Sharing stories…reflections from a Lenten retreat
Yesterday, I was able to share in an enriching and renewing experience of a Lenten retreat at my church. As opposed to a normal Saturday routine, this day made space for silence, journaling, sharing stories, deep “generous” listening, reading God’s word, and partaking in the feast of communion. I still feel relatively new to this church, and while there were familiar faces present, especially my dear mama, it was an opening experience to meet and encounter new friends, especially those of the Hispanic community who attend the 1:00 service in Spanish. From all of our apparent differences – ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and experiences – we came together as one whole circle of God’s beloved community.
Much of the day was spent sharing and listening to stories, and upon reflecting with mama last evening, our stories are vast and layered, and no matter what we may project on the surface, we all have a story to tell. There is far too much, too deep from yesterday to try to reproduce here in words, but based on the experience, I wrote a poem late last night that conveys a piece of my story and speaks to where I am on the journey.
I hope it reaches you, my friends, in whichever way God intends, for my prayer is to live out and share my story and not retreat behind masks. I am who I am because God is who He is.
May we all find time and space to reflect on and share our own stories. I have found the value in vulnerability and invite you to do the same…
Reflections in the Mirror
I used to avoid looking in the mirror,
afraid of who was looking back at me –
she who exposed my warts and imperfections;
she who knew my secrets and my paralyzing, hidden fears;
she who knew and mimicked the voices in my head
that questioned my size and shape
and looked for reasons why
I still didn’t have a boyfriend, a husband.
I was afraid that if I looked too long,
she’d see the tears
walled up behind the dams,
that could not bear to break,
The flood stayed inside
as long as it could
until my levees broke
and all the hurt I’d done
to my earthly home
revealed buckling trenches –
fissures formed at 4:00 am
and deepened by the
record player of routine
and mastering expectations.
As my levees are now still broken,
the waters and tears released,
they are feeding the seeds God planted
long ago –
a baptismal reformation of that girl
staring back in the glass.
I see her now
but with softened recognition,
for I touch my face and know my father’s eyes
and put my finger in the hollow of his dimples.
I smile, and my mama’s
dancing expressions appear –
her laughter is my own,
and now I don’t want
to turn away.
Instead, I whisper “thank you,”
for I see and know
the face that is mine –
that is God’s beloved.
In the faint background,
I can hear the trickling waters
and feel them wash over my soul.
-C. C. T.
March 16, 2013