Wednesday, December 31, 2014

...In with the new year

"For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you for I am...wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works."
With all the talk of self-improvement for the new year, we cannot forget how wonderfully and miraculously made we all are by God. Faults and failings aside, God made us and loves us just exactly the way we are.  There is no self-improvement we can undertake that will cause God to love us any more than right now. But, it is good for us to grow and stretch ourselves and try to be the people God knows us to be.  As my dad used to say when I asked if I behaved well enough in mass to warrant a treat after mass: "There's always room for improvement!" We can do better.  And God loves that we want to do better.  It was Thomas Merton who said, "I believe that the desire to please God, pleases God." It's about accepting who we are as beloved children of God. But also striving to be more like Jesus, who gives us an awesome example of how to live a loving, selfless life in the world.  So, today, as we bid goodbye to one year and get ready to embrace another, let's thank God for who we are and how wonderfully made works of God we are!  Happy, happy New Year...see you in '15!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Out with the old year...

"Jesus, give me the grace to live as you lived--selflessly."
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "Living Faith"
As we creep along to the end of 2014 and a fresh new beginning, that is 2015, it's a good time to think about what we would like to do differently.  I don't like the term "New Year's Resolution," but I do like to find a couple of things I'd like to improve in the new year.  Let's call them New Year's projects or commitments instead of resolutions.  One of them fits well with this prayer from Living Faith.  The other goes along with the Christmas homily we had touching on the movie "It's a Wonderful Life."  I'd like to live more positively--seeing things in a positive light, looking for the presence and grace of God in all people and circumstances.  I want to live in Bedford Falls, not Pottersville! (Actually, I'd like to live somewhere warmer this morning, it's -4 right now).  Living more positively and selflessly is an ambitious goal, but I pray, just like Sr. Melannie, that Jesus will help me change these aspects of myself.  The old year is tired.  We want and need to move forward.  What changes can we make to begin fresh again?  Love, heidi

Monday, December 29, 2014

Stable. Cross. Empty tomb.

"How do both the stable and the empty tomb speak to you today?"
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "Living With Christ"
This was the reflection on Saturday, when the Gospel was about St. John racing to the empty tomb.  It was the feast of St. John, and yet, it seemed so odd to be talking about Jesus' tomb when we just celebrated his birth on Thursday!  So, the do both the stable and the empty tomb speak to us? I contemplated this for quite a while, as our Idaho Falls community lost a very dear friend over the weekend. Just after the joy of Jesus' birth, Keener Earle suddenly and unexpectedly passed away early Sunday morning.  Stable. Cross. Empty tomb.  Keener went straight through the cross and to the empty tomb stage while we were still in shock that he'd suffered a stroke.  Too fast.  Too soon. Jesus' journey from stable to cross to empty tomb gives us such hope that all is well with Keener and he is safely with God.  But what about his family and those who will miss him so terribly as days go on?  We take comfort in the fact that Jesus knew this kind of grief himself.  He wept when his friend Lazarus died.  He felt sorrow and sadness just as we all do when we lose a loved one.  And, if we feel a wave of comfort and peace at any time we can be sure that Jesus is tenderly ministering to us.  Also God gives us each other to comfort one another.  It is such a sad and difficult time, but there is hope in the empty tomb and the promise of new life.  One more thing I'm learning in this: never leave an "I love you" left unsaid.  Ever.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The gossip stops here!

"Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea."
Luke 1:65
People haven't changed much.  Earlier in this passage, aged Elizabeth had given birth to John (to be John the Baptist) and her neighbors were hanging over their fences talking about the mysterious circumstances of Baby John's birth.  Can you imagine the tongues wagging?  And, in the movie I mentioned yesterday, The Nativity Story, there is a part when Joseph takes the very pregnant Mary as his wife and they begin their life together.  It shows their neighbors shunning them and whispering behind their backs.  As Joseph and Mary set out for Bethlehem, they pass by the tsk-tsking neighbors.  "They're going to miss us," Joseph says wryly. People haven't changed.  Unfortunately.  Pope Francis calls it the "terrorism of gossip." That seems harsh, doesn't it? But how harsh does he have to be to get people to stop disparaging each other with gossip? We see it everywhere we look, so how can we stop it? It's far too easy to fall into the habit of clucking about others.  It makes us feel better about ourselves, doesn't it? And who can't use a little bit of that?  If we knew how truly harmful it can be maybe we could stop.  And that is what Pope Francis is trying to convey.  Christmas is rapidly upon us.  We will gather with others and the opportunities will abound for us to chatter about others.  Let's make an effort to have unkind gossip stop with us!  Love, heidi
Things are soon to get crazy around here, so if I don't get a note off tomorrow, please have a beautiful, holy, wonderful and memorable Christmas! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Carrying the Savior

"And, behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
Luke 1:36
Back in 2006, there was a movie called "The Nativity Story."  It was a beautiful little movie that told the story of Joseph and Mary, and there was one scene that has stuck with me all these years since.  Mary had heard the angel tell her about Elizabeth's pregnancy, as in this scripture, as well as her own pregnancy.  Mary hastens to Elizabeth's home, a journey of several days. When she calls out to Elizabeth and Elizabeth turns around to face her, Mary's eyes go wide with awe.  You could see on her face..."it's true!"  What was true about Elizabeth's pregnancy must mean that what the angel said about Mary is true, too.  I felt that Mary realized, only at that instant, that she was carrying the Savior, as the angel foretold.  It was a stunning scene--it makes me teary just thinking about it!  Today, let's think about how, sometimes, we need validation that WE are carrying the Savior to others. How will we do this today?  How can we show others that Jesus resides in our world? Love, heidi

Friday, December 19, 2014

God--the best giver!

  "If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him."
Matthew 7:11
A friend and I stopped by the Christmas basket assembly last night to see if they needed any help.  We were able to do a wee bit of wrapping, but things were already nearly finished, thanks to the many, many angels and elves who have been working on this for weeks.  As I waited for scissors, I had a chance to just stand and take in the panoramic scene before me.  It seemed like miles of beautifully wrapped gifts, food, and bikes all ready for families to take them home.  I got teary.  It was such a sight.  It is a lesson in love.  I thought that, as vast as this sea of gifts seems to me, God's gifts are even more plentiful.   I imagine it being like Jesus' miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.  It was its own miracle--the gifting of the five hundred.  The image will stay in my heart forever, I hope.  And I will always compare it to God's desire to give good things to those who ask. Amen! Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giving and gathering

"All of these look to you
to give them their food in due season.
You give it, they gather it up;
you open wide your hand, they are well-filled."
Psalm 104:27-28
While the Israelites wandered in the desert, God literally fed them with manna, quail and water out of a rock.  God gave it and the people gathered and ate it--just like it is described here.  But something shifted when Jesus came along.  God still feeds the people, but the actual hands opening and nourishing are our hands.  Jesus tells us to do the work of the Father and feed the hungry.  God still feeds the hungry, but now it is through our hands.  Today is Pope Francis' birthday and last year on his birthday he invited several homeless men to mass and breakfast. Today, let's celebrate his birthday by doing something for special for those who may be suffering in our own communities.  And as we open our hands in giving, let's pray for many more happy birthdays for Pope Francis!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just do it!

"Jesus said, 'What is your opinion? A man had two sons...'"
Matthew 21:28
Jesus poses the hypothetical of a father asking one son to go into the field and work.  The son says "No," but goes and works anyway.  The other son says he will go but does not.  Which one does the will of the father?  The ponderous question looms...which one am I? It's so much easier to talk a good game than it is to actually do it. If I am truly honest with myself I know I am more like the second son than I'd like to be. I avoid the difficult people. I shudder at reaching out.  I keep a close watch on this heart of mine, to quote the old song. It's not as easy for me to actually do God's will as it is to talk (or write) about it each day.  So knowing and recognizing this, what am I going to do about it?  This is why we have this period of reflection and reconciliation called Advent.  To prepare ourselves and become the people God created.  To become the people who actually do God's will instead of just talking about it.  We have our marching orders, let's go!  Love, heidi

Monday, December 15, 2014

God will help!

