Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Divine Gardener!





Story:  A woman went into a marketplace, looked around, and saw a sign that read “God’s Fruit Stand.”  “Thank goodness. It’s about time,” the woman said to herself.
She went inside and she said, “I would like a perfect banana, a perfect cantaloupe, a perfect strawberry, and a perfect peach.”  God, who was behind the counter, shrugged and said, “I’m sorry.  I sell only seeds.” (John Shea)

In the northern hemisphere, spring has arrived and is struggling to consistently entertain the warm winds of the south.  With only the slightest caress of a lukewarm breeze upon the face of wannabe gardeners, the garden centers are experiencing “flash mobs” of “earth-mid-wives.” People buy flower or vegetable plants and then invite the challenge of nurturing the plants with just the right amount of water, sunlight, or fertilizer so that one day they will rejoice in their accomplishment of growing their own vegetables and beautiful flowers.  Gardens can be seen in flower boxes outside windows, on rooftops among skyscrapers, and even in large fields shared by a community.

However, God offers us only seeds – this process takes longer, more tending, patience, and the gift of surprise.  I’d like to think that God was the first organic gardener who did not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.  Organic gardeners think of the whole system – the soil, water supply, the people, wildlife, and even the insects.  Organic gardeners are concerned about building healthy soil and nurturing the connectedness of all things.  And so it is with the Divine Gardener – offering us seeds of hope, integrity, risk, resiliency, dreams, purpose, passion, and call.  It is up to all of us to offer these seeds just the right or best environment for germination so we will carry on the creativity and love of the Divine Gardener – and we need not be perfect at this – just willing!

So what is the Good News for us today?  Let us ponder these quotes:
·         The heart is like a garden. It can grow compassion or fear, resentment or love. What seeds will you plant there?  Jack Kornfield

·         Help us to be ever faithful gardeners of the spirit, who know that without darkness nothing comes to birth, and without light nothing flowers.  May Sarton

·         An ordinary favor we do for someone or any compassionate reaching out may seem to be going nowhere at first, but may be planting a seed we can't see right now. Sometimes we need to just do the best we can and then trust in an unfolding we can't design or ordain.
Sharon Salzberg


·         Love is the seed of all hope. It is the enticement to trust, to risk, to try, to go on. 
 Gloria Gaither

·         Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed.  Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders. Henry David Thoreau


Monday, May 28, 2012

Wisdom Women!





May 31st is the Feast of the Visitation.  These are my reflections to celebrate these Wisdom Women!

    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. In our Gospel today, Mary, a young pregnant woman went with haste about 70 miles south 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.  They embody God’s mercy while sharing their fears, finding courage through one another, expressing their hopes, and learning practical wisdom of body, mind and spirit together.

     Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and is the first person to recognize Mary’s child, Jesus, as the long-awaited one. Elizabeth’s loud cry is translated with the same words used to describe the loud cry of the Hebrews before the Ark of God’s presence when it was brought into their midst.  Mary is now the living Ark of God and the promise to God’s people has begun to be fulfilled in her. 

     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.  Hers is the first proclamation of justice in the New Testament.  Her song is revolutionary – She speaks of a political revolution in which God has shown strength and brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.  She speaks of a social revolution in which God has filled the hungry with good things; and she sings of an economic revolution, in which God has sent the rich away empty, and the poor are filled with good things.

     Her message is so subversive that even in our time, it is written that “for a period during the 1980’s the Government of Guatemala banned its public recitation.”  Her song of courage invites us to identify the poor, the oppressed and marginalized of our day, to be in solidarity with them, and to dare to engage with God in the liberation of these people, believing, like Mary that this can be done so that we too can build up the kingdom with love and justice.
  
   I close with a selection from Soul Sisters by Edwina Gateley, who reflects on this Gospel . . . .

 “Affirmed, loved and comforted,
You stayed with Elizabeth,
Absorbing the experience and the wisdom
 of the older woman,
deepening in your own resolve
to nurture, hold
and mother God.
Your journey has blessed ours, Mary.
Your Yes dares us
to believe in the impossible,
to embrace the unknown,
and to expect the breaking through of mystery
onto our bleak and level horizons.
The words you heard, Mary,
we will forever remember.
We will not be afraid,
for the life that you birthed
will not be extinguished
in our souls.
And the journey
you took in faithfulness,
we also take.
We the people, women and men, the midwives,
and the healers will also,
like you, Mary, our soul sister,
Give birth to God
for our world.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shoes on the path of service . . .

