"I, the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go."
This scripture really rang true to me this morning. I think, more than perhaps any other time in my life, I am feeling "led." I feel I've been taken by the hand and am being led somewhere. I'm not sure where, exactly, but when I figure it out, I'll let you know! This feeling of being led is exciting! I'm trying to resist the temptation to be anxious about it, especially as it involves change. Change is exciting! But, at the same time, I'm one of those people who like to know what's coming. In pondering this feeling of being led, I realize I need to look to Mary as a perfect example of someone who surrendered to being led and then treasured it all in her heart. There is so much trust involved and that is something I need to work on. Being led by God is one of those things that can be obvious in retrospect, but requires trust and letting go of things to come...things that you want to know in advance. Our Lady of trust and letting go of what's to come, please pray for us! Blessings on your Advent weekend! This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday...we can rejoice and know the Lord is near! Love, heidi
Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, The Text of the Nican Mopohua
Last spring I had a wonderful opportunity to study and learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe during a silent retreat in Boise. There were many things that impressed me about the history, the symbolism and the impact of the events of 1531 near Mexico City, but one thing absolutely jumped out at me. Juan Diego, the Christian Indian who witnessed the "brown skinned woman" on the hillside and carried her image on his tilma to the bishop, completely surrendered himself to the miracle. That, to me, was symbolized in one action. When Juan Diego opened his tilma and the roses tumbled out at the bishop's feet, they stared, in awe, at the image of Our Lady left on the tilma. That was the miracle that showed the bishop that Juan was telling the truth, Our Lady was on the hillside, the miracle was real! And then Juan Diego surrendered his tilma; just took it off and gave it to the bishop as proof of the miracle. Juan was a poor man with few possessions, but he literally gave the shirt off his back to the bishop. It was more to him than simply a garment, it was a miracle. It was more than simply a shield from the December chill, it was the Mother of the Poor reaching out to help her children. It was precious to him, and yet, he realized the need to give it up. And the tilma still belongs to the people, is still on display in the Basilica in Mexico City. The lesson for us is that God is still creating miracles in our lives today, everyday we encounter God reaching into our lives. We need to follow the example of Juan Diego: share the miracles with others, surrender ourselves to what our miracles are telling us. Change our immediate world around us by getting ourselves out of the way and letting God be God! Love, heidi
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
It's no accident that this scripture comes to us just as we are turning the corner, half-way through Advent. Anyone need a little rest? But what is the "rest" that Jesus is talking about here? I think it is much more than a Sunday afternoon nap (although doesn't THAT sound good?) Jesus, who lived among us well into manhood, knows that humans need rest. In the midst of our busy lives, humans need to tune-out of the rat race and be quiet. Humans need solitude, space, and inner peace. Humans need to touch base with themselves inside--that is where God resides. Other people can support us and help us on our journey, but the real journey we take is through ourselves to find the God in our hearts. We need quiet and solitude to find that. Let's make a point to find thirty minutes of silence in these next few days. Let's make a date with ourselves to spend thirty minutes with the phone, TV and computer turned off. Let's simply light a candle and sit with Jesus, thanking him for inviting us to set it all down and rest. This may be a challenge, but it will end up being a gift. Love, heidi
"Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care."
The prophet Isaiah is painting a bit of a different picture of God for the exiled Israelites. I mean, they knew God's power and might, right? He had safely led them out of Egypt, fed them in the desert, powered down the Ten Commandments, and now they found themselves exiled in Babylon. Here Isaiah was telling them that God is like a tender shepherd who will carry his little lambs to safety. The tender shepherd is a bit of a different twist, but oh, so accurate! It's a bit of a new picture of God...Jesus, the gentle shepherd, leading his sheep with love and compassion and seeking out the lost. And imagine the comfort to the Israelites, who needed the comfort of a tender loving God, so desperately! And don't we all? Today, feel the comfort of being tenderly carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd...nestle into his chest and rest secure...He loves us so! Love, heidi
"Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.'"
On thinking about this today I had the fleeting thought that, since Mary was sinless from birth, as we believe, her "Yes!" to God's plan should not come as a surprise to us, should it? She was destined to do God's will from the moment of her conception. So the thing that fascinates me in this reading today, is that God still gave her a choice. She still could have said "No, thanks. Please choose someone else." And God would have been OK with that. God gave Mary the same free will that we receive. We, sinners that we are, have many choices throughout our days that we can choose to do the godly thing or not. We can choose to forgive or choose to hold onto anger. We can choose to give cheerfully to others, or we can bitterly negate the poor and cling to what we have. We can choose to show kindness to a stranger, or we can walk on by--after all, we don't know them. God gives us sinners a choice just as God gave sinless Mary a choice. How will we respond? Love, heidi