Friday, November 17, 2017

A Thanksgiving Threshold . . .

 Like Spring secretly at work within the heart of Winter,
below the surface of our lives
huge changes are in fermentation.
We never suspect a thing.

Then when the grip of some
long-enduring winter mentality
begins to loosen,
we find ourselves vulnerable
to a flourish of possibility
and we are suddenly negotiating
the challenges
of a threshold…

At any time you can ask yourself:
At which threshold am I now standing?
At this time in my life, what am I leaving?
Where am I about to enter?

A threshold is not a simple boundary;
it is a frontier
that divides two different territories,
rhythms, and atmospheres.

Indeed, it is a lovely testimony
to the fullness and integrity
of an experience or a stage of life
that it intensifies toward the end
into a real frontier
that cannot be crossed
without the heart being passionately
engaged and
woken up.

At this threshold
a great complexity of emotion
comes alive:
confusion, fear,
excitement, sadness,

This is one of the reasons
such vital crossings
were always clothed in ritual.

It is wise in your own life
to be able to recognize and acknowledge
the key thresholds;
to take your time;
to feel all the varieties of presence
that accrue there;
to listen inward
with complete attention
until you hear
the inner voice
calling you

The time has come
to cross.

John O’Donohue
From: To Bless the Space Between Us

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Blessing . . .

While you have been
making your way here
this blessing has been
gathering itself
making ready
biding its time

This blessing has been
polishing the door
oiling the hinges
sweeping the steps
lighting candles
in the windows.

This blessing has been
setting the table
as it hums a tune
from an old song
it knows,
something about
a spiraling road
and bread
and grace.

All this time
it has kept an eye
on the horizon,
keeping vigil,
hardly aware of how
it was leaning itself
in your direction.

And now that
you are here
this blessing
can hardly believe
its good fortune
that you have finally arrived,
that it can drop everything
at last
to fling its arms wide
to you, crying
Jan Richardson 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

God comes to us disguised as our lives!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  (Melodie Beattie)

Story: Sometime ago, I was sharing with someone who at one time had been homeless.  He told me of how often he would long for a sandwich.  So he would hang out at fast food restaurants to collect the discarded ketchup packets.  Then (if he was lucky that day) he would find a slice of bread and squeeze out the remaining ketchup from the assorted packets to make a ketchup sandwich.  He went on to tell me of the day that a gentleman noticed him and offered to take him to a near-by restaurant and buy him a hamburger.  He told me that it was one of the hardest decisions he ever had to make.  He said this is how it went down with his ordering: Did I want a white or whole wheat bun? Did I want a single burger or the deluxe double burger?  Did I want cheese on my burger?  Did I want my burger somewhat rare, medium, or well done?  Did I want onions on the burger?  Raw or fried?  Did I want lettuce, tomato, and mayo on the burger? Finally, did I want to have fries? Oops – what size order of fries?  Small, medium or large? Then it was the decision of what to drink.  As a result of all this burger decisioning, it took him at least 15 minutes to place his order.


Another Story: Another experience I had was with that of a person who had survived the genocide of Rwanda. The Rwandan genocide was the 1994 mass slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people in the East African state of Rwanda. In my inquiry as to how she and her family escaped and survived she said: “We only had each other and that gave us courage.  We prayed at first to find a cup for drinking.  But eventually we turned our prayer into a request for a cooking pot.  Then all of us could eat, drink, and share.”

A story tells of a man who went to the office every day in his expensive car, and made important decisions and signed big contracts.  Often, the important man would enjoy business lunches with his clients, and would try to distract the attention of his influential guests away from the unsavory spectacle of the beggars on the streets of his city.

