The Blessing. Painting by Deborah Milton.
[Editor’s note: Now that Lent is over and Easter Day has been celebrated (Hallelujah!), we are just about ready to let Lenten Muse go dormant. However, here’s one last sweet post for 2018 with special appreciation for Deborah, the author, and her loving spirit. And thank you, dear reader, for following Lenten Muse; we’ll see you next year!]
Richard Rohr writes this Starter Prayer in his book Wondrous Encounters: Scriptures for Lent, that reminded me of a story from my early days as a psychotherapist. The prayer is:
God of loving truth, keep me from the world of gossip and accusation. Do not let me ‘kill’ others, even in my mind or heart.
Missoula, Montana, January 1982
Obese teenage hoodlum, dressed in black, downcast eyes, acne cheeked, greasy haired, thick chain dangling from his hip pocket and a knife handle poking out from inside his jacket, this loser, tough guy dares me to open my mouth. In trouble at school, watched by the police, avoided by his sister, abandoned by his father and frightening to his Mom, I imagine his loneliness, his helplessness.
But he scares me, too. I remind myself that I’m probably quite safe here in my office with another therapist next door, but still, he scares me. His rage is barely contained. He’s twice my size and as far as he knows, I’m just another persecutor.
But for some reason, he keeps showing up in my office.
Mostly, I chatter away. Stories from my life. Of being frightened myself, of going into scary places, of feeling lost, of anger that wells up out of nowhere… I no longer know precisely what I say. But every once and awhile, he mumbles a response of sorts.
Then a moment comes when he actually looks up, looks at me and says a full sentence.
We connect and I fall in love.
What a moment that is.
I’m overcome with this unanticipated warm blanket of love. I love him beyond all reason. I’m sure my cheeks flush and my eyes glisten. I look at him with genuine warmth.
Nothing is said about what’s happening. This new love is too fragile.
But I can see he feels it, as he holds my gaze with presence.
And by this grace, everything changes.
Deborah Jane Milton, PhD, was born an artist but circumstances prevented her embodying that until 1992 when she found the courage to leave her psychotherapy practice, for which she’d trained long and hard, and to spend two months in solitude to transform her identity to that of an artist along with being a Mother, a Grandmother and a fully-fledged human being. She is devoted to Making Artful Prayers for wounded places and inspires others with her classes called: Painting Poetic Prayers for the World and Ecstatic Wisdom Postures – Good Medicine for our Time. Though raised as an Episcopalian, she left churches when she went to college and became deeply rooted to the spirit of life, the sacredness of earth, the miracle of Creator’s Creation. Imagine her surprise when she fell in love with Grace Church while her art – The Many Faces of Gaia – was hanging in the Gallery in June/July 2015. See more of Deborah’s art on this blog at: Deborah’s 2017 Lenten Muse Post , or visit her website: www.deborahmiltonartist.com .