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 – Grace & Peace

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you.“- 2 Thessalonians 3: 16

Question – Do you think it’s time to take down my Christmas tree in the basement great room or should I hang flags on it for President’s Day, miniature pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, purple ribbons for Lent, shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, etc. and leave it up all year? Not a bad idea, I’m thinking.  The week is totally out of control along with my mind, and God is peeking out at me from everywhere.  I couldn’t settle my mind down for quiet time and silent prayer, so I listened to praise music on YouTube for an hour. I am grateful for the warmth and sun which reminds me that I should trim back the rose bushes.  Sigh.

This is the week that I have to write two articles – Soul Food to meet the deadline and this meditation for today.  There was no other time this week to write and after writing the first, I am without words.  However, I love this meditation or whatever it is from Frederick Buechner, so I’ll share that with you this week instead.

Frederick writes, “Theodicy is the branch of theology that asks the question: If God is just, why do terrible things happen to wonderful people? The Bible’s best answer is the book of Job.

Job is a good man and knows it, as does everybody else, including God. Then one day his cattle are stolen, his servants are killed, and the wind blows down the house where his children happen to be whooping it up at the time, and not one of them lives to tell what it was they thought they had to whoop it up about. But being a good man he says only, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Even when he comes down with a bad case of boils and his wife advises him to curse God and die, he manages to bite his tongue and say nothing. It’s his friends who finally break the camel’s back. They come to offer their condolences and hang around a full week. When Job finds them still there at the start of the second week, he curses the day he was born. He never quite takes his wife’s advice and curses God, but he comes very close to it. He asks some unpleasant questions:

If God is all he’s cracked up to be, how come houses blow down on innocent people? Why does a good woman die of cancer in her prime while an old man who can’t remember his name or hold his water goes on in a nursing home forever? Why are there so many crooks riding around in Cadillacs and so many children going to bed hungry at night? Job’s friends offer an assortment of theological explanations, but God doesn’t offer one.

God doesn’t explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway. He says that to try to explain the kinds of things Job wants explained would be like trying to explain Einstein to a little-neck clam. He also, incidentally, gets off some of the greatest poetry in the Old Testament. “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades? Hast thou given the horse strength and clothed his neck with thunder?” (Job 38:31).

Maybe the reason God doesn’t explain to Job why terrible things happen is that he knows what Job needs isn’t an explanation. Suppose that God did explain. Suppose that God were to say to Job that the reason the cattle were stolen, the crops ruined, and the children killed was thus and so, spelling everything out right down to and including the case of boils. Job would have his explanation.

And then what?

Understanding in terms of the divine economy why his children had to die, Job would still have to face their empty chairs at breakfast every morning. Carrying in his pocket straight from the horse’s mouth a complete theological justification of his boils, he would still have to scratch and burn.

God doesn’t reveal his grand design. He reveals himself. He doesn’t show why things are as they are. He shows his face. And Job says, “I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see thee” (Job 42:5). Even covered with sores and ashes, he looks oddly like a man who has asked for a crust and been given the whole loaf.

At least for the moment.” – originally published in Beyond Words

Good right??

 

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Be

For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. ~ Psalm 62:5-6 

A Journal note from a few days ago.  I had been sitting and….

“God”, I say, “I think you have a big job ahead with me.  It will take a long time, I believe, to get me to where you dream of me to be.”

God:  “I have all the time in the world.”  He smiles.

Me: “You are a funny God.  I like your jokes. You make me laugh.” I feel God’s touch.

It’s been one of those days. I have sat here since early morning, with a break or two to play Sudoku and check my email. (And eat) My mind feels numb. Tired maybe.  Yes? I read, in my procrastinating time, a couple of poems – one of them a song.  I am not a poet but sometimes someone else’s sneaks into my soul and expands there while I read.

This by Kathie Hempel: “The blank page both beckons and mocks for who am I to think I can take on such a call?

Many thoughts scream, yet seem nothing new will ever escape from this word-laden spider web.