One evening, after a hard day making money, he packed his briefcase to go home, where supper would be waiting for him.  As he was locking his desk for the night, he caught sight of a stale sandwich lying abandoned at the back of the drawer.  Without much thought he crammed it in his coat pocket.  No need for it to go moldy and mess up his desk.  And on the way out to the car park he saw a street beggar on the steps, huddled in an old blanket.  ‘Here, my friend’ he said to the beggar. ‘Here is something for your supper.’ And he gave him the stale sandwich

That night, the man dreamed that he was away on a business trip.  After the day’s meeting, he was taken with his fellow directors to the town’s most luxurious restaurant.  Everyone gave their orders, and settled down with their drinks before the meal to look forward to a convivial evening.
The orders arrived. Pâté de foie gras.  Medallions of venison.  Lamb cutlets with rosemary and garlic.  The dishes being brought to the table brought gasps of delight from all the company. Then his own order appeared.  A waitress set in front of him one small plate, on which was served a stale sandwich.

‘What kind of service is this?’ the man demanded, enraged.  ‘This isn’t what I ordered! I thought this was the best restaurant in town!’
‘Oh sir,’ the waitress told him, ‘you’ve been misinformed.  This isn’t a restaurant at all.  This is heaven.  We are only able to serve you what you have sent on ahead while you were alive.  I’m very sorry, sir, but when we looked under your name, the best we could find to serve to you was this little sandwich.’ (Retelling of a Jewish folk story)


How would you describe gratitude? For what are you most grateful?
How do the stories make you feel?
What is disturbing for you in the stories?
What is true for you in the stories?
How have you been a person of generosity in your life?
Have you ever been a recipient of someone’s generosity?
Where in your life have you encountered trauma or tragedy and came through it with a few scars but with great wisdom?

Thanksgiving in many forms . . .

Litany of Gratitude
For being in our world. For making a difference. For your wisdom. Thank you.
For being so thoughtful. For being there. For caring. Thank you.
For sharing your thoughts. For listening. For your inspiration. Thank you.
For your faith. For your talent. For your wonderful work.  Thank you.
For your leadership. For your character. For your spirit.  Thank you.
For your principles. For showing the way. For your warmth.  Thank you.
For your kindness.  For your encouragement. For your honesty.  Thank you.
For your helping hand.  For reaching out. For your touch.  Thank you.
For your support. For hanging in there. For staying in touch. Thank you.
For giving. For your example. For spreading joy. For your big heart.
Thank you.
For all you’ve done. For the memories. For being you.  Thank you.                                                       (Adapted from Gratitude compiled by Dan Zadra)

 Morgan Weistling Thankful Heart
A Gratitude Story:
A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say, " the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

Monday, November 13, 2017

A prayer during hard times and mean days . . .

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.

prayer - maya angelou

A Thanksgiving Reflection . . .

In her poem, When Death Comes, Mary Oliver writes:
“When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

We gather to remember, to celebrate and to be grateful for the many ways
in which we have been blessed over this past year.  This prayer, this season of Thanksgiving and the Gospels are inviting us to live as gratitude people. For to live as gratitude people life calls us to do more than just visit here. 

Gratitude is an attitude we can freely choose in order to create a better life for ourselves, others and for earth. It is a quality that deepens and enriches our lives and the lives of others. It can be a personal act of self- expression or a spiritual practice. It is a wholehearted response to the bounties of life. 

Gratitude is a vital dimension of our lives that celebrates the ties that bind us to others. Every occasion for gratefulness is in some way a recognition that we belong to the world and to our fellow human beings and that we exist in community together. 

It is said that to take away the daily experience and expression of gratitude, then life becomes quickly diminished.  Like a weakened immune system, the spirit is left vulnerable to the diseases of cynicism, anger, low-grade depression, or with an edgy sense of dissatisfaction. When we are gratitude-deprived, then we suffer a relentless loss of vitality and delight.

The Gospels call us to live as BEattitude people.  The Beatitudes are inviting us to be surprised by the blessings in our lives. If we truthfully hear the “good news” of these Scriptures we then have to turn upside down all our notions of blessedness. So when we find ourselves spiritually poor and we have nowhere else to turn but to God - then in our poverty we discover who God truly is and who we really are. 

