Thursday, April 11, 2019

Breaking Point

Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 
John 3:17

Mary Oliver writes:
Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of an owl?

   -from Some Questions You Might Ask

We used this scripture and Mary Oliver poem in my contemplative prayer group recently. In this group, we listen a total of four times - first to hear; then for a word or phrase that speaks; then for a feeling that comes; finally, spending time in reflection. For this scripture and poem, my word was "breakable." Which led me to the question, "What is my breaking point?"

Science offers us lots about breaking points, melting points, boiling points. Scientific, specific, and static. Breaking point of iron; melting point of ice. But us humans?

There are no specifics on the breaking point for the human soul and spirit. We can be stretched to unbelievable dimensions without breaking. And return to ourselves ~ changed but the same. I think about a piece of string. I hold it between my hands and pull ... and pull ... and pull. If I keep pulling it will break. But if I release it, it is saved.

Through the trials and tribulations of my life: broken relationships; the death of my mother when I was 24; losing my dad, my in-laws, my aunt; my husband's cancer & treatment; being sued by a neighbor ~ through all these things, past and to come, my soul and my spirit has been stretched. At each I have wondered, "Is this my breaking point?"

Like the string, we may reach a point where the soul has stretched & stretched & stretched until it is taut and the tension is unbearable. At this point - this tension moment - we can choose: to release it all to God, being saved and brought back to ourselves. Or we can hold onto control in the false belief that we can save ourselves. And we will be lost and broken.

Saving and redemption and life come through and belong to God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit. God the healer. Help me to let go of control and to trust.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Blessed are you

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.   Luke 6:20b

What do you think of when you read this verse? Do you take “poor” literally – meaning those who have little money, no car, no place to live, no clean clothes, not enough food? Or do you think about other ways that anyone can be poor? There are many forms of poor that can’t be fixed by money. Poor in spirit ~ those who are depressed or lonely; poor in family ~ those who are alone; poor in health ~ those who struggle with illness; poor in hope ~ those who don’t know Jesus.

How can being any kind of poor be any kind of blessing? When you aren’t “rich” in whatever thing you feel lacking, seeing the blessing is a daunting task. Rev. Jeanette Repp said in a sermon that blessing doesn’t necessarily fix everything, but blessing abides with us. Or in my words, blessings may not change our circumstance, but certainly changes us, if we allow it.

Jesus says we are blessed, even when we are “poor.” … “for yours is the kingdom of God.” Jesus offers everyone the kingdom regardless of circumstance. Jesus abides with us, gives us hope, changes us. Is there any bigger blessing we can ask for? Open your heart. Expect blessings.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, you offer us riches beyond belief. You offer us the Kingdom of God. Help me believe I am rich in your love and grace. Amen.



Friday, February 15, 2019

Fickleness

...[Jesus] began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, "Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform so many miracles? Then they scoffed, "He's just a carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us. They were offended and refused to believe in him.             -Mark 6:2-3   (NLT)

They were amazed!! They scoffed; they were offended. Which is is? They saw he had wisdom and power to perform miracles. MIRACLES!! Miracles, at least for me, are not an everyday thing. The people who knew Jesus couldn't accept that he was able to do these amazing, miraculous things. Maybe they thought he was just like them. And then he wasn't. They knew him one minute and the next they didn't. He did not live up to their expectations and firmly held beliefs of who Jesus was supposed to be. He had changed.

His demonstration of God's power changed their world. Were they fickle? Are we fickle? Or do we tend to react out of fear? Because what they thought they knew had been changed. If Jesus, Mary's son, changed & became something different, what else could shift? How far off level could their lives tilt? We all struggle when things change.

But what if we paused ... and truly considered what change could mean in our lives? What if we stepped out of our fear and into possibility? What if the new is so much better than the old? What if we gave it a chance? What if.... ? Miracles can happen. Take the leap and lean into the new.



Saturday, January 12, 2019

Carol to the Creator

My aunt was a poet. She was also much, much more ~ but she was a poet. I am lucky to have copies of many of her poems. I will read them slowly, savoring her words. Recently I was privileged to fill in and lead my contemplative prayer group. I used one of her poems as a meditation piece for us:
Creator of the universe vast, 
Of worlds that dance in space 
These are the first lines of her poem and the words that spoke to me were universe vast. The photo below was the sky the morning as I prepared ~ the horizon glowing with the sun that was about to rise, and the sky brightened by the moon and the stars about to disappear (of course I had to run for my camera).


The moon and stars seem so far - how can there be more of the universe beyond them? The universe is the seen and unseen existing alongside each other. God has given us this place - "sun-kissed earth, fruitful garden;" given us life, given us love. Given freely to us - in grace & love through Jesus. 

And I am mindful of my smallness in this, God's world. Yet God knows my name, knows & cares for me, even loves me among all of His creation, all of the universe vast. How small, yet great I am if He knows me.

His arms extend to me & beckon me to come, come home. To live in the garden again, to feel the sun, to know love and offer love. To wonder. To believe.

Pray with me: Lord Jesus, Creator God, Spirit of life & love - open my heart to the vast beauty of your world and the vast expanse of your love. Let me live in you for all my days. Amen.

A CAROL TO THE CREATOR

Creator of the universe vast, 
Of worlds that dance in space, 
To us you gave this sun-kissed earth, 
This fruitful garden place, 
Bright token of your grace, 
Bright token of heavenly grace.

