Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Darkness is passing away...

..."for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining."
1 John 2:8
Did you feel that? Yesterday had 30 seconds more daylight than last Monday.  Did you notice?  Can you just imagine our cavemen ancestors when it dawned on them that the days were slowly, yet markedly, getting longer?  Picture them sitting outside the cave, warming themselves by a fire.  "Don't call me crazy, Og, but does it seem like it's a bit lighter this morning?" I wonder if they were worried that the short days would continue until there was no daylight at all...just nighttime all the time.  Imagine their excitement when they noticed the days were getting even the tiniest bit longer.  No wonder they made a holiday and festival of the winter solstice!  No wonder Pope Julius I declared the celebration of the Savior's birth at a time when the light was so welcome! The Light of God enters the world as a tiny infant, and the darkness of winter gradually gives way to minutes more light.  Both are starting small and barely noticeable. Sounds like a party to me!  Jesus, our Light, is never more welcome than when the darkness is deep.  What can we do to celebrate and thank God for coming as Light into our winter lives? 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Do You Hear Who I Hear?

"When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said..."
Matthew 2:13

In his Christmas Eve homily (recorded and in Sound Cloud), Fr. Jack Benz from St. Paul's at BSU, had a wonderful reflection on St. Joseph. He mentioned that Joseph had a dream for his own life; taking Mary as his wife and settling into ordinary life in Nazareth. But God had a bigger dream for Joseph and Mary...much bigger! Would Joseph stay small in his own dream or go BIG with God's plan? We all know that Joseph paid attention to his dreams and did what the angel of the Lord told him. But how did he know that the dream came from God? How did he know to trust what he heard in a dream?  The answer holds true for us in our time, too.  Joseph knew to trust his dreams and what he heard God telling him because he was so well acquainted with God he could recognize God's voice when he heard it.  He was in relationship with God and, just as we can recognize a friend's voice or silhouette walking towards us, Joseph could recognize God when God spoke to him. Joseph trusted God and that only comes through spending time with God and entering into relationship with God. Our question for pondering is this: do we know God well enough to hear God's voice and recognize it? What can we do in our daily lives to get close enough to God that God's voice is unmistakable when we hear it? Love, heidi
PS: It's still Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lessons from "A Christmas Carol," Part Three

 Our final journey with Mr. Scrooge and the "angels" of Christmas past, present and future is today...
The third angel, showing what could happen in the future, teaches Mr. Scrooge that there are consequences to his selfish actions.  We can learn it too, although we should have learned it as kids. How we treat others will come back around, somehow, as Scrooge is shown. We can look to the Gospels and see how Jesus teaches the same message.  The Prodigal Son ends his wild escapade hungry and poor.  He learned and returned, humbled and sorrowful.  The Good Samaritan shows his worth by caring for a stranger, with little concern for himself and is lauded as the perfect example of how to live a life of compassion.  Jesus taught that it is never too late to turn your life around and do it differently, and Mr. Scrooge learns a similar lesson.  When he awakens from his terrifying encounter with the last angel, it is just dawn on Christmas Day.  He has an opportunity to live this Christmas better, by generously living the day, and also by changing his life from then on. 
Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Carol” in December, 1843…a long time ago.  But the lessons are still powerful, spiritual, and need to be learned in our world today. How can we learn with Scrooge and his team of angels and live this Christmas full of love and compassion? It's never too late!  I will take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you a joyful Christmas!  And we have Twelve Days to celebrate it...see you next week! Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Lessons from "A Christmas Carol," Part Deux

Today is the second day of peering into the time-honored story "A Christmas Carol."  Remember, from yesterday, we turned the Christmas ghosts into angels for our more spiritual journey with Mr. Scrooge on Christmas Eve...
The second angel takes Mr. Scrooge on a trip through present-day Christmas and opens his eyes to the world. He is oblivious to the suffering around him, even to the life of poverty his own associate is living.  Thanks to Mr. Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and his family are living in want, under Scrooge's very nose. Yet, despite their meager circumstances, the Cratchit home is filled with love. A love that, even with all his wealth, Scrooge does not have in his life. The angel also shows Scrooge a glimpse of the “surplus population” as Scrooge calls the poor and needy. By seeing them as real human beings, he put faces to their need and even the hardest of hearts can begin to soften.  God often urges us to open our eyes to those around us, even those we see daily.  Are they real humans to us or just "surplus population?" Often we don’t understand others who are different from us and, what we do not understand, we tend to fear and avoid. Could this second angel open our eyes along with Mr. Scrooge? Love, heidi

Monday, December 21, 2015

Spiritual lessons from "A Christmas Carol," Part one

  The Dickens’ story, “A Christmas Carol” is secular, certainly, but in watching it every year, I realize it has very edifying spiritual wisdom and lessons. For these next three days prior to Christmas I thought I'd share what God has shown me through this story...

Let’s start by tweaking the story a bit by turning the ghosts into angels who accompany Mr. Scrooge on his Christmas Eve journey.  The first angel takes Scrooge on a trip through his past.  By witnessing events of his past, he can begin to understand how he came to be the person he is now.  He is so wounded by the fact that his father “bears him a grudge,” no wonder he is bitter and crabby!  Seeing that is illuminating enough, but then seeing how loving his sister is, the goodness of his apprenticeship and how happily he was surrounded by loving people, he sees how far he has come from that happiness. He had experienced joy in his life, but it was long ago and the choices he made pushed the joy even further away.  By seeing the woman that he loved and yet rejected, he can see how his own actions determined his sad fate. By visiting his past in a safe and loving presence (the angel), could he learn from those mistakes? If we do not learn from past mistakes, aren’t we doomed to repeat them?  If we can grab a wee period of silent reflection this week, can we sit with God and think about our Christmases past? Where was God in those times of joy? Of disappointment?  What can we learn? Love, heidi

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pure and clean...