In the hiddenness of time, there was a poor man who left his village, weary of his life.  He longed for a place where he could escape all the struggles of this earth.  He set out in search of a magical city – the heavenly city of his dreams, where all things would be perfect.  He walked all day and by dusk found himself in a forest, where he decided to spend the night.  Eating the crust of bread he had brought, he said his prayers and, just before going to sleep, he placed his shoes in the center of the path, pointing them in the direction he would continue the next morning.  Little did he imagine that while he slept, a trickster would come along and turn his shoes around, pointing them back in the direction from which he had come.
The next morning, in all the innocence of folly, he got up, gave thanks to the God of the Universe, and started on his way again in the direction that his shoes pointed.  For the second time he walked all day, and toward evening finally saw the magical city in the distance.  It wasn’t as large as he had expected.  As he got closer, it looked curiously familiar.  But he pressed on, found a street much like his own, knocked on a familiar door; greeted the family he found there – and lived happily ever after in the magical city of his dreams.

On the final Monday of May, we will observe Memorial Day.  Three years after the War-between-the-States ended, on May 5, 1868, it was established as Decoration Day, a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  A selection of the proclamation by Gen. John Logan reads as follows: “We are organized comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.  What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe?”
So let us observe this Memorial Day remembering our power and capacity to gather as peacemakers.  Let us strengthen our spirits and vision; let us decorate our hearts with the flowers of nonviolence and loving kindness; let us pray for all who experience sacrifices and loss; and to stand in awareness of all who are still held captive throughout the world suffering from the ravages of war.  I share with you briefly the story of the Sisters who set their shoes on the paths that led to outstanding service as nurses in the war named “Civil.”

Let us pray: Song of Transformation – by Sister Alice Ann, CSA
Refrain: All of us gazing on the glory of God are being transformed from glory to glory into the image of Jesus, Word of God, living and active throughout the universe!
  1. Because we belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God, we cannot stand still, we cannot be silent until we’ve made a stand for God’s reign in every land and promises of justice are fulfilled.
  2. Transforming Spirit stirs in every place and time; she cannot stand still, she cannot be silent until God’s will be done and all living things are one and all creation dances with delight.
  3. God’s word accomplishes all that God intends and raises up the witness, the prophet to speak truth to pow’r and peace to the poor, to search for common ground where all can stand.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"God comes to us disguised as our lives."

Five year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper.  She asked him to go into the storeroom and get her a can of tomato soup.  But he didn’t want to go in alone.  “It’s dark in there and I’m scared.”  She asked again, and he persisted.  Finally she said, “It’s OK – Jesus will be in there with you.”  Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it.  He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said: Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup?”
This week God has come into the lives of so many people, so I will share a few thoughts in regard to my observations. We are also in the last days of preparing for the feast of Pentecost in which we celebrate the “day of the great gathering in and the great sending out. (Richard Rohr)


My first sharing has to do with my talented niece who is a metal smith.   This week was the launching of her new website skfdesigns.  Here she presents her pieces of art that she has twisted, bent, formed, pounded, and re-configured into “out of the box” beautifully designed bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, and more.  They resemble the coiled curls that encircle her beautiful face. God has handed Sue great opportunities to grow her talent in making jewelry from metals.  She had to be willing to step inside the dark and upon the scary future path - not knowing where it would lead.  But she persisted with much support from her family, friends, professors, and other artists.  Certainly God has been disguised throughout her life, handing her opportunities, experiences, challenges, and gifts - - and she has been courageous enough to enter the adventure of her life.  Congratulations, Sue!

