Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How fascinating to be "autumnrifically happy"!!

Quotes of Autumn: 

Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons. ~Jim Bishop

Winter is dead; spring is crazy; summer is cheerful and autumn is wise!   
~ Mehmet Murat ildan
In autumn, don't go to jewelers to see gold; go to the parks! ~ Mehmet Murat ildan

O' pumpkin pie, your time has come 'round again and I am autumnrifically happy! ~Terri Guillemets

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~Albert Camus

I loved autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it. ~Lee Maynard

Autumn is the hush before winter. ~French Proverb

Poem: A Leaf Treader by Robert Frost

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn tired
Lord knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength or been too fierce from fear...
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year
All summer long they were overhead more lifted up than I
To come to their final place in earth they had to pass me by
All summer long I thought I heard them whispering under their breath
And when they came it seemed with a will to carry me with them to death
They spoke to the fugitive in my heart as if it were leaf to leaf
They tapped at my eyelids and touched my lips with an invitation to grief
But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go...
Now UP MY KNEE to keep atop another year of snow.


Monday, September 28, 2015

A Holy Splash of Autumn . . .

O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher, for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment.  As I gaze upon your full-colored beauty, I sense all about you an at-homeness with your amber riches.

You are the season of retirement, of full barns and harvested fields. The cycle of growth has ceased, and the busy work of giving life is now completed. I sense in you no regrets; you've lived a full life.

I live in a society that is ever-restless, always eager for more mountains to climb, seeking happiness through more and more possessions.  As a child of my culture, I am seldom truly at peace with what I have.

Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received; may I know that it’s enough, that my striving can cease in the abundance of God’s grace.

May I know the contentment that allows the totality of my energies to come to full flower. May I know that like you I am rich beyond measure.

As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty, let me also take delight in the abundance of the simple things of life which are the true source of joy. With golden glow of peaceful contentment may I truly appreciate this autumn day.

 (Ed Hays, Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Geese In Waiting!

A flock of wild geese had settled to rest on a pond. One of the geese had been captured by a gardener, who had clipped its wings before releasing it. When the geese started to resume their flight, this one tried frantically, but vainly, to lift itself into the air. The others, observing his struggles, flew about in obvious efforts to encourage him; but it was no use.

Thereupon, the entire flock settled back on the pond and waited, even though the urge to go on was strong within them. For several days they waited until the damaged feathers had grown sufficiently to permit the goose to fly.
Meanwhile, the unethical gardener, having been converted by the ethical geese, gladly watched them as they finally rose together and all resumed their long flight. (Albert Schweitzer )

"Quality Honking Expected!"

I just so happened to make a visit to the nearby pond where the Canada geese gather for resting, snacking, and visiting with feathered friends . . .while there, hundreds of new-comers flew in for the entertainment!

Lessons from Geese

'Individual empowerment results from quality honking'
Lessons from Geese provides a perfect example of the importance of team work and how it can have a profound and powerful effect on any form of personal or business endeavor. When we use these five principles in our personal and business life it will help us to foster and encourage a level of passion and energy in ourselves, as well as those who are our friends, associates or team members.

It is essential to remember that teamwork happens inside and outside of business life when it is continually nurtured and encouraged.

Lesson 1 - The Importance of Achieving Goals
As each goose flaps its wings it creates an UPLIFT for the birds that follow. By flying in a 'V' formation the whole flock adds 71 percent extra to the flying range.

When we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and can help each other to achieve our goals.

Lesson 2 - The Importance of Team Work
When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front.
If we had as much sense as geese we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Lesson 3 - The Importance of Sharing
When a goose tires of flying up front it drops back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.

It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. We should respect and protect each other's unique arrangement of skills, capabilities, talents and resources.

Lesson 4 - The Importance of Empathy and Understanding
When a goose gets sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to the ground to help and protect it.
If we have as much sense as geese we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.

