Speechless…

I’m just speechless. I have no words, today. I’m very much uninspired. Words won’t string themselves together in any coherent way.   Maybe it is because I ran out of extroversion. I’ve used up my words. I’ve prepared classes, taught classes, looked at words, listened to words and spoke them this week. My die-hard introverted self may need a word break. No inspiration comes in prayer or in the meditations that I have read this morning. I wouldn’t have to write anything, would I? No, I wouldn’t, but as my preacher husband says, “Sometimes I preach because I have something to say and sometimes I preach because I have to say something.” That may not be an original quote, but I could say the same for writing.

I could write about prayer. Why does she always do that, you ask? Well, for one, prayer is my job. But also, what is more important than staying in touch with God all the time? All the time! C.S. Lewis said, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” True. Very true. Therefore, I talk and write about prayer. And I pray.

So, I take my walking stick, to keep myself upright on bumpy sidewalks, my camera just in case I find leftover fall color, and go walking. There is a tree up the street that I have wanted to photograph, but I am always driving by it and not really looking at it. It is chilly this morning so I’m glad I wore my jacket. There are such beautiful colors outside today. Leaves on trees and leaves on the ground.  Purple, yellow, orange, green and tan. Blue sky. Berries. I think of quotes and prayers I’ve read. Other’s words. Not mine, but….as I walk I see God.

“You were here all the time, and I never knew it! This is nothing less than the house of God; this is the very gate of heaven.” ~ Genesis 28:16-17. Yes! “When I hunger, it is your life which fills me. When I thirst, it is your love that quenches my need. When I walk, it is your mercy which sustains me. So I thank you Lord, for mercy, love, and life, given to me with joy abounding.”—anon. Joy! It feels good to be out here walking around and looking at God. “When I am up to my eyeballs in words, your silence restores me,” I whisper.

This prayer was a closing meditation in the class on “Listening to God.” I’ll use it, again, here. “Many voices ask for our attention. There is a voice that says, ‘Prove that you are a good person.’ Another voice says, ‘You’d better be ashamed of yourself.’ There also is a voice that says, ‘Nobody really cares about you,’ and one that says, ‘Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful.’ But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still, small voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved, my favor rests on you.’ That’s the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence, and a strong determination to listen. That’s what prayer is. It is listening to the voice that calls us ‘my Beloved.’” ~ Henri Nouwen. I need that.

—Donna

Practicing Gratitude

Before I started this meditation today, I looked through my gratitude journal. It is by my computer or my prayer chair and I have been trying to write down things I notice during the day for which I am grateful to God. I have been doing this for a few days and plan to make it a permanent part of my spiritual discipline – you know the one, Practice Gratitude. This is a good thing for me, because even though I thank God for most things during the day, by evening when I’m tired, I’ve forgotten what they were. I do need practice.

There are many gratitude moments in my journal this week. Many of them for the beautiful weather and colors of fall. I love fall when it is like this. I thanked God for keeping me safe when crossing a major street with the traffic lights out. I listed the fact that the problem with our old car was that an oil filter had been installed incorrectly. It was fixed and we weren’t charged for it. I am grateful for this day when I had lunch with two granddaughters and one great granddaughter to have a birthday celebration of a granddaughter. I thank God for these and I believe it helps make me a more grateful person.

But when I turned on the computer to write—I asked myself, “Why on earth is my homepage the news?” There is another school shooting with people killed, today. Is this becoming commonplace enough that we don’t pay attention anymore? Do we still feel horror when we hear about yet another shooting, another abuse, another mad-man or woman, another crazy virus? Are we aware of God’s pain, too? But I digress.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. This too? I have to ask God, “How can I give thanks in all things when they look like this?” How can the families do it? Yet, I know that sometimes they do. I hear in my mind, “What part of ALL do you not get? “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.  Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.  Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus”—Philippians 4:6-7.  I’m not sure I do get it. But I certainly need peace and joy. Some days it is hard to come by.