My second sharing: yesterday was the running of the Preakness Stakes.  The horse, I’ll Have Another did just that, as he won this “second jewel” of the Triple Crown races.  His jockey, Mario Gutierrez  praised the horse, "It's just all about the horse," Gutierrez told NBC Sports minutes after winning the Preakness.” Mario, also was sure to praise his mentor, Glenn Todd, who, at just the right time in his life, handed him the possibility of entering into the big leagues of horse racing.  Mario is spoken of as humble and faith filled and  he was willing to step into the darkness as well  (or ride horseback).  Truly, God has been with him as he has journeyed from Mexico, to Canada, and to the racing venues of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Congratulations, Mario and I’ll Have Another! – and let’s hope he will at the Belmont Stakes!!!!

Finally, today we are anticipating the Solar Eclipse in which we will be able to view a “ring of fire” as the moon makes its journey across the the face of the sun.   We also are approaching the feast of Pentecost next Sunday.  This is a different kind of “ring of fire” celebration.  It is the feast where the Spirit empowers all in the upper room to become people of faith, courage, and conviction.  These disciples experienced a unique “ring of fire” as well, - no special glasses needed.  This Spirit-Fire propelled them from the upper room of fear and moved then into the world of faith, freedom, and fortitude. 
The Solar Eclipse of today, as the moon takes its place between the sun and earth – will be one more cosmological gift that God hands to us to move beyond the dark and scary rooms of our lives, to the light of creativity, wonder, awe, and mystery!  And so, let us pray:

Come, Holy Spirit ~
Replace the tension within me with a holy relaxation,
Replace the turbulence within me with a sacred calm,
Replace the anxiety within me with a quiet confidence,
Replace the fear within me with a strong faith,
Replace the bitterness within me with the sweetness of grace,
Replace the darkness within me with a gentle light,
Replace the coldness within me with a loving warmth,
Replace the night within me with Your day,
Replace the winter within me with Your spring,
Straighten my crookedness, fill my emptiness,
Dull the edge of my pride, sharpen the edge of my humility,
Light the fires of my love, quench within me the flames of envy,
Let me see myself as You see me, that I may see You as You have promised ~
And be fortunate according to Your word, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall
see God.” (Anonymous)


                                         
     

Friday, May 18, 2012

The tassel is worth the hassle!




Congratulations to all who are graduating  - here are a few thoughts as you enter into this new time!

A New Time . . .

A new time stands on my doorstep
Ready to enter my life’s journey

Something in me welcomes this visitor:
the hope of bountiful blessings
the joy of a new beginning
the freshness of unclaimed surprises

Something in me rebuffs this visitor:
the swiftness of the coming
the boldness of the entrance
the challenge of the good-bye

Something in me fears this visitor:
the unnamed events of future days
the wisdom needed to walk love well
the demands of giving away and growing.
A new time stands on my doorstep
with fragile caution I move
to open the door for its entrance
my heart leaps with surprise, joy jumps in my eyes
for there beside this brand new time
stands my God with outstretched hand.
God smiles and gently asks of me:
Can we walk this time together?

And I, so overwhelmed with goodness
Can barely whisper my reply:
WELCOME IN!


  Violet Grennan, mfic

Thursday, May 17, 2012

God's "A" Game ~ Part II




John devotes almost five chapters to Jesus’ farewell.  How tender of our God to be so like us when it comes to saying our final good-byes to our loved ones, family, and friends.  We, too, want to be sure that all is in order, that we have kissed everyone good-bye, that we have spoken of memories, encouraged those we leave behind, and that we have loved enough, and that we have been loved enough as well.

The fourth gospel is filled with symbolism which expresses the evangelist’s profound understanding of the events he is describing; these writings in the Book of Signs and in the Book of Glory are meant to lead the reader to the same deep understanding.

The signs of Jesus are “signals” of his divinity and symbols that lead some to faith in Jesus while others remain in disbelief.  The Book of Glory invites believers into the same love relationship that he has with God the Father; Jesus invites all of us to open ourselves to this new teaching that there is more beyond the letter of the Law; for He has come to fulfill the Law and to give a new perspective and interpretation beyond those of the Scribes and Pharisees.

Jesus promises that if we love him, we will keep his commandments.  These are not the ten commandments of the Hebrew Scriptures.  Jesus is speaking of the command to love – to love God with all our heart and soul, to love others as we love ourselves, and to love others as Jesus loves us. 

Jesus reassures his followers that they will not be left alone – he must leave so that another Advocate can come.  This Advocate is the Spirit of Truth who is comforter, counselor, helper, protector, consoler, and strengthener.

