Meditation 3: No Expectations
The Venerable Val Graydon
Meditation 3: No Expectations
The Venerable Val Graydon
|Biographical||Born in London, Val migrated to Australia in 1965. Trained in business administration, promotions and marketing she worked in a number of different situations in various states. In the early 1980’s she and her husband Jack developed a ceramic teaching studio.Ordained in Brisbane as deacon in 1990 and priest in 1992, Val has served on many committees, ministered in various parishes, and was General Secretary of the Tasmanian Council of Churches before returning to Brisbane in 2006. She was President of MOWatch for eleven years.|
|Suggested Music||“Intermezzo Sinfonico” (Cavalleria Rusticana)|
The Woman “…stood up straight and began praising God”.
Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God.
|Exercise for relaxation and focus.||Exercise for relaxation and focus Be intentional about choosing a quiet space and allowing time for your meditation; you do not know where it may take you. Shape your space in whatever way is comfortable for you. Take off your shoes for you are on holy ground. Be aware of your own individuality on this journey with other companions on the road to encounter. The ‘Way’ is hallowed by prayer, experience, story and wisdom; allow these to enter deeply into every part of your being. Relax and give in to the sacred presence of the Numinous Divine.
Continue at your own pace…
|Personal story||“I cannot begin to imagine the years of struggle and the barriers you have had to overcome as you waited for this time.” These were the words of a stranger shortly after my Ordination as Priest. My response surprised her as I explained that unlike so many other women, this had not been my experience. Rather, having completed my B.A. and commenced my B.Th. I had simply offered to be ‘useful’ in some way to the diocese. Then, after conversations with four different people, I found myself journeying through a year of discernment at St. Francis College. The year was an unexpected period in my life, but interesting and exciting. At the end of this time I was invited to attend the Selection Committee. On that occasion there were twenty-four people attending over three weeks, twelve women and twelve men. The following year I moved into the formation program at College. It was there that the experience of community life was to shape my future. I still did not feel a strong sense of ‘call’ and up until only a few weeks before Ordination remained uncertain of my vocation. Did something happen at that stage? Well, yes but that’s for another time. It seemed, however, I was not to escape the struggles previously experienced by my sisters in Christ. Indeed, the twenty-two years since then have proved to be my time of struggle, not with my sense of vocation, but with the expectations others had and still have of me. Wrestling with the expectations of those in authority, colleagues, parishioners as well as family and friends, have at times been overwhelming and often incompatible with the essence of what it means to be a follower in the ‘Way’. Yet, the journey has still been one of interconnectedness with the liberating encounter of all that is Divine, Holy and Sacred in my life. I trust I will always respond with gratitude and joy.
|Guided reflection||The woman healed by Jesus in the Synagogue on the Sabbath is not named, nor is there any indication of her age or personal circumstances. She could be anyone – it could be me – I think it is me – perhaps it is also you? We are told only that this woman has suffered for eighteen years with a condition that leaves her bent double unable to stand up straight. Commentaries inform us that Luke’s intention is to illustrate that Jesus puts people before regulations. When (if) we can relate to her we know that it goes far deeper. Have you ever seen this story dramatised? It is incredibly powerful. Picture the scene in your heart as well as your mind and imagine this woman clothed with many cloaks. Beneath the weight of these thick heavy cloaks is a woman created in the image of God. As she is released from her ‘captivity’ the coverings which are not of her making, fall one by one and she experiences the liberating beauty and sacred power of being set free. She hears the words of Jesus, “Woman you are set free from your ailment”. She has been set free from all that has prevented her from standing up straight. Immediately she begins to praise God in response to the gentleness and compassionate authority of Jesus.
Jesus does not ask anything of this woman; if he has any expectations of her they are not evident in the text. We are left to ponder what other responses she may have made, perhaps there were many, perhaps there were only two: gratitude and joy. Perhaps so much gratitude and joy that it could not be contained, it spilled over towards others for there was more than enough to share. This woman did not ask Jesus for healing, nor did someone else ask for her. Jesus saw her, called her over and healed her. Perhaps in some way her life became filled with the desire to serve in whatever way she could also as a means of praising God.
For me, it is not only the gift of Ordination that has enabled me to serve, to be useful, in whatever way that I can, but the liberating experience of freedom that enables me to tackle and reject if necessary the expectations others have of me. Expectations that get in the way of being caught up in the movement of the Spirit, as she hovers in anticipation over fresh waters of creativity. For this reason I cherish the freedom and renewal that comes through daily healing encounters that allow me to stand up straight and nurture the response to serve with gratitude and joy.
Reflect and ponder…
Do you wear too many cloaks?
Is your beauty as one created in the image of God hidden beneath the weight?
Are any of these cloaks simply the expectations of others?
Allow healing – stand up straight – accept the Grace that is yours as you minister with gratitude and joy.
|Prayer||Holy are You,O One who Sings the song of the new creation, in Whom there is no separation into hierarchical clusters of gender, race, or class. As we await that redemptive moment of our cosmic liberation, let us work to release from bondage all who are imprisoned in the quiet desperation of their little locked lives.
Holy are You,
O One Who Frees. We need Your affirmation now and forever. Amen.
Used with permission for one-time private use for the sole purpose of facilitating community prayer (Woman Word Miriam Therese Winter Collins Dove 1990)