I am rather speechless in the face of all this trouble. I guess it doesn’t matter if I understand this instruction or not since it seems important enough to God that it is included in the Bible. I can’t figure it out, and the fact is that, humanly, I cannot even do it. But I can obey, God helping me. Because, what if? What if our prayers of thanks change things? What if God uses these prayers to bring healing and love into this world? What if our thankful prayers bring God more visibly into those situations to bring comfort to the grieving? What if, they help bring forgiveness? What if God, who could clearly bring all of this world to a close, like swatting a fly with a swatter, waits for our thankful prayers to act? I probably need to write, “Prayed with thanksgiving in the horrible things, too.”

At the bottom of the page in my journal, this is printed, “The Lord goes before you and will be with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.”—Deuteronomy 31:8. I thank God for this, too, even when it seems, he has.

Peace and Joy, dear ones—Donna

Who’s the Boss of you?

“And the Internet Loud is Not the Boss of You.”

This quote by Ann Voskamp almost jumped off the page at me. Maybe it did jump. The quote is a subtitle to a posting on her blog. I had been trying to catch up on things after being away from home three times in six weeks. That may not seem like much for some, but it is a lot for me. So I’ve been busy.

Ann’s meditation was sparked by her child telling another, “You’re not the boss of me.” I remember those days. The speaking child usually means that the other child can’t tell them what to do. Maybe not even their parents. They want to be in charge of themselves and do their own thing. They want to be boss. I remember our granddaughter when she was around three or four (I have always wanted to put this story into a meditation but it would never fit). Her shoes were in the middle of the room and I had told her several times to put them away. Finally, in exasperation, she said, “Everyone has to be the boss of their own shoes.” Meaning, I suppose, she should be able to leave her shoes where they were or pick them up whenever she wanted. I don’t remember if I moved them out of the middle of the room (probably) or if she finally did. But the fact was, she was determined to be the boss of their whereabouts. 

“The internet loud is not the boss of you.”

The internet is not the boss of me.

Facebook is not the boss of me.

My preparation time for classes and teachings is not the boss of me.

My writing of meditations, essays, articles and blogs is not the boss of me.

My house is not the boss of me.

My crowded agenda is not the boss of me.

My to-do lists are not the boss of me.

Nor of you.

I am not the boss of me. 

The same day, before I read Ann’s blog, I had posted a picture on my Facebook page. It read, “Be still and know that I am God.” God may be trying to say something to me. I am not the boss of me. Jesus is the boss of me. Father is. Spirit is.  The Holy triune God – Trinity is Boss of me. But only if I let Him. Only if I ask him to be.  God will let me do my own thing whenever I want, but if I pay attention, he may be telling me that it’s not a good idea.

I ponder. My early morning hour of prayer has moved off first thing position.  I usually wait until my husband goes to work, so I do a few things and then I’m rushed for prayer. It’s not that I am not up early enough, I am. I want my time with God to be first thing. I need it to be. Unless I spend that first time with God, I will end up letting the world “stuff”, even the good, be the boss of me. It’s easy to let that happen. I will need to make a few changes. I will need to be determined, but it’s important to me and, I believe, God is saying that it’s important to him, too. First things first. After the first thing will come the next. I am not the boss of me.

“Be still and know that I am God” he says.—Psalm 46:10

Blessings in your stillness. ~ Donna

Don’t ask.

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. – Jeremiah 17:14

Don’t ask for awareness unless you are ready for it.  But then, are we ever ready?  Except, I long for the Holy Light that comes.  It’s important for my spiritual growth, so I ask for it. All the time. It is interesting when God says that he needs inner space in you, so you need to get rid of these stuffed (read stuck) places.  Very interesting.

The thing is, we (or at least I) go along expecting God to tell me what he wants me to let go of so that (I) can. Funny me.  Sometimes that happens but other times…..Well, for instance, a couple of weeks ago, I left to attend the weekly healing service and Eucharist at church.  I had extra time and didn’t feel rushed.  There were several cars in the parking lot when I arrived where, usually, there are just two or three. I started to go into the chapel, but it was almost full of people and some were at the altar rail.  I wondered what was going on because I absolutely couldn’t make sense of what I saw.  A friend motioned me to come in, but….I turned and ran out the door and out of the church instead.  I was almost in panic.  I sat in the car for a minute and left.  What????

