Friday, August 17, 2018

Tree Musings . . .

“On the day of Judgment God will only ask one question: Did you enjoy my world?”
 (Traditional Jewish Saying)

She stands sentineled near the water’s edge, surrounded by birch, ash, and maple companions with vines entwined between her exposed ground roots.  This White Oak remains upright and almost motionless as the whispers of the lake breezes float through her branches. Gentle winds seem to tease her leaves as if prompting them to stir with laughter. Her sapwood continues to produce leaves that encircle her like a crown, while her center’s heartwood is now completely spent. This is always the prized wood sought after for special wood artistry. Yet she thrives. She becomes our teacher and speaks these wisdoms to us:

• Live life by giving your heart-center away. 
• Always provide shade and shelter for those who seek refuge from this world’s storms.
• Be sure to have friends stand by you when struggles find you.
• Seek nourishment from the waters of laughter, prayer, love, and solitude.
• Enjoy the beauty of creation and let butterflies teach you about transformation.
• Dream often and reach beyond the possible.
• Practice speaking words of comfort, mercy, and forgiveness.
• Don’t be afraid to bend and risk a new perspective.
• Always be a learner and trust in your talents.
• Be curious and chance walking to the edge.
• Be content when your growth is steady and slow, for that is what makes you of value.


The Light That We Need!

The Story of Two Sons ~ source unknown

A king had two sons.  As he grew older, he wanted to pass on the kingdom to one of these two sons and make him his heir.  He assembled all the wise men and women of the land, and called his two sons to present themselves.  He gave each of them five pieces of silver and told them: ‘By evening, I want you to have filled up this whole hall. What you fill it up with is up to you. You can use the silver pieces if you have to.’

And the wise folk said, ‘This is a great task.’
The older son went off, and came to a field where the farm laborers were harvesting sugar beet, and putting it through a press.  The remainder, after pressing, was discarded. So the older son made an arrangement with the foreman of the laborers, to take all the discarded sugar beet and fill up the hall with it.  When the task was complete, he gave the foreman the five pieces of silver, and told his father that the task was done.  There would be no need for his younger brother to try. He had filled the hall.  But his father replied, ‘There is still time. We will wait.’

The younger son came back, and asked for the sugar beet remains to be moved out of the hall again.  He had nothing in his hands but a candle. When the hall was completely empty once more, he carried the candle into the middle of the hall and lit it.  Immediately, the whole hall was filled with light. Light streamed into every remote corner.

And the king said to the younger son, ‘You shall be my heir. Your brother has spent five pieces of silver to fill up the hall with useless rubbish. You haven’t used even a single piece of silver, yet you have filled the hall with light. You have filled it with the very thing that our people need above all else.’

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mary, Wise Woman, Loving Woman, Faithfilled Woman . . .

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without any hesitation. 
The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a full lifetime. But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I've been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.” (Author Unknown)

On August 15th, we gather to celebrate, to remember and to affirm our belief once again in the passing of Mary into God’s embrace – body and soul. We gather to celebrate all that she had within her that enabled her to trust in Mystery, to walk in the holy darkness of questions and  to ponder her experiences in the light of faith, to hope in God’s love amidst her joys and sorrows, losses and finding and the deaths and risings she encountered, and to live with courage as she responded moment by moment to the challenges and surprises that resulted from her “Yes, let it be done.”

The Assumption of Mary into heaven is one of the oldest feasts of Mary. It is easily traced back to at least the 5th century and some historians say it was even celebrated as far back as the 3rd century. The event is not found in Scripture, and there were no witnesses – the feast came before its definition– it came from the belief of the people, the heart of the people. It is written, that in 1946 Pope Pius XII sent an encyclical letter to all the bishops of the world and asked them to confer with their people about the mystery of the Assumption becoming a dogma of the Church.  On the strength of their response and the testimony of history he declared the Assumption dogma in 1950.  (What a great process – “confer with their people.”  Maybe this should be considered once again.)

Most of what we know about Mary in Scripture comes from the Gospels of Luke and John. As a young Jewish girl, she grew into womanhood with an extraordinary faith. Oftentimes she did not understand what God was asking of her, but she believed with all her heart that it could and would be done, and she acted accordingly. It was enough for her to be called to move within holy mystery and gently hold the tension of all that was being asked of her. She did not seek answers, clarity or quick results – we are told that “she held all these things in her heart” and treasured them until their meaning was revealed a grace at a time!

