Sunday, July 23, 2017

God's Dream . . .


And God said:
I myself will dream a dream
within you.
Good dreams come from me
you know.


My dreams seem impossible,
Not too practical,
Not for the cautious   
woman or man,
A little risky sometimes,
A trifle brash perhaps.


Some of my friends prefer
To rest more comfortably,
In sounder sleep,
With visionless eyes.


But for those who share my dreams,
I ask a little patience,
A little humor,


Some small courage,
And a listening heart.
I will do the rest.


 
Then they will risk,
And wonder at their daring
Run, and marvel at their speed;
Build, and stand in awe at the beauty
of their building.


You will meet me often as you work:
In your companions,
who share your risk;
In your friends,
who believe in you enough
to lend their own dreams,
Their own hands, 
Their own hearts,
To your building;


In the people who will find
your doorway,
Stay awhile, and walk away
Knowing they, too, can find a dream . . .


There will be sun-filled days,
And sometimes it will rain.
A little variety!
Both come from me.


So come now,
Be content.
It is my dream you dream:
My house you build;
My caring you witness;
My love you share;
And this is
the heart of the matter.  


sc ~ rgs

Aloned . . .with God!

Alone
All-one
Alone with God
All-one with God
Being alone with God
Being all-one with God
All-one
Alone.


It is a terrible grace.
An awesome gift,
but terrifying all the same.
There is no way to get there
except to lose yourself,
to lose what you know of yourself.
And then, the battle is over.
There will be nothing left but God.


Being alone, all-one, with God
is a terrible and beautiful grace.
Terrible, because
the only way there
is to lose yourself.
Beautiful, because
when you lose yourself
there is no one left but God.

You are all-one
Alone with God!


It happened to Jesus
It can happen to you
If you stay with Jesus
it will happen to you.
Alone
All-one
Alone with God
All-one with God.


Now I understand
why Jesus went out
to the desert hills so often
alone . . .


A Tree Full of Angels
Macrina Wiederkehr





One inch at a time . . .

 
 
 
 
A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered
by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

Stories to ponder. . .

 
 
The story of a blind girl

There was a blind girl who hated herself just because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:
“Just take care of my eyes dear.”



A glass of Milk, paid in Full

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk.
He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”
“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”


He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.

She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:
“Paid in full with one glass of milk.
Signed, Dr. Howard Kelly.”


Author Unknown

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mary Magdalene ~ Faith-filled Friend . . .

Feast of Mary Magdalene ~ July 22
 
 
 
(Posted by Ron Rolheiser, OMI)



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.



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

God of presence . . .in our present!


 
Litany of God's Names by Joseph Sobb, S.J.

O God of silence and quietness, you call us to be still and know you -
O God of steadfast love, your Spirit is poured into our hearts –
O God of compassion, your Word is our light and hope –
O God of faithfulness, you fill our hearts with joy –

O God of life and truth, from you we receive every gift –
O God of healing and peace, you open us to divine grace –
O God of all creation, our beginning and our end –
O God of salvation, you reconcile all things in Jesus, -

O God of Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit –
O God of Jesus, who invites us, “Come and see” –
O God of Jesus, who was tempted as we all are –
O God of Jesus, who is your pledge of saving love –

O God of Sarah and Abraham, from whom came  Jesus -
O God of Anna and Simeon, who recognized Jesus, your Son,
 as Messiah –
O God of Mary, who bore Jesus, -   
O God of Joseph, to whose fatherly care was entrusted Jesus, -

O God of all generations, of all times and seasons and peoples –
O God of our mothers and fathers, of all who have loved us –
O God of our past; O God of our future –
O God of our present, O God in our present -


Mystery Within . . .



 

In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are ununderstandable and say nothing.

The deepest words
of the wise person teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.

~ Antonio Machado ~

(Translation by Robert Bly, in The Enlightened Heart, edited by Stephen Mitchell)


Monday, July 17, 2017

"My Pleasure" . . .




A cat dies and goes to heaven. God meets him at the gate and says, “You have been a good cat all of these years. Anything you desire is yours; all you have to do is ask.” The cat says, “Well, I lived all my life with a poor family on a farm and had to sleep on hardwood floors.”  God says, “Say no more."  And instantly, a fluffy pillow appears.

A few days later, 6 mice are killed in a tragic accident and they go to heaven. God meets them at the gate with the same offer that was made to the cat. The mice said, “All our lives we've had to run. Cats, dogs and even women with brooms have chased us. If we could only have a pair of roller skates, we wouldn't have to run anymore.” God says, “Say no more.” And instantly, each mouse is fitted with a beautiful pair of tiny roller skates.

About a week later, God decides to check and see how the cat is doing. The cat is sound asleep on his new pillow. God gently wakes him and asks, “How are you doing? Are you happy here?” The cat yawns and stretches and says, “Oh, I’ve never been happier in my life. And those Meals on Wheels you've been sending over are the best!”

