Wherever God Dwells in My Heart

God can speak in so many ordinary ways, but, if one does not intentionally take notice, a lesson will surely be lost. For me, listening to my dreams and expressing myself creatively is when I am most aware of God’s presence.  

480271_10200177771877371_1596838801_n
Card Name: Birthing Something New

Recently, I had a dream that I was pregnant. I was not in labor but, clearly, I was expectantly waiting for the birth. When I woke, I knew this brief dream was one of both hope and uncertainty, and that it mirrored the ambiguous space I’ve been in for several months. I remember when I was in actual labor with my daughter, Jessica, thinking, “I quit. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I’m outta here!” It’s a silly thought, because, obviously, there is no other choice but to persist.

As any mother will tell you, labor is definitely worth it but, in the middle of it, that place of in-between, frustration and impatience can set in (not to mention, pain). As it is with birthing a baby, so it is with birthing something new in one’s life. One is more-than-ready to see the fruits of labor.

In dream language, being pregnant means more than giving birth to a baby; it’s about potential and expectation—giving birth to an idea, a new phase of life, or a new phase in a relationship. All of life is a birthing, dying and rebirthing process.

“…love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another… Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many many endings, and many many beginnings—all in the same relationship.” –Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

I woke from this dream knowing that something new shall come and that I must persist. Less an act of will and more an act of surrender, I trust that this birthing is a divine experience.

new-birtha
Card Name: New Birth with an Empty Nest

Just a few weeks later, another dream gives me a hint of what is to come. I was frustrated that I hadn’t seen any progress on a house that was under construction. I wondered, how could the builder not show me this house that I was planning to buy? Finally, he gave me a tour. The rooms were larger, different than I had expected, surprisingly unique. There were some rooms that already had furniture in them, arranged in a way that I would never have considered. It was far more beautiful than I could have imagined.  But there were other rooms that were still under construction. Also, there were two staircases—one that led to my bedroom and another that went to a few guest rooms, those that family might stay in.  Although the rooms were near each other, they could not be reached from one to the other. They could only be reached through their separate staircases. In the large living room, there was a piano with rows of chairs gathered around it, as if for a performance. I was content that the house was coming along quite beautifully and far beyond my expectations.

This house is me. This dream spoke to me of comfort, fulfillment, wonder, patience, hope, and even, certainty. And although I am “under construction”, what is, and what is to come, is beautiful. Progress IS being made even if it might not look or feel like it. I am excited at the prospect that there are choices that I can make, of color and pattern, to complete the decor. What was revealed is certainty that God is working, and also a hope, a promise of something new to come.

I am surprised that I have my own staircase, that my room is separate from the others, but this gives me confidence that this journey is my own to grow in beauty of self and spirit. God is working on me and in me, giving me permission to limit distractions, to have my own haven of peace.  It really doesn’t matter what God has in store for me because God dwells within me. I am at home wherever God dwells in my heart.

My dreams will continue to give insight and God will continue to work on me in a more beautiful way than I could have imagined myself. I may not know what is to come, but trusting the birthing process is surrendering the outcome.

Consider: What does it mean to dwell by myself? Where do I dwell? Where am I “at home?”  For more on this topic listen to HR#35 The Life of St. Benedict – God’s Dwelling Within – The Holy Rule of St. Benedict w/ Fr. Mauritius Wilde O.S.B

held-in-love
Card Name: Held in Love, God’s Dwelling Place

More SoulFully You blog posts on Dreams:
When the Dust Settles
Lessons I’ve Learned, Again: 2016 in Review
When You Feel Like You’re Sinking, Just Float
Just float…Gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream

St Benedict, St. Scholastica and Spiritual Friendship

I received the gift of the Holy Spirit when I was nine years old. It took many months of catechism class to prepare to receive the sacrament of Holy Confirmation in the Catholic Church. There were dozens of questions about doctrine and faith to study, like:

What is a sacrament?  A sacrament is an outward sign made by Christ to give grace.
What is grace? Grace is any gift from God.
How many persons are there in God? There are three Persons in God.

 ….and so on. There were scores of prayers and creeds to memorize, months of CCD every Wednesday afternoon and hours of quizzing by my parents at night, but the pay-off for a nine-year-old girl was the opportunity to choose a saint’s name as my second middle name. All by myself. This was a big deal. It seemed like such a grown-up thing to do, to pick MY OWN name. I chose the name Christine, not because I knew anything about St. Christine, but because the name was so pretty to me. Jodi Marie Christine.

My grandma was so proud of my Confirmation that she called me Christine the whole day. My parents gave me an illustrated book of the “Lives of the Saints” to commemorate the occasion and as any nine-year-old would do, the first thing I did was look up my birthday. I was immediately disappointed. The illustration seemed so dark –a man with a hood, a scary looking bird and a funny name that I had only associated with Benedict Arnold, a famous American traitor.  After gaining such a beautiful name like Christine, what kind of luck did I have to get a guy named Benedict on my birthday?!  July 11, St. Benedict, Abbot, it said.  I read the pages about St. Benedict often, thinking that I should have some connection with this man as my patron saint, but then I forgot about him until…

confirmation

Fast forward 30 years when I found my way to St. Benedict Center, not because of the name or that I remembered anything that I had read about St. Benedict, but because I had a desire for prayer and silence. And at a silent retreat, I met a woman named Colleen who would become like a sister to me, an Anam Cara or soul friend. She gave me a card once that said, “We’re like sisters with different mothers.” We connected on a spiritual level–we prayed together, read spiritual books and could have talked for hours about our spiritual journey. And what I discovered the year she passed away further deepens our connection. Her birthday is February 10 and her patron saint is St. Benedict’s twin sister, St. Scholastica. They had a close relationship, even though they could not spend a lot of time together, and they were both committed to God. 

Here is the story of St. Scholastica from the books of Dialogues by Saint Gregory the Great: 

“Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate.

One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together.

Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother: “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.”

When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she0035 raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” 

Reluctant as he was to stay of his own will, he remained against his will. So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.

Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself.

Their minds had always been united in God; their bodies were to share a common grave.”

The lessons I’ve learned from St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, from my friendship with Colleen and other soul friends, are many. I’m sure there are more to come, but here is some of what I’ve learned so far:

Spiritual friendships never end.  ♥  Neither death nor distance can separate us from the love of another.  ♥  There is no such thing as loving too much.  ♥  Spiritual friendships are a gift from God.  ♥   We support each other in living out God’s purpose in our life.   ♥   Spiritual connections with friends enrich one’s prayer life and guide the other back to God when one is temporarily lost.   ♥   Spending time together is important, but friendship resides in the heart.   ♥   We pray for and with each other.   ♥  We cry with each other.   ♥  We laugh together.   ♥  We listen to, plan with, comfort and challenge each other.   ♥  We are grateful for each other and we say it.   ♥  “Our minds are united in God.”

I thank God for the example of all the saints and for learning about St. Benedict as a child. I thank God for my oblate experience to learn more about St. Benedict and his Rule (and about the hooded Abbot and his scary bird). I thank God for the lives and stories of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. I thank God for spiritual friendships

Joyce, Colleen and me at St. Benedict Center.
Joyce, Colleen and me at St. Benedict Center.

 “Friendship is the linking of spirits.  It is a spiritual act, not a social one.  It is the finding of the remainder of the self.  It is knowing a person before you even meet them.”  ~Joan Chittister

For more information about Benedictine Spirituality, go to Being Benedictine website/blog

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: