Before I Go...
I’ve been pretty quiet as I have been quite occupied with busting my derriere to get stuff done. The week before I leave the country is always a race to the finish line. And if you’re wondering, no, I didn’t get everything done. If you got a Christmas card from me, rejoice! I got about a quarter through my list before I had to let go of that particular fantasy of sending out Christmas cards this year.
I also know that before I engage in any conversation (particularly about this election), I need to deal with my own heart. I need to work out all the anger, resentment, or ulterior motives that are rooted in my own darkness and ego. I’ve seen a lot of darkness this past week, so much division, so much hurt…and that’s just on Facebook. It feels overwhelming.
Tomorrow, I leave for the Middle East with a broken heart for my own country, with the pain that has been unleashed but which has been ever-present under the surface. I’m worried too, worried about the vulnerable in our society. I do believe to the core of my faith that I must continue to offer hope and reconciliation, and stand with the least of these. I believe this is the litmus test of a Christian-- how you stand with and serve the marginalized, the hopeless, the refugee, the widow, the poor, and all those excluded and oppressed.
I continue on with my small part in a corner of the world to try to help (& not harm!) the people I believe I am supposed to give my life away to. I am more determined than ever to press in to this.
I also am leaving with much gratitude. So many people have made this possible--my board of directors who give their time, finances, and service. Friends who financially make this work possible. Also, all those who took such good care of me after surgery. It’s incredibly hard for me to be weak and vulnerable and your care humbled me. It is because of this care that I am healed enough to travel this year, such a gift to me!
It is also because of how you lavished your love and care on me that I am able to do this work. And it is by your example that I serve people in the Middle East. I carry you in my heart because we are part of this work together--partners. My friends in the Middle East need to know this; I go back as a result of an American community that believes in God’s love—a belief that love wins.
And my friends in America need to know how my friends (& new friends) in the Middle East lavish hospitality and love on me in the midst of our differences. Even though I am there to help, often I am the one more blessed. There is much joy for me just to be back with these dearly beloved.
Joy, sorrow, and gratitude are mingling in my heart and soul as I try my best to put my faith into action. And as Mother Theresa said, “Faith in action is love- and love in action is service.”
Love wins. There is a cost. But, it always wins.
A new friend sent me this blessing for the trip. I hope you find it as beautiful as I did. For all of us on the journey...
For the Traveler
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
~ John O’Donohue ~