"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it."
1 Thessalonians 5:24
This reading yesterday really struck me.  It reinforces the message I have been receiving lately that when God calls us to something, God gives us what we need to complete it.  When I read it yesterday, I was reminded of my first semester in graduate school in Michigan.  I was just a little Montana girl, coming to this huge school, to this renowned program and I was so afraid I couldn't cut it.  I expressed my fears to a second semester student who knew the ropes and he reassured me.  "They selected you for this program," he said, referring to the faculty.  "They'll help you through it."  What he said in secular terms hit home spiritually for me. God had called me to the field of blind rehabilitation and this particular program.  I had a higher calling then and I feel I have a calling from God now.  So, God, who calls us will definitely help us accomplish it, whatever it is!  We need to show up with willing hands and an open heart.  God will help. This is so reassuring as we continue with the tasks God has given us as well as when we embark on new ones.  God is faithful and God will help.  Love, heidi

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Already here!

"Sometimes we seem to 'discern' ourselves right past the moment of opportunity and on past the moment of grace, rather than see and hear the all-too-obvious signs of the reign of God being offered us--a hurt that needs healing, an injustice that demands righting, an offense calling for forgiveness."
Sr. Pat Kozak, "Give Us This Day"
This really resonates with me today.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the "waiting" of Advent we miss what is happening right now.  While we are waiting for Christ to be born are we missing the Jesus who is sitting right beside us?  I remember one Advent I was so intent on the waiting I'd finally just had enough of that by the Fourth Sunday of Advent and practically shouted, "I'm tired of waiting! Come NOW!"  It was then I sensed the presence of Jesus beside me saying, "I'm right here and have been all need to shout, Heidi-dear." I wonder if we don't make all this so much harder and more complex than it really is by "over-discerning" as Sr. Pat suggests.  It also reminds me of one of Fr. Richard Rohr's comments:  You can quit knocking, you are already inside! Let's not over-think, over-stress or over-anything today.  Let's just bask in the presence of Jesus, who is, in fact, already here! Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Come to me...

"Jesus said to the crowds, 'Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.'"
Matthew 11:28
Jesus, I know you will give me rest, if I can just stop running around long enough to sit with you!  There's just so much to do this time of year getting ready for YOU!
Truth be told, Jesus would much rather have us sit quietly and spend time with him than all the hustle and bustle we think we need to do.  Festivities are hitting high gear from now on, but let's try to take some time to just be with Jesus.  He will give us rest. Love, heidi 

Monday, December 8, 2014

A change of heart

"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
Isaiah 1:28
In thinking and praying with this reading today, I pondered what being "full of grace" would look like in Mary's life.  It struck me how often I pray for a change of heart or a change of mind about someone or something and then it hit me.  I wondered if, in Mary's case, that didn't have to happen. Mary's heart and mind were already exactly where they needed to be.  I pray constantly that Jesus will fill my heart with his loving heart. My heart beats with judgments and criticism about people and I can't possibly love well with that hindrance.  I imagine Mary's heart already filled with Jesus even before he began to grow in her womb. She doesn't need a change of heart or a change of mind. Her mind and heart are already good to go. That is why we call her "Immaculate." That is how she could say "Yes" so readily and without hesitation to God's plan. Jesus, once again I pray that you fill my heart and it grows more into your, heidi

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Built on rock

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."
Matthew 7:24
As I sat and prayed with this reading today, I immediately thought of my dad.  He was as rock-solid a Catholic as you could ever hope to find, and yet, when he made his Cursillo at age 65, his faith changed markedly.  Previously, he was all about the ritual--Sunday mass, daily mass during Lent, mass on the Holy Days (he called them the "Wild Cards").  But, after Cursillo, he began volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul.  He began serving the poor, meeting with other fellows in a 4th day and his faith became more about loving and serving others. It was such a stunning change.  I can honestly say that Cursillo taught me how to flesh out my faith, too.  Thankfully, I didn't wait until age sixty-five!  Cursillo teaches us how to put legs on our faith.  Jesus says in this Gospel we must do the will of our Father in heaven and Jesus spells that out as loving each other and caring for the poor.  It couldn't be clearer. It couldn't be harder.  Lord, please help us to carry out the true work of our Father by loving those here on earth with us.  Help us to build our faith on the solid foundation of loving you and loving others. Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Enjoy the darkness...

"Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side..."
Psalm 23:4
The days are so short now it seems like it's always dark.  It's barely light when I go to work and dark when I get home.  These days of darkness can be so hard!  I think we need to try and make friends with the darkness by deeply considering all the good that can happen while this darkness prevails.  What good, exactly?  Well, it gives us a chance to rest.  It's much easier to go to bed earlier now and get some much-needed extra shut-eye.  Forcing myself out into the darkness to walk the dog at night, I see how truly beautiful it can be outside on a winter night.  Last night there was a mysterious fog over the neighborhood and it was really lovely.  Winter darkness can hold a beauty we miss if we don't venture out.  Also, it may help to consider all the trees and perennials resting up for their future glory in the spring.  They may look bare and dead, but deep inside, they are just waiting to burst forth!  There is beauty in every season and each season holds special gifts for us.  For me, it is harder to perceive this beauty in the winter, but it is certainly there.  Lord, help me to see and appreciate this season of short, short days!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Leave the judging to God...

"Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted."
Isaiah 11:3-4
The question on Pray-As-You-Go this morning asks "How are you being called to help bring about a less violent world?" Our homily Sunday mentioned violence as one of the "sleeping pills" the world uses to keep us from being alert and watchful for Jesus.  What am I to do about the violence in the world? It's not like I'm in any position of power or have any influence, do I?  I abhor violence, but what can I do to stop it? We may not be the folks who go around shooting people, but the violence takes a more subtle form.  I was considering how gossip and judging others are forms of violence that we seem to be able to justify.  We can tear down a person's good name and reputation verbally, even if we wouldn't think of doing physical harm to them.  Isaiah tells us that the Savior will judge with justice.  That means WE shouldn't be judging at all. The judging will be done by the qualified; and that's not us.  Today, let's be aware of the areas that we feel free to inflict verbal violence.  And let's leave the judging to God.  Love, heidi

Monday, December 1, 2014

Be with me where I am poor...

"Come, Lord Jesus, and be with me where I feel poorest."
Henri J.M. Nouwen, "Living with Christ"
I sat down and pondered this today and my first question was, where do I feel the poorest? Where am I asking Jesus to enter? I feel so wealthy in so many ways--friends, family, fulfilling work, a nourished spiritual life. Where do I feel poor? I think I feel poorest with the actual poor, oddly enough. I'm very weak when it comes to helping the poor.  I'm not sure how to react when I see a man sitting on the street corner with a sign, like I did in Boise last week. I know I come up way short in how to help. Jesus tells us to feed the poor and I'm so much more comfortable writing a check and mailing it, without having to actually deal with the poor. It's easier for me to have someone else do the dealing.  Lord Jesus, come and be with me in the area of my own poverty. Help me to love the poor and treat them the way you treated them.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blueprint for life

"See that no one returns evil for evil; rather always seek what is good for each other and for all. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
And there it is.  Exactly what God asks of us...always seeking good for each other, praying, rejoicing, giving thanks.  It is spelled out so clearly and makes so much sense, and yet, we as humanity cannot seem to get it right.  In the two thousand years since this was given to us as a blueprint for how to live, we struggle to put it into practice.  God seems to be giving us extra time to learn these lessons and put these words into our hearts and therefore, into practice.  What can we do, as individuals, to live this way in Christ Jesus?  We can look at the whole of humanity and see disappointing results, but individually, people are living like this all over the place.  As we pause to give thanks this week, let's take all of this reading to heart.  Let's try to change our own lives to live as Jesus taught.  If enough people do it, real change can be seen in humanity as a whole!  Blessings to each of you as we all give thanks.  See you in Advent!  Love, heidi

