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Practicing Generous Hospitality

Below is the love note from this week’s Abbey newsletter.  If you don’t already get it in your in-box you can subscribe here.

Also, there is a beautiful gathering of poems at this week’s Poetry Party on the theme of hospitality.  Stop by and linger for a while, then share your own by Sunday for a chance to win a  a space in my upcoming online retreat – Honoring Saints and Ancestors: Peering through the Veil.

I find myself in this humbling, yet rich, place. After arriving in Vienna to begin our new adventure, I was pulled between the tinge of homesickness and all that we left behind, and the demands of the future, wondering what was in store for us.  I knew the homesickness and anticipation were calling my attention to past and future, away from this moment right now.  Then there was also a part of me anxious to seize every opportunity while I am living here.  Travel as widely as I can to see everything I have been longing to see.  To make my present moment awareness into a sort of mountain-scaling effort of “big” experiences.  I found myself daily asking what this whole experience is meant to be, what am I here for.

The reality is that I find myself tired.  Not surprising really, given these last few months of selling everything and moving and traveling and then settling into a new home, one that is still temporary, and now the endless paperwork just to see if the Austrian government will grant my husband a residence permit.  And I think it has taken me these last three months since our arrival in July to truly be able to name and honor this experience of tired.  Yes, your online Abbess struggles too in an ongoing way with hospitality, and welcoming in what is true.  To truly honor my desire for rest and to trust that in my letting go of the grasping at what could be, or what I think should be, I will find the deepest truest thing that is.  The truth that a thousand present moment small experiences will be infinitely more valuable than exhausting myself trying to attain what I think this time should be about.

A friend said something to me recently about “not reaching” for something, but letting it happen to you.  As I heard those words I felt this profound physical release in my body, a softening, an opening.  I didn’t even realize I was reaching until my body stopped doing it and I could feel the shift.  I remembered some of my favorite words of Rilke: “no forcing and no holding back.”

I am on a journey that feels like it may be one of the most important things I have ever done.  I am on a path of radical unknowing awaiting the gifts of this experience (of which of course I have already received many).  And yet the call, I am so certain, is to stop reaching, stop forcing, stop trying to make the experience into something, when it is already this portal to depth and meaning.  Already by my willingness to be here, to follow the quiet voice that prompted me to step away from everything familiar and “secure” is enough.  The angels of grace know my intention is true.

The more I reach and grasp for it – for knowledge, for experience, for the clanging bells or flashing lights of great epiphanies – the more it retreats from me.  In my quiet moments of prayer, I have discovered that the invitation to me now is to sit in stillness and listen to what is actually happening, to receive the treasures from my dreams, to become aware of my places of unfreedom, to allow the tears to flow freely through me.  All while embracing that I know what none of it “means.”

So this month’s theme of hospitality is a fertile place for me to be and practice in new ways.  I am always discovering new layers to it and new parts of myself that I continue to reject.

I welcome in my sweet tiredness and give myself the gift of generous rest, despite the voices which want me to push forward in both work and pilgrimage, proving my stamina and stature.

I welcome in the tender grace of unknowing and give myself over to fertile darkness, despite the fears or voices that long for certainty or the ones which think they have already got it all figured out.

I welcome in a profound love for myself right now and the truth of what I am experiencing, despite the voices of logic and efficiency which want a quicker and more direct route to truth.

I welcome my deep desire to go out to the forest as much as possible, knowing that it is in this wild place that I can stay with the profound discomfort until finally grace breaks free. 

What are the parts calling to you for some welcome?  What are the voices which hold you back from this generous act of hospitality?

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