"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hymn: Luke 15

Isn't this a wonderful picture of God's joy when she reclaims us, her precious ones, from the literally demonic theft of abuse,shame, and lies? It's from an entire lovely, and free, series illustrating the parable.

Loving Shepherd, shelter me
From the preying wolf I see;
By the thorns and cliffs of fear
Help me feel that you are near.
Guide us on the pilgrim way,
Lead us home if we should stray.

Loving Mama, rescue me,
From the captor set me free;
Sweep the house and search the land,
Free me from the hateful hand;
As your treasures bright and rare,
Guard us with your tender care.

Loving Papa, welcome me
To your wondrous family;
Grant me your forgiving grace,
Shine in each beloved face;
At your table may we all
Celebrate your joyous call.

Text: Laura M. Grimes, inspired by Luke 15 and dedicated to Anna Cogliandro
Tune: Toplady (Rock of Ages)

This hymn is relatively recent, a gift of grace when I mistook the time of an Al-Anon meeting and spent the extra hour before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The hymn especially reflects my own experience with Ignatian spirituality as an abuse survivor and director of many others. It was a special joy to share it in the course of recent work bringing Ignatian spirituality to the ecumenical context with a Lenten adult class and Quiet Day at an Episcopal parish as well as two weekend retreats at an Episcopal nun-run retreat house.

The woman with the coin is the forgotten loving God image of Luke 15 and I have always loved her for that, but it was only in that spell of wonderful stressful work that I realized the fullness of her message. Unlike sheep, which aren't very bright so can panic or wander away, and people who can make a conscious sinful choice, coins are totally innocent and can't move an inch on their own. They are either lost, through bad luck and sometimes the carelessness of the owner (and I have to say it feels like that sometimes on my prophetic path!) or stolen by someone else's choice to do evil.

So the parables show Jesus sharing with us the three ways we can become separated from God, which require very different responses from us and others: mistakes and human frailty, abuse and injustice, and our own free choice against love and justice. It's a crucial insight for a healthy spirituality, so much so that when an amazing 18th annotation Spiritual Exercises directee was baptized as part of her First Week experience--in a beach wheelchair on the shores of Lake Michigan--she chose to use the image in the celebratory line welcoming her to the community.

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