Saturday, April 28, 2012

There comes a time in which we may need to fast from the distractions and constant hum of technology and give ourselves over in trust to gently simplify some time in our day to hold still, to be alone with God, and allow our inner ear to hear God speak to our hearts.  Our willingness to relax in the sacred space of “I know not what” readies us to be open to the path to which God is inviting us to walk.  This path may take us to realms of mystery, wonder, awe, and joy where our heart feels free and at home.  The search engine for discernment is that inner knowing and intuition that speaks with a soft whisper.  Then, in all our searching, we discover that the destination is not necessarily the important part; it is being on the path that often is enough.  So pray for courage to follow your heart and give yourself over to God’s invitation –iCall, iInvite, iWait, iLove!
An iPoem About Discernment!
God calls . . .
iFear, iFeel, iDoubt, iResist, iRelax, iPray, iConsider iAttend, iImagine,  iWonder, iDream, iExplore, iDiscover, iCompare, iLearn, iGrow, iPray, iGather, iFocus, iRead, iBrainstorm, iDiscover, iNotice, iJournal, iListen, iReflect, iDoubt, iShare, iUnderstand, iOpen, iTrust, iHope, iBelileve, iPray, iQuiet,    iWait, iBreathe, iPray, iOpen, iAccept, iStep into a future full of hope, meaning, and promise!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shepherding 101!

A shepherd was tending his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a dust cloud approached at high speed, out of which emerged a shiny silver BMW. The driver, a young man in an Armani suit, Ferragamo shoes, the latest Polarized sunglasses and a tightly knotted power tie, poked his head out the window and asked the shepherd, "Hey! If I can tell you how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?" The shepherd looked at the man, then glanced at his peacefully grazing flock and answered, "Sure."
The driver parked his car, plugged his microscopic cell phone into a laptop and briskly surfed to a GPS satellite navigation system on the Internet and initiated a remote body-heat scan of the area. While the computer was occupied, he sent some e-mail via his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, nodded solemnly at the responses. Finally, he printed a 150 page report on the little laser printer in his glove compartment, turned to the shepherd, waving the sheaves of paper, and pronounced “You have exactly 1,586 sheep."  "Impressive. One of my sheep is yours." said the shepherd.
He watched the young man select an animal and bundle it into his car. Then the shepherd said: "If I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?" Pleased to meet a fellow sportsman, the young man replied “You’re on.”  "You are a consultant." said the shepherd without hesitation.  "That's correct," said the young man, impressed. "How ever did you guess?" "It wasn’t a guess," replied the shepherd. "You drive into my field uninvited. You ask me to pay you for information I already know, answer questions I haven’t asked, and you know nothing about my business. Now give me back my dog."

 Sheep definitely have not changed, but the shepherds have changed quite a bit.  At the time of Jesus, shepherds were not considered good.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  They were known to be dirty, thieves, and were forbidden by Jewish law from being witnesses in any trial because they were flagrant liars.  So why would Jesus call himself a “Shepherd” and a “Good” one at that? 
Well, isn’t this Jesus’ usual style of inviting the listener to go beyond “the box”?  For with Jesus, there was no box.  He turned the world upside down and inside out; he crossed boundaries and borders of rules, regulations,  and traditions that bound the spirits of the eager of heart.  He was a presence that disturbed the religious and political worlds.  He lived on the edge and the margins of society and ministered to those who would be found there.  He banqueted with sinners and tax collectors; challenged people to become light and salt, and told them to forgive their enemies.  He also could speak to the wind and the waves; he cast out demons, and gave sight to the blind. 

So who are the Good Shepherds of today?   We are all called to be shepherds of our world today – to care for creation, to be voices for the poor, the marginalized – the least, the last, and the lost.  These shepherds need to be willing to confront the systems that keep humanity and creation defenseless and vulnerable.   I present links that will provide the names and resources of these new shepherds.
“The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Drowning (almost) 101!

In the post-Resurrection Gospel of Lk. 24:35-48, we read of how Jesus appeared once again to the disciples breathing peace upon their frightened spirits!  Fear encompassed every part of their being.  Luke describes them as scared half to death – terrified, startled, troubled. 
Fear is part of our humanness – it can be an emotion that cautions us to the dangers that may make us vulnerable.  Fear can also be paralyzing and limiting as we are faced with options on our journey of life.
I recall that when I was between 7 and 9 years of age, I was afraid of water – especially, when I was supposed to swim at the city pool with my friends.  I signed up for swimming lessons again and again.  Every time the Station near the ropes in the middle of the pool was part of my test for the lesson, I quit.  The ropes, the deep water beyond the ropes, and my inability to touch the bottom, all added to my experience of being scared half to death!  One day, while standing at the edge of the pool (near the deep end) someone pushed me in.  I can feel even today what that experience of slipping into possible drowning had been – the surprise of the hands on my back, the coldness of the water, the sounds above the water, the pulsing of the water in my ears, my chest getting tighter and tighter as I tried to hold my breath.  I tried to reach up to the light above the water, but I was in too deep and there were too many other kids in the pool that made it difficult for me to grasp the edge of the pool.  I was running out of breath pretty fast – just taking in mouthfuls of chorine-tasting water.  The lifeguard, just about 6 ft. above me, finally noticed me, along with someone shouting, “Hey, someone’s drowning down there.”  The next thing I remember, I woke up in the lifeguard’s arms.  Cool!  I made it through.
Later – much later – in life, I met Sr. Rosie.  She was a certified lifeguard who promised that she could teach me to swim.  We went every Monday night for six months to the near-by college pool where she taught me how to swim like a minnow and to move on up to become a whale!  I found that when I could “go beyond the ropes,” I discovered that the deeper water carried me and it was easier to swim.  When I felt fearful or tired, I just turned over and floated!
So what does this have to do with discernment?  Everything!
Discernment is that process that calls for a willingness to be open; a willingness to face our fears; a willingness to look at them directly and ask:  “Who are you? Where do you come from?  Can we talk?” (Decision Making and Spiritual Discernment by Nancy L. Bieber)  One important movement in the process of discernment is the grace of willingness.  That is, the willingness to let go of resistance and to step into the deep waters of Call, courage, search, faith, and trust.  And when you feel overwhelmed with the flood of choices – just “turn over and float” with Centering Prayer, breathing exercises, quieting music, or just sitting still to hear God whisper, “Peace be with you.”