Yesterday we wrapped up our 2019 Mission Immersion week. Five days of community, prayer, study and service with six women discerning their call to religious life. They came from New Jersey, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Each of them has a unique story of how God is calling them to something more. Our Vocation team was honored and blessed to walk with them this week. As we cleaned up the lake house, packed our supplies, locked the door and drove away, I was very aware of the many graces we experienced and shared over this brief time. I’d like to share with you about the grace we all received – that of wabi-sabi.
What is wabi-sabi? In traditional Japanese aesthetics, it is a stance centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Sister Anne Lythgoe, a potter, who led us in a time of prayer, reflection, and active creativity with clay, introduced us to this concept. Each of us received a ball of soft clay to prayerfully create a pinch pot. She encouraged us to center ourselves in God and allow God to work with us as we molded the clay. In silence, we sat on lawn chairs in her back yard. The breeze stirred the trees and we were surrounded by the sounds of wildlife as we prayed. Anne encouraged us to accept whatever imperfections we found in the clay – to incorporate them into the whole and to reflect on what God might be saying to us through them.
This wabi-sabi was not easy for some – yet led to some profound reflections by the participants and vocation directors.
After praying with and molding our clay we regathered in the community room at the Sabbath House to share about the process we experienced and what we created. It was a rich sharing of faith, trust, and a gentle embracing of our own imperfections. One of the women created a pot in the shape of a heart – an open receptive vessel. The heart, she said, was a symbol of her own heart being invited to accept God’s graces and healing and then to pour out those graces to others in her daily interactions. Another discerner intentionally made a dent in the edge of the rim of her pot, symbolizing her brokenness and incompleteness. As we shared, we felt God’s gentle presence with us, bonding us through this experience and our common journey of growing in relationship with God. We all received the grace of wabi-sabi and grew in a Spirituality of Imperfection.
Ultimately, vocational discernment is a process that is different for each person. It is not something we do perfectly – sometimes we need to step out in faith, trusting that the next right step is enough for now. Then we take the next and the next. We are imperfect beings and when we can accept and embrace the beauty found within our own imperfections, it is then that God can illumine our path and the light of Christ can shine through the cracks in our armor.
How is God inviting you to embrace your imperfections? How will you practice wabi-sabi today?
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