becoming smaller...

Once upon a time, o so long ago, I asked a wise believer for some clues about "how to discern the will of God" in your life? The reply has been pure gold: 1) Is it possible? 2) Is there support and encouragement from three other wise, time-tested people you trust? 3) Is it resonant with the heart of Jesus? 4) Is it lasting - or just the ebb and flow of emotions? Over the past three days - in four separate conversations, in my study for Sunday's message, and in my on-going reading of Vanier and Rohr - one theme kept crashing upon the shore of my consciousness:  now is a season of becoming less so that God can become more. Fr. Richard Rohr put it like this yesterday:

When you can become little enough, naked enough, and honest enough, then you will ironically find that you are more than enough. At this place of poverty and freedom, you have nothing to prove and nothing to protect. Here you can connect with everything and everyone. Everything belongs. This cuts violence at its very roots before there is even a basis for fear or greed—the things that usually cause us to be angry, suspicious, and violent.

Vanier puts a slightly different emphasis on this truth, but the heart is the same:

The poor person is one who is in need, who recognizes this need and who cries out for help. Weakness is frequently considered a defect. Yet are we not all weak and needy in some way? We all have our vulnerabilities, our limits and our disabilities. When we recognize our weakness, we can ask for help; we can work together. We need each other. It is obvious that the weak need the strong, but, as we are discovering in L'Arche, the strong also need the weak.

Later in his extended essay, "The Heart of L'Arche," Vanier continues:

(The weak) awakened a part of my being that had been underdeveloped and dormant. Through them, a new world began to open up for me, not the world of efficiency, competition, outward success and power, but the world of the heart, of vulnerability, communion and celebration. They were leading me on a path towards healing an wholeness.

There may have been inward (and a few external) conflicts in moving into retirement. But the deeper blessing is that it liberates me to take another step on the road of becoming smaller. More vulnerable. In solidarity so that I may go deeper into tenderness. Later this week, we will have a chance to meet our new granddaughter in Brooklyn. Talk about tiny. Next week I will spend a few days with the L'Arche community in Ottawa sharing supper, sipping tea, participating in a time of formation. I have completed my paperwork to become a volunteer because shame on me if I don't honor the confluence of these events, words, prayers and writing, yes? Tonight I give thanks to God.

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