Thursday, March 13, 2014

     

Strong Food for the Journey                     

 

Isaiah 30:19-21      
 

  

For many years I worked with someone whose behavior towards me was hateful. She was cruel and manipulative. She brought much misery to me and to others: "My tears have been my food...." (Ps.42:3). In these days my former tormenter is institutionalized with dementia and paranoid delusions. When someone recently remarked,"She was afraid of you," I vengefully replied, "She may have gotten rid of me, but she could not get rid of her fear." The naked meanness of my words stayed with me and, in time, led me to a prayer I did not expect: I importuned God for the impossible, to be able to forgive her. And so it came to be. In the depths of my heart, these words emerged: "Through God's grace, I forgive you," speaking her name, "and may you find peace for your soul."

 

In this season of metanoia and teshuva,* of the heart's twistings and turnings, I celebrate:

  • the soul-shifting crossings from condemnation to compassion
  • the way stations of amazement when the bread of suffering becomes God-given strong food for the journey
  • the Teacher's voice proclaiming: "No escape now, neither right nor left. The heart-hallowing way is under your feet. Follow it! Follow it!"

 

I invite you to pray with me:

 

Teacher! Teacher-God, cross our path. Give us this day our daily bread, which perhaps will be the bread of suffering. Let it be seasoned with your grace and leavened with your transforming love. Let it become blessed bread for the with-You-God journey, broken and shared with deep joy, changing our mourning into dancing. Amen.

 

* The Greek metanoia and the Hebrew teshuva, traditionally translated "repent," both carry the sense of "turning" - from one direction to another.

  

  

       

Gail Priestley

SFTS Program Manager for Advanced Pastoral Studies