This Spirit of Truth will journey with these disciples in their preaching and will accompany them with power, courage, and tenacity in their Good Newsing of Jesus the Christ.

And it is this same Spirit of Truth who comes to stand by us as well and give us support during our own experiences of the paschal mystery - and that in our efforts to live out Peter’s words of encouragement, we pray that we will be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope – and do it with reverence and gentleness!

So, what is the Good News for us today?
• Let us be open to the graces of these powerful readings
• Let us be open to God’s intimate, forever, eternal, everlasting, never ending, timeless, priceless, unconditional love relationship in which Jesus will not orphan us.
• Let us ask for the graces daily to accept the hellos-and-goodbyes of the human journey with faith, hope, and deep peace.
• Finally, let us ask the Spirit to replace any anxiety within us with a sacred calm as we as a community daily travel the path of the now and the not yet – and the more beyond.
I close with a prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake . . .
(1577)
Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

God's "A" Game ~ Part 1

From what I understand, “A” Game refers to a person or a team’s best effort or performance on a given day.  This Sunday, we celebrate – liturgically – the feast of the Ascension.  This is truly God’s “A” Game!  Well, maybe this is one of many “best efforts” by our God to let us know that we matter, and that we are loved “totally, tenderly, and tenaciously.” The meaning of the Ascension cannot be truly understood literally, but simply needs to be embraced as a “mystery”.
 
As I pondered this mystery, I thought of the recent space shuttles that have ridden piggy-back upon the 747 jets.  Wow!  Such force, thrust, and power to carry the weight of these shuttles. These orbiters were powered with a thunderous liftoff by external fuel tanks – all designed to achieve the 135 missions of the space program. 

Come to think of it, Jesus was a real special effects artist; he experienced liftoff as well - at least twice, and had a mission here and beyond space!  To further reflect, he ascended without the assistance of any shuttle.  What if we say that it was his mission and intense love that moved him onward and upward?  He returned to God’s loving embrace after setting the energy of passion, purpose, and call into the hearts of all his disciples.
So today, I share with you Part I of my reflection on the feast of the Ascension. I will be using the Gospel of John 14:15-21 for my Scripture reference.

The story is told that in Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, stands a monument commemorating this great discoverer. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial is a statue of a lion destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain’s motto for centuries.  Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth.  Thus, their motto was ‘Ne Plus Ultra,’ which means, ‘No More Beyond.’   The word being torn away by the lion is ‘Ne’ or ‘No,’ thus it reads, ‘Plus Ultra.’ Columbus had proven that there was indeed ‘more beyond.’ 

In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims that there is ‘more beyond’ this farewell to his friends and his impending death.  He holds one last lesson in Discipleship 101 about the mysteries of the reign of God and the gift of the Spirit that will propel these followers into they “know not what.”   

This final teaching is all part of the revelation of what is called the Paschal Mystery.  It is Jesus’ suffering and death, resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Spirit.  These sacred mysteries form a “seamless garment,” so to speak, one single movement - the passing of Jesus from life, through death, to life and to the more beyond!  

In today’s celebration of letting go of the Easter season, we are invited to let go of our linear thinking and to stand in the space of accepting and embracing Mystery.  It is the mystery that there is  “more beyond” this paschal moment revealed by Jesus the Christ – a more beyond  that is an intimate, forever, eternal, everlasting, never ending, timeless, priceless, unconditional love relationship with our God in which Jesus will be with us until the end of the age and beyond!

As we ponder this Gospel, it gives us an indication that Jesus knew what it was like to go through painful times, moments in which he felt emptiness, deep loss, and the hurt of leaving behind.
Here in his praying his goodbye – “he is not spared the ache and struggle of letting go”.   One author writes: “he knew the price of goodbyes. They had been with him all his life because he was so fully human, so much like all of us who travel the hello-goodbye-hello pattern of the human journey.”