The dew of the web drips of promise and tears as I long to write something meaningful and inspiring. I mean, that’s what writers do is it not? However, I do not feel worthy.”

And a song by Neil Diamond: “BE”

“Lost – On a painted sky where the clouds are hung for the poet’s eye you may find him If you may find him

There – On a distant shore by the wings of dreams through an open door you may know him If you may

Be – As a page that aches for a word which speaks on a theme that is timeless and the one God will make for your day

Sing – As a song in search of a voice that is silent and the sun God will make for your way

And we dance to a whispered voice overheard by the soul undertook by the heart and you may know it – if you may know it

While the sand would become the stone which begat the spark turned to living bone

Holy, holy; Sanctus, Sanctus”

And by Henri Nouwen: “Solitude is the garden for our hearts, which yearn for love. It is the place where our aloneness can bear fruit. It is the home for our restless bodies and anxious minds. Solitude, whether it is connected with a physical space or not, is essential for our spiritual lives. It is not an easy place to be, since we are so insecure and fearful that we are easily distracted by whatever promises immediate satisfaction. Solitude is not immediately satisfying, because in solitude we meet our demons, our addictions, our feelings of lust and anger, and our immense need for recognition and approval. But if we do not run away, we will meet there also the One who says, “Do not be afraid. I am with you, and I will guide you through the valley of darkness.” ~ Henri Nouwen

So, what does all this say to me, today?  These things that feed my soul when there seems to be nothing to write?  Even though, the bright sun the last few days sends streams of water trickling into the streets.  Even though, hope seems to be lurking around the corner for warmer days ahead.  Even though I had two mornings of mostly solitude and silence in my office this past week.  No words come.  Nothing brilliant to put on a page.  Nothing hugely inspiring to add to your week.  Maybe that’s the point.

Yes, God has a big job ahead somedays.  He probably appreciates my silent mind while he does his work. And after all, God has all the time in the world.

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – A New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR. Well, here it is – 2016.  2015 was about the shortest and the longest year ever, and I am very glad to see the last of it. It started with me having a bad cold that lasted at least four weeks.  I wasn’t quite over it when I had three surgeries to correct a problem with an infection, the last surgery was in the hospital.  While there, I had a major reaction to antibiotics (I’m allergic to all of them but we tried because it was necessary.) All of this resulted in a thyroid storm that I’m not sure has resolved yet.  Then, one more surgery on my hand, the death of my 93 year old mother, the serious injury of one of my brothers resulting in the loss of his leg, various expensive problems with an aging house, a major computer crash, etc. STRESS.

I could go on, but it’s just boring. This is not the sort of year upon which I care to reflect at the beginning of a new one.  The good news is that, as usual, God is making or can make good come out of it, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hard. I am still trying to recover my energy. Several thoughts have been running through my head for this writing, but none have really stuck, so we’ll see what happens.  It could go several ways.

I was asked to consider doing something to which I was rather resistant.  I told the person asking that but was asked to pray about it.  I pondered and prayed and while just going about my business, I heard God say, “Just do it.”  Kind of pushy, I thought, but then I was resistant and God is God.  So, this and a couple of other things for the next year are in the works and up in the air. I know that God is in charge of these, so I’ll go along for the ride.  Not much to reflect on here. Only waiting.

Or speaking of resolutions, which I wasn’t, but a Facebook post said, (Ok, so I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I have a couple of pages on which I try to post “Good News” to counteract all the bad). Anyway, the post has a dog asking the cat, “What is a New Year’s resolution?” The cat’s answer was, “It’s a To Do List for the first week in January.” Isn’t that the truth?  I’ve pretty much given up on most resolutions except for maybe this one.

But then, I read these on a blog by Ron Edmondson. He called his article “Seven New Year Resolutions which could Change the World.” Here are four of them along with some of his commentary.

“Let’s resolve to begin every day with a prayer, a smile, and a humility check.…What if we woke up every morning and began by talking to God – recognizing His power and asking Him to direct our steps, make sure our smile is our attitude, and humbly enter the world not expecting anything other than to be a blessing?

