Being A Vessel

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.

An Invitation

Cup your hands. What do you see? What kind of vessel are you carrying? I would love to know.

I Have No Ideas!

Most Monday mornings I write my post for Tuesday. I may even write the Thursday post and prepare for the writing group I facilitate on Thursday mornings. That leaves room during the rest of the week to meet with my spiritual direction clients and any other zoom or in-person events.

A good plan, but what happens when I have no idea what to write!

Usually, during the previous week, I jot notes to myself that could develop into a blog post. This past week? Nothing! Or going to church will spark a thought. Sunday, even though the sermon and service and the adult forum were each inspiring and thought-provoking, nothing percolated for my weekly writing. Surely, I told myself, when I went to bed Sunday night, I will wake-up Monday morning with an ah-ha moment. Nothing!!!

What to do?

Well, do what you always do, Nancy. Begin the day with morning meditation. I read the Lenten reading for the day, I Samuel 3. God calls to Samuel, not once, but three times, and Samuel doesn’t recognize the Lord’s voice. Hmmmm. How many times, I wonder, have I failed to hear?

What is it I need to hear right now?

My husband calls a “good morning” up to the garret and leaves to meet a friend for breakfast. I take my shower and dress and make a quick grocery list. Friends are returning home today after being in a warmer climate for almost two months. I plan to fix them an easy supper and drop it off when I hear they have returned. I send a quick prayer for “traveling mercies,” and think about how good it will be to see them again.

I decide to empty the dishwasher. Normally, my husband does that, but I am happy to do it today–a delaying tactic before I face the empty screen. Sunday evening a group of friends gathered here for potluck supper, and the dishwasher was packed. As I empty it, I think how wonderful it was to be together after a long COVID interim. We laughed and told stories, some we have told before and will probably tell again. We asked for prayers for loved ones and shared moments of grace. I confess that earlier in the day as I set the table, I wondered if we would be able to ease into one another’s company once again. No worries, for we reveled in our friendship and connection.

Still delaying going to my desk, I walk into the snug where the two chairs we found last week at an antique shop look as if they have always been there. I need to find the right cushions, but no rush, and that will be a fun search.

Bruce put the old chairs out on the curb with free signs and almost immediately the young boys next door dashed out asking it they could have them. Bruce said yes, IF it was ok with their parents. Apparently, that answer was “No,” but in less than an hour I saw four young people loading them into a SUV, and they were gone. I imagined the new owners coming to a screeching halt in front of our house when they spotted the chairs. “Yea, these are just what we need! I thought about all the books read in those chairs and prayed the new owners will find comfort and ease in them, too.

Finally, I sat at my desk. No more delays. I whispered a quick prayer, “What should I write, Lord?”

I begin to write.

An Invitation

When have you not known what it is you are to do next or say or even write? How have you responded? I would love to know.