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Practice of Pausing

 “The Westerner, excited to be on a safari for the first time, force-marched his native guides through the jungle on a wild search for game, any game at all.  The party made good speed the first two days but on the third morning, when it was time to start, the hunter found all the guides sitting on their haunches looking very solemn and making no preparation to leave.  ‘What are they doing?’ the man asked.  ‘Why aren’t we moving on?’ ‘They are waiting,' the chief guide explained.  ‘They cannot move farther until their souls catch up with their bodies.’”
It seems to me that sometimes we push ourselves so hard and so long (to get ahead, to succeed, to achieve, to get that job, etc.) that we forget that our spirits need to learn the practice of pause.  Much like the guides in our story, our bodies and our souls need to catch up with each other!  This time of the year in the northern hemisphere, we are in-between many events, seasons, and all sorts of activities of life.  For example: we are, at the college/university level, between final exams and commencement; liturgically, we are between the Easter season and Ordinary Time; we are between winter’s cool winds and summer’s warm breezes; and some people are between jobs, or meetings, or appointments.  All this between time teaches us that we need to practice pausing and gathering up the wisdom that is within each present moment.  So let us become aware this week to practice pausing, honoring the wisdom within that moment, and allowing our souls to catch up with us!
Let us pray: May we leave the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love, and the future to God's providence.  Amen.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Mom's the Word!

If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck
(The following was written by the late Erma Bombeck after she found out she had a fatal disease.) 
“If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love you's".. More "I'm sorrys" ...
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it ... live it...and never give it back.”

In the USA, we celebrate this Sunday as Mothers' Day.  The editorial above by columnist Erma Bombeck reminds us all that being a mother calls for courage and almost super-human qualities.  I recall reading that at the moment of birth, the mother and child bond through the mother’s eyes.  Her mirroring to the child says – “You are welcome here.”  “You are unique.”  “You are accepted here.”  “You are loved here.”  That moment can be replicated by all who live in the present moment to say to each person we meet – “You are welcomed, accepted, and loved here!” 
Let us celebrate all the ways that we all are invited to breathe forth life, speak life, laugh life, embrace life, and choose life!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Wise Woman's Stone

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 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 the 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.” (From – The Best of Bits & Pieces)
I invite you to Google the names of Fr. Damien, Brother Joseph Dutton, Mother Marianne Cope – who were courageous care-givers. Since I am a product of Brother Dutton grade school in Beloit, WI, today’s feast of Fr. Damien touches into my past with nostalgia. There are many great links that can give information about Fr. Damien and Brother Dutton who ministered to the lepers in the late 1800’s on the island of Molokai.  However, I also found that there were Sisters skilled in health care that made a significant difference in the comfort and care of those suffering from the dreadful disease of leprosy.
Let me introduce you to Mother Marianne Cope, a Sister of St. Francis from Syracuse, NY, who took charge of a leper hospital in Honolulu, HI, (1884)  and was invited by Fr. Damien to care for the lepers on Molokai.  It is told that they found the conditions to be horrendous: “patients of all ages and both sexes slept together on bloodstained mattresses on the floor; wards crawled with bedbugs, lice, and maggots.  The stench of rotting flesh permeated the premises.”  It was Mother Marianne who went to work immediately to improve the sanitary and social conditions of the patients.  She taught her own Sisters how to nurse those afflicted. 
It is written, that after Fr. Damien died from leprosy himself, Mother Marianne took over for him.  She established a new standard of living for the young girls and women patients.  One of the Sisters writes of Mother Marianne: “She took great pride in making dresses for the girls and bought the girls hair ribbons and pretty things to wear. ‘We are lepers,’ they told her, ‘what does it matter?’  She changed all that. Doctors have said that her psychology was 50 years ahead of its time.”
Truly she was a wise woman who gave away her precious stones again and again! Her canonization will be in October of 2012.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Super She-roes!

This past weekend the moon was the closest to earth in its elliptical orbit. It was 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the other full moons. It was called a Super Moon. Also this weekend, the Super Heroes movie, The Avengers, was released and it rocked box office records and made over $200 million dollars. And I have news of another “super” item this weekend, that of CSA’s celebration of our retired Super She-roes!  We celebrated jubilees (much like anniversaries) at our CSA retirement center, in which seven CSA members, namely, Sisters Judine, Clare, Jeanette, Hilda, Mary Beth, Cecile Marie, and Judith were honored. The years of outstanding service of these women totals approximately 465 years!  These    She-roes have been generous, faithful, faith-filled, passionate, and gave of themselves totally as self-gift to God and the people of God over 75, 70, 60, and 50 years!  In light of the story below, I would say that they let God have the whole house, along with the 4-seasons porch, and garage!!  Nothing was held back. Congratulations you Super She-roes of CSA!!