Monday, November 24, 2014

Offering our "all"

"Give us the courage to speak the truth, with respect and sincere love."
Prayer Intercession, Give Is This Day
As I read this today I thought, Wow, if that wasn't written for me!  I so often speak before I think and say things I later regret.  It's one of the hardest bug-a-boos of my behavior and one would think I could learn better, but alas...
Today's Gospel (Luke 21:1-4) is the story of the poor widow putting all she has into the treasury.  Jesus comments on how her gift is so precious because it represents all she had.  How can we offer all we have today?  We can certainly help monetarily, but what if we offer our honest efforts to work on our own areas of sin.  What are the sins we battle daily as we journey with Jesus? Do we hold a grudge against anyone? Do we battle for control in all situations? Are we overly judgmental with those around us?  Can we offer our efforts to rectify these up to God today?  I love working on the courage to speak "the truth with respect and sincere love." That will help me to pause and think before saying the first thing that pops into my head to say.  What "all" can we offer to God this day?  Love, heidi

Friday, November 21, 2014

Honor the sacred

"Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things..."
Luke 19:45
Several things about this reading popped into my head as I read it this morning. I often think of this reading when pondering Jesus' humanity.  "Jesus was a real human being--look how angry he got in the temple!" I often think. I picture him turning over the tables and see him consumed with righteous anger over what was happening there.  What was happening there?  People were buying and selling.  Commerce was happening.  People needed to purchase birds and other animals for their temple sacrifices and other people were making a buck providing them for purchase.  What's so wrong about that? I remember hearing a homily that explained people selling were taking advantage of the "buyers." If people were being mistreated in this process of buying and selling it is easy to understand Jesus' anger. What does it mean for us, today?  What is Jesus teaching us?  I think it is it is be reverent and aware of all that is sacred...and that includes other human beings.  God's house is sacred and so are God's people.  Love God and love each other...always the message of Jesus!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Leave it on the ground...

"So (Zacchaeus) ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way."
Luke 19:4
I always love the story of Zacchaeus because it calls to mind a little cartoon character guy (like maybe the Boras character in the Bullwinkle cartoon--remember him?).  Besides providing an entertaining visual, though, the story is one of letting go and letting God.  Zacchaeus let go of his dignity and pride and let Jesus welcome him, by interestingly, welcoming Jesus. It also illustrates that Jesus came and surprised everyone.  He invited himself to a party at Zacchaeus' house and that shocked all present. No one can put God in a box because they have God all figured out.  Jesus sure showed us that!  So, Zacchaeus threw off his dignity and pride, climbed a tree to get a better look at Jesus, then completely turned his life around.  It can be done! And we can never underestimate the power of Jesus to change us.  What can we let go of today to catch a better glimpse of Jesus? Pride? Anger? Feelings of unworthiness? Whatever they are, let's leave them on the ground and climb a tree!  Love, heidi

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ask not, what Jesus can do for you...

"What do you want me to do for you?"
Luke 18:41
It's so easy for me to write about this passage! I had such a powerful experience praying with it while on retreat over a year ago and it still rings in my heart. Jesus asks us constantly, just as he asked the blind man, "What do you want me to do for you?" But today, while praying with it, a little different twist popped into my head.  Today I thought, "What do you, Jesus, want ME to do for YOU?"  I realized that I had wonderful Jesus Time over the weekend, and that time leads me to want to do what Jesus would have me do, not as much the other way around.  As it happens, my calendar is full of opportunities today to serve Jesus' people.  Please help me to do with your love today, Jesus! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Recognizing healing

"And one of them, realizing that he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice..."
Luke 17:15

Most often this reading calls us to express our gratitude, but it hit me a bit differently this morning.  I see the one returning leper as a person who has the ability to recognize he is changed after his encounter with Jesus.  In their haste to follow Jesus' instructions to show themselves to the priest, the other lepers were caught up in that--following the instructions, doing it as Jesus had said.  They may have been so involved in that it took them a while to realize the healing that had taken place as they hurried along.  The healings in our lives may be much more subtle than these, certainly.  But, after struggling with a difficulty for a while, it may take us a while to notice we no longer feel the painful twinge or we may feel more compassion for someone who hurt us. We may finally recognize that a healing has taken place within us. 

Khaled Hosseini, the author of "The Kite Runner," expressed it so well in his book, when one of the characters suddenly realized he had gotten over a terrible wrong done to him many years before.  "I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night." (Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner)
Isn't that amazing?  Today, let's spend some time with Jesus, taking stock of all the healing God has brought to our lives and give thanks.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Of veterans and founders and worldly desires...

"For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires..."
Titus 2:11-12

Yada, yada, yada...but I have a 30% off coupon at Kohl's starting today!  I have a confession to make.  I was sitting, doing my prayer time when suddenly I reached over to grab a pen to jot down the things I want to look for while shopping today.  I stopped short, suddenly seeing Jesus looking at me, shaking his head and chuckling..."Seriously, heidi? Do you have to do that now?"  I laughed with him, defending myself by saying I have a bag in the car for donations and I just need a few things and besides, I have a coupon! Sometimes I wonder how Jesus puts up with me.  But then I realize that Jesus knows all about being human because he was human; a sinless human, but still. Jesus was not a fuddy duddy, stick-in-the-mud Pharisee type human either.  Jesus had friends and laughed and celebrated at parties.  And, who knows, maybe Jesus shopped for a new tunic a time or two.   Jesus delights in us, even as he may shake his head and chuckle to himself at our antics.  Thank you to all veterans, here and beyond. And happy Founder's Day to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth!  Love, heidi

Monday, November 10, 2014

True forgiveness

"And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him."
Luke 17:4
No question about it, I think the person who benefits more from forgiveness is the forgiver.  The person forgiven may not even be aware of the forgiveness, but the forgiver certainly is aware.  Once that cloud is lifted, the forgiver feels lighter, more alive.  As long as the forgiver doesn't hold onto a grudge, he or she can move forward.  But grudge-holding means no forgiveness has taken place. There may be an illusion of forgiveness but true forgivers don't hold grudges.  I think we decide to forgive and, once that decision is made, God gifts us with a heart to actually forgive.  Forgiveness can be so difficult that it only can come from God, once our desire is there.  Is there anyone we need to forgive this autumn day?  Let's take the question to God and give God our desire to forgive.  God will turn that into forgiveness in our hearts.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Of grumbles and tunics...

"Do everything without grumbling or questioning..."
Philippians 2:14
"In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."
Luke 14:33
Both of these readings spoke to me today because I have too many of all of it--grumblings and possessions!  I may have made a wee effort to reduce the amount of grumbling when I am with others, but get me alone in the car and I can be a champion grumbler.  I wonder if God tires of eavesdropping on my rants?  I bet so.  And, despite all my speeches to the contrary, I have far too many tunics hanging in the closet. What I am clinging to and yet, not even wearing, I am taking from someone else.  Ridiculous.  So, today I am going to make a conscious effort to rid myself of grumbles and tunics.  I surely can do without so many of them!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Even the little old ladies...

"Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus...he emptied himself."
Philippians 2:5,8
He emptied himself. Jesus gave all he had to give. He left nothing on the table. He did it all.  And he asks the same of us. So, why is it that I can go into an Assisted Living facility and find myself arguing with a little old lady? Mystifying, isn't it? We, who have been given so much, are asked to give like Jesus gave and it is so hard sometimes.  I can absolutely lose it with the very people I am here on this planet to serve.  Good grief.  Dear Jesus, I am not like you.  I'm so very far from being like you that I sometimes wonder why you put up with me.  But I realize you can use me, even in my weakness.  Please let me be more open to following you as you served, emptying yourself for all of humanity...even the difficult little old ladies! Amen! Love, heidi

Monday, November 3, 2014

To ponder...

