whisper in a light breeze, glint in the eye of a bird that holds my glance longer than necessary, and often in the way my crooked path lands me right at the doorstep of the next safe harbor of hope and faith on my journey to wherever He takes me.

Yesterday that song to my soul came by way of an unlikely resonance from an unlikely but, equally, likely place. I love reading blogs, articles, and essays of contemplatives from other “faiths of origin”. The Buddhist, Taoists, Hindus, Muslim and Jewish contemplative voices resonate somewhere in the familiar space of quiet penetrated infrequently by a gong or bell calling “time in” or “time out” to a period of prayerful reflection. Where our core beliefs of our traditions may separate us in philosophy, silence and our reverence for silence binds us in one common pursuit–to get closer to something far greater than ourselves and to let go of our small “selves” to do so.

I was reading one of my fellow pilgrim’s blogs yesterday, the articulate and thoughtful author, Genju, of108zen books on the path of Buddhism in the tradition of the beloved Thich Naht Hanh, and I found a beautiful consonance in her life and mine…in the shape of socially conscious women called “the Grey Nuns”.  Her post “hearts that awaken” discusses how she found herself on a Buddhist retreat in the sanctuary of the Grey Nuns. She writes:

 What penetrated me was the interconnections and the surfacing of the past in a new perspective and with new understanding.


That is what I have felt about my recent unraveling of my history with nuns and particularly the Grey Nuns. They are part one in the (known) history of my life. They gave me my name, after Teresa of Avila, they fed me and clothed me and came to my crib when I cried in a room full of babies in cribs living in the in between after the unknown that was and waiting for our “forever homes”. I used to think they spoke to me in Spanish, but having read the history of their founder and finding out in my own research that they were plucked from French-speaking Canada, by the Pope of the time, to help this foundling orphanage for Colombian ninos abandonados (abandoned babies) I am not altogether sure whether their lullabies were Spanish or French. Maybe that reveals my childhood fondness for Madeline and Le Petit Prince.

The mosaic of my life and faith continues as the story of Genju weaves into mine, like one more bead in a chain, like the 108 beads on the japa malas (what I call the “Buddhist” rosary) or the Catholic rosary of my youth.

Isn’t beautiful where we find resonance, like Easter eggs hidden in the garden, God leaves us secret blessings, deep connection with others, and an unfolding abundance around every turn of the path of life. Whether, like for Genju it is walking down the hallways of Grey Nun relics and remembering the Sister who taught her devotion to practice, or me reading her post and being transported back to the lessons before cognition and memory which the sisters left for me in caring hands, teaching me that love is all there is–beyond time, and memory, and in the deep recesses of the ever-unfolding yard of fabric, with God’s hand always revealing new layers of understanding.

Thank you Genju. Thank you Grey Nuns. Thank You God for unwinding another piece of the continuously unraveling fabric of my life. Thank you for being more beautiful than I could have imagined, more complex than I can ever envision, and for allowing me to open my eyes enough to see a flicker of your light that streams from the kind ghosts of the past into the present, and forward from today into forever. May I always learn more, see more, and continue to be astonished by the power of grace happening every day.

When has God spoken to you in little ways? In nature, in people, in experiences, or in words? What have you learned from those unwinding fabrics of your life?

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