Activity: Write a Letter to God
So when Brother David approached me with the idea to do this exercise, my first impulse was, “Yes!” And then I saw the exercise and my first impulse was, “No!” There was a real reluctance when I saw that this was a letter to God. That I was sitting and dwelling on this phrase, “You are my beloved,” and that I in turn had to respond. There was a real reluctance and also a fear to actually do that. And I flipped through and looked at the other exercises and said, “Can I do that one instead? Can I do that one instead?” They just seemed easier I guess to get out there to talk to, or to work, or to do something, rather than just sit and dwell on this thought, and to just sit in silence with God and respond to a phrase like, “You are the beloved.”
And then I read Brother Mark’s piece in the Fall edition of the Cowley, where he talks about how Jesus, after receiving this message that, “You are my beloved,” doesn’t head out and get to work. He goes into the wilderness and he’s alone with this for 40 days, and that struck me. I was like, “Let’s go heal the lepers and yell at Pharisees instead.” Jesus is withdrawing and being alone with God in this time.
So I took it as a little bit of a challenge, and a push, and I tried to stay with that thought that God is love and that God loves me personally. And I tried to kind of delve into the reluctance and the fear. For years what I hoped to believe about love, and what I used really as a prayer book, was Kahil Gibran's The Prophet. And his section on love was one of my favorites. It talks about love as this dual entity. He says, “It will crown you but it will also crucify you.” And he talks about love’s threshing floor, and how you start as a grain, and then it goes through kind of violent imagery to get you to the other side to be flour after you’re husked and ground, and to be part of God’s sacred feast. And I think there is something very appealing in that imagery but also very terrifying. And I think part of that was my reluctance to sit with this piece.
And all of this kind of made it to the four letters I ended up to God, because they were all over the place. My reluctance, my fear, and after I sat with it a little bit my nostalgia, and kind of longing, and that feeling of missing God, and missing that intimacy that I feel like I have run away from a lot. So that’s where the exercise went for me. It went all over the place. I found many different responses in me to the thought of being God’s beloved, and I kind of put them all down and left them up to God.
- Hannah Tadros