Thursday, December 29, 2011

Look back!!

"Do me a favor and look behind you before you back up..."
Jeni Rose, as she left to go back to Portland

Her advice was well-founded and well-intentioned. The only real difficulty I have had while driving lately has been not looking behind me and trouble occurs. More than once, as it happens. But I wondered what else this advice could mean if I look deeper. You see, I am much better moving forward through the world. I have worked hard at not looking behind me, wallowing in past mistakes or difficulties. That is what all the books tell me to do. I choose to look forward, not back. There could be times to look back, I acknowledge. Like occasionally glancing back to see how far we have progressed, for one. It is nice to look back and see God's tracks through our past, reaffirming his presence in our everyday lives. It is fun to look at old pictures of our families, and see the bright smiling faces of our kids. How young they were! How young WE were! These waning few days before New Year's invite us to look back on the the year gone by. But, I maintain, as we approach a bright, shining new year, I want to look forward. I want to focus on the here, now and not the past. Except, when backing out of the driveway...then I will do what Jeni suggests and look backward! Love heidi

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christ in our midst

"What a simplification of life it would be if we forced ourselves to see that everywhere we go is Christ, wearing out socks we have to darn, eating food we have to cook, laughing with us, silent with us, sleeping with us."
Dorothy Day, adapted from an article that appeared in the "The Catholic Worker," December 1945; reproduced in "The Word Among Us"

This was stunning to me this morning. Many of you, like me, had friends or family staying with you over the holidays...did you ever once think of them as Jesus? When I think of extending a helping hand to Jesus, I usually think in terms of the poor, or people less fortunate--I don't often think of my own family in those terms, though. When I think of the dishes I have done, the laundry I have folded, the groceries I have purchased over the last week or so, I don't think of it as serving Jesus, necessarily. But, Dorothy Day is clear in this article...everyone we encounter, no matter who they are, no matter what circumstances they are in, they are, indeed, the face of Christ in our world. The Incarnation did not just happen two thousand years ago. It happened yesterday and will happen again today. Christ is in our world right here, right now. Christ is wearing out socks we must darn (although I'd be more inclined to just buy Jesus new socks!) and eating food we must cook...and dirtying dishes we will end up washing. Wow, Friends! Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Make it last!

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and from his fullness we have all received."
John 1:14, 16

It never ceases to amaze me...last night, as we approached one of the places the city has set aside for dumping Christmas trees, we took bets as to how many would be there. I said at least one, maybe two. As we drove by, even we were shocked that there were maybe twenty discarded Christmas trees at the dump-spot, the day after Christmas! It's like, around here, people are eager to begin Christmas, shortly after Halloween, and then can hardly wait to dump the tree, minutes after the last gift is opened. I really don't get it. It saddens me to see the dropped off trees so soon after Christmas, but the point is, does the good will and peace toward men go out so quickly with the tree? I'm one of those people who are dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Christmas season, but, once here, I relish it. I want the peacefulness of Christmas Eve afternoon to linger. I want the laughter, coming from the kids downstairs, to last in my heart so I can pull it out in mid-February when I'm a bit lonesome. I want to keep the tree up, at least figuratively, in my heart. Let's not be in a hurry to end the celebration of our Savior's birth, Friends! Technically, the season doesn't end until the Baptism of the Lord, which is on January 9...Love, heidi

Friday, December 23, 2011

A child is born to us...

"For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6-7

One thing I always notice is on Christmas Eve day is that, gradually, things quiet down. Everything gets as done as it's going to get and things just become still. Driving around on Christmas Eve, I notice less traffic, less bustle. It's over. The frantic hustle is gone. The world quiets. Only God could accomplish that, really. Only God can put a stop to the craziness that is the retail madness. Only God could slip quietly into the world as an infant and significantly turn the world upside down in a matter of years. Only God can slip quietly into our hearts and change us. Our time of preparation is nearly complete! "For a child is born to us, a son is given us..." Merry, merry Christmas! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Magnificat

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior..."
Luke 1:46

Some of the most beautiful words of the bible, these. And they are spoken by a young Jewish girl. Why would we not revere Mary, when she is the perfect human example of how to serve God? Mary's "Yes" to being part of God's salvation plan--just the verbal Yes--would be more than enough to elevate Mary, but then the actual life she led, is over the top. Mary didn't just say Yes to God...Mary LIVED her Yes to God, every day in every way. What does this mean for us? It means that we have a beautiful example to follow Jesus throughout our lives. It means that we continually, even now, have a friend in Mary, who knows her Son and guides us to a stronger relationship with Jesus. It means we have a Mother, in heaven, who loves us and cheers us on. These last few days of Advent, I urge you to look at Mary in your nativity scene or on a Christmas card you have received, and think about how vast a Mother's love is. And let's think about how that love is extended to us, even now. And, if you have half a chance, read all of the Magnificat, Luke 1:46-55. Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Can anyone tell me what Christmas is all about???

"Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about...lights, please?"
Linus, "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

I admit it. I went to Catholic school for six years and a Catholic college for one year and what I learned about the Christmas story, I learned from Linus. I remember, as a kid, watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It came out in 1965, and I was nine. It was a cartoon. It was cute. But, eventually, Linus reciting Luke 2:8-14, in his sweet, little kid voice stuck with me. "For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy..." and the way he said "joy" was just so dear. And the message stuck with me too. Charlie Brown had lost the whole point of Christmas. He was sad that no one sent him a card and his friends were still unfriendly to him. That is, until Linus explains it all. It is that time of the season when we may wonder what Christmas is all about. It may be frustrating. Or sad. Or lonely. Or maybe, thankfully, just hectic. But, please, I ask you...please sit down and read Luke 2:8-14. I bet you can remember it in Linus' little kid voice. "And that is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." Amen. Love, heidi

Monday, December 19, 2011

Clean house!

"Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety."
Psalm 71:3

It's getting harder and harder to pray these days. My head is too full of lists, plans, recipes, and keeping track of who's naughty and who's nice. The first three are OK, the last one needs to go. I have the most difficulty trying NOT to judge people. I tend to make immediate, sometimes harsh, judgments and then get all wound around the axle, digging myself deeper and deeper. Why can't I just accept people for who they are, as they are? Why can't this last week of Advent springboard me into being a more accepting, less judgmental person? Lucky for me, it can! Let's all spend some time this last week of Advent "cleaning house" and getting our minds, attitudes and hearts ready for the Christ Child! Love, heidi

Friday, December 16, 2011

God with us--still!

"This is the great mystery of Christmas that continues to give us comfort and consolation: we are not alone on our journey."
Henri Nouwen, "The Lord is Near"

What a beautiful message as we wind up week three of Advent! The Incarnation gives us God, in our world, in the body of one of us, experiencing much of what we experience, and showing us how to do it. Then underneath that magnificent reality is the fact that God came to us and STAYED. No more are we wandering alone, not knowing which way to go. No longer are we suffering alone in the bad times. No longer are we dancing alone in the good. God with us. Immanuel. Amazing! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Today is It!

"I wonder, if in looking for God in my life, I don't make the same mistake: Expecting the will of God, or the work of God to be something apart from the ordinary, something clearly stamped with the divine seal."
The Little Blue Book

This really hit home for me today because it is such a recurring theme of my journey. I always wonder if God doesn't have some exciting, elaborate plans for me, all the while I go about my daily life. I wonder if I'm missing the message of what I should be doing and I'm just here idling, waiting for the Big Thing I am to do. And, while I am doing that, people come into my life; strangers, friends, family, and our lives intersect and finally it dawns on me. I'm already doing it. I think it was a Beatles song that said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans..." Today, let's be aware of our seemingly ordinary lives and realize that God is working in us and through us right now. Today. The will or the work of God is being carried out in each and every minute we live this day. Today is special. Today is the day marked with God's Divine Seal. Today is The Day. Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On silence...

''We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature -- trees, flowers, grass -- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. ... We need silence to be able to touch souls.''
Blessed Mother Teresa

This quote was actually in our newspaper the other day. I almost missed it. It sure fits in with the message I am hearing on my journey right now. Silence. When I read it I thought about how my silent retreat last summer changed me. I'd done just what Mother Teresa suggests--spent time in nature, observing. The silence was so powerfully affirming the presence of God to me. I watched God work silently and the silence spoke to me. And since that time, I find myself craving silence and spending more and more time in silence. During these darkening last days of Advent, let's try to spend a little time with God in silence. Let's realize how God can work quietly and peacefully within us if we can just sit still! Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bring on the Light!

