Sunday, December 27, 2015

2016 A Leaping Year!


Generous God, Holy One, you who live outside of time, and reside in the imperishable moment, for you have poured out an abundance of gifts and blessings of every sort and kind upon this world from the beginning of time. Now we ask your blessing this New Year's Day (Eve) upon your gift to us of time into the new year. Bless our clocks, watches, Smartphones, and all digital keepers of time . . . You who kindly direct us to observe the passing of minutes and hours. May they make us aware of the miracle of each second of life we experience.

May these our ticking servants help us not to miss that which is important, while you keep us from machine-like routine. May we ever be free from being clock watchers and instead become time lovers. Bless our calendars, these ordered lists of days, weeks and months, of holidays, holy days, fasts and feasts and all our special days of remembering.

May these servants, our calendars, once reserved for the royal few, for magi and pyramid priests, now grace our homes and our lives. May they remind us of birthdays and other gift-days, as they teach us the secret that all life is meant for celebration and contemplation.

Bless, O God, this New Year, each of its days and nights. Bless us with new moons and full moons. Bless us with happy seasons and a long life. Grant to us, O Holy One, the new year's gift of a year of love. Amen (Author Unknown)


The New Year , , ,

 
The New Year
Faithful Companion,
in this new year I pray:

to live deeply, with purpose,
to live freely, with detachment,
to live wisely, with humility,
to live justly, with compassion,
to live lovingly, with fidelity,
to live mindfully, with awareness,
to live gratefully, with generosity,
to live fully, with enthusiasm.

Help me to hold this vision
and to daily renew it in my heart,
becoming ever more one with you,
my truest Self.

     ~ Joyce Rupp


Monday, December 21, 2015

Light, Peace, Love . . .


Light looked down and saw darkness.
“I will go there,” said light.
Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said peace.
Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said love.
So God,
The God of Light,
The Prince of Peace,
The King of Love,
came down and crept in beside us.

(Rev. John Bell)
 

 

Peaceful Thunder!

 
 
Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem
By Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.


Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?


Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.


The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.


Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.


It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.


Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.


It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.


We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.


Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

A Blessing for Christmas . . .

 
Poem: "Christmas Blessing" by Joyce Rupp

May you give and receive love generously.
May this love echo in your heart like
the joy of church bells on a clear December day.

May each person who comes into your life
be greeted as another Christ.
May the honor given the Babe of Bethlehem
be that which you extend to every guest who enters your presence.

May the hope of this sacred season settle in your soul.
May it be a foundation of courage for you
when times of distress occupy your inner land.

May the wonder and awe that fills the eyes of children
be awakened within you.
May it lead you to renewed awareness and appreciation
of whatever you too easily take for granted.

May the bonds of love for one another be strengthened
as you gather around the table of festivity and nourishment.
May you keep your eye on the Star within you and trust
this Luminescent Presence to guide and direct you each day.

May you go often to the Bethlehem of your heart
and visit the One who offers you peace.
May you bring this peace into our world.



Passing of the season . . .

 
A Winter Solstice Prayer

The dark shadow of space leans over us. . . . .
We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred
also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.


As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter,
we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness
may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.


May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice
that spans the world.


In the heart of every person on this Earth
burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.


May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the light and the love
that is hidden in every heart.

Amen.
By Edward Hays from Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim





Thursday, December 17, 2015

God of the Seasons . . .


O God of all seasons and senses, grant us the sense
of your timing                                                                  
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly in the turn of the seasons.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.


O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love—
in the fullness of your time.
O God, grant us the sense of your timing.
From Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

Saturday, December 12, 2015

And then there were four . . .

 
 
The Story of the 4 Candles

The Four Candles burned slowly. Their ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak...
The first candle said, “I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me lit." Then Peace's flame slowly diminished and went out completely.

The second candle said, "I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable." Then Faith's flame slowly diminished and went out completely.

Sadly the third candle spoke,
"I Am Love and I haven't the strength to stay lit any longer.
People put me aside and don't understand my importance.            

They even forget to love those who are nearest to them."
And waiting no longer, Love went out completely.

Suddenly ... A child entered the room and saw the three candles no longer burning.

The child began to cry, "Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit until the end."

Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy, "Don't be afraid, for I Am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles."
With shining eyes, the child took the Candle of Hope and lit the other three candles. Never let the Flame of Hope go out. With Hope in your life, no matter how bad things may be, Peace, Faith and Love may shine brightly once again. (~ Author Unknown)

Easy, steady, sloooooooow!



“Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace. Give me, amidst the day's confusion, the calmness of the everlasting hills.

Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of singing streams that live in my memory.  Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking "minute vacations"...slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to read a few lines from a good book.


Remind me of the fable of the hare and the tortoise; that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than measuring its speed.  Let me look up at the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew slowly and well. Inspire me to send my own roots down deep into the soil of life's endearing values...that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.  Slow me down, Lord.”  (~ Wilfred Arlan Peterson)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Take Your Time . . .


An Invitation . . .
“When the time comes,
I ask you to take up your position
for prayer
(and sitting is usually best for most of us)
and then, having asked the help of the Spirit,
to be content to wait patiently, expectantly,
lovingly, longingly. 
Try to realize that this
is all you can do for yourself.
God must do the rest.
See yourself as the parched ground looking upwards
waiting patiently for the rain to fall.
You can only wait.”
(~ Br. Roger of Taize)
Image by JH, OSU

Adventing into Life . . .


Light looked down and saw darkness.
“I will go there,” said light.
Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said peace.
Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said love.
 
So he,
The God of Light,
The Prince of Peace,
The King of Love,
Came down and crept in beside us.
(Rev. John Bell)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Advent Waiting. . .



Advent
By Lucy Rose Johns


We are waiting for these aches and pains to be healed.     
We are waiting for the hunger within to be satisfied.                            
We are waiting for love to touch us.
We are waiting to be understood and really listened to.
We are waiting for decisions to be easy.
We are waiting to be inspired to love unlovable people.
We are waiting for financial cares to be resolved.
We are waiting for serenity to accept the things we cannot change.
We are waiting for courage to change the things we can.
We are waiting for wisdom to know the difference.
We are waiting to be appreciated.
We are waiting for justice.
We are waiting for the answers.
We are waiting for the dawn of a new day.
We are waiting for things to get easier.
We are waiting for a time of rest, peace, quiet.
We are waiting for patience.
We are waiting and waiting.
We are waiting
In joyful hope for the coming of the Lord!

Friday, December 4, 2015

May there always be . . .





“May there always be a little light in our darkness.
May there always be a little faith in our doubt.
May there always be a little joy in our sorrow.
May there always be a little life in our dying.
May there always be a little hope in our despair.
May there always be a little courage in our fear.
May there always be a little slow in our hurry.”
(From Song of the Seed by Macrina Wiederkehr)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Advent-ing at the end of the day . . .

 
 
 
Ignatian Examen for Advent
 
The Grace of Gratitude
I speak from my heart telling God why I am grateful,
being very particular and naming specific things:
gifts, people, events, blessings
How do I wait with gratitude?

 
The Grace to See
I walk with God through the experiences of my day
(or past year) giving thanks where I have grown,
and noticing where I have stumbled.
Where do I need the gift of light?
How do I wait with a discerning heart?


The Grace of Freedom
I ask for the grace to awaken my memory to anything from
my day (or past year) where God is inviting me to greater
freedom and peace.
I spend some time listening to my heart.
How do I wait in peace… in silence… listening?


The Grace of Mercy
I ask to feel hope, knowing that God will always give me
forgiveness. I ask God’s mercy in personal words that come
from my heart.
How do I wait in hope and with trust this
Advent Season?


The Grace of Transformation
I listen to my heart for invitations to change the way I pray,
live, work, love, play, relate, serve, or define success.
What deep desire within me is waiting to be
uncovered, discovered, or recovered this
Advent Season?


I pray the Our Father that God’s Kingdom reign in my life.

