A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Things in Piles

To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives-the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections-that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only truly grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.” ~ Henri Nouwen

I was sorting things into keep piles, save piles and move piles, when I remembered a dream that I had several years ago.  It was actually just an image.  I had shared it with some friends and one of them had drawn a picture of it and wrote down thoughts that had come to her as she drew.  I saved that picture somewhere, but I don’t know where.  I thought I had put in in an old journal but I couldn’t find it.  When I was packing for our move, I threw two of these journals in my stuff to take to temporary quarters with me.  A note about that image was in one, but no drawing.  The rest of the journals, I threw away.  There is a journal person’s prayer that says:  “Now I lay me down to sleep.  I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, please throw my journals in the lake.”  I took care of that before anyone had to do it for me and get curious about what I had written. I was only mildly curious, myself. Randomly picking up these two has been enlightening or at the least interesting. Let me share some of them.

First, the image that I had in the dream that kept me from throwing all the journals in the lake.  It was New Year’s Eve, 1997.  I wrote, “I was walking around something.  It seemed like the altar [at St. Alban’s in Windsor].  Nothing was on the altar – no cloth or anything.  Then I noticed green succulent tiny leaves clinging to it.  Behind the altar was a terra cotta flower pot. It had broken open on the floor.  My sense was that it had fallen off the altar.  Dirt was all around it – potting soil dirt and the plant was growing from this and clinging to the altar. Hum?”  I wish I had the words my friend wrote. Today, I was thinking about how our spiritual growth and transformation (at least mine) really takes place when we embrace our brokenness and don’t try to bury it or ignore it. At those times when we lie broken and scattered, new growth comes from clinging to God.  I don’t know what else to do with mine.

There are other stories, too, that I “accidently” saved – about the angels that came to collect my sister’s mother-in-law when she was dying – about saying goodbyes to many things, and about the day 21 years ago, just before Palm Sunday, when our son died from suicide and the little blue bird that came to see me before I left the retreat I was on and came home to this news.  Many of these stories are about brokenness, loss and God’s grace in the midst of it all. I will read some more of them in the days to come. Maybe, I’ll share them.

 

 

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A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Trust and Obey

I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ~ Anne Lamott

I really don’t know what God is up to at the moment.  When I was looking over some past writings, I realized that I never really did the things I had wanted to do during Lent for the last three years.  I plan, but then other stuff happens.  Life happens and I can’t seem to manage to do what I wanted.  Why?

This year, we’ve been in the process of moving out of the house we’ve sold and waiting, still, to get into our new one.  This process has been dragging on and it looks like it will continue for a period of time.  We finally have a house to buy, I believe, but the possession date is three months away. We are staying with a friend for now.  Bless her. Someone asked if I prayed for patience and the answer is a definite NO. When I have, I get too many chances to practice.  But I don’t know why the wait.  Is this the right house?

The thing about discernment is that it always comes with an “I believe this is God’s will for me BUT I really don’t know for sure”.  I believe I heard God’s voice in this house thing.  It sounded like God at the beginning and it still does.  I trust him entirely, but the problem is that I don’t trust me.  I don’t know if I heard God, for absolute certainty, or if I am hearing the sound of my own voice and my own desires. So I take the next step and see what happens with it.  Other doors have been closed and there is still a sense of rightness about this house.  Discernment works that way. So why the long wait?  “You know, God, people will think we’re crazy selling our house, especially since I keep saying that you told me to, before we have a new one in which to go. Don‘t you know your reputation could be at stake here? Or am I afraid that it’s my reputation at stake?”  Well, perhaps, God has a plan for me. What is the lesson here?  What area of growth and transformation are you working within me?

It could be because I hate asking for help.  I don’t want to be a bother or a burden.  I’m okay with asking for prayers on the prayer chain, but in other areas, I want to be able to take care of myself even in times when there is no possible way that I can. I think I grew up this way, so this is probably why I’ve had to ask for help.  It’s about community.  It’s about being the Body of Christ together.  It’s about helping each other stand when life is overwhelming.  I can’t be a body by myself. So, since my husband and I would never be able to do this moving thing without help, we had to ask for some.

Grace upon grace abounds. We had so much packing help that I am still astounded.  I am so grateful for their loving presence, busy hands and strong backs.  I am grateful for prayers of those who were not able to pack.  We all needed those, too. I am filled with gratitude for a lovely place to stay while we wait for our house.  Many thanks to all of you.  You have blessed us. I bless you.  I still don’t know what the long wait is about, but I will take the next step that appears before me and see where it goes.

Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand. ~ Psalm 37:23-24

A FRIDAY MEDITATION ~ Don’t be afraid.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11

After another long day of doing “moving stuff”, I went archive diving for a meditation.  This one seems to fit where I am today.

“Jesus told me that he needs to give me more interior space, so I need to let go of these fears. “Another layer is coming off,” I heard. This may be harder than making space in my home. I pray about “insecurity.”  Jesus is showing up beside me on this journey in some very surprising and tangible ways.  I had thought my insecurity “issues” were mostly healed, but any of us may have this issue at times.  [With future home plans still up in the air, these issues resurface.]

“Without much detail, I was born by forceps delivery, five months after Pearl Harbor.  It was revealed to me in prayer that I didn’t believe that the world was safe, picked up from my mother while in the womb, most likely.  [We moved to Colorado when I was one] and between the ages of seven and 13, we moved at least seven times.  I had to start over in meeting new people, going to new schools, churches, etc.   One summer, we were homeless.  Not living on the street homeless, but we did not have a home. [Sort of like today] My parents were without jobs.  Our large family had to split up in order to live with friends.  Even though I stayed with my best friend, it didn’t help much when, eventually, we were asked to leave. It was very embarrassing for a sensitive, shy introvert of 12. The rootlessness continued after we married and Dave went into the military. After that, we lived in Longmont for 21 years which I planned to be our last move. God had other plans [as usual] so I have become more or less accustomed to the nomadic life.

“Insecurity creeps in, occasionally, when my life changes. I begin to wonder where I fit, etc., but I have learned that, in Jesus, I will soon find my footing.  God has used these experiences to mold compassion within me and without them I would not be who I am today… I have a picture [in my mind] of sitting under a tree with a path to either side. “Give me Jesus” I pray. He comes to sit with me [because] we are in this together.

“Did Jesus have insecurity, too, on his journey to the cross? He was like us in all ways but sin. The Bible doesn’t record this directly, but were his fears expressed when he was in prayer?  Many times Jesus was in conflict with the religious authorities. His family thought he was crazy. When he started to understand that he was headed toward the cross, did he wonder if he understood his mission correctly?   Did he wonder if he was on the right path and express this to his father? “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” Mark 1:35.  Was it then?

“There are many times where situations may cause insecurity in the life of an apprentice of Jesus—well, maybe not you—but he has been there before and will guide us through.  Hang on tight and Pay Attention.” [My early morning centering prayer keeps me grounded and helps me to pay attention most days. I have learned not to be without it. With it I’m not so uptight and it calms my insecurity, even today.]

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”—Joshua 1:9