The Season of Transformation
By Lisa Irish, Author and Retreat Director
I have been thinking about transformation lately.
I guess that's not surprising, Spring is slowly making its way into our formerly frozen New England landscape. Change is all around us. I've recently had the opportunity to be with grieving folks; I offered programs for two different groups at Connecticut retreat centers. People arrive with broken hearts, with a desire to stop the sadness. After learning a bit more about the Land of Loss, they leave with a willingness to let grief guide them through the difficult terrain. Some speak of a desire "to live in healing more consciously." Again, transformation is taking place.
I'm experiencing transformation in my own heart as well. I've loosened my grip on expectations, opening myself to new ways of being. It's ironic though, the path isn't completely new to me; it's as if I'm settling into a more authentic version of myself. The "big change" that I've been resisting is more of a refinement. The Sculptor has smoothed away unneeded stone, letting beauty be revealed.
Why do we resist the changes that appear in our lives? Of course, we all have our own stories, our unique reactions. As human beings, though, we often share a defensive response to the demands of life's revisions. We try to push it all away. But the death of a loved one, for example, does not let us avoid life's call to change. Neither, on a much smaller scale, does a broken leg or an illness. And so, we try to learn from the crisis and grieve the loss. We honor what was, we pray for what is and trust what will be. Transformation does not happen in an instant, it’s a process of opening to mystery.
As we walk within the mystery of the Easter season, we follow a sacred letting go. We heard Jesus’ story of transformation and look at our own lives. Can we open our hearts and shout Hosanna at the arrival of Love? Will we share community with others, loving them as they are? Can we confront the emptiness found in the absence of love, however that experience comes to us? And, when our hearts are ready, will we say "yes....Yes....YES!" to the fruits of new life that are bursting from within?
What does our own path of transformation look like?
Lisa Irish, MEd, MA, BCC, ministered as a chaplain for the Hospital of Saint Raphael and Yale New-Haven Hospital, where she ran a bereavement program and supported patients, families and staff in hospital and long-term care. Her years as a Mercy Associate have led to a commitment to Mercy by the Sea and to her ministry in retreat and spiritual direction. Lisa’s first book, Grieving with a Grateful Heart by Abbey Press was published in 2016. Her newest book, Grieving – the Sacred Art was published by Skylight Paths Publishing in 2018 and is available in the Mercy by the Sea bookstore. To learn more about Lisa and her work, visit her website.