"John came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but he came to testify to the light."
John 1:7-8

Today is kind of a "light" day! It is the feast of St. Lucy, whose name means "light." I spent my silent prayer time in the beautiful light of the Christmas tree and its warm glow. Our days are getting shorter, minute by minute, resulting in less light in our days. Light is precious. I was thinking of John the Baptist and his humility in stepping aside for the True Light, Jesus. But, John, himself, was illuminating in his own way and means. He certainly got people to think about their lives and repent in preparation for the One who is to come! He was a wonderful warm up herald for Jesus. Today, let us be aware of light in our lives. Let's be aware of the darkness, too, as a contrast to light. Let's prepare ourselves for the coming of the Light in our midst! Love, heidi

Monday, December 12, 2011

Somes it takes a woman

"Sometimes God's face must be feminine. Maybe it is
only 'the Woman' who will be able to heal the wars,
mistrust and status symbols that divide the children
of God."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Our Lady of Guadalupe"

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in which
we commemorate that day in 1531 when Our Lady appeared
as a young brown-skinned woman to Juan Diego in
Mexico. Prior to that time the Christian missionaries
had little success converting the native Indians to
Christianity. But, this beautiful Lady spoke to Juan
Diego in his own language and miracles began to
happen. Roses appeared in December. Her picture
appeared on his cloak. Within just a few years,
thousands of people believed in the miracles, the
Lady, and most importantly, Her Son, Jesus. It took a
Lady, the Mother of God to help the people realize
that Jesus is their Savior. And she continues to lead
people to her Son today. Today may we appreciate the
beauty that is within all cultures. May we celebrate
the rich, amazing culture of the Hispanic people and
celebrate with them, Our Lady of Guadalupe! Viva!
Love, heidi

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mary, did you know?

"Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Luke 1:38

Oh Mary, did you know what you were getting in for, Dear Woman-Child? Did you know that your Son would be heralded by angels to the poor? (Luke 2:8-9) Could you have known that people from far away would seek and find the baby and bring Him fancy gifts? (Matthew 2:1) Did you know that others would predict your life would take such a difficult turn when your child was still just days old? (Luke 2:38) Mary could not have known what her "Yes" to the angel would bring into her life, and yet she said it. Ah the zeal of youth! But we all can say that "yes" each and every fact, we must. As difficult as it may seem, we need to realize that our lives are not fully our own and that God has big plans for us! And, just as God asks of us, God gifts us with just what we need to do what He asks. Today, let's think about the young Mary's "Yes" that made our Christian lives possible...think about what "Yes" we are asked to say ourselves this day...Love,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Let God be God

"Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things..."
Isaiah 40:26

Yesterday, I was listening to a Christian music station in my car. The DJ was talking about the recent discovery of a new earth-like planet and she was reflecting on how this puzzled her. She wondered out-loud how this would affect her faith--a faith that apparently depends on our earth, and us, being God's only people. I thought about it for a while and wondered why we humans decided we had God all figured out in the first place? I thought about how we tend to limit God into doing just what we think he's done, or what is written down what God's done. God can create as many planets as he wants--he's God! I guess it just didn't fit in with her view and that troubled her. Today, as we gaze up at the almost-winter heavens, let's just marvel at God's creation and not try to figure it all out. Let's let God be God. Let's just be in awe of it all! Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

God is in it all...

"If you honestly seek God, you will find him in everything, and everything will lead closer to him."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen

When we first made our Cursillo, many years ago now, we came out of there with wide, open eyes for seeing God. Everything was so different to us because we were able to see God in everything, just as Fr. Stinissen says here. Colors were brighter (which is why "De Colores" is the theme song of Cursillo!), music was better, love was vibrant and alive all around. We were honestly seeking God through that experience and God was so there! What we learn after that initial high, is that life goes on...days drift by...we return to earth. Blessedly, as we continue our journey, we learn to see God in the difficult and uncomfortable times as well as the happy, God-full experiences. We see God in places we never expected to see God and in people we never expected, too. We gradually realize that God is not an illusive, "out-there" experience, but that God is alive and well inside of us and each other. And, everything we experience, can lead us closer to the God-dwelling within. As we go through our nearly-winter Tuesday, let's be aware of God's presence in everything and everyone we meet. Let's take the experiences of our day and appreciate how they lead us closer to God. Love, heidi

Monday, December 5, 2011

Listen for the knock

"Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God..."
Isaiah 40:1

Last night, Father gave a wonderful homily about God giving us comfort. So often we don't seem to feel God's comfort as we are going through difficult times and we may wonder, where exactly IS God in all this mess? Father talked about God knocking at our door, reaching out to us, but we just aren't opening the door. God sees us inside, but we don't leap up to answer it and let him in. This leads me to wonder how do we open the door to God's presence and comfort in our lives? Lately, I have been drawn to silence and I really feel that is my answer right now, at this point on my journey. I'd like to think that, sitting in silence--hard as that may be for me--is my way of opening the door and letting God into my heart. It may be different for you, surely, but for me, it feels as though God calls me into silent, still prayer. Let's think about how God is knocking at the doors of our hearts, so eager for us to let him in! We may be busy watching TV or sitting at the computer or, maybe we have the music turned up too loud to hear the knock. How can we be more open to God's yearning to be part of our lives? Love, heidi

Friday, December 2, 2011

Yes, yes!

"Then he touched their eyes and said, 'Let it be done for you according to your faith.'"
Matthew 9:29

According to their faith? Is Jesus saying that to me, too? But what good will that do, my faith is so wobbly? Let's look at the two blind guys Jesus healed in this reading. The reading says they followed Jesus, crying out to him. When Jesus asked them if they believed he could heal them they replied "Yes, Lord!" They obviously had faith in him. But I look at my faith a little like my effort to do silent prayer. The desire is there. I bring myself to the appropriate position.,..silence, no light on, sit comfortably, sacred word in mind. And, despite my best intentions, my mind wanders off to my grocery list or what I am going to do after work. My efforts prove weak and wobbly, just like my faith. Or are they? Just like the blind guys, we come to Jesus with desire, wanting to encounter him. We come to him because we believe he will heal us, just as the men in the Gospel did today. Jesus may ask us if we believe and our souls answer, "Yes, yes!" Even though our minds may wander, there is "Yes, Yes!" in our hearts. Jesus loves and applauds our efforts! Our desire to encounter Jesus is our following behind him, like the guys in today's Gospel. Let's make that a goal for this second weekend in Advent, Friends! Let's set aside time this weekend to encounter Jesus. Our faith will heal us! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How beautiful!

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!"
Romans 10:15

So, did we all have encounters with Jesus yesterday? As I drifted off to sleep, I went through each of my encounters and realized how Jesus was a very present part of my day. Jesus was a client, a coworker, a student, a daughter, a convenient store clerk, a teacher and my fellow Zumba dancers! Jesus had a busy day in my life, what about yours? I found that, as I realized it was Jesus I was encountering, I reacted differently toward people. I looked at each situation through Jesus' eyes and saw it a bit differently than just looking out of my own eyes. Now, this scripture from Romans, is actually quoting the prophet Isaiah, and reminds me of a beautiful song I learned years and years ago for a funeral. It was tricky to sing, but, thanks be to God, we pulled it off. The message to me piggybacks on beautiful are the feet of those we will meet today. How beautiful are the individuals we will chat with, hold the door for, let in front of us in traffic, wipe a nose for, help into a coat, cook a meal for...share our day. How beautiful indeed! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who will Jesus be in our day, today?

"The small child of Bethlehem, the unknown man of Nazareth, the rejected preacher, the naked man on the cross, he asks for my full attention."
Henri Nouwen, "The Lord is Near"

And who will this be in our day today? The frustrated checker at the grocery store? The single mom coming into St. Vincent de Paul? The unruly child in the classroom? The frightened teenager going into Birthright? The lonely man in the nursing home? The crabby customer in line? Who will Jesus be in our world today? Maybe all of them. Jesus will be in our world today and he asks for our full attention! Love, heidi

Monday, November 28, 2011

For the present...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come..."
Mark 13:33

Sometimes, we humans do better with deadlines. Do this by such-and-such date. I need this by Wednesday. You get the idea. But, for Jesus, in yesterday's Gospel, the deadline is now. Jesus urges us to be on the edge of our seats right now. Deadlines give us the opportunity to procrastinate and Jesus doesn't want us to do that. Jesus wants us in a constant state of readiness. I remember one of my Irish sisters used to always use the phrase, "For the present..." Meaning now. Now, is the time to take stock of our hearts and make ready for Emmanuel. Now, is the time to help our neighbors and those who have less than we have. Now, is the time to heal our hearts of grudges and past hurts. Now, is the time to forgive and open our hearts. Now. Today. For the present...get ready! Jesus is coming! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give thanks!

"In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

As we come upon Thanksgiving, we are to pause and give thanks. It is easy to be thankful for all the good things that come our way, but, as this scripture reminds us, we are to give thanks for all circumstances; the great and the not-so-great. How do we give thanks when the job we hoped for doesn't come through? How do we give thanks when the diagnosis isn't good? How do we give thanks for the bad news? We can give thanks because we know and believe in a God who joins us in the sorrow as well as the joy. We believe in a God who works from the inside, bolstering us up and giving us the strength to weather through the difficult times. We believe in a God who became a man, so that he could experience every human experience, cry human tears, dance with human joy. We believe in a God who is not far away from us, but who intimately knows every hair on our heads and every cell in our bodies; who, indeed, dwells within us. Yes, the difficult circumstances of our lives can give us an even better view of God and give us even more reason to praise and be grateful! This week, if there are difficulties you face, realize that we are called to be grateful in all circumstances and our God gives us good reason to be grateful! Blessings to you all yours this, heidi

Monday, November 21, 2011

To give til it hurts...

