Leaves, leaves and more leaves.
Autumn is a time of cleaning up from the summer.
Here in New Zealand, as I write, it is early autumn and leaves are starting to fall from the trees. Within a few months an exposed skeleton will be seen by all.
One of the gardens I work on has many deciduous trees and over the next few months I will be busy collecting the debris fallen onto the lawn below. If I was to just allow it to accumulate on the grass then the meagre winter sunlight would not be able to reach the grass. The grass would eventually be smothered and suffocated for light.
As I garden I often find God speaking to me. Out of creation, words are still spoken that give me direction and a sense of connection to the eternal.
So what to do with debris?
Upon reflecting on these falling leaves I also am aware of the debris I have in my life. The accumulated rubbish and rubble, the baggage and stuff that just seems to follow me around. At times it haunts me, it jeers at me, mocks and tries to keep me in its place. Ghosts and bounced back echoes resonate with internalized beliefs which can keep me in a fear bound hell hole.
Do you have debris? Of course you do! Disappointments, resentments, hurts, traumas, memoirs of grief, shame, lose, boundary incursions all sitting there under the mask of everything being good and ok. Holding that mask takes effort, intentionality and a type of hiddenness where no one is allowed to go.
Richard Rohr believes that “if you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it to those around you and the next generation”
What am I to do with debris?
If I don’t do something with the debris it will eventually kill, smother, suffocate the life that it is in me. It will pus out and affect others, especially those you love.
I need a gardener and you do too.
As I write this it is coming towards Easter. I have been asked to preach on Resurrection Sunday. As I mediate on this powerful mysterious story I place myself in the sandals of Mary coming to the empty tomb. Full of debris, grief, loss, pain, she then sees a gardener
11-13 But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus’ body had been laid. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?”
13-14 “They took my Master,” she said, “and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn’t recognize him.
15 Jesus spoke to her, “Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, “Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him.”
16 Jesus said, “Mary.”
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” meaning “Teacher!” John 20: 11-16 (The Message)
I need a gardener who knows exactly what to do with my crying and debris.
When I see all those leaves I go and collect them up. There are thousands of them.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Lao Tzu
I don’t have to work at it, I just leave it there.
As I ponder on the debris of my life I remember what a wise older lady once said to me about debris.
‘Leave it at the foot of the cross’.
Instantly I saw a picture of myself at the foot of the cross, head bowed placing a package of debris at the base then walking away, leaving it behind.
My brain is not as efficient as I would like it to be. I often have debris come and waft back into my consciousness. So I once again trail my mind back to the cross. It’s quite a well-worn track for me and I lay it down again.
I leave it with Christ to deal with as he sees fit. He knows more about the debris than I. As I form a thinking groove, a habit a process then the debris looses its power over me.
Christ covers my shame, forgives my sin, and transforms my debris into something of usefulness. Dr. Dan Allender recently spoke about the transforming power of Christ into the shame we all carry. Click on this link to watch or listen to his message
How to let go of the debris
1. Prayerfully Journal. Write down all the debris that the Holy Spirit is drawing your attention. List it out then at the bottom of the list write these words or something similar ‘Today I lay … at the foot of the cross and ask that you would do with them as you wish’
2. Visualise yourself coming to the foot of the cross. laying the pain down saying ‘Here Jesus do what you wish with this’, lay it down and walk away.
3. Accept that there is a certain amount of having to let God deal with it in ways that we might disagree with. God is more merciful and forgiving than I but then again God knows the whole story and I only know a fragment
4. Over time repeat and dig deeper as to why you are holding on to it. It may that there are other debris that need to be laid down.
5. Seek out someone you can help you place it at the foot of the cross.
6. Give thanks that God can transform your debris.
We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:28 (The Message). I have to leave it there and allow God’s design to change and transform.
7. Accept that its ok to have memory pricks. If some little trigger happens, and it will, then lay it down again. You haven’t failed, it’s just your brain doing what its supposed to do, warn you and protect you, but you are not your brain and you have a new strategy of laying it down and allowing the gardener to resurrection transform it.
Some quotes to consider
- Forgiving is not a single event, but a gradual process of increasing compassion and reducing resentment. Shirley Glass
- All great spirituality teaches about letting go of what you don’t need and who you are not. Then, when you can get little enough and naked enough and poor enough, you’ll find that the little place where you really are is ironically more than enough and is all that you need. At that place, you will have nothing to prove to anybody and nothing to protect. That place is called freedom. It’s the freedom of the children of God. Such people can connect with everybody. They don’t feel the need to eliminate anybody. Richard Rohr
- When we fail we are merely joining the great parade of humanity that has walked ahead of us and will follow after us. Richard Rohr
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