As mentioned in my last post, I was really moved by an activity we did with Sr. Gerry called “The Play of Life”. We each created a snapshot of a time in early childhood using little dolls and decorative materials to create the scene. I received a lot of insight about myself from this activity and I knew that I wanted to return to it. But first I needed a bit of space to process it and let it settle into my mind and heart.
I should also mention that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. I find our internet connection is pretty dicey in the evenings. It can be hard to watch tv or a movie or even something on YouTube so I’ve gotten into the habit of downloading podcasts during the day when the internet connection is more reliable and listening to them at night. Lately, I’ve been listening to The RobCast (hosted by Rob Bell) and I have been really moved by his messages. They’re positive and thought provoking and challenging. One of the podcasts in particular (19 Letters!) has fueled me to look at the story I have been telling myself about my childhood and adolescence, and to think about how I can retell the story in Christ (anakephalaiosasthai – listen to the podcast!).
Feeling encouraged by the podcast and thinking that I would recreate the activity with different periods from my life, I went on a hunt to find some dolls (not Barbie dolls) that could be a reasonable facsimile of my family. I was not successful. Then someone suggested I make figures of my family with modeling clay. At first I laughed it off (the figures would be lucky to look like human beings let alone my family) but when I really couldn’t find any suitable dolls, I thought I would give it a try. I bought some modeling clay and put it in my cupboard while I let “The Play of Life” percolate inside me.
And there the modeling clay still sits. Instead of creating clay facsimiles of my family members, during my prayer last weekend I felt God tell me to not worry about being busy creating new scenes or making figures, but to just sit with a photo of the scene I had made with Sr. Gerry. Just sit with it and really look at it.
So that’s what I did. For five days this week, for an hour at a time, I sat with that photo and let God speak to me. And what did God say? God said, remember when…
All of a sudden I remembered what it was like when my parents decided to separate and all the stuff that went on and how scared and uncertain I felt. And then I could see it and I knew it (deeply knew it) so clearly: our parents really loved us (me and my brother Daniel). They really loved us. I could see all the ways they tried to put us first, to help us with the divorce, to make us feel loved throughout it all. They loved us so much. I just sat there, feeling all this love, and I started to cry. It was simple and beautiful.
It happened every day. Each day I looked at a different section of the photo – my Woodford family, my Rudolph family, my friend Jana – and I remembered all the love and the joy and the fun times. All of the laughter. There was so much laughter. All of the goodness over my childhood that helped to balance out the stuff that was not so good. I felt so loved by my family and friends and by God, and I was overflowing with love for all of them. In the midst of all that love, God was teaching me other things too. Teaching me about compassion and forgiveness and freedom.
And now, at the end of this week, the grace I have received astounds me. God has shown me important truths about myself and about my life. I have always been loved and I have always been enough. And then, even bigger: at all times and in all places, I am loved and I am enough.
What to do with this gift, with this grace that is given so freely and has taken me by surprise with its intensity? The only thing I can do: say thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I know that this grace is not meant for me alone. I am grateful for it but I know that this grace belongs to everyone and God wants to give it to everyone. It is truly possible to see the story of our lives in a fresh way, to learn important truths about who we are. If you are reading this blog post and you feel a tug in your heart, maybe a desire to look with new eyes at a story you’ve been telling yourself, please give yourself the freedom to do it. First, I suggest you listen to The RobCast podcast I link to above (it’ll give you the boost you need!), and then make time and space to listen to God’s nudgings. God knows you and will guide you in whatever way is best for you. The grace is there to be received.