Contemplative Monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Guest Post: Kaitlin Curtice ~ Glory Happening

When the brokenness of the world makes you tired, run to the forest.
Remember how small you are.
Watch the leaves change.
Listen to acorns fall from the heights.
Let the wind and the water talk to you about what it means to heal.
Let The Creator show you the benevolent, secret places.
Kaitlin Curtice

I am honored to introduce our Contemplative Monk family to Kaitlin Curtice. You’re in for a real treat. Kaitlin is not only a Native American Author, Speaker, & Worship Leader, she’s a wife, and a mother of two who speaks with the poetic wisdom of an old soul, very rare for someone so young. Prepare to be blessed.

~*~*~*~ 

Recently I spent the weekend in the mountains of New Mexico. When I was standing on the ground looking up, I felt like I was in a womb, safe, secluded, ready to rest in a space that was waiting there for me.

I was there for a retreat called Widen, gathered with a group of people to sit under the teaching of Richard Rohr and ask what it means to be a contemplative and an activist, to be people who live our stories out of a deep well of asking who we are and what we care about in this world. I’m a storyteller, so every day that I spent up in those mountains I saw things that told their own story, bits and pieces of a created world waiting to have their faces and essence put into words and sent out. I looked up at clouds that seemed to be made of velvet. I noticed a sky that was a darker shade of blue than the Georgia skies I’d traveled from. I looked at the adobe clay buildings and remembered my childhood years spent in that mountain air. I felt like I was a go-between, this thing that transmits energy from one glorious thing to another, like a jug of water being filled up just to be emptied out again.

The last day of the retreat as I drove back down the mountain to return home, I stopped by the side of the road to say good-bye. As Gregory Alan Isakov’s Stable Song played through the speakers of my rental car, I thanked the land for hosting me. I thanked her for being the same land that welcomed me as a child growing up on the same red clay. I knelt down and grabbed a few rocks to take home, and as I cried and touched that earth, I thought to myself, “I want to take every rock home. I want to gather up all of these rocks like all of these moments as ebenezers and keep them alive inside of my chest so that their voices never stop speaking, so that their essence never disappears from my view.”

After returning home from that experience, I grieved for that space. I longed for the feeling of being in that womb again. I longed to feel small and held. So I looked at those rocks that took me from the mountain air back to my own garden at home, back to the husky at my feet and the coffee in my cup, back to my beginnings again.

The glorious thing about longing is that it’s possible to return to places we’ve found sacred. It’s possible to sit inside of ourselves and remember that the world is a place that holds story after story after story, and we are one of the givers and takers of those stories.

That’s why there’s something really beautiful and sacred about storytelling. Throughout history, we’ve been speaking about how we got here and what it means to be human.

We’ve been talking about pain and sorrow, joy, fulfillment, brokenness and what it means to be longing for wholeness, or searching for others that make us feel whole. And in that, we’ve been asking what God looks like, sounds like, feels like—an interaction engaging all the senses of our being.

On November 7th my book, Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places comes out. My hope for this book is that my stories about the glory of God—glory being extreme beauty—would help you find glory in your own circumstances.

I write on everything from the day my father left to the first time my son talked to the seeds we’d just planted on our balcony. I tell stories about my childhood and about what it’s like to be an adult, with the reality of the fullness of God always with me, whether I recognize it in that present moment or see it later in hindsight.

And with every story comes a prayer, a response to human conditions and experiences. Once we stop telling our stories, we lose pieces of our humanity, and so we must work and create to keep those stories alive.

As a member of the Potawatomi tribe, I know that our stories are what set us apart, what give us our culture. Without them, we’d lose so much of who we are, so much of our identity. And so it is with you and with me. We share our experiences because they mean something to the experiences of others, and in our current political, social and religious climate, this might be one thing that reminds us that we belong to each other.

 

So Glory Happening is a reminder and an invitation

Here’s one of my favorite stories from the book. As you read it, I invite you to ask what glory looks like in your own everyday spaces—call it mysticism, call it contemplation, call it seeing. As you consider pre-ordering the book, I ask you to remember your own moments of coming alive to something and the story connected to that moment.

Whatever you call it, let yourself come to know that you are capable of a life of storytelling and story-sharing, and these moments of coming alive bring us there, gathered at the table, at our couches in the living room, on the bench in the park. They remind us that we are not alone.

May we also recognize that we do not just get to tell our own stories—our stories are being told to us by the waiting world around us, and as we lean into those spaces with open hearts and open eyes, we will find that every story is worth telling.

THE PRACTICE OF PATIENCE

The only reality I can describe with any accuracy is my own limited experience of what I think may be God: the More, the Really Real, the Luminous Web that Holds Everything in Place. —Barbara Brown Taylor

Because we have a balcony garden, I use two recycled milk jugs to hydrate my plants each day. I go to the kitchen sink, put the open container under the faucet, and wait.

It takes a little while–to my severely impatient self, too long—for the jug to fill all the way. And there’s not much I can do in that space except watch and tap my foot on the floor and sip my ever-cooling coffee.

But finally, one day, I realize how thankful I am for this moment, for this small act of glory. I walk the jugs out to the small balcony and slowly water all of my plants, slowly speak over them, calling them to come higher, to climb toward the sky so I can see them in all their beauty.

That water feeds mint and rosemary, a little sprig of cilantro trying to decide what she’ll do in the next few days. It gives life to all those zinnias and marigolds that sprouted up from their beginning seeds. And every bit of their growth, their slow and steady rise to the sky, seems to take forever.

There aren’t many ways to force ourselves into the waiting anymore, not the way our lives seem to thrust themselves along in constant busyness.

I’ve never ached and longed for the quiet like I do now. And I’ve never cherished acts of patience like I do now.

These things are hardest for me:

to sit and rest when I could be cleaning, cooking, working, moving, creating;

to stop and wait when I could be hustling about, active and frantic.

It’s this little practice of patience, filling these milk cartons a few times a day, that keeps me tethered.

Sometimes I think as people—maybe especially as Millennials— we’re constant drifters:

to the newest fad,
to the newest scene,
on to the next season,
into the next home.
And before we realize it, we’ve flown everywhere and never really landed.

But I need to be tethered.

I want to be content, quiet, resourceful, kind. And so, I absolutely need to be more patient.
And if I have to keep a Georgia garden on my balcony all year long to remind me of my need for hydration, of my need to refill that milk jug over and over again, then I will let it be my holy act, a reminder of my salvation, that when I am thirsty, someone is there to give me drink.

O God,
Call us into the good work.
And when we are unable,
push us into the sunlight,
and let us see your face.

Hydrate our souls
with the kind power of your Mystery.

There, we will understand. There, we will not be afraid. Because there,
the darkness is only a fraud. Amen.

 

You can find an excerpt of my book, a link to pre-order Glory Happening, and the book trailer on my website: www.kaitlincurtice.com.

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