"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
By: Mary Maddox
I just spent a year of walking. In 2018, I walked approximately 1000 miles across Europe and Israel. Let's break this down:
In April/May, I walked a portion of the Camino from Samos to Santiago. (10 days)
In May/June, I walked the full Camino from St. Jean to Santiago. (34 days)
In June, I walked the Jesus Trail in Israel. (4 days)
In September, I walked a portion of the Camino from Leon to Santiago. (14 days)
In Sept/Oct, I walked the full Portuguese Coastal Camino. (14 days)
It was my most amazing year. I found so much joy in all of this walking. I knew I had truly found my calling... leading others to Our Lord through walking meditation. Healing and love happens in every step.
So, why am I telling you this?
Because, I spent approximately 76 days with Our Lord. Over two months of walking across the world. In all that time, in laughter with others, in quiet prayer and in walking, our Lord kept repeating the same words to me, "Open your heart, I need you."
"Open your heart, I need you." What do you mean Lord? I thought you had my heart, I thought it was open. I pray, I do mission work, I help others, and I walk in faith. So, what do you mean, "Open your heart, I need you."
His words came on a very ordinary walking day. We were walking from Catrojeriz to Fromista. It was sunny and warm, one of the few warm weather days we had on our full Camino. We had 25 kms (16 miles) to hike. Toward the end of the day, we were walking along some canals. They were built in the 1750's, now they are used for irrigation. It was peaceful to walk along the water. Our group had separated, everyone walking at their own pace. I started to pray. As I walked step by step, I felt Our Lords presence next to me. It felt like He was walking beside me. This is when I heard Our Lord say, "open your heart, I need you.". I walked in silence and pondered those words. It was on this day, walking in the sunlight that I realized that my heart had been closed.
So, what happened? What closed my heart up tight and locked it? For me, it was my first experience of betrayal, a painful and scary time. (I know some people will say, you’re pretty lucky that it was your first) but the number matters not. It was a crushing blow to my heart. I know you can relate. All of us have been hurt by someone.
I thought I had forgiven my trespassers and I thought I was moving on. Yet, on this day, He reminded me that yes, I had forgiven but my heart was not open. My heart was not open to making new friends; my heart was afraid. I had retreated into His love. It was a good place. I needed the assurance of His love and care. I didn’t want or need to open myself to the outside world. His friendship was enough. But on this day his words were loud and clear. And maybe because of so many walking days and prayers, my little brain slowly saw the truth. My heart was not open! I was too complacent knowing I had forgiven, and once that was done, I stayed there. I concentrated on protecting my heart. I was stuck. But on that day, in that moment, I understood His simple call. OPEN YOUR HEART. He needs me. He needs me to give my heart freely. God needs me to not be afraid any more.
It's funny, Our Lord kept giving me signs along the Camino. I was hearing the same words over and over, spoken to me from strangers, "you radiate kindness and love" Wow! What? How could that be? I think the Lord was reminding me of the open hearted person I used to be. He was touching my heart with words from strangers, preparing me for His message.
I knew it was time. Time to heal and time to come back to the person formed in my mother's womb. As I walked, I chipped away at all the things that were holding me back.
You might ask, how did I do that?
I let go of pain.
I let go of pity.
I let go of trespasses and trespassers
I let go of comparing myself to others
I let go of expectations
I let go of being tough
I let go of fear
I let go and choose love again
I know we don't all have time to walk 1000 miles with God but maybe for me, it was needed. He got my attention that one warm sunny afternoon along the canals. A quiet, solitary place ... we all need that. Find yours … maybe it's at Church, at Adoration, or on a walk. Listen as you go about your day.
Chip away at your blocks. Allow the healing to take place and expect love, peace and joy to enter into your hearts.
Open your heart, let go and choose love again.
By: Melody Beattie
One day, a friend called me on the phone. He was going through a difficult time and wondering if and when things would ever turn around and improve. I knew he was in a lot of pain; I didn’t know then that he was considering suicide.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
Challenge: Create your inner Peace.
“Set peace of mind as your highest goal, and organize your life around it.” ~Brian Tracy
Peace is not a destination, it's not something we chase or find. Peace is always available. No need to go running after it but it does take effort. This effort entails consciously choosing "to be still".
What happens in our life will always affect our mental state, but we don't have to let those circumstances control our mental state. We need to make tiny choices for our own well-being. We need to choose peace. Its easy to get caught up in worries and stresses. Sometimes we can feel like that is the only available response to the things happening.
It's not, there are many ways to create peace of mind.
It might mean slowing down. Being present in this moment, and showing up in our own lives. Becoming reflective and daring to be more self-aware. Maybe we need to let go of too many activities. Allow time to read, pray, breathe and walk. Welcome this focus on peace. Let go of harmful ways and patterns. Less doing and more being.
A Prayer for Peace of Mind
Almighty God, We bless you for our lives, we give you praise for your abundant mercy and grace we receive. We thank you for your faithfulness even though we are not that faithful to you. Lord Jesus, we ask you to give us all around peace in our mind, body, soul and spirit. We want you to heal and remove everything that is causing stress, grief, and sorrow in our lives.
Please guide our path through life and make our enemies be at peace with us. Let your peace reign in our family, at our place of work, businesses and everything we lay our hands on.
Let your angels of peace go ahead of us when we go out and stay by our side when we return. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Other ways for inner peace:
"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be." ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
By: Fr. Richard Rohr
Most people have never actually met themselves. At every moment, all our lives long, we identify with our thoughts, our self-image, or our feelings. We have to find a way to get behind this view of ourselves to discover the face we had before we were born. We must discover who we are in God, who we’ve always been—long before we did anything right or anything wrong. This is the first goal of contemplation.
Imagine you are sitting on the bank of a river. Boats and ships—thoughts, feelings, and sensations—are sailing past. While the stream flows by your inner eye, name each of these vessels. For example, one of the boats could be called “my anxiety about tomorrow.” Or along comes the ship “objections to my husband” or the boat “I don’t do that well.” Every judgment that you pass is one of those boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let them move on down the river.
This can be a difficult exercise because you’re used to jumping aboard the boats—your thoughts—immediately. As soon as you own a boat and identify with it, it picks up energy. This is a practice in un-possessing, detaching, letting go. With every idea, with every image that comes into your head, say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.”
Sometimes, a boat turns around and heads back upstream to demand your attention again. Habitual thoughts are hard to not be hooked by. Sometimes you feel the need to torpedo your boats. But don’t attack them. Don’t hate them or condemn them. This is also an exercise in nonviolence. The point is to recognize your thoughts, which are not you, and to say, “That’s not necessary; I don’t need that.” But do it very amiably. If you learn to handle your own soul tenderly and lovingly, you’ll be able to carry this same loving wisdom out into the world.
Gateway to Silence:
Reference: Adapted from Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 94-95.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen