Consolation Beyond a Smile – Alignment

“There are no words.”  A friend reached out to our prayer group in sorrow yesterday to share that her dear family member’s life journey would be ending soon.  She wrote, “There are no words.” and yet, we all responded with words: words of the promise of prayers, words of love and blessings for this next journey, I was still after reading her message.  Breathing in the news so long dreaded and denied, I felt my heart’s sadness for her pain.  At the same time, I was touched by her compassion and courage; warmed with gratitude that this woman I cherish had such a cherished woman in her life. After Aunt Joanne died, my friend wrote to tell us and said, “There was a calm presence in the room”.   There was true consolation in that Sacred Space.  

This is the last of the “Consolation Beyond a Smile” series.  In these weeks, we have looked deeply as with a quilter’s eye at the beautiful facets of Consolation.  We used stories and memories, the fabric of our lives, to shine a light on various pieces of what St. Ignatius named Consolation… “Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit.”   Peace, faith, hope, warming tears, love, boldness, courage…all of these graces are given to us as pure gift as we live our lives focused on the Foundation that Ignatius left us. “I want, and I choose, what better leads to the deepening of God’s life in me.”  

That’s it! Can you feel the rightness woven into those words, the vulnerability and strength held within that feeling?  The more we respond to Love, the more we are drawn into the heart of God, the more we are able to live the life God dreamed for us.  That is our grounding.  Our alignment with God’s will for us needs no word but “yes.”  We are drawn in deeper by Love and then sent out as a tiny part of a wonder-full plan. 

Becky Eldredge and her team named this blog “Into the Deep” and it is easy to appreciate the references to the sea.  I love the water and yet, in this moment, I find myself seeing beautiful fabrics lying before me, pieces already cut, some sewn, blocks made, and some waiting to become their own pattern.  I see a quilt in process.  I feel the excitement that comes when colors and textures align, points and corners match and the delightful surprise when a pattern within a pattern emerges.  This life of mine is God’s quilt and is uniquely created for me.  There is no rush in the making of it.  We each have our own quilt.  We each are one of God’s beautiful creations.  We are never really finished until God takes a breath, smiles and says, “There…the pieces fit, Joanne.  Don’t worry about that stain, that frayed edge or that imperfect seam.  We have been making this together for many years.  Rest with me now and let’s look at how all these pieces all fit.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Your life is woven here with every stitch.  There are so many layers of  stories… of warmth and comfort, of sadness, of challenges, of making do with the little you had and sharing generously of the gifts you were given.  Let’s share these stories.  Let me help you see how well you lived the life I dreamt for you.”

God has a quilt for each of us and there is never a shortage of graces or their beauty, textures and variety.  Loving God and saying yes to God’s dream for us brings us Consolation.  These graces are meant to be savored and then shared.  We offer them liberally throughout our lives.  We grow, we make new patterns and, yes, we may fray in places in the process.  All those pieces can be confusing at times but not for God.  God has a plan for all those pieces.

Every now and then, I get a peek at a pattern emerging.  Someone mentions how something I said to them years ago has held them through these years.  Pieces of my life had a purpose beyond anything I could imagine or even remember and created strength and warmth and beauty for another. I might not have felt calm back then…frequently I didn’t…but I had offered my yes, counted on the Holy Spirit to guide me and did my best.  My “yes” to aligning myself with what God has dreamt for me helps me breathe and go forward.  I smile when I see and feel the pieces fit.  I can’t wait to see how mine and all the patterns and stories turn out!  How I feel in those moments is sure and calming. There really are no words.

Going Deeper:

Photo by Dinh Pham on Unsplash

Mary Ann Gessner has worked with all generations as an art teacher, in Nursing Homes as Recreation Director, a Social Services and Admissions Director and Administrator. She was the Director of Admission with a focus on international student recruitment for St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont and holds a BA in Studio Art and Art Education from the University of Bridgeport, CT and a M.S.A. from St. Michael’s College in VT. Since retiring in 2015, Mary Ann enjoyed the gift of time to nest, quilt, and cook. This gift of time led to Ignatian Spirituality in the Inner Chapel and Becky’s Overwhelmed No More retreat and the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. Mary Ann is currently an intern in the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH and is rediscovering her love of storytelling. Her two sons have moved gracefully into their adult lives with their families. Mary Ann and her husband still live in the log home they built 45 years ago in the woods of Sheffield, Vermont.

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