Reflections by Angie Malmgren
When I came home from the hospital this is what I wrote in my journal three months before I entered the hospital: “My desire is that you be prepared for the changes that are occurring in this ministry. To be open to the new things I am doing at Jesus House and to let go of everything that would block the Holy Spirit working in this ministry and in your life. Be more at peace with everything. Allow me to take the lead here. Let go and let me have the reins of this work.” Little did I know that this WOULD BE A TURNING POINT IN MY LIFE. Although everyone was concerned that I wouldn’t pull through this illness, I knew deep inside that there was more for me. Not so much to do, but to be present to in a new way.
I responded, “I’m not sure I know how to let go as I’ve been responsible for so much for so long that it’s hard to see what to do. Please teach me how to rest in you as gently take over the work through others.” On that same day, I offered the following prayer, also written in my journal: “Rain over me, Spirit of God, pour your abundance upon me, O God’s Holy Spirit of grace and Abundance, that I may be filled with God’s fullness. Help me to dream the dreams of new life and new ways with new vision for the future.”
Each night it was different reflection, and each night I experienced the presence of Christ. The sense I had was that He was coming to me as the good Shepherd. These words came to me from the Gospel of John, chapter ten, “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out, and they follow him because they know his voice. I am the good Shepherd. The Shepherd gives his life for his sheep. I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and they know me.” His promise to me is that he is leading me and to pay attention to the guidance He was providing me through His words and through the circumstances of my life, as well as from the reflections on my life experiences.
During one of these late night reflections I sensed that the Lord was inviting me to write. And my response to him was, “About what?” I believe that he was encouraging me to write about the transitions in my life and the gift that was given to me at each stage of my life. Hence the title, “The Gift of the Dragonfly.”
I can recall a specific turning point in my life. About thirty-eight years ago I was floundering spiritually and emotionally. I had forgotten all that I had been taught by priests and nuns who were my teachers throughout grade school and high school. I was wrapped up in diapers, formulas, baby food and four children who came quickly into our lives with no breather in between. They were 5 years old and younger. My son was 5, my daughter, three and a half years old and twins, less than a year old. My husband traveled for his company and the feelings of loneliness would overwhelm me at times in the middle of preparing lunch or dinner with practically no adult chatter to keep me sane in the midst of the noisy household that it was getting to be.
So when a friend asked me to join a spiritual book group where babysitting was provided, I jumped at the chance. I would drop off the children across the street from her home where they were by cared for by several wonderful older women. Then I strolled across the street to my friend’s home for book group. Did I mention that I hadn’t strolled anywhere for five years? What a pleasure! A group of friendly women pretty much all about the same age who were drinking tea, eating muffins and discussing some spiritual work that we were reading together. No phone, no children interrupting conversations, just us women talking about our lives and how that related to what we were reading. It was my first awareness in years as to how far I had gotten away from practicing my faith, and, more importantly, how far I had gotten away from myself. Somehow in the midst of household chores and children’s needs, I lost myself. This fact was beginning to dawn on me as we shared our lives and our hearts with one another.
How do I find myself? How do I regroup and come to know me. What my deepest needs are, and what did I really want out of life? The nagging question in the middle of it all was, “Is this all there is to my life?”
Where is the “me” I thought I used to know somewhat and what does this person want out of life? Where do I find out the meaning of life? How do I begin to find the answers to these questions that were beginning to haunt my days and my nights? I began to share my concerns more fully with my husband and he was away and alone enough that some of what I was sharing with him began to resonate with him also.
After the book group stopped for the holidays, my friend introduced me to a monk, who appeared to be bigger that life. He had a booming voice that would range from soft to loud to emphasize a point. He was a wonderful teacher, very charismatic. He became a mentor to our group and taught us the importance of prayer, and how to pray. He taught us lectio divina. We shared the scriptures and our lives with one another. He was wonderful insightful scripture scholar who taught us how to look at our daily lives in light of the scriptures we were reading together and how to allow the scriptures to impact our daily lives. We became a community under his direction. I always recall that time fondly and see it as my spiritual formation. I began to understand the scriptures as a way to know myself and I rediscovered God in my life as a presence and a gift that I had neglected. More to come…