Monday, September 26, 2011

What Do You Want?

As I skimmed my sidebar this morning, three links (and I went looking for a fourth) caught my attention.

The title of today's Abbey of the Arts post is The Curves of My Longing. The topic does not, of course, concern the curves of my longing.  I am now in possession of  two recent incision scars  that follow the contours of my body's curves, and my immediate longing is for the pain to subside.  My longer-term wish, the desire of which I am reminded by the heavy tenderness accompanying my every movement, is that I not have to continue the journey represented by those scars.  That wish has not been granted, and so I wonder: With what do I replace it?

Second link: People for Others today references another post by another writer, who asks: 

"What does my faith give me? It gives me a love story. Not a story that explains love, but a story that gives birth to—and directs my heart, mind, and very being to—the fullest expression and fulfillment of love."

and then responds:

"Am I, because of my faith, better at love than those with no faith? Difficult to say, but I’m going to guess the answer is “No.” Am I, because of my faith, better at love than I would be without my faith? Also difficult to say. I hope the answer is “Yes,” but then I cannot answer with certainty. At the end of the day, I walk in darkness like everyone else, and I hope that this sacred story, the story of my life, and the stories all around me in what I see and hear are all one in the same, even while they are many and different."

And I wonder the same thing: Am I better at love because of my faith?  Probably not.  (Just ask anyone who lives with me.)  Perhaps I am merely better at longing to be better at love.

Some years ago as I was walking along the Little Lakes, I stopped to watch a pair of young green herons learning to balance in the small trees overhanging Lower Lake.  They were quite comical, with both their pin feathers and their legs sticking out in all directions.

This morning, the following image, of a graceful adult green heron, appears in Picturing God:

My comment was that it's inspiring to see what can be appropriated with a season of practice.

What do you want?  That's the perennial question posed by Ignatian spirituality, inhabiting every crevice of life with its assertion that God speaks to us through our desires.  I recall my astonishment at the insistence with which my spiritual director posed that question as we made our way through the Spiritual Exercises, as if what I wanted was of some import ~ not just to me, but to God.  What do you want what do you want what do you want?

What is the curve of your longing?  What does your faith give you?  Are you better at love because you have been drawn into the most all-encompassing narrative of love?  Have you been transformed from the awkward beginner struggling to maintain her balance on the slim branch in the wind to the seasoned,  grace-filled adult who knows that just below the surface of the water lie nourishment and life?

The verses of John 4:13-14 constitute the theme for my ordination service.  The words have been speaking to me since somewhere deep in Week 2 of the Exercises, and today they seem more appropriate than ever, resonating through literal scars and green herons and the narrative of all of our lives.


  1. This is intriguing. In my personal spiritual journey, upon which I have more time and energy to focus now, "What do I want?" is not a question which has even appeared near the edges of my search. This is a wonderful question. I am going to ponder it for awhile.

  2. Curious question, in all the best of ways. My first response is, be careful what you ask for....if you want peace then you will be challenged to find peace amongst chaos....and so on. I have yearned for a place, a community that can be as excited about exploring faith and liturgy as I am...and it seems I may now be in that place...but first I was challenged by a community that was anything but....why? Not that I think God caused those challenges, still it is the way it world out. Oh, and another thing, when I was in the ordination process I, and all my peers, encountered spiritual director suggested that the "devil" - the evil one- kicks up the challenges the closer we get to Gods desire for us...just a thought.

  3. No question that that last thing happens. However you conceive of evil and chaos, the closer we approach God's desire for us, the more likely they are to intrude in impossible ways. As a spiritual director, I see it about 100% of the time.

  4. I've been asking myself what do I want for months now, and I still have only have a few, very vague ideas. I've recognized this separation from my myself as a spiritual problem as well as a problem of creativity and will. As always, you've given me so much to think about, and as always, you are in my heart and prayers.

  5. I recently posted about working with a director I love, but had not work with for years and I wrote about how I had changed. Maybe not a graceful adult, but I appear to be headed that way. Just don't ask me to stand on a limb over water. and I know that my spiritual journey has helped me to love in ways I never loved before. I give God the credit for unfolding me into that love.

  6. Robin, I just gifted you an itunes piece. I sent it to Please let me know if you do not get it.

    This is a trilingual piece (Spanish, English, Greek) called Kyrie/Litany of Praise. The first verse in Spanish says, "we praise you O God, you offer living waters, Lord have mercy". The second is in English so you'll understand that. The third verse says "We praise you, O Lord, you give us life eternal, Lord have mercy." It is at the heart of the immigrant community I serve and when I read about the theme of your ordination, I thought of it.

    I continue to hold you in much prayer...

  7. I want you to get better. I want it to be easy. (I know it won't be). I want you to have an open door to be the pastor you've dreamed of being. I want you to write a book. Okay, enough about what I want. What do you want?

    Love and hugs. Karen East

  8. I have been pondering the entire blog post of well as the link to the People for Others post. Thanks for stirring my soul with your questions. Not sure answers are easy and/or bloggable...but know how deeply the water is churning.

  9. I want to be fully myself, in my personal life and in my ministry, but I'm finding the latter portion terrifying at the moment. Still, I know it's coming. And I believe the narrative of Christ's love has opened me into that fullness and will support me as the rest unfolds. Thanks for posing this question.