O Emmanuel

O come, O come, and be our God-with-us
O long-sought With-ness for a world without,
O secret seed, O hidden spring of light.
Come to us Wisdom, come unspoken Name
Come Root, and Key, and King, and holy Flame,
O quickened little wick so tightly curled,
Be folded with us into time and place,
Unfold for us the mystery of grace
And make a womb of all this wounded world.
O heart of heaven beating in the earth,
O tiny hope within our hopelessness
Come to be born, to bear us to our birth,
To touch a dying world with new-made hands
And make these rags of time our swaddling bands.
Malcolm Guite

The still small voice

Some of you may remember Colleen’s post a couple months ago.  She’s the sister of one of our Sisters who broke her leg severely.  She is now on the mend and can walk with a walker.  Here she shares the tough time she went through after Christmas and the beautiful work God is doing in her life:

Along with my outward healing the real renovation is happening on the inside. A peace has come over me that has never resided in me before… it is profoundly stripping away the exterior noise. When I gave my life to the Lord in a new way 3 years ago I jumped into everything I could to “soak up” the Lord – I sought Him in programs, retreats, charismatic renewal events, the crazier the better – and all of those things were good, I think they served a very necessary purpose at the time… I was leaving an entertainment rich lifestyle but entering into something rich and busy and the transformation wasn’t horrible – it was livable – God filled the gap of missing friendships with new friendships in Christ, our social calendar was just as packed and God was always a topic at social gatherings. I thought “this is it Lord, this is what conversion is all about! it isn’t so bad, you have filled my plate – and it is good.”

I began going to daily Mass, weekly confession and thought “oh, oh, okay God, THIS is what you meant by conversion, the crowds are smaller a lot older more quieter… but this is what you are putting on my plate – and it is good”.

When my fall first happened I was filled with God’s grace, seeing a blessing in every day. I knew that people’s prayers were sustaining me, I felt full of hope, I had many visitors, things were a bit quieter than daily Mass as I relied on others to drop by – but God often brought people at my doorstep and my days were filled with lovely visits and tea and prayer. I had finished my first course at Sacred Heart Seminary, I felt like “wow this isn’t so bad – even in physical difficulty God filled my plate – and it is good”

After Christmas the change was different, I had to go out of the house for doctors appointments and weekly Mass bringing a fear that wasn’t there before. Day’s were much lonelier as life resumed, kids went back to school and less apt to help with my day to day needs, I no longer had personal support workers in,  My husband was taken away for several days at a time with work presenting new challenges and fears about being alone, I began a new course in Sacred Scripture – which was totally of God, but much more challenging and I didn’t see His reasoning in that right away… my plate felt empty, abandon. Weekly confession (in my home, Father would drop by) wasn’t possible anymore as Father’s schedule had changed, the people who were bringing me communion during the week stopped for valid reasons too. I was confused, I thought “Lord you know I need to receive you in the Sacraments, why are you not providing this for me?” I felt like the Lord had somehow dropped the ball, did He not see that I needed Him more than ever??? For weeks I was agitated and I couldn’t focus on prayer or school or anything. Many church related social things were happening and I thought “Lord I am supposed to be doing all these things, learning about You, growing in faith – why am I shut in? why am I being removed from all of these GOOD things??” No answer. No answer. No answer.

I was looking for the fire and the earthquake, the action so to speak. Feeling empty and useless, I picked up scripture… and I heard a small voice. The next day I picked up scripture, and I felt the Lord speaking to me. I had read scripture and certainly felt the Lord before – but this was different – this was very very different. Each day I poured over scripture and something inside of me changed. I would go to mass on Sunday and cry through the readings and then the liturgy of the Eucharist came alive like it never had before.

The other day a friend came to visit and confided in me about things that were happening on a social level, which I would normally jump into and try to problem solve and I felt the Lord tell me it was no longer my place – the Lord was clear, I clearly heard His voice and I knew my life as I had known it would be changed again. Who I thought I was, was fading away… my old habits, even one’s I thought were good – were not inline with what God’s plan for me is. I have no idea what His plan is, yet I am being told clearly to abandon the ideas I had for my life. Open you schedule, clear your calendar, listen to My voice. I remember my mum emptying her purse twice a year, and then transfer everything from her “winter purse” to her “summer purse”…. the Lord is telling me to empty my purse and there is no indication of picking up anything from the old and putting it in the new – like scripture talks about the wine skin…

At the beginning of lent I received a scripture that I know is God’s living word for me right now ““Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14 And God is, and in this the pace for my life has changed. Whatever happens around me, is going to happen around me, but God is fastening me to His Word – He is setting up an eternal desert for me to return to – not a desert of tumble weeds and desolation – this desert is a quiet place to hear His voice, where an oasis of living water stands and when the world claims to have the answers, or life is difficult on the outside, or busy in a good way with the Lords’s work….I will be drawn back. It is our place, where He allures me and speaks to my heart.