When we find ourselves small or mourning or starving for the justice that has eluded us, and we have nowhere else to turn but to God - then in this helplessness we learn to long for God to comfort and satisfy us.

When we find that our heart has known God’s mercy for our failings and we have been cleansed by all the pain and wounds we have received, then we can offer forgiveness and mercy to others - for then we become peacemakers.  And subsequently a special blessedness will overtake us and mercy will remain in our hearts and we will become people of God who can see our God face to face in the last, the least and the lost.

And when our trust in God earns us the ridicule of the world and our standing on the side of the poor and marginalized leads to rejection by the world, then we can really “rejoice and be glad” for we have been wrapped in the Reign of God.  Then we will, beyond any doubt, know that we are not just visiting here.  For at that moment we will totally and intensely understand that the purpose of life is not to be happy, but that the purpose of life is to matter, to have it make a difference that we have lived at all.

And so  we gather to remember, to give thanks, and to commit ourselves once again to move into these days ahead with courage and hope – for these are the days which dare us and challenge us to not just visit here, but to truly live as gratitude people and BEattitude people because God continues to surprise us with blessings.

So let pray:  May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we will live deep in our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people and the earth so that we will work for justice, equity and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer so we will reach out our hands to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with the foolishness to think that we can make a difference in the world, so we will do the things which others say cannot be done. Amen.  Amen.

From 2006 and varied resources.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A Forever November Story of a Forever Tree!


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    
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)
Previously posted November 2012

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Presence . . .

discovering a new presence

In the second before a feeling hardens
in the instant before a sound is heard
in the helplessness we feel when language
is no longer sufficient to express
all that we want to say
in hope before it gives way to despair
in doubt before it changes to certainty
in certainty before it turns to doubt
in the familiar before it becomes wondrous
in the wondrous before it becomes stale
is the birthplace of your presence.
~ Shabbir Banoobhai

Friday, November 3, 2017

Global Climate Talks Held in Prayer . . .

Prayers for Global Climate Talks in Paris –November 6-17
From Global Catholic Climate Movement


• Nov. 6   We pray that refugees from the climate crisis find peace and a spirit of welcome, in their new homes.  We pray that migration policies include climate refugees among those who need special consideration.
Church teaching: “God clearly and repeatedly recommends hospitality and generosity toward the stranger.’ (Pope John Paul II)

• Nov. 7  We pray for the young and future generations, who will inherit the short-sightedness of past generations.  We pray that wisdom grows, and that we take to heart the imperative to protect young people and all our vulnerable sisters and brothers.
Church teaching: “Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.” (Laudato Si’, 13)

• Nov. 8  We pray for all of the creatures that suffer poor stewardship of creation, and we pray peace for the courageous advocates who are standing up for the Amazon.
Church teaching: “We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which . . . ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests.” (Laudato Si’ 38)

• Nov. 9  We pray that the Holy Spirit increases compassion for the victims of extreme weather, that they find God's grace and peace amid their loss, and that the nation's leaders open their hearts and minds to the realities of climate change.
Church teaching: “Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” (St. Gregory Nazianzen)

• Nov 10  We pray for the safety of people who are affected by growing deserts.  We pray for compassion and healing in their new homes. In our pilgrimage of hope, Creator, draw us into deeper solidarity with vulnerable people.
Church teaching:  “We judge ourselves as a community of faith by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.” (Letter from the bishops of Mexico and the United States)

• Nov. 11  We pray that the transition to clean energy is just and swift.
Church teaching:  “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.” (Laudato Si’, 26)

• Nov. 12  We pray that the people of the Caribbean and all sisters and brothers around the world continue to find ways to safely adapt to the new reality of climate change.
Church teaching: “A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing, and limiting our power.” (Laudato Si’ 78)

