I have recently been away again, this time on my own for what has become my annual retreat in the campervan – a time of solitude and prayer, reading and reflection, as well as an opportunity to write some of the last few chapters of my autobiography.
I did a drawing one evening whilst praying. It was based on my original insight on retreat two years ago, that God is at the centre of my being (body, mind, heart and soul), and that the more integrated or whole I become, the more God fills and grows in me – or perhaps it’s truer to say that the more I allow God to fill and grow within me, the more integrated and whole I become!
For some time, as I became more aware of the lack of change within me, these images (which are perhaps an indication of a truth half grasped) didn’t feel quite right or adequate – they are too static.
During a time of contemplative prayer in the campervan two weeks ago, I felt moved to start doodling with my pencil again, although I had no clear idea in my mind! I continued the next evening as well – and this is what transpired…….
My whole being – body, mind, heart and soul – are still there, as in the earlier drawings. And God is still at the centre. But he is moving in my depths and integrating the different parts of me as he flows out and beyond me.
However, it doesn’t always feel like this – and certainly didn’t for a couple of days on my retreat, when everything felt a dark mess within as I became more aware of my pain and grief – and failings and failures!
I sent a text message to my friend, Felicity: “I’m coming a bit unstuck – a combination of writing about [a recent painful period] in my autobiography, which has churned things up again, and parts of Chapter 8 in the novel “Chasing Francis” by Ian Cron, about peacemaking and reconciliation. ‘Do not blame anyone or anything else for your lack of peace or your problems. You are the biggest problem you have.’ Not much hope or sign of my drawing becoming reality!”
After spending time praying, Felicity responded by sending these inspired words: “But your drawing is reality! It’s the greatest truth and it’s not dependent on you. It’s the context in which everything else happens, including our failures and our sins….. It’s human to feel both pain and anger when something that is good and of God fails to fulfil its potential. The task is to acknowledge that, but within the greater reality of God’s love for you and for everyone else involved. You can’t change them or the situation, but you can accept God’s forgiveness for yourself and his grace to forgive others. Forgiving others is about accepting their sinfulness, recognising that that’s God’s problem, and receiving the freedom to move on. When the wound is as deep as [it is], it’s a recurring process until the truth penetrates our innermost being. It’s not surprising that writing about [it] has stirred it all up again, but that doesn’t deny the reality of the journey you started on two years ago. Your problem, in terms of “Chasing Francis”, is accepting God’s unconditional love and the reality of your picture which is theological truth. I do pray that you will be able to accept the reality of God’s love for you whatever your feelings.”
If it’s true for me, then it’s true for everyone. Alleluia!