A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Not Today

 

LORD, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

You discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue,

Behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before,

And lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is high; I cannot attain it. ~ Psalms 139:1-6

 

 You know that, especially since I’ve been sick, I talk about a lot about staying in the moment.  I know that this moment is all I can count on.  I can’t change the past though I have memories of it both good and bad. I can only project the future and perhaps do some minor planning. Perhaps I may have some influence on it.  God is everywhere, past, present, and future but for the most part he is present to me today. Right now. Today, in the everyday events of my life, God is present.

 

 It would be easy to think that if God is present with us in our day, and if we can stay focused, this should be a great day.  We can hang on to the hem of his robe. We know he wants to heal us. We can relax into that right? But what if this day totally stinks. What if the only thing we can think to say to God, in our present awareness, is “What’s up with this? I thought you were my friend. I thought you loved me.” God listens to our rants but he rarely provides an answer. Some things are a mystery. As I have said before, these are mysteries not to be solved but to be lived.  God has lots of these and he has things to teach us that we need to know, so we trust, at least part of the time that God knows what he is doing and march on.

 

 Let me share a recent day or series of days, really.  It was a stinky day and yet…I’ve been trying to make sense of it for days and it finally started to come together on Wednesday. This happened on Monday, September 25. I had a meeting at the office with two Soul Friends. We had been trying to have this meeting for three months or since I became ill.  I didn’t feel on top of things but I didn’t want to reschedule.  We hadn’t even started our meeting when I became violently sick. I knew I would need meds for nausea and vomiting as well as an ambulance.  I asked my friends to call my husband to come get me. Then it got weird.

 

 Dave got the wheel chair to take me to the car because I couldn’t stand. We got home, the ambulance came and I was in the hospital for five days with septic shock most likely caused by my cancer medication. They told Dave that I was very near death and none of them really expected me to make it. One doctor came into my room that night and said, “Good luck, tonight.”  I thought that a very strange thing for a doctor to say to a patient.   What none of them knew, and what I find difficult to describe, was that I had already made it.

 

 So, let me back up to when I left the church in a wheel chair.  The light was strange and I hadn’t really been able to describe it until now. I’m still not sure that I can. There seemed to be a focal point of very intense white light with rays of blue light radiating from it. It filled my whole vision. The light itself seemed like a star. The star was flashing or pulsating in some way but that image isn’t entirely right, either.  I was being propelled toward it by a force.  My hands were stretched out ahead of me as if I were trying to stop the forward motion. Then there was a greater force that grabbed me back from the light. I saw nothing, I just felt the forward motion jerk to a stop. This great force was loving and powerful. God? The power of a loving God? The power of prayer by His warriors? The power of love? All the above?

 

 Was this light the light that others have mentioned in near-death experiences? Dave and I have talked about some of this.  I remember bits and pieces of what went on around me in ICU.  There was much I do not. My blood pressure was hardly detectable. They didn’t know if they could bring me back.  They didn’t know that God had already made the decision. It was not my day to go.  Not this day.

 

  Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day

For darkness is as light with you. ~ Psalms 139:7-12

 

 

 

Peace and Good,

Donna

 

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A FRIDAY MEDITATION – A Good Day

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”
– Psalm 63:1

I’m feeling overwhelmed today
With Jesus

Me

A child of God and inheritor of God’s Kingdom
Not only inheritor but
Resident now in this very present

Called to become
More like Jesus
Gifted with Holy Spirit who gives power
Enables my becoming
And power for doing what God desires
Strengthens the presence of his Kingdom on earth today

Unbind them and set them free, he tells me
My mission statement
May it be like his

Loved
Forgiven

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
—Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

I am so grateful
Sing

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving…. For the Lord hears the needy.” ~ Psalm 69:30,33

Dance with joy (Don’t know how)
Jesus doesn’t mind
My dancing partner
Leads

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” ~ Psalm 30-11

Play
Need to
Important Spiritual discipline
And Sabbath time

“What did you see today that was beautiful? Remember it. Savor it. Thank God.” ~ Fr. James Martin, SJ

Blue sky, birds
Children – Mine
Family
Peach pie
Practicing Gratitude

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” ~ 100:4

Brings joy
In the Lord
I am grateful

In Love

Come join the dance

Overwhelmed today
With Jesus

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Birthday Reflections

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble… A person’s days are determined;     you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” – Job 14:1, 5

Birthday Reflections

I’ve tried not to think about this day for a while.  Age is just a number they say.  But it is a real number. If I don’t say it aloud, maybe it isn’t so. A young delivery man called me “Miss”.  Maybe he needs glasses or maybe he’s from the south.  Since this is a milestone birthday, it is a good time to stop and evaluate. To reflect. To discern.  At this time of life, am I doing those things God desires for me to do? You know – things done and left undone. Is it time to let some things go? If so, which things.  What brings me life?  What does not?

