BY LINDSEY FAUST
While the Loretto Volunteers read through our handbook on opening retreat, exploring our four core values - social justice, simple living, spirituality, and community - one term stuck out to me immediately.
In I Am The Way, Loretto’s guiding document, members of the Loretto community commit to simple living by promising “to hold all things lightly.”
When we spoke about the phrase, we spoke in terms of material goods - detaching ourselves from lives of extravagance to instead focus on our own inner growth and commitment to our communities and justice work.
But as the first half of my time as a LoVo has stretched behind me, this phrase has come back to me over and over in relation to a different core value: spirituality. I have often found myself wondering what it might mean to hold God lightly.
For much of my life, God has been a figure whose shape and qualities had been decided for me by others. And for much of my life, this God was not a figure that I understood or related to. Over the past few years, I have committed to reframing God for myself, trying - and making great progress - to uncover a God that feels personal and healing.
Meister Eckhart wrote, centuries ago: “It is a lie - any talk of God that does not comfort you.”
What might it mean to hold that talk lightly - the talk of a God that scared me? How might I let old images of God run through my fingers like sand or like water? How might I let a new understanding of God take up more space than just that between my palms? How can I free God from the confines of what I have decided God to be and let God extend into all the parts of my life in new and creative ways?
I have committed myself, during my year as a Loretto volunteer, to holding God lightly.
Holding God lightly doesn’t mean giving up on or abandoning my faith. Rather, it means letting my faith expand to fill my life instead of forcing it into the mold I want it to fit. I feel so tempted, often, to make my faith fit - into my way of life, into the shapes I have seen it take for others, into something that seems neat or palatable.
But faith doesn’t have to fit anywhere! It doesn’t need a compartment, a bucket, a drawer to be shoved into. My faith can - and should - be everywhere. It cannot benefit from being held tightly in my hands.
The most gentle and loving definition of sin I have ever heard is “the act of not letting God be God in your life.” To me, holding God lightly means letting God be God, and rejoicing in the glory and expansiveness that comes with that surrender. Holding God lightly means not crushing God into a small space or narrow definition, but inviting God to occupy all parts of my life.
One of my year-long goals for my Loretto year is to compile and distribute the poems I write over the course of the year. I’ll end this reflection with this one; I think it speaks to the way that by holding God a little more lightly, I can start to see God in places that I once assumed God didn’t fit into.
More the small blue pulse
Sitting in a new church basement,
I watch my pulse through my skin.
The tiny, almost imperceptible bum-bum of it,
The small blueness,
The paleness of my inner wrist
I wonder the microscopic hugeness of it all.
I am overcome with an urge to take my shoes off,
in the middle of a meeting.
The urge to press my soles into the tile, to root myself into what’s below.
Does God live under the floor in this new place?
Does God speak through the creaky pipes?
Of course God is in the places of least glamor.
Of course God is in the small.
Sure, the stained glass sings God’s glory and the red doors shout God’s hugeness.
Sure, the careful carved entry invites the splendor and goodness of the divine.
But I wonder - is God not more the leaky bathroom sink
The drip-drip hallelujah?
More the rotting second stair,
more the overgrown back lawn?
More the bare feet?
More the small blue pulse.
Lindsey Faust hails from the great state of Texas, but she called New York City - and specifically the Bronx - her home for the last four years until graduating from Fordham University with degrees in theology and communication & culture in May 2018. She is passionate about warm weather, art museums, and hanging out with her little brother. She hopes to pursue academia in the field of Catholic theology, investigating Church structure and its intersection with social and ecclesial justice. As she serves St. Louis’ Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, Lindsey hopes to approach advocacy for immigrants and their rights keeping fiercely in mind the inherent human dignity of each person.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.