  "For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment."
James 2:13
Pope Francis quoted this scripture last week as he began the Year of Mercy. And I thought he made it up!  I had several thoughts last night during the Reconciliation service and some may be worth sharing.  As I sat there, I felt the air just thick with mercy.  It was a tangible air quality, like humidity. There is something so humbling about a bunch of people coming out on a stormy night to confess their sins, and it was palatable.  There was a lot of mercy going in and out in that church!  Then, as I waited in line, I had a view out the window of a little courtyard.  The snow which had fallen during the afternoon was pristine and completely undisturbed.  It was like a beautiful blanket, just like it was put there by God.  In the midst of that there was a little potted pine tree, its branches heavy with new snow. It was like the scene on a Christmas card.  I had a realization that this pure beauty was just how God sees us.  In God's eyes we are just as God created us, clean and fresh, not yet disturbed by the anxieties and concerns that sometimes overwhelm us. Today, let's try to see each other, and ourselves, as the beloved of God, like a fresh blanket of snow.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mercy--give and take

  "A year in which to be touched by the Lord Jesus and to be transformed by his mercy, so that we may become witnesses to mercy. Here, then, is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy."
Pope Francis, on the Jubilee Year of Mercy
The Year of Mercy is about giving and receiving mercy in our very own lives.  It should be in our thoughts and prayers each day, not just the day it begins or ends.  It is to remind us to reach out to those we may have offended or hurt and ask for forgiveness.  It is for us to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt or offended us.  It should touch and affect our lives at every level or it just won't mean anything at all.  The Year of Mercy is so personal to each one of us.  Deep in our hearts we know who needs our mercy and from whom we need to ask forgiveness.  But the bottom line and glory of it all, is that we are to see and appreciate God's mercy toward us. Those of us in Idaho Falls will have that chance tonight during our Reconciliation service at 7:00 at Christ the King.  We cannot give what we don't have ourselves, so let's allow that to kick off a chain reaction of mercy throughout our community! God's grace and mercy await us...we simply need to just come and partake. What a wonderful gift! Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Heading to the vineyard...

"He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today...'"
Matthew 21:28
The father in today's Gospel has two sons and he asks each one to go work in the vineyard.  The first says, "No," but goes anyway, the second says, "Yes," but doesn't go. Which one is the Good Guy? Similarly, but not quite, I have to report for jury duty today (these connect in a second, stay with me!) Now, I didn't have to show at all last week, my first as a potential juror, but this week, I've been caught, apparently.  My first thought when finding this out was to try and wiggle out of it.  I have a full calendar, after all.  I have kids to see, grown ups who need to be rehabilitated. I'm important, dang it!  But, as I snuggled into bed last night I realized that I should be more open to how God needs me today.  Maybe God needs me on a jury? Maybe my agenda should wait and God's needs should come first? Maybe I am needed in the vineyard?  Today, dear, darling God...my day is yours. I know everyday should be yours, but today I feel more drawn to do your will, even though it messes up mine.  I know you will use me well, if I don't try to squirm loose from your grasp.  Love, heidi

Monday, December 14, 2015

A refugee family

"The greatest of kings, born in the most humble of places. God made flesh."
Melchior, "The Nativity Story"
Yesterday was my annual viewing of the beautiful movie, "The Nativity Story" (2006). I laughed again (Joseph has such a dry sense of humor!) I cried again.  I marveled at how real and beautiful the familiar story is told.  It is so real.  And, as I cried, I realized that I love this movie because it really brings the story to life.  You can believe it. From the teenage Mary's sulky little pout, to the wise men arguing about faith. The fear, the uncertainty, the clinging to the hope of a Savior. It is all there.  This time it really struck me how the Holy Family was a refugee family, traveling to Bethlehem with nowhere to stay when they arrived, then fleeing to Egypt to escape a murderous regime. They are helped by kind shepherds and other travelers but they are also treated cruelly by some and ignored by others. It occurred to me that the Holy Family is alive and struggling in our world this very day.  Where are we? How are we treating them? Something to think about as we move toward our celebrations of the most famous refugee family.  Love, heidi

Friday, December 11, 2015

A new saint...

  Dear Friends, I was asked, along with other Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Associates, to write an Advent reflection for one day during Advent.  I chose December 11 because it was my dear friend, Peg's, birthday and I wanted to share about her. This is what went out to SCLs and SCLA's this day...
“I the Lord, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.”
Isaiah 48:17
Today is the birthday of a relatively new saint in heaven, St. Peg Wuelfing of Boise, Idaho.  Oh, you won’t find her in “Butler’s Lives of the Saints,” because she’s such a new one, only passing away on November 1, of this year…fittingly, All Saints Day. When Peg, the director of our Spiritual Direction program passed away so suddenly, all in our class felt lost like sheep without our shepherdess. We still feel a bit that way, wondering how our class will complete the last two sessions of our course and how can we do anything without Peg? But we also have a strong, unmistakable assurance that we will finish, in God’s time and providence. Peg will have an even better vantage point now to supervise and support us as we finish and as we do Spiritual Direction.  So, just like for all of us during these shortening days of winter, this time feels quite dark and uncertain.  As we walk through the dark in faith, God will teach us what is for our good and lead us on the way we should go. We don’t need to fret, worry or fear what is around the corner, our God will light our way. One step at a time.
Heidi Gainan, SCLA
Idaho Falls, Idaho 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Let the mercy begin!

"You cannot conceive of a true Christian who is not merciful, just as you cannot conceive of God without his mercy. Mercy is the key word of the Gospel...We should not be afraid. We should allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God, who waits for us and forgives everything."
Pope Francis

We are just beginning Day Three of the Jubilee Year of Mercy! What does it look like, exactly?  I've been asking myself this since the pope first announced it was coming.  I want it to have real legs to it, but I must pray about how I can GIVE legs to it.  I listened to an excellent podcast (from AMERICA magazine) last night which really helped me discern what the Year of Mercy can look like in my own little life.  I want to share some of what I learned.  First, this Year of Mercy means that we both give and receive mercy.  Both are critical...we show mercy to others, but we also realize that God's mercy extends to us, too.  We share what we have been given.  So, mercy is a give AND receive deal.  Second, we can begin showing mercy to the people right in front of us, those in our circle of influence.  We don't have to travel to a third world country to do some powerful mercifying! Jesus healed those in front of him or the relatives of those in front of him.  He started right there.  Who is in your life today you may need to forgive? Who, in your life today, do you need to ask for forgiveness?  Thanks be to God, this Year of Mercy has an extra day (Leap Year), so we can enjoy it as long as possible. And then, may it turn into a lifetime of mercy! Let's not waste one single moment of it! Let's start with those right in front of us, by asking for and extending mercy, today! Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

