November 15, 2022
At a recent session with my spiritual director, she noticed how I cupped my hands as I spoke. That posture suggested a word to her. Vessel. The word resonated with me, and I wondered about the implications of that word in my life.
Soon after that session I read a prayer, “Blessing the Fragments,” by Jan Richardson in her book, The Cure for Sorrow, A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief. This is the first verse.
Cup your hands together, and you will see the shape this blessing wants to take. Basket, bowl, vessel: it cannot help but open to welcome what comes.
Welcome what comes? I’m not so sure about that. Why, for example, would I welcome the sadness I feel about a friend’s dire cancer diagnosis. Then I read the last verse.
Look into the hollows of your hands and ask what wants to be gathered there, what abundance waits among the scraps, what feast will offer itself from the pieces that remain.
“Oh, Nancy, ” I say to myself, “You do not yet know the gifts of this time. And you can’t know if you live with your hands clenched in a rigid fist.”
With my hands cupped I …
Receive and Release
Open and Offer
Honor and Hold
Isn’t this what we envision for ourselves when we walk with someone who experiences pain or confusion, doubt or fear?
At those times I want to receive what is shared, spoken or unspoken. Not only do I want to release my own fears, but also my need to control or correct or fix or solve.
I want to open my heart and listen with the ears of my heart. I open to the inner voice, the Divine that whispers to me.
I open to surprise, to possibility, to what feels new and perhaps not quite acceptable. I open to change, to transformation, to hope and salvation. I open to imperfection and a lack of answers. I open to the spaciousness of this time, whatever that means.
I offer what I can, what I am able. I offer myself, my heart and my intuition, too, along with my understanding, even when I don’t understand.
I offer my presence.
I honor for we are beloved. We are holy. I honor our fragility that lives within our wholeness. I honor vulnerability and the willingness to be seen, to be known.
I hold the space for all that is swirling or sometimes for all that feels static. I hold the fear and allow love to be borrowed, if love feels distant. I hold the in-between times. I hold myself accountable, even as I am gentle with myself.
I hold the present moment with my presence.
I hold open the door.
I remember my prayer bowl, a vessel that sings. When I strike the rim the tone is clear and strong and reverberates for a long time, fading gradually into the space around me. The energy and the memory remain.
May I be that vessel–a vessel that receives and releases, opens and offers, honors and holds. A vessel that sings even as she cries.
Cup your hands. What do you see? What kind of vessel are you carrying? I would love to know.