Jessica Morgan McAtee
Hearing God this Easter
What a unique Holy Week this is. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the world is opting to social distance and shelter in place for Easter. Around the Globe, the faithful are not meeting to celebrate our highest Holy day. Instead, we will quietly celebrate in solitude at home.
If your tradition does not celebrate Easter, take heart, God is speaking to you too and in the same ways. This message is for all of God's children.
Many of us have been secluded at home for weeks now, only leaving for essentials. Some of us are with family and some are alone. We are grieving the loss of lives and missing the company of friends. The bad news is wearing on our souls. Some of us are struggling financially. If we don't work to find the good, the nights can be darker than normal. Where is God?
This may be similar to how the disciples and followers of Christ spent the first Holy week 2000 years ago. Many were in fear for their futures too. They had no idea what great jubilation would come from such deep sorrow. It was exceedingly, abundantly above everything they ever dreamed or imagined.
We've never had an Easter like this, and hopefully we will never again. Yet, there is a sacred wind blowing and I believe it brings a fresh kind of hope.
God is speaking to us in ways that are as new as each dawn and as old as the moon. We will commune with our Maker in isolation. We may even learn to recognize ways that he has been uttering all along. The Enneagram is a key to understanding how that could be.
Maybe our lives needed some adjustments. Many of us were working long days, commuting for hours, stressed out, over-consuming, not exercising, eating fast foods, overtired, in debt, and neglecting family and spiritual practices. The noise was relentless.
Now there is a healing hush, maybe even a Sabbath rest, like the one in Hebrew scripture. God is speaking.
While some of us have slowed down, we remember there are the essential workers, who are going full-throttle right now. They are working tirelessly and don't get a breather.
How are they to hear God through the strenuous rush?
In truth, God has been speaking to us since the beginning. He is revealed first through nature. ALL people are made in his image and we have the divine ability to reflect God to others (or the freedom not to). He is partially visible through scripture. Finally, Christians believe we can see exactly what he looks like in the self-giving, other-centered love of Jesus Christ, the original Word.
God can and does speak to us in infinite ways. God is relational at his core. Since communication is required for relationship, it follows that God knows how to speak to all humanity. We are his beloved sons and daughters.
The Enneagram is a psychological and spiritual tool. It is used to describe the nine fundamental personality-types that occur in nature. It is a dynamic model that recognizes that humans are all complex, interconnected and unique. It is not intended to pigeon-hole us, but to show us our automatic and habitual ways of being in the world. It teaches us new ways to live.
The nine types can be broken into triads, groups of three that have commonalities.
One of those triads categorizes people by where their "intelligence center" is located in their bodies. It turns out that humans generally perceive the world around them, and the truths they "know" by using one of three intelligence centers. Some of us rely more on our heart center, some our head and some our gut.
With practice, we can hone in on all three centers and learn to use them in healthy and balanced ways. Since this is how we perceive truth, and since all truth originates in God, this is a primary way he communicates to us. This is as natural to us as breathing. It may even seem like the truth is coming from us, which it is, but it originates in God and he channels it to us through these means in partnership with us. In him we live and move and have our being. He is as close to us as our breath. He guides us in ways that are intricately woven into our perceptions more than we know.
I suggest that as you read on, and discover which of the three intelligence centers you are most at home in, you will find that God has been speaking in you and through you since you were a child. Maybe you didn't recognize it as such, but now you will. He has spoken to each of us, in our own languages, all along. He is especially fond of you (W. Paul Young).
Those who primarily operate in the heart center are in-tune with feelings. They can literally sense, in themselves, the feelings of others. At their best, they can sense how others are doing emotionally and be empathetic and heartfelt. They excel at interpersonal qualities and can be sincerely compassionate and generous. They have the gift of emotional intelligence. They can esteem others and build them up to be their very best. God may nudge them that Mary is hiding sadness behind her smile or that Tim is feeling insecure and needs encouragement. Some folks with this gift are able to sit in solidarity with others going through deep sadness where just their presence brings comfort. They can enter a room and they naturally feel the vibes that others are sending and connect to them. They may not recognize this as the voice of God, but when it brings love and kindness to the world, and has no hidden motives, surely it brings heaven to earth.
Other folks are dominant in their head center. They live mostly in their heads and thinking is the way they navigate the world. When they are healthy, their insights, ideas and profound understanding is a beacon to themselves and others. They can systematically plan and foresee dangers ahead, determine the wisest path and solve problems that leave others stumped. They can be highly perceptive, original and inventive. The complex strategies they create can avoid pitfalls and bring greater chances of success in any endeavor. They are imaginative. Their avid minds may enable them to do many things well or connect seemingly unrelated concepts. They are practical, logical and discerning. When this wisdom comes from a place of love and reaches out to inform others, it can be a manifestation of God's light and protection. It guides us along the path of righteousness for his name's sake.
Many people operate in the gut center. They have highly developed instinctual bodily perceptions that help navigate their surroundings. They can sense a deep wisdom without necessarily naming how they know it. The messages come through kinesthetic and physical sensations. They can relate to their environment with a natural keen awareness. These people can experience their own energy (literally in their gut) as well as energy outside of them and whether it is powerful, restrained or both. They may see possibilities in people and situations that others cannot. Perhaps they can be a calming force that unites a group of people. They may have a vigilant conscience that knows the right thing to do. They listen when they have a "bad feeling" about something. When they are healthy, they can trust that energy to be the guiding voice of God that they have been familiar with since childhood. Their power and position originate in God.
Each of us uses our heart, mind and body in our daily lives. These gifts of intelligence are familiar to all of us, but one is more dominant than the others. With practice, mindfulness and focus, we can learn to listen more intently. Our Creator speaks to us in the way that comes most naturally to us as well as in the others. We can receive the message anytime and anywhere. We know this because we are already experiencing it.
Are we paying attention?