God coming to us

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28
Last night, after receiving communion, I was praying at my seat.  I was close enough that I could hear the Eucharistic Ministers giving communion to all the others.  Body of Christ. Body of Christ. Blood of Christ. Body of Christ. I contemplated the words over and over as I heard them and I realized how Jesus continually comes to us, even as he also beckons us to him in this scripture from Matthew. God tries so hard to get our attention! God coming as a beautiful, vulnerable baby. Jesus coming to us, as his very self in the Eucharist. All are all signs of God seeking us, not the other way around. God coming to us. God looking to comfort us. God reaching out to us, as a tiny baby, from the manger. God's mercy for us. Body of Christ. Blood of Christ. Body of Christ. Amen!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Left with faith

"Then the angel departed from her."
Luke 1:38
This reading took on a whole new look when I read "Jesus: A Pilgrimage" by Fr. James Martin, SJ. I realized that what happened at the Annunciation happens to all of us as we journey with God. To paraphrase:
--God calls us
--We respond in fear
--God comforts us and tells us what we need to do
--We doubt
--God reminds us of past experiences and helps us trust
--We say "OK"
--The encounter ends...The angel departs
We all, eventually, must come down the mountain, drive away from the hermitage, go back to work after Cursillo.  For all of us, we are left with our faith to do what we need to do.  That doesn't mean God leaves us alone. But it just means the spiritual experience or encounter ends, and we need to roll up our sleeves and begin whatever God has asked us to do. Our encounters with God always lead us to help others; they are not for us alone.  Remember that Jesus frequently tells those he heals, "Your faith has healed you." Our faith has the power to move mountains and sometimes, we may not realize that until we are left with it. The angel departs. The show is over. Time for your faith to heal. Love, heidi

Monday, December 7, 2015

Be strong! Fear not!

"Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak.
Say to those whose hearts are frightened; be strong, fear not!
Here is your God..."
Isaiah 35:3-4
God can and will change us if we allow it.  But it may not be like the Fairy Godmother changing Cinderella before the ball.  It certainly may not be instantaneous; God works slowly and carefully. It may not feel immediately fabulous; it may feel uncomfortable, at first, like wearing an ill-fitting outfit.  But, one thing we will be able to count on--the changes will bring positive fruit in us and in our lives.  That is how we will know it is of God--by the fruit.  I notice, in myself, these changes which at times, perplex me.  Why do I feel this way? Why can't I be the way I used to be? What's wrong with me? In the quiet, I realize that I'm slowly, carefully, lovingly being changed into more the "real" me.  I'm a tough, old nut to crack, but I can see God wisely smoothing me over, like water over a jagged stone, smoothing and shaping it.  Sometimes I don't recognize myself and it's weird. But, I can admit my hands seem a bit stronger and my knees a bit firmer.  God will definitely work with us to help us grow if we give God the go-ahead to do so.  Here is our God!  Love, heidi

Friday, December 4, 2015

Faith and mercy

"As Jesus moved on from there, two blind men came after him crying out, 'Son of David, have pity on us!'"

Thursday, December 3, 2015

We are the ones

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes."
Psalm 118:8-9
Yes, the world seems decidedly short of princes these days. One has to really look to find them. Our faith in human beings can easily wane when we look around at who the world admires; athletes, billionaires, Kardashians.  But as we look around for seemingly absent heroes, what if WE are being called to be the heroes? We look around for people to trust but how trustworthy are we? We can complain about the lack of good in the world, but WE are to be the good we seek. We can sit around and watch for good to happen, but, WE are the ones God has put here to bring good into our world.  It is up to us, in our time, to bring the healing and comfort we need to experience in our lives and in our world today.  When we look around for heroes, we should look in the mirror. It's a tall order, I realize, but, thankfully, we are not alone--we can trust in the Lord to help us.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Accepting Love...

"Accepting Love is not always easy. It means first to recognize that this person in need is Love walking towards me..."
Sr. Gail Fitzpatrick, Give Us This Day
God was so wise to come into the world as a helpless, adorable infant.  Who can refuse a beautiful baby?  It's easy to love a baby... But since that time God came into the world as a vulnerable babe, Jesus comes into the world in much more difficult to recognize forms.  Mother Teresa calls it the "distressing disguise of the poor."  Jesus isn't always so cute when we find him in our world today. Jesus may not be so easy to recognize when he comes as a cranky patient, a disgruntled employee, an at-wits-end teacher.  Jesus is much easier to spot as the baby in the manger on the Christmas card. But, if we think about it, it wasn't easy for the people of his time to recognize him either.  Not all who met Jesus saw God in him; it was hard for them, too.  Today, let's keep our eyes open for Love walking towards us as we go about our Advent Wednesday.  I believe Jesus will be the most difficult person we encounter and I shudder to imagine how I will react! Lord, please help me to see you, however you come to me today! Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Light and dark

"Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures..."
Blessed Charles de Foucauld, "Living With Christ"
And, suddenly...it's Advent, December, below zero...
Time seems to be flying by at warp speed these days.  The earth is beckoning us to rest during these long winter nights, but the calendar is luring us to go, go, go.  What are we to do? The answer, which I learned from a wise Spiritual Director, is balance.  Find the delicate balance between action and contemplation during this season; balancing the darkness and light.  If not for the darkness, we wouldn't need or notice the magnificence of the light. We need the darkness to truly appreciate the light.  We need the sin to really appreciate the mercy.  Today, we will have approximately fifteen hours of darkness, between tonight's sunset and tomorrow's sunrise.  Can we spend some of that time quietly, thinking and praying about what action God is asking us to do this season of Advent? Is there a person God is inviting us to call? Is there someone God would like us to welcome? Is there a cause God is urging us to support? It's going to be dark a long time tonight...can we light a candle, sit in the dim light and listen to God? Love, heidi

Monday, November 30, 2015

Who taught you the Good News?

"Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ."
This morning, on Pray-As-You-Go, the question was asked, Who taught you the best news about God? Is there one person you can look back and say, I really learned about God from that person? In thinking about it, I'd say I learned the best news about God from Fr. Charlie Gorman, an Irish priest who served in eastern Montana for many years. He taught me about the love of God and that one can have a loving relationship with God. God is not a big authoritative ledger-keeper in the sky, keeping track of our sins, like some Divine Santa Claus.  God is, first and foremost, Love. And this was fabulous news to me in the 1970's, let me tell ya!  Fr. Gorman taught me that I can have a running prayer conversation with God all the time, not  just at the time I am "saying my prayers." When I was having some difficulty after foolishly seeing the movie, "The Exorcist," Fr. Gorman was the one who famously advised, "Heidi-dear, just tell the devil to go to hell where he belongs!" (Hopefully, you were able to read that with a brogue.) So, this rich reminder will stay with me all day, as I remember the Irishman who taught me the Good News.  Is there someone who taught you the Good News of Jesus? Is there someone you can teach the Good News to?  Love on this first Monday of Advent!  heidi

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Let there be peace

  "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and, 'the time has come.'"
Luke 21:8

Pray-As-You-Go had such an interesting take on this today and it really got me thinking.  They asked if there was anything in our lives that leads us from being our best self. I always thought of this verse warning us not to follow false leaders or guides and it surely can mean that, too.  But aren't there times when we get caught up in something, a drama or situation, that leads us away from being our best? Maybe we chime in with the negative chorus instead of looking at it a more positive way? I can think of one myself, where the common reaction of others is sort of panicky and anxious.  I thought just one calm, reassuring voice amid the clamber would surely help, but I wasn't hearing it. It dawned on me this morning that maybe I need to be the calm, reassuring voice instead of looking around for one.  Lord, please help me to be the voice of peace I long to hear in the situations of my life.   Help me not to join in the negative chorus but to sing a positive verse, even if it has to be a solo at first.  As we all gather with others this week, let there be peace...and let it begin with us! Happy Thanksgiving and blessings abundant to you all! Love, heidi

Monday, November 23, 2015

Less is more! Really!

"When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins."
Luke 21:1
One of the great lessons the poor teach us is that the less you have, the more grateful you are.  When you have two outfits, each one is special.  When you have twenty, they get lost in the sea of the abundance that is your closet.  Sr. Joan Chittister points this out beautifully in her book, "Uncommon Gratitude."  We, who live in abundance, may wonder how in the world the poor can celebrate the little they have, but it is something we can learn from and shoot for in our lives.  This week, as we celebrate gratitude for our abundance, let's ponder this poor widow and learn from her generosity. Let's think about how less is actually more and how that conundrum looks in our lives.  What can we do or give this week out of our very selves, from our want? Kindness? Mercy? Stuff? When we actually have less, the more grateful we are.  Let's try that on for size this week!  Love, heidi

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Recruiters for the kingdom!

"You say that I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth."
John 18:37

Today is the feast of Christ the King and it really got me thinking what his kingdom looks like.  Jesus' kingdom isn't royal-looking with fancy robes and crowns.  Jesus' kingdom is benevolent; a kingdom of compassion. Jesus sought out the poor and cast-aside. Jesus ministered to the people we hasten our steps to walk past in our day. I think Jesus' kingdom is made up of people helping each other and loving each other like family, especially the hard ones.  It is a kingdom of welcoming the stranger, and being selfless and kind to all. This week of Thanksgiving, let's spend a few moments prayerfully considering what we may be called to do to bring about this kingdom of Jesus.  Let's think of ourselves as recruiters for Jesus' kingdom, going into our gatherings with love. Are there folks we struggle with during these celebrations?  Let's treat them with mercy and kindness.  Is there any way we can share our bounty with others this week?  Let's do it!  This is a great opportunity to go out and show the world, or at least those we encounter, what Jesus' kingdom looks like. Let's get out there and show the world Jesus' kingdom of love!  Love, heidi

Friday, November 20, 2015

Turn over the tables of injustice

  "Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things..."
Luke 19:45
"Pray-As-You-Go" this morning asks the question, What was it that made Jesus so angry in the temple that he flew into rage like this?  What would have caused him to react so powerfully, turning over their tables?  In thinking about it, I'm pretty sure it was greed that was making Jesus so mad.  The merchants and money-changers were cheating the poorer people and not giving them a fair shake.  People who were offering sacrifices in the temple needed to purchase birds and other items relating to their offerings and they were being taken advantage of by the merchants and money-changers. It makes sense to me.  Jesus was all about the little guy, the poor widow, the downtrodden, the outcast.  Can we get passionate about these same folks today? Can we get our ire up about injustice and people being mistreated in our day?  What tables of injustice can we turn over on our Friday? That sure seems to be Jesus' passion...shouldn't it be ours, too? Love, heidi

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lover of vs. worker for...

"The journey of peacemaking is not easy. It may be easy to be a lover of peace, but it is more difficult to be a worker for peace, a maker of peace, day in and day out."
Jean Vanier, "Finding Peace"

The putting it into practice is the hard part, certainly.  I can admire peace and justice, but I need to be able to practice it, day in and day out in my own circle of influence...and that's hard.  Yesterday, I had an experience that taught me just how far away I am from this ideal.  I was getting my hair cut and two other ladies in the small shop were having a rather loud political discussion.  The things they were saying were very offensive to me and I could feel my blood start to boil.  I beckoned my stylist to come closer and I whispered to her, through clenched teeth, "Let's fire up that blow dryer NOW!"  I couldn't take another word, but yet, didn't want to speak up and take a more peaceful stance to what they were saying.  I couldn't speak up for the people they were denigrating; I was too afraid of offending them. Instead, I chose to drown them out.  Shame on me. Later, of course, I thought of a better approach.  I should have, very kindly, explained to them that I was offended by how they were speaking of others. I could have been a worker for peace instead of just a lover of peace.  Lord, please help me to stand up for those put down.  Help me to speak up kindly and with compassion for all, even for the people speaking unkindly.  Please help me to be a worker for peace, not just an admirer of peace.  Day in and day out.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Come down quickly!

"Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."
Luke 19:5
It's kind of a which-came-first deal in today's Gospel.  Which happened first, Jesus' love and mercy toward Zacchaeus or Zach's repentance? Easy. The former.  Jesus calls Zacchaeus down from the tree, inviting himself to dinner before Zacchaeus says anything about repaying those he had cheated.  He didn't have to win Jesus over by changing his life, but it was his encounter with Jesus that changed him from the inside out. This is such a valuable lesson for those of us who feel we can earn God's love and mercy.  That we have to do enough to please God.  That we can to earn our place in heaven.  God, with infinite love, calls us down from our trees everyday, just wanting to be loved by us. We change in response to God's love not to earn God's love.  Today, let's smile every time we think of Zacchaeus in the tree and let's climb down, ourselves, changed from the inside by the love of God we can't even comprehend.  Love, heidi

Monday, November 16, 2015

Lord, help me to see!

"What do you want me to do for you?"
Luke 18:41
I heard this question from Jesus so clearly during my first retreat at Marymount a couple of years ago. I was a bit stunned because I was always thinking I was to work for Jesus, not so much the other way around.  But, I spent three days in the silence, answering Jesus' question.  It's a good question for all of us to consider everyday, because Jesus asks it of us everyday.  I prayed with the question this morning and came up with a short list of prayer requests for today and then read on.  Jesus says in verse 42, "Have sight; your faith has saved you."  That, to me, says that the blind man had a hand in his own healing.  Jesus responded to the faith the blind man had and the willingness of the man to shout out and not let the crowds deter him in calling out to Jesus.  Realizing that we, too, must have a part to play in answering our own prayers, I prayed that God would use me however necessary to answer my own requests today. Guide me, Lord, in my actions to let good things happen today.  It's not that we just ask and wait passively.  It's that we ask, wait and respond however Jesus beckons us.  "Lord, please help me see!"  Love, heidi

Friday, November 13, 2015

Mother Cabrini...HER-story

"Prayer is powerful. It fills the earth with mercy."
Mother Cabrini

Today, in honor of Mother Cabrini's feast day, I found the website of her sisters, who are still vibrant and serving in the world mightily.  My favorite Mother Cabrini story is the one where she arrives in New York to help with the Italian immigrants as she was told to do by Pope Leo XIII.  Mind you, she didn't want to go to New York, she wanted to go to China, but in the spirit of obedience, she agreed to take a few of her sisters and go to the US.  When she and her sisters arrived, the bishop tried to send her back to Italy.  I remember Fr. Mike telling us this story at daily mass and he said, "How would you like to be the bishop whose claim to fame was trying to send Mother Cabrini back to Italy?" But, Mother Cabrini, undaunted, said she was staying and that was that.  The rest is history, or really HER-story!  You can read about her here:
Blessings on your Friday and weekend!  Love, heidi

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Perceive. Contemplate. Share.

"And continually the soul does what it was made for: it perceives God, it contemplates God, and it loves God..."
Julian of Norwich, Showings 44
I really love this (I love lessons in threes), but what does it look like in our 21st century life? I sat with it for a while and came up this...First, we perceive God--all around us in nature, in the people we encounter in our day, in the peace and serenity of silence.  We find God. Having found God, we commune with God, learn about God through scripture, prayer and just sitting with God, listening.  And then, after finding and feeling God's presence, we are called to go out and love God in others.  All of this is a delicate balance of action and contemplation, really.  If all of our sitting around communing with God doesn't lead us out to love others, we must be contemplating the wrong thing!  We find God. We commune with God. We love God by loving others.  That may seem simple, but we all know better, right?  I do love lessons in threes...love, heidi

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bare twigs

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; those who are crushed in spirit, he saves."
Psalm 34:19
I've really been noticing the changing trees this autumn. As we move through November, they are mostly bare; their last burst of glory laying on the ground beneath them.  One could think they would be ashamed, being so bare there with so little to offer now...no more safe shelter for birds, no more shade for humans. But, there they are, proud to be just bare twigs, pointing toward heaven.  The trees know something we may forget. That these short days and long nights can serve as such a wonderful time of rest.  Less is expected of the trees as they are stripped bare of their offerings. They can rest and rejuvenate to be ready for spring if they use this time wisely.  Lord, please help me to appreciate this time of bare twigs.  Help me to use the restful time wisely and prayerfully.  Help me to offer others what you give me to share, even if it doesn't seem like much right now.  For only you can take my meager offering, make something of it and put it to good use. You can take my bare twigs and help me point toward heaven. Help me to love these days of restful darkness.  Love, heidi

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Spirit of God is in YOU!

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
1 Corinthians 3:16
Today is the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome and, while it is hard for me to get excited about celebrating a big building, I can easily celebrate human beings housing the Spirit of God! That is definitely worth celebrating!  On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, they ask "What about Christianity are you grateful for?" My answer is easily the people of Christ, past and present, saints and sinners, known and unknown.  The people who quietly, or more widely known, did the work of God.  I just finished a brief essay on Dorothy Day, cofounder of the Catholic Worker Movement. While her case for sainthood is in the works, many have thought her too flawed to ever be an "official" saint.  But she DID it--the real work of God--caring for God's people.  She cared for Jesus in the poor and taught others how to do it  All human beings are flawed and if they don't think they are, they are likely worse than others! Jesus purposefully hung out with the flawed and knew he could use them to build up his Kingdom.  So, today, I celebrate the Spirit of God dwelling in all of us.  Every single person we will meet on our autumn Monday houses the Spirit of God, just as holy as any building in Rome.  Let's treat them with the reverence and awe they deserve!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Perfect in weakness

"Your strength made perfect in weakness, made perfect our weakness..."
Sherry Muchira, "Made Perfect in Weakness" from the Lystra Silence album, Tremble Here
I've shared this with a few people, so if you have heard it, please hear it again, because it's incredible!  Our fearless Spiritual Direction leader, Peg Wuelfing, who died so suddenly this past Sunday, had wanted to be an organ donor.  After her death the Social Worker talked to the family and explained that, since Peg had previously had cancer, they could not use the organs, but they could use her eyes.  The family, very surprised, told the Social Worker that Peg had macular degeneration so her eyes were not healthy.  The Social Worker explained that her corneas were very healthy and they would give two people the gift of sight.  Only God could create a scenario where Peg's eyes could help others see!  This teaches us that God can and does use the weakest part of ourselves if we just turn ourselves over to God. God can take what is weak in us and still use it for good for others.  This is so truly God-in-action, Friends.  Where we are weak, God is strong. God's strength is made perfect in our weakness, like this beautiful song says. Let's remember this as we embark on a day we may not feel up to tackling.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

God is there...

"Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer."
Romans 12:12
Well, this is exactly what I needed to hear today, how about you?  For anyone who may not already know, the director of our Spiritual Direction program, who had been in the car accident nearly three weeks ago, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday.  This has been a heartbreaking shock, because Peg was home, on the mend and doing fairly well.  And then, suddenly, she had an embolism and died. When something like this happens, one wonders, "Where in the world are you, Lord? And what are we to do?"  That's when it's wonderful to just turn to the Word and read what we are to do.  It's all spelled out for us and it makes so much more sense than what is happening around us.  There are and will be many lessons and blessings throughout all of this, but it is also okay to sit and rest with the heartache.  God is there. Love, heidi

Monday, November 2, 2015

All Souls...

"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace...they shall be greatly blessed."
Wisdom 3: 1-3, 5
There is certainly nothing I can add to this reading today...it is perfectly clear and beautiful as it is.  We have all lost someone and know the deep sadness of that.  Let's spend some time, sit with this reading and allow it to comfort us.  This feast of All Souls lets us lovingly remember all we love who have slipped over the wall and are now in the hands of God.  And let's remember all those who they leave behind, for comfort and peace, in their lives.  Love, heidi

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Continue on the Way

"Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day."
Luke 13:33
On Pray-As-You-Go this morning they ask, what would make Jesus so determined to go to Jerusalem even after the "warning" from the Pharisees? It really got me thinking about the deepest desires God places in our hearts. We may catch glimpses of these all throughout our lives.  Our deepest desires can actually become (if we are listening) our destiny.  Jesus' mission was clear to him.  God placed the mission in Jesus' heart and mind and there was nothing that would interfere...no fears, no distractions--Jesus knew what he had to do and he was determined to do it.  Jesus was so in tune with his Father that there was no human response that would interfere.  The very human Jesus asked if there may be another way as he prayed in Gethsemane, but, ultimately, his will matched the Father's. What about us?  Have we spent time exploring the deepest desires of our hearts?  Are we, thus, familiar with God's will for us in our lives? Are we determined to continue on our way today, tomorrow, and the following day?  It is so worthwhile to sit with Jesus and discover!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

St. Jude, pray for us...

"Saint Jude, glorious apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus..."
Novena to St. Jude
Today, being the feast of St. Jude, I picked up my novena book and it opened automatically to this novena.  Let me just say that my family has been asking St. Jude for prayers for a hundred years (that's NOT an exaggeration!) My dad credits St. Jude's prayers for many miracles in his life, such as escaping basic training during WWII.  St. Jude has been our Go-to for intercessory prayer as long as I can remember.  So, this little book of novenas...I wrote down in the margins each time I prayed this novena and for what intention.  I can easily see that St. Jude's prayers got my kids through difficult times; finals, board exams, moves, relationships.  St. Jude's prayers helped us sell houses, get summer jobs, obtain internships.  St. Jude is a rock star.  I know the mystery of asking the saints for prayers may seem foreign to some, but it can be so comforting--asking a friend of Jesus to pray with you.  Today, St. Jude, thanks, so much, for your many prayers over the years.  My dad never would have survived boot camp...love, heidi

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

That was Jesus?

"Dearest Lord, may I see you today and every day in the person of your sick and, while nursing them, minister unto you. Though you hide yourself behind the unattractive disguise of the irritable, the exacting, the unreasonable, may I still recognize you and say, 'Jesus, my patient (client, student, fellow traveler) how sweet it is to serve you.'"
~Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (I added the "client, student, fellow traveler" part)
Ok, so yesterday, I got to the office on a Monday morning and there was a scathing message on the message machine.  I mean, it was hard to hear. It was not directed at me, personally, but the person on the other end was obviously "irritable, exacting, and unreasonable."  Just the person Mother Teresa is talking about here.  And that was Jesus?  Wow, that. I sure didn't recognize him!  Let's keep our eyes open today for the most difficult person we encounter and treat that person as Jesus in disguise.  Can we treat them with kindness and compassion? Let's try!  Love, heidi

Monday, October 26, 2015

More to gain

"He (Bartimaeus) threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus."
Mark 10:50
One of my favorite parts of the Bartimaeus reading (yesterday's Gospel) is this line.  I think it was Fr. Anthony Gittins, in his book "Encountering Jesus," who pointed out that his cloak was probably the only thing Bartimaeus actually had to his name.  It was likely his bed, as well as his protection against the wind and weather.  It was all his had, and, yet, he throws it aside, jumps to his feet and comes to Jesus.  Bartimaeus does what the Rich Young Man earlier in this chapter (Mark 10:17-22) cannot do.  Remember him?  Jesus suggests to him he sell all he has, give the money to the poor and join Jesus.  He can't do it.  Clearly, the RYM had more to give up, didn't he?  He actually had stuff.  Bartimaeus only had one thing--his cloak. In his mind, the RYM has more to lose and less to gain.  Bartimaeus had nothing to lose, except a tattered old cloak, and everything to gain--his sight.  Lord, please help me to see that giving up everything FOR you means gaining everything WITH you!  Love, heidi

Friday, October 23, 2015

Look in the mirror--love what you see

"For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want."
Romans 7:19
I wonder if St. Paul was at the hermitage when he wrote this.  Because, while at the hermitage, one gets so much better at listening, you hear every tiny thing. The sounds  of silence can be deafening.  One can be completely honest with God; there is no hiding behind anything like work, play or busyness.  Since it is just you and God, you can really get to know each other.  Simplicity like this puts a mirror in front of us--a full length, three dimensional mirror that shows the real us.  Sometimes we don't like what we see.  The good thing is, just like Paul concludes at the end of this beating-himself-up, that we have hope in Jesus.  Whoever we are, whatever we do, we have hope because Jesus is in our corner, pulling for us. We are not perfect, but we have hope and assurance, through Jesus, that God loves us just the way we are. Just realizing that love helps us to want to do better down here on earth, doesn't it? So, that is an awesome thought as we praise God for an autumn weekend!  Love, heidi

