The Gift in El Paso

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Call me crazy but I drove to El Paso this past weekend. 550 miles one way. A straight line right through the desert along I-10. And a speed limit of 80 mph all the way. Not that I drove that fast!

My reason for going? To begin the first of four weekend trainings in Capacitar — a multicultural wellness program that I wrote about in an earlier blog. Ever since I was exposed to Capacitar during my first visit to El Paso, I’ve been attracted to it and inspired by its founder Pat Cane. Capacitar — a Spanish word meaning “to empower, bring forth”— integrates body-mind-spirit practices to bring healing to people all over the world who have experienced trauma, violence, and emotional and physical stress. (You can read more about it at http://www.capacitar.org)

Now I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to receive training and certification in this program, with the idea that I will bring it to others who need healing. Not only did I receive the assistance I needed to do this, but the sisters here in San Antonio allowed me to extend my weekend in order to take advantage of the program. I was pretty excited about how this all came together. My hope is that I can teach some of these practices to the women at our little learning center, La Casita.

But even more than feeling extremely grateful to be participating in the Capacitar training, I recognized the excitement growing in me as I drove closer and closer to El Paso.

As soon as I exited off I-10 onto Lee Trevino and headed to North Loop, I felt like I’d come home. The familiar roads. The bus route I’d taken, along with all my Hispanic neighbors. Even the Whataburger on the corner. I’d treated myself to a great chocolate shake there. I was smiling from ear to ear.

When I called my cousin in Austin to let her know I’d arrived safely, I couldn’t contain the feelings.

“I’m so happy to be here!” I blurted.

I heard her chuckle. “Nobody’s happy to be in El Paso.”

“Well, I am. My heart is happy here. It’s like being home.”

I’m sure I must have left a piece of my heart in El Paso when I left back in March. Certainly the sisters welcomed me as if I were home.

I talked to them nonstop through dinner, pouring out every detail of my journey to San Antonio. Where I am and what I’m doing. The questions and concerns that still remain.

They listened to all of it. Then one of them suggested something that struck a chord.

“Sounds to me like you’re in liminal space, Pauline.”

Hmm. Liminal space. I’d heard that term before.

Having read many books and reflections by Richard Rohr — a Franciscan and contemporary spiritual writer — I knew that liminal space meant that inbetween place where you feel like you’re teetering on the edge of a threshold, about to cross over into something yet unknown and unforeseen.

When I got back to San Antonio on Monday, I looked up Richard Rohr’s explanation of liminal space:

…a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing. 

I’ve certainly lived through stages like that in my life. But this one feels different. It challenges me from a tougher place. Something in me knows that I will experience deeper spiritual growth and maturity. That is, if I can hang out long enough with the discomfort and the questions, not to mention my aversion to finding myself in this position. To be honest, I don’t like this version of living in liminal space.

To help me manage living here for a while, I’ve set some goals for myself:

  • Focus on the healing work of Capacitar
  • Learn Spanish while hanging out
  • Be open to the surprises, to whatever comes
  • Trust that God is with me in this
  • Look for the little graces every day —

Graces like this opportunity to participate in Capacitar. And the gift of being able to return to El Paso — at least every now and then.

 

 

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About Pauline

I've been a freelance writer and editor for many years and I'm seeking to follow my heart in this stage of my journey, as the major roles in my life as wife and mother have changed. Not sure where this will lead, but I'm taking one step at a time as I listen within.

Posted on September 12, 2014, in Acceptance, Living from the heart, spirituality, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. A probing and painfully honest account of where you are right now, Pauline, as I can feel the pain and the longing beneath your words. A friend of mine says she can often imagine an unconditionally-loving God saying (as God surveys our behavior in a certain situation), “Well, I might not have done it quite that way, but I’ll work with you.”
    And I often think that I act much the same way towards God, as I survey the way God has arranged things for us in our earthly lives: “Well, if I were in charge, I’m not sure I would have done it quite that way, but I’ll try to work with you.”
    I’m not sure why we have to endure the trials of liminal space, or why some children are born with disabilities, or why immigrant women suffer terrible treatment at the hands of the “coyotes” hired to assist them to get across the U.S. border…I don’t understand any of it. And when we are done shaking our fists or tearing our hair, what is left for us to do? We can surrender to despair, or we can take one more step and surrender into the mystery, into the arms of the loving God whose presence we cannot feel in that moment. Either way, I suppose, calls for surrender. Is our faith deep enough to surrender into the void, believing that there is life in the abyss, that we will be borne up by a force we cannot see or yet feel with our limited human capacities?
    As I said, I’m not sure I would have set it up this way, but can I work with God on God’s terms – including the fact that we must flounder much of the time and cannot see what we are signing up for? Whew! I’m really gonna need some help here…
    Much love on your journey,
    Rob

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  2. Rob, thank you for your insight, and reminder, that this really is about surrendering into the mystery, and trusting a power larger than myself. You certainly have had experience with this!

    Like

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