Being Beloved

“To love, inspire, empower, heal, feed and serve so that all, including myself, would see ourselves as Beloved”.  

Reflecting on the “why” I hold the above statement so dear, begins with my life at the age of five. I stood alone on an open field and suddenly became aware of an overwhelming sense of call by God. I felt an expansive yet incredibly intimate sense of God’s love, a connection to this love, and a deep reverence for the created world and all its inhabitants. From that moment on, I spent most of my childhood longing to understand and respond to that experience. I was full of joy and inspiration and felt I could do anything- my life was full of endless possibilities! On some level, I realized this sense of God’s love related in some way to caring for the goodness of the world.  

A few years after this experience, my reverie and innocence shattered when my parents’ divorced. I descended into a downward spiral as their focus turned away from their children.  New relationships, new families and careers became central to their lives. I felt unseen, abandoned and unguided.  

The embers of my initial sense of call lay dormant in my heart. I entered college with a curiosity about the world. I experienced a retreat at this time that rekindled my awareness of the expansive love of God. I met my future husband and this deep relationship reignited my early memory of unconditional love. Being regarded as Beloved, I grew in confidence and self-worth and began to allow my vision full expression. With the birth of my children, I felt the joy of loving another into being. With my feet firmly planted, I explored my sense of call which found some form in living my faith in the life of my Catholic Church. Feeling both cherished and cherishing of my family, I longed to share this with others in the world. I eagerly studied scripture and volunteered as much as possible-always with a passion to help others see their great worth as beloved children of God. 

My soul was stirring. Scripture became alive and I realized the story of God’s people is my story- our story. Luke 4:18-19, with Jesus anointed to bring good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, and setting oppressed free, deeply inspired me. Who and when are we oppressed, blind, held captive and poor? I felt most responsive to my sense of call at this time when I accompanied others exploring their inner places of captivity while recognizing their own dignity and place in God’s story.  

Jesus mentioned the “Kingdom” frequently in scripture, so I knew that building up the Kingdom was important. Luke 17:21, when Jesus says that the “Kingdom of God is within you,” opened up my understanding of this. I began to see my call, as Emilie Townes says, “as a place to search for home, a place for healing, resistance, celebration, transformation.” The Kingdom, for me, is when I am doing the work- the soul work of uncovering the veil preventing anyone from recognizing that they are made in the image of God.  

My heart enflamed with the desire to do soul work- to grow my own soul while walking beside others in their search for God. I studied Theology to further educate myself and to give myself a chance to be heard. As I have moved forward in my life, I continue to grow and feel new opportunities to express my sense of call. At the present moment, I do the soul work of Hospice Chaplaincy. This is a sacred arena where our vulnerable elderly can proclaim their dignity.  I recognize that my life all along has been an ongoing search for the nearness of God and how to continue to best express my response from moment to moment on my life’s journey. My life continues to unfold and I continue to feel a sense of call. I know not where the next step of my journey may lead.  I do know that it will always be a response to what I perceive as God’s invitation. I know that I carry with me the five-year-old me, standing in an open field, with arms and heart wide open, discerning how best to love, inspire, empower, heal, feed and serve others, including myself, into seeing ourselves as Beloved. 

 

4 thoughts on “Being Beloved

  1. Maria, I appreciate your commitment to “soul work.” You walk with people in paschal mystery every day! In my personal experience, it seems life and death moments thrust people into sacred space, strip away all that is not essential, and offer the opportunity to transform.

    What have been your learnings as you midwife people through their deaths?

    What personal “soul work” brings you to this group?

    Is there some learning from your hospice ministry that needs to be shared in a new way with a new group of people?

  2. Maria, your experience at age five in the open field — wow! So powerful and graced.
    I love that you still carry this experience within you, and that your “yes to God” today will reflect the “yes” you experienced in that field.

    You write that you studied theology to give yourself a chance to be heard.
    In what experiences — ministerial or otherwise — have you not felt heard?
    Did studying theology empower you to speak and be heard?
    Do you have a sense for the word that God is calling you to speak to people today?
    What needs to be heard in our church?

  3. Maria, I am so moved by your call story. I love how you honor your five year-old self and that deep wisdom and innate capacity to experience God you carried even as a young girl! You talk about part of your call being to accompany others “exploring their inner places of captivity while recognizing their own dignity and place in God’s story.” I wonder what you are continuing to learn about your own inner places of captivity? You say “I know not where the next step of my journey may lead.” But I wonder if you have a hunch? Or is there some element of “inner captivity” that is blocking you from moving forward now? How might this workshop space allow you to deepen into that expansive sense of joy, inspiration and limitless possibility you experienced in that open field so many years ago?

  4. “The Kingdom, for me, is when I am doing the work- the soul work of uncovering the veil preventing anyone from recognizing that they are made in the image of God.”

    Amen. Me too. I wonder where the possibilities are for synergy with 100+ women (and men) who are passionate and committed to the same work? I find myself so excited as I read all of these posts. What could we do together that we cannot do alone?

    I keep thinking that these alternative paths women have found for powerful ministry outside our church have equipped us in ways that could bring renewal to the faith community we are called to steward…chaplains, spiritual directors, theologians, teachers, social justice organizers…maybe we are being formed not only for ministry but for renewal of our church?

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