In our Gospel today, Mary, a young pregnant woman went with haste to the hills of Judea to visit her older pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, who has lived the past six months no longer barren and with a quieted husband. Mary remains there for at least 3 months to be of help and to share the joy of expectation that most mothers-to-be experience.

In response to Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary proclaims a song of liberation for all people; one in which ideals are reversed and the household of God will be peopled  by the poor, the hungry, and the ones with no power. These women, who stand pregnant in an embrace of joy, laughter, and praise for God’s marvels, will give birth to children of the Magnificat. These children in turn will one day stand together and sing a new song that will be revolutionary. John will sing his song of repentance and ring out the Good News that the Messiah is here. Jesus will sing his song of Beatitude that breaks through to the hearts of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized and beyond the laws of purification.

No doubt that after the Ascension, Mary grew in age, grace and wisdom as well. She, too, was filled with the Pentecost fire of the Spirit and would have received the same energy and power of the Spirit as the disciples. So how can this feast speak to us? 

Mary not only witnesses to the action of God in her life, but she is a woman who was fully human, gifted with grace, truth, mercy, compassion, and faithfulness, on fire with the Spirit, generous in ministry, and centered in God. These are a few of the treasures that she had deep within her that enabled her to be a woman, wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend, disciple, prophet, and witness.

So let us ask boldly for all that she had within her that enabled her to be authentic, faithful, and trusting, so that we, too, will sing out our prophetic song of faithfulness and hope.

Let us ask boldly for all that she had within her to walk in Mystery, for we, too, have journeyed over these years, committed to the transformation of the world, the Church and ourselves promoting mutuality, inclusivity, and collaboration.

And let us ask boldly for all that she had within her to live with courage and to hold tensions creatively, always receptive to God’s grace and to stand tall in this time of liminality, living with paradox and contradictions, not running from mystery, while holding the precious stones of our stories as we proclaim, “God has done great things for us!”

Previously posted

Monday, August 6, 2018

Turning Points and More!

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus. Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment. Let’s build three shelters – one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing. Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.” The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus. Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” (Mark 9:2-10) 

August 6 marks the Feast of the Transfiguration – a major turning point in the life of Jesus and his trusty companions. Smack dab in the middle of Mark’s Gospel, he presents this event which follows upon Jesus’ first foretelling of his passion and death. What a story of high drama and super special effects! Former prophets showing up in hologram form, a talking cloud, and Jesus’ clothes turning dazzling white. However, this turning point is a result of an instant “Feasibility Study.” God is saying: “Look folks, from here on in it's all downhill. My Beloved will be rejected, suffer, and die at the hands of the elders and chief priests.” This is certainly not good news for the disciples. Sorry, no chance of setting up house at the top of this mountain. “Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus to encourage him to fulfill this mission of nonviolence, and he turns into bright white light, the biblical sign of martyrdom, and becomes the risen Christ.” His future is now foretold . . . believe it or not. 

A turning point is described as an event marking a unique or important historical change of course, or the point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment. This is a decisive moment in the life of Jesus – his support group is going to need to be his “backup singers” and not question why all will unfold in a most terrifying manner. For this moment truly calls for “deep listening” and no one will be the same after this mountain top moment. Turning points do that to all of us. How many turning points can we name in our lives? A birth of a child, a death of a child, the loss of a dream-job, or the acquiring of a dream-job, an experience of rejection, a sudden health crisis, financial crisis, an uprising in which a power system is toppled, or a series of natural disasters in which homes, resources, and the lives of many people are destroyed, or a proposal of marriage, or a decision to enter a religious lifestyle!! 

So our practice for the week is to ponder the turning points in our own lives. Then I invite you to journal about that one significant event for you and reflect and respond to the questions: What?, When?, Where?, Who? And write out your significant scenario. After that writing, read it aloud, and then list any learnings you took away from that turning point. Then read the entry again, along with your list of learnings, and pray to name the new wisdoms that you hold. 

For example. When I was just about 8, I almost drowned. See my past posting of April 12, 2012. I can say that one of my learnings in that turning point is that it is best to know how to swim when you’re going to be in deep water. But a wisdom that I now hold is that when life seems overwhelming, or I feel like I’m “drowning” in tasks or expectations, then it is best that I just “turn over and float.” That is, I need to take time for quieting, stillness, and contemplation to do deep listening of the challenge and gift that God is offering me. This then becomes a turning point on my journey of my own transfiguration of love, faith, joy, forgiveness, and hope.

