December 24, 2020
Dear Recovery Café communities,
As some of you know, my daughter, Phoebe, had a baby in November and my daughter, Kietrie, is expecting a baby in February. So this Christmas season I have found myself thinking, more than usual, about Mother Mary’s experience of giving birth to Jesus.
What can we learn from the iconic Mother Mary that might help us through this difficult time?
Mary has a lot to teach us about surrender.
She was engaged to Joseph, probably in the process of planning her wedding, when she learned she was pregnant. But, she was not only going to give birth. Mary was told she would give birth to one who would manifest the way of love for the entire world for all the ages to come.
After asking a clarifying question, Mary surrendered all her own plans, all her own expectations of how she thought her life was supposed to turn out and she offered her life as an instrument of Divine Love.
We, too, are called to offer our lives as instruments of Divine Love. We, too, are called to give birth to Divine Love in all that we say and do?
How do we, like Mary, live in a surrendered enough state to truly offer our lives for the sake of love, to truly live from love?
I’d like to make one suggestion and then offer one practice that has been helpful to me —especially during these COVID months when nothing has gone according to our plans and expectations.
My suggestion is that we deepen our awareness of our own need for control, approval, and security while deepening awareness of our own habitual numbing of painful emotions. We all believe on some level that we can only be happy when we are in control, or when we enjoy the approval of others or when we are totally secure.
But COVID has taught us that we are NOT in control of anything and that there is no guarantee of security anywhere. It has taught us that our happiness or peace cannot be dependent on control, approval or security. It has taught us that the very places where we are most vulnerable and powerless to make anything happen according to our own plans are the very places where Divine Love meets us and holds us close.
Some of us think, “I will be happy when COVID is over and I can see my friends again, or I will be happy when I find the right relationship, or the right job, or when my kids are no longer struggling. But God comes to us disguised as our life. God comes to us in whatever our life situations are right now, and if we cannot embrace life as it is given in this present moment we will miss God’s coming to us. We will miss Christmas.
This brings me to the simple practice I’d like to offer as a gift. It’s a practice that helps free us from our needs of control, security and approval.
This practice—which many of you know— is called, “The Welcoming Prayer” and it involves three simple steps.”
Step number one: Become aware of where the painful emotion you are experiencing is located in your body. It might be experienced as tightness in your chest or a gnawing sensation in your lower abdomen. Sit with that physical sensation for a few moments and then…
Step two: Welcome that emotion. You might even say, “Welcome anger. Welcome fear. Welcome anxiety. Welcome sadness. Welcome loneliness. Welcome grief.” There is so much loss and grief among us.
The great spiritual teachers like Rumi and Ghandi, remind us that we do not become free by rejecting, or trying to cast out, painful emotions, but by welcoming them, as you would welcome a child to sit on your lap.
And then, step three: When we are ready, we surrender the emotion. We let it go into the flow of unconditional love for healing and restoration.
The emotion will likely return many times throughout each day, but each time we welcome it like a child returning to sit on our lap, and each time we release the painful emotion into the healing flow of unconditional love.
This practice helps us become aware of what is underneath our habitual numbing behaviors like overeating, overspending, overworking, etc. It also helps us return to that place of Divine Love in ourselves and from there to embrace and call forth Divine Love in others.
Connecting with Divine Love in ourselves and calling forth Divine Love in every life we touch is the heart of the Recovery Café mission.
It is how we all, like Mary, give birth to transforming love that can heal the division, loneliness, and suffering of our entire world.
Thanks for being part of this growing, deepening Recovery Café Network community.
With love, Killian