Lesson 5 - The Importance of Encouragement
Geese flying in formation 'HONK' to encourage those up front to keep up with their

We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. 'Individual empowerment results from quality honking'

The original version of Lessons from Geese was written by Dr Robert McNeish in 1972.

And then there is always one desiring to be unique and just special!  Maybe this one will realize he is "running around with the wrong crowd."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Francis - An Instrument of Peace and Challenge!

St. Francis of Assisi by artist Cimabue

Lord, make us instruments of your Peace.  In a world all too prone to violence and revenge, we commit ourselves to the Gospel values of mercy, justice, compassion, and love.

We will seek daily to promote forgiveness and healing  in our hearts, our families, and our world. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; Where there is injury, let us cultivate peace.

Fear and distance prevent people from recognizing all as brothers and sisters; tensions lead to violence and mistrust; We will strive to honor the dignity that God places in each and every human person.

Grant that we may not seek to be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love. Our failure to understand the other can create exclusion in all its negative forms – racism, marginalization of those who are poor, sick, the immigrant; it can also create situations of domination, occupation, oppression and war.

We pledge to seek the way of solidarity, to create hearts, homes, and communities where all people will experience inclusion, hospitality, and understanding.

For it is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned and in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Let us Pray:
Lord God, create in us:
 -the Capacity to hear and understand the voices of those who suffer from
 every form of violence, injustice, and dehumanization;

 -the Openness to receive and honor people from other cultures, languages,
 religious traditions, and geographical regions;

 -the Creativity to explore new ways of communication and dialogue through
 music, poetry, performing arts, and the mass media;

 -the Audacity to undertake the building of communities of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation.
 To God who is above all and in all are the glory and the honor. Amen

(Author Unknown)

In Praise of Fall . . .

In the stillness of an autumn afternoon
we sit in quiet communion. Before us,
hills and valleys yawn, spreading wide
their yellow and green, ochre and gold
harvest of hay, beans and corn.
All summer long these fields drank
daily offerings of dew and sunlight.
We listen to the hush of hills, a hawk
above us riding thermal winds,
the drying corn nearby whispering
Praise! Praise! Praise!, the grass
beneath our squeaking swing
chanting, sotto voce, Thank you, God. 
Everything around us whispers shhh.
And when we do, we hear the holy
breath of God bringing forth the world.

Poem by: Sister Irene Zimmerman, SSSF

Monday, September 21, 2015

Autumn Loveliness . . .

O God of Autumn loveliness, we thank you for the many colors of our lives. We thank you for the rich hues of red, the promising hope of greens, the depth of the golds, and the well-worn browns.

We praise you for all of the life you have given us, the life we celebrate at this harvest time each year. Like the leaves of the trees, we ourselves have been blown around, toasted in the sun, and whipped by rain and storms. Yet, we stand as a testament to life well lived.

Your trees, O God, remind us of our letting go, our need to trust transformation, so that new life can come. Yet, like them, we resist the tearing, wrenching, pulling, and tugging.  We cling earnestly to our color and our home!

Release us, God of the Autumn, and free us so that the wind of your Spirit can fling us to the places we most need to go.  Bury us deep in places where we will find warmth.  Help us to find ourselves grounded in you.

As we look around in this harvest time, we celebrate the bounty all around us and deep within us.  May we be forever grateful for the plentitude!  May we be forever generous with all that is ours.  May we be forever willing to give of ourselves!

And as we journey towards this winter time, help us to always carry the spirit of springtime deep within us as a sign of hope! 

We believe, O God of Transformation, that all of life is your belief and hope in us!  Ready our hearts, steady our hearts that we can respond fully in faith and love!
(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Good News-ing!

“God writes the Gospel
not in the Bible alone,
but also on trees,
and in the flowers
and clouds and stars.”

~ Martin Luther


Falling into Autumn!

A Prayer for Autumn Days
By Joyce Rupp

God of the seasons, there is a time for everything; there is a time for dying and a time for rising. We need courage to enter into the transformation process.

God of autumn, the trees are saying goodbye to their green, letting go of what has been. We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk. Help us to let go when we need to do so.

