Thursday, August 15, 2019

listening for God's call on a breath of wind

In my prayer group, we read St. Ciaran and the Dream for our meditation. His phrase
swallows singing praises, saying here
was the focal point of my reflection time.
Here is where God led me:


not swallows but sparrows, little birds - now
flocks of them by the house
mama feeding youngster in the tree
9 on the star pine - top 2 branches
lots & lots on the wires yesterday & today
always hearing their song - morning,
          afternoon, evening
they fly free, singing their joy in the day
going where they are drawn
          by the wind, by the sun
while we are tethered to the earth
with feet firmly planted
hearts grounded in our places
our souls looking, longing to be with
     the sparrows
listening for God's call on
     a breath of wind
drawing us closer and closer to
where, we too, break into joyful song
finally free





Note: my last line echos the last line of St. Ciaran and the Dream

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Fly

There's a hummingbird that has been visiting us recently. For the last couple of weeks, she comes to the lemon tree near our family room in the evening. Flying around the tree, checking all the little flowers for nectar, she hangs out for a while. Then she will look directly into the window at us, and just hover there for a few seconds. Almost as if she's checking in to see what we are doing. We often see hummingbirds at our feeder, but never before like this one. We look for her every evening, and we feel as if a friend has come to visit.

I'm reminded of something that happened last year. My beloved Aunt Margaret passed away in June. Her memorial service was held on July 26, 2018 in Toledo, OH. It was a beautiful service, full of music and memories. Afterwards, one of the women from the church told me that during the service a hummingbird flew right up to the glass door and hovered there, looking in. In fact, this hummingbird really startled the woman, because she said she had the feeling that the little bird knew what was happening inside and wanted to come in.

One of the things my Aunt and I shared was our faith. Our belief in Jesus. Faith and belief and hope that there is something beyond this life ~ the everlasting life promised through Jesus. While we have no idea what that life looks like, I'm betting it looks a bit like a beautiful hummingbird. Flying free wherever the Spirit leads, visiting friends & loved ones.


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