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Heart into Wholeness

My heart is full…empty…both at the same time. These last two weeks have been some of the fullest I’ve experienced in a long while—intensive holdings of teaching/learning spaces on pilgrimage (Birmingham, Selma, and Montgomery Alabama; see here for more lengthy reflections) and then in classroom-circle, on United campus. I don’t often have so many days of physically-present holdings, performatives. Reminds me how quietly I actually live my life. Blessedly so.

I’ve awakened several mornings this week, aware of dreams of being on the pilgrimage bus. Details escape me anymore, but the echoes remain, feelings of Beloved Community traveling together, holding the shadow and light of our country’s histories. Faces of fellow pilgrims have wafted through my awareness all week, with desires to know how they’re faring, what feelings and memories they are sitting with…

I awaken this morning quite aware of the circle of men with whom I sat this week. The hybrid format of my class showed 6 registrants, all men, whom I first encountered in the online portion of the course. Given a previous semester of the class in which I had all men, which was fairly brutal for me, I entered into these days with a sense of belly-dread. My anticipation was for a homogeneity of rather toxic masculinity within which I as both woman and professor teaching interreligious & intercultural encounter would have to work overtime to bring difference into the mix of conversations, activities.

Nothing was further from the truth of these days together. We sat in circle together, and the Spirit’s weavings began to interlace, overlap, strengthen, and soften. As I was the only woman, the professor covenanted to hold the teaching/learning space, it was both a space of "all men" and yet not. Confirmed in their own words, the men experienced a safe place to experiment with new ideas, without judgement but also without competition or masculinized aggression. Each spoke in his own way his startlement and deep appreciation of such a learning space—open-hearted, vulnerable, challenging, inspiring, prayerful, deeply rooted in Christian wisdom, more whole while not losing their own masculinity (one said). Myself, I witnessed such moving, vulnerable, healthy masculinity that did feel more whole somehow, holy, restorative. Leading these intensive days with a circle of all men (but me) is going to cook in me for a while… I received something. Learned something. I don’t know what it is, but I can feel it.

So my heart is very full. The blessings of these busy days of October rest in my bones, my cells, with gratitude. And I am emptied too. Exhausted. Unable to discern what I want, what I need, how to enter into the day.

Much work awaits for me to catch up with—online grading and responsiveness to my other courses—but I suspect today will be an uncertain meander, a jangly slowing down to a healthier, more peaceable pace. Perhaps today can simply be a day of noticing, letting the memories and sensations speak their momentary whispers of Grace.

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