• Nov. 13  We pray that the people of the Caribbean and all sisters and brothers around the world continue to find ways to safely adapt to the new reality of climate change.
Church teaching: “A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing, and limiting our power.” (Laudato Si’ 78)

• Nov. 14  We pray that communities on the front lines of the environmental crisis will lift their voices and be heard.  We pray that patterns of consumption will change, and start protecting the Earth and its people.
Church teaching: “We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world.” (Bishops of the Patagonia-Comahue Region)

• Nov. 15  We pray for the ingenuity and resilience of the Filipino people. We pray for a spirit of compassion and solidarity among people who live in nations and economies with excessive greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable lifestyles.
Church teaching:  “Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry.” (Laudato Si’, 25)

• Nov. 16  We pray that South Asia will grow in its resilience to climate catastrophes.  We pray that everyone will have a safe home and support to recover from disasters.
Church teaching:  “Efforts to address climate change must take into account creation and its relationship to ‘the least of these.’” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

• Nov. 17  We pray for the goodwill and grace of Indigenous people and all people whose children will not live as they have because of the changing climate.
Church teaching:  “In this sense, it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. . . For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. (Laudato Si’, 146)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Heart of All Hearts . . .

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)

God is our enough . . .



Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Waiting in the Present . . .

What is the present?  The present is the gift of being Now.
We can have glimpses of being present at random moments: when we feel awe for life; when we find ourselves quietly enjoying nature, when we are brought to stillness by beauty, art, music, dance or even at times of great loss. At times such as these, we find that our minds are “still” enough to allow our bodies to connect to the present, without interference, judgment or fear.  In the present – there is a simple joy of being.  Faithful waiting teaches us to dwell fully where we are. When we can’t control our circumstances and we can’t predict the future, we have the opportunity to live in the present.

1. Living in the present calls us to “Be here - Now.”
To be here now invites us to enjoy the moment.  This challenge asks us to live intentionally in the present, to focus on what is happening now. It invites us to pay attention to learn from our current circumstances.  It invites us to forget about our waiting, to willingly be distracted by the present.       

2.Living in the present invites us to relinquish worry.
The contrasts to being present are living in the past and living in the future.  We do the former when we hold on to regrets.  We constantly review things that have already happened, trying to explain them in terms of our own or some else’s actions.  This thinking can often lead to guilt or blaming. We live in the future when we make assumptions or fantasize about what could happen and then become attached to those expected outcomes.  This tendency usually results in disappointment.  We we are consumed with positive expectations or negative projections, we are not living in the moment.  When we find ourselves constantly reacting to our experiences in one of these way, when we want to be otherwise and elsewhere, it is time to be present. Faithful waiting presents us with a unique opportunity to shift gears from useless worry about the future to engagement in the present. What is good for us right now?  What can I be at peace with today? Living in the present invites us to make the spiritual leap of trusting in God, believing that God is always is near.       
3. Living in the present allows us to say, “It is enough.”
Sometimes life pulls us into the space of “too muching.” We are too much wanting to be in control or thinking that we can do something without the help of another.   Sometimes life gets in the way of our routines and schedules and we find that we have to wait.   And so we have to let go of wanting to achievement, or get something done, or trying to understand, - and find that the present moment . . . is just enough.   We then are invited to let go of anxiety, worry, stress, blame or judgment and just BE in that time – for it is enough.  

4. Living in the present teaches us to be faithful in small things.
--Eckhart Tolle:
“Are you a habitual ‘waiter’?  How much of your life do you spend waiting?  What I call ‘small-scale waiting” is waiting in line at the post office, in a traffic jam, at the airport, or waiting for someone to arrive, to finish work, and so on.  ‘Large-scale waiting’ is waiting for the next vacation, for a better job, for the children to grow up, for a truly meaningful relationship, for success, to make money, to be important, to become enlightened .  It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.”