"For behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all not fall asleep but we shall all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet..."
1 Corinthians 15:51-52
We had this reading for the Feast of All Souls and I was able to spend some time pondering it yesterday.  Our homily was based on it, too, so I really had much to pray with yesterday.  Death is inevitable and a mystery.  Nothing really new there, but how do we feel about death, exactly?  Are we afraid of it? In denial? Looking forward to it?  I realized that I am not so much afraid of death as I am the dying process, the diminishment, the relying on others, the bother to the kids.  I want to be "me" as long as I can and as long as that can be, I want to stick around.  Basically, I don't want to wear out my welcome here on earth. As my mother always said, "Leave the party while you're still having a good time." I think the actual death itself should be a wonderful letting go, falling in the arms of Jesus, seeing loved ones gone before, a lovely long nap.  So, all that figured out, what do we do in the meantime?  Live our lives, not with selfishness or vainglory, as St. Paul tells us and the Philippians in today's first reading (Philippians 2:1-4). Living our lives with real purpose and meaningfully seems like the answer.  Don't let worrying about the end keep us from really living in love with God today!  Blessings on your new week and new month! Love, heidi

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Before I say it...

"Relieve the anguish of my heart, and set me free from my distress.
See my lowliness and suffering, and take away all my sins.
May integrity and virtue protect me, for I have hoped in you, O Lord."
Psalm 25:17-18, 21
One of the things I struggle with is looking back on past conversations and regretting what I have said.  It's like I'll replay the tape in my head and wallow around in, "Why did I say that? That could have been hurtful." And, surely, it's true that I say off-handed things, to be funny and they end up being unkind or hurtful.  I'm so hyper aware of this that it drives me crazy.   Scrupulously combing through what I said is so self-centered and, obviously, the time to think about what I say is BEFORE I say it!  The time to relieve my distress about what I say is before the words actually tumble out of my mouth, not the day after.  Lord, you know my weaknesses, so much better than I do!  Please help me think about what I say before I say it, then I won't be so troubled after!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Narrow ourselves...

"The gate narrows when we strive to give ourselves away to others, spending our time, talent, and treasure to make the world a better place."
Allen Gustafson, "Give Us This Day"
Jesus tells us in today's Gospel (Luke 13:22-30) to "Strive to enter through the narrow gate..." (v. 24) I really like Mr. Gustafson's interpretation of the narrow gate above, but I also feel that the narrow gate may look different for each of us.  One person's narrow gate may be caring for an ill loved one.  Another may be serving food in a soup kitchen. Still another may be serving as a teacher, doctor or Peace Corps volunteer. Regardless of what vocation we are called to do, we are all called to love and serve each other. And, to do that better, we need to let go of ourselves.  By letting go of ourselves, we let go of our agendas, our trappings, our high maintenance tendencies and, in a sense, make ourselves more "narrow."  The more we can also let go of "stuff;" physical stuff as well as emotional stuff, the easier we will slide through that narrow gate.  What can we let go of this autumn Wednesday?  Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Voice through the fog...

"Lost in thick layers of gloominess
I call out, 'Where are you?'
'I'm here,' you whisper back.
As I strain to hear your voice.
'Are you really here?' I echo.
'Trust me,' comes the response.
'But I can't see,' I complain.
'Why do you need to see?'
You reply through the heavy fog,
'Is it not enough that I am here?'"
Sr. Joyce Rupp, "Fragments of Your Ancient Name"
I love this because it shows that Sr. Joyce has the same kind of conversations with Jesus that I have and have had through many years! Are you there? Yes. Where? Here. Are you sure? Jesus must get weary from constantly encouraging me!  But yet, Jesus continues to encourage.  This past weekend, while at the Monastery of St. Gertrude, we had a morning of heavy, heavy fog.  We couldn't see the Spirit Center across the road, it was so thick and dense.  But we knew it was there.  There are times when the fog we experience in life seems thick and soupy and we need to convince ourselves that things will work out.  Somehow. Are you going through a soupy time right now? Jesus says to us, "I'm here."  Love, heidi

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jesus looks into our eyes...

"When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, 'Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.' He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood erect."
Luke 13:12-13
As I prayed with this Gospel this morning, I had a beautiful visual image.  I could see the woman, bent over, there in the synagogue.  And Jesus was there, with his hand on her bent-over back.  And Jesus was bent over too, so he could look into her eyes.  Jesus had to really bend to see into her eyes, which had been cast down due to her infirmity. But Jesus wanted to connect with her, eye-to-eye, heart to heart.  Jesus wanted that relationship with this unknown woman because that's the way Jesus was and is, even now.  Jesus will bend to look into our eyes too.  Whatever concerns we have, whatever keeps us bent over and bound, Jesus wants to connect with us and heal us. Today, let's think and pray for all who are bent over with any kind of illness or pain.  It could be an emotional illness that keeps them cast down and unable to stand to their full potential.  And let's realize that Jesus also wants that bond and relationship with us; that he looks into our eyes and really sees who we are--and loves who we are, too!  Happy Monday! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Do over!

"Blessed are those...whom the master finds vigilant."
Luke 12:37
In today's Living Faith, Sr. Bridget Haase talks about this reading and wonderfully points out that Jesus comes daily, not just at the end of our lives or at the end of time.  Jesus is always coming to us and we want to be vigilant.  What does that mean exactly? How do we show our vigilance as we wait for Jesus' daily arrival?  Well, I think it means that we are looking for him.  We are anticipating Jesus coming around the next corner and we have the table set and are ready to greet him.  We are treating others with love and compassion, because they are the Jesus we meet regularly.  The difficult client, the grumpy teenager, the sullen spouse...they are all Jesus and how we treat them is how we greet Jesus himself.  Sometimes I wish I had a "do-over" with people--I recognize later that I just didn't get it right with them.  I didn't realize they were Jesus until it was too late!  Thanks be to God, there is another opportunity.  Pay attention this time!  Love, heidi
PS: I will be attending our third Spiritual Direction class the rest of this week; this time at the Monastery of St. Gertrude in Cottonwood, Idaho!  I'm so excited to go there and so excited to continue on this journey of learning Spiritual Direction!  See you next week!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Today's the day!

"Our Lord showed me a little thing, the size of a hazel-nut, on the palm of my hand...In this 'little thing' I saw three truths. The first is that God made it; the second that God loves it; and the third is that God sustains it..."
Julian of Norwich, "Showings 5" (as quoted in "Give Us This Day")
Ah, it's Monday morning. Here we go again.  It is so often necessary to be reminded of how much we are loved by God.  Otherwise, what is the point in any of it?  There is no point.  The only purpose of our lives is to love and be loved by God...and that is a fabulous purpose for which to get up and do it all again on a Monday morning!  This particular Monday holds such promise for us!  Today, we will be surprised by God! Today, we have a chance to show God our love and devotion by loving others!  Today, if we are reading this, we are alive!  (If we are dead reading this I have a larger distribution than I thought!) Anyway, let's look upon this autumn Monday as the best, most fabulous opportunity to love and be loved by God. Today is our day!  Love, heidi

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A prayer for the cave...

"Our sojourn of inner growth sometimes
Confines us to the cave's empty gloom.
In this silent, gray space of waiting
When we are unsure of how to proceed
We hear your voice of wisdom urging us:

'Do not be afraid. I am with you.'
'Learn to love the silence.'
'Trust this time of slow gestation.'
'This is not a waste of your time.'
'Breathe, Be at peace. Easy does it.'"
~Sr. Joyce Rupp, Fragments of Your Ancient Name"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

God alone is enough...

"Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing make you afraid;
All things pass,
But God is unchanging,
is enough for everything.
You who have God
lack nothing.
God alone is sufficient."
St. Teresa of Avila, as quoted in "The Dark Night of the Soul," by Gerald G. May
Let's let this beautiful prayer of St. Teresa settle in us today.  God alone is enough.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Marymount Hermitage

"The woman herself fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God, that there she might be taken care of for twelve hundred and sixty days."
Revelation 12:6

If you would like to read about my adventures on retreat at Marymount, please click on the link below.  Marymount is a little piece of heaven on the desert mesa of Idaho. I only wish I could stay for twelve hundred and sixty days!

