Stand tall.

(photo taken in Tanzania)

Today is the first in a series of Women’s Spiritual Journaling gatherings at a local shelter.  For me, this represents an exciting, new ministry – and also vulnerability.  To show up and report for duty, as I have been taught.  Hoping and trusting that the Holy Spirit will show up, too.  Leaving the results up to God and the beautiful women who walk through the door.

My ego-driven self got sidetracked for a brief spell and threatened to overcome the real, living me with suggestions of last-minute reading to see how “the experts” would facilitate such a thing.  Not a major derailment by any stretch, just that irritating chatter that likes to crash the party.

But then, also unbidden but definitely most welcomed, I heard those words I’ve heard before, coming in a gentle whisper.  In a breeze that traveled stealthily from the Serengeti Plain to my open heart.  Stand tall.  Be the giraffe.  Own and express you gifts, and help others to do the same. The prep work has already been done – it is called living a life of ongoing recovery and discovery.

Bravely uncovering and discovering the stories of our lives, both the surface narrative and the journey between the lines, brings grief and loss as well as joy and gratitude. This process delivers on a promise that our 12 Step friends experience again and again: our past invariably proves to be one of our greatest assets.

Our stories – including those parts that have been nightmarish or uncomfortable — are riches to be mined and shared.  In community, we discover our stories are woven into a much larger, expansive narrative, and we are never alone.   In community, we are graced to dream new dreams.  And, with God’s help and the love of each other, we are graced to live into them.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
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9 Responses to Stand tall.

  1. Bob Terrill says:

    This is beautiful Beth. Your sharing is an act of Christian love.

  2. This is beautiful Beth. You sharing is an act of Christian love. Thanks. Bob Terrill

  3. Betsy Free says:

    I guess I did read this after all…I love the “stand tall like the giraffe” and trust yourself. I need to do that too….we all do…why is it so easy to question? Why do I tend to still look to others? My instincts are usually on target until I start questioning….

  4. Janet says:

    Beautifully written. You touched my heart when you shared about the giraffe standing tall. I was the girl in class that was the tallest and for many years, felt out of place. It has taken years to get beyond that question of “How tall are you?” not to mention words that were used to describe my height, to accepting the woman God created. Love your blog. Miss not hearing your voice in the rooms. I’m grateful that technology can still bond us to people that have a place in our hearts. Blessings to you in your new ministry.

    • Dear Janet, what a beautiful, vulnerable heart-felt response. Thank you so much for sharing this. Miss you and our pals, also, but glad we can stay connected even with distance. Greetings and love to all, especially you!

  5. Mother Evelyn says:

    Our past is our strength – a soul-clearing insight that I knew but had never articulated. Resilience is more than just survival, crucial as that is. Resilience is also hope. Giraffes are very graceful!

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