Friday, July 31, 2015

Dare to declare. . .

 
 
Dare to
declare
who you
are.  It
isn’t
far from
the shores
of silence
to the
boundaries
of speech.
The road
is not
long but
the way
is deep.
And you
must not
only walk
there.
You must
be prepared
to leap.
 
Composer, Mystic: St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Journey . . .




A journey continues until it stops
A journey that stops is no longer a journey
A journey loses things on its way
A journey passes through things, things pass through it
When a journey is over, it loses itself to a place
When a journey remembers, it begins a journal
Which is a new journey about an old journey
A journey over time is different from a journey into time
An actual journey is into the future
A reflective journey is into the past

***
A journey always begins in a place called Here
Pack your bags and imagine your journey
Unpack your bags and imagine your journey is done


***
If you're afraid of a journey, don't buy shoes

~ Mark Strand ~


(Chicken, Shadow, Moon & More)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Too Muching!


 

Sometimes It Just Seems to be Too Much

Sometimes, God, it just seems to be too much:
too much violence, too much fear; too much of demands and problems;
too much of broken dreams and broken lives; too much of war and slums and dying;
too much of greed and squishy fatness and the sounds of people
devouring each other and the earth; too much of stale routines and quarrels,
unpaid bills and dead ends; too much of words lobbed in to explode
and leaving shredded hearts and lacerated souls; too much of turned-away backs
and yellow silence, red rage and bitter taste of ashes in my mouth.

Sometimes the very air seems scorched by threats and rejection and decay
until there is nothing but to inhale pain and exhale confusion.
Too much of darkness, God,
Too much of cruelty and selfishness and indifference. . .

Too much, God,
Too much, too bloody, bruising, brain-washing much.
Or is it too little,
too little of compassion,
too little of courage, of daring, of persistence, of sacrifice;
too little of music and laughter and celebration?

O God,
Make of me some nourishment
For these starved times,
Some food for my sisters and brothers, who are hungry for gladness and hope,
That, being bread for them, I may also be fed and be full.

(From Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder)

Healing, again and again!

 
 
 
 
Healing
 
The pain and the wounds
go too deep
for us to heal
alone.

Only God,
only a
far Greater Power
can penetrate
such depth
of pain,
and gently, gently,
soothe,
and kiss us into
wholeness.
 
It is too much
for us,
all of it has to be
given over
entirely
to God.
All of it.

Edwina Gateley

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mary Magdalene ~ Woman of Faith and Courage!




I never suspected
            Resurrection
                        and to be so painful
                        to leave me weeping
With Joy
            to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb
With Regret
            not because I’ve lost you
            but because I’ve lost you in how I had you –
                        in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable flesh
                        not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.

I want to cling, despite your protest
            cling to your body
            cling to your, and my, clingable humanity
            cling to what we had, our past.

But I know that…if I cling
            you cannot ascend and
            I will be left clinging to your former self
            …unable to receive your present spirit.


 (Mary Magdala's Easter Prayer/Ron Rollheiser)

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/072215.cfm


Friday, July 17, 2015

A Summer Blessing . . .


Blessed are you, summer, season of long days and short nights,
you pour forth light from your golden orb,
energizing the earth and calling forth growth.


Blessed are you, summer, with your generous gift of heat.
Your warm breath animates creation,
encouraging all growing things to stretch toward the sun.


Blessed are you, summer, you call us into playfulness,
encouraging us to pause from work. You renew our spirits.


Blessed are you, gracious season of summer, you surprise us
with a variety of gifts from the earth.
We, too, gaze into the earth of ourselves, beholding gifts
waiting to be honored.


Blessed are you, nurturing season of summer, your fruits
and vegetables appear on our tables, changing them into altars.
Tasting of your life, we are made strong.


Blessed are you, summer, host of a star that shines with passion.
Sun-soaked, we reach for your energy that drives us upward and onward.


Blessed are you, sacrament of summer, nature’s green season,
sweet echo of spring.  You speak to us in living color
as you renew the earth with symbols of life for our bodies and souls.


Blessed are you, summer, season rooted in reality.
Even as the perspiration collects on our brow, we experience
your earthly joy.


Blessed are you, summer, with your firefly evenings
You minister to the child in us. You feed our hunger for beauty.


Author: Macrina Wiederkehr/The Circle of Life

Enjoy Summer now – only 158 days until Winter!!!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bless this Day!

 
 
 
(Photo by Jean H.)
 
Blessing This Day

I only want to see the day ahead,
My attention will not go     
 backward into my history,
And my attention will not go forward
 into my future.
 
