Moss

As I looked into the rearview mirror, reversing from my parking spot, I pondered my eyes. Oh great… I wondered how many people in the grocery store had noticed my puffy, red-rimmed eyes and recognized it for what it was: the fact that I had been crying my eyes out for the past hour during a session with my spiritual director. I hadn’t wanted to go in there looking like this but… this was going to be my only window of opportunity today. Oh well…

A few weeks previous I had been at a retreat center, just spending a few days on my own with God. I revelled in the quiet, the chances to walk in the woods and gaze out over the water, and the chance to read, read and read some more.

During my walks in the woods, my eyes were drawn to the moss-covered stumps. Bright green moss beckoned amongst the browns and grays of the day and the dropped leaves. I took pictures of the moss and wondered why I had noticed it. Who cares about moss anyway?

Over the past month, I began to become aware of some pretty intense emotional reactions to certain situations. I didn’t understand why my emotions would ‘rage’ during conversations that were seemingly quite benign. Inside, I would be having a dialogue that I actually wanted to have with the person in front of me… and to be honest, the words sounded mean and uncaring, spiteful and lacking in compassion. That didn’t sound like me! How could I be so mean? I’m supposed to be a Christian! Where is this coming from?

From my heart. From my raw, wounded heart.

There was a gaping wound there that I had been walking around with for years. And for some reason, God was bringing it up into a conscious level.

In a book that I had been given by my mother that week, by an author named Joyce Rupp, I perused the table of contents. I was intrigued to see a chapter entitled “Midlife Healing: What the Green Moss Told Me.” It seemed highly relevant considering what had happened in my forest walks with God from the week before. As I read the chapter, I came across the story of the author being at a workshop about ‘healing images’. They were instructed to imagine being in a place that felt ‘healing’ to them. Joyce Rupp wrote: “I mentally went to a hilly pine forest that overlooks the ocean south of San Francisco. I thought that the trees or the ocean would be my image of healing. To my surprise, I visualized a patch of green moss. I was deeply attracted to the green and softness of the moss, but I did not understand why. Moss had never been significant to me”

Like her, I find nature extremely grounding and healing. And like her, I walk in the forests, and I love the ocean so much. But like Joyce, I had no connection to moss either.

After the exercise they were to share their image with someone near them and she ended up sharing hers with an Ojibway elder from Canada. “When I told him about my green moss, his face lit up and his words filled with excitement. He told me that moss was a special healing object for the Ojibways… He emphasized that I had been given a very special gift in seeing that image.”

I stopped and reread the passage. Could it be that God was giving me a special gift in noticing the moss too? I choose to believe it. God/Spirit works in mysterious ways and I can’t help but see too many coincidences in the story to explain it otherwise.

I felt like God was gently telling me it was time to heal. Time to revisit that time that was so painful in my life. Time to listen and acknowledge those hard emotions. Time to give time and care to my wounded heart.

It’s hard to revisit those painful memories. But I know and trust the Healer of my Soul. God has showed me the moss, and my heart feels as though it is time to trust those wounds to God. It’s time to bring the wound into the open, acknowledge the pain and the emotions and then figure out with the help of others, how to move on and heal from that time.

I wondered how many people in the grocery store had noticed my puffy, red-rimmed eyes and recognized it for what it was: the beginning of healing.

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