So if we would reflect on the large scale waitings in our lives. . . what would they be?    A vacation, a retreat, a chance to go to a special opportunity to be with a friend, for the world to be at peace.  And if we would reflect on the small scale waitings and how we are invited to be faithful in them, what would they look like? What would be small waitings that may happen within our homes? Maybe  to wait for faithfulness to be present to just today, because tomorrow is blurry clear.Maybe it is being faithful to living in acceptance, or joy or gratitude. Maybe it is living with forgiveness or compassion or trust.To be faithful in the small things is being faithful to the present moment, being patient with yourself and others, it is living with trusting God in the Now – in this small moment and we find it to be enough.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Placing our Nation in God's Hands . . .

A Prayer for Our Nation

May we as a nation be guided by the Divine
 to rediscover the sacred flame of our national heritage,
 which so many have given their lives to safeguard;

Let the wounds of separation and division be healed
 by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides,
 allowing us to find a higher truth that includes all;

May we learn to honor and enjoy our diversity
 and differences as a people, even as we
 more deeply touch our fundamental unity;

May we, as a people, undergo a transformation
 that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation
 who embody courage, compassion, and a higher vision;

May our leaders inspire us, and we so inspire
 each other with our potential as individuals
 and as a nation, that a new spirit of forgiveness,
 caring, and honesty be born in our nation;

May we, as a united people, move with clear,
 directed purpose to take our place within
 the community of nations to help build
 a better future for all humankind;

May we as a nation rededicate ourselves
 to truly living as one nation, under God,
 indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

And may God's Will be done for the United States,
 as we, the people, align with that Will.

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in Prayers for Healing edited by Maggie Oman

Make A 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

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

To Bless This Day . . .

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

Gifting God! . . .

Kindred Spirit

I want someone to love me just as I am,
someone who calls me when I need calling,
hugs me when I need hugging,
cries with me when I am crying,
laughs with me when I am laughing,
someone who dances with me
and matches my walk stride for stride.
I want a companion who sits companionably,
watching the world go by with me,
happy to be quiet or silly or thoughtful
as the moods chase us together.
Whether they live near or far,
I know they are with me in heart,
my bosom buddy, my kindred spirit.

God of great gifts,
grant that I may not so much seek to have kindred spirits
as to be a kindred spirit.
Give me ears to hear the needs of those around me,
arms to hold them when they need holding,
eyes to see their pain or their joy,
and a heart to feel it.

God grant that I may not so much seek
to be comforted as to comfort,
to be loved as to love,
to be enjoyed as to enjoy,
to be thought of, as to think of others.
And most of all help me know
that You are the Kindred Spirit
whose love we can count on,
time in and time out, time after time.

Carol Penner - A Mennonite Voice

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The good, the bad, and the very ugly!

All of us at some time during these past few months may have found ourselves watching our Smartphones, iPads, computers, and TV’s with more intention to catch the latest on the devastation of the hurricanes, earthquakes, and firestorms throughout our northern hemisphere. In particular, we continue to be alert to the aftermath of the wildfires in California, the earthquake devastation in Mexico, storms in the Gulf States, Puerto Rico and the other islands in the Atlantic that experienced destruction because of the super-sized hurricanes. We are told that repair and recovery will take months if not years. The financial implications cannot even be calculated.  Also, lest I forget to mention, all who were involved in the Las Vegas horror and those others throughout the world who recently experienced the deadly car bombing in Somalia.

As I pondered these images of death and destruction, I recalled a movie (from the past century -1984), Star Man, starring Jeff Bridges as an “alien” – in human form.  All through the movie, he was pursued by the FBI and by one particular agent.  Upon finally meeting up with each other face to face, there is a scene in which the FBI agent asks the “alien” –“While you have been here, what did you learn about us?”  (And this is what I consider just brilliant!). The "alien" responds, “I learned that when things become at their worst, you become at your best.”  Tah-dah! Get it?  This is a time when things seem to be at their worst – floods, fires, tornadoes, storms, earthquakes, other natural disasters, and “un-natural” disasters of bombings, shootings, etc.,  with people, places, and the environment trying to recover from the effects of so much pain and sorrow around our planet.  As I watch and take in the reports, I am amazed by the courage, compassion,  and determination of the First Responders and neighbors, friends, and passers-by who without hesitancy volunteer to help in any way they can (even while their own property is being burned or washed away.)  But I believe they have a special computer chip, or thread that runs through their inner deep soul structure that says, “WHY NOT! – Why YES, of course.”  So let us remember all who are involved in any way with the good, the bad, and the ugly of how life has unfolded through these disasters.