I did not write a meditation last week because I was leaving for the Daughters of the King Retreat.  The retreat is usually a working retreat for me, and although wonderful and fun filled, I didn’t have the time or the space to reflect on these questions. I will probably need to go away for a few days to have that without distractions.

A few old age jokes come to mind.  I might as well laugh.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” ― Att. Mark Twain

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.” ― Ellen DeGeneres (Love this.)

“When I was a boy the Dead Sea was only sick.” ― George Burns

“When I was born, rocks were still soft.” – My husband

And then, though it is not a joke, this quote from Parker Palmer, “Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” So, there it is. Reflection time calling.

God spoke to me in many ways this week.  A birthday week, especially when it’s a mile stone birthday, is a good time to make a sacramental confession.  Confession is healing to the soul and I do that here if my confessor comes. This year she did and I heard the words, “You are forgiven.”  She gave me a sort of penance.  First, she said, “Out of great pain comes great love. You embody this.”   I know it is true – that from brokenness comes the gift of love – but I don’t always see it in me.  Then she said to look for happy things to do, because she thinks I am depressed.  Really?? I wonder what gave her that idea.  She reads my writings, maybe that’s it.  Or maybe it was the tears. What kind of penance is that, anyway?

Happy things. I think I’ve forgotten how to do happy things.  Recently, there has been too many disappointments, too much pain, too much sadness, etc. It wears me out.  I already had a lighter feeling, and I started to pay attention.  God provided some moments.

One woman said that if I lived closer, she would recruit me for her singing group.  I don’t and I’m not sure how much longer I will be able to sing, anyway, but that was fun and encouraging.

One woman said she liked my shoes and they look like dancing shoes. They do.  I like them, too.

Our group stopped for lunch on the way home.  While waiting for the food, I went to the restroom.  The music that was being played, I think, was by Neil Diamond.  I have no idea now what song it was but It made me happy.  Maybe, I was dancing on the way back to the table, I don’t know, but my eye caught the eye of a young man sitting at a table.  He was about 21, I guess, because he was drinking a beer with his meal.  I doubt he was much older and he was singing the same song under his breath.  As our eyes met, he smiled and nodded his head.  I gave him thumbs up.  A strange connection happened as we responded to the song.  It was spontaneous and delightful.

My birthday week is over, but I still need to take time for discernment and reflection.  I will try to pay attention to happy things and seek happy things to do. Are the times of darkness and pain worth it?  Yes. They are, but only if I look for the gifts of love and growth that come from them.

In the beginning O God you shaped my soul and set its weave.

You formed my body and gave it breath.

Renew me this day in the image of your love.

O great God, grant me your light.

O great God, grant me your grace.

O great God, grant me your joy this day.

And let me be made pure in the well of your health.

~ Celtic Prayers from Iona – J. Phillip Newell

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – And there was Light

These are the days of Elijah declaring the word of the Lord And these are the days of Your servant Moses righteousness being restored These are the days of great trials of famine and darkness and sword. Still we are the voice in the desert crying, Prepare ye the way of the Lord! Behold He comes, riding on the clouds shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call. Lift your voice, year of Jubilee out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes. ~ Days of Elijah, att. Robin Mark

Here we are at the end of the Epiphany Season, Ash Wednesday being this week.  Have you decided what you are going to do for spiritual practices during Lent – giving up something, taking on something, both?

Two things caught my attention today – The Gospel reading for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, coming up; and today God said to me, “Let there be light” straight out of Genesis 1.  What do these have to do with Lent? I do not know.

The Gospel: From Matthew 17:1-9 – Jesus takes three of his closest friends, Peter, James, and John with him on a hike up the mountain.  While they were standing atop, Jesus’ face changes and shines like the sun and his clothes become as white as the light. Suddenly – it’s always suddenly, isn’t it – Moses and Elijah appear and have a conversation with Jesus. Peter is so excited that he wants to build dwellings for Jesus, for Moses and for Elijah.  But then a bright cloud surrounds the three and a voice from that cloud declares that Jesus is his Son and the disciples (we) need to listen to him. This terrified the disciples the Bible says. You think?! But Jesus touches them and says, “Get up and don’t be afraid.” They look up and Elijah and Moses are gone. Then Jesus says a very strange thing. He says, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Whiplash!  What?

“Get up and don’t be afraid.” Why does this story hold my attention so much this week?  Why does the above song by Robin Mark do the same? Especially here at the almost beginning of Lent. Why did God say to me this morning, “Let there be light?” Isn’t Lent about darkness, repentance, sacrifice, and maybe some groveling?  And isn’t it about Ashes?  Those that will be marked on our heads on Ash Wednesday with the spoken words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return?” Yes.  Well maybe Lent is not about the groveling, but listen to the words of the service this Wednesday.  If you can’t attend, read the words from The Book of Common Prayer beginning on Page 265.

