Sunday, February 24, 2008

Open My Eyes, Lord

It is wonderful when you can see Jesus in the eyes of your fellow man.

It happened to me over seven years ago when I was part of a city-wide, ecumenical vacation Bible school program. The man who played the part of Jesus was in his thirties and from one of the local Catholic churches. The gentleness of Christ shone from his face and eyes, so much so that it was hard not to react to him as though he really was the Son of God. (But then, I have a good imagination, and we were all "in character." :)

It happened again last night when I received the Eucharist at Mass. The servant of God who offered me the Precious Blood had Jesus in his eyes. It was like a little signal from Jesus to me that He will be there when I need Him most. He wanted to remind me that He will never abandon me, even when the going gets tough.

I returned to my pew and knelt in prayer, so thankful for the person from whom God shone and for the God who chose to shine through him that night.

In Heaven we will all shine with the light of God. I look forward to that. For now, I am thankful when Jesus surprises me by peeking from an unexpected place.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Plug It In, Plug It In

The other morning I was making toast, and, silly me, I put the bread in, pushed the handle down and walked away expecting to have toast in a few minutes. I came back and my toast... wasn't. Well, you've probably guessed that I had forgotten to plug the toaster in!

When I saw the plug lying uselessly on the counter, it struck me that more often than I care to admit I don't plug MYSELF in... to our Creator, that is. "Apart from me you can do nothing," Jesus said. "I am the vine; you are the branches."

That's great advice, direct from God, so why don't I plug myself in? Probably for the same reason I didn't plug the toaster in that morning. I forgot. I'm too busy, got too much on my mind, too preoccupied with the cares of the world.

I really need that current from my Maker. How far can I get without it? Not far. Like the toast, I might look good for a while from the outside, but then things happen, and I'm caught off guard without His input.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


As I was driving to work the other day, the barren branches of roadside oaks caught my eye. If any trees ever looked like they were straight from a fairy tale, these do. I could just imagine their "fingers" coming to life and scaring medieval children who were silly enough to get lost at night in a forest. It had been snowing here recently, and I thought how lovely and dramatic they'd be with a dusting of white to highlight their bare twisted branches. (Just some wishful thinking...)

If I didn't know better, those trees would look dead; there are no visible signs of life, other than the lichen and mistletoe that call them home. But they are not dead; they are in their season of dormancy, necessary to rest and nourish them to enable the continuance of life.

Lent is such a season for me. When I move too quickly, I miss much of the sacred. To experience life with all my senses, I must slow down, take time, drink in, take stock. God knows this; I wonder if He's forever feeling He must slow me down! Lent provides a simpler way of life; it helps me reflect. It helps me to see the lie in equating busyness with a full life.

Yes, Lent can feel barren, but if I sit really still, I can sense life breeding just under the surface.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Heart of Hope

I saw a blue bird light on the leafless branches of the mulberry tree in our backyard. There it was, a bright spot of color among the long sticks of faded brown, sticks that otherwise had no color or life. The bird was like a tiny heart beating in a barren soul.

He looked like a little colorful prisoner in an empty wooden cage, and it made me think that even in the most seemingly hopeless, uninspired human being, a heart created by God beats inside. The heart beating inside their soul might be a dormant kernel - but the song of God can release it from its prison.

Where there is breath, there is hope. Christ raised Lazarus from the dead. He is in the business of miracles!

"When you were dead in your sins... God made you alive with Christ." Colossians 2:13

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Everyday Holiness

Someone who is one of the most positive people I know has a saying: "Don't lose hope, for you never know what's waiting for you just around the corner!" She moved away some years ago and her ever sunny outlook is sorely missed, though I'm sure the people in her new location are being blessed with the warm rays of her disposition!

I love the times when God gives us holy reminders in the everyday ordinariness of our lives, little things that are waiting "just around the corner." I had a couple this morning, small bits of wonder as I drove home from Mass.

The first was an egret that flew across the road just in front of my car, its wide wings outstretched and long neck pointing the way as it glided to the other side of the road. I always feel a rush of amazement when I see these big white birds, which to me are an interesting combination of grace and humor: grace as they fly, and humor as they poke their way through marshy fields on long legs, reminiscent of awkward teenage boys.

Today I was reminded that we can never predict God; His blessings pop out at the most unexpected of times. We can be completely unaware of Him, and suddenly, as quickly as an egret crossing our path, we know He's there.

Another surprise entered my vision several miles down the road. As I rounded a turn, straight in front of me were two of the largest, most brightly colorful hot air balloons one could imagine. With baskets resting on the ground, they were releasing the air within them, deflating as they seemed to move in time with the classical tune playing on my radio at that moment.

A quiet graceful surprise. A big WOW in a shock of color and size. I am grateful for these reminders that we never know what God has for us "just around the corner!"