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Early morning lesson, Day Two

Yesterday I told you the little story about the Sunday school teacher, who changed into his overalls before he took a new little lad (who was also in overalls) to the Sunday school class.  That was my Lesson #1 for that early morning at the hermitage. I realized how far away I am from where I would like to be and where God knows I can be. (My thought was to take the kid out and buy him church clothes--eek!)  Anyway, as I became so aware of my not-there-yet condition, it moved me to tears and I started just uncontrollably crying there in mass.  I had no tissues with me and I glanced around looking for something (a curtain, anything!) to mop up with.  I noticed that Sister had one solitary Kleenex in her little lair in the back, but I sure didn't want to take her last one.  And the idea of leaving the tiny chapel in the middle of mass wasn't appealing either.  I just tried, really hard, to stop crying and hoped I'd dry up by the sign of peace.  That worked okay.  After mass I got up to leave and slipped on my sweatshirt.  There, in the pocket, was a clean paper napkin I'd put in there the day before.  The lesson was: "You already have all you need, heidi-dear, just trust me." So, before the crack of dawn that morning, I'd learned two lessons.  One, I have a ways to go before I fully follow Jesus' example and love people just the way they are. Two, I have all I need to be the person God is growing me to be, I just need to trust God...the slow work of God. So, possibly, my lessons are your lessons, too?  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lesson before dawn...

During early morning mass at the hermitage last week, Fr. Casey told an amazing story. He'd read it in a magazine when he was just a lad and it stuck with him all these years.  It was a story about a Sunday school director in a small church in a rural area.  There was one particular poor family living in the community, but they didn't attend the church.  The Sunday school director, who knew the family well, asked if it would be OK if he picked up their young son for Sunday school on Sunday morning.  The family agreed and the man arrived in his best Sunday suit to collect the boy.  The boy came out of his house in his overalls with a clean white shirt.  The gentleman told the boy he needed to stop at his home quickly as he'd forgotten something he needed for Sunday school.  When he came out of the house, he, too, was wearing overalls and a clean white shirt.  He didn't want the young boy to feel uncomfortable at Sunday school, dressed as he was.  This little story moved me greatly, teaching me such a valuable lesson.  We don't change others into what we want them to be, we change ourselves to appreciate them just how they are.  This was one of two awesome lessons I learned that morning, even before the sun came up...tomorrow, I will share the second lesson!  Let's think today how we can love and appreciate those we encounter today--just the way they are! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Already ready

"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival."
Luke 12:37
This always reminds me of the funny bumper sticker: "Jesus is coming! Look busy!"  Jesus reminds us in this Gospel, that we may not have the luxury of time to get it right down here on earth.  I rarely walk out of a funeral that I don't think, "Wow...good thing I have time left! I better get busy!" But we don't know when our time ends.  On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, they had a great suggestion.  What if we get ready for God coming by recognizing that God is already here? If we can look for signs of God's presence in our everyday lives we can live in a state of "already readiness" because we aren't waiting for anyone.  God is already here. Let's look around us all day today and note the presence of God; maybe in nature, or in the beautiful smiling face of the grocery store cashier or in the eyes of a child. Jesus isn't "coming." Jesus is already here!  Love, heidi

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lessons and blessings

“I’ll praise you in this storm…”
Casting Crowns, “Praise You in This Storm”
Last week didn't turn out the way it was supposed to. We were to have our second-to-the-last Spiritual Direction class, and we started Wednesday evening with a beautiful opening session. Thursday morning, on their way to the retreat center for class, our instructors were in a car accident and all were injured. In the shock of all that, we students turned to prayer and each other…and we wandered around in a bit of a daze, so concerned, sad and broken open. God whispered to me to look for the lessons and blessings within this difficult situation and that surely helps. The main thing is that we all feel so cradled by love and care. One of our instructors described it beautifully, “a cocoon of love.” So, we praise you in this storm, Lord. We know that this dreadful thing wasn't your will but that you will give us comfort and gift us through it. We know your love and goodness will continue to be found in the days and weeks to come. Dear Friends, please remember our instructors in your prayers as they heal from their injuries. And please, please be careful out there! Love, heidi

Friday, October 9, 2015

Give thanks!

"I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will declare your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praises to your name, Most High."
Psalm 9

This is me today, Friends, as we look forward to an autumn weekend!  I am thankful for a Friday, but also that God helped me all week to do what I do.  The week's end brings me humbly to a place of gratitude that I have the job I have and work with the people I meet each day. I offer up in prayer all those who may not have work they enjoy, giving purpose to their lives, and putting food on their tables.  I pray for all who suffer in this life, for whom this weekend may be a lonely, sad undertaking.  May God comfort all who struggle!  And may God lead me to anyone who could use my help.  Blessings on your Friday, your weekend, and all next week.  I will be away from a computer most the week, but will be praying for each and everyone of you!  Love, heidi

Thursday, October 8, 2015

God's will vs my will?

..."how much more will the Father in heaven give to those ask of him?"
I used to think that God's will and my will were vastly different wills.  Like I would want to do one thing and God would want me to do something completely different. I was, sort of, praying against God to get what I wanted. (Seriously?  I was young.) Thanks be to God, I've outgrown that little dilemma!  Now, I realize that God puts God's will deep into our hearts as our own desire.  Looking back, I can see that God put the desire deep in my heart to work with blind folks and viola! I followed that desire into a thirty-plus year career in just that! See how that works? God and I don't want completely different things!  So, today, as we read Jesus beckoning us to ask, seek and knock on God's door, what is it we deeply desire?  Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit will give us the wisdom to discern and do.  Can we spend some quiet time searching deep within? What desire is there?  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Reason to be angry?

