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

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Remembering . . .What happened in Vegas cannot stay in Vegas!


A Franciscan Prayer for Peace
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