Straining for the Light

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For a long time the threat of a new year brought with it an onslaught of more darkness, more enervating melancholy, more long, gray days ahead to suffer through. It was nothing to celebrate.

At the end of one of those especially difficult years I met Alece Ronzino online. She too had experienced a year (or more!) like that, punctuated by loss and betrayal and hopelessness. In 2009 she decided to find one word to focus on in the new year, instead of a list of resolutions that were quickly and quietly abandoned. One Word 365was born.

One word can change everything. Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap the long list of goals that you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway. Choose just one word. One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve by the end of 2016. One word. 365 days. A changed life. ~Alece Ronzino

The last four years I’ve participated brought some incredible changes to my life. I became more focused, more hopeful, more inspired to hold fast, keep going, and expect good things. I’ve been challenged to be fearless. I have committed to believing. I have thrown myself into creativity. Most recently, I have spent a year contemplating possibility and what that looks like fleshed out in real life, and right now it looks like The Mudroom. I doubted it was possible a year ago, yet giving space for possibility to bloom made it a reality.

I’ve been brought low and robbed of energy by chronic pain. I’ve spiraled into dark depression. Anxiety has left me dizzy and breathless. I’ve been facing childhood sexual abuse head on and I have the bruises and scars to show for it. I’ve been humbled by my own darkness, my secret sins that cast a shadow over my heart and steal the light from my eyes. I’ve staggered under the weight of loneliness and grief and fear and despaired of ever feeling strong again.

My One Word for 2016 is restore.

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The locusts have ravaged me, leaving me bereft. I hardly know what plenty, abundance, fullness feels like. I find myself returning to that field of devastation, the locusts leaving nothing of worth behind. But there is a promise and I am claiming it.

Joel 2:25-32 (ESV)
25 I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
26 “You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
27 You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.

In these verses God is not telling his people to buck up, man up, cowgirl up, grow up, deal with it, get over it, or pull yourself together. He is acknowledging that this is a straight-up disaster, a full-on calamity. He sees and validates the wreckage and the ruin that has devastated his people, who have been left desolate. He tells them that it was his great army, obeying his command, meting out justice, which caused this cataclysm.

But God.

God is a God of restoration, redemption, healing, and deliverance. He is a God of double portions and spacious places. He removes shame and exchanges it for radiance.

Jeremiah 30:17
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord
Isaiah 61:7
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion
Hosea 6:1
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”

He will not leave us as orphans. He will not treat us as our sins deserve. He will not ignore our cries for mercy. There is no shadow of turning in him.

In Life Together, Dietrich Bohoeffer penned a paragraph that all of us should write on our mirrors. He was referring to the morning, but I have replaced day with year.

For Christians the beginning of the [year] should not be burdened and oppressed by besetting concerns for the [year’s] work. At the threshold of the new [year] stands the Lord who made it. All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his wakening Word. All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety flee before him. Therefore, at the beginning of the [year] let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him whom our whole life belongs.

My proclamation for 2016 is to not be oppressed by the besetting concerns for this year’s work, but to face it with excitement and expectation. I will remember that God stands at the threshold of this year, like a sentry, offering protection but also reminding me that every day is a battle, but one I don’t fight in vain or alone. Darkness and distraction are no match for the light of Jesus and his wakening Word. Restlessness, impurity, worry, and fear have no place in this year. My first thought and first word of this year, and every morning in it, belong to God who has “destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

The onset of a new year isn’t a threat to me anymore. It doesn’t hold the same bleakness and grim prospects as it did previously. I’m determined to wrestle until I’m limping. I’m done with ashes and mourning and shadows and death. I’ve had enough of despondency and gloom. I’m aching for the light.

Who’s aching with me?

Tammy Perlmutter

Writer at Raggle-Taggle
Tammy Perlmutter writes about unabridged life, fragmented faith, and investing in the mess at her blogRaggle-Taggle. She founded The Mudroom to make room in the mess and create a space for people to beheard. Tammy guest posts a bit, writes flash memoir, personal essay, and poetry, leads writing groups, and preaches on occasion. She is also an advocate for women and mental health, an alum of the Voices and Faces Project testimonial writing workshop, The Stories We Tell, for survivors of sexual assault, abuse, and trafficking, as well as the Social Media Director for Threads of Compassion, an organization offering comfort to recent victims of sexual trauma. She will have an essay included in the book Soul Bare: Raw Reflections on Human Redemption, being published by InterVarsity Press in 2016.
 . . . reblogged from Mudroom