Sunday, December 27, 2009
May He who filled the universe with swirling galaxies be the one to fill my heart.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
It may be my overly busy schedule that is keeping me from "feeling" God as I normally do. Or perhaps it is the calm after a great, stressful storm, and I am allowed to float free on my raft without wind, at least for a time. I am not in the doldrums exactly (pictured at left), but I'm not moving forward either.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
For some time God has been nudging me toward a change that I've been resisting; till now, that is. I was concerned about letting others down and I was clinging to a stubborn hope that things would get better. My lack of action caused me to feel inreasingly distant from my Source. It took a toll on my day-to-day walk with Him - even affecting my faith in some areas - and that was tough! I didn't connect the two, though, until the speaker's advice rose to the forefront of my consciousness. I realized that the spiritual weight I'd been carrying was a direct result of my resistance to His direction. That resistance was rooted in a lack of trust; otherwise, I would have immediately said yes to His request.
I am now breathing a figurative sigh of relief. It's always better to do His will. I feel I've gone from darkness into light, and the air I'm breathing is far fresher on this side!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" Psalm 133:1-3
There is a ministry to which I wish to give my time, talent and treasure, but I've been told that in order to do this, I must sign a statement of faith that is, in part, counter to the doctrines of my Church. We honor the same Creator, believe in the same Christ, are filled with the same Holy Spirit, yet words on a page prevent our working together to love in His name.
I am trying to get my head around all of this.
I know that the Lord is in charge and that brings me peace. If we are not allowed to work together in unity, I can love others in His name all the same. The problem is that there is a big need, and Christians working together can accomplish so much more than when working alone... or, at times, against one another.
I know there are differences in the way our faith is expressed, nuances in our beliefs, and even large differences in our doctrine, but I'm not joining a church; rather, I merely wish to stand alongside other Christians to serve in God's name.
My situation is miniscule in comparison, but I can't help but think of St. Thomas More in The Man for All Seasons. He didn't wish to defy King Henry VIII, but his hand was forced. In the end, his head rolled because he couldn't sign his name to a document that stood against his Church.
I'm happy that I've been able to give much to this ministry already. By God's grace, a significant amount of treasure has flowed into its coffers through the efforts of many within my parish; for that I am grateful. If I am not allowed to serve within its walls, I will continue to refer others to its services from the outside. Even so, I wish that working together for good were more important than our differences.
"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:23
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus." Romans 15:5
"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spririt through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
In the words of Jesus, these are the greatest commandments, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (St. Matthew 22:37-40)
But sometimes we grow weary. St. Paul must've known that the rocks of disappointment, grief and disillusionment weigh us down as we collect them through life. That's why he asks us to remain steadfast in our role as people of good works. "Let us not become weary in doing good," he tells us in Galatians 6:9, "for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." God is with us. Always.
In that spirit, I offer the following poem I found in a tiny corner of cyperspace. I wish I knew the author. It reminds me of a friend's email sign-off: MTPOCDU. I asked him one day what it meant. His answer: May the peace of Christ disturb us.
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
To turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful; kindle in us the fire of your love.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Well, I failed a test last night. I didn't live up to what I posted below, graciousness in times of trial and difficulty.
There is something about withstanding trials with dignity that just feels good. God gives peaceful endurance when times are tough, and He doesn't ask us to do ANYTHING for which He doesn't provide strength... if we are willing to receive it and not battle against it.
Like the "Little Engine that Could" (a favorite childhood book), I must believe that there is a top to the mountain with a strength-bolstering downhill side. It will come, and probably sooner than I think.
Lord, I love you. Thank you for every bit of strength you have given; thank you for every bit you will give. Help me to put myself aside and shoulder the burden. I know you are with me. Amen.
Monday, May 18, 2009
"Whoever hates his life in this world keeps it safe for life everlasting."
This was an antiphon from the "Common of One Martyr" and it struck me. (It was read today because we honor John I, Pope and Martyr from the 6th century.)
What does it mean to hate one's life?
What rings true for me now is accepting with humility, grace and dignity unpleasant situations that may come my way. If there is hatred... or judgment... or misunderstanding... or misrepresentation... I must simply bear it. I cannot hold with a tight fist what I wish for others to think of me. I can get lost in the battle to defend my life now... or I can choose to turn my life over to Christ with hope for life everlasting.
