My cup was running empty. Six surreal months of the pandemic, political turmoil, and feelings of anxiety facing an uncertain and challenging school year has taken its toll on my mind, body, and spirit. Finally, the timing was right this weekend, and it felt safe to return to my spiritual home, St. Benedict Center. It takes just moments for a deep peace to settle in as I take my overnight bag to my room and head outside to enjoy a beautiful afternoon.
Wandering the path around the lake, I see Ellen, a fellow pilgrim from last summer—which feels like a warm bath of blessings. I had been looking forward all week to reconnecting, knowing she would be there.
Suddenly I hear a shout, “Surprise!” Sara, a special friend, Oblate and SoulCollage® companion, is running towards me with open arms despite all COVID caution. I exclaim, “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” Sara repeats “I didn’t know you were going to be here!” There may have been more exclamations of “I can’t believe this!”, “Oh, my God!” and finally, “Did you bring some of your SoulCollage® cards?” We decide to meet later to share some of our cards and seek them for guidance—what we call “a reading.”
After this weekend, my cup overflows. So much was a blessing and encouragement to prepare for some challenging weeks ahead. I am grateful for:
A divine and surprise encounter with Sara. ❤️ Reconnecting with my Benedictine family—friends, pilgrims, my favorite monks, and coworkers. ❤️ A beautiful evening on the patio talking with Fr. Volker and Bro. Tobias and oblate friends until the lights were turned out. ❤️ An amazing retreat led by Fr. Joel on the prophet Amos ❤️ A powerful discussion about current events and how we must stand on the side of the oppressed, serving the poor, lonely, and marginalized and fighting against racism and for justice. ❤️ A delicious lunch prepared by talented kitchen staff. ❤️ Wonderful conversations with oblates and friends. ❤️ The safe, respectful, and inclusive environment of St. Benedict Center. ❤️ The beauty of nature. ❤️A SoulCollage® reading with Sara and the divine gift that we both had brought some of our cards.
I share my SoulCollage® reading and reflections with hope that there may be a message for those who need it. I am grateful for Sara, who wrote down my “I am one who…” statements, reflected back to me what I said, and asked questions encouraging me to dig deeper to reflect on the question I was seeking guidance for—“What do I need?”
I created this card (2011) prior to a trip with my then-teenage daughter to visit our foreign exchange student and her family in Argentina. I was excited about the adventure, but also nervous having never traveled internationally before.
I am one who loves adventure (but kind of doesn’t), who wants to see the world. I am one who loves the journey and enjoys surprises. I am one who desires to go with abandon—to be courageous, bold, confident, and strong, like Amelia Earhart. I am one who walks in worn shoes; I have walked a journey and have some experience. I want to see my journey with open eyes, to not be afraid. I am one who needs to take the first step, to not let fear stop me. I am one who wants to understand everything; I want to see what I do not know. Crossing that bridge feels so uncertain, but I need to trust my inner knowing, my wisdom and experience.
I created this card several years ago when I was feeling confused about what direction to take, although I do not remember specifically what the situation was.
I am one who is trying to find my way, sometimes floundering without direction, needing signals when to stop, go, or be cautious. I am one who sees plans being destroyed. I am feeling trapped. I am one who needs the freedom to make choices. I am one who takes a step into uncertainty, but I want to know where I am going and whether I am taking the right direction. I am one who knows that with going any direction comes good and bad. I need direction, to follow the signs and discern which way to go. I need to trust, to rest in the freedom that the Divine works no matter what direction I take.
Card Three—Lost and Found
My third card happened to be one that I made and that appeared in my last reading at the Sanctuary retreat. Apparently, this card needs to be heard.
I am one who feels lost in the storm, searching in the wilderness, looking to find my way. I am seeking. I am one who wants to trust, to look up for direction, to rest in knowing that peace and unity will come. Like the starfish, I take a journey “out to sea” and I come back to repeat again. I need to remember to trust, to look for guidance, to move forward in wonder, to rest in peace when I have lost focus, to trust that this is all part of the journey. I need to go into this journey of uncertainty with eyes wide-open, in wonder, trust, some innocence, and humility. I need to take the steps, remembering that one foot in front of the other is part of the journey. I need to trust in the unfolding, to continue spiritual practices that keep me looking to God, that give me rest and balance. I need to trust that direction will come, continuing to trust my inner wisdom. (The reading from this same card at the Sanctuary retreat is here.)
My cards lead me to this new awareness—that I need to put one foot in front of the other, trusting that the journey will turn out okay, resting in the knowledge that learning to trust God IS the journey. I consider: what does it mean to trust? It feels Pollyanna to trust that everything will just be okay. What does okay really mean? Perhaps letting go of the attachment to what it means for things to be okay is building trust. I cannot control what comes next (never could). This is a challenging and uncertain time—perhaps trusting means not resisting this moment so much, but trusting that it will reveal whatever is and needs to be. I can meet the Divine in uncertain moments; I can meet the moment with inner wisdom by simply seeking.
May you meet these challenging and uncertain times with inner wisdom, trusting that the Divine is working and revealing to you just what you need.
Trust in the Slow Work of God
Above all, trust in the slow work of God
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new. And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability
and that it may take a very long time. And so I think it is with you.
your ideas mature gradually – let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste. Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow. Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be. Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. (1881-1955)