A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Practicing Gratitude

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. ~ Psalm 3:3

During prayer this morning, the above scripture started weaving its way through the silence.  Some music started – I think there is a song written about this– wandering around also. As I sat with this for a bit, I started to feel it in my bones. Under the circumstances, the feeling may not last long, but the truth of it is permanent.  God is the one who lifts me up – the one who lifts us up.

Josh Groban, though he did not write it, made popular the song, “You Raise Me Up.” It was written by the duo, Secret Garden with lyrics by Brendan Graham, one of the duo. I don’t think it was meant to be about God, but for me when I hear it, it’s about God.  Sometimes, God with skin on.

“When I am down, and, oh, my soul, so weary
When troubles come, and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

“There is no life, no life without its hunger
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly
But then you come, and I am filled with wonder
Sometimes I think I glimpse eternity”

“You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be

Life is difficult, M. Scott Peck, said in his book, THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED. Agreed. Sometimes, it is more difficult than others. It is how we handle the difficulty that makes us grow in the life of the Spirit and closer to God.  Sometimes, I’m better at this than at others. We all are. I am struggling a bit at the moment because the difficulties keep coming.  But the fact is, that God never leaves us.  He is the lifter of our head.  He raises us up to stand on mountains.  He provides the strength for us to make it through the difficult and rough spots.  And we will.  I will.  I can only be full of gratitude.

Today I am grateful for:

Moving into our new house is over.  It’s almost presentable.  I grateful for that. And I love it.  What a wonderful gift for our older age.

I am almost through with one of the two last projects in the moving process (not counting finishing decorating).  I took a break between the draft of this meditation and the finishing of it to clean out what I call “the project closet”.  This holds sewing, knitting, scrapbooking, photo projects, genealogy, etc.  You can’t imagine how much fun that was.  Seriously, it is. I’ll finish it before dinner, and celebrate with a glass of wine.

For cooler days. For sunshine.  For rain. For blue skies. For late roses.

For Chrysanthemums.  I bought two pots of them yesterday for my patio.  I may go get another one.  Fall colors.

I’m grateful that I can, apparently, write a bit, again.  It was so hard for a while.  So much to sort out. I’m not done with that, yet.

I’m grateful for God’s strong shoulders, that he raises me up and is the lifter of my head.

My church community.  For soul friends. For the Daughters of the King. You lift my head so many times.

And, I’m grateful for you, my brothers and sisters, for being God’s agent with skin on when the days are hard and my energy is limited. I’m so grateful for your prayers.

And I am grateful to God that the answers to our prayers are so often amazing and not what we expect.

 

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – And Yet…

Hear my cry, O God and listen to my prayer.  I call upon you from the ends of the earth with heaviness in my heart; set me upon the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.  I will dwell in your house forever; I will take refuge under the cover of your wings. ~ Psalm 61:1-4

As usual over the last few weeks, I have no words. There is nothing really to say.  A thought will come and I think I could write and then it disappears somewhere.  Nothing coherent makes its way to consciousness. The stressors of the last two years have just about done me in, and they continue.  I’m not going to list them here this time. Because….well, because. Many of you will understand that because you have had your own troubles.

There are tears behind my eyes that occasionally make their way to the front of them.  There is such sadness in the world.  Terrible things are happening.  Terrible things have happened in my own family as well and maybe yours, too. The mystic and poet, Rumi, wrote, “I went inside my heart to see how it was. Something there makes me hear the whole world weeping.”

I asked Jesus. I feel his tears fall on my hands and face. His cry rings out, “Jerusalem. Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” ~ Matthew 23:37

Barbara Brown Taylor asks, “So I wonder… Where do we go and what do we draw upon when life is bigger than we are?” We know the answer to that question don’t we? There is “Even so” “And yet.”  There is always an “and yet,” GOD IS GOOD. And the end of the story promises that God WINS.

