Turning the corner towards Hope…

Where DoxaSoma and Daily Life Meet

by Dennette Alwine

One evening recently I settled into my small room at the Loretto Center, beginning one of the regular retreats I schedule for myself each year. Within the first hour there, an incredible fatigue fell over me and I slept. Upon waking, I became violently ill, feverish with chills and aching all over. It was a mother’s worst nightmare: alone at last for 24 hours of quiet and solitude, only to be sick!
I contemplated calling my husband, Todd and asking him to take me home but the thought of forfeiting this gift of time completely left me in despair. I decided to stick it out. By morning I felt somewhat better. I tried to read and to write in my journal a bit, then let myself slip into naps as I wished. It was, indeed, a good place to rest.

Around mid-day, I found this verse from Psalm 42 in an old journal entry: “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him . . .” I remembered my DoxaSoma instructor’s admonition about teaching the “Standing Cross” position, where the arms stretch down beside the torso with open palms, and her admonition that we never end our practice of it with our arms in this way. Instead, the arms should be raised to “Praise”, for Christ is not still dead, but lives and dwells among us.

It is a simple yet profound truth that, for the practice of any position in DoxaSoma or in life, staying in one position is a recipe for pain and despair. You cannot remain in one position forever.

Emboldened to get myself outside to stroll around the grounds, I repeated this verse in my head as I walked and something inside me began to break open. So many things around me seemed to speak of God’s hope. Refreshed by a sense of gratefulness, I knew that my time at Loretto had not been wasted but certainly not because of my own doing! Only God at work within me could have made me turn this corner towards hope. Or, as someone has said, God loves us as we are, but never leaves us there.

Loretto, May 2007

Here in this sanctuary,
I could try to hold tightly to the disquiet of my soul,
But for the call of the robin’s song
And the warm scent of sun
That beckon from my window.

I could try to hold tightly to the disquiet of my soul,
But for the cardinal who seems to pursue me
And the wind that fills my lungs like sails
When I finally venture out.

I could try to hold tightly to the disquiet of my soul,
But for the tender gaze of Mary,
Whose smile plays about her lips, even as her open palms gesture
At the serpents beneath her bare feet.

I could try to hold tightly to the disquiet of my soul,
But for the elderly Sister who apologizes for breaking my retreat to say:
“It’s so nice to have someone as young and beautiful as you here,”
(Obviously overlooking my graying hair and tear-stained face.)

Oh that I would be hounded by hope like this,
Rather than dogged by my own demons of despair!
I would fly like the swallows darting on spring gusts,
Living with the Psalmist’s confidence
That goodness and mercy will surely follow me
All the days of my life.
Then would I truly live in God’s sanctuary,
Which is not only here, but everywhere.


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