I am committed to staying only in
 the present time,
To remaining grounded in my world,
To feeling a bond with each person
 I meet,
To respecting my own integrity
 and my own honor,
To living within the energy of love
 and compassion this day,
And returning to that energy when
 I don’t feel it,
To making wise and blessed choices
 with my will, 
To maintaining perceptions of                  
wisdom and non-judgment,
To release the need to know why things happen the way they do,
And to not project expectations over how
I want this day to be ___
And how I want others to be.

And finally, my last prayer to trust the Divine.
With that I bless my day with gratitude and love.
Caroline Myss
 

A thought . . .

Picture an iceberg. The bulk of its power lies below the surface. The part of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, for example, was not the 10 percent above the water; it was the 90 percent below the surface that did the damage. For human beings, it is also often true that the 90 percent below the surface - our unconscious beliefs, attitudes and habits sinks our fondest hopes and dreams. (Robert White)


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kateri ~ First Native American Saint



July 14 - Feast of Kateri Tekakwitha - First Native American Saint
http://www.kateritekakwitha.org/kateri/kateri3.htm


1656 - 1680
In April 1656, a baby was born in an Iroquois village situated along the banks of the Mohawk River in upstate New York. Her mother was a Christian and wanted her to be baptized, but her father was chief of a tribe who opposed the French Jesuit priests. "Little Sunshine" was a ray of joy to family and friends, but joy and love in the family didn't last long. When she was four years old, smallpox swept through the village. Her father, mother, and baby brother died, leaving Sunshine pock-marked and almost blind. Her uncle adopted her and she was renamed Tekakwitha ("she who pushes with her hands") due to her having to feel her way around as a blind person.

As her childhood passed, her eyesight improved. She became very skilled in Indian embroidery, beading, and wood carving. She worked hard, but in her free time she liked to walk in the woods or stroll along the river, where she could be alone and think about God. As her new family was not Christian, she was not to pray or talk with the missionaries who worked among the Indians. When she was eighteen, she announced that she wanted to become a Christian. Her family was furious.

She attended lessons at the mission and on Easter Sunday, 1676, she was baptized with the name Kateri (Katherine). After this she was treated cruelly by her family, but she never showed her misery. Eventually, two kind Christian Indians helped her escape across the St. Lawrence River to a Christian community in Canada, where she received her First Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1677. There she carried water, cooked, sewed, and attended every Mass. She spent all her free time in the love and service of the Lord.

On a trip to Montreal to sell Native American handicrafts, Kateri met a religious order of nuns and realized her calling. On March 25, The Feast of the Annunciation, Kateri privately pronounced her vows. From then on, she devoted her life completely to God.
Her private penances and hard work left her often ill. She suffered greatly during the winter of 1680 and on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24, Kateri died. Almost immediately her face turned beautiful and shining. All the pockmarks from her disease disappeared. A smile appeared on her lips. Everyone was astonished. The wonderful transformation remained until burial the next day on Holy Thursday.
The Lily of the Mohawk was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is celebrated on July 14.

Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology, as is St. Francis of Assisi. On October 21, 2012, Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.  The miracle attributed to Kateri's canonization is the story of Jake Finkbonner. Jake was so close to death after flesh-eating bacteria infected him through a cut on his lip that his parents had last rites performed and were discussing donating the 5-year-old's tiny organs. His cure in 2006 from the infection was deemed medically inexplicable by the Vatican, and became the "miracle" needed to propel a 17th century Native American, Kateri Tekakwitha, on to sainthood. Jake is fully convinced, as is the Catholic Church, that the prayers his family and community offered to God through Kateri's intercession, including the placement of a Kateri relic on Jake's leg, were responsible for his survival. Jake, now 13 and an avid basketball player and cross-country runner, was present at the canonization; along with hundreds of members of his own Lummi tribe from northwest Washington State and indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada.

I Scream ~ You Scream ~ We all scream for ice cream!

 
A Happy Birthday day!
Image from: Gilles Frozen Custard Drive-In ~ Fond du Lac, WI

 
 
Ice cream
(Author Unknown)

Last week I took my children to a restaurant.  My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace.  As we bowed our heads he said, “God is good. God is great.  Thank you for the food, and I would even thank you more if Mom gets us ice cream for dessert.  And with Liberty and justice for all! Amen!"

Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby I heard a woman remark, “That's what's wrong with this country.  Kids today don't even know how to pray.  Asking God for ice-cream! Why I never!"

Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me, “Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?"

As I held him and assured him that he had done a terrific job and God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.  He winked at my son and said,  "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."

