Lady Poverty's Table: Prayers from the Hidden Heart

There is no such thing as an "unanswered prayer". There are certainly prayers that are not answered as we would have liked, but God does not ignore us when we seek His counsel and guidance for life.-- Mrs. Brigham in a comment here

Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me--Proverbs 30:8

Ever since it hit that my finace was probably coming back from Alaska soon (a couple days ago is when this hit), its a funny thing the panik dreams stopped and i started dreaming more deeply. I had last night, but woke up with even stronger this morning, a feeling that my partners broken arm had been in a weird way what deep down we had prayed for, a growing and surprising feeling. Not the break itself, but what it would lead to...his ending a job that was putting him under far too much physical stress, and me having him home again. The night he broke his arm, before it happened, well...we were both at a breaking point with the stresses in our lives, deep down praying for help. When he broke his arm and he lost work and we lost literally thousands of dollars when money is already such a worry, well it seeemd that God wasnt hearing our prayers at all. But now i am more and more sensing the opposite...and that had been the first reaction anyway which had been so quickly buried (see last post).

Anyway, i was so happily surprised by an affiration this morning, a co-in-see-dance of opening up to this post today, echoing so much of what has been felt. From Anna's Musings,

"There have been several times in my life when I wanted something badly, up to the point when I thought I can't live without it. Then my wish came true and… it made me miserable! Yes, that very thing I pursued with every beat of my heart. The thing I claimed I can't live without. How can it be? Obviously, not everything we want is right for us. I remember when I was little, I told my mother that 'when I grow up I will have lots of money and will spend it all on sweets'… well, now that more than a few years have passed, I've realized I'm probably never going to have a lot of money – which doesn't bother me the least bit – and I will certainly not waste it all on sweets!

Suppose I will become a mother someday, God willing. Imagine me, some years from now, walking down the street with my adorable daughter. In the window of a large shop, she notices a Bratz doll, and begs: 'oh, please, Mommy, can I have this doll? Pretty please!'; I take a good long look and see that the doll does not bring out the qualities I want to instill in my daughter for the years to come: modesty and a sweet, quiet, nurturing spirit of a future wife and mother. But how can I properly explain this to a 5-year-old? She begs and pleads and eventually throws a tantrum, and in the end turns her little tear-stricken face towards me, and screams: 'I hate you!'

How this breaks a mother's heart. And how God must feel when He knows our bitterness and resentment towards Him. We choose what's best for our children. Sometimes we can explain our actions. Sometimes we know they will not understand until they've grown up. This is when we ask them to trust our judgment. Trust. This is the key word.

Sometimes it's difficult beyond measure; sometimes we just can't accept it. How can this be good, we ask? How can this be right? But we must learn to trust Him. This is probably the most important thing we will ever do."

And it's true. Even with finances. Okay, deep breath here, but yes even with finances...maybe my partner and i are just not meant to have a lot of money, i've been thinking of this lately. Now we both knew we'd never have "American Dream" type a lot and had no problem with that at all (definitely not into the fancy house/ new model car/ following fashion sort of thing), but maybe it wont even be as much as we had more modestly planned, i don't know. Money is a tricky thing. I keep remembering things like folks coming into money through winning the lotto etc and suddenly they are miserable down the line, dissatified suddenly, restless, having affairs, divorced. And I saw how stressed both me and my finace were getting when he was working so hard for us to save...working too hard. I think deep down we were both getting in emotional danger at the stress of things, and so it seems that God in His wisdom stepped in and put a stop to it. I know i don't talk about it much here but my relationship with my partner is precious and rare, and i realize it whenever i look at many other realtionships out there...there's no way i'd want to lose it, or even risk losing it, especially for little pieces of green paper.

Now i'm not saying i dont want the basics secured, like land for our little home and such, and planning for later life security somehow...becuase i definitely do. And since we have not inherited land from family and the like, the reality is we will have to find land ourselves somehow. And since at my age i dont know if having children of our own that we can raise traditionally will happen, the traditional retirement security of one's sons offering support, well thats something we will have to replace with another form of security too. And we need to do these things. I do think security truly is important, especially for a woman. You take that away and you have danger and you have chaos. And yet the trappings of wealth at the other end of the scale there brings its own problems to guard against, and so deep down i am also drawn to "Lady Poverty", the "poor in spirit" stuff, and i don't want to lose that either. I do really like the feeling of Lady Poverty, and in Franciscan spirituality for example Lady Poverty is kind of akin with Lady Wisdom...core stuff. Yet even there one notices it was the men (under St Francis) who lived more dangerously in wandering and preaching, the women (under St Clare) were more protected in their "garden enclosed"/convent home, that much in terms of security was seen as vital for the sisters. Yet both the men and the women followed "Lady Poverty" in some ways. It was seen as sacred and central, see example from

He, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Creator of heaven and earth, desired your (ie Lady Poverty's) splendor and your majesty. While the king was at his repose, rich and glorious in his kingdom, he forsook his house and left his inheritance; for wealth and riches were in his house. And coming thus from heaven’s royal throne, he very fittingly sought you out. Your dignity therefore is great and your sublimity incomparable, since, leaving behind all the delights of the angels and the boundless excellences of which there is a great abundance in heaven, he came to seek you in the lower parts of the world, you who were lying in the mud of the swamp, in the dark places and in the shadow of death. You were [greatly hated] by all creatures and all fled from you; and; in so far as they could, they drove you away from them… But after the Lord of hosts came and took you for his own, he exalted you among the tribes of peoples and he adorned you as a bride with a crown, raising you above the height of the clouds. --St Francis

And from

And Francis sang again, the song that he had loved best in the days when he dreamed of fighting splendid battles for the sake of a golden-haired princess:

" 'Great lady, who art fairest
Men say, of all things fair,
The noble name thou bearest
None may so fitly bear;
Clear fountain of all beauty
That gladdens the green earth,
Thy deeds of love and duty
Are more than blood and birth.' "

Even as he sang, he thought: "The Lady whom I shall serve has no other suitor, no poet has ever sung her praises, and no knight has ever fought her battles; for I will be the faithful lover of the Lady Poverty, whom all men else despise."-- Sophie Jewett

And from here:

O blessed poverty,
who bestows eternal riches
on those who love and embrace her!
O holy poverty,
God promises the kingdom of heaven
and, in fact, offers eternal glory and a blessed life
to those who possess and desire you!
O God-centred poverty,
whom the Lord Jesus Christ
who ruled and now rules heaven and earth,
who spoke and all things were made,
condescended to embrace before all else!
--St Clare

But of course the context of that is very important though, it has to be in the right form, as explored here:

The Lady Poverty

I MET her on the Umbrian hills,
Her hair unbound, her feet unshod:
As one whom secret glory fills
She walked, alone with God.
I met her in the city street:
Oh, changed was all her aspect then!
With heavy eyes and weary feet
She walked alone, with men.

--Evelyn Underhill

Living more simply and quietly and with the rhythms of nature is a world away from the toxins and dangers and chaos of typical urban poverty. I don't feel a holy life could honestly unfold for me in the latter, that sort of thing tears my sense of center and openness away rather than deepens things...and yet the the former, well that deeply draws instead, and always has.

I don't seek the despair and chaos of survival mode
OR the complications and detachment that wealth can bring.

I seek to have what i need, but no more.
And both sides of that are important.

Anyway, i'm more at peace right now with our financial loss. I'm also feeling oddly better about our future, more hopeful. Maybe becuase i am feeling more confident that we are in God's hands. That He really is listening...not to what we think we need, but to what we really need...

(Image is A. H. Burr's
Saying Grace)

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