Keeping it clean...

"Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil."
Luke 11:39
This reminded me of a story from one of our favorite priests.  He told this at a class he was teaching and it really stuck with me.  His favorite movie, when he was a young lad, was "Braveheart," with Mel Gibson.  Many years later, he decided to go a full year without watching anything with movies, TV shows or video games. After that year, he had the chance to see Braveheart and he settled in to watch his favorite movie.  He realized, however, that he was appalled at the violence.  It was the same as always, but HE had changed. He could no longer stomach the violence in a movie he had previously enjoyed.  Well, a similar thing just happened to me.  I had read a popular book recently and decided to see the newly released movie.  After watching mostly documentaries and reading only spiritual and historical books, I was surprised by my own reaction to the movie.  I felt like I needed a good shower after watching it!  Is the world really like that?  I felt like I wanted to "un-see" it, but that is impossible.  I decided to learn from the experience so as to lessen the mistakenness of it.  I want the inside of my cup to be as clean as I want the outside. And that takes an awareness on my part on what I should watch. These are things we need to know about ourselves.  We are all different, but we need to know ourselves and allow ourselves to grow and change.  Love, heidi

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Keep knocking!

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you."
Luke 11:9
But, what if it doesn't FEEL like you're getting what you asked for? What if your prayer seems to be going nowhere?  What if there is only silence on the other end? And, another one of my burning questions: does our prayer actually change God's mind?  Was God all set to do one thing and our prayer causes God to actually do another?  These questions drive me crazy (not a drive, just a short putt).  But, seriously.  What I have come up with, at this point in my spiritual journey is this: God wants to be in relationship with us.  Prayer is relationship, because we are communicating with God when we pray.  We may feel silence on the other side but that is just like the neighbor in Jesus' story today (Luke 11:5-13). Our persistence in prayer is the key to our prayer.  We continue to knock, even if no one seems to be home. Does God need our prayer? No, but WE need our prayer.  We need to be able to do something when difficulties arise.  We need to have a way to move out of ourselves and seek an answer.  We need to turn to Someone bigger than us.  It's a relief to know there is Someone bigger than us, that we aren't in charge of the universe and that the universe doesn't revolve around us. So, does God ultimately change an unsavory situation when we pray?  Possibly.  But mainly, God changes us.  God works inside of us, inside our hearts and minds.  And the change seems real.  The situation may be the same, but we are different.  And the change is real.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Teach us to pray...

"Free us from selfish interest and self-inflicted burdens..."
Prayer request in "Give Us This Day"
Cha Ching!  That is exactly what I need to pray today. The disciples ask Jesus in today's Gospel, "Teach us to pray..." (Luke 11:1-4) And, if Jesus were to answer me that question, this prayer from Give Us This Day would be the answer. Jesus taught us to ask for what we need in prayer.  And I desperately need to be free from selfish interests and self-inflicted burdens.  That is the "Me" I bring to prayer today.  Tomorrow may be entirely different, but this is me today. That is why we must pray daily...pray for our Daily Bread.  That is why we must Pray Always and Pray All Ways.  Because we are constantly changing and our requests vary as often. Lord, please keep me tuned into you this day.  Help me to get my selfish interests and self-inflicted burdens out of my mind and heart and help me to concentrate on what you want me to do.  That is the Daily Bread I need from you this Wednesday...Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Transform me, Jesus!

"True faith is not merely an intellectual assent to doctrine.  Rather, it is a process of growth in humility, trust, patience, surrender, forgiveness, and compassion...It is about being transformed into Jesus."
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, SND, "Living With Christ"
This was so wonderful (and necessary) for me to read and think about this morning!  It isn't anything new, by any means, but it is so true.  When we pray "increase our faith" we are praying that Jesus transforms us into himself. Jesus is always happy to do that, but we must be open and willing to be transformed.  Jesus won't transform us against our will.  We need to let go of our own "stuff" and sit  at Jesus' feet, just like Mary in today's Gospel (Luke 10:38-42).  That is, certainly, as Sr. Melannie says, a "process."  It doesn't happen to us overnight.  Today, as we embark on an autumn Tuesday, let's pray for Jesus to come into our lives and make himself at home in us.  Let's take some quiet time and pray for Jesus to transform us and fill us with the humility, trust, patience, surrender, forgiveness and compassion that hallmark a life lived in him.  Love, heidi

Monday, October 6, 2014

The hard stuff. Again.

"But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"
Luke 10:29
On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, the question was asked which character in the story do you most identify with?  Which character is you?  The Good Samaritan? The Levite? The poor guy who was beaten up?  Or maybe even the guy who asked the question in the first place...the guy who wished to justify himself?  Oh, that is easy.  I'm THAT guy.  I always want to know what I'm supposed to do.  I want to do the right thing, but I want a clear definition of what that is exactly.  And, worst of all, who do I have to love? Be nice to? Care for?  As if there was a limit.  I certainly shouldn't have to be compassionate to THOSE people, should I?  Tell me exactly who I am to care for and I will do that. But let it not be THEM...Jesus gives us the answer we don't really want to hear. Love everyone. Without limits.  Jesus wants us to love the hard ones.  Especially the hard ones.  Criminy.  Love, heidi

Friday, October 3, 2014

Gliding on the breeze...

"If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast."
Psalm 139:9-10
My first afternoon on retreat at the Hermitage, I watched a large bird fly overhead.  He wasn't flying, really, he was more just gliding along.  His wings didn't flap at all, I only watched him glide on the air current.  It was a bit breezy that day and I noticed he just moved up and down, catching the current and allowing it to propel him through the air.  I decided that I wanted to do the same on retreat.  I wanted to just glide along, allowing the current of the Holy Spirit to move me through the days ahead.  I didn't want to have an agenda or feel I should be doing this or that.  I didn't want to be flapping my wings, trying to make something happen.  I just wanted to be free to glide and go where God led me.  Interestingly, I felt later I was able to do just that.  If the urge to take a walk hit me, that's what I did. If I felt called to climb into and explore the ravine, I did that.  If I felt beckoned to go outside in the middle of the night to look at the stars, I did (albeit, a bit reluctantly!)  It was an incredible ride, gliding on the Holy Spirit's current!  I think I will try to do that more in my everyday life, too.  Blessings on your weekend!  Love, heidi

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Act childish!

"He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, 'Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:2-3
I sat there, thinking this morning, about what qualities of children Jesus wants us to emulate.  I came up with quite a list!  Children are honest and trusting, for two things right off the top of my head.  They haven't yet learned to doubt or fear others.  They are accepting of others, too, not yet learning the adult technique of judging others before they even know them.  Children are loyal, often sticking up for family who may not even deserve their loyalty.  Children are creative, until they learn they have or do not have certain gifts, they create like they can do anything.  Children can bring out the best in others; who can resist smiling at a baby after all?  Children in the time of Jesus were not particularly valued.  So, Jesus telling the people that they must become like children to enter the Kingdom of heaven, must have really surprised those listening!  Let's think about some of these child-like qualities and act on them as we move through our autumn Thursday...especially the one about bringing out the best in others. Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What are you doing?

"Who can say to God, 'What are you doing?'"
Job 9:12
Oh, we can and do ask God what is going on...frequently, if we are honest with ourselves.  And while it may seem like a silly and futile question, we have the freedom to ask it.  In fact, it's not bad for us to ask God what God may be doing because that affirms that we are in relationship with God in the first place.  And that is what God really wants.  We don't have to tiptoe around God and only say what we think God wants to hear.  We don't have to treat God as a houseguest and hang out the "best" towels and eat off the "good" dishes.  God wants to be intimately part of our lives, eating over the pizza delivery box.  God wants us to be honest in prayer, just like Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he cried real tears and said, "Hey, if there is any way out of this..." (Mark 14:32-42) Being in real relationship with God means that we talk to God honestly, even if we find ourselves saying, "What are you doing?" God can take it and we may feel better questioning, even lashing out a bit.  Jesus is always teaching us how to relate to God.  And Jesus was bluntly honest with God.  But, ultimately, Jesus surrendered to God and said, "Not what I want, but what you want."  We may come to that, too. But we need to know that we can talk openly and honestly with our Beloved God.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Jesus way...

