Today's lectionary reading: Acts 1:15-17,Acts 1:21-26,Psalm 1,1 John 5:9-13,John 17:6-19
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 1 (The Message)
1 How well God must like you— you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats, you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings, you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.
2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.
4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust— Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.
6 God charts the road you take. The road they take leads to nowhere
How much more relaxed I am in the presence of those who like and accept me. I feel safe and my choices are a result of this anchored contentment. Happiness instead of lack. This contrasts to when I feel unknown, unaccepted or unanchored. My shoulders constrict, eyes scan the room and choices are often a result of how I lack.
Being born and raised in Canada to Chinese immigrant parents, I often found myself navigating spaces and scanning faces to determine if I belonged. My face looked different than those surrounding me in North America. When I lived in Hong Kong for a few years as a child, faces looked like mine but my accented Chinese gave me away. I often made choices to compensate for the lack of acceptance and anchor I felt in both spaces. I grasped and made choices that often ended up hurting myself or others. Like the time I shared with my classmates at school in Canada that pandas played in my backyard when I lived in Asia. This impressed them until my mom showed up for a field trip and my friends asked her about it. No blossoming fruit from the trust lost between friends.
Psalm 1 here offers us two roads or two choices. The first is to trust in God’s immeasurable tenderness and affection for our entire being and story; “how well God must like you.” Her Word consistently offers this thrilling promise for us to chew on and digest. Her interest and care invite us to experience the freedom of rooting and anchoring. A tree so anchored, it’s rooted goodness bears fruit regularly.
The second choice is to deny this gift and find ourselves in spaces we didn’t plan for; “roads leading to nowhere”. With no anchor, we expend our energy grasping for earned affection and control. Mere windblown dust spun around with striving expectation.
Never Dropping a leaf and swirling dust storms. Two contrasting images.
Imagine God’s gaze of tenderness on you as you spend time together. “I like you”, they say. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Inhale deeply and pray “Be,” and as you exhale, “Loved.” Pray and rest in this gaze of affection. This can be the eyes of Christ looking at you, the warmth of the Holy Spirit holding you or the deep sense of safety and acceptance God our creator offers you.
When I spend time with this gaze, we are often sitting on top of the rocky mountains in Canada where I grew up, after a long hike, my lungs full of crisp fresh air and vision inundated with stunning views. Other times, we are in the comfort of my living room, socks off, laying amongst soft cushions in silence.
Rest in this gaze, wherever it takes you and anchor deeply to the thrilling promise of how loved, good and accepted you are. Inhale, “Be” and exhale, “Loved.” Spend five minutes resting and breathing prayer.
The goodness in us is old. The threats to us seem ever new. Fear crowds out our hope within. The call to find rest in you is old. The barriers to peace seem ever new. Guide our choices towards rootedness beside flowing rivers. We ask in the name of our God our Provider, Christ our Protector, and the Holy Spirit, our Guide. Amen.
About the Author
Rachel Lee is a Chinese Canadian American currently living in Austin, TX spending her days practicing as a spiritual director, working in public education and living with her partner of 2 decades, 3 kids, 1 dog and 1 bird.