Embrace

December 9, 2009

This morning, I ran into one of our priests, Fr. Dave, at a coffee shop. Seeing him reminded me of a something he had shared with us several weeks ago at mass that has been mulling over in my head. It was the idea from some author (whose name I cannot remember) about the image of an “embrace”.
We stand with our arms wide open ready to accept the other person. Then we embrace the person by wrapping our arms around it and hugging tightly. Finally, we let go of the other person.
What a beautiful image for our lives. We are always called to be open to God’s love. We are called to open our lives to people and events in our lives. There are certain people and events that I find it easy to open my arms to. I find it easy to not only open my arms, but to also embrace these people and events, and let them go. I can let God easily into these areas of my life.
Other people and events though, I struggle sometimes even opening my arms at all. I want to keep my arms crossed and closed and not welcome the person or event at all. I do not even want to let God in on that situation. Chris would probably say I was like this when he first mentioned the idea of him returning to school to get his Ph.D. My first instinct was to cross my arms and hold them closed. After fully hearing him and praying about this, I was finally able to open my arms and embrace this idea. Once I was able to do this, I could accept it. Now that I have, I am overwhelmed by all the good that has come from our decision to do this. While I was able to open my arms to this idea, there are still people and events in my life I do not want to embrace, and I keep God out of.
Then there are people and events in my life that I have opened my arms to, I have wrapped my arms around, but I have not giving them or myself the freedom to let go. Sometimes, I am holding on for fear of losing the person. Sometimes, I am holding on for fear of change or transition. Sometimes, I am holding on to something, even if it is hurting me, because it is familiar and to not hold on to this would seem so strange. Holding on this tight to anyone or anything hurts both parties involved. Holding on this tight does not fully allow room for God. We have to let go eventually. But sometimes, it is just so darn hard!
What people and situations are we readily embracing and letting God be part of?
How do we let God into those areas of our lives where we want to keep our arms crossed and closed?
What areas in our lives do we need to have the courage to let go of to give ourselves and others the freedom we deserve to make more room for God?

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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2 Comments

  1. EAurora

    Another wonderful reflection. At moment, I struggle with a family member who has emailed fairly racist news items to me that I absolutely do not agree with, and find myself with my arms crossed against that, but uncertain of how to open arms and perhaps show her my side of the story (without attacking or feeling the resentment i feel right now at this instance).

    Perhaps this is something I need let go of, since I know we will never agree on these political matters, and let family bond be more important. I hope for an opportunity to find middle ground between these ways of looking at the situation, and look for other places where I can open my arms!

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  2. EAurora

    By the way, I got around to including a bit of writing reflection of my own on my blog–you can tell me what you think. Maybe I could even use this with the family member I’m grappling with now…who knows?

    Reply

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