"I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."
Luke 21:3-4

It is scary to us to think about giving all we have. Like, the thought of St. Francis giving away the very tunic from his back, makes us shudder. The idea of the poor widow giving the last two coins she has brings us up short. How could we do that? We need to take care of ourselves and our families! We, living in the land of plenty, have a hard time letting go because we have never really had to live without. Those who have experienced profound want have more of a realistic view of what is really essential...and it isn't cable TV. Jesus asks us today to take a serious look at what we have and what we give. In this season of Thanksgiving, it is an especially good time to take stock. We have so much and the more we have, the more we are asked to share. We have a tendency to want those we share with to be deserving, too, and that may not always be apparent to us. We want to know that what we give makes a positive difference in the receiver's life, not just buying them a bottle of whatever vice they have. Today in this reading, we are being taught to simply give from our want, give without knowing where it is going, and give without thinking of ourselves. It's a tall order! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nourish our souls...

"The soul craves experiences that offer it the rich depths of God."
Sue Monk Kidd, "When the Heart Waits"

This jumped out at me this morning as I read her list of suggestions: "Silence, solitude, holy leisure, simplicity, prayer, journaling..." Absolutely what I have found on my journey! Sue Monk Kidd points out that we cannot starve our souls, anymore than we can starve our bodies, without dire consequences. Our souls need nourishment and we get that nourishment by stepping out of our lives and drawing closer to God. We are coming to such a busy and hectic season, and, in the midst of that, we must take the time to nourish our souls. As Advent approaches, let's think, and maybe even jot down, how we will draw closer to God and feed our souls. Can we rise earlier in the morning and spend some time in silence? Can we make an effort to get to Adoration on Thursdays? Can we journal each day through this time; maybe a gratitude journal? Whatever we do, we need to take the time to nourish our souls, especially as we embark on this holy, yet busy season! Love, heidi

Monday, November 14, 2011

To know God is to live God's ways...

"We have to be so one with God that we do not continually need to ask for guidance."
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

This seemed odd at first, but the more I think about it the more it rings true. Remember that old TV game show "The Newlywed Game?" Couples were asked questions about how their spouses would respond and the better they knew their spouses, the better they did on the game. The more time we spend with God, studying God, learning God's ways, the better we know God. And the better we know God the easier it is to figure out what God wants of us. We don't have to continually ask what God would have us do because we already have a good idea of what that would be. The answer for us is to study God and be in constant relationship with God. God is intricately a part of us and our decision is not such a quandary, "what to do, what to do?" Love, heidi

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembering the vets...

"I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work
that you gave me to do."
John 17:4

Tomorrow we celebrate Veteran's Day. Five years ago this month, in Kalispell Montana, a great veteran was laid to rest. Al Miron served his country in WWII, but more importantly, he served the veterans of Montana for nearly forty years. He worked for the Division of Veteran's Affairs, tirelessly helping veterans receive their benefits and improving their lives. Al was a family man, raising his own four kids and always one little My connection to the Miron family began when Al's mom began baby-sitting me when I was two weeks old. It continues to this day. Al's amazing family scooped me up whenever they came to town and included me in every single thing they did. Al was like a favorite uncle to me. He had a laugh that entered a room long before he did...big and boisterous and you laughed at the laugh. Al had infinite patience with us kids...he would tolerate twenty-five verses of "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am," in the car without batting an eye. Yes, Al Miron was a great veteran, and father, and husband and guy. He was the kind of veteran we remember on Veteran's Day. When I think of him entering heaven, I think of all his family and veteran friends waiting to greet him there, and I think of all those who have missed his laugh and are hearing it again. I look forward to hearing it again one day, too, when I get to heaven. So, please pray for all veterans today, those living and those who have already gone to their reward. Let us ask God to bless all men and women who continue to serve...and may we soon have Peace on earth.
Love heidi

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The dance of life...

"The point of the spiritual life is that you dance the music God pipes in YOU."
Sue Monk Kidd, "When the Heart Waits"

As I pondered this today, I realized that life is a dance. Sometimes, it is a slow dance--lingering, swaying, more somber and serious. Other times, it's a cha-cha or a salsa--fast, vibrant, reeling. Sometimes, it's just wild and crazy free-style! Sometimes you have a partner, sometimes you don't. One thing is certain, your dance is uniquely YOU, as Sue Monk Kidd emphasizes in this quote. Your dance is the inner you coming visible, the child in you, the less inhibited, less careful you. The inner you can't let music happen without dancing to it. God puts the music within you and your response is the dance. What music are you hearing this day? Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The souls of the just...

"But the souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them."
Wisdom 3:1

This reading is always so comforting to us when a loved one dies. I found myself thinking of my friend, Helen, who I was blessed to be with as she died last Ash Wednesday. Helen was rather late coming to the vineyard and she had such a hard time realizing that God loved her, really loved her. She had such a powerful sense of unworthiness and was always wondering how God could love an old lady like her! It was a real stretch for her to grasp God loving her in spite of all her imperfections (her salty language, for one!) I was constantly reassuring her, yes, God loves you...yes, God has created a place for you. Today, as I read this reading I find myself wanting to talk to Helen, "So, was I right? How is it?" For, I KNOW she is in the hands of God and I know she is OK. For God knows the beauty of our hearts and God welcomes us all, the late-comers, the prickly, those who appear to be on the outside looking in. The souls of the just are in the hand of God. Amen! Love, heidi

Monday, November 7, 2011

Do it today!

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore there be any kindness I can show...let me do it now.”
William Penn

Fr. Raul used this quote in his homily last night and it was such a call to action for me! So often, we put off doing things we know we need to do. Things we want or need to say go unsaid because we think we have all kinds of time. And then, suddenly, time runs out. Let's take these words to heart today. If we've been thinking of writing or calling a loved one, let's do it today. If we need to forgive someone, let's do it today. If we need to ask forgiveness from someone, let's do that today. Let's think of today as an opportunity to show kindness to a stranger. This is the only November 7, 2011 we will ever know. Let's make it a special day! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lost and found

"Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost."
Luke 15:9

I lost my ring in Kansas a couple of weeks ago...the ring I wear all the time. It is inscribed and represents a commitment I made many years ago and, despite just being an inanimate object, it is important to me. I was hiking in a beautiful state park when I looked down at my hand and froze. My ring was gone. I can't believe how it affected me and I'm embarrassed to be so attached to just a thing, but, because of how I felt that day, I can totally relate to the woman with the lost coin in today's Gospel! I was ready to move heaven and earth to be reunited with my ring. Fortunately, a quick call and message to the Motherhouse and a dear sister searched my room, finding my ring on the bed. It was swiftly mailed back to me and I rejoiced when it arrived in the mail. So, I totally get this lady today. And it gives me such an appreciation for the message in the story. God rejoices mightily when one of his children come Home. Our "lostness" gives God a feeling of sorrow and of things being incomplete. We aren't where we belong--with God. Today, let's make a special effort to be "found" by God, by asking for forgiveness or forgiving a hurt. God will rejoice in our return! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All Souls Day...and I mean ALL!

"But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6

Today is the Feast of All Souls; perhaps the "rest of us" who aren't saints, yet! Fr. Jairo had a wonderful homily last night about how all those we consider saints started out as sinners, and, through coming to Jesus in humility, have washed their garments in the Blood of the Lamb (Revelation 9:14). Great truth, that.
I love this reading from Romans because it shows us that we don't have to pretend with God. We don't have to try and be someone we are not, like we may have to with humans. We can be ourselves. God knows every inch of our hearts and every hair on our heads and JUST as we are, God sent Jesus to us. Today is the Feast of ALL Souls...not Good Souls, or Perfect Souls or even Trying Hard Souls. It is the feast for all of our brokenness, weakness, sinfulness and pain, God reached into our reality and sent Jesus. And that is worth celebrating today! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In our brokenness

"If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart."
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

This is quite a good reading for All Saints Day if you think about it. Think about what happens when our hearts are broken. There is surrender, for one thing. We let go of our own agendas and surrender in our brokenness. Also, we do not give up on God...realizing that God is as present in our pain as God was a part of our celebration. God hasn't left the building just because things are difficult for us--quite the opposite is true. We may feel closer to God as our hearts are broken and laid open. We can join our broken hearts to Jesus in the Garden and His brokenness, and realize that God can work for good in our weakness as well. Now think of the saints we celebrate today. Reading the lives of the saints teaches us that they had their share of broken hearts and struggles in this world. Not one of them lived an easy, perfect little life without troubles. And yet. They thanked God for breaking their hearts. St. Francis rejoiced in Lady Poverty. St. Therese found her Little Way of serving God. Blessed Mother Teresa took her broken heart to the streets and cared for the people she found there. Today, as we think about the saints, let's remember that it was in their broken hearts that God brought goodness into the world. Love, heidi

Monday, October 31, 2011

Loving us, masks and all

"To be loved so totally, so unconditionally, should call forth a response from us, just as it did from those whom Jesus loved and refused to judge. Such a love invites a response of humble gratitude."
Fr. Ed Hays, "A Pilgrim's Almanac"

Tonight our doorbells will be ringing with ghosts and goblins on the other side, wanting candy from us...craziness, all. So, today, let's think about how much God loves us and how that must change us. Just knowing we are so richly loved must make us feel differently about ourselves. And that knowledge cannot go without a response from us. The masks and costumes we will see today can remind us that only God knows the Real Us under the masks and costumes we wear continually trying to be the people we are not. And God loves us in spite of ourselves. And we respond? By loving the Real in our friends, neighbors, and family and thanking God continually for loving us, masks and all! Love, heidi

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Growing, changing, singing, dancing...

