Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday's Reflection: A Gift from the Gospel of Matthew

Last week I mentioned The Hedgerow Initiative, which offers sustained, systematic programming in feminist theology, spiritual integration, and leadership for a just and holy world. Currently, the focus of study is the Gospel of Matthew, a wisdom book which according to our learned leader, Joan Mitchell, offers the world behind the text, the world of the text as a piece of literature, and a world beyond or ahead of the text, inviting our current questions in today's context. That's a great deal to ask of one book, but Matthew, whoever he was or they were, is up for the challenge.

Within the first few minutes of the first session, I knew Matthew has much to offer me. Mitchell asked each of us to write down the number one or two and then a second number. I wrote down 2 and 10. We were then asked to consult either Matthew 1 or 2 and the verse indicated by the choice of our second number and to read it as if it were written just for us. 

My verse, Matthew 2:10 was "When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy." "They" refers to the Wise Ones in the story of the birth of Jesus. The Star Seekers. 

Being Overwhelmed
I immediately thought about our recent full circle move to St Paul. I have moments, many moments, when I am totally overwhelmed with joy about where our star has stopped. 

I use the word "overwhelmed" frequently, but I usually mean I don't know which direction to turn next -- what to do next when there seems to be an unending list of tasks. (My friend Marian Methner reminded me recently that a "list is sometimes just a list.") Feeling overwhelmed for me has a panicky feeling attached to it, and my ego seems to be in charge. "Look, how busy I am!" I know the panacea for feeling overwhelmed in that way: Sit in silence, meditate, breathe, come back to center, and when I allow myself to do that, I generally become calmer, and life and what it asks of me seems more possible again. 

Overwhelmed with Joy
Matthew 2:10, however, leads me in a different direction. Being overwhelmed with joy. Joy. I am aware when I am happy and when I feel a sense of relief, as when our home in Madison finally sold or when Bruce arrives here safely on his weekly commute. I know I will feel huge relief when there is finally a For Sale sign in front of my Dad's house. I feel happy much of the time; for example, when I see our grands walk up the sidewalk to our house or wake up from a goodnight's rest or anticipate time with friends. My life is rich, and I have so much that adds up to an extremely happy life.

But what does it mean to be "overwhelmed with joy"? 

I admit when I first saw this house, I didn't think our star had stopped here. Bruce recognized it right away. I was underwhelmed by this house, seeing what it didn't seem to have. Still, I trusted Bruce's judgment, and I was tired of seeking. 

Also, I knew that our star had stopped over more than a house. Our star was shining on our plan, our goal, our dream to return home to be close to the majority of our family and longtime friends. I knew I would be happy and relieved, but I had no idea how "overwhelmed with joy" I would be. Each and every day.

To me being overwhelmed with joy means knowing and being in love, recognizing when my essential self is awake and aware and when I interact with a whole heart. I am overwhelmed with joy not because there aren't challenges or because I have overcome my personal failings or because I never feel distressed or weary or sad or upset. Rather, I am overwhelmed with joy because I am overwhelmed with joy. 

More Numbers
I am casually curious about numerology, and as we considered putting a bid on this house, I consulted Denise Linn's book, Sacred Space, Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home http://www.deniselinn.com/Books.htm in which she uses your address to understand the vibration of your home. Our address is 2025, and the result of adding those numbers is 9. According to Linn, one aspect of the essence of nine is completion and endings, release, universal compassion, and wisdom.

        A home with a nine vibration is a home to reap and 
        harvest from past efforts. It is a home where your love
        and compassion for humanity expands…You can develop a
        breadth of wisdom that can even be prophetic. Because
        you know that you are part of a universal family, you
        have the ability to release the small things in life--you
        won't take offense easily. Old friendships are important 
        and you might hear from people from your past…You
        will find people drawn to you because of your compassion
        and wisdom. This is a good home to live in to tie up loose
        ends in your life. Live your truth because you will be an 
        example for others. 

This is a place where I can be and am overwhelmed with joy. 

An Invitation
When are you overwhelmed with joy? What does that mean to you?
Where has your star stopped recently? How can you invite more joy into your life? What would it mean to live with more joy? How does your home add or detract from living with joy? I would love to know. 

Note: Illustration is a watercolor by Doris Klein, C.S.A from her book Journey of the Soul. http://www.amazon.com/Journey-Soul-Doris-Klein/dp/1580511120

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