by Wendy Lew Toda, artist, ACC
Cakes, cookies, breads, desserts, you name it! I love to bake. This means I have gone through a lot of eggs. Typically, the eggshells got tossed without a second thought. But one day, while breaking five eggs for a cake, my eyes lingered along the random edges of the broken shells on the kitchen counter. There was something about the way they held loss and beauty at the same time that drew me in. I decided to keep them. Cleaning these first ten halves felt like prayer as I carefully supported each one through the gentle washing process and held the pieces of shell together in the crushed parts. I sensed a story in each broken half - my journey, your journey, maybe even our journey - all contained in the tiny space of each half eggshell.
Till now, the Tabiji Eggshells have been painted on the insides and presented individually. My brush traces the journey from edge to edge in that inner landscape, color saying what words cannot. This pair is titled "Together", created because grief has a way of stripping us down, often leaving us feeling bare, exposed and empty...those times when there is no color inside or out. These paintless eggshells reflect the beauty of that stark, raw honesty. They bear only God’s fearlessly compassionate touch, tracing a touch of gold over and around our jagged edges. There is no shrinking back here. Only the tender, fierce love of God reaching out to touch and name our brokenness sacred. Holy.
I am a broken eggshell, holding the memory of what it meant to be whole. Perhaps you are too? These two Tabiji Eggshells are together because grief is not meant to be carried alone. “Tabiji” is a Japanese word that means “journey through”.
Please join me for a gently facilitated time of retreat with the Tabiji Eggshells, Honoring Grief and Loss: Preparing Your Heart for the Holiday Season on Saturday November 5. The process is safe, kind, and no art experience is needed. You and your grief and loss are welcome, however you may come on that day, in that moment.
Holy Bedtime Stories
By Monica Romig Green
I tried to read, but he just kept falling asleep too quickly! You see, for most of our marriage, my husband has read to me every night before we go to sleep. We used to take turns reading, but now he is on permanent reading duty, and I get to listen to his sonorous baritone before my head hits the pillow. Usually, he’s sharing the musings of some comedy writer. But currently, he’s reading to me from Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Fr. Greg Boyle.
If you are unfamiliar with Fr. Boyle, he is Jesuit priest and the founder and director of Homeboy Industries, the largest and most successful gang-intervention and rehabilitation program in the world. I’ve heard Fr. Boyle speak before in interviews, and his gentle, winsome tone comes through in his writing, as does his important message of boundless compassion, universal kinship, and extravagant tenderness for all. And, what makes his writings and speaking so compelling is not just his important message, it’s also the form he uses to deliver it: story. Or I should more appropriately say, story after story after story. Because Fr. Boyle has been working in and loving his community for many years, he’s collected hundreds, if not thousands, of real-life anecdotes, tales, and parables. These not only support his message; in many ways, they communicate his message better than any statements he makes. His stories are amusing and joyful, tragic and sorrowful. Through them, he paints a picture of how challenging life can be for the clients of Homeboy Industries, but also of how the Divine intervenes and transforms in practical, surprising, and moving ways.
Each night, before I drift off to sleep, I hear six or seven short stories from Fr. Boyle, and I am troubled and challenged as well as delighted and uplifted. His book is probably going to become my bedtime favorite because I am a “God-story junkie.” There is almost nothing I enjoy more than witnessing spiritual journey stories. It must be one of the reasons I became a spiritual director, or perhaps becoming a spiritual director has only heightened my desire and enjoyment in hearing again and again in how the transcendent breaks through to touch our lives.
I’m really looking forward to talking more about Story in Spiritual Direction at the workshop this Saturday. If you aren’t one already, perhaps I can help you become a “God-story junkie,” too. And if you already are like me, I hope that together, we can sharpen our story-listening and collaborative storytelling skills together. Maybe we’ll end up with a great story to tell!