Friday, November 9, 2012

The gifts of winter...

"A natural spirituality seeks a return to that ageless friendship with creation that shows itself in a reverence for all nature."
Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"

I have decided, this morning of an early snow, to make a conscious effort to embrace winter this year. I usually struggle so with winter, much preferring spring and summer, but I am realizing that we cannot have the new birth of spring without the death and rest of winter. Instead of battling against the winter chill, I am going to welcome it. The earth needs a rest...bears need to nap, trees needs to shed their tired leaves and grow new ones. The ground needs to rest frozen and the earth greatly needs the moisture of winter--snow. And I, as a human, need to rejoice in the very season I seem to struggle with more every year. The shorter days signal our bodies to rest. The cold temperatures can invigorate us and wake us up. God created this cyclical dying and rebirth and it is a wonderful thing!
Lord, please help me to embrace the coming of winter. Help me to appreciate the beauty of the naked trees and frozen earth. Help me to revel in the snow you send to water the world. Help me to appreciate the gifts of winter! Amen! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Praying is living...

"Praying is living."
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

Such a simple, and yet profound, statement. I remember, as a kid, learning to say my prayers. Time was set aside, before I went to bed, to say my prayers. I learned the "Our Father," "Hail Mary," and "Glory Be," and they were followed by intercessory prayers (I can still remember praying for "GrammaKatieRogers," all one word). Gradually, as I grew in faith, the prayers got more spontaneous and conversational. And, as a grown up, the command of Jesus to "Pray always," (Luke 18:1) has led me to this quote from Henri Nouwen, "Praying is living." How is our living prayer? Our living can be prayer if we think of it as a gift. Our lives can be a prayer of thanksgiving if we live joyfully and mindful of the good that we are. Our lives can be a prayer of service if we seek God's grace in all we are given to do. Our work is prayer as we do it faithfully and conscientiously. Our rest is prayer; as we drift off to sleep, secure in God's arms. Being aware that our living is prayer may keep us from saying unkind things about what we are about to say worthy to be called prayer? Are the words we say or even the thoughts we think prayerful? Tough call, that! Today, let's think about how our lives are, heidi

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Of forgiveness and a better past...

"...nobody is perfect. You just have to close your eyes and breathe out and let the puzzle of the human heart be what it is."
Lily Owens, "The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd
"The puzzle of the human heart..." that is an amazing description, isn't it? I recently re-read this beautiful book and what jumped out at me this time are two being forgiveness. (The other one is freedom--for another day). Lily's mother left her as a little child and she struggled with that throughout her fourteen years. She couldn't allow herself to believe that her mother did it intentionally, but that her absence was a forced separation...what mother would ever leave her child? But, faced with the facts...her mother had actually left her behind, Lily was angry. Her anger was tempered somewhat by finding out the truth about her mother's leaving; her mother was completely mentally undone and she sought refuge away from Lily's father--not necessarily Lily. Pondering this, Lily thinks this beautiful thought above. Gradually, in life, we must realize we can't control the past. We may not have much control of the future, either, but we sure can't control the past. The human heart is a mystery we cannot explain or change. What we need to do is try to have compassion for what we may not understand. Human beings are puzzling creatures and they can't always be explained. But, by opening our hearts with compassion, we can try to connect with people as Jesus did. Love, heidi

Monday, November 5, 2012

Love your neighbor...

"At the moment that you fully realize that the God who loves you unconditionally loves all your fellow human beings with the same love, a new way of living opens itself to you. For you come to see with new eyes those who live beside you in this world."
Henri Nouwen, "With Open Hands"

This fits in well with yesterday's gospel (Mark 12:28-34) about loving God AND loving our fellow humans. It is a wake-up call for us to realize the very people who drive us crazy are beloved children of God...too. Picturing them in the loving embrace of God may help us to open up to their good qualities a little more. In my Joan Chittister reading for today she quotes Thomas a Kempis, who said, "Be assured that if you knew all, you would pardon all." (Joan Chittister, "The Psalms") We don't know the back-story of everyone we meet. We don't know the difficult road they may be traveling or the earnest zeal they may have for doing things. We may just know they bug us. But, as St. Mark says in yesterday's gospel, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," (Mark 12:31) and as Nouwen says here, "You will come to see with new eyes...", and Kempis also says, ..."you would pardon all," we are to give everyone love. That may seem very difficult to us today, but it is what we agreed to do when we decided to follow Christ. So, what does that look like in our day today? Love, heidi