“Let’s resolve to return evil with good…. (Pray for our enemies – Donna’s commentary)

“Let’s resolve not use social media as a forum to bash others….Or even as a forum period. It divides people rather than bringing them together. Let’s resolve for a kinder, gentler Facebook…Let’s act like people – real people – may actually see what we write. And care. And, let’s post in a way which encourages and builds each other up – almost like that’s in the Bible somewhere. (Say around 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 “Let’s resolve to listen more than we speak. Ouch – if needed! It’s hard to value others when we are doing all the talking. It’s also hard to hear from God. It requires an act of humility when we remain silent at times we want to speak….

“Of course, ultimately the change the world needs is the Gospel, but who knows? Maybe if we change the way we treat others – including other believers – others might actually want to hear our Gospel.”

Thank you, Ron. These are New Year’s resolutions I can believe in and perhaps even do.

Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath. ~ Psalm 116:2

 

 

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Does it Really Matter?

“Now thank we all our God, with heart, and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom his world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.” ~ Hymnbook 1982

There are so many thoughts wandering around my mind today that I can’t seem to choose one or make them fit together in order to write.  I feel like Ann Lamott, author of the book, “Help, Thanks, Wow”, when she says, “My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” That’s a good idea.  I’m sure I could really get lost in there, today, but I think I will choose to write about gratitude since it is November.                                                             

A fragment of today’s lessons caught my attention, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven’” ~ Matthew 16: 18-19. The last part really grabbed me. Even though, I’m pretty sure this was not what Jesus meant when he spoke, I read several meditations this week stating that all things are connected in the world of spirit. All of our thoughts and words of gratitude, peace, and love, along with our prayers, can help change the world into the promised Kingdom of God on earth.  Our thoughts, words, etc. of anger, judgement and hate will be loosed into the world, also. Even our thoughts have power.  What we do, say and even think, matters. God help us. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

So, what does this have to do with gratitude? I said that I’m having trouble fitting my thoughts together.  It’s a good thing I need to write. I read an interesting article from the field of neuroscience about what gratitude does for the person who is grateful—who looks for and finds those things each day for which they are, and who thinks on these things. It said that having gratitude makes changes in the brain chemistry that brings feelings of peace and well-being to him or her.  Also, I believe that being grateful reminds us that there is a God and it’s not us.  Moral – if you are down in the dumps, look for and find that for which you are grateful and thank God for it. See what it does for your spirit.

Today, I am grateful for God’s Grace. Love. Freedom. Family. Friends. Blue sky.  Sun.  Jesus.  Forgiveness.  Shelter.  Kingdom signs:  A policeman bought shoes for a homeless, shoeless, man. A neighborhood in Denver got together to rent a house for a panhandler and his family who were living in a motel.  They are now working on getting together enough money to pay the rent for a whole year. Those who work to feed the hungry of our town and all who help those with limited options.  Thank you, Jesus. Just writing about it helps.

For what are you grateful, today.  What did you see today that was beautiful? Remember it. Savor it.  Thank God for it.

”Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – The Dandelion Says….

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.’” ~ Matthew 13:24-26

About two weeks ago, I attended the annual retreat for spiritual directors.  The topic was Soul Gardening, so we meditated on the soul plants we had been given as gifts from God and weeds in our garden which might need to be eliminated. I thought about weeds.  What if the weeds in my soul are gifts, too and not something to pulled up or sprayed dead? Maybe, we should listen to them before we decide.

I love happy yellow dandelions.  About the first plant to bloom in the spring, dandelions are the first food available to bees.  Children make bouquets from them for their mothers and bracelets, necklaces and crowns for fun.  When dandelions go to seed and we blow on them, fluffy seedlings float into the sky to spread the joy.  When young, the leaves can be good for eating, and dandelion blooms make fairly good wine. I read that if we kill all the dandelions, the population of bees will be greatly reduced which would be disastrous for our food supply.  In spite of this, most often, we get rid of them.  We don’t want them were they are, because they are weeds…. Or are they?

