Friday, November 17, 2017

Preserve and secure...

"Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.
Luke 17:33

I admit, I looked at this reading with new eyes this morning. I sat there and wondered, how do we preserve and secure our lives? Well, by overly feathering our nests, surrounding ourselves with superfluous stuff, for one thing.  When I think of all the pretty treasures that spent years in my crawl space, I shudder. They could have been making others happy but I wouldn't let them. I kept them boxed up and "secure" in the crawl space until I finally heard the word to let them go. I think we also preserve our lives by the old "looking out for Number One" adage of the 70's. We take great care of ourselves but what about our neighbor? Are we doing anything to help preserve his life? Jesus tells us that the greatest thing we could ever do is give our lives for another and then he showed us what that looks like. That seems so extreme and out of reach for us, but what does this passage look like within our reach? Can we step out of our own little comfort zones and well-feathered nests and let go of ourselves? Can we look at the other guy as more important than our own needs and wants? Our own security? Things to ponder this weekend, Friends, as we also count our blessings! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A new priority...

"...(Jesus) reveals a new law of love,
of compassion,
of forgiveness,
in the 'now' of today.
He reveals a new priority:
to be present to the poor and to the weak;
for it is they who will lead people
into the Kingdom;
they are the key to the Kingdom..."
Jean Vanier, "Jesus, the Gift of Love"

This is just one part of this beautiful poem but it speaks so richly of the quandary we as humanity find ourselves in today.  We search for God and God is right here among us as the refugee, the immigrant, the sick and uninsured, the single mother, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the prisoner on death row, the suffering planet earth beneath our feet. We, as a society, are looking up to find God, when God is actually not "up there" at all. God is right here with us and we are missing God all together and, thus, rejecting God. We need to turn ourselves completely upside down and recognize that God is not at the "top." God is not sitting in the seat of power, prestige or wealth. God is at the bottom, shivering due to our cold rejection.  Next week is Thanksgiving. Our time for giving thanks for all we have been given. What does that mean, exactly, if we are rejecting the poor? Our attitude of gratitude must include our being present to the poor and weak! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

They made it!

"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."
Wisdom 3:1-3

In the bit of study I've done on death and dying the one thing I've learned is this: Be Not Afraid! Maybe that's why that song is sung at so many funerals! Most recently, in the Franciscan Way course I've been enjoying this fall, Fr. Richard Rohr mentions that, frequently, the most peaceful person in the room of a person dying is the person dying. There is some sense of the next road being pleasing and comforting and the fear just drifts away. Dr. Kathleen Dowling Singh, in her work on death and dying, indicates that the next world seems enticing and the person dying is just enveloped into it. She calls is transcendence. I call it "sign me up!" In the work of both Fr. Rohr and Dr. Dowling Singh it is emphasized that we can prepare to let go of this world by letting go earlier...like well before we face eminent death. Material things can lose their importance to us (I'm nearly there!) and we find value in enhancing our relationships with others. We don't want to allow bad feelings and grudges to hang over our heads like little black clouds. We make sure people know we love them. We "do unto others" and treat people with respect and compassion. No need to wait until the end of our lives to do these things, Friends! And, perhaps best of all, we can know our loved ones are in the hand of God. They made it! They are there with God, enjoying the banquet. That should give us peace! Love, heidi

Monday, November 13, 2017

Forgiving heals!

"And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him."
Luke 17:4

If I had been there at this gathering,  I would have been tempted to ask Jesus, "But what if he or she doesn't apologize? Do I need to forgive then?" What if someone hurts us and they seem to be unaware? I'm sure I have hurt others, unaware of their feelings. What then? Knowing Jesus, he would want us to forgive even the unrepentant, too. And I know that because I'm aware how our forgiving helps us in healing our spirits. When we forgive others, they may or may not be changed, but we are changed. Forgiveness heals the forgiver. So, today, if we feel a twinge of hurt from another, let's not wait for them to apologize to us before forgiving them. They may be completely unaware they have hurt us. Let's rely on a mustard seed size bit of faith and forgive them. The spirit we heal may be our own. Love, heidi

Thursday, November 9, 2017

This way or that?

"Discerning of God's will is concerned with recognizing and making choices congruent with who we are in God."
Rose Mary Dougherty, "Discernment--A Path to Spiritual Awakening"

I'm in a discernment place right now, so I picked up this little book from our Spiritual Direction program and re-read the yellow paragraphs (there were many!) One would think that making choices for our lives based on who we are in God would make the decisions easier...but they may not be. When people of God are trying to decide things we tend to think of a right answer or a wrong one. One is God's will, the other isn't. But God isn't really that way, I don't think. God puts a deep desire into our hearts and we tune into that desire. "I want to do that," we say and then try to make the pieces fit. There may not be an wrong way with God, though, for people who are actively trying to choose God's will. Chances are, our choices are two good ones--both life-giving and productive. Both could yield positive fruit for God. So, when the waters are that murky, which to choose? That's when we go with our guts. We go with the one that gives us joy when it crosses our minds.  It may not seem to be the most secure or the pieces may not be clearly an easy fit, but the deep down joy may give us our answer. The point is, God will always be with us, guide us, help us do whatever we do, regardless of what we choose. There may not be just one Godly choice and God will gift us to do whatever we choose. Blessings to all veterans, blessings to all who struggle this day, blessings to all who delight in God! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A recipe for today...

"Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer...Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."
Romans 12:11-12, 15

There have been way too many opportunities to weep with those who weep lately. It seems like our times right now are more perilous than ever in recent memory and it hurts our hearts, doesn't it? St. Paul seems to know exactly what we are going through and gives us our marching orders. As followers of Jesus we must accompany those who suffer and suffer with them. Elsewhere in this reading he tells us to be sincere in our love, merciful, generous in giving. We must be hospitable and even bless those who persecute us.  It's a formula for what is happening in our world right now and St. Paul is speaking to first century people in Rome. People have suffered always. People will suffer always. We, as Jesus' hands and feet on this planet, must suffer and weep with them--in New York, Las Vegas, Texas, wherever people are suffering. And we know that God is suffering with us all, as well. Today, beyond praying for those who mourn, let's reach out to others. People all around us are hurting in some way or another. They may not even be showing their pain, but if we reach out and are especially kind to all we encounter today, we may help someone who carries pain we may not see. And, above all, we must not lose hope. A tiny flicker of hope can go a long way to helping others endure. Love, heidi