Examen adapted by William Watson, S.J.
Advent Reflections

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Remembering . . . never to forget!


http://globalsistersreport.org/news/1980-2015-memory-el-salvadors-church-martyrs-lives-34431

http://labove.com/today/topics/oscar-romero/four-women-martyrs/

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Martyrs/Churchwomen/index.html

• Lord, make me your witness. In this world of darkness, let my light shine.
• In this world of lies, let me speak the good news of truth.
• In this world of hate and fear, let me radiate your love.
• In this world of despair, let me spread hope.
• In this world of systemic injustice and institutionalized evil, let me promote justice and goodness.
• In this world of sadness and sorrow, let me bring joy.
• In this world of cruelty and condemnation, let me show your compassion.
• In this world of vengeance and retaliation, let me offer your mercy and reconciliation.
• In this world of war, let me serve your gift of peace.
• In this world of violence, make me a teacher and apostle of your nonviolence.
• In this world of death, let me proclaim the new life of resurrection.
• Help me to witness to the resurrection of Jesus by loving my enemies, showing compassion, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, serving the poor, liberating the oppressed, resisting war, beating plowshares, and disarming my heart and the world.
• In the name of the risen, nonviolent Jesus, Amen


Taken from:
You Will be My Witnesses:
Saints, Prophets and Martyrs
By John Dear, sj


Monday, November 30, 2015

A Prayer for Climate Change Conference . . .



A Prayer for the Pilgrimage towards the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, 30 November to 11 December

Creator God,
You have called us to be keepers of your Earth. Through greed, we have established an economy that destroys the web of life. We have changed our climate and drown in despair. Let oceans of justice flow. May we learn to sustain and renew the life of our Mother, Earth. We pray for our leaders, custodians of Mother Earth as they gather in Paris at the climate talks. May they negotiate with wisdom and fairness; May they act with compassion and courage, and lead us in the path of justice for the sake of our children and our children’s children.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu





Friday, November 27, 2015

Advent Soup?



 
Five year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry 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?”

These four weeks of Advent begin as never before, with a time as individuals, as a faith community, as a religious congregation, as a church, a nation, and inhabitants of this planet earth ~we all are faced with standing in liminality – an in-betweenness - hoping against hope that God is in the darkness of it all!  Like Johnny, we, too, need to be courageous and creative and call out to our God to hand us what we need in this time of doubt, confusion, apprehension, and fear while walking in this space and time of uncertainty.  

In her book, Journey of the Soul, Sister Doris Klein, describes this liminal experience: She writes: "When we face those times of uncertainty in our life, the scene is often blurry. Things we were so sure of suddenly make little sense. The answers we thought were clear now seem lost in a distant fog, and we wander aimlessly, unable to regain the focus we once believed we had. Our confusion is unsettling. Doubt, like vertigo, distorts our balance as we fearfully wander in a vast and empty inner wilderness as we wrestle with the darkness, a rush of panic washes into our hearts our breath becomes shallow and, with each question, the judgments seem to escalate.”

We are not to lose heart. Author Clarissa Pinkola Estes assures us  . . . “We were made for these times,” she writes. “People everywhere are concerned and deeply bewildered about the state of affairs in our world. Ours is not a task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world will help immensely.” Yes, we are made for these times and as a people, a church, a nation, a world, we need generous, creative, imaginative people whose zeal can be ignited by the vision of a daring and not quite rational undertaking. 

In our nation of abundance, let us not forget that over twenty percent of the children in our nation live in poverty.  And in comparison with other industrialized nations, we have more high school drop outs, more violent crime among youth, more poverty among the elderly, more medically uninsured citizens, and the widest gap of income between the rich and the poor.  Again, like Johnny, we need to call out to God and risk entering the darkness of these realities that cause us to ponder the scarcities and the inequities of our social system.

We are made for these times – and we must dare to become imaginative and creative so as to confront the dark forces that keep our minds and hearts hostage. When we live in liminality, we need to be able to take risks without worrying about the consequences.  Henri Nouwen once wrote, “Faithful waiting is the antidote to fear and self-doubt. It is believing God can accomplish in us something greater than our imaginings.”

Now is the time for hope to be born again in the faces and hearts of our children and young adults, and where we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us as pillars of passion, heralds of hope, and voices with vision where it will spread around the earth, brightening all things. For we have been made for these times and as Paul writes to the Corinthians: That in God we are enriched in every way, and that we are not lacking in any spiritual gifts as we wait for the revelation of Christ Jesus. 

It is here in this time that we are to be watchful, alert and awake so that we will encounter our God in our midst to create from the chaos as in Genesis. Advent is a season that invites us to cross over the threshold from darkness to light, from anxiety to a holy serenity, from emptiness to abundance, and to wholeheartedly turn to seek God who is already in the turning!