"Love, true love, constantly renews itself--more than that, it is never satisfied, but will always surpass itself. It creates ever new expressions and finds ever new ways to communicate."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

Last week, I set out to take a little walk on a beautiful autumn day. I was listening to a song called "Rise," by Shawn McDonald:

"For He, who is within me, is greater than I will ever be and I will rise!"

I absolutely was filled to the brim. In fact, I felt I would just burst with the love of God swelling up inside me. It's very hard to describe, but I felt completely surrounded and filled with the Holy Spirit as I took in the beauty of the day around me. I realized, when I read this today, that my prayer life is constantly changing and growing. For a long time, my daily rosary was my safe harbor and refuge at the end of every day. Now, I am growing more contemplative and quiet in my prayer, except for times like this when I am walking, singing, and literally bursting, inside! This reading today helps me realize I am not just a spiritual flake, but that my prayer changes, grows and evolves as my relationship with God changes and grows. It is constantly renewing itself and cannot be contained in just one prayer form. What about you? Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Come, Holy Spirit

..."stillness can be the prayer that transforms us."
Sue Monk Kidd, "When the Heart Waits"

I attended a silent prayer session last week and this quote brought it to mind this morning. The service began with one song, "Veni, Sante Spiritus." Throughout the silence that followed, those words continued in my head, Veni, Sante Spiritus...Come, Holy Spirit. It was stunning to me that the silence was so filled with the Holy Spirit. I was very still, physically, but also still mentally, trying very hard not to chase bunnies in my head. Today's first reading, Romans 8:26-30, says, "The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought." (Romans 8:26) I felt the Spirit so powerfully present as I sat, very still, in silence. We do not know how to pray as we ought. Sometimes we just need to be still. Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sit and wait...

"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance."
Romans 8:25

I've never been a patient "wait-er." I've never been really patient at anything, but waiting is hard for me. My mom used to get me an Advent calendar each year prior to Christmas, so I could wait for the holiday with a little something to do each day. Waiting, just waiting, can be so hard. This scripture coincides with the book I'm reading called "When the Heart Waits," by Sue Monk Kidd, and she talks about this very scripture in the chapter, "Sitting While Jesus Prays." She talks about Jesus asking the disciples to sit and wait while he prays at Gethsemane (Mark 14:32). We all remember how the disciples fell asleep and Jesus was so disappointed they could not wait with him during this painful time. He didn't even ask them to pray...only to wait while he prayed. Waiting can be a gifted time, as I am learning in this book, but it is difficult to wait with endurance. We have a tendency to think just sitting and waiting is a waste of time. There are often lists of things to do while you wait so you use that waiting time to be productive. Just sitting and waiting has a bad rap of being wasteful. Today, let's think about how we spend our waiting time. Let's try to be more patient and use the time more productively--by just sitting with Jesus. Love, heidi

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Give thanks...

"In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

The other morning, I was having breakfast at the SCL Motherhouse in Kansas and an elderly sister approached me and asked if I was Heidi Gainan. She explained that she was the chaplain at the hospital when my dad died, twenty-eight years ago. She also had ministered to my mom when she'd had a heart attack, earlier that year. She talked so dearly of both my brought me to tears. I realized that, for almost ninety years, the lives of my family have been intertwined with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. You see, they taught my dad in elementary school in the early 1920's, my mom in nurses' training in the 1930's, me in high school in the seventies, and, as this sister reminds me; they ministered to my parents as their lives edged toward Easter. The sisters have been teachers, mentors, and dear, dear friends to me. I strolled through their cemetery on the campus of the Motherhouse and walked among the simple tombstones, thanking the sisters. There were sisters I knew, most I did not know personally. But I know that they served the people of God and so many have helped the Gainans over the years. We all have people in our lives who have ministered to us. Take some time today and thank them...they will hear you. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Go deeper still

"Only in your depths can you come to know the love that surrounds you on all sides. And the most direct way to your depths are silence and prayer."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

I remember coming away from my silent retreat feeling as though I'd met a new friend and not wanting to leave that friend. There, in the silence and quiet, I felt a peace I'd never known before. I remember asking my new friend to please travel with me back to Idaho so the peace would last. So, when I read this today, I understood well what Fr. Stinissen was saying. We can't appreciate ourselves if we don't know ourselves and the REAL selves we need to get to know are deep inside. There, is the True self, the Authentic self, the self that God knows and touches. That self is so often lost in the world, amid all of our daily doings. Our daily doings are essential, of course, but still, we need to take the time to go deep. Fr. Stinissen also says, "The deepest human longing is to be completely affirmed as we are, and to be loved unconditionally." And my favorite quotation is, "All human longing is longing for God." (Goethe) And they are so much the same. Only God can love us unconditionally and as we really are--the way we long to be loved. And the way to find that, to experience that deep love is to find the Silence. Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Desire to change--first!

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Of course not!"
Romans 6:15

This was thought-provoking for me today. Sometimes we can get so comfortable in the sin-forgiveness model. God's forgiveness is so vast and God's grace so wonderful that we can get complacent. We attended a Fire Rally years ago and one of the talks still stands out in my mind. A sister told of going to Reconciliation one time and, as usual, had the same old list of offenses. It had become routine. The priest, sensing this in her, and possibly, tired of hearing the same old list of sins, pulled back the reigns. No, he told her, I am not going to absolve you this time. You need to get to the bottom of why you do the same sinful things and actually make an effort to stop. Can you imagine? She said she felt as though she walked out of the confessional with a huge letter "U" around her neck (for UN-absolved). But, she said it really helped her turn a corner in her walk with God. We need to ask ourselves if we have gotten a bit lax in the areas of our lives we need to work on. Do we go to Reconciliation with the same old list, get that Forgiven card and then walk out, ready to do it all again? St. Paul knew exactly what that was about and he wrote about it to the Romans here in this scripture. We need to go into Reconciliation with the fervor to change our behavior, before we even ask for forgiveness. The desire to change is essential to the process! Love heidi

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Laborers are few?

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."
Luke 10:2

It used to be, when I read this, the "laborers" were those who entered the religious life. I thought that the only laborers were priests and nuns! Ha! Not so fast! God certainly has a bigger imagination than that! Now, I can see that we are all called to be laborers in one way or another. We are all called to go out into the world and do God's work; feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, the naked and the prisoners. We are the workers for the harvest. What we are asking God to do is stir up our hearts and align our will with God's will. We need to realize our call doesn't depend on what we can do, but what God can accomplish through us. Our call doesn't have anything to do with our abilities at all. Only God can give us what we need to do the work. The only skill we need is the ability to surrender ourselves and listen to God. Today, let's think of ourselves as the laborers God needs to harvest the field. What does God call us to do today? Love, heidi

Monday, October 17, 2011

Of greed and grain...

"Take care to guard against all greed, for one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."
Luke 12:15

If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that wealth can be fleeting. That grain we stored into silos seem to drain out overnight and what we thought we had stored was no longer there. And what did we learn from that? Many people have learned to live on less and be actually satisfied with less. Many people have learned to share because they have realized that others have even less than they have. It is a struggle, but a valuable struggle with a valuable lesson. There is something so much more important than the stored-up grain in our silos! Yesterday, Fr. Dan said such a powerful thing. He said, "What you have may belong to Caesar, but who you are belongs to God." Let's think a bit about who we are and not so much about what we have. We belong to God and that is so much more fabulous than what we have. Love, heidi

Friday, October 14, 2011

Find a sparrow...

"Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God..."
Luke 12:6

I actually thought of this reading this summer as I gazed at the tree in my neighbor's backyard. Oh, I didn't tell you about the tree? Well, after my retreat, I got more in the habit of just sitting in my backyard, in silence. I finally noticed, after living here four years, a beautiful pine tree towering over my yard. It has pine cones that hang from the branches like Christmas ornaments. Somehow, I had never noticed it! One day, as I sat out there, the sun was just coming up, shining extra light right on that tree. I noticed a small bird, in what I presumed to be a nest, deep in the branches. I watched that bird for a long time, just appreciating that it had chosen that tree to nest. I thought of that tiny bird and how God was completely aware of that bird and how precious that creature was to God. It was so special for me to have this front row seat to God's creation, right here in my backyard! It was a gift. The gift was the awareness, finally, of all that was going on around me, that I hadn't really noticed before and wouldn't have noticed ever, had I not gone on retreat and learned about just sitting still with God. This weekend, take any opportunity to notice a "sparrow" in your world. Find the time to see and appreciate some tiny, yet profound manifestation of God. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Join your soul...