Later I read this in the Canticle of Zechariah:
You, my child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people the knowledge of salvation and the forgiveness of their sins.
I marvelled at the great privilege St. John the Baptist was given... and then realized the privilege came with a great cross to bear as well. He was ostracized and eventually beheaded. Sometimes privileges and hardships go hand in hand. If I follow Christ, am I willing to accept unpleasantries with dignity and humility? Lord, may it be so!
"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
There was a bonus surprise, too: I was asked to consider teaching a class or two there. That was something I didn't expect... and I greatly look forward to it. You see? You never know what's just around the corner. Our Lord loves to surprise us with His goodness that comes in unexpected ways. May your day be full of His love.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Yesterday two opportunities for grace converged: our monthly day at the monastery and Divine Mercy Sunday. The latter has a special place in my heart: our dear Papa, Pope John Paul II, died on its vigil (which is quite appropriate, considering it was he who canonized St. Faustina, from whom the devotion to the Divine Mercy comes). He was devoted to her message and designated the Sunday following Easter in this way.
I made a confession at the monastery (something that is encouraged on Divine Mercy Sunday) and, miraculously, that allowed me to become detached from a sin that has plagued me. Surely His mercy has been poured out upon me. Repentance is the true makeover.
Today has been one of Holy Spirit tutelage. My spirit unchained, I am able to see things in a new way. Miraculously, my will cooperates and feelings follow. Restless, I look forward to wearing these changes as garments.
I have learned, painfully, that I haven't respected myself as a human creature and child of God. Pursuit of holiness, especially in light of my Carmelite journey, must be taken more seriously than my own needs... or the need to please.
The "Holy Spirit Shop" is the best place to buy new clothes. I have found something that fits well; gratitude is deep.
Thank you, Lord, for your Divine Mercy!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
To their surprise, I welcomed them. As recognition dawned in the man that expected judgment was not forthcoming, he relaxed and spoke a bit. I was friendly for one reason: they are beloved children of God. I am shocked by what happened and deeply grieved by the pain caused, but I know that God loves them beyond, more than and despite the choices they've made. Why should I do any less? I myself have been forgiven much.
Before my husband and I were married, he took a job 8 hours away from me. It was difficult to be apart, so we did what seemed natural at the time: I pulled up stakes, got a job there and moved in with him. We were going to be married within the year, so it didn't seem like a big deal to us.* During this time, I was shunned by some members of his family; however, I will never forget the love and acceptance poured upon both of us by his Mormon aunt and uncle. I knew enough about their beliefs to understand that they did not condone our situation; yet they welcomed us into their fold. To this day, I am deeply grateful; in fact, if I didn't disagree with the tenets of their faith, I would have become Mormon all those years ago.
Yesterday as I looked into the faces of those two in the pharmacy line, I could see their struggle with shame. How I long for them to understand the depth of God's love and His sweet, gentle touch! I pray their shame will not keep them from such a loving Father. He scans the horizon for their return.
*Now my understanding is different; I think marriages function much better if they don't start out like that. God's pure way is logical, beautiful and always best.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tonight I opened a can of tomato paste with love and did my best to chop an onion with it, too. This might sound crazy if not for the example of Brother Lawrence, whose words about his journey of love are written in "The Practice of the Presence of God." He was a 17th century lay Carmelite brother who worked at simple tasks in the monastery kitchen. He said, "We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God."
A white rose, dewy fresh, to show that Heaven cares...
The scent of Christ to all who doubt and need to know He's there...
The foamy sea that rushes in as an answer to a prayer.
Surely God uses each of us at times in different ways
To teach and guide, laugh and cry, messengers that day
A smile, word, or kindly deed means more than you may know
to those we find along the way to whom Christ's face we show
Sometimes we're the giver, and sometimes we receive
The more we give along the way, the greater our belief
that Christ will meet our own felt needs at the perfect time
With another pilgrim on the way willing to be kind
Sunday, April 12, 2009
As I fawned over the setting sun, my son said to me, "Mom, I wish I could experience the sunset like you." Though he appreciates nature, he isn't moved by such changes in the evening sky. I began to wonder whether the way my cells resonate at the perfect green of a springtime forest is a bit unusual. Or the way I want to jump out of my skin with joy at the sight of the moon when it's orange (orange!) and so big it looks like I could touch it. Or the way my heart wants to burst when the late afternoon sun shines on the distant creek as it winds its way through fields below us. I'm not sure, but I'm thankful for others who share this joy.