"Our return 'home' is to relate intimately in spirit with Love and also to become Love for others: compassionate, forgiving, creative, spirit-filled lovers in the best sense of the word."
Henri Nouwen, "Home Tonight"
It's fascinating to read about Jesus.  It's wonderful to know Jesus personally.  But the hardest part of being a follower of Jesus is to DO Jesus.  To translate all you learn and study about Jesus into your own actions for the world.  It's one of the biggest lessons I feel I'm still trying to grasp as I live on this planet.  Being a lover of Jesus must show up in our actions with our fellow human beings or we just aren't--lovers of Jesus, I mean.  In today's Gospel (Luke 9:51-56), Jesus and his disciples are passing through Samaria on their way to Jerusalem.  They get a frosty reception from the locals.  James and John, who Jesus nicknamed the "Sons of Thunder" ask if they can call down fire to destroy the city.  Perhaps a wee bit of power has gone to their heads?  But Jesus tells them, "no!"  Anger and retaliation are not the answer here.  Just shake it off and move on. That is a perfect example of doing Jesus--doing it Jesus' way.  All day long, today, we are asked to do it like Jesus.  Whether we are frustrated, angry, inconvenienced, in pain, or faced with others who drive us crazy, we are asked to do it like Jesus.  And the recipe for that is above, by Henri Nouwen:  Love for others: compassionate, forgiving, creative, spirit-filled lovers..."  Love, heidi

Friday, September 26, 2014

A time to hate? What time is that?

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens...
A time to love and a time to hate..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8
I read this, this morning, and couldn't help but wonder...what are we supposed to "hate?" Hate is such a harsh and difficult word and Jesus tells us love even our enemies (the people we may have previously thought it was OK to "hate").  So, who or what are we supposed to hate?  What would be acceptable, even timely, for us to hate?  Well, I would say that we could hate anything that draws us away from love...such as prejudice, anger, resentment.  We surely can hate those. I hate the way I snap to harsh judgments about people and toss those judgments around in my head, long before I pray to love them.  I hate the selfishness I see in myself--guarding my time like a pot of gold and missing opportunities to share with others.  I may hate those aspects of myself, but that doesn't mean I hate myself.  I use the awareness to pray that those traits diminish in me as the "real" me emerges--I was made to love after all!.  Today, let's spend some time, on an autumn Friday, to consider what God would want us to "hate" in our lives or in ourselves.  It's is probably a short list, in truth, because even the bad things about us can teach us a good deal about love, can't they?  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What profit?

"What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun?"
Ecclesiastes 1:3
It was cute, on Pray-as-you-Go this morning, they asked the question, "Does the writer sound a bit grumpy?"  I would say yes, and he probably wrote this scripture on a Monday morning!  But it does get me thinking...what am I toiling for?  I realize, first of all, that I do what I do for God.  My paycheck may come from the State of Idaho, but my real Boss goes a bit higher than that.  That is one thing I need to remember when I have days like the one the author of Ecclesiastes is having.  The other thing I need to remember is the element of service that Jesus modeled for us.  Serving each other and helping each other are definitely fruits of the labor of my job.  There are days where I can look back and see I was able to help someone and there are other days I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall...just like with all of us.  Years ago, my friend, Kathleen used to tell her very young son, who asked why she had to go to work,  "I go to work so we can buy food and toys."  Well, I work for those as well, but I hope I also work to serve the best Boss in the world and to serve the people put in my path.  Today, (OK, it's easier because tomorrow is Friday!) let's consider who we really serve as we go off to do what we do. And, since tomorrow is pay day, we can look forward to buying food and toys!   Hi Ho, Hi, heidi

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

To love better...

"What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind."
1 Corinthians 15:36-37
This was the first reading on Saturday and it fit in so beautifully with the dying foliage and underbrush around me at the Hermitage.  I pondered what it means for us little human beings.  I was learning through my reading that our purpose, as human beings, is to love God, one another and life.  I realized that, in order to do that most effectively, we learn to die to ourselves.  We learn to let go of our own agendas and compassionately love those around us.  We learn to put others first.  Jesus showed us this when he washed the feet of the apostles the night of the Last Supper and then told them to do the same.  We learn, through our lives with Jesus, to do just what he did...serve each other lovingly.  In what ways can we see ourselves dying to self and loving better?  I feel constantly called to love better; tenderly, with more compassion. How about you?  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Turn, turn, turn...

"There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant..."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
I had a wonderful time at the Hermitage, but one thing really struck me that first afternoon as I ate my lunch on my porch.  All the foliage surrounding my little hermitage was dead!  The underbrush and shrubs were either losing or had already lost their leaves and the plants that were blooming the last time I was there are just a rustling memory now.  I knew there was a lesson in this for me, so I prayed about learning it!  What I realized is that the earth, in all its Divine wisdom, was just yielding to the circle of life.  The earth needs to rest after the busy summer of blooming and now needs to rejuvenate.  It's the same with people.  The shorter days and long nights will give us a chance to rest too.  The busy summer nights will be replaced by lazier winter evenings. Why, I already find myself going to bed earlier! From the beginning of Creation, rest was necessary, even for God!  So, now, begin your rest, Dear Earth.  Deep in the rustling dead leaves are the buds of new life that I will see next summer at the Hermitage.  I will take my cue from your wisdom and slow my life down too, a bit.  Thank you. for teaching us to rest.  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Three beautiful words

"Love never fails."
1 Corinthians 13:8
This struck be powerfully this morning because it is only three little words, but it is everything. It is something that, no matter what ever happens to us, we can hang our hats on this.  Love never fails.  Ever.  God is love and God never fails us. Things may sometimes look dreary or dismal but that is just our human perspective.  Only God is God and only God never fails.  I'm headed to Marymount Hermitage today, Friends, so I will have a lovely opportunity to ponder these three words.  I pray you, too, will get a chance to sit with Jesus and think about the only thing we have that is truly ours and truly lasts. Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Be kind!

"Be kind! Be the loving expression of God's kindness: kindness in your eyes, kindness in your face, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greetings. I believe that the way in which an act of kindness is done is as important as the action itself."
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, as quoted in "Living With Christ"
This is certainly what I need to hear today, Friends!  We may say the right things and perform acts of good will, but do we grit our teeth while doing them? Do we do a kind act with our hands while our heads are judging harshly?  Do we do nice things begrudgingly?  Today, let's be especially aware of how kind we are to every single person we meet!  Let's let our kindness show on our our actions, and in our greetings to others.  Love, heidi

Monday, September 15, 2014

Accept what we cannot change...

"We are invited by God, as Jesus was, to accept our crosses."
James Martin, SJ, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage"
Yesterday, I read a bit more about Jesus' suffering and acceptance of his cross, and today, we read about Mary's acceptance of Jesus' suffering and her own sorrows.  Fr. Martin talks about the acceptance of suffering as the acceptance that some things cannot be changed.  Certainly Jesus demonstrates that as he walks the arduous journey to Calvary.  He accepts that his mission is to walk this painful road and suffer.  Well, Mary has to accept that as well.  And all of us parents know how hard it is to watch our kids go through anything difficult!  Fr. Martin says that we don't have to go looking for our has a way of doling them out to us.  But, as followers of Jesus, we can accept them with dignity and grace.  As Jesus did. And as Mary did.  Mary, please pray for us that we can accept the things we cannot change.  We look to you as an example of a woman who trusted implicitly in God, even when things may not have make sense at all. Jesus, thank you for giving us a loving Mother! (see John 19:26)  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Love the hard ones...