Yes, we are made for these times and called, invited, chosen,  and challenged to be alert, awake, prepared and vigilant. So when God breaks into our lives in unexpected ways during this Advent season and we feel confused, anxious, frightened, or we find ourselves grasping for hope — let us be ready to ask God to just hand us the tomato soup or whatever we may need to be at ease and to be faith-filled as we live into this liminality – for God is already here among us. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Waiting in Stillness




Author Pico Iyer ~

 "in an age of speed, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow,
in an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention,
and in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still."
(The Art of Stillness)


 
 
 

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Warm Blessing for Cold Days!


A Winter Blessing

Blessed are you, winter, dark season of waiting, you affirm the dark seasons of our lives, forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.

Blessed are you, winter, you faithfully guard a life unseen, calling those who listen deeply to discover winter rest.

Blessed are you, winter, frozen and cold on the outside, within your silent,
nurturing womb you warmly welcome all that longs for renewal.


Blessed are you, winter, your bleak, barren trees preach wordless sermons
about emptiness and solitude.


Blessed are you, winter, you teach us valuable lessons about waiting
in darkness with hope and trust.


Blessed are you, winter, season of blood red sunsets and star-filled,
long, dark nights, faithfully you pour out your beauty.


Blessed are you, winter, when your tiny snowflakes flurry through the air,
You awaken our sleeping souls.


Blessed are you, winter, with your wild and varied moods,
So intent on being yourself, you refuse to be a people-pleaser.


Blessed are you, winter, when ice storms crush our hearts and homes,
You call forth the good in us as we rush to help one another.


Blessed are you, winter, your inconsistent moods often challenge
spring’s arrival, yet how gracefully you step aside when her time has come.


            Author: Joyce Rupp from The Circle of Life                         

A Blessing of Gratitude

 
 
A Thanksgiving Blessing

May an abundance of gratitude burst forth
as we reflect upon what we have received.


May thanksgiving overflow in our hearts,
and often be proclaimed in our prayers.


May we gather around the table of our hearts the ardent
faithfulness, kindness, and goodness of each person we
encounter on our journey of life.


May the harvest of our good actions
bring forth plentiful fruit each day.


May our basket of blessings surprise us with
its rich diversity of gifts and its opportunities for growth.


May all that nourishes our lives bring us
daily satisfaction and renewed hope.


May we slow our hurried pace of life so we can be aware of,
and enjoy what we too easily take for granted.


May we always be open, willing,
and ready to share our blessings with others.


May we never forget the Generous One
who loves us lavishly and unconditionally.


Let us pray:
O gracious God who so generously lavishes our lives with goodness, create in our hearts a deep center of gratitude, a center that grows so strong in its thanksgiving that sharing freely of our treasures becomes the norm and the pattern of our existence.  Remind us often of how much you cherish us, of how abundantly you have offered gifts to us, especially in the hours of our greatest need.  May we always be grateful for your reaching into our lives with surprises of joy, growth, and unconditional love.  Amen. 


 (From a blessing by Joyce Rupp)

Giving Thanks . . . and Remembering . . .

November Meditation ~ Giving Thanks . . .

I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and nights by which we count time remember their own passing.  I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars. . . . I do not know if the air remembers November or if the night remembers the moon.  I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so. Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for creation. Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected.  Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:  "What can you tell me about November?"  ~ Burton D. Carley ~

Memory is vital to human life.  The Scriptures make memory central to our faith.  We are continuously called to remember the story of our ancestors of faith and their journey of transformation.  This week, we remember the courageous initiatives of the people we call Pilgrims, and join with all in our past and present to give expressions of gratitude through ritual for all our blessings over the past year.  We gather “to be memory for creation” and join with the many others throughout our country this week to remember, to celebrate and to give thanks. 

Let us remember briefly the story of the Pilgrims, who celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America, and who were fleeing religious persecution in their country of England.  At first they sailed to Holland to seek religious freedom.  Not satisfied with what they experienced, they set sail on the Mayflower in September of 1620. There were 44 Pilgrims aboard who called themselves the “Saints,” and 66 others, whom they called the “Strangers.”  The trip took 65 days. 

When we hear the word Pilgrim, we may possibly think of grim-faced people wearing black and white clothing with pointed collars and large buckles.  In fact, the “Pilgrims” weren’t really pilgrims at all.  The word pilgrim refers to someone who travels a great distance to a special or sacred place for religious reasons. But the people who came on the Mayflower and settled on the site of modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts didn’t come just for religious reasons.  Mainly, they came for economic ones – to build a better life for themselves and their families. 

