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Reflection July 2014 by Joyce Rupp, OSM

posted Jul 2, 2014, 2:51 PM by theresa orozco, ossm   [ updated Jul 2, 2014, 2:52 PM ]

This past week I led a five day retreat based on the theme of compassion for my own community members. Before I departed for the retreat, several friends commented, "Oh, that must be really challenging, to speak to your own community." Their comments implied that speaking to those who know me well meant I'd have to try harder because my community would be aware of my flaws. Actually, I felt just the opposite. Because I knew each vowed and associate Servite (we are a small group of less than 80 members in the USA) I felt at home with them. I not only believed they would be eager to engage in a topic at the heart of our congregation, I also trusted in their acceptance of me as I am. I did not feel a need to "prove myself."

Each day when I stood in front of the group to present a particular aspect of compassion for reflection and prayer I reminded myself, "You do not need to change anyone here. Each one journeys her own path. All that is required of you is to be a conduit for the wisdom of the Holy One to enter minds and hearts." This approach freed me from an egoism that urges me, or anyone "in charge," to designate myself as the CEO of other people's spirituality. And it gave each one present the opportunity to open in her own particular way as she turned toward grace - the loving movement of Spirit and the real source of spiritual growth.

Every word I spoke to those gathered at the retreat I also spoke to myself, knowing that the deeper down we go the more alike we are than different. When we realize this we do not judge others harshly for what is less than their best self because we know that we are not always our best self either. In each of us resides strengths we easily acknowledge, along with limitations we usually try to hide and wish would behave differently. I felt no need to conceal that part of myself. Rather, my acknowledgement of those less-than-worthy aspects encouraged each one present to be more loving and kind. In recognizing that none of us is perfect, each could accept that everyone has certain pesky rascals in our personality traits that try to trip us up in the transformation process. This truth allows us to turn inward and admit, "I, too, still have some tarnished stuff inside to polish into gold." We trust others to be as patient with our evolving growth as we are with theirs.

One of the prayers in Open the Door: a journey to the true self reflects this desire to welcome the totality of our self so that we will grow into more loving persons.

Embracer of the Rejected,
teach me how to lovingly welcome
the parts of myself that I do not want.
Draw me to your heart of mercy
as I learn from what I tend to reject.
Help me to change what I can
and to accept the sum of who I am.
I open the door of my heart to you.
I open the door.

Abundant peace,
Joyce Rupp