Perhaps, the weeds are in my soul, along with spirit gifts, to give me something or teach me something—for my benefit and the benefit of others.  If I sit with my dandelions and listen to them, what might they tell me? I’ll share one story. I have listened long to it.

I have a genetic tendency to clinical depression and panic attacks. I don’t have them, now, but there is always a possibility if I don’t pay attention to my life.  There was an extended period, as a young woman, when I was almost totally incapacitated by fear. I couldn’t leave the house; sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed, and I was afraid of everything including God.

It is very unfortunate, I believe, that this weed growth took place when my children were little.  I wasn’t available to them when they most needed me. I drank too much to mask the fear and pain because I didn’t know what else to do. God was eventually able to break in, providing a diagnosis and assuring me of his love, and healing began. I believed that the best thing I could do for my children, first of all, was to get healed myself and so I began the long journey of recovery. I needed medication and therapy for a time and our Christian community was available to pray for me and help when I was ready to panic. So – Gift or Weed?

Rather than zapping me well, God impelled me to become well. I wanted this weed to be pulled up or killed immediately, but it wasn’t time for that.  There were lessons to be learned about me and about God that I would have missed.  The ensuing healings, redemption and transformation are part of my story. Some healing still needs to happen in my family, but God isn’t finished with us yet.

Perhaps, the point of the weeds in our souls is to get us in touch with the One who grows and heals and who turns what appears to be supposedly noxious weeds into lovely trees. Do I love this process?  No.  But I’m so, so grateful for it.

We are the broken, you are the healer, Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save.
You are the love song we’ll sing forever, bowing before you, blessing your name.

~ Lynn DeShazo; Gary Sadler

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – God’s in the Pew?

“When we discover the secret of being inwardly at worship while outwardly at work, we find that the soul’s silence brings us to God and God to us.” ~ Brent Bill

Yesterday at the healing service while some had gone to the altar rail for prayers, I sat quietly in prayer for those and a few others.  I was dealing with a couple of things that had really upset me, so when I felt someone beside me in the seat that had been vacated, I was a bit startled.  The empty seat was next to the wall and it would have been next to impossible for anyone to get to that seat without me knowing about it. I wondered how that had happened when I suddenly realized that it was Jesus whose presence I felt.

He knew my inner turmoil and I felt him take my hand. I was wrapped in love. We sat together until I heard our priest say, “The peace of the Lord be with you.” Without really thinking I said, “The peace of the Lord be with you…uh…Lord.” I giggled, silently of course, but it was there inside me wandering around and filling me with laughter. What on earth does it mean to say, “The Peace of God be with you, God?”  How can it even be possible to pass the peace to God when God is our peace—Father, Son and Spirit—our peace.  Jesus smiled at my amusement and my wonderment.  My seatmate returned and the service continued.

Well, what does a person do with all this when she has just passed the peace to God? I have no idea.  Enjoy the moment comes to mind.  Realize that we are not alone in our stumbling, struggles and pain – that’s a good one to remember. Jesus has a sense of humor in case we didn’t know or forgot. And praise, definitely. I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth. My soul will glory in the Lord; let the poor hear and be glad. Magnify the Lord with me; and let us exalt his name together. – Psalm 34:1-4

And pray. “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.”—C. S. Lewis

You know by now that one of my favorite ways to pray is Centering Prayer.  I pray with words, too, when they are required but I try, twice each day, to pray in silence.  Rich Lewis, a writer for Contemplatives Today, is writing a series on Centering Prayer.  Some of his answers to the question “Why do I center?” fit me as well.

“I center because I love God. I center to let go of my worries, anxieties, fears, things that are bothering me. When I center, I am sitting with God; I do not think words need to be said. I sit with God to love God and be loved by God. I believe God is praying in me in ways that I do not know…..I sit to let God act in me. I sit to be refreshed. I sit because it slows me down…I learn to make better decisions; sometimes silence is the best action.”

And, lastly, one of the reasons why I use Centering Prayer is that it helps me “Pay Attention.” That’s about all I know that I can do when I have just passed the peace to God.

“Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” ~ Mary Oliver