Guest Blogger, Cyndi Wunder, reflects on a presentation by Jan Richardson, who was recently in Minneapolis. The image is a collage they created together at a workshop Jan led.
The Alabaster Jar
Jan spoke of emptying, of pouring oneself out in love for the other. She spoke of Etty Hillesum, a woman whose last known act was that of singing with her friends on a train bound for Auschwitz. Etty didn't have to be there. She could have escaped, there was opportunity, but she insisted on being with her friends who needed her. Etty poured herself out, a balm for the wounds of the injured.
Sometimes we, or at least I, like to think, like to say, that if a great moment came well we hope we would do well. We hope for the chance to be great like that, though we hope also that we can avoid the cost. Jan reminded us that pouring out our gifts for the world is a daily process not a singular spectacular moment. It is a decision to engage the world wide-awake with clear intention and it requires that we honor our gifts, our way of being, our nature.
It is hard work to honor our gifts when our culture doesn't validate them. When an ordained minister says, "I'm called to explore the Word in and through art and wordplay, through leading and teaching in seminars and retreats." The world shrugs its shoulders like an indulgent parent who knows the child will one day grow up and be serious. It is hard to hold onto one's Truth in the face of such blase dismissal. If we fail to hold onto these truths our lives become pale shadows, inauthentic and false. As we undergo the process of honoring our Truth life becomes richer, fuller, and surprising.
As we open ourselves in deep trust to the working of the Spirit we find that an elemental part of that trust is in ourselves. We discover that we must trust that we are enough, we are sufficient, to the task ahead. We might say that this little thing, is all I have, but somehow it is enough and we find peace in that knowledge. We learn to pour ourselves out trusting that although we might not be everything we had hoped to be we are enough. As we pour out our gifts we are often astonished to feel the Spirit move through us, allow us to become a blessing to others.