Rooms to Rent?
God was walking the streets, looking for a home.  God knocked on my door.  Well, I suppose I could let God rent the little spare bedroom, I thought.  God read my thoughts.  ‘I was looking to buy,’ God said.
‘Oh, I don’t think I really want to sell,’ I replied.  ‘I need the place for myself, you see.  But you could use the back room.  The rent’s quite low.  Why don’t you come in and have a look?’
So God came in and looked around.  ‘I like it,’ God said. ‘I’ll take it, on your own terms.’
Once God was settled in, I began to wonder whether I’d been a bit mean.  There God was, cooped up in that little spare bedroom.  God must have been having similar thoughts, because God was there again at my door.
‘Would you have any more space now, do you think?’ God asked gently.
‘Well, I’ve been thinking, and I could offer an extra room to rent now.’
‘Thank you,’ said God.  ‘I’ll take the extra room. Maybe you’ll decide to give me more room later on.  Meanwhile, I like what I see.’
Time went on.  I was still feeling a bit uneasy about this transaction.  ‘I’d like to give you some more room, ‘I kept telling God, ‘but you see, it’s a bit difficult.  I need some space for me.’
‘I understand,’ God kept saying.  ‘I’ll wait.  I like what I see.’
Eventually, I decided to offer God the whole of the top floor.  God accepted gratefully.  ‘Well, I can spare it really.’  ‘I’d really like to let you have the whole house, but I’m not sure . . .’
‘I understand,’ said God.  ‘I’ll wait.  I like what I see.’
A bit more time went by, and there was God again at my door.  ‘I just want you to know,’ God said, ‘that I’m still very interested in buying your house.  I wouldn’t put you out.  We’d work it out together. Your house would be mine and I would live here.’ ‘Actually,’ God added, ‘you’d have more space than ever before.’
‘I really can’t see how that could be true,’ I replied, hesitating on the doorstep.
‘I know,’ said God.  ‘And to be honest, I can’t really explain it.  It’s something you have to discover for yourself.  It only happens if you let me have the whole house.’
‘A bit risky,’ I said. ‘Yes, but try me,’ encouraged God.
‘I’m not sure.  I’ll let you know.’
‘I’ll wait,’ said God.  ‘I like what I see.’
Source Unknown (adapted)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Grapes and Grumbling!

Here’s a famous fable:
Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked, 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.'
Something to ponder: When we are not able to immediately be successful at a certain skill, or attain a certain financial position with one application, or achieve a certain goal with minimal effort, or be first in line to purchase the latest whatever, or be satisfied with the silver metal, - then, do we just give up and hear ourselves remark, “I don’t need sour grapes”? 
The fox in the story was not able to reach the grapes, so he declared them to be sour.  The poor grapes!  They were resented by the fox because he was not able to reach them after all his leaping.  This is what happens when deep down unhealed pieces of life sour our field of feelings.  We can sputter 'n spit out words of anger, jealously, bitterness, or envy and live with a “sour grapes attitude” toward some or all of life. Yikes!
From my life experiences, I know that “instant” anything is an illusion. It takes time, energy, practice, rest, prayer, quieting, supportive friends, hope, courage, study, practice, and more practice to become the more of who we are.  George Elliot once wrote:  It's never too late to become the person you might have been.  Yet, we know that there is no Express Lane for this type of growth!  Everything takes time.
In our Gospel today, (May 6) , Jesus says that he is the vine and we are the branches, (John 15:1-8).  All we need to do is remain in him, and he promises that (we) - the branches -will bear much fruit. Yahoo! 
Well, in my neck of the woods, grape vines are few and far between.  But from what I have read, grapes are very adaptable and they can grow just about anywhere.  They need good exposure to the sun; the soil needs to be well drained; rocky soil is best – the rockier the better; and enough warmth to ripen the grapes.  So the same with us; if we remain in relationship with our God, we will get lots of practice with challenges to adapt to all the changes that come our way as gifts in life!  We may often find ourselves on rocky pathways, but it seems that the rockier the better makes for the best ground for growing us into our best Self.  And with the warmth of the love of family, friends, and community, we will “ripen” into the best-we-can-be-person at this time.  Then we will not find ourselves sputtering with a “sour grapes attitude” toward life, but we will be leaping with joy and gladness!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

When is losing really gaining?