Thoughts:  Lent is mostly about turning around which is what repentance means.  The Ash Wednesday service reminds me that I am not God.  When God said, “Let there be light”, I remember that in the beginning, God intended and created light, which is probably the same thing, and we were to live in that light in a constant relationship of love with him. “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” – 1 John 1:5 tells us.  Light shows us when we have gone off course – when we have decided to take our lives into our own hands rather than follow God’s plan for us.  Lent gives us a time to rethink and repent of our decisions to do our own thing. Light reveals to us those things that we do that lead us away from God instead of toward him in a relationship of Love.  The light of Jesus helps us stay on the path and is what we are given to share with others.

Question: What Lenten practices will help me to notice when I do my own thing and help me to return to all that God wants for me and for others? What will help you?

Lord God of signs and wonders, when sin has silenced our song, sing about the good you still see in us. Great Son, friend of all who stray, when shame has broken our best, create a new and living way for us. Wild Spirit winged with healing power, when lies destroy our standing, remind us that you share this road with us.

Therefore, we’ll run, stagger, and bow, then kneel, In penitence because you care for us. Amen – Russ Parker, Prayer Poems for the Journey

 

 

 

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION -Yes! That!

 

 We have it in us to be Christs to each other and maybe in some unimaginable way to God too – that’s what we have to tell finally. 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.” ~ Frederick Buechner

I’ve been reading quotes by Frederick Buechner today. They have been soothing to my soul, because I woke this morning with a sense of doom. I wondered why all of this was present in me today, and after some time, I realized that what I was feeling was almost overwhelming grief.  Tears are very close to the surface, overflowing from time to time as the day wears on. Overwhelming, may not be the right word, but I don’t know what is.  I remember a Rumi quote that I saw, recently. I went inside my heart to see how it was. Something there makes me hear the whole world weeping.” Yes. That’s the feeling. Grief!

I’ve had many things to grieve the last two years. Deaths – My mother, a son-in-law, an ex-son in law whom I loved (both in tragic ways), and the loss of friends. I grieve for loved ones that have been affected by these deaths. The pain of the world. There are other losses, too. I’m good at ignoring these until they pile up. Add to this a cold that I finally got over, a big case of hives that I can’t explain and wham!!  Also, coming up in a few weeks is the anniversary of our son’s tragic death. Of course, seasonal affective disorder has something to do with my mood here at the end of winter.  But I have this every year and that is sadness, not grief. Was there a trigger somewhere?

This quote was on Facebook. I have heard something like it before. It speaks to me. “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ~ unknown. Yes. That.

The place that I am in is my reality for the moment, but there are things that I can do – practice gratitude for one.  I am grateful for many things and it helps to make notes because then I remember. Today, I see a bit of iris blade taking a peek above ground.  I really need to get out in the dirt, do some cleaning up and pruning – always a good thing.  I planned to take a walk before the wind picked up.  It was 75 degrees outside.  I’m grateful for the warmth, not needing my coat for a few days, even knowing that it won’t last. The moon was wondrous last night.

 Every day, I try to post something on my Facebook page, and our church’s, that is inspiring, sending a bit of light into the darkness.  I continue looking for the light of God in what is around me. There it is in the faces of friends, in a man picking up a food box and pouring a cup of coffee because it was very cold outside, in the face of a child talking to me while waiting for church to begin. The light of God is everywhere even in the midst of grief.   

Frederick Buechner says, “It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle. All wise. All-powerful. All-loving. All knowing. We bore to death both God and ourselves with our chatter. God cannot be expressed but only experienced.

In the last analysis, you cannot pontificate only point. A Christian is one who points at Christ and says, “I can’t prove a thing, but there was something about his eyes and his voice. There’s something about the way he carries his head, his hands, the way he carries his cross – the way he carries me.”  One of my favorites.

Grace and Peace, Donna

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Where did you meet God today?

“I believe there is within us this image of God…There is something deep within us, in everybody, that gets distorted and confused and corrupted by what happens to us. But it is there as a source of insight and healing and strength.  ~ Frederick Buechner

I am reading the book, Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes, by J. Brent Bill. Brent is a Quaker and my new best friend for the moment.  He knows a lot about the Inner Light. In the introduction, he writes, “Even though light is all around us, we often don’t notice it and the difference it can make in our souls.  That’s where an old Quaker saying, “Mind the Light”, offers help.”

I love this book. It would take several meditations to even begin to offer a meditation on what he writes in it, but one of his spiritual exercises really grabbed me. It is from the chapter titled, “The Light Without: Seeing Others.” Brent writes about a woman, attributing the story to Dorothy Bass, who asks each night while tucking her children into bed, “Where did you meet God today?” I was pondering this question the day of the Vestry meeting.  The meditation that night was…you guessed it…seeing the light of God in others. Hmm…perhaps, God is saying something to me.