"I wait with longing for the Lord, my soul waits for his word.
My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak."
Psalm 130:5-6

I was thinking about this today and it seems to me that, sometimes, my soul is a separate entity to me. I'm busy, running around, doing what I do and my soul is quietly, patiently waiting for the Lord. It is always a wonderful experience when the rest of me quietly calms and waits, too. My soul definitely has the right idea! Today, let's think about our souls waiting and longing for the Lord. Can the rest of us join them? Can we spend some time today just sitting with the Lord, waiting and longing for God's word? Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When God is silent...

"A wonderful thing about God's silence is that the contagion of His stillness gets into you and you become perfectly confident--'I know God has heard me.' His silence is the proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will bless you in answer to prayer."
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

I know I've learned so much this year about my need for being silent, but what is this about God being silent? I don't want God to be silent! I want God's answers and assurances! I want God to be obviously present! We can't BOTH be silent, for cryin' out loud! Or can we? This reading made me think about the times I have prayed and prayed and the answers just didn't come. For a long time. It seemed as though God hadn't heard me. If God had heard me, why didn't the situation change? Why didn't I get what I wanted? What Oswald Chambers is trying to convey here, I think, is that God's message may come wrapped in silence. And, when that happens, those of us who really trust God will be able to see God's presence in that silence. God is silent, so He must be working on it. That is faith, my Friends! Today, let's think about the times we have experienced God's silence and praise God for it, as Oswald Chambers suggests in the rest of this reading. For if God can trust us with His silence, God truly speaks to us. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 6, 2011


"If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
Luke 11:13

Most parents know that you cannot indulge every wish and whim of your kids or they will be spoiled and never amount to anything. It is such a delicate balance between giving them things that they want and need and teaching them about life...they can't always get what they want. (The Rolling Stones song just flew through my head!) But, as with so many other areas of life, God's ways are so different than our ways. God wants us to be happy and productive, not spoiled and self-centered. And so, God will give us the Holy Spirit in vast abundance! The Holy Spirit is love in overwhelming quantity. The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom we need to get through this maze of life. We can't get enough of the Holy Spirit. And God will never stop giving us the Holy Spirit, (and here comes the caveat) when we ask! We need to recognize our need for the Holy Spirit. So often, though, we want to seem to be strong and independent. In reality, the Holy Spirit can feed us a continual banquet of gifts; wisdom (who doesn't need more of that?) counsel, fortitude, understanding, piety, knowledge and awe of the Lord. Let's make a conscious prayer today for the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jonah, Jonah...

"Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry that God did not carry out the evil he threatened against Nineveh."
Jonah 4:1

Oh, Jonah, Jonah. One would think, at this point in the story of Jonah, he would be a little more aware. This is after Jonah had refused God's initial request to warn Nineveh and tried to sail away from God. The storm on the sea, Jonah is cast out and ends up in the belly of the whale for three days, before he is spit up onto the shore of Nineveh and God asks him again to warn the city. He does God's will this time and, to his surprise and dismay, Nineveh repents and begins to obey God. God is happy and says the city will not be destroyed. And Jonah? Well, he is mad because he liked the idea of God punishing Nineveh. How short is Jonah's memory of how God spared him, even though he had displeased God too? So, here we are, today's reading, and Jonah is pouting outside the city under his little hut. Aren't we so much like Jonah sometimes? We like to bask in the comfort of being the Good Guy and take a front row seat to watch the Bad Guys get what's coming to them. But it just doesn't work that way if it's God directing the movie. God's love and mercy are the stars of the show, not our little brand of justice. Instead of being thrilled that God is merciful, we find it "not fair." That is, until we find ourselves basking in God's forgiveness. Then, hopefully, we can be grateful. Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

St. Francis Day!

"Courage isn't the absence of despair and fear but the capacity to move ahead in spite of them."
Soren Kierkegaard, as quoted in "When the Heart Waits," by Sue Monk Kidd

This quote seems so perfect for the feast of St. Francis of Assisi! St. Francis, who didn't fear poverty and rejection, but embraced them for the sake of the Gospel. St. Francis, who even in his last days, while suffering terribly, sang to the Lord in pure joy. If we could all just have a little bit of St. Francis in our hearts; willing and eager to sing out for the love for God! Today, in celebration of St. Francis, hug your pet and sing a song of joy to God. Even if you don't think you can sing, God loves a joyful noise! Embrace the living, breathing world around you in nature, today. And, before you go to bed tonight, pray the prayer of St. Francis here below...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Monday, October 3, 2011

Come sit, in silence

"Among the hardest things in life is the art of listening."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

I sat outside yesterday morning for my prayer time. I couldn't have imagined I would be able to be outside on an October Sunday morning, but there I was. It was bliss. In the stillness, I heard the birds and only an occasional human. It was the closest thing to heaven this side of Easter, my Friends! We so need to spend time in silence with God! God aches for us to come and sit in silence! God wants to share so much with us if we'd only stop and listen. In the midst of our busy lives, we need to take time to sit at Jesus' feet as Mary did. It sure makes it easier when we can be outside on a glorious autumn morning, but we need to do it anywhere, anytime. Today, let's carve out some time to just sit and be with God, in silence. You pick the time and place, God will be there! Love, heidi

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It is well...

"When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul..."
Horatio Spafford and Phillip Bliss, "It is Well With My Soul"

I heard this song the other night during a TV show, of all places. It jumped out at me immediately and I forgot about the rest of the show and looked up the song. To me, it means that even when the world around us is spinning wildly out of control, we can have peace within. True peace doesn't come from the world but from our walking hand-in-hand with God. Horatio Spafford wrote the song during a time of Job-like events surrounding him. His world was completely brought down around him, and yet, he reached in and touched God within his soul. His connection to God kept him from losing his own self after he lost so many others in his life. I urge you to look up this song on You Tube (Jeremy Riddle's version is splendid) and really listen to the words. Pray the song, eyes closed and heart open. Indeed, our peace cannot come from the world around us. Our peace can only come from the Prince of Peace who lives within us, never to leave us! And, for that, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my Soul! Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I will follow, but first...

"I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
Luke 9:61

This jumped out at me this morning, but not the entire sentence. All I saw the second time I read it was, "I will follow you, Lord, but first..." God wants us to look inside and finish that sentence for ourselves. What is keeping us from full surrender and walking with Jesus? I believe two things about full surrender: 1) It is a lifetime journey. The decision to surrender may be instantaneous, but the actual fruition of it takes a lifetime. It is a decision we take up daily. 2) Full surrender is manifested in how we live our lives every single day. It has tangible, visible qualities. Surrender can be seen in how we respond to the various situations of our lives. Surrendering to Jesus helps us look like Jesus in the difficulties and the joys of our lives. So, let's answer the question today..."I will follow you, but first..." What is holding us back? Or are we picking up our cross and daily living our lives for Jesus? Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Set a match to it!

"Do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?"
Luke 9:54

You've just got to love James and John, the "Sons of Thunder." They are traveling, with Jesus, through a Samaritan village, on their way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans basically refuse to welcome them, because they are traveling to Jerusalem. James and John ask Jesus if they can burn down the village in retaliation. Jesus' response? He scolds James and John. No fire; no revenge; mind your own business and let's move on. Jesus is practicing what he preached. No eye for an eye here. No tooth for a tooth. No torching a village because they don't welcome you. Be nice to people. Jesus did what he told others to do, all the way to forgiving those who put him to death on the cross. We have so much to learn! Today, let's be aware of all the times we may be tempted to retaliate or nurse an anger towards someone. Let's think of James and John, who thought they were completely justified in burning down a village and then let's fill our minds with Jesus' response. Jesus not only told us how to live, but he showed us! Love, heidi

Monday, September 26, 2011

Serve others!

"Do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others."
Philippians 2:3-4

This was yesterday's second reading but it really hit me between the eyes. I think we start seeking recognition and attention early in life, as little kids. "Mommy, watch me!" "Look at me!" We are so self-centered as kids and it is only as we mature and grow that we can look to the other guy and appreciate the others' gifts and talents. And that growth and maturity can take a lifetime! Only a real grown up can look out for the interests of others before his or her own. That growth can come from walking with Jesus daily and looking to Jesus constantly throughout our days. We are not simply on this earth for ourselves, to better ourselves. We are put here to serve others. Serving others may not sit well in a society that rewards accomplishment and people who look out for Number One. But serve we must. In today's gospel, Jesus says, "For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest (Luke 9:48). How can we serve others today? How can we walk humbly with God, serving the needs of others? Love, heidi

Friday, September 23, 2011

Live today!