God of fallen leaves lying in colored patterns on the ground, our lives have their own patterns. As we see the patterns of our own growth, may we learn from them.

God of misty days and harvest moon nights, there is always the dimension of mystery and wonder in our lives. We always need to recognize your power-filled presence. May we gain strength from this.

God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain, many gifts of growth lie within the season of our surrender. We must wait for harvest in faith and hope. Grant us patience when we do not see the blessings.

God of geese going south for another season, your wisdom enables us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs to be carried into the future. We yearn for insight and vision.

God of flowers touched with frost and windows wearing white designs, may your love keep our hearts from growing cold in the empty seasons.

God of life, you believe in us, you enrich us, you entrust us with the freedom to choose life.  For all this, we are grateful. (From: May I Have This Dance?)

• How are you being invited to enter into transformation?
• To what are you saying “goodbye” and entering a time of surrender, insecurity, and risk?
• How are you aware of the patterns of growth that have been part of your life's journey? What have you learned from them?
• Are you aware of God’s power-filled presence in your times of walking in mystery and wonder?
• What does patience look like in your life?  Feel like? May you be blessed by its teaching.
• Have you ever had to leave something behind while at the same time move into a “holy newness” of the future? What insights and visions did you embrace?
• Ask the God of the seasons to keep your heart from growing cold in the empty seasons.
• God of life, we live, and move and have our being in you. We are grateful!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Feast of Mary ~ A Woman of Sorrows

Pieta by Sister Mary Peter Tremonte, O.P.,
Designed for Holy Family Catholic Church
Abilene, TX
A Sorrowful Mystery!

So must we, though anxious and uncertain, breathe the words
passed on through the ages.

Do not be afraid, though we cannot see nor dare imagine
what awful things evil would wreak on our fragile world.

Still we dare believe in the graced breaking through of salvation,
Precipitated and thrust forth from insistent, dogged faith –

Incubator of hope,
And so you carried life for the world, Mary,
as you fled, to protect that very life
from threats of death joining the world’s
mass of displaced people
you became
And settled in a foreign land –
the only place to safely nurture your fragile dream.

Like so many other women who flee violence,
Clutching their babies,
You crossed the border defining you a stranger,
Dependent on foreign aid, welfare and hand-outs –
to feed the Son of God.

(Soul Sisters by Edwina Gateley)


Feast of the Cross . . .A finding again and again!

Crucifix in chapel at Jesuit Retreat Center, Oshkosh, WI

On this feast of the cross . . .it is continually being found again and
again . . .especially in the lives of the Syrian refugees.

September 14: Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross remembers the finding of the true cross by the Emperor Constantine's mother, Helen in early 4th century. Two churches were dedicated in the name of the cross on this day in the 4th century. Therefore, the feast was applied to this day. In the 7th century, the feast was renamed, "The Triumph." The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in 335 was also dedicated on this day. (John Predmore, sj)


Almighty God, source of all compassion,
the promise of your mercy and saving help fills our hearts with hope.
Hear the cries of the people of Syria;
bring healing to those suffering from the violence,
and comfort to those mourning the dead.

Empower and encourage Syria’s neighbors
in their care and welcome for refugees.
Transform the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and strengthen the resolve of those committed to peace.

O God of hope and mercy,
your Spirit inspires us to look beyond ourselves and our own needs.
Inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with enemies.
Inspire churches around the world with compassion for the people of Syria, and fill us with hope for a future of peace built on justice for all.
Amen. (Adapted from USCCB)

Syrian refugee women and children sit outside a tent during a sandstorm at a refugee camp on September 8, 2015 near the Bekaa Valley village of Taalabaya, Lebanon (AFP Photo/-)

Syrian refugees are reflected in a puddle as they wait for their turn to enter Macedonia at Greece's border, near the Greek village of Idomeni, September 11, 2015. Some 7,600 migrants, many of them refugees from the Syrian war, entered Macedonia from Greece between 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Wednesday and 6 p.m. on Thursday, an official with the United Nations refugee agency said on the border. (REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Between a rock and a hard place . . .

