First I ask your prayers for a special intention.
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Because that chapter in Elizabeth Scalia’s Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking our bad Habits Before They Kick Us I got halfway through before the beginning of Mass last night smarted. The Holy Spirit was already giving me a nudge over the last several weeks so I was prepared for something coming. There is only so much grace one can extend in the actions of “self-care” before one goes sliding into laziness, acedia, sin. This internal conversation probably started when, with two planners sitting in front of me and the wondering where in Scripture did God indicate that we needed to honor time. Weeelllllll let’s start with Genesis “God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Evening came, and morning followed—the first day.” What I’ve oft heard as a “social construct” is something more. Then I was reminded that, “Jesus went off to pray” by himself. And that he spent more time instructing the disciples in person preparing them for what would come later.
As Elizabeth described bouts of “writers block” the desire to slide down under the pew in front of me. First, I won’t fit. Second, it would be super uncomfortable. Third, it’s time to listen and take action. Get it, take action. I reached out to someone at the local Parish asking for suggestions for a spiritual director. Being new to the area and still living in a pandemic world it’s challenging to find someone.
“It’s not intentional” is on the tip of my tongue. It’s not intentional to let things and opportunities slip through my fingers. Some of this is “I’m not good enough” thinking which is, at this point, simply an excuse. Seriously. As I’ve talked with students for an upcoming class, while I recognize that there will always be things to learn, I do know enough to teach, to grow, to try new things, to do the work that needs to be done.
This leads to a deeper conversation of Focus.
Does this happen to you? Three different browsers, fifteen tabs open in each, open for a really good reason, an article or six I want to read, a podcast to share, one tab each for the blogs, a tab for the newsletter, video tutorials to watch, and then there’s the tab playing the currently preferred music. This does not even include the five email addresses with varied newsletters and actual emails to answer. Then there’s the presentation and writing pages. Sometimes I wonder if all these open tabs reflect varied interests, or being completely scattered. Deep down I think I know it’s both.
And then I took a look around the room where I write, it too is something of a hot mess, as is my sewing room. Oh I think I should make a list and publish it in part to be accountable, but in part to look at things that would be good to let go for the sake of my mental health, and that I have no interest in.
While working my way through tabs this article, What Peter and Jesus Teach us About Dealing With Past Sin, by Fr. Damian Ference. Peter is one of my favorite disciples as he’s rather passionate, somewhat impulsive, and downright holy. That holiness, as exemplified by Scripture and this article, did not come easy. I mean denying you even know this guy you’ve been traveling with for three years, not once but three times. Not only denying him but doing this just after you’d said you’d never deny Him. Ever. With conviction and purpose.
Jesus though. I can almost see that moment of sheer intimacy between Jesus and Peter right there for the other Apostles to see. Peter’s head hanging on his chest, tears of shame and repentance flowing, the shame of the denial firmly planted in the midst of his being and on his face. Jesus asking the question, not once but three times, “Peter do you love me?” His voice softer with each asking, stepping closer in so Peter hears him. Almost in a Psalm like verse and response,
Peter, do you love me?
Yes, Lord I love you
Feed my sheep
A little quieter
Peter, do you love me?
Yes, Lord I love you.
Feed my Sheep.
Quietly, so Peter is almost the only one who can hear this
Peter, do you love me?
Yes, Lord you know that I love you.
Feed my lambs.
Peter’s weeping becomes relief, and and sweet peace. The peace that comes from the Knowing and Hearing that he’s totally and completely forgiven. Peter knows he’s loved, that he has work to do, that he will in his humanity remember this moment. He will remember the sweet moment of forgiveness.
If Peter continued to focus on his sin he would have, much like Judas, been completely undone by this. He focused on the Mercy and Grace of the one Who loves unreservedly, the One who will forgive completely. Peter still fell at times, as we see in the Acts of the Apostles however he knew that with his focus on Christ, with his experience of Grace and Mercy he could move forward and lead the Church as he was called to do.
I’ve made mistakes as a quilting professional. These mistakes have taught me to extend grace, to do what I can to forge relationships with other quilters. These mistakes sometimes cause me to hold back from doing good work, my own work. Or rather I hold back for fear of making yet another mistake and potentially harming relationships that I’ve worked to make. One thing that’s become clear I need to listen deeply not to know how to respond, but rather to hear what the other person needs. To apologize when I’ve offended and to listen for when the offense has nothing to do with me, I’m simply on the receiving end of frustration and hurt with someone else.
Further, as I’ve learned to quilt one thing I know without any reservation: mistakes happen. WE have choices:
we can take the seam ripper out and redo the work – sometimes this is the best option.
we can leave the mistake in knowing in all reality no one will see it
we can learn from the mistake, knowing we’ll probably make that same one again down the road
we can learn and grow from it, incorporating it into the body of work, and assuring ourselves and others that there is beauty can happen in them
we can dwell on them to the point where we are stuck, and can’t go anywhere or do anything until the mistake is fixed
For me, it’s time to go do the work needed, do move through the “I’m afraid!” and “Oh look shiny” and all the other things that I set in the way of doing my work. To offer forgiveness without reservation. To listen deeply. To quilt my heart out. To seek forgiveness when I’ve done something wrong, and then accept it when it’s given.