Posts Tagged ‘J. Philip Newell’

Nita Gilger

Our guest blogger today is Nita Gilger, an educator and writer who lives in the wide open, rugged landscapes of The Big Country of Texas.

In Celtic book of prayers Sounds of the Eternal by J. Philip Newell, one of his morning prayers speaks to me:

 

Glory be to you
for the beauty of your image
waking in opening eyes,
lighting the human countenance.
Glory be to you, Glory be to you.
But where the glistening is lost sight of,
where life’s colors are dulled
and the human soul grows hard,
I pray for grace this day,
I pray for your softening graces.

Softening graces. How beautiful is that? I feel enveloped by such love and grace. I drink it in with the challenging lesson that waiting is important, necessary, and ever so instructive. And I liken these softening graces to the beautiful process of giving birth. Women’s bodies must soften to be ready for the birth of a beloved child. The body must be ready and when it is the miracle of a newborn baby happens almost on its own.

I remember my own labor and delivery of our son. He was ready even if I wasn’t sure or settled about the physical challenge about to come. It all unfolded very quickly for a first pregnancy, lasting just shy of six hours. Contractions had begun. Everything was ready and softened. The only hold up was that my water would not break. After the doctor deemed it necessary, my water was broken and very soon our son arrived, a healthy eight-pound, four-ounce, twenty-two-inch bundle of joy.

Though I had never participated in the birth process before, I was ready to hold my child in my arms and welcome him with the utmost joy. My body was set on go. The marvelous 9-month preparation in utero had given my baby boy all he needed to come bursting into life.

This moment in time will always be held as a supreme and miraculous gift of God. It is the most precious kind of love. It is a love that nothing can destroy. Little did I know then that I would never be able to have more children. Two subsequent miscarriages and major grief would follow.  Even so, I have always felt very blessed to have one child. I know some never have that joy even when prayers are prayed and everything has been tried.

As life has unfolded, I have known and still know many hard places. But it does not benefit me or anyone else to somehow compare the degree of my struggles with that of others. Though some people seem to have it worse and some better, what real certainty can I have in knowing the differences? What I can and do know is that God is present in all the hard places, the waiting places, and in the giving, celebratory places of my life. When life’s colors are dulled and my soul grows hard, I know I can pray for and receive softening graces.

Those incubation periods are not wasted; the waiting and clearing moments can be filled with lessons on surrender, vulnerability, and listening. As I grow and lean into softening graces, I have a deep trust that direction comes in the tough seasons. Though patient waiting is not exactly my most noticeable virtue, I still trust that those seemingly fallow periods of my life will be held with softening graces. Let it be so.