"Waiting is the in-between time. It calls us to be in this moment, this season, without leaning so far into the future that we tear our roots from the present. When we learn to wait, we experience where we are as what is truly substantial and precious in life."
Sue Monk Kidd, "When the Heart Waits"

Always looking ahead to the new Big Thing can cause you to miss the Potentially Big Thing right now. I used to keep a calendar on my desk when I was in college and I carefully X-ed out each day as the sun set. I was totally living in the future, as if my life began when I finished school and not a minute before! The truth is, now I look back and am sad I didn't live more in that present. When I finally DID get out of school, the Big Thing that I had been marking time to reach really wasn't all that big or great. I had been looking to the future to finally live, and, in that process, missed living that time to the fullest. We do get caught up in the up-coming, don't we? We are old enough to be looking toward retirement as the next Big Thing, marking off years, or even days. Like, once in a moment of insanity, I figured out I have 500 Mondays til I retire! Good grief! (I didn't factor in Monday holidays, however, so it's possibly less). The point is, today may be all we actually have to live. If our hearts and minds are living in the future (or the past) we will miss this critical day of life. Live today, each moment, to the fullest! Love, heidi

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Look harder

"But Herod said, 'John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?' And he kept trying to see him."
Luke 9:9

And the same could honestly be said about us...we keep trying to see Jesus. We are either looking in the wrong places or we are missing the obvious. Where are we looking? Are we walking right past Jesus, looking for him only in church when he is actually on a street corner? Herod was the king, if he wanted to really see Jesus, he could have sent for Jesus. I don't think he wanted to see him that badly. Do we want to see Jesus that badly? Mother Teresa used to say that she didn't need to preach about Jesus to the poor she served, because the poor she served WERE Jesus. Jesus is in the most difficult people and in the most unlikely places. If we are looking for him only in church we are like Herod, not looking all that hard. Where is Jesus in our day, today? Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Get up and follow!

"As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him."
Matthew 9:9

It never ceases to amaze me how fast and fully Matthew just got up and followed Jesus. There may have been a bit more to the story, but the point is clear...Matthew answered Jesus' call without much hemming and hawing. Do you wonder what his wife said, "Oy vey! So you're going to quit your job and follow a preacher around? Like that's gonna put food on the table?" We can laugh but, many times, our answering the call of Jesus is upsetting to those around us. And why? Because answering Jesus' call makes us different, unusual. Our lives will not be the same as they were. Following Jesus may put us at odds with others. They may feel that we have become too goody-goody or ooey-gooey. Following Jesus puts us at odds with the world and its emphasis on money, power and success. We may do strange things like put others first, pray for our enemies, give generously to the poor. Weird stuff like that. It says that Matthew just got up and followed Jesus. His life changed beyond imagining. He lost his old life and took on a new life in Jesus. And we are called to do the same. How fast do we get up and follow? Love, heidi

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hurry up and wait patiently!

"When you're waiting, you're NOT doing nothing. You're doing the most important something there is. You're allowing your soul to grow up. If you can't be still and wait, you can't become what God created you to be."
Sue Monk Kidd, "When the Heart Waits"

It seems that, whenever I have reached a certain goal or milestone, I immediately want to leap to the next thing, right away. As soon as I got out of college I thought, "Time to get married!" As soon as the last kid graduated from high school and left home my thought was, "OK, Next! Time to make a change!" But, just the this title of this book suggests, there is a need and a time to wait. Waiting has never been a strong suit of mine. I'm very impatient, and waiting seems like a waste of time...let's just get on with it, shall we? But, the heart needs to wait. The soul needs to quietly wait and mature and allow God to build up from within. The advice in this quotation from "When the Heart Waits" was the advice the author received from a monk at a retreat center. It was brought home to me when I was on retreat in June, basking in the silence of waiting. I'm so much more a "do-er" than a "wait-er." But there are times in our lives when the best thing we can do is wait. There is much being done within us while we wait. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Lady, our Friend

"Mary is someone who helps us live through our troubles as she did--with faith, courage and love."
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"

Today's feast of Our Lady of Sorrows got me thinking. I really got to know Mary during a time of difficulty and this quote by Sr. Melannie was spot-on. Mary's quiet presence with me was exactly what I needed. Mary's example of a woman of faith and courage was the perfect example for me. And, with all due respect, sometimes we women just need a girlfriend to share the difficult times and Mary was that for me, too. Mary's life was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. She was a devoted daughter of God, handpicked to be the mother of the Savior, and yet, her life was anything but easy. She experienced much of what we mothers experience in our lives and much, much more. What better companion to us could there be? Mary is the picture of faith, hope and love we can gaze upon and see how to do it. She knows our struggles and can share in them. Just like a girlfriend. Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jesus gave him to his mother

"(Jesus) stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, 'Young man, I tell you arise!' The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother."
Luke 7:14-15

When I read this today, the words, "Jesus gave him to his mother" gave me pause. It was an amazing miracle, surely. But, "he gave him to his mother" jumped out at me. Jesus knew that a mother and son have a special bond. Jesus had a special bond with his mother, too. So much so that he assured his mother would be cared for as his was dying on the cross: "Woman, behold your son," (John 19:26). Jesus was giving his mother to the care of John. In a sense, Jesus raising the young man from the dead was a foreshadowing of his own death and resurrection, wasn't it? At the surface, Jesus is showing his deep concern for family and loved ones and care for the vulnerable among us. Jesus knew that elderly women in that time could not make their own way and needed the care of others. What is our lesson from this today? To care for the lonely among us. It may be an elderly neighbor, a stranger in line at the store. Speak to people, be kind to people you pass on the street or in the hall. You do not know their stories, but they may really just need to be greeted kindly today. Love, heidi

Monday, September 12, 2011

A channel of your peace...

"Peter approached Jesus and asked him, 'Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?'"
Matthew 18:21

I sat outside yesterday in the beautiful nearly-Autumn morning, pondering the day, 9/11. We'd heard an amazing homily the night before at mass, talking about forgiveness. In the blissful quiet, I thought back on where I was, how I'd heard about the tragedies. I was at daily mass, in fact, and we'd prayed for "whatever was happening in New York," the news was just getting out and we didn't know what it was. I thought about our reaction. First, fear. Then, anger. Clearly we would never be the same again. It would slowly evolve to a "new normal" of weird security at the airport and a wary mistrust of other religions and people. But, now, ten years later, the gospel for 9/11 talks of forgiveness. Forgiveness? Can it be done? Is it possible? It is only through forgiveness that healing can happen. Jesus tells us "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22). Can we argue with Jesus, who, as he was dying on a cross, asked God to forgive his murderers? He told us what to do and then he showed us what to do. Can we imagine the legacy of 9/11 being forgiveness? Wouldn't that be God turning all things into good for those who love God? That is my prayer as we move on past this ten year anniversary. We sang "The Prayer of St. Francis" as we left mass..."Make me a channel of your peace...where there is hatred, let me bring your love." Please, let it be so. Love, heidi

Friday, September 9, 2011

Big Picture prayers

"Lord, teach me to love, give me love, show me your face, send your Spirit out over me."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "The is the Day the Lord Has Made"

In this reflection today, Fr. Stinissen talks about how our prayers begin to grow and mature as we journey with Jesus. We may start out praying for things, security, friends, a spouse. But, gradually, our prayer deepens and we pray for what we REALLY need...God. Interestingly, I have noticed that gradual change (and I mean very gradual!) I do find, while praying for others, I tend to lift them up to God's care and I pray more for God's will in their lives, not necessarily what they think they want to happen. My prayers are becoming more general, less specific. I find myself praying for peace in a situation, rather than praying that this will happen or that will happen. Maybe I'm praying more Big Picture prayers these days. I don't know the Big Picture--God does. God knows so much more than I do and I'm much better off praying for God's will than my own. Is that maturity in prayer? Possibly. I am beginning to realize that when God is in the middle of something, I feel more peace about it. I also remember Mary's example of how to turn to Jesus for intercessory prayer. Mary simply identified the problem, "They have no wine." (John 2:3). She didn't give him suggestions of how to fix it; she just trusted Jesus would fix it and fix it well! Today, let's think about how our prayers are growing as our faith grows. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All things work for good...

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to God's purpose."
Romans 8:28

We get tripped up because we can't always see God's purpose; the "good" may seem so obscure. That is when our faith and trust in God take over. Even after ten years, we may struggle to find any good from the tragic events of 9/11/01. We hear stories of heroism and faith. We watched ourselves become more patriotic, even more spiritual. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City said New York became like a small village--people rallying around each other and supporting each other. We learned how fleeting life can be. We learned how terribly difficult forgiveness can be; how much easier it is to just stay mad. But we cannot see it all and we certainly do not have all the answers, even after ten years. And that is where our trust in God and faith come in. Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Inner peace...amid the chaos

"If every detail in your life is seen as a part of God's loving plan, then your inner core is filled with peace and harmony, even if sorrows and worries are easily recognized on the outside."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

This hit home with me today because right now, things are really stirred up for me. The kids are going through some exciting life changes, and we parents know how that can be. We are happy for them, and yet, we can see possible roadblocks ahead that may trip them up. It's a new school year, so I am trying to schedule all my little lunch-hour mobility students. And, I got a new phone, which for me as a middle-age person, is quite mystifying. Not to mention all the things going on in the country and the world and the fact that my mom's been gone eleven years, today. Phew! My head and my heart are just churning! It is precisely at these times when we need to take the time to sit at Jesus' feet. We need to settle our hearts on Jesus and remember that He will help us through everything. He doesn't wave a magic wand and change everything, but Jesus works in us, giving us all we need to take care of the details of living our lives. Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Worship Day!