Let us pray:
Compassionate God, you are ever mindful of your children and hear our prayers when we cry out to you. We are faced with a disaster, a disaster that rattles our bones and sets our nerves on edge. We truly have nowhere to turn but to your loving and provident arms. Listen to our prayers for __________ who are in desperate need for assurance of your presence in their lives at this moment. Inspired by your mercy, may we reach out through acts of kindness and compassion. We ask this in Jesus’ name. (Sisters of St. Francis/Philadelphia)

Our united prayers, grounded in faith, amplify the divine energy surrounding all who are affected, strengthening them to rise above these situations with faith and hope. We affirm that the presence of God is at work in every area of need —providing the people and resources for recovery and rebuilding, uplifting every soul. Let us affirm together for each one: The light of God surrounds you; The love of God enfolds you;The power of God protects you; The presence of God watches over you.Wherever you are, God is!  (UNITY)

“Oh, God, in faith we acknowledge your care over us, your sons, daughters and children. In hope we trust in your divine providence of giving us wisdom and courage as we face the challenges in life. In love we invoke your help and guidance during these difficult days of death and destruction in our dear country.

Our is a prayer of thanksgiving for once again reminding us that ours is an imperfect world, that heaven is not on earth and that nature every now and then tells us not to abuse her. Ours too is a prayer of repentance for calling upon you when we are in need and desperation but forgetting you in favorable times and pleasing occasions. Ours as well is a prayer of petition as we say: Grant eternal peace to those who lost their lives. Embrace the children who died in their innocence. Help those who are hurt and cure those who are sick. Encourage those who suffer the destruction of their homes and properties, and to once again stand up and rebuild their future.

Bless all those who extend their helping hands to those in need of food, shelter and clothing, who share their time, talents and resources with others.
Inspire more people to be men and women for their neighbors, convinced that the more they are for others, the taller they stand before you. Spare us from other natural disasters and devastations if this be according to Your will and for our own spiritual good and growth. Amen."
(Author Unknown)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Too Muching!

Weeping Jesus ~ Oklahoma City
Sometimes, Lord,
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 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, Lord,          
    too much of cruelty
        and selfishness
            and indifference…
Too much, Lord,
    too much,
        too bloody,
                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 brothers and sisters
    who are hungry for gladness and hope,
        that, being bread for them,
    I may also be fed
        And be full.

Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

His name is John . . .

October 11, Memorial Feast of Pope John XXIII

Not long after being elected to the papacy, Pope John took up residence in the papal apartments. These private apartments are hidden well inside Vatican City. John felt a little like a prisoner there, unable to come and go as he pleased and, more important to him, unable to invite friends to daily meals. It had become a custom for the pope to dine alone.

Pope John confided to his secretary, Monsignor Loris Capovilla, that he was unable to sleep through the night anymore. He felt lonely, and this kept him awake. He needed more conversation and more social stimulation to help him lose this feeling of being deserted . . .