Previously posted: September 2012
Many etymologists trace the origins of the idiom to Greek mythology. Legends were written about a treacherous area at sea where sailors would find themselves stuck between Scylla, a monstrous multi-headed beast atop a cliff, and Charybdis, an enormous whirlpool. Going in either direction meant certain death, creating an incredibly difficult dilemma for the sailors to face. This story led to the creation of the expression "between Scylla and Charybdis," which referred to being in an inescapable predicament.

As I ponder this phrase, I think of the Sunday Gospels from this coming week and next week: Mark 8:27-35 and Mark 9:30-37 , respectively.  In the first Gospel reference, Jesus is on his way (in a few short Chapters from now) to Jerusalem with his trusty disciples.  He asks them, “Who do people say that I am?” Mark then has Jesus reveal the prediction of his Passion. As the Anointed One – his life will lead to suffering and eventually death. This does not make the gang too happy, especially Peter who tries to say – “this ain’t gonna happen on my watch!” They were hoping for someone to come and overtake the Romans and their reign of power.  However, this is not how Jesus’ Kingdom reign will unfold.

In the Second Gospel reference, the guys are arguing who is the greatest since Jesus will soon be “out of the picture” or “off the radar.” Again, Jesus steps in and reveals his suffering and death for a second time, and that following him is not about being the greatest but the least; it’s not about being first but last; it’s not about being a person of power, control, prestige, or success – it’s about being like a child – (in the Mediterranean culture) that is, having no status, or considered equal to a slave.  So how do we see these readings through our Western cultural lens or hear them through the Western cultural filter?

Well – as I ponder the question, “Who do people say I am?” – We can easily flip into our individualism, self-reliance, independence from others, and personal competence stance.  So if we were to reflect on this question: Who do people say we are?  What will be the response? Will others describe what we do or what the essence of our Self really is?  Or what if we would address this to God? Or the Holy One? What do we believe that God would say to us if we asked –“God, who do you say I am?” Would we have the courage, trust, and humility to receive God’s reply?  Oftentimes God does tell us who we are by those who we share life with, or those we play with, or work with, or pray with. 

Also, what about that “greatest” squabble among the disciples?  Seems to me that living in a superlative mind set is all about competition, striving, climbing, never being satisfied with being good enough. 

 Again, what does all this have to do with our lives now?  I believe that some recent news events have placed us individually and collectively between a rock and a hard place.  Let us recall the mass shootings at the theater in Aurora, CO, at the screening of The Dark Knight, where 12 people were killed and 58 were injured; or the Sikh Temple shooting on Aug. 6th in Oak Creek, WI, where 6 people were killed and 4 others were seriously wounded; and the recent killings in Benghazi, Libya, when angry mobs stormed the U.S. consulate and killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.  Are we not between a rock and a hard place where we have to discern how to react or respond with each event?  Will we harbor animosity and seek revenge or retaliation? Or will we be about reflection, or understanding, and be in solidarity with those who hold pain and suffering?  The choice is always ours as we stand between a rock and a hard place.


An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, "Let me tell you a story.  
I, too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times." He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.
But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit." The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eyes and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather? “The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, "The one I feed."


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Awareness . . .

A consistent contemplative practice can help you stay open and receptive during ‘adventures’ into the unfamiliar as well as during periods of ordinariness . . .

+ + +

Any true contemplation or meditation gradually overcomes your autonomous and success-driven ego. It slowly undoes any illusion that your cracked thinking can get you out of this inexplicable world. It overcomes the shapeless anxiety that comes from the inherent mystery of life and all of your attempts at evasion. That is why your politics, time usage, and economics will change. If they don’t, I doubt if your prayer is invading your unconscious. If your prayer goes deep, your whole view of the world will change from fear to connection because you don’t live inside your fragile and encapsulated self anymore. In mediation, you are moving from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being driven to being drawn.”

(Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still)