Thursday, July 11, 2019

Shake it off...

"Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet."
Matthew 10:14

That can be really hard to do, our pastor noted in her sermon on Sunday. (Link to Pastor Gretchen's sermon below!) But, harder yet, are the times when the dust we need to shake off our feet is the dust of our own judgmentalism, institutionalism and self-righteousness. The dust really clinging to our feet maybe the dust of our own making. I can relate so well to that because I'm a expert at making dust! I can ruminate and stew in my own dust endlessly, until finally, I just collapse in it. We can't really be there for others if we are wallowing in our own stuff. We need to free ourselves from as much of it as we can before we can really be present to those who need us. Jesus knew the apostles could do no good in a new place if they were still stewing about the old place and its rejection of them. Shake it off and move on, Jesus advised, and wisely so. You can't proceed forward while looking backward! Love, heidi
"Shake it off"

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Suffering and joy...

"Compassion is the virtue that moves us toward solidarity with those who suffer, rather than toward popularity and privilege through power."
Fr. Richard Gula, PSS (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

This sounds so good, but I have to wonder if we really want to join in solidarity with those who suffer. I mean, wouldn't that mean we would suffer too? Exactly. And that is what Jesus did. Jesus didn't just recognize the suffering people around him and feel pity for them. Jesus joined in their suffering and suffered with them. And he suffers with us when we are going through difficulties. Suffering is one thing that crosses all social and economic barriers. Money and privilege can't ward off suffering in our lives. Because it is hard, we may try to avoid joining in the suffering of others, relieved it isn't our turn and grateful things are working out in our lives. But the fact is, we are a human family, all children of God. If one of us is suffering, we all are. If one of us doesn't have enough to eat, no place to sleep, no work or means to sustain ourselves, none of us have those things. All of our hearts need to quiver with the pain of our neighbor. At the same time, our hearts can rejoice with each other too! It's not all sadness and suffering. If we are truly one family, we can all rejoice together, as well. Today, as we go about our summer Tuesday, let's keep our eyes and hearts open to all who enter our day. Can we share their pain, but also share the joy in being together on a warm summer day? Love, heidi

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Parable of the Trapeze

"Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars...
But every once in a while as I'm merrily (or even not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar and move to the new one."
~Danaan Parry, "The Parable of the Trapeze" (link to full parable below)

This is the most splendid description of what I feel is happening within me these days. I am swinging along on a trapeze (don't look down!) All is well until, like Danaan Parry, I see an empty trapeze bar swinging my direction. It's calling to me and feels just like what I am to do. The hardest part is that space between the two trapeze bars, when I have nothing to hold. I'm in a sort of free fall, waiting to grab onto the second trapeze bar. I know that I cannot hold both the bars at the same time, but letting go of the first intimidates me. I encourage you to click on the link below and read the full Parable of the Trapeze by Danaan Parry. Can you see yourself in the parable? Love, heidi

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Firm foundations...

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock..."
Matthew 7:24

Conversely, those who hear Jesus' words and do not heed them will be like the squirrels in my tree, whose house has been pretty much destroyed by wind and weather at this point! It looked like such a sturdy shelter for them, too, when they built it last fall. I marveled at them, racing up and down the tree with stuff in their little mouths as they added to the nest. It was big and looked like it belonged in the high-rent district. But now, months later, there's not much left of it. The baby squirrels have grown and gone and probably are making nests in other trees. The parents have retired and have moved into little squirrel care centers, I guess. What does this teach us about our own shelters? Besides the fact that we are all just passing through? It teaches us the importance of a firm foundation. Jesus gives us a firm foundation in how to live our lives as his followers. We can either do it or not, but his words are out there for us to heed (Matthew 25:31-46). I don't think a firm foundation can be based on fear or threat of punishment. Doing something to avoid hell seems like a sandy foundation to me. But doing something for another out of love and respect for the other, who is also a child of God, seems more sturdy and reliable. Jesus taught us to love and serve each other and that is as firm a foundation as we can find. Love, heidi

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wisdom from Joan...

From TV show, Joan of Arcadia:
Joan to the Little Girl God: "The way I felt about Iris, it was so ugly. Why would you put those feelings in me?"
Little Girl God to Joan: "Everyone has a part of themselves they don't like, Joan. You carry it around like a weight. The lucky ones realize that when it becomes too heavy you can choose to set it down. That's when you can see things the way they really are."

For those who aren't familiar with the TV show Joan of Arcadia, it was on in the early 2000's and became a voice of wisdom for me when I was going through a hard time. Joan was a teenage girl, struggling to fit into a new high school and God would appear to her and make little suggestions for her. She only knew the person was really God when God would say her name. In this episode, Joan was jealous of a new girl, Iris. She said snarky things about Iris and surprised herself how icky she could be when it came to Iris. Through the episode, she got to know Iris a bit more and found how pained and difficult Iris' life had been. She saw Iris how she really was, and it brought her up short in how she felt. Wouldn't it be great if we could chat with God when things bug us? And God would give us great advice like this? There are times I surprise myself how ugly I can feel about things. Why do I feel so icky? Thankfully, I can pop in a DVD and there is the Little Girl God saying, "You carry it around like a weight...when it becomes too heavy you can choose to set it down." Good advice...Love, heidi
(If anyone is interested in watching Joan of Arcadia, the two seasons are available on DVD from Amazon)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Praying to a dear friend...

"Your father knows what you need before you ask him."
Matthew 6:8

Jesus' disciples have asked him how they should pray in this passage and Jesus seems to give them reason to question even why they should pray. If God already knows what we need what's the point? Richard Rohr frequently says that we don't pray to change God's mind about us but to change our minds about God. That's sure a good explanation! We pray to be in relationship with God. We pray to connect, converse and convene with God. Maybe we pray less for a specific outcome than for the grace and strength to get through the difficulties of our unfolding lives. A great example for how to pray is Mary, who at the wedding feast at Cana, just stated the problem to Jesus. "They have no wine," she says (John 2:3). That's the deal. She doesn't tell him what to do about it. I try to do the same, with mixed results. "Blaine is flying solo in a small airplane." I state the concern, trying not to add the Yikes! factor. God already knows my mother's heart! Ultimately, no matter how we pray or the why, or what-for, God always just loves hearing from us. Let's spend some time today, thinking about how we can pray to give glory to God and naming our concerns just like we would to a dear, loving friend. And finally, let's try to step back and trust that God's will for us is the best outcome. "Your will be done." (Matthew 6:10). Love, heidi