One afternoon in the beginning of January I sat in a waiting room while my Mom was having an MRI on her back. Overwhelming thoughts marched through my mind, particularly ones regarding change, impending change I was seeing on my family's horizon. There was a potential new job opportunity for my husband Terry, my daughter Amber's wedding in May, and- most distressing- a pervading restlessness I felt within. I looked around for a magazine to read, something to pull my mind away from my cares and concerns.
That's when I saw it resting upon a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, seemingly out of place, too random. Who leaves money on a magazine? So I picked the quarter up and held it in my hand, proceeding to sit down while fumbling in my purse to get my glasses. I looked to see the date- 1978.
Now it made perfect, logical sense. That was the year I moved from New Hampshire to Colorado, the year I signed up to enter the Navy, the year so much changed in the world around me as well as in my heart regarding the future. A year similar to the one looming ahead.
The room at the Monastery where we sat to talk during my writer's retreat last week was called St. Gregory's room. There is a couch and several wing chairs in the large room and lots of windows. It was almost the end of our session Thursday morning but a familiar pounding began in my chest, a sure sign I needed to speak, to share, what was wanting to come out.
I kept thinking about the coin, almost feeling it in my hand. Earlier Elizabeth had spoken about the words surrender and claiming, seemingly opposite but part of each other like so many other paradoxes in our faith journeys, and therefore also in our writing. The coin, not in my hand physically, but there still.... I had brought the coin with me but it was in my heart shaped tin back in my room with my jewelry- so an empty palm would have to be enough.....
Words began to flow out of me. I spoke of surrender and claiming being two sides of the same coin, and using my hand I acted as if I was flipping a coin- my quarter- back and forth, heads to tails and heads again. I spoke of surrender being the beginning of an encounter within, but honestly admitted I didn't know how to do it.
I spoke of asking God how to do it, to please show me what it means to...... surrender.
And He did.
At first it was like stepping off the edge of a cliff, a place within myself. The descent was difficult, dark, painful, frightening, and as I tumbled down there was confusion and disorientation. Then the worst part, the reflection of myself, made apparent by the light of God as the darkness opened up. I saw my self righteousness, only a mere cover for what lay just underneath- my inability to live up to God's expectations. Deeper still I saw my failures, my brokenness, my self contempt. I wanted to give up, quit.
And I did.
But below this place a door opened. Still descending I fell to an even lower area where the light, instead of making me cringe and recoil, now provided me with warmth and direction. I felt the embrace of that light, and I sensed his love. I glanced around, amazed at the vast array of his gifts for me, illuminating the endless potential I carried within myself to love God and the world.
God's light continued to embrace me. And I truly understood for the first time in my life what it meant to love myself- made in the image of God. I reclaimed me, my original self.
I brought the quarter with me when I spoke with Joan later that same day. I shared with her how holding it somehow brings me comfort when I am at my weakest, a place surrender brings me to often. There are decisions I must make for myself, but there are also decisions I leave to God. Although it may appear he tosses that coin more often than I like, the outcome is for my best, just as the move to Colorado proved to be long ago.
As I struggled to take the photo of the quarter in my hand, juggling the camera while attempting to use my left hand to push the release button, there it was...... the word I missed all those times I looked at it- the word "Liberty." Yes.
During the next week I will be changing the name and look of my blog. I am excited.
The quarter now sits in front of me.
I pick it up.
I pass it to you.