"Jesus said to his disciples: 'To you who hear I say, love your enemies...'"
Luke 6:27
One time, when I was deep in prayer at the Hermitage, I prayed to Jesus that my heart was bursting with love for him and I wanted to show him that love.  Jesus told me to "Love others."  The way for me to show my love for Jesus is to love others.  OK, so I pressed further and said, "Even the hard ones?"  Jesus responded, "Especially the hard ones!"  And Jesus is telling the disciples the exact same thing in today's Gospel:  Love the hard ones.  Who are the "hard ones?" Well, people are hard to love when they don't love us back.  They are hard ones to love.  And Jesus asks us to love them especially.  There are people we encounter every day who don't love us, understand us, maybe even really dislike us.  And Jesus says, "It's OK.  I love you enough for you to share with those who may not love you."  Today, let's remember that Jesus wants us to love the hard ones.  Whoever they may be.  And we can do that, because Jesus loves us first.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Person of the Beatitudes

"Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said, 'Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours..."
Luke 6:20
Today, hand-in-hand with this Gospel, I read parts of "Jesus: A Pilgrimage," by Fr. James Martin.  There was so much wisdom in this chapter ("Happy," is the chapter, if you have the book) that I could only read part of it and then had to choose what to concentrate on today.  I chose (with God's help) the part on being "A Person of the Beatitudes," as Fr. Martin describes a fellow Jesuit.  I thought about what being a Person of Beatitudes would look like in my life each day.  Being a person who is "humble, merciful, gentle, peacemaking, seeking justice for others," is a challenge for all of us, even as we are Jesus people!  In my work, every day, I must realize I don't have all the answers or know everything.  I sometimes pull against the fact that others are more skilled in areas (like Technology!) and I need to ask for their help.  I need to show mercy to everyone, trying to understand that they are doing the best they can.  I need to avoid gossip and judgments of others and be an example of peacefully working together.  And finally, I need to go to bat for those who struggle and do my best for those who I encounter in my work.  It is worthwhile to sit with Jesus and consider how becoming "A Person of the Beatitudes" would look in our own lives.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jesus chose us!

"(Jesus) called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles."
Luke 6:13

After a full night of prayer, Jesus chose his closest Apostles.  He didn't choose the brightest, the holiest, or those without faults.  He chose normal, real, honest-to-goodness people.  Jesus chose us! Jesus had faith in us and hoped that, in spending quality time with us, we could be transformed.  Jesus knew we didn't have all we needed, yet, to be our best selves. But Jesus knew that a close proximity to him would help us to grow in love and compassion.  Thank you, Jesus, for having such faith in us by choosing us to be your Apostles.  We will constantly strive to stay close to you and never let you down!  Love, heidi

Monday, September 8, 2014

Say yes and then watch...

"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28
One thing I'm learning, slowly, as I progress along on my journey, is that when God calls us to do something, God also gives us what we need to do it.  We may feel a tug to do something out of our comfort zone.  We may be asked to do something we've never done before and may not be within our skill set.  Or, like me, we may daily be faced with a calendar of appointments and each one is a challenge!  And, just like Mary, we can answer the call, tug, and face the calendar with faith and trust that God will help us meet the challenge.  I think the first thing we need to do is admit that we actually need God's help.  And then we need to be open to watching God work.  God may not do things exactly as we do, so things may play out differently than we expect.  Later, we can look back and be amazed at what God has accomplished through our unwitting selves!  Today, let's step out in faith, ready to watch God work through our day.  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Depart from me!

"When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, 'Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.'"
Luke 5:8
I have really enjoyed re-reading the parts of "Jesus: A Pilgrimage" as the Gospel stories come up in the daily readings.  Today, I re-read the chapter on Gennesaret and I loved Fr. James Martin's take on why Peter told Jesus to depart and then, almost immediately, dropped everything to follow Jesus.  According to Fr. Martin, Peter felt unworthy and fearful (fearful in general, fearful of change and also fearful of intimacy).  We all, too, may experience these feelings and thus, not be eager to step out of the boat and follow Jesus.  One line, though, strikes me:  Fr. Martin says, "Jesus knows Peter's weaknesses and call him anyway.  Jesus calls us anyway, too, in spite of our weaknesses." Peter knows he is just a guy--a fisherman.  His humanness shows up time and time again, through his impulsive behavior.  He gets it wrong as often as he gets it right...and yet, he is the man for Jesus.  As Fr. Martin points out, "It took time, after all, for Simon to become Peter."  That is such a wonderful comfort for us, too, Friends.  It takes time for us to become the people Jesus knows we are.  Jesus will never give up on us, and we must never give into the fear and unworthiness we may experience when Jesus calls us!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Great Stuff Lesson

"While there is still jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh, and walking according to the manner of man?"
1 Corinthians 3:3
This reading got me thinking this morning: at what point can we lose our concern for things of the world or of the flesh?  At what point do our yearnings for material things, our petty jealousies and rivalries drift away? The other day at lunch, we were talking about the relative burden of "stuff." It has to be stored, arranged, locked up, and the worst of all--moved. At what point do we cross over from wanting more stuff to letting go of it and freeing ourselves of its burden? I would say the closer we get to God and God's glory, the easier it is to let go of stuff.  It may take until the end of our lives or it may happen as we draw closer to God even here in this world.  My mom was the great teacher of the Stuff Lesson for me.  She went from having to share a dress with her aunt during the Depression, to having two closets full of clothes at her peak, to having everything she owned fit into a small box by the time she went to her glory.  I hope to move to the "small box" stage a bit sooner!  What about you?  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Prayer for today...

"Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you."
St. Thomas Aquinas, as quoted in "Living With Christ"
As we begin a new month, new work week, new school year, this prayer is a beautiful way to ask God for exactly what we need! How do each of these elements look in our daily lives?  We cannot know God's ways without studying God's word.  We cannot love like God without turning our hearts over to God--our human hearts just can't love that big.  We can ask God to help us to do what we should do--conduct ourselves with honesty, integrity and compassion. And finally, we wait for God-patiently, and with eager anticipation.  God will answer our prayers and give us exactly what we need to live our lives in love.  Blessings on your new week, month, school year!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life-long mission

"St. Monica (332-387 AD)  Born a Christian in North Africa, she married and bore three children..."
Living With Christ
We know the story of St. Monica...she was a faithful, devoted mother, whose husband and kids were not exactly the picture perfect family.  She prayed devotedly for them all and was rewarded, just before her death, by her husband and eldest son turning around. I am reminded of an elderly client I had years ago.  She was nearly 100 years old, still living on her own!  One day, she sighed to me, "I'm so worried about my daughter..."  I did a double-take.  "How old is your daughter?" I asked.  "Oh, she's 76.  She just found out she has diabetes."  "Holy cow," I thought.  Then I blurted out to this dear woman, "You mean I have to worry about my kids until they're 76?"  I suddenly realized that this raising children is a life-long mission! I may be 100 years old, but I will still be a mother and concerned about the kids.  Wow. Just wow.  So, we can look to St. Monica, whose oldest ended up turning out pretty well...St. Augustine.  St. Monica, pray for us, as we mother our kids until we take our last breath!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Scrub your cup!

"You cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence."
Matthew 23:25
I always smile at this reading, because I remember, nine years ago, when it was so vividly illustrated to me when son Blaine left for college.  We always called his downstairs bedroom the "Bermuda Triangle" because things disappeared down there, never to be seen again!  After he left, we ventured in and found a cup that had been there for years, with whatever-had-been-in-it dried and crusted.  With a little soaking, bleach, and scrubbing, the cup became like new again.  It is so much easier for me to look like a good girl than it is for me to actually think kind and loving thoughts!  Appearances alone should be enough, shouldn't they? No.  Not according to Jesus.  God looks much more at the inside of our cup than the outside.  God can see the potential of the insides of our cups, and how, with a little soap and scrubbing, we can be made new again.  I tend to think of that scrubbing as the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which sure seems to help me feel clean and bright!  Love, heidi

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go...