One of my favorite hymns was originally written for children as a way to teach them about the glory of God in creation. It's called This Is My Father's World. Click here to read the stanzas and take a listen.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Dear Lord Jesus,
I am so grateful that you think of us as fine pearls; it makes me feel very loved. That you - You! - were willing to "sell everything" on our behalf is beyond amazing. I can't help but think of the lovely canticle in Philippians 2 about this sacrifice:
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
I cannot think of a greater gift than God - the creator himself - seeking, finding and selling all for a group of humble stones that He calls pearls.
Does any lustre or shine emanate from me? If so, let it be because of you. May all my "pearly" qualities be a mirror to reflect you - and You alone.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
...allow me to be your clay;
If trusting more reveals your light...
...allow me to be your day;
If bending to your will brings strength...
...allow me to be your reed;
If dying brings forth shoots of life...
...allow me to be your seed.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This Lent has been one of death. Its beginning, Ash Wednesday, brought the news that a good friend and mentor was found dead. Later in the day, a friend's husband took his life. A week ago, a friend of a friend's heart suddenly failed; his funeral was yesterday. Last night, a member of our parish faded away in his hospital bed, and tonight, our pastor's mother clings to life.
What does all this mean?
Death can inspire if it follows a life lived well. It can bring despair if it does not. Either way, death reminds us of our fragility and the brevity of our occupancy on this terrestrial plane.
One thing I have learned in this whirlwind of death: God takes care of us in ways we often do not realize. A friend prays, feeling a strange leading, and later finds out why. A chance meeting in a bank brings comfort. A vision inspires not only the seer, but those on the edges who hear of it. The gentle hand of God is waved to shift the air ever so slightly, causing the might-have-been to become real. Just enough is His way: if subtle ripples will get the job done, that's what He'll send. He saves the waves for later.
May we all be ready to feel the sweetness of His gentle touch, whether in life or in death.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Then I remembered. Life doesn't end when it seems to. It goes on always. It doesn't matter how and when we learn whatever lessons we do, because we're not working for glory here, but for the other side. Each step taken here, however halting or hesitant, is meant to get us there. It is all a journey to The Grand End of the Path, and each of us goes at our own pace. We'll get there if we stay the course, even when we move slowly. And part of the journey is learning from our mistakes, not to mention letting others see our learning curve so they can learn, too!
There is joy in the journey. Relax and be led by the Master.
Monday, March 9, 2009
The following Saturday there I was, in a room full of women I had never met, all eyes upon me, all faces intent, smiling and expectant. Some shared with me afterwards about how my story resonated with them; others graciously thanked me for being vulnerable. What they don't know is that my revisiting of past lessons for their benefit wrought healing in my own soul to a degree that astounds me even now. A window lifted within me to release air left over from old musty wounds and allow clean, breezy, "freshly washed sheets drying in the sunshine air" to rush in and fill me. I now breathe deeply of this delicious inner scent and it makes me feel clean inside.
Sometime I will share with you what I shared with them. For now, I am amazed at God's amazing grace.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
What I have discovered while I was gone is how much my walk with Christ is wrapped up in my being able to write about it. Writing helps me process important lessons on my journey. It solidifies in me the things He tells me as I walk, both large and small. The more I write, the more inspired I become and the more joy I find as I continue on the path with Him.
Another benefit of chronicling the spiritual life is seeing that prayers whispered in past posts have been answered, revelations of God's quiet but steady hand working in my life.
Here's to writing, to paths and to the nuggets of answered prayer we find along the way!
Monday, January 5, 2009
On the mossy green promise
Of my soul
Darkness is dispelled
Instead, beams brighten
Nighttime's former realm
Seeds germinate to birth new life
The Petri dish of not yet risen ash
Reveals a Phoenix with promise of release
Shoots wriggle and hope pushes forth
Perfect Christfruit is sweetly borne
On limbs no longer bare
Pain's mystery now gives way to
Distant cries of triumph
That burst from yonder hills
Morning comes on softest angel's wings
Truly God waits on the edges
Of each darkest day