A few days ago I arrived in Costa Rica for a 2 week Spanish Immersion course. I am staying right on the beach in Tamarindo (Pacific Coast.) Yesterday was my first morning in Tamarindo, so I woke up at 5am to pray, see the sunrise, and walk on the beach. A few thoughts came to me as I walked along the water that I want to share with you.
First, I was captivated by the reflection of the morning sky on the beach and wondered if my Iphone could capture the illusion that I was walking on the water and/or walking on the sky. Not exactly, (see below) but it was worth a shot.
The other thought I had (which is certainly not new, but was new to me) was how linguistic structures and patterns might help or hinder our mental health and spiritual journeys. I was considering how the English language, in particular, might oppose my attempts to live mindfully and reinforce my tendency to over-identify with or cling to passing emotions and experiences.
For example, in English
I AM hungry (Verb=to be)
I AM angry (Verb=to be)
I AM a woman, a mother, and a Christian. (Verb=to be)
Whereas in Spanish
I HAVE hunger/TENGO hambre (Verb: Tener)
I AM [temporarily in a state of] angry/ESTOY enojada (Verb: Estar)
I AM a woman, a mother, and a Christian/SOY mujer, madre, y cristiana. (Verb: Ser)
For me, at least, it is useful to acknowledge that, while I might HAVE hunger, thirst, heat, cold, fear, etc. I AM not actually hunger, thirst, heat, cold or fear.
And while I might at any given moment be in a state of anger, irritation, excitement, sorrow, happiness, exhaustion, etc., these states are not actually essential or permanent aspects of my being.
On the other hand I AM a mother, a friend, a partner, a priest, a singer, a dancer, and child of God.
This first day of Advent I invite you to reflect on the difference between having, temporary "being", and permanent "being."
Que tienes? What do you HAVE?
Como estas? HOW are you (at this moment)?
Quién eres? WHO are you (in the most enduring sense of true identity and core vocation)?
My name is Sylvia Miller-Mutia, and I am a priest in the Episcopal Church. I have recently accepted an exciting call to serve as assisting clergy at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM with a focus on outreach, evangelism, and family ministry. I continue serving as "priest at large" for the larger church and wider world, assisting the people of God in whatever ways I can, and developing new resources for spiritual formation to share. Prior to my current call, I served as Rector (aka Pastor) of St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM (2015-2018), Assistant Rector at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, CA (2010-2015) and Pastoral Associate for Youth & Families at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA (2002-2009). I am married to Donnel (grief counselor, couples coach, artist, best dad ever), and we have three awesome kids, ranging in age from 7 to 13.