Creator of the spark of life,
In elephant, bee, and dove, 
To us you give more radiant flames, 
Of thought, and joy, and love, 
Enkindled from above, 
Enkindled by heavenly love. 

Margaret A. Weber
May 28, 1981


Saturday, December 29, 2018

in-between moments

This week between Christmas and the new year always leaves me a little bit unsettled and anxious. I  celebrate the birth of Jesus, the baby in a manger who will somehow save us all. I reflect on the year that is just about gone ~ what did I accomplish, where did I fall short, and what is left undone. And I look forward to a new year, a time for new beginnings, and I ask, "Lord, what will you have me do*?" Goals and resolutions and vision and planning anyone? I'm raising my hand here, just in case you can't see. But what about right now, today, this moment? It feels a little in-between. Between what has been and what is to come. It feels a little like holding my breath.

I wonder about Mary, in those in-between moments after Jesus' birth and before the world knew who he was. Did she feel anxiety about her little boy and what would come for him? I'm sure she did. Yet, in her faith and grace, she did this very difficult thing. She carried him as a baby and she cared for him and loved him. In the good moments, the not so good moments, and the in-between moments.

Looking at the past can bring insight, clarity, and self-knowledge. Looking to the future can bring hope and inspiration. But I cannot forget the in-between moments. Because those moments are the foundation of our lives. It is here; it is now; it is present to us. The in-between moments are the only ones we have to live. 

So today, reflect on the past, hope in the future, and
live, really live in-between.
May we find faith and grace like Mary to say "Yes, Lord."


*taken from For His Sake, a prayer of The Order of the Daughters of the King

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Little Stings

Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them.
   -From For Today prayer by Phillips Brooks, taken from Forward Day by Day
I read this prayer every morning, and for the last month or so this line has jumped out at me and taken root in my soul. Making me pay attention even when I really didn't want to. I was focused on the not "minding little stings," more than the "giving them." Trying not to listen to little stings aimed at me; to forgive when I felt them. I didn't really think about my giving them. Because I'm a nice person right? I try not to do or say those little stings that could hurt someone. This surely didn't mean me. But then something happened to make me look at this a little differently.

I was driving along, minding my own business, when the car in front of me suddenly slowed and turned right, causing me to hit my brakes rather hard and yell out, "Well, I guess that fancy, expensive BMW didn't come with turn signals." Rather benign, and they couldn't even hear me. So that's OK, right? I didn't give them a little sting. Agreed? And I'll admit here, between you and me... this wasn't the first time I've yelled this (or other snarky remarks) in my car. Or the first time I've muttered less than good things under my breath.

But this line kept coming into my head and I had a big realization. Yes, this is about giving little stings to others, in ways that cause them hurt. AND it is about the hurt and damage done to ourselves when we think them (or yell them inside our car). It is about the little stings we think about ourselves to ourselves.

It isn't just in the aloudness that hurt is done to others or to us. It is how we disrespect ourselves when we let that little sting into our hearts at all. It's how that seed of darkness and negativity takes root and then can run away with us - much more than we realize. Little stings can, well, sting. Little stings can grow big. Whether directed at others or at ourselves; by others or ourselves.

I pray, Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them. Yet, I am only human and in my humanity I will, in all likelihood, sling that little sting again. Being mindful is the first step in changing my heart. Repenting and asking for forgiveness is essential. Becoming the person God intends me to be means paying attention to my thoughts, as well as my words and actions - no matter which direction they are aimed.

So, to God, and the driver of the BMW, I ask for your Grace.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Faith to sustain

I used this quote from Bishop Edmond Lee Browning's book A Year of Days with the Book of Common Prayer for the Daily Inspiration on November 16, 2018:
"What we need is a faith that will sustain us when all evidence is to the contrary."
After the recent tragedies in Southern California - more violence/shootings, catastrophic wildfires & the ensuing loss of life and property, and all the other devastating events, it is easy for our faith to waver. To question where God is in the midst of all this. To feel hopeless.

But that is the wrong course. We cannot know the mind of God, nor know the "why" of any events that occur. It is in these times in our lives that we need to remember the goodness of God. And to look for it wherever we can. Always, always, after these terrible events there comes to light the stories of hope. Those people who give of themselves to help others, who risk themselves to save others, the miraculous survival. The media call these "human interest" stories and cover them almost as an afterthought. But they are so much more. They are found in every disaster. They are the best of us. They are the light in the darkness.


We cannot stop suffering in the world. We cannot heal this world. Yet we can be kind to one another, look out for one another, take time to really listen to one another, we can pray for one another. We can hold fast to our faith in a God that gave his own son for us. We can let our faith sustain us.

Bishop Browning closes the meditation with this,
Do we always feel our faith running briskly through our hearts? Maybe not. But like those holy women [the first at the tomb after Jesus had risen], we can keep right on walking and trusting in our God, and God will reward our trust."
Wise words for these times.

Walk with me. Walk in love. Walk in faith. Walk with God.


Note: I haven't written in a long time, letting the Daily Inspiration do all the talking & inspiring (see tab 2018 Daily Inspiration to the right). I'm drawn to write again, to share thoughts about God's presence in our lives and will be writing more regularly here. If you'd like to follow this blog, please sign up on the right. Please visit the God Speaks in the little things Facebook page also - link on the right.