The morning air is heavy, smoke from the recent wildfires clouding the sky gray. Light feels eerie, hard-fought. And I take a few swift steps to the studio behind our house. Here, through computer screen, I will resume meetings with Father Chi.
I struggle with connecting to Skype and am ten minutes late. Father Chi is beaming when I finally join, ebullient and forgiving. “Ha, ha, Jennifer, it is so wonderful to see your face again!” Love is so powerful. I am immediately at ease.
“How are you? How have you been since we last met?”
And I tell him about my heart–how these months of sheltering in place have challenged me to stay connected with God. With rhythms disrupted–and me feeling a bit discombobulated most of the time–I have struggled to create (write poetry) with God. I have also struggled to engage with God for concentrated periods of time that does not involve work or ways that He calls me to lean in and engage with others and love.
It was time to take a step toward Him, whether I felt equipped to do it or not.
I told Father Chi, “Last week I started spending concentrated time with God again. I started going out to the studio in the morning (it has been weeks since I had done this) and simply focused my attention on Him. For an hour I talked to Him, listened for Him, imagined Him. I let my mind and my heart wander where He led me. It was so good!”
I continued, “There was no crisis to precipitate this interaction. I was just not feeling true, free, surrendered, or energized. I felt like I was asleep to God, and I needed Him to wake me up.”
We need more of Him. Always. And He always has more to give.
After Labor Day, I will begin meeting with Father Chi once a week to participate in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, a series of prayers, meditations, and contemplative practices designed for the deepening of union with God. I am eager to begin.
Father Chi and I used to meet twice a month last year. We stopped meeting face to face in March when the local Jesuit retreat center shut down. We both thought we would surely be meeting face to face in the fall. (How long could this shelter in place last anyway?) So we paused our meetings in the spring. But as August was coming to a close, meeting remotely sounded better than not meeting at all. And, even meeting through a screen, where we can see one another’s whole face, might even be better than being ten feet apart, in a small room, with just eyes connecting above a hot mask.
This is going to be so good.
In preparation for meeting together, Father Chi asked me to create a spiritual timeline of my life–asking God to help me remember pivotal moments of my life that shaped me–and then asking Him for his interpretation of them.
“Be open about the time,” he said. “You might spend as long as a few days on one event in your timeline. Others, you might spend shorter.”
This sounds good to me–an opportunity to let God speak to me about identity and healing, false narratives and new stories He wants to rewrite.
Would you like to join me?
For Loop Poetry Project–for the next two weeks–let’s dive deep into our stories with God. Let’s spend time with Him. Let’s ask Him questions about moments in our lives. Let’s remember as much as we can and write it down. Then let’s ask God for his interpretation of those events. What does He see? What does He want us to know that is different than our singular perspectives?
Tell me what you think about this idea in the comments below. And also consider sharing a poem about one of these life events. Don’t worry too much about writing chronologically. Start at any moment in your life. What does your heart want you to notice right now? How is God drawing you toward Him? What about your story can be viewed differently than you ever have before?
Praying for His goodness to guide you and His love to fill you as you listen and write.
To Now See
The narratives we tell ourselves as children give us
nightmares or sing us to sleep.
And I see you
wild innocent thing
who believes meekness
is gold and dreads what
hear me now
there is no shame
to break open
parts of you
(I accept you)