The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet were exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement.  The spring brought welcomed warmer weather, their health improved, but many had died during the long winter.  Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less than 50 survived the first winter. The harvest in the fall was very successful and the Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter and they were at peace with their Indian neighbors.   In that year of 1621, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians.

This week, we are carrying on a tradition that goes back at least to the time of Abraham Lincoln, setting aside a Thursday late in November as a national day of prayer and thanksgiving.  During the Civil War, President Lincoln, looking for ways to unite the nation, proclaimed in 1863 that the last Thursday in November would be a day of thanksgiving.  And yet, in 1941, Franklin Roosevelt, seeking to lengthen the Christmas shopping season, proclaimed Thanksgiving the third Thursday in November.  However, controversy followed and Congress passed a resolution decreeing that the fourth Thursday shall be Thanksgiving. 

Let us remember that Thanksgiving is rooted in remembering.  The ancient monk Cassian has a wonderful descriptive phrase for our memory.  He calls it the “jar of the heart.”  We can open this jar anytime and take in the rich memory of the past.  As Christians, we are a people of memory; we are called to remember. Remembering is very important in our faith journey.  Our memory of God's grace and faithfulness in the past continues to provide spiritual nourishment long after the event itself is over. Remembering becomes the source of our strength which sustains us even in the midst of suffering; it "enables us to see our difficulty in a new context and thereby find the comfort and the courage to live it." (Kidd, 24)

May the “jar of our hearts” never become empty of wonderful memories – for it is written “thanksgiving unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denials into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity . . . it turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Thanksgiving makes sense of our past; brings peace for today and creates vision for tomorrow.” (Melodie Beattie)

What will you remember from this November?


Remembering



Almighty and merciful God, we pray to you for our brothers and sisters in France who have endured violence and terror in the past few days. We pray also for all those who died in the attacks, for those who were wounded, and for all those who are in mourning. God, even though we know the glory of the Resurrection, we desire still that the grace of the Resurrection be ever more present in the world. Give us the wisdom and the face to see it; give us the courage to embody it by our lives. Reconcile all peoples who are divided and send your Holy Spirit to make all one in the peace and the justice that you alone are capable of giving us. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(Father Gregory Haake, C.S.C., Assistant Professor of French, Notre Dame University)

Dieu tout-puissant et miséricordieux, nous te prions pour nos frères et sœurs en France qui ont subi ces derniers jours la violence et la terreur. Nous prions aussi pour tous ceux qui sont morts dans les attentats, pour ceux qui ont été blessés et pour tous ceux qui sont touchés par le deuil. Seigneur, nous avons beau connaître la gloire de la Résurrection, nous souhaitons toujours que la grâce de cette Résurrection se manifeste davantage dans le monde. Donne-nous la sagesse et la foi de la voir ; donne-nous le courage de l’incarner par notre vie. Réconcilie tout peuple divisé et envoie ton Saint Esprit afin que tous soient un dans la paix et dans la justice que toi seul es capable de nous accorder. Par Jésus, le Christ, notre Seigneur. Amen -

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Inside, Outside, and All Around!

 
Inside thoughts while pondering outside tragedy in France . . .
and in other places recovering from tragic storms!
What to say,
How to be,
How to pray,
and how to hold this tragedy.
Only a collective sigh breathed.
Filled to the brim with
Tragedy-tears of deep sorrow,
Like stone water jars
Silently awaiting words of transformation. (sjh)


The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We don't even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome. Isabel Allende

Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.  Robert Kennedy

Blessing Our World Now by John O’Donohue

Sometimes when we look out, the world seems so dark. War, violence, hunger, and misery seem to abound. This makes us anxious and helpless. What can I do in my private little corner of life that could have any effect on the march of world events? The usual answer is: nothing. We then decide to do what we can for our own and leave the great events to their domain. Thus, we opt out, and join the largest majority in the world: those who acquiesce. Believing ourselves to be helpless, we hand over all our power to forces and systems outside us that then act in our names; they go on to put their beliefs into action; and ironically these actions are often sinister and destructive. We live in times when the call to full and critically aware citizenship could not be more urgent. We need to rediscover the careless courage, yet devastating simplicity, of the little boy, in the middle of the numbed multitude, in naïve Socratic fashion, blurts out ‘But the emperor has no clothes.’ When spoken, the word of truth can bring down citadels of falsity.