"Worship, then is not simply a matter of doing certain practices--standing, singing, kneeling, bowing. Worship is a matter of living our lives in a Christlike and sacrificial way."
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"

How will you worship today? Yes, it is a Tuesday, but, if you think about it, we have a good deal of opportunity to worship today. Every single thing we do today, our work, school, cooking, cleaning, exercising, driving around, shopping, you-name-it, can be infused with Christ's love, and thus, be worship. Everything we do for the glory of God is worship. Every time we have a free minute and say a quick prayer, is worship. Every time we do something for someone else, even the simplest kindness, is worship. Today, let's be aware of our day being about worshiping God in everything we do. It's not Sunday, but it is still Worship Day! Love, heidi

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I can't but you can...

"Lord Jesus, I can't but you can. And you will. Please take care of my intentions in the best way. Thank you for acting."
Sr. Susan Evangelist

The other day, I answered the phone and heard a lilting Irish voice on the other end. Sure and Begorrah! It was Sr. Evangelist, the Irish Sister of Mercy who taught me Spanish in high school! She was visiting in the US and gave me a call! I hadn't heard this lilting Irish voice for twenty-five years, but it was unmistakable. It was like I was fifteen again and raptly listened to the wit and wisdom of Sr. E. After we caught up with each others' lives (She works in a House of Prayer in Drumkeen, Ireland) she wanted to pray with me over the phone. The prayer was a simple one of hope and peace and I am sharing it with you today. Clearly, I would not be the person I am today if not for Sr. E (I sure wouldn't have the Irish brogue down as well as I do!) But, also, all the dear sisters I had in school, the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy, alike. Now, as a grown up, I deeply appreciate all they did for me and thanks be to God, I got the chance to tell her! So, today, I invite you to jot down Sr. E's little prayer and pray it with an Irish may work better! Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

There is a time...

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot the plant..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

The end of August seems so much more than just the end of August. It feels like the end of summer, the end of a whole season. September has a completely different feel to it. It is chilly mornings, new activities, and the threshold of winter. I tend to dig my heels in this time of year, reluctant to go forth into fall, with winter right behind it. This last day of August, I feel I need to latch onto to summer and not let go. But, there is a time to move forward, as this favorite reading from Ecclesiastes reminds us. We cannot linger in the summer; we must move ahead. We will soon uproot that which we have planted and God has grown. I am wistful today. Tomorrow is a new season and I have really loved this one! Blessings on your last day in August! Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Step back...let God work!

"It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for (God)."
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

Oh, I love this today! When will we realize that God can do so much more through us if we will just get out of the way? Our human abilities are so limited and yet, we can take such pride in them! On the other hand, if we just keep God foremost in our hearts and minds, anything we can do is God, working through us. So much more good can be done if we just allow God to take the reigns. My favorite definition of humility is using our gifts for good and giving God all the credit. Anything we do well is God working through us and us stepping back and letting God. On this Tuesday, as our August wanes into memory, let's look just to God. What will God have us do today? How can we step back and let God work through us? Love, heidi

Monday, August 29, 2011

Called to act!

"He went off and beheaded (John the Baptist) in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl."
Mark 6:27-28

Most surprisingly, this gospel story was actually illustrated in my children's bible when I was a kid! The picture was gruesome, this head on a plate, with curly dark hair, eyes and mouth open. It was scary and I usually avoided the page like the plague. So, of course, every time I read the gospel of the death of John the Baptist, I see that picture in my mind--I'm haunted fifty years later. Which brings me to the conclusion--we are afraid of the hard stuff. We are afraid of things not going well, of people dying, of our lives taking a bad turn; aren't we? We are afraid of the gruesome, the gory, the ugly...the lepers, the maimed, the not-all-there. We avoid it all, just like I avoided the picture of John the Baptist's head on a plate. But that doesn't mean it isn't there or doesn't happen. What must we do? How do we cope with the things we cannot face; the things we wish didn't happen but that we cannot control? We clearly must do what we can to correct injustice. We must find ways in our small circles of influence to right wrongs and support justice for all people near and far. Maybe it means stopping the gossip at the lunch table. Maybe it means supporting relief efforts a half a world away. Maybe it means praying for those on death row. We can pray for God to guide our thoughts, words and actions to bring about justice for people who suffer. We can do something and we must rely on God to guide our steps. I still shudder at the picture of John's head. But that should lead me to action! Love, heidi

Friday, August 26, 2011

Be prepared!

"But the wise virgins replied, 'No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.'"

Matthew 25:9

I will freely admit that I struggle with this reading every time it pops up. The ten virgins all are waiting for the bridegroom. Five have extra oil for their lamps and five do not. The bridegroom is delayed and the five who do not have extra oil ask the five who do to share, so they can all go out to meet the bridegroom. I guess I just can't see the moral of the story being to share what we have so all can come to the party. But, that isn't today's lesson. The lesson today is to be prepared! It continues yesterday's cry to stay awake and keep watch. Good lessons, of course, but maybe I am just more comfortable with a "sharing" lesson. Maybe the lesson is that we must take care of ourselves before we can really help someone else--that is a valuable lesson. Remember how, in an airplane, we are supposed to affix our own oxygen mask before assisting others? If we ourselves are not in good shape we cannot help others efficiently. That is a good lesson to keep in mind this Friday. But, I guess I just feel badly for the five virgins who missed the party! Blessings on you and your weekend! Be prepared! Love, heidi

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stay awake!

"Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come."

Matthew 24:42

There are so many ways to look at this scripture! We need to stay awake to see Jesus in our midst...the person in line ahead of us...the person beside us on the bus...the person needing an invitation to our dinner table. Another way of looking at it is that we just don't know on what day Jesus will come to take us Home. I think of my cousin Steve, who went to mass one Sunday morning and collapsed on his front porch after he got home. He probably didn't know Jesus would come for him that day in particular. But Jesus did. Our Lord comes to us in many ways, in many disguises. Our Lord will ultimately come for us to take us Home. We don't know when, but that is OK. Not knowing when keeps us on our toes--on the lookout for Jesus in our day. We don't know the day or the hour, but it could be any day, any hour. Let's live today expecting to see Jesus around every corner! Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Healing and health

"The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 147:3

So, I whined pretty much all day yesterday about how I had to mow the lawn last night. Clearly, my zeal for the lawn this time of year can be measured in negative numbers. I'm sick of it. But, as I mowed, I thought of the Middletons. I bet they would give anything to be doing something as mundane as mowing the lawn. You see, their nineteen year old son is having scary open heart surgery today in San Diego. Yes, I bet they would trade me any day of the week. And isn't that just the way it is? We take so much for granted in our lives. I've raised three teenagers and the last thing I worried about was them getting some horrible illness requiring open heart surgery! That wasn't even on my radar and yet, here it happens. So, today, as we go about our mundane daily lives, think and pray for those who would give anything for an ordinary day. And let's lift up Dominic and his family to the care of the Divine Healer. Amen. Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

God loves us anyway...

"O Lord, you have probed me and you know me; you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar, my journeys and my rest you scrutinize, with all my ways you are familiar."

Psalm 139

And the most astounding part is, "you love me anyway..." The deepest part of ourselves that we work so hard to keep hidden never separates us from God. God knows it, sees it, and loves us anyway. The deepest part of ourselves, the part we never let company see, God knows and still loves. That, to me, is incredible! That certainly doesn't mean we aren't to try to do better. That knowledge of God's mercy and love for us should make us want to do better. But, as we feel the frustration of seeming to make the same mistakes, again and again, we know there is a tender arm around our shoulder. God sees and appreciates our efforts to improve. God loves us with the tenderness of a mother to her child, only more so. Today, let's throw the doors to our deepest selves wide open and let God in, as Oswald Chambers suggest in "My Utmost for His Highest." With God dwelling in our deepest selves, we cannot lose. Love, heidi

Friday, August 19, 2011

Coming, going, staying...

"The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever."
Psalm 121:8

By the end of today, Sam will be on her way back to college and I will have sixteen fewer products in my shower. And to prove to myself that life is not completely over, I am riding in a twenty-five mile bike ride for the Idaho Falls Arts Council tomorrow. Comings and goings...our lives are full of them. But that doesn't make them easy, necessarily. And, this time of year, all over the country, kids will be leaving home, parents standing on the curb, waving. I vividly remember doing it myself. I remember driving out of the driveway embarking on a cross-country trek, my dad looking older to me than he ever had. The coming home times were always wonderful, but the partings were sometimes difficult. Now, I am on the other end as the parent staying behind, keeping the home fires burning. And, it is a bit tough. But it is reassuring to know that God guards our comings and goings and even our "stayings." God is in our midst as we go through these times! Blessings on you, Friends, and your comings, goings and stayings...Love, heidi

The Friday Song of the Day!