As I consider this Light, I think about what the Bible says:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” ~ John 1:1-5

God is Light. Since God created humans in his Image, then somewhere within us that Light still resides.  But, as Frederick Buechner says in the opening quote, “that image gets distorted and confused and corrupted by what happens to us.”  Perhaps, though, a glimmer might still be there, somewhere.

Well, what about “truly evil” people?  Is the light of Christ in them? You might ask.  I might ask, too. The Light of Christ is in everyone.  Wouldn’t it have to be?  If it wasn’t, we would….well that will need to be another meditation or teaching.  There is no room to get into that in this meditation, and I’m not sure that I am qualified to answer it, anyway. I will say that perhaps the Light is so suppressed that it can’t get out of a person or even be acknowledged.  I really don’t know, but I will consider that possibility.  However, we could pray for a crack to open in them for that possibility. Maybe it could be reinforced by those people they meet along the road, which is even more reason for us to pray that the light of Jesus will shine in us.

“Again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” ~  John 8:12

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

Each night as we do our examination of consciousness, along with naming those things for which we are grateful this day and offering our thanks, it might be good for our spiritual lives to consider the question, “Where did I meet God today?”  Then, perhaps, if we are up for it, “Did my light shine bright enough that someone might have met God in me?

We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light so lovely that they want with all their heart to know the source of it. ~ Madeleine L’Engle

Grace and Peace, Donna

A FRIDAY MEDITATION -Sharing the Light

Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it. ~ Mary Oliver

Today is the feast of the Epiphany on which we celebrate the coming of the Magi to see Jesus.  Actually, this is the beginning of Jesus revealing himself to the Gentiles – us.  The Bible doesn’t say that there were three men, nor does it say that they were kings.  It doesn’t say they were not, either. Over the years, this tradition has developed in the church (I’m not going into this or I will definitely run out of space. You can google it if you are interested.).

The basic story is that some men, most likely astronomers, saw a star that they believed revealed to them the birth of this long awaited King who was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures.  So, they responded to the revelation of God in this star and followed it on a long journey in order to pay homage to him. These men, Matthew tells us, represent the Nations – the known world of the Gentiles. They probably were from Persia, Babylon or maybe Arabia.  Perhaps, all three. Nevertheless, Light is spread to the Gentiles.

Who told this story, I wonder?  Not many people were witness to this birth.  There were shepherds.  And there were Magi. Of course these men told King Herod what they were about but did not go back to tell him that they had found Jesus. Did they tell Mary and Joseph who were then warned in a dream to flee to Egypt for safety?  Did Mary tell this story to Matthew? I am reminded that the story of Jesus spreads when we share it and tell what he has done in our lives that has made a difference. We are called to be witnesses.

“We who have seen the light of Christ are obliged, by the greatness of the grace that has been given us, to make known the presence of the Savior to the ends of the earth…not only by preaching the glad tidings of His coming; but above all by revealing Him in our lives…Every day of our mortal lives must be His manifestation, His divine Epiphany, in the world which He has created and redeemed.” ~ Thomas Merton

Every Saturday, I post a quote on Trinity’s Facebook page that coincides with an element of the Trinity Way of Life.  For tomorrow, I have scheduled the element next in line, which is:  “TELL THE STORY”, Element #8.  We are to tell the story, not only of what is written about Jesus in the Bible, but also the story of what he has done in our own life that has made a difference.  These stories help us when we may be doubting that Jesus cares about us – it gives us something to remember – but they give us a witness to the Light to share which might point the way to others who may have never heard the story of Jesus in this way before.  And if they have, they may be having a doubting moment, too.

I have shared many of my stories with you in my writings and in person, before.  I have been short of new stories, recently.  My winter blues (Seasonal Affective Disorder) have hit rather hard this year.  I find it hard to get going some days.  I have my stories to hang on to when the days are rough.  They may not always raise my spirits much at the moment, but they do give me hope.  They remind me that Light always conquers the darkness and God always wins – even in those times when it looks as if he is not winning. It’s cold out and it has been dark and cloudy the past few days. Today, when I opened my curtains, on the coldest, coldest day in a very long time, (I mean, really, -37 degrees, or -44, whatever – what’s a few degrees among friends) the sun was shining and the sky was a lovely color of blue.  The light had overcome darkness once again. Soon, I am sure, there will be another story of Jesus to share.

What story would you share, today? What has Jesus done in your life that has made a difference, lately?  What story has given you hope?  Maybe, someone around you is waiting to hear it – needs to hear it.

“It seems to me that if a little flower could speak, it would tell simply what God has done for it without trying to hide His blessings.” ~ St. Therese, the Little Flower

~ Donna