elaine a. heath

Spirituality, Theology, Creativity, Community


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Muchness and Manyness

I realized I was suffering from what Thomas R. Kelly calls “muchness and manyness.” Too many tasks, too little time, increasing panic as deadlines neared. The usual ways of praying seemed only to make things worse as I “journaled” lists of things to do and tried to listen to God through the chaos. So with the guidance of my spiritual director I went on a mini-retreat for a few hours. That was all I could afford, time-wise.  She urged me to present the problem to “the Holy Friends,” her affectionate name for the Trinity. In prayer I welcomed the loving presence of the Holy Friends and told them I was at my wits’ end.  I waited to see what would happen.  After awhile I saw a mountain of debris with recognizable elements from my actual life–people, books, tasks, places, and more. Then I noticed the three friends, their backs to me, each standing with their hands on their hips and looking at the pile with me. They were between me and the pile. This is the honest to goodness truth–I heard them laugh. They shook their heads in wonder and said to each other, “My God, can you believe this?” Then slowly they began to confer together. Without me. They pointed at one thing and another, making a plan. They left me out of this process. I realized I did not have to watch the mountain any more because they were taking care of it. I did not have to order it because they were. I found myself sinking into peace. Relief. Rest. I could let go of the muchness and manyness and release the outcome. The peace that was given to me that day remained into the months ahead. Here is a rough sketch of what I saw. May all of us hear the laughter of the Holy Friends this day. May we take comfort in their abiding presence. May we be given the strength to let go of our muchness and manyness and dwell in sabbath rest.

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