Sharing Our Humanity

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During the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, retreatants spend some time contemplating on the birth of Jesus.  Directors often encourage them to pick the Divine Infant and hold the new-born King.  Often it is Mary who gently offers the Child. I have done this several times over the years as it is a precious moment of snuggling with the human Jesus who has come to share our humanity.   This is the moment of Incarnation–of our Saviour becoming one of us.

On this Holy Christmas Day, some of us will also be reflecting why Christ came.   He lived to die in order to save us.  Yet he did not do so begrudgingly.  He gave willing, not wasting a moment of the 33 years here on earth.  He healed people.  He helped those who had gone astray to find the right path again. He developed relationships.  He attended parties and gatherings.  He worked humbly as a carpenter.  He took care of his mother after his earthly father died. He studied and shared the Scripture with those who would listen.  He changed people’s hearts and minds.  He pointed people to Life. He knew the political climate of the day and responded to it with the eyes of mercy and compassion as well as justice and defiance.  Christ did not stand down to oppression but stood up for the oppressed.

We too are given life and asked to use it well in order to be Christ’s hands and feet in this world.  We are to let the Incarnate One shine through us.  So often at the end of the Exercises I see transformed people. The Infinite Infant has found a new home.  People have welcomed him into the stable of their messy lives. Last night at mass during the homily the presider sang part of an old Crash Test Dummies/Brad Roberts hit (I know others have recorded it but I originally know the song via this Winnipeg band), One of Us?

What if God was one of us?
Just a slob like one of us
Just a stranger on the bus
Tryin’ to make his way home?

God did become one of us that holy night in Bethlehem. We must keep our eyes peeled to see this Glorious One in those around us.  I have seen that face often in these past five weeks as people have cared and carried me.  I am grateful for having eyes to see and a heart that recognizes the blessings that have been given.  The path has not been straight and I have been a slob about my graciousness some days.  The concussion makes it hard for me to tolerate noise and my memory is still a bit wonky–even wonkier than normal.  Yet in it all, I feel the touch of God.  My doctors in the hospital during my three-plus week stay were fabulous.  The overworked staff did their best to meet my needs.  One nurse laughed out loud going off his overnight shift one night when I thanked him.  For what? he joked, you were my easiest patient. You asked nothing of me all night.  However he had left me alone so I could sleep and that was what I had needed most.

God is in all things and having shared humanity with us once, we should keep an eye out for that Holy Presence daily.  One never knows when it will appear.  To be home and to have shared what may be my last Christmas with family and my church community are enough for me.   I am learning to fall on my knees in the dirty stable and worship on a new level and that too is more than enough for me. I am trying to make my way Home as a person who will have sufficient love, peace, grace, and joy in her heart. Like the retreatants, I want to be transformed and though the past month and a half have been a heavy cross, I have for several years now tied the Birth with the Death and Resurrection.  May I continue to learn the lessons that I need for this adventure of mine.

Blessings this Holy Day to you and yours.

Peace,

Suzanne

Reflection Questions

What lessons can you learn in the dirty stable on your knees this Christmas?

Where has the Incarnate One appeared to you today?

Prayer

Sharer of Humanity, thank you for becoming one of us.  You shared this earthly journey with us and therefore you know our anger, pain, sadness, joy, love, confusion, and needs before we often do ourselves.  You gift yourself to us endlessly.  Time and again you come to us anew, reminding us Whose we are.  This Christmas may my heart receive you as the joyous angels and hope-filled shepherds did.  Let me fall on my knees and worship.  Amen.

About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
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8 Responses to Sharing Our Humanity

  1. Chloe Martin says:

    Dear Suzanne, I met you in Winnipeg a couple years ago at the Dignity Therapy training you participated in, and have been following your blog ever since. I’m a clinical psychologist living in the Bay Area in California, working with clients who are facing their mortality–either as they age or as they face a life-limiting diagnosis. I’m an Episcopalian, married to a priest, and striving each day to put my faith into action, and to put it into words. I have admired so much how beautifully you do that, and I have been so moved by your story. I have shared your blog with others, and I have been praying for you. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your reflections with us so honestly and faithfully. I consider you one of my spiritual teachers. I’m so happy you made it home for Christmas. Peace and joy to you this in this holy season.

    • sstyves says:

      Dear Chloe,

      I am very touched by your words. Dr. C does such good work. I continue to meet people who were at that session. Oddly enough, the doctor who rescued me from emergency was also at the workshop/conference. It took us awhile to figure out the connection but once we did we had some good talks about what had transpired. In the blog posts ahead, I plan on writing about that angel doc she was so helpful to me.

      I am humbled that you find me one of your spiritual teachers but I must admit that I agree there are spiritual teachers all around us if we have eyes to see and ears to hear their messages for us. Thank you for sharing the blog with people. A dear friend of mine who is also a counsellor working with A similar population to you in California has done the same on occasion. I am glad that the words can be helpful to others.

      I am happy to be home as well and feel so blessed. Thank you for reaching out. Please know that I am grateful for each of my readers. May the Holy One be very real to you this Christmas. Blessings on the holy work that you do. It is so very important.

      Peace,

      Suzanne

  2. Karen Wheadon says:

    Thank you Suzanne, for this beautiful post❤️

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  3. Paddy says:

    You’ve been on my mind lately. I’m so sorry to read of what you’ve gone through the last few months. Hoping for some better days ahead. 💜

    • sstyves says:

      Thanks, Paddy! I’m regaining some of my stamina which is wonderful. It was great to be home for Christmas. I hope you have enjoyed your time off and celebrated well. 💜

  4. Mary Beth says:

    Dear Suzanne,
    Despite everything, you are still “preachin’ it” with clarity, wisdom, and love. I am overwhelmed by the beauty in each post you have been able to send forth in the last few months. Each one is strong and clear, even when your body fails you at times. Thank you, my friend!

    In answer to your Reflection Questions, I have had a sense of deep interior peace and joy this Christmas that usually seems to elude me. I keep thinking, “How did this happen? What did I do to deserve this?”

    -I was able to let go of being too much Martha this year.

    -Someone close to me suggested she join us for Midnight Mass, out of the blue.

    -A Christmas vignette at Midnight Mass as I returned to my seat after receiving Holy Communion:
    In the pew behind me sat a little “big sister”- maybe 3 or 4 years old- who’d been given the happy task of carefully holding her infant baby brother while their parents went to Communion. The look of joy on her face made her radiant; the little baby boy, peaceful, completely filled her arms. She was so thrilled to have him all to herself for a few moments. For some reason this little scene has stayed with me. That incandescent big sister’s face and the baby boy in her tight embrace right after I received Jesus has stayed with me all this week. It continues to give me great happiness just remembering the moment.

    You continue to be that gift of sharing the Word, Suzanne. You bless me and all your readers.

    Love,
    Mary Beth

  5. sstyves says:

    Wonderful stories, Mary B eth! Thank you for sharing. May 2018 continue to bring blessings galore to you and yours. May that deep interior peace and joy grow steadily within you and find long roots.

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