You can't watch this without laughing...especailly if you ever attended a Jesuit school...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Come to the party!

"Are you envious because I am generous?"
Matthew 20:15

This reading will always remind me of my little friend, Helen.  She was a late worker to the field and yet, she received a full days' wages.  Some early workers may grumble about that, but not me.  I was just thrilled she came to the field at all.  This reading has always taught me that our sense of "fairness" is nothing compared to God's gift of mercy.  We go around thinking this is fair or that is unfair and God just chuckles.  God knows that God's gift of infinite mercy may seem overly generous to us, but thankfully, that doesn't stop God from lavishing us with love and mercy. God never gives up on us coming back if we wander away.  God never thinks it's too late for us to come to the party; God is just waiting for us with a party hat.  And so.  This reading will always be "Helen's gospel" for me because God brought it to life for me, in Helen.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Celebrate the unexpected!

One of the greatest challenges we face is to lay aside our need to control our life, especially our future. Are we open to the God of Surprises who seldom does things exactly as we expect?"
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"

The "God of Surprises!" I love that.  And isn't that the case?  I can see myself clinging tightly to control, only to feel so much better if and when I finally let go the reigns.  I don't have the Big Picture.  I don't know the whole story.  I may know a tiny fraction of the situation but that doesn't stop me from trying to control the situation.  And also, control can be boring.  For example, my house is completely disheveled with two kids home this week.  It looks like it was stirred with a spoon.  The control-side of me longs for order and tidiness, but I know that order and tidiness means no kids around.  And which would I rather have, ultimately?  It will be all-too quiet around here next week and I will long to have to forge my way through the living room! So, today, let's ease up on the grip of our lives.  Let's be more open to surprises and the unexpected.  Let's celebrate a little chaos in our summer day! Love, heidi

Monday, August 15, 2011

Give me a sign!

"It is in the deep silence of a heart that doesn't desire anything stimulating that God can reveal himself."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "The is the Day the Lord Has Made"

I read this yesterday in the still silence of my backyard and it is sticking with me.  We are so needing to be captivated and entertained, even in our relationship with God.  We want signs, just like our ancestors in the first century.  We say, "If you do this, Lord, I will do that."  "Show me what to do, Lord, make the path clear to me."  Jesus performed miracles and signs, but he preferred it if the people didn't need them.  Jesus liked it better when their faith was a sign to him, like in yesterday's gospel about the woman who chased after him and wanted her daughter healed  (Matthew 15:21-28).  I sat in the backyard thinking about God's signs in my life and they are too numerous to count.  Each time I breathe in and out it is a sign that God wants me to keep on living on this planet.  After watching Helen's labored breaths that last day of her life, I realize eventually those breaths can stop.   But, I woke up this morning, breathing. That simple sign from God tells me exactly what God wants me to do. I am to get up and go about doing God's will here in Idaho Falls, Idaho, today.  What is God telling you, this day? Love, heidi

Friday, August 12, 2011

Perfect summer Friday song!

Great song from Joy Williams--check it out!

Doesn't get better than this!

The under-ordinary

"In fact, Scripture goes even further and says that God often chooses to break into our lives not merely through the extraordinary or ordinary, but through the under-ordinary!"
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"

"Under-ordinary?"  What in the name of a summer Friday is that? Under-ordinary are the times when we are struggling.  We maybe going through a loss, be it a loss of a person, job, home, security; a time of struggle.  It may be a time of hunger in our lives, or weakness.  Things aren't going as they should.  We are in turmoil.  Under-ordinary.  We long for an ordinary day when we could just go through the day as usual.  But, instead, this "thing" is causing our lives to turn upside-down, and we can no longer be ordinary.  "Ordinary" would look great from where we are.  And that, according to Sr. Melannie, is when God may be most visible to us.  God certainly is in our midst in all the times of our lives, but there are times when we may feel God more closely.  We may be too caught up in the dancing of the extraordinary times to notice God dancing with us, but God is there.  We may not think of God in the ordinary days, when we get up, do what we do, come home and go to sleep.  But God is there, too.  It may be that when we are at our weakest, we finally can see God, with an arm around our shoulder.  May your weekend be anything but under-ordinary!  Love, heidi

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God in the new adventure!

"While all of Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage."
Joshua 3:17

Isn't this the most wonderful image?  The priests, carrying the Ark, step into the river and the river stops.  The priests proceed into the middle of the river bed and the people of Israel pass by on the dry ground, until all are on the other side.  So, God, in essence, goes before them, paving the way for them, then waits until they are all safely passed over.  Incredible.  Think of this each time we tackle a new adventure! Think of God going before us, clearing the way for us to embark safely.  Think of passing by God, as God holds back any fearful obstacles.  Think of God showing that much care and concern for us and our new adventures!  Maybe we are not taking on a big, new adventure at this time, but really, every day is an adventure, isn't it? And, God goes before us.  God may be teaching us how to go around obstacles, by allowing them to get in our way, but God is still there in our midst, cheering us on. Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cheerfully give!

"For God loves a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7

Oh, you mean we have to be cheerful about it?  That sometimes seems like a tallish order!  Giving is sometimes hard enough.  I was thinking about this and, even though the usual connotation could be about giving alms and such, I was thinking of the hardest thing for me to give and that could be giving love to others.  So, the message for me today is to give love to others...cheerfully.  Oh, it's easy to love those I love! (That is not as weird a sentence as it may appear!) But it is harder for me to love the harder folks.  (likewise that sentence).  It's easy to love the people who love me back, who smell nice and don't carry a sign asking me for money.  It's easy to love those who think the way I think and believe the same things I believe in.  It's easy to love THOSE folks.  I can give my love cheerfully to them.  It's the others...
So, today, let's think of what is the hardest for us to give away.  And let's think about this call to, not just to give it, but to give it cheerfully!  And, how can we do this? Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Strength from struggle

"Life is so different when you are convinced that everything is purposeful."

Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

This reflection today was stunning in its simple wisdom.  I think I would wiggle it around to say something more like, "Life is so different when you believe God works in every situation," which is much the same but with a tiny tweak.  Fr. Stinissen is saying in the entire reflection that, through the worst and most difficult times of our lives, we grow and mature.  We exceed what we have done before and grow into new strength.  I have seen that many times in my own life and I'm sure you have too.  And those are the times I feel God works most diligently in us, giving us everything we need to, not simply get through the difficulty, but come of out it with new vigor.  Even our tough times have purpose.  They are helping us find resources, deep within, that will serve us, and even others, later.  Such a brilliant message for a waning summer Tuesday!  Love, heidi

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stick your neck out!

"'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.'"
Matthew 14:28-29

Sometimes, you just have to get out of the boat.  That is just it.  I remember, so many years ago, when I was getting ready to go off to graduate school, far away, where I didn't know one person.  It was all so scary to me, and yet, exactly what I knew I was supposed to do.  At the height of my nervous anxiety, I went to mass and heard this gospel, about Jesus walking on the water and calling Peter to join him.  "Come," Jesus beckoned me to Michigan.  I was reassured that Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter as he faltered walking on the sea.  Jesus would also carry me along difficult days to come.  My dear friend, Mary Rau had a saying, "Behold the turtle--he only makes progress when he sticks his neck out."  We are continuously called to stick our necks out.  We are continuously called to get out of the boat.  Rest assured that we are safe!  Love, heidi

Friday, August 5, 2011

Old plant, new pot

Dear Friends, I must tell you the story of an old plant.  This plant was in my office long before I was, which makes it over ten years old.  It always looked rather feeble, never getting any new leaves. It just sort of sat there,  drooping to one side and taking up space.  I finally brought it home and planted it into a new, bigger pot.  Soon after being replanted, new leaves began to appear and it has continuously grown new leaves, one after the other.  The moral of the story is this: sometimes you need to be replanted in a new pot to grow.  Change can be good.  Sometimes we get so complacent and stale, we need a new environment to grow! Whether it is a permanent change, a weekend get-away, or a hike in the woods for an afternoon, take some time to get away from your day to day life.  You'll never know what new leaves will result! Blessings on your weekend! Love, heidi

Thursday, August 4, 2011

God, surprise me!

"He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.  You are thinking not as God does but as human beings do.'"
Matthew 16:23

Jesus startles us by his touchiness here, doesn't he? After all, Peter was a human being.  And even though he had spent a good deal of time at Jesus' side, basically he was still just a guy...a fisherman.  He had expectations of what Jesus was supposed to do.  He was thinking Jesus was going to over-throw the Romans and bring about a new kingdom for Israel. That's what he was thinking.  And all this talking about Jesus going to die in Jerusalem was nonsense--wasn't it? What about the Plan? We all have expectations.  We learn as young children that first this happens, then that. We get it early on.  So when our expectations run up against an obstacle or something that doesn't fit, we protest and seek to change things back to normal--what fits with our expectations.  But God works in the unexpected.  God works in surprises.  God works to help us think outside of the box and to find joy in surprises.  God works to expand us. That is the "thinking" of God.  Human beings want the predictable, the routine.  God wants to surprise us.  Love, heidi