+ + +

There is a grocery store in our town that has a foundational philosophy of Servant Leadership.  Every customer is considered a guest. My experience has been that when you wander through the store and look puzzled at finding what you want, suddenly a clerk appears to help you. When you express gratitude for their service, they respond, “My pleasure.”  One time I wasn’t able to find an ingredient I needed for a marvelous dish, so I went to the manager and inquired. He instantly took out his SmartPhone and searched as to where he could locate it among their distribution warehouses.  He said, “I’ve located it, but it won’t be here until two days from now. When we get it in, we will call you.”  I expressed my gratitude for his service and he responded, “My pleasure.”

In a recent experience at a retreat, I was the “presider” in which I was to facilitate the reconciliation prayer service.  This meant introductions, organizing the readings, and giving a short reflection on the readings before the ministers went off to administer the Sacrament to the participants. Well, I couldn’t help but tell them the story of my grocery store experiences of “My pleasure.”  But in my reflection, I related this comment to how God might relate to us in our healing and forgiveness.

We come to retreat entering into silence, searching for a word of hope, an insight, a specific grace, an affirmation, or a challenge where we may meet new Nazareths  and new Bethlehems.  We sense that we are in the presence of the Holy and we express our prayer of gratitude. It is then at the level of the sacred we hear whispered in our heart, “My pleasure.”  For God does not desire worthiness but only willingness. 

What if we would enter into the Sacrament with such sincerity, and a deep desire to be healed and forgiven that deep within us as we express our gratitude for the flood of healing grace – God says, “My pleasure.”  What if, as we walk and live beyond that moment of gracing in the Sacrament, we encounter a situation where we need the courage and integrity we prayed for in the sacrament? Then again deep within us we sense a movement of grace, a surge of courage to stand in a non-defended stance and softly hear . . . “My pleasure.”

It just seems that before the thought has fully formed within us, or the words have left our lips, God rushes to embrace us saying,  “Anything you desire is yours; all you have to do is ask – then say no more . . .for you are welcomed here, you are accepted here, you are loved here.” And humbly we say, “Thank you.” And God responds,” My pleasure.”

Previously posted July 2012

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)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Keys to peace and freedom . , ,

 
 
The Fable of the Four Philanthropists

Once upon a time, there was a small town besieged by war. Invading marauders eventually captured the land, built a prison in middle of the town square, and imprisoned all the warrior men of the community. And every day citizens would see their sons and fathers suffering behind bars in the middle of the town square. Unable to bear it any longer, 4 philanthropists got together and decided to make an offering of peace.

The first philanthropist went to the jailer and said that he had a lot of money and couldn't stand to see the prisoners without fresh water. He begged for mercy so that he could spend all his money to buy fresh water for the prisoners to drink. The invaders allowed it and the philanthropist felt at peace with his offering.

The second philanthropist went to the jailer and said he had a lot of livestock and couldn't stand to see the prisoners sleeping on rocks and dirt. He begged the jailer to be allowed to use his sheep and animal skins to make beds and pillows for the prisoners. The invaders allowed this gift and the philanthropist felt at peace.

The third philanthropist went to the jailer and said he had a very large farm and he couldn't stand to see prisoners eating so poorly that many were malnourished. He begged the jailer to be allowed to bring all his food from the farm and make meals for the prisoners. The invaders allowed this gift and philanthropist felt at peace.

The fourth philanthropist had neither farm, nor livestock, nor money. He was very poor. But he was a saint. So for his gift he did what any saint would do: he stole the jailer's keys, snuck back to the jail at night, and released all the prisoners. And he felt at peace with this offering.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kateri and Jake . . .


July 14 - Feast of Kateri Tekakwitha - First Native American Saint
 
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.

 
Previously posted 2014

God of the in-between time. . . .



 

Let us pray:
God of the Seasons, God of in-between time, we are walking into mystery. 
We face the future, not knowing what the days and months will bring to us

or how we will respond. 

Be courage and compassion in us as we journey. 

May we welcome all who come our way. 
We thank you for the gift of being able to rise each day

with the assurance
of your walking
through the day with us. 


So may there always be a little light in our darkness. 
May there always be a little faith in our doubt.
May there always be a little joy in our sorrow.
May there always be a little life in our dying.
May there always be a little hope in our sadness.
May there always be a little courage in our fear.

And may there always be a little slow in our hurry.


God of the Seasons, God of in-between time,
deepen our faith to see all of life through your eyes

and we praise you now and forever. 
Amen.
(Adapted from: Song of the Seed by Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB.)



A Gentle Moment . . .

 
 
 
An Unclenched Moment?
Gentle me, Holy One,
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go
of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy that is You.
~Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace
 
 
 

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)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A story for the week . . .