Real presence is the ideal of all true individuation. When we yield to helplessness, we strengthen the hand of those who would destroy. When we choose indifference, we betray our world. Yet the world is not decided by action alone.  It is decided more by consciousness and spirit; they are the secret sources of all action and behavior. The spirit of a time is an incredibly subtle, yet hugely powerful force. And it is comprised of the mentality and spirit of all individuals together.  Therefore, the way you look at things is not simply a private matter. Your outlook actually and concretely affects what goes on. When you give in to helplessness, you collude with despair and add to it. When you take back your power and choose to see the possibilities for healing and transformation, your creativity awakens and flows to become an active force of renewal and encouragement in the world.  In this way, even in your own hidden life, you can be a powerful agent of transformation in a broken, darkened world.  There is a huge force field that opens when intention focuses and directs itself toward transformation.
(From To Bless the Space Between Us)



 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Thanksgiving Story . . .

 
 
The Rolling Coin

A wise old man once owned a precious golden coin. One day, as he sat gazing at this precious coin and rejoicing in its beauty, a thought occurred to him: ‘It isn’t right that I should be the only person to have the pleasure of possessing this golden coin. What use is it if no one shares it?’ And he went out and gave the coin to a passing child.

The child couldn’t believe her luck. She couldn’t take her eyes off this shining coin. Then she had a sudden idea: ‘I’ll give this coin to my mother. She needs so many things. This coin will make her very happy.’

Of course, the child’s mother was delighted with the coin – such an unexpected solution to so many of her problems. She pondered in her mind as to how to spend it and what to buy first.

As she was thinking about this there was a knock at the door, and there stood a street beggar. ‘Poor soul’ she thought. ‘He has nothing, and we are just about getting by.’ And she gave the gold coin to the beggar.

The beggar was speechless. This coin could be turned into food for a month. He made his way back to the subway where he slept, and there he noticed a new resident, just arrived. The poor guy was blind and disabled. No chance of getting anywhere near to the folks who might have spared him a coin or two.

‘I guess he needs it more than I do,’ he thought to himself. And he pressed the gold coin into the blind man’s thin, cold fingers.

That evening, a wise old man walked through the dark subway. He noticed the blind, disabled beggar and stopped to speak to him. The beggar couldn’t remember the last time anyone had bothered to speak to him.

After a while, the wise old man put his arm around the beggar’s shoulder.  ‘I’ve nothing left to give you, except my friendship,’ he murmured.

A tear rolled across the cheek of the blind beggar. How could he ever repay this gift of human kindness that had changed a dark night into a new dawn? With his shaking, aching hands, he reached into his pocket, brought out the golden coin and gave it to his new-found friend.

‘Thank you for loving me,’ he said.

Source unknown

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Story . . .

 
The Investment

There once lived a rich man who had no greater desire than to do good to those around him, and especially to those who worked for him.

He noticed that one of his workmen, a carpenter, was very poor, and was struggling to feed his family. He could see for himself that the hovel in which the man lived with his wife and children was falling into disrepair, and was no longer a match for the cold and the rain that beat down upon it. He felt great compassion for the carpenter and his family, and he had an idea.

He called the carpenter to him one morning and gave him these instructions:
‘I want you to build me a beautiful house,’ he said. ‘I want you to spare no expense, and to employ only the very best craftsmen for every job that is needed. I have to make a journey, and I will be away for a while, but when I come back, I want you to have the house ready for me.’

The carpenter was delighted to be given this task. Immediately, he set to work, and, knowing that the master would be away, he decided to make a good profit on this enterprise. Instead of hiring the best craftsmen, and using the finest materials, he cut corners wherever he possibly could. The master would never know, and he could keep the difference, and make a lot of money for himself.

And so the house was built. From the outside, it looked beautiful, but as the carpenter well knew, it was not at all sound. The timbers in the roof were weak and badly fitted. The bricks were seconds, which would soon begin to crumble. The roof titles were rejects from the quarry. The building had been carried out by inexperienced workers for low pay.

When the master returned, he came to inspect the house. ‘I have done as you instructed,’ the carpenter told him. ‘I have used the best materials and the finest craftsmen.’

