Open Hands

I hate to post on a day when my brother is also writing, because I love it when he writes and don’t want him to think I am somehow trying to trot in and steal the show… but when the mood strikes… and I have an afternoon away from work.

So here we are.

I am here to tell you that being a team player is hard. I don’t like being a team player, I don’t like taking into account all the opinions and ideas and discussing them. I like action, I like doing, I like tasks and being busy. Being made to slow down and be part of a team is a hard thing for me.

Today I talked with my brother about two resignations from my discernment committee, and I understand why those people could not go forward and am not upset, but I said, is everyone dropping like flies on the other discernment committees? What is happening?

You see, if my committee agrees with my sense of call I can enter training in the fall. And then, three years later, at the ripe old age of 39, be ordained. I feel too old already and I wish there was a way to condense all of the training down to like a correspondence course where I can go at my own pace. Which is, admittedly, quick.

My brother said that being task oriented is counter-intuitive to ministry.

He said that we need to listen when the Holy Spirit is talking.

I just wish He would speak up. Because I’m good at hearing Him when He trips me in the aisle at church, when He pulls on my robes, when He shows me in a moment of perfect song how beautiful it is to be alive and to sing.

But I am bad at listening unless He knocks me down and makes me, shouts in my face. I am busy, I am doing all the things, and I don’t how to rest, I don’t know how to listen.

That is my confession, I am a really terrible rester and a really terrible listener.

I am supposed to separate myself from this process, to almost hold myself above myself and to let it all unfold. But I can’t do that, I don’t know how. I don’t know how to let someone else run the meeting or take the notes or write a narrative at the end of our time together. I don’t know how to rest in a comfy and shabby chair and just take the topics as they come.

I am so used to clenching in my fists this tiny bit of space that is mine, that the idea of letting it go frightens me. How can I open my hands when all the threads I am holding there will come loose? How can I open my hands when I am balanced so precariously in this one spot, if I move I might fall.

I am literally the person who is parched and dying for a drink of water because I cannot open my hand to take the water that is being offered to me.

I need to trust that this committee, these people, will make the right decision, whatever that decision is. But in the meantime I’ve been hunted and tugged at and haunted to bring justice to a world that is so lacking, to be a voice for the people who cannot be heard above the ding of yet another sale on a cash register, to feed people who are hungry, to let them take my hand and to bless me.

He shouted in my face that this was what I should do, and it is not a choice, it is a call, but what if I feel it so strongly and my committee disagrees? How can I not care, or see the hand of God in that? How do I come to a place of acceptance and utter abandon to someone I can only hear when I’m being forced to?

I don’t know.

I am trying. I am trying to find quiet, I am trying to open my fists and to let go of all the ideas and the unfair things and the notions of how things should be.

I am trying.

But it is so hard to change when you don’t feel like it is necessary, when you feel like your break neck frenzied pace is the way that all things should be accomplished.

It is hard to sit in that ratty chair and and allow others a voice in who you are and what you are called to be. Harder still to open your fists and let those ugly bits drop out between your fingers. It’s hard to see how they plink down onto the pavement and shine with malevolence, daring someone to pick them up and to know you.

Tonight we will meet and we will talk about how to go forward.

Tonight I will sit in the chair and read out loud parts of myself from a paper that I wrote.

Tonight I will open my hands and I will tell the truth, but it will be a continual struggle to feel that I am not in control when that is a place I so desperately need to be.

I know what makes me open my hands, to open a hymnal, to take the hand of a child, to shake the hand of a person I’ve just met. These are things I can do.

I will continue in this arduous journey, up hill, both ways, in the snow. I will keep trying to allow the spirit to work instead of forcing my own will into everything that happens. I will keep trying to find a place for quiet.

It’s supposed to storm tonight, and I hope it does, it seems like so often the really big and loud storms go north or south of us. But I want to stand on my deck, perched up over the lake. I want to watch the western sky darken and to hear the birds go quiet. I want to see the first drops that fall to the blacktop parking lot and the red geraniums, the cats racing across the lawn toward the open door.

And I want to open my hands and feel the rain on my palms, cool and cleansing. Washing away the things I don’t need to hold onto anymore. I want to watch those things float into the stormy sky like lanterns, never to be seen or heard from again.

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2 thoughts on “Open Hands

  1. Alicia,
    I have been watching as my husband embarks on this same journey of discernment and from what I have observed from the peanut gallery anyway, is that this is meant to be a thought provoking, humbling, scary,and joyous process. Mark is beginning his journey at the age of 60(almost), I think he would agree with me that he probably wasn’t really ready until now. It is a big commitment and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for other big commitments. No one has really said anything yet, but I suspect that there will be sacrifices required of me as well, but Mark has made them for me and I can do no less.
    My call has been in nursing and even though the field has changed drastically over the course of 28 years, I can say absolutely that it is the most difficult and rewarding thing I have ever done for and of myself, other than being a parent. When I first got the call, my mom, who was also a nurse, actually tried to talk me out of it. I think I was more scared, scared of failure and making a mistake, than anything through most of nursing school, which probably means my instructors and professors were doing their jobs right. There are still times that the responsibility we take on and the accountability we have to our patients, their families, and to a lesser extent, our employers, still scares the crap out of me. But then there are those occasions, when you get just a glimpse out of the corner of your eye, that lets you know that you made a difference to someone in need, usually by letting go of what we think they need and let God work through us instead. Easier said than done, of course, and there were times when it took God getting my attention first with the proverbial 2×4 upside the head.
    I will tell you what I told Mark before his first discernment team meeting: this is a process meant to get in your face and make you question your resolve, your readiness to commit, and shake your foundations some. He was pale and sweaty, he was so nervous, but I told him to go into the quiet of the church before his meeting, empty himself of his fear, and let God in. Bless his heart, he did as he was told, for once…
    And there you have it, I think….to truly be able to serve others, you have to let go of your fear and your ideas of how you should be doing it, and let God do His work. At the end of it, even if you find that this isn’t where your life is headed, you may find yourself led in a direction that you haven’t even envisioned yet.
    God bless you always, Alicia….love and prayers, Kelly

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