In this week of Lent I have mused on how opening my mind to the Presence of the Holy in me and around me could allow angels to feed me. I began reflecting on all the ideas I had once held firmly, and how I now have come to understand and to believe something different.
The angels who have fed me over the decades of my life are many–pastors, teachers, seminary professors, therapists, exemplars, writers–each one that was a game changer taking me to places where I never imagined I would go. Some have taken me deeper in the Mystery we call God. Some have widened my understanding of the complexity of being human. Some have taken scales off of my eyes or lifted my vision up to see that there are “more things than I have dreamed of” in this world that God has made–more diversity, more variety and ways of seeing. “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”–these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit,” says Paul quoting the prophet Isaiah.
The editors of Christian Century asked a collection on theologians and spiritual writers to reflect on “How I Changed Mind,” now published in a book. Each essay chronicles a combination of an opening of mind along with an opening of heart and intention. As I look over my own mind shifts, the opening of my mind to the Spirit of God has been as important as my circumstances and my feelings. As one who was raised in a tradition that held “right” belief in higher honor than “right” feeling or “right” doing even, I had reservations about being too open minded. Yet in my journey I have found that each time I was willing to open my mind to what the Spirit was prompting, i encountered Holy Presence on the other side.
As a very young person, I would have been so surprised to see where the Spirit was opening my mind. I could not have imagined that a life of faithful following would lead me to a ministry of Word and Sacrament, a calling that I had been taught belonged only to men. I didn’t imagine that a closer reading of sacred text would demonstrate that all Christians are to be mutually submissive to one another, even in a marriage. I had not understood the radical inclusiveness of the company of Jesus that opened life and love to all who had been “othered” in my community–people with racial-ethnic provenance different from mine, those with a different sexual orientation, those whose faith practices looked very different from the practices I held dear. And I had missed nearly completely that global dimensions of the Christian mandate to love the world that God created and loves, including the creation itself. I would have been startled to know that I could have soul friends from many traditions–Judaism, Roman Catholic, “spiritual but no religious,” even self-proclaimed “nones.”
During Lent I have been reading The Rebirthing of God by John Philip Newell. He speaks about what we know what what we think we know, yet he also is aware than there is much within us and in the outer world that is still unclear. He says, “We long for what we do not yet know to emerge from hidden and unawakened depths within us into the light of the day, into the realm of consciousness.” (91). My prayer for this practice is that in my longing to know more about the Mystery, I will be willing to open my mind to the ways that the Holy One is being revealed, and that i will honor the angels who bring that awareness to me.
Personal phono at Christ in the Desert Monastery, Mew Mexico.