Turning Points 
Taking us 
Where we would not choose to go 
We pass a point 
We will never pass again. 
Turning points interrupt us . . . 
There must be some mistake! 
Looking back we see them 
For what they are: 
Bittersweet raw reality 
Breakthrough to beatitude 
Bedrock that gives us courage 
To give ourselves away. 
The less we struggle with turning points 
The greater the strength 
To return and turn again 
(Author unknown

Previously posted August 2012

Monday, July 23, 2018

A "Touching" Story . . .

A little girl was sitting on her grandfather’s lap as he read her a bedtime story. From time to time, she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. She was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again.

Finally, she spoke up, “Grandpa, did God make you?”  “Yes, sweetheart,” he answered, “God made me a long time ago.”

“Oh,” she paused, “Grandpa, did God make me too?”  “Yes, indeed honey,” he said, “God made you just a little while ago.”

Feeling their respective faces again, she observed,
“Ya know Grandpa, I think God is getting better at it.”

(Author Unknown)

A Tree of Worries . . .

The Worry Tree! 

The Carpenter I hired to help me restore and old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
"Oh, that's my trouble tree", he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is", he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there ain't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."
Author unknown

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

God of the WWW (of Life) and Beyond!

"I will hold you in the palm of my hand"
(Isaiah 49:16)
God, source of the World Wide Web of Life . . .
• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are Hand ~ Held.  As Isaiah proclaims, we are held in the hands of God as is all of life. 
+We give you thanks and praise,  O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we have built in Memory.  We have the capacity to remember and to reflect so that we can integrate our learnings and transform them into Wisdoms.
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are Pre-loaded with gifts, talents and skills. We also come pre-loaded with an innate desire for you, God of Divine Energy!                                                          
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!
• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are able to install games.  Yes, we have the capacity to play games in life – such as denial, manipulation, resentment, fight or flight.   We know, God, that you do not keep score.  But you are always teaching us, prompting us to trust, to risk and to believe that you desire us all to be winners! 
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are Touch Sensitive.  We are sensitive to the Holy ~ we are able to sense the loving touch of God when we allow ourselves to hold still in our busy-ness and to remember that we are loved as we are!
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we have the ability for Storage.  Yes, we have the capacity to store memories, experiences, events, movements, feelings or to clutter our memories with items that interfere with our own growth and freedom. We come to you, O God,  to help us quarantine and delete any viruses that interfere with our love for you. 
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are able to Search.  We are always searching for identity:  Who am I?  Where do I belong?  Am I loved and have I loved?  How do I know what to be in life?
+ We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we have Navigation capability.  We have the capacity to travel our journey of life with many road side markers and mentors along the way.  We often need to have your GPS to guide us.
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are
Re-chargeable.  Sometimes our culture tells us that we don’t have enough, we are not enough, or we are not good enough.  We need to claim what is life giving for us and make a choice everyday.  Then we will be renewed, re-invigorated, recharged!
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we are Compatible.  Self knowledge is foundational to all we are and do.  We have to find what is compatible for us so that we live out our purpose and passion in life.
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

• We come today to reflect and to recall that we have a Life Drive Smart file.  Self awareness and our search for the Holy is never finished or achieved in this life time; it truly is a life drive in which we gain Wisdom.  For then, eventually, in time, we stop searching for purpose - We become it!
+We give you thanks and praise, O God!

Let us pray:
• God, source of the wide world web of life, you are always aware of our efforts, struggles and limitations that we experience in this human domain. 

• We come today with the busyness of our lives in which we hope to network with all of your creation.  You have pre-loaded in us the desire to seek you.

• We ask now to grant us the gifts to be attentive to your presence in our lives and in those with whom we journey through the broad band pathways of this universe.

• Always keep us on-line with you and activate your Divine GPS so that we are never out of your sight as we navigate our way through life. 

• We express our gratitude at the many ways you affirm us as your “favorites” and as we carry out your mission mentoring seekers in the mystery of CALL.

• Give us insight and wisdom whenever we need to discern, scan, click and drag our way through new challenges that call us to transformation. 

• We now log off at this time but never shut down. 
Amen. Amen.