Pope John simply could not accustom himself to the habit of eating all by himself, a practice which Pius XII had always maintained. In a very short time Capovilla was invited to join him at the table. The Pope’s appetite improved immediately. Shortly afterward he invited the cardinals of the Curia to be his table companions, one after the other. Little by little, bishops from all over the world, when they made their ad limina visits to Rome, were invited to join him for lunch or dinner. (Klinger, p. 29)
+  +  +

Once a distinguished luncheon companion ventured to remind John of the solitary eating habits of Pius XII. “Well and good,” John replied. “I value tradition and I grant that my predecessors did, too.  I must confess, however, that I have never found any place in the Bible which suggests that the Pope should eat alone." (Klinger, p. 29)
(Above selections from: Praying with Pope John XXIII by Bill Huebsch)

Quotes from Pope John XXIII
  •  “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope.”
  •  “Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling, and farming. My family chose the slowest one.”
  • “Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.”
  •  “The feelings of my smallness and my nothingness always kept me good company.”
  •  “To have accepted with simplicity the honor and the burden of the pontificate, with the joy of being able to say that I did nothing to obtain it, absolutely nothing; indeed I was most careful and conscientious to avoid anything that might direct attention to myself. As the voting in Conclave wavered to and fro, I rejoiced when I saw the chances of my being elected diminishing and the likelihood of others, in my opinion truly most worthy and venerable persons, being chosen.”
  •  "See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.”
  •  “Here I am at the end of the road and at the top of the heap.”
  •  ”Prayer is the raising of the mind to God.
    We must always remember this.
    The actual words matter less.”
  •  “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Autumn Prayer . . .

Autumn -- A Prayer of Acceptance

Eternal One who circles the seasons with ease, teach me about Earth’s natural cycle of turning from one season to another. Remind me often of how she opens herself to the dying and rising rotations, the coming and going of each of the four seasons. Open me today to the teachings of the season of autumn.

When I accept only the beautiful and reject the tattered, torn parts of who I am, when I treat things that are falling apart as my enemies,
walk me among the dying leaves; let them tell me about their power to energize Earth’s soil by their decomposition and their formation of enriching humus.

When I fear the loss of my youthfulness and refuse to accept the reality of aging, turn my face to the brilliant colors of autumn trees; open my spirit to the mellow resonance of autumn sunsets and the beauty of the changing land.

When I refuse to wait with the mystery of the unknown; when I struggle to keep control rather than to let life evolve,
wrap me in the darkening days of autumn and encourage me to wait patiently for clarity and vision as I live with uncertainty and insecurity.

When I grow tired of using my own harvest of gifts to benefit others,
take me to the autumn fields where Earth shares the bounty of summer and allows her lands to surrender their abundance.

When I resist efforts to warm a relationship that has been damaged by my coldness,
let me feel the first hard freeze of autumn’s breath and see the death it brings to greening, growing things.

When I neglect to care for myself and become totally absorbed in life’s hurried pace,
give me courage to slow down as I see how Earth slows down and allows her soil to rest in silent, fallow space.

When I fight the changes of unwanted, unsought events and struggle to keep things just as they are instead of letting go,
place me on the wings of traveling birds flying south, willing to leave their nests of comfort as they journey to another destination.

When I fail to say “thank you” and see only what is not, instead of what is,
lead me to gather all the big and little aspects of my life that have blessed me with comfort, hope, love, inner healing, strength, and courage.

Maker of the Seasons, thank you for all that autumn teaches me. Change my focus so that I see not only what I am leaving behind, but also the harvest and the plenitude that my life holds. May my heart grow freer and my life more peaceful as I resonate with, and respond to, the many teachings this season offers to me.

The Circle of Life: The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons
Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr
Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2005

To engage difficulty . . .

For Courage by John O’Donohue

When the light around you lessens, and your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn cold as a stone inside,

When you find yourself bereft of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly leaned on has fallen,

When one voice commands your whole heart, and it is raven dark,
Steady yourself and see that it is your own thinking that darkens your world,

Search and you will find a diamond-thought of light,
Know that you are not alone and that this darkness has purpose; gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires, hidden within this night-corner.
Invoke the learning of every suffering you have suffered.

Close your eyes. Gather all the kindling about your heart to create one spark,
That is all you need to nourish the flame that will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive, to urge you toward higher ground
Where your imagination will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

Friday, October 6, 2017

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