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King Solomon made himself an enclosed litter
of wood from Lebanon.
He made its columns of silver,
its roof of gold,
Its seat of purple cloth,
its interior lovingly fitted.
—Song of Songs 3:9-10
Dearest monks and artists,
I have mentioned before that my husband and I practice lectio divina together and we have slowly been working our way through the Song of Songs together, praying with just a couple of verses at a time in a practice of lectio continua.
Several weeks ago we were praying with the passage above and the words "lovingly fitted" shimmered forth for me from the text.
The theme for me this summer, as I have had a sabbatical from teaching, has been sustainability. How do I continue to nourish this work I am doing and flourish in the process? What are the things to say "no" to, so that I might have more space for the fullness of blossoming? What are the essential practices which cultivate joyfulness in this work?
When I read the words "lovingly fitted" I had to take pause. In the passage it is referring to King Solomon's litter, which is a kind of seat or throne. But as I prayed with the words and let them stir my imagination, I found myself invited to ponder the ways God wants my life "lovingly fitted" for me. What I think this means, in part, is not living someone else's life or another person's expectations of what I think I "should" be doing.
"Lovingly fitted" speaks to me of taking great time and care to craft something that fits a person just so. How might I craft my days with such joy, attentiveness, reverence, and love for my own abundant gifts? What if each day were a throne, a royal seat, a holy tabernacle?
And it is not just me doing the fitting. I do it by listening to the Source of all wisdom within. I listen for the thrumming beat of love and what makes my heart pound more loudly.
How do I "lovingly fit" my days? How do I craft my book of days so that generosity can be poured forth?
There is such depth to this image for me right now, especially as I listen for the call to sustainability, for how not to bottleneck my gifts by getting stuck in the burden of administrative details or things which don't truly nourish me or further my deep longings arising from the deep heart of God within.
Hand in hand with these questions, begs the question of all the ways we sabotage our own best efforts, when we take on things to please others, or not disappoint them, or we continue doing what has brought us joy in the past without realizing that things have gently shifted, and our souls are ready and hungry for new nourishment and challenges.
In my own life I am listening to the many new invitations – the Wisdom Council, the Earth Monastery Project, the Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks, and the great hunger for pilgrimage and meaningful journeys to sacred places. This past year has been such a powerful threshold to newness which has brought me to the western edge of Ireland and here I listen for new invitations. I hear the call to shed my previous expectations.
As I write these words I am preparing to travel to the land of St. Hildegard of Bingen to help steward a pilgrimage with my beloved teaching partner Betsey Beckman. By the time you read this 30 pilgrims will be gathering together with a shared longing – to listen to Hildegard's wisdom shimmering across time and in the process to listen to their own hearts more deeply.
For Hildegard, a fundamental principle of discernment was viriditas – or the greening power of God. We are to seek out what most deeply nourishes us in both body and soul. What contributes to our flourishing is holy. What depletes us is not, so we can stop worshipping at the altar of busyness for the sake of appearing important or productive.
We can pause and ask ourselves, what would it mean to live as if my life were "lovingly fitted" for me? To believe that God does not demand us to contort our spirits into other people's versions of us, but to recognize our life task as living what is uniquely given to us.
My own heart is so eager and excited to return to the verdant landscape of the Rhineland. I know my heart will also be broken open in new ways on this journey. I will discover new ways God is calling me to reverence who I am.
I ask for your prayers during this time of pilgrimage, for myself and my co-leaders, and for the beautiful pilgrims making this journey.
May we encounter the greening of our souls in profound new ways, so as to bring that kind of vitality back to the world. May you find an abundance of greening moments revealed each day.
With great and growing love,