"We are called to give of ourselves as Jesus did. To bring our bodies-ourselves-to places where we are needed: at home in a delicate family situation, in a hospital beside the bed of a dying friend, at work listening to a troubled coworker. But it can be difficult."
James Martin, SJ, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage"
Difficult, indeed! Beginning this week, I've worked in the blind rehabilitation field for thirty-five years. I know; it seems impossible to me, too!  But I started in Miles City, Montana, with Visual Services, thirty-five years ago.  I didn't know a single thing, but there I was, with enthusiasm and eagerness, to begin my life's work.  Fr. Martin says that Jesus was able to do what he did because of two things.  First, he did it all for God, the Father.  He was doing God's will, not his own and that gave him the vim and verve to deal with all the difficulties of his ministry.  Second, Jesus realized that his self-giving was an out-pouring of love and life for others.  His self-giving had a beautiful purpose.  I need to remember that as I begin Year 36 this week.  I work for God, doing what God has asked and equipped me to do, and for the benefit of those I serve.  And also, I wouldn't be able to do it at all if not for the love and grace of God, who gave me this career in the first place!  So, today, as we go back to school, or just begin another work week, let's remember who our REAL boss is! And let's do our work with life-giving love for those we serve.  Love, heidi

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Which group are we in?

"Jesus said, 'The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son...'"
Matthew 22:2
This Gospel about the wedding feast--the original guests would not come, the king ended up inviting all the people in the streets and they came. Then the curve ball--the one guy who is there and doesn't have a wedding garment and is thrown out into the street. Mystifying! Pray-As-You-Go this morning talked about the two sets of people.  The first group are people who feel they are too bad for God to love them. They feel so inferior they couldn't possibly be part of God's family.  They are to be reassured by this Gospel.  They are actually the ones sought after in the streets and welcomed to the banquet.  The others are represented by the guy without the wedding garment.  They are in and feel no gratitude or appreciation for the generosity that allowed them to be in.  They take their "in-ness" for granted.  Maybe they are judging and gossiping about the other guests.  Maybe they are smug and conceited.  Anyway, out they go! There is no room for those at the banquet who cannot be appreciative and grateful. So, which group are we in?  Food for thought on a rainy Thursday!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stop judging the late-comers!

"Are you envious because I'm generous?"
Matthew 20:15
The Gospel of the late laborers seems to really tweak our human sense of justice, doesn't it? I mean, the late workers in the vineyard receive the exact same wage as those who worked all day in the hot sun.  True, it was the agreed upon wage when they first arrived a the vineyard, but still...we feel like we do when we get up to the cashier at Kohl's and have to pay full price!  What??  This Gospel teaches us that God's justice is completely different than our human justice.  We think you should get what you pay for, what you deserve, what you have earned.  God lavishes love on us so generously as to look wasteful (think 12 baskets of leftovers!) Are we envious of God's generosity? Are we judging people unworthy? How about we not judge people at all, like Jesus commanded? What if we allow God to do what God does best...figure it all out with love and compassion? What if we realize that WE are the late-comers to the field and we thank God for loving us generously?  That's a lot to ponder on a Wednesday, but let's think about it! Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We won't need anything!

"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
Matthew 19:24
Typically, this reading makes me a little squeamish, does it you?  Because, relatively speaking, we are so rich. What does this mean for us?  I read a wonderful reflection on this in "Give Us This Day" this morning. Sr. Meg Funk said that this whole reading should actually be a comfort to us.  It means that, when we die, "we will not need anything." That perspective takes the sting of this reading out a bit!  There will not be that panic feeling that we don't have what we need when we get to heaven.  I won't have purse panic!  There won't be that scary moment that we will need an ID or a credential of some kind.  We can rest assured that we will have everything we need to enter in with God--nothing but ourselves.  We just need ourselves; no payment, no fee, no letter of reference.  God will greet us just the way we are.  With God's infinite grace, we will pass through that eye of the needle and into God's embrace.  Happy Tuesday! Love, heidi

Monday, August 18, 2014

Do it, Rich Young man!

"A young man approached Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?'"
Matthew 19:16

A couple of thoughts, today, on this Gospel.  First, thanks to Pray-As-You-Go, I realized that all the commandments Jesus points out to the young man are the commandments regarding how we treat others (see verse 18).  I had always just seen the "get rid of your stuff" part and didn't really dwell on the commandments Jesus quotes to him.  In other words, it's how we treat others that will give us eternal life.  That is so rich to me!  Also, I remembered reading this Gospel last summer on retreat at the Hermitage.  I was discerning my "next step" and, once I came up with what I thought that should be, Jesus asked me what would I give up to make it happen? Would I be willing to let go of anything to reach the deepest desire of my heart?  Since I have been on that journey now for a few months (Spiritual Direction training), I can see that, yes, I have had to give up vacations, resources, and so much free time.  But the fact is, it has been easy because the reward has been so wonderful.  So, my message to the Rich, Young man is:  Do it!  Have a yard sale and give up your possessions to follow Jesus!  You won't miss a thing and the reward is fabulous!  Love, heidi

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Canaanite woman, dogs and Jesus having a difficult day...

Matthew 15:21-28
I pondered today's Gospel, using the Ignatian technique of imagining myself there and taking it in first-hand.  This is how I saw it:
It's hot and smelly as I walk along with the group of people following Jesus.  I hear a woman call out to him and it startles me.  I think, "Uh oh."  I immediately get nervous because confrontation makes me anxious.  And I feel very anxious. I watch Jesus and he slows a bit, but then keeps walking, not responding to the woman's cry.  The two guys closest to Jesus say something to him, motioning for him to move forward. I can't tell if they are telling him to just answer her request and be done with it, or send her away--"We're ALL tired and done dealing with the crowd!"  Jesus stops and shakes his head, sadly.  "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  I felt that Jesus was sad this woman didn't fall into his jurisdiction to "fix." The woman pushes through the crowd, making me even more nervous--this could get dicey.  She kneels down in front of Jesus, begging him to have pity on her.  Her daughter is suffering with a demon. I glance between the woman on her knees in the dirt and Jesus' face.  He shakes his head, again sadly, and uses a rather unkind metaphor about giving the children's food to the dogs.  I wince. Ouch.  Unfortunate choice of words, Jesus!  I feel sorry for the woman and am a little disappointed in Jesus.  But, whoa!  What did she just say?  I clarify with the person next to me because I just can't believe she said what she said.  "The scraps that fall from the table are given to the dogs?"  Did I hear that right?  I eagerly search Jesus' face.  I see it soften and his eyes seem to be moistening.  He gently takes her hands in his hands and helps her to her feet.  He says to her, "Woman."  Such a term of intimacy and endearment!  (He calls his mother that!)  He tells her that her faith is amazing and her daughter will be healed.  He gives her hands a squeeze and sends her off to her daughter.  He turns back to the way he was going and shakes his head again, as if to say, "Wow...what a powerful lesson that was!"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mary teaches us trust

"God initiates the conversation; we fear; God reassures us and tells us what will be required; we doubt; God points us to past experiences and helps us to trust; we say yes; and finally we are able to bring into the world, with God's grace, something new...Then the angel left her."
Fr. James Martin, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage"
During this chapter on the Annunciation, Fr. Martin shows us how Mary's journey with God is so similar to our own.  Certainly, Mary's experience with the angel in Luke 1:26-38 is quite a bit more astounding than our spiritual experiences, but, ultimately, we are all called by God to do things outside ourselves that we can only do with God's grace.  God asks that of all of us.  And we hem and haw and question our abilities and God's wisdom in choosing us.  Finally, though, God may convince us and we say Yes, just as Mary did.  And then, the angel leaves us and there we are...with a job to do.  It all comes to our trusting God.  Mary trusted God infinitely; especially from the Annunciation to the Resurrection, Mary had to trust in God. As we celebrate Mary today, let's realize that we are called to have that same trust.  Love, heidi