‘I’m delighted to hear it,’ said the master. ‘Here are the keys. The house is yours. It is my gift to you and your family.  May it be a fine home for the rest of your life.’

And in the years that followed, the carpenter could often be heard to mutter, under his breath, ‘If only I had known that the house was meant for
me . . .’ (Author Unknown)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Tree Story . . .

The Forever Tree

Once, a long, long time ago, a little tree was growing in the forest. As the little tree grew taller and stronger, she began to notice the wide expanse of sky stretching far above her head. She noticed the white clouds scudding across the sky, as if on some great journey.  She watched the birds wheeling overhead. The skies, the clouds, the birds in flight – they all seemed to speak of a land of forever.  The more she grew, the more she noticed these forever things, and the more she longed to live forever herself. 

One day, the forester happened to pass close by the little tree. He was a kindly old man, and he sensed that the little tree was not entirely happy. ‘What’s the matter, little tree?’ he asked. ‘What troubles your soul?’ The little tree hesitated, and then told the forester about the deep desire in the core of her being: ‘I would so much like to live forever.’ ‘Perhaps you shall,’ replied the forester. ‘Perhaps you shall.’

Some time passed, and once again the forester passed close by the little tree, now grown tall and strong.  ‘Do you still want to live forever?’ he asked the tree. ‘Oh, I do, I do,’ the tree replied fervently. ‘I think I can help, but first you must give me your permission to cut you down.’ The tree was aghast: ‘I wanted to live forever.  And now you say you are going to kill me?’ ‘I know,’ said the forester. ‘It sounds crazy.  But if you can trust me, I promise you that your deepest desire will be fulfilled.’

After much hard thought, the tree gave her consent. The forester came with his sharp-bladed axe.  The tree was felled. The sap of life streamed away and was lost in the forest floor. The tender wood was sliced into strips. The strips were planed and shaped and smothered in a suffocating layer of varnish. The tree screamed silently in her anguish, but there was no way back.  She surrendered herself to the hands of the violin-maker, all dreams of foreverness vanished in a haze of pain.

For many years, the violin lay idle. Sometimes, she remembered better days, when she was growing in the woods. What a bad bargain it had been, surrendering herself to the forester’s axe.  How could she have been so naive as to believe that this would enable her to live forever?

But the day came – the right and perfect moment – when the violin was gently lifted from her case and caressed once more by loving hands.  She held her breath in disbelief.  She quivered, as the bow tenderly crossed her breast. And the quivering turned into a pure sound that reminded her of how the wind had once rustled through her leaves, how the clouds had once scudded by on their way to forever, how the birds had wheeled overhead, shaping circled of eternity in the blue sky.

A pure sound.  Pure notes. The music of Forever. ‘My wood has turned into music!’ the tree gasped, deep inside herself. ‘The forester spoke the truth.’

And the music resounded, from listening heart to listening heart, down through all the ages until at last, when all the listening hearts had made their own journey home, it rolled through the gates of eternity, where the little tree became a Forever Tree.
                                                                         Story by Margaret Silf       

Ponderings:
• What are the desires deep down in the core of your being?
• How does the story make you feel?
• What is disturbing for you in the story?
• What is true for you in the story?
(Questions adapted from Megan McKenna)
Source Unknown

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Remember November . . .

 
A November sunrise
 
 
 
November Meditation

I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and nights by which we count time remember their own passing.


I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars. . . .


I do not know if the air remembers November or if the night remembers the moon.  I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.

Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for creation. Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected. 
 
Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:  "What can you tell me about November?"

~ Burton D. Carley ~


 
 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

. . . make the difference. . .

 
 
End Time ~ Make a Difference!

If each grain of sand were to say:
One grain does not make a mountain,
There would be no land

If each drop of water were to say:
One drop does not make an ocean
There would be no sea

If each note of music were to say:             
One note does not make a symphony,
There would be no melody

If each word were to say:
One word does not make a library
There would be no book

If each brick were to say:
One brick does not make a wall,
There would be no house

If each seed were to say:
One seed does not make a field
There would be no harvest

You do make the difference
Begin today and make the difference
~ Author Unknown


Be and be better. . .

 
 
Maya Angelou’s ~ When Great Trees Fall


When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

 
When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

 
When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

 
Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

 
And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly.  Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.
We can be.  Be and be
better.  For they existed.