Did I think they wouldn’t notice when I ran down the hall like the proverbial bat out of the hot place?  When I could breathe again, I recognized God. God.  I am almost obsessed with not being late.  I would rather be an hour early than five minutes late. I get antsy if it is close to time for something and I’m not there yet. The problem is, I think, that I don’t want to draw attention to myself standing alone – late. People will look.  I know this problem and I handle it by being early.  No problem, right?  (FYI– the other three times during the week that I have to be at church is 9:30am.  The healing service is at 9am. I arrived at 9:20.)

I asked for this gift of awareness. I want to be aware of God in things and people around me.  I hadn’t intended to ask to be that aware of my inner self, did I?  Well perhaps I did when I asked Jesus to transform me into his image. God has been determined to heal me of buried feelings and fears the last few years. I had worked on many things and thought those finished. The problem wasn’t that I was late, it was that the feelings were so intense that I knew that I needed to listen to them.  I needed to be with Jesus to ponder them. I needed to pray.  I needed to be with God.  I needed silence! Silence! God does his best work in me when I come to him there – in prayer, and I can’t transform myself so….Why do I try?

Oswald Chambers said, “The only way we can be of use to God is to let Him take us through the crooks and crannies of our own characters. It is astounding how ignorant we are about ourselves! We do not know envy when we see it, or laziness, or pride. Jesus reveals to us all that this body has been harboring before His grace began to work. How many of us have learned to look in with courage? We have to get rid of the idea that we understand ourselves; it is the last conceit to go. The only One who understands us is God.”  I’ll say Amen to that.

~ Donna

Sit Down!

Once again, my schedule is a bit out of control. I am headed off, in a few hours, to our Diocesan Convention. Because of this, I am reposting a previous meditation a day early. It seems rather appropriate to me today, anyway. I need to hear it again and again.

“Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk and this is the edge of the roof,” writes Rumi, a 13-century Sufi poet in his poem, “The Edge of the Roof.” When my retreat leader said this, my attention was immediately captured. I wondered how many times God says this to us and we aren’t listening. How many times does he say this to me? How many times would I have avoided disaster if I had sat down with God in quiet before I did something or said I would take on something? I recall a few times that I did not and the results were not the greatest. However, there are other times when Jesus says something similar to the above. “Listen to me. You are about to head in the wrong direction. Be still. Pay attention.”

“There is an old joke about a farmer who bought a mule that was supposed to listen to whatever it was told to do. The farmer told the mule to pull his plow, but the mule refused to budge. The farmer yelled at the beast, pleaded with him, cajoled him, but to no avail. Frustrated, the man called the previous owner to come over. “I thought you said this mule listened to whatever you told him to do,” he complained, “but he won’t listen to me.” Without a word, the former owner walked away and returned with a big stick. He took the stick and swatted the mule once across the rear end. Immediately the mule began to pull the farmer’s plow. “See?” said the man, “He listens real good, but first you have to get his attention.”

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” writes Mary Oliver, Poet. We have heard that or something like that quite a bit lately, haven’t we? Jesus might not whack us with a stick to remind us to pay attention, but he does have a purpose for our day and would like to talk with us about that. If we continue to act without taking time to listen, we might fall off the roof even if we consider what we are doing to be in line with his design for us. Or at least, that is my experience.

The psalmist says:
For God alone, my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him.
Truly, he is my hope and my salvation, my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken.
In God is my safety and my honor; God is my strong rock and my refuge.
Put your trust in him always, O people, pour out your hearts before him.—Psalm 62:6-9

‘For God alone, my soul in silence waits. There is probably a good reason that in our Trinity Rule of Life, “Pay Attention” comes before anything else.” – A Friday Meditation – October 12, 2012, dlw

Peace and Good ~ Donna