Text:  John 20: 19-26

Every Easter season when this passage from John’s Gospel comes around we read about the disciples inside the house, the doors locked for fear … fear of what’s out there, the sinister things that could happen, fear that they’re next, fearing for their lives. And so here they are holed up, staying safe, by staying inside.

That’s a feature of the story that in other years, certainly, I’ve noticed, but this year for obvious reasons, that’s where I’m drawn … drawn to stop right there … to wonder about it, to let it wonder about me! Actually that’s the thing --to let it ask me, what’s happening for me in this time of unusual confinement? What am I about? What is this time about for me? What is it raising in me … inviting me to notice?  What am I asking myself, what am I seeking   that is prompted by this particular time? Just so you know … I hear it too … me me me!   It’s one of the things about being in this cloistered time – it can press you to reckon with yourself – listen to yourself, notice yourself … be available to yourself.

Now of course I realize some of us are doing this time with others in the same space; and for some that’s an advantage; for some that’s really hard;  for some it’s a mix.  And for those already living on their own, I realize this isn’t the same, when being apart from others is an imposed thing.  Which is to say that I realize our situations differ from one another … which is really nothing new!

And yet, for each of us, no matter our context, this is a time. What we’re living is a thing.  And whether or not we’re on our own, there is an I, a me, a you, that is alive in this moment, this time, having this experience. As I wonder what this time is about for me, I wonder what it’s about for you?  and what could it be about?

We’re doing so much of our life differently these days.  Presumably, we’re shopping differently … some of us not at all; some of us for others; with more deliberateness perhaps about when, what, how.   We’re keeping our distance, we’re moving away from each other.  Some are covering their faces so smiles are hidden … all of this, an expression of care.  Some are especially grateful for the tree outside their window … a new-found companion.  Some of us are on the phone more than ever, or discovering new ways of meeting up on-line, even sharing a meal together.  So much of life  we’re doing differently. 

I wonder what you’re noticing?  I wonder what new ways are surfacing? What capacities, what longings, what needs are being revealed? all brought about through this time where we are staying home far more than usual.

I want to come back to this notion of listening to ourselves, being available to our own selves. I think that’s what keeps coming back to me these last few weeks.  Maybe because I’m beginning to settle into this time a bit more.  Maybe because we’re on this side of Holy Week, and the days feel less pressured, roomier.  Maybe because a little more room affords some breathing space, room to check in with myself -- to notice what it feels like to go for an evening stroll … to feel the delight of that… not just the beauty of the surround, but the sense of pleasure in my being.  And to feel my desire to make this part of my every-day.  What if I could do this every day?! 

When I give myself the space to listen to myself, I tune into this awareness that this set apart time as we have it now, isn’t going to last forever.  And for me that’s actually unnerving.  I know for others it can’t be over soon enough – I hear that and can appreciate that.  It helps me to realize how much a person of privilege I am in this time.  I’m not anxious about owing rent or feeding my family.  I don’t have an elderly parent who I’m not allowed to go near. 

But from where I sit, I’m unnerved by the prospect of this time coming to an end because I realize this particular time holds the possibility of some re-patterning of my days, and I haven’t gotten there yet!  I know!  Patience right?  It takes more than a month to re-work a life!!! 

But what about my desire for a deeper life of prayer.  And what do I even mean by that?  For me it’s about moving through the day more connected … grounded, rooted somehow in Love …finding myself turning often, remembering I’m surrounded, inhabited, upheld by a great Love. I’m not talking about  being blissed out … though I know what it is to be swept off my feet by awe.  But that’s not at the heart of my desire. I want to be in the world unafraid … I don’t mean reckless or oblivious to harm’s way.  I mean not afraid of messing up; not afraid of my own inadequacy; not afraid of coming to the end thinking I was too protective, too careful, too restrained.

What do I mean by a deeper life of prayer?   For me it’s about living with a kind of freedom that’s borne of the only real safety there is … of dwelling in the heart of God, knowingly, trustingly.

What would take me there? What would allow that turning, that remembering to become more and more my way, my dwelling place? Well, that’s what our spiritual practices are all about, aren’t they. Helping us to cultivate a way, an opening, a connection.  It’s not necessarily about adding a whole number of things into our daily round … though for some of us we might choose to take up a practice that got squeezed out along the way, or to engage in a new-to-us discipline. Or it just might be about allowing our daily tasks to be in themselves avenues for that deepening connection … which is such a part of Celtic spirituality for example … this sense of in each task, in everything we do, there is the presence of God … so that lighting the fire in the morning becomes an act as well of welcoming the Spirit to kindle the fires of her love within, love for neighbour and stranger.  Washing hands is accompanied by invoking a blessing upon these hands for the work they will be about and all they will touch throughout the day.  Getting dressed in the morning becomes an occasion for clothing ourselves in God’s love.  So there’s this practice of waking up to the presence of God that is carried out from morning til night in and through the most practical, even mundane tasks of daily living.

What I realize for myself is that this time of relative isolation has opened up an inner space … making room for me to be more available to myself … and so to hear what has been waiting to be heard, received, honoured. The seeds for newness for some life-giving re-patterning of my life are being sown in this time. I think this is what happens when we let our soul’s voice speak … there’s such wisdom there, and such compassion.  Guidance for fuller, richer life.  I don’t know … is there a difference between the Spirit and our soul … is our soul the Spirit’s home in us, the way of the Spirit’s presence in us? These are mysteries to me. But what seems clear is that confined spaces, looked doors, weeks on end of isolation, none of this stops the Spirit of the Risen One from showing up and breathing PEACE …deep peace … transforming peace. Our part it seems is to be present … deeply present to ourselves, for that is where we are met, right where we are.

In these days when we are doing so much of life differently, how are you making yourself available to your own self?  that you might be met by the one who comes to breathe new life right where you are.