This week on TV’s Biggest Loser, Jeremy Britt won the prize of $250,000 for losing the most weight.  At 22 years old, he weighed close to 400 lbs., and in 7 months he lost 199 lbs.  Whew! So I pondered: When in our lives do we experience losing?   So here are some of my jottings . . .

           We lose: a game, confidence, a job, a reputation, a friend, a relationship, our hearing, weight, our health, our temper, control, a house, property, faith, memory, sight, interest, charm, enthusiasm, our phone, our glasses, our keys, time, and our life.

So then I also pondered: When in our lives do we experience gaining?  Here are my jottings . . .

            We gain: perspective, insight, employment, a foothold, supporters, friends, freedom, acceptance, the upper hand, control, confidence, the advantage, status, citizenship, and ground.

So we can say that Jeremy’s losing brought him the gain of money and much more, which can be considered a priceless reward.  Through his efforts at trying to win, he eventually lost interest and momentum and was eliminated from the show.  After being invited to return, no doubt, this rejection played a significant twist in which he gained insight into his truest Self.  Jeremy had to confront his “inner demons” that were “eating him” alive!  His challenge was to discover the gift of who Jeremy really is, rather than who Jeremy thought he should be (idealized Self) or who he thought others thought he should be.

So what does this have to do with discernment?  Everything!

I believe that discernment is that transformative process that invites us into the narrow labyrinth of paths to find and friend our deepest and truest Self.  We then learn to lose our “baggage” of old tapes, memories, attitudes, doubts, fears, and behavior patterns that weigh us down and keep us from moving on freely into our new way of being.  We then gain perspective, insight, faith, courage, freedom, wonder, hope, joy, and peace.  Truly, losing can really be gaining!

I have always believed that one should not be scared of losing , I think that really is the key.
Imran Khan

I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.
Anais Nin

Two things scare me. The first is getting hurt. But that's not nearly as scary as the second, which is losing.
Lance Armstrong

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Discernment Story: The Cave and the Sun!

There was once a dark cave, deep down in the ground, underneath the earth and hidden away from view.  Because it was so deep in the earth, the light had never been there.  The cave had never seen light.  The word ‘light’ meant nothing to the cave, who couldn’t imagine what ‘light’ might be.   
Then one day, the sun sent an invitation to the cave, inviting it to come up and visit. When the cave came up to visit the sun it was amazed and delighted, because the cave had never seen light before, and it was dazzled by the wonder of the experience.
Feeling so grateful to the sun for inviting it to visit, the cave wanted to return the kindness, and so it invited the sun to come down to visit it sometime, because the sun had never seen darkness. 
So the day came, and the sun entered the cave, it looked around with great interest, wondering what ‘darkness’ would be like.  Then it became puzzled, and asked the cave, ‘Where is the darkness?’  (Source Unknown)
What’s this got to do with discernment? Everything!
·         Sun and Cave entered into a relationship of generosity and hospitality.  The cave was willing to respond to the light, and in so doing, it was dazzled. Have you ever been invited by a person of light, an experience or event of light, or a place of light that offered comfort, new insights, opportunities, options, choices, or dreams that dazzled you with wonder and gratitude?
           Have you ever thought of discernment as a willingness to move out of the darkness and to open yourself to discovering your true Self in the Light?
·         Have you ever thought of God’s grace illuminating those places of resistance or fear within yourself?
·         Have you ever thought of offering hospitality to God – making space for God to enter into the depths of your inner Self – honoring your wisdom, your talents, your gifts, - and inviting you to share them and to make a difference in the world?
·         At the end of the day, practice the EXAMEN prayer – asking yourself, “Where did I experience light today?”  “Where did I experience darkness?”  “Where was God in both the light and the darkness?”