 
There’s a story in the Hindu tradition that runs something like this: God and a man are walking down a road. The man asks God: “What is the world like?” God answers: “I’d like to tell you, but my throat is parched. I need a cup of cold water. If you can go and get me a cup of cold water, I’ll tell you what the world is like.” The man heads off to the nearest house to ask for a cup of cold water. He knocks on the door and it is opened by a beautiful young woman. He asks for a cup of cold water. She answers: “I will gladly get it for you, but it’s just time for the noon meal, why don’t you come in first and eat.” He does.

Thirty years later, they’ve had five children, he’s a respected merchant, she’s a respected member of the community, they’re in their house one evening when a hurricane comes and uproots their house. The man cries out: “Help me, God!” And a voice comes from the center of the hurricane says: “Where’s my cup of cold water?”

This story is not so much a spiritual criticism as it is a fundamental lesson in anthropology and spirituality: To be a human being is to be perpetually distracted. We aren’t persons who live in habitual spiritual awareness who occasionally get distracted. We’re persons who live in habitual distraction who occasionally become spiritually aware. We tend be so preoccupied with the ordinary business of living that it takes a hurricane of some sort for God to break through.

Author Unknown

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 4th - Interdependence Day!


In the words of David Barton, he reminds us of what the celebration of Independence Day – July 4th – is all about.

 “On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from Great Britain. Two days afterwards – July 4th – the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed, albeit by only two individuals at that time: John Hancock, President of Congress, and Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress. Four days later, on July 8, members of Congress took that document and read it aloud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, after which the Liberty Bell was rung. The inscription around the top of that bell, Leviticus 25:10, was most appropriate for the occasion: ‘Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.’”   

However, I’d like to also declare an Interdependence Day.  Even though we celebrate our separation from the Crown of England, we must come to the awareness that we really do not live as “separate peoples” of this planet. It is to be shared by all – for we are interdependent with all of life on this earth and beyond!

I recently returned from directing a retreat and I often would walk the grounds of the center and quietly observe the trees reflected in the surrounding lake, watch the Sandhill Cranes fly over the near-by pier, and study the puffy, luminous clouds that looked as if they fell into the lake as they were reflected there along with the trees. I will post pictures to give a visual of what I experienced.

As I pondered my surroundings, I was amazed how this environment truly was an ecosystem happening right in front of me: fish, plants, trees, flowers, bees, birds, raccoons, deer, turtles, and more all in the dance of the ecosystem waltz! Everything working, living, sharing, moving, breathing together in one movement of life in this small circle of the earth. Nothing separated – nothing independent – everything interdependent.

I thought, too, of my life as a woman religious in my community. Some would consider me pretty independent – guess I learned that as I was growing up – and yet as a committed member, I am interdependent with all those in my community. We pray with and for one another; we minister with and for one another, we celebrate with and for one another, - however, we share who we are and what we have with all in our ministries and way of life.  As a wise old mentor once told me, “As celibate women, we belong to everyone and no-one.” 

So on this weekend of Independence Day and the celebration of separation, I pray for all who walk this earth as we are interdependent in our way of life on this planet and that we grow in our actions, attitudes, and way of being that we acknowledge we are here as a people sharing the gift of life in the beauty of God’s creation on this small planet in the universe.  Let us dance together the interdependent waltz!

Ponderings:

One day a little boy asked his parents, ‘How do wars break out? How are they declared?’ So the father, who was very learned in economic matters, started talking about wheat, oil, an all the things that divide the world. But the mother thought the little boy was far too small to understand such things, and she said, ‘Let me explain it.’ The mother began to explain, and the father grew angry, and a great argument developed. The little boy was very frightened indeed, and held up his hands and cried, ‘Stop, stop! Now I know how wars begin.’ (Irene Laure)


The late Albert Einstein, during his declining years, granted a press conference to a number of newspaper reporters. After they had plied him with questions on many subjects, one reporter asked: ‘Mr. Einstein, would you care to make a prediction as to the kind of weapons that will be used in the third world war?’ Modestly he shook his head and said: ‘No, I would not venture a prediction.’ After the briefest hesitation he added, ‘But I’ll tell you what will be the chief weapon in the fourth world war.’ The reporters were all ears and every pencil was poised in anticipation of the old man’s prediction. What would be the chief weapon in the fourth world war?

With an air of finality, the old man gave a one-word reply – 'Clubs!' It took a moment or two for the aged scientist’s reply to register, but as it did, a grim silence settled over the assembled group. (Anonymous)

“We can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion or work with those that stress the interdependence and equality of all human beings. The choice is yours. (22)”
― Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life


“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”
― G.K. Chesterton


“None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another’s salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light.”
― Dean Koontz


“Our culture values independence and isolation far too much, it seems to me--we have a hard time making ourselves part of things, of making ourselves responsible to others, and trusting others to be there for us. Sure, there's pain involved if we get hurt, but there's far more pain in isolation. I love community because God gave us other people to live with, not to pull away from, and I learn so much from others that I can't imagine my life without the learning I've gained from getting to know other people.”
-Tom Walsh