 "Really?" my son asked.

 "Cross my heart," the man replied.

Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing) - "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream.  A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."

Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal.  My son stared at his for a moment and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her, . . .
 "Here, this is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes; and my soul is good already."
 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amazing . .

 
 
 
 
 
Fainting to the tune of Amazing Grace
 
Imagine this scene from a recent courtroom trial in South Africa: A frail black woman stands slowly to her feet. She is something over 70 years of age. Facing her from across the room are several white security police officers, one of whom, Mr. Van der Broek, has just been tried and found implicated in the murders of both the woman's son and her husband some years before.

It was indeed Mr. Van der Broek, it has now been established, who had come to the woman's home a number of years back, taken her son, shot him at point-blank range and then burned the young man's body on a fire while he and his officers partied nearby.

Several years later, Van der Broek and his cohorts had returned to take away her husband as well. For many months she heard nothing of his whereabouts. Then, almost two years after her husband's disappearance, Van der Broek came back to fetch the woman herself. How vividly she remembers that evening, going to a place beside a river where she was shown her husband, bound and beaten, but still strong in spirit, lying on a pile of wood. The last words she heard from his lips as the officers poured gasoline over his body and set him aflame were, "Father, forgive them."

And now the woman stands in the courtroom and listens to the confessions offered by Mr. Van der Broek. A member of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission turns to her and asks, "So, what do you want? How should justice be done to this man who has so brutally destroyed your family?"

"I want three things," begins the old woman, calmly but confidently. "I want first to be taken to the place where my husband's body was burned so that I can gather up the dust and give his remains a decent burial."

She pauses, then continues. "My husband and son were my only family. I want, secondly, therefore, for Mr. Van der Broek to become my son. I would like for him to come twice a month to the ghetto and spend a day with me so that I can pour out on him whatever love I still have remaining within me."

"And, finally," she says, "I want a third thing. I would like Mr. Van der Broek to know that I offer him my forgiveness because Jesus Christ died to forgive. This was also the wish of my husband. And so, I would kindly ask someone to come to my side and lead me across the courtroom so that I can take Mr. Van der Broek in my arms, embrace him and let him know that he is truly forgiven."

As the court assistants come to lead the elderly woman across the room, Mr. Van der Broek, overwhelmed by what he has just heard, faints. And as he does, those in the courtroom, friends, family, neighbors — all victims of decades of oppression and injustice — begin to sing, softly, but assuredly, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me."             
                                                                                                                              
By James Krabill, in Keep the Faith, Share the Peace,
the newsletter of the Mennonite Church Peace and
Justice Committee, Volume 5 number 3, June, 1999.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What Goes Around ~ Comes Around . . .

 


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 Mum. 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, July 7, 2015

A "Selfie" ? . .


Paid in Full
A young man was getting ready to graduate from college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car.

Finally, on the morning of his graduation, his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautifully wrapped gift box.

Curious, and somewhat disappointed, the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound book, with the young man’s name embossed in gold.

Angry, he raised his voice to his father and said “with all your money, you give me a used book?” and stormed out of the house.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.

Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things.

When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search through his father’s important papers and saw the still gift-wrapped book, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the book and began to turn the pages. His father had carefully underlined.

As he read those words, a car key dropped from the back of the book. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words PAID IN FULL.  

(Author Unknown)


Monday, July 6, 2015

Heart of Amazement



Heart of Love, source of kindness,
Teacher of the ways of goodness,
You are hidden in the minutes of daily life
waiting to be discovered among us.


Heart of Gladness, Joy that sings in our souls,
the Dancer and the Dance,
You are Music radiating in our
cherished times of consolation.


Heart of Compassion, the Healing One weeping
for a world burdened and bent,
You are the heart we bring
to the wounded and weary world.


Heart of all Hearts,
You are the Gift living
in the depth of our lives,
connecting us with others. 


Holy One, in every moment we live in your expansive love and your tender embrace.  All around us we behold your presence.  May we continue to expand our lives and our living, accepting the responsibility to be co-creators with you.  May we live in such a way that generations to come will and say, “Radically Amazing!”
(Judith Cannato: Radical Amazement)







Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Lot of Story . . .with a little joy!

 
Little Moments of Joy
by Barry Kingsley

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living. It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss. What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry. Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, made me laugh and weep. But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night.

I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partiers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window. Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away. But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation. Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself. So I walked to the door and knocked.

“Just a minute,” answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said.

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said.
When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”

“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. “I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver or one who was impatient at the end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware–beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said …but they will always remember how you made them feel.