I had a meeting with a different spiritual director while at the retreat. She is the lady who is hosting it. I scheduled for just thirty minutes in the afternoon. I figured by then I’d be a little antsy and want a break from the whole silent thing.
Last time I was going stir crazy around 2 pm on Saturday. This time, not so much. This time I feel like I’m almost overscheduled. This time I don’t have a four hour block of time with nothing specific to do. Some of that is because I’ve got to keep going into the conference room and check on the prayer bracelet station. I’ve got to tie them and make sure the supplies are stocked.
I feel oddly calm and yet there’s more I can’t quite name. Maybe because I’ve done this, here, before. I brought stuff to work on. I know it isn’t like Cursillo. I know where everything is. I know the schedule.
But I digress. This usually means I’m trying to avoid something. So, let’s plunge on in. The best way to confront a fear is to face it.
She asked me what had I intended for this retreat. What was I trying to get out of it?
I had decided not to intend anything. I think that is part of my problem. I plan, and then either I’m disappointed or I only look for that intention.
I will set an intention before yoga and by the time the class is over I’ve learned something entirely different. I’ve received a different gift, and it wasn’t what I expected.
The last time we were together, my usual spiritual director had asked me how would I feel if I knew Jesus was standing behind a door with his arms full of gifts for me. Would I open the door?
So this lady went with that. She told me to imagine that Jesus has a gift for me right now. What is it?
We closed our eyes and I imagined this.
Here’s Jesus, all smiles, and he has a gift. It is wrapped up in shiny blue paper. No bow. Tidy wrapping job. I take off the paper. I’m pretty excited. This is a gift from Jesus, so it has to be good, right? He knows me better than anybody, and has my best interests at heart. It’s going to be awesome.
It’s a wrench. It is a used wrench, in fact. There’s oil on it. Not on the handle, but on the adjusting part.
Confused? Sure. Crestfallen? Definitely. I’m a bit hurt. What the heck am I going to do with a wrench?
Uh, thanks, but no thanks, buddy. It is this kind of thoughtlessness that is the reason I hate Christmas.
So the director asked me to sit with this feeling a bit. What does this mean? Ask Jesus why he gave me a wrench.
“It is for your heart” he says. To loosen it up. To stop being so tight and rigid. To be more playful, more childlike. To not have so many rules and limitations.
The more I decide how things have to be, the less I’m allowing them to just be the way they are.
It is like a bonsai. The more you force a plant into a certain shape, the less you are letting it grow the way God wants it to grow.
Something about organic and trust is in there. Not resisting. Acceptance. Being open to possibility.
I wasn’t really happy about this to start off with. Jesus should love me as I am, right? This sounds a little mean, giving me a wrench. I felt it was like going up to a friend and saying that she isn’t pretty enough, so here’s some makeup.
Nope, it isn’t that at all. True friends want the best for you. They want you to grow into your full potential. They challenge you. They call you on your BS too.
If I truly believe that Jesus is my friend, then I have to believe that he wants the best for me. I have to believe that this is an awesome gift, and exactly what I need, and in fact exactly what I’ve been looking for but I just didn’t know it.
So, a wrench. Why? I asked.
Because a seed doesn’t grow into a flower unless it is watered. It needs work. The seed is great as a seed. Jesus isn’t saying that I’m broken. He’s just saying that if I want to be better, then here’s the tool, and here’s the part that needs work.
So why is it oily and used, I asked?
Because he’s already broken it in for me. It is ready to go. Smooth action.
Then I get silly and realize that wrenches are used on nuts, which are just beads after all. They are hexagonal metal beads, with spiral holes.
Now I want to make a bracelet with nuts and wire.
But it isn’t about that. It is important not to iconize this. It isn’t about the symbol but what the symbol points toward.
While writing this I got a snack of hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows, and honey graham crackers shaped like teddy bears. I think this is a good start.
(Written on retreat, around 3 pm on 1-18-14)