If I can put life into words it helps me get a handle on it.  Writing does that for me even when it is rather incoherent. It helps me find words that I might not even be able to utter out loud.  I can find my voice in writing and it helps get the sadness and heaviness out. The world at times seems hopeless but friends who listen, to and with unspoken words, are precious.  God does that.

There are so many blessings.  I am grateful for many things and God’s goodness, too, brings tears behind my eyes. I love my family – my husband and children, grandchildren great-grandchildren. I love my new home.  I love my church community.  I have lovely friends. A ministry that brings me joy. Prayers of praise and thanksgiving abound. Being grateful brings hope even when much around us seems to be falling apart. Counting daily blessings, even if or especially if, we have to look for them, brings gratitude and a measure of joy. Life is difficult, but also wonderful.

Frederick Buechner reminds us that “we have it in us to be Christs to each other and maybe in some unimaginable way to God too….We have it in us to work miracles of love and healing as well as to have them worked upon us  We have it in us to bless with him and forgive with him and heal with him and once in a while maybe even to grieve with some measure of his grief at another’s pain and to rejoice with some measure of his rejoicing at another’s joy almost as if it were our own.” Yes!!

A friend sent this:

“Grief is a language without words and so it is untouched by words. Does it help to know that my prayers for you are often wordless, too?  And shaped like tears.”

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Living Water

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” ~ Revelation 7:17

I read a meditation this past week by Dallas Willard.  He wrote about the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt while on their way to the Promised Land.  The people had been whining about how much better things were in Egypt for miles and miles. They had no water, to make matters worse, and they were blaming Moses for bringing them here.  So, Moses and his brother Aaron went off to pray about this.  God told them to gather everyone together and then to speak to the rock right before their eyes and the rock will pour out its water and the community and the animals can drink.   So Moses did, mostly. (Numbers 20:1-13)

Dallas asked three reflection questions.  If you examine a rock and picture what happened within it when the water flowed, how do you picture that gush of water?  As a drinking fountain spout?  As a waterfall? Spraying Moses?

I thought about this and three incidents from my life came to mind.  Thinking about “spraying Moses” I thought about my baptism.  I was a grown up age 24 when I was baptized.  This had nothing to do with what I thought about baptism, but what I thought about water, dunking specifically. I did not want to be under water. I try not to think about under water.   But sprinkling, pouring, spraying, splashing, that’s another story.  After Jesus was baptized in the river, after God called him his Beloved Son and told him he was pleased with him, what did he do?  I envision Jesus, laughing, splashing water – maybe splashing those around him in his joy and delight. I did none of these, although I’ve see it happen, but I felt clean and new.

Reflecting on “waterfall” I recall my experience of what some call the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit.”  Experience may not be a good word for it, because when people prayed for me to receive this, I experienced nothing noticeable.  I thought that it probably didn’t take when I listened to the stories of others. I expected some big emotional something.  I do, however, most of the time keep a tight rein on my emotions, so in retrospect, it is not really surprising that I didn’t feel anything.  But this changed my life.  I couldn’t get enough of the Bible, praying, and being around the people of God with prayer that healed me, teachings that grew me, community that supported me, and I received gifts for service as well. The waterfall is not often a rushing waterfall, in my case, but more like a gentle shower that soaks me through and through with abundance.

Lastly, while thinking about the “water fountain” which nourishes us with water needed for living, my thoughts go toward the Eucharist – Holy Communion, which I have learned, I cannot live without. This reflection fountain is not actual water, but bread and wine taken in community. Once in a deep, dark period, I found I could make it through the week if I went and received communion twice a week but not if I didn’t.  I still try my best to go twice, at least, because this is still the water of life for me.

What would you notice if you were to reflect on the gush of water from the rock? What would that “water” be? Are you splashing around in it?   Or quietly letting it wash over you? Where is the Water of Life nourishing you today?  Where do you need it? And again, where do I?

Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” ~ John 7:38