"Have you reason to be angry?"
Jonah 4:4
Yes! Did you see the way that car cut me off?
Yes! Did you hear what she said about me?
Yes! My boss won't give me a raise!
Yes! Our country is being taken over by immigrants and welfare recipients!
Yes! I don't have enough money/stuff/retirement savings!
Yes! Things are bad and getting worse!
Do you ever feel like people are simmering just under a full boil?  And what does God say to us? I have this picture of God saying, "How do you think I feel?"  What God asks of us is mercy.  God wants us to feel mercy for the guy who cuts us off, the gossipy neighbor, the boss who doesn't appreciate us.  God wants us to love and show mercy and kindness to the immigrant and the poor.  God knows we don't need anymore stuff and we should share what we have with those who have less.  God wants us to relax...in love...with God...and our fellow human beings.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Martha time/Mary time

"There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
Luke 10:42
I have told you about my "Martha/Mary" weekends, haven't I?  I spend Saturdays as Martha, running around, distracted and worried about many things.  But then I spend Sunday, silent, sitting at Jesus' feet.  It's a great system and I recommend it to you heartily!  But sometimes I need a bit of Mary in my Martha. Like last weekend.  I was tired from Martha-ing and just restless. So many things needed doing in my house--laundry, vacuuming, the dogs were crazy.  I didn't know where to begin.  I sensed a beckoning to The Quiet.  I gathered up some spiritual reading and my journal and headed to the day chapel at church.  There was nothing for me to do there except sit at Jesus' feet and listen.  It was an amazing time! There are times when Jesus just wants my undivided attention, and in order for that to happen I need to free myself from all distractions.  There are other times when Jesus wants me out there, trying to be a Good Samaritan.  There is grace in trying to balance them out.  Sometimes I need a bit of Mary time during my Martha time.  Love, heidi

Monday, October 5, 2015


"...he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'" Luke 10:29
"Which one of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber's victim?" Luke 10:36
There are two key questions in today's Gospel and they are kind of the same..."Who is my/the neighbor?"  Indeed, we are faced with the same exact questions today, this October Monday.  Who is our neighbor this day? Is it a client, student, coworker, stranger, landlord? Is it a person with whom we struggle? Is it a person we enjoy? I kind of think the answer is the most difficult person we encounter today is our neighbor.  I also think the answer could be any person who needs us, even in the slightest way, today is our neighbor. So, we can ask the question of the scholar this morning, "Who is my neighbor?"  And, at the end of the day, as we are beginning to take our rest, we can ask the question of Jesus, "Who was the neighbor?"  Hopefully, our answer, as we snuggle into our beds, will be "WE were." Jesus, help us live our Monday as true neighbors to each other. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The "Little Way"...

"Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household...'"
Luke 10:5
In my work I mostly go into the homes of my clients to mark appliances or find other ways to help them function independently in their daily lives.  Some houses are warm, cozy and welcoming, others--not so much.  The other day, I found myself crawling around on the floor of an office, which was in a garage, to plug in a new phone for the client.  Some days this job isn't glamorous at all!  I bristled at the idea of hunting, on my hands and knees, for the phone jack and then I hit my head on a low table. Ouch! But, in reality, this is exactly what God wants me to do. God wants me to put myself aside and serve the people I am there to serve. Maybe if I'd thought to bring a bit of peace to this garage first, I would have had a better attitude. Our saint du jour is St. Therese of the Child Jesus, and her "Little Way" of doing small things for God, with love, is exactly how we can serve God in our daily lives.  Even if that includes crawling around on a garage floor.  Especially if it means crawling around on a garage floor!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Invitation to love...

  "Jesus answered him, 'Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.'"
Luke 9:58
Jesus is inviting his would-be followers (and us) into a life of uncertainty. And that's scary, isn't it? I have a nest...a lovely little nest that I'm comfortable and cozy in and enjoy every day.  Does it keep me from following Jesus? I have to live somewhere, right? Our need for security and certainty can keep us pre-occupied and distracted about our lives in this world.  There is a delicate balance between planning and saving for the future and answering Jesus' call to live for the Kingdom now and helping those who have less.  I wrestle with this constantly! I think this conundrum is what Jesus is asking us to pray about today with this reading.  How far out on a limb am I willing to go to follow Jesus? Does what I have keep me from loving Jesus fully? And by that, loving others fully?  A good question to take to prayer...love, heidi

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Encounter Jesus

"Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him and said of him..."
John 1:47
On Pray-as-You-Go this morning they did a guided imagery with this reading and it was lovely.  Can you fill in your own name in this sentence?  By what name does Jesus call you as you walk toward him? What does Jesus say to you? Can you say anything or are you awestruck? How do you feel when all this takes place and how do you respond to Jesus?  This can lead to an amazing prayer time!  I invite you to take a few minutes, in silence, and just play this scene out in your head. Have your own conversation with Jesus and experience whatever God has planned for you!  This can be an awesome time for you and Jesus together...Love, heidi

Monday, September 28, 2015

Greatest and least

"For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest."
Luke 9:48
For as often as we have heard this lately, we sure still find ourselves jockeying for position, don't we?  I notice it in all areas of my life--work, social, friends, family.  We want to be heard, recognized, appreciated, acknowledged; all of it.  Jesus so often points out the way to really succeeding in this world is through serving each other and that can be so hard to do! Recognizing that it is NOT about us and more about the Other is a difficult pill to take. Especially when so much of our media focuses on the loudest, richest, and showiest.  My memories of watching much of the pope's visit focus on the children eager to greet him, the tenderness of his gaze, the smiles and joy; not so much on the pomp and regality.  One little boy, during the pope's lunch at the homeless shelter Friday, with his note for the pope, captured my heart.  Those considered by society to be the "least" are really the greatest.  A lesson for the disciples then. A lesson for us now.  What do we do with it?  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The key to communication

Yesterday, during our staff in-service, we were told the key to successful communication is in three words: acknowledge the other. Acknowledge the person with whom you are talking.  Isn't that exactly what Jesus did the whole time he walked the earth? That's why Jesus didn't just heal people, indiscriminately, as he moved through a crowd.  He stopped, looked into their eyes, asked them what they wanted him to do, heard their stories, touched them.  He acknowledged them and had relationships with them, although perhaps, briefly.  We can see that as we watch Pope Francis move through his visit in the US.  It was so moving to see him beckon a little five year old girl to come over to the popemobile so he could bless her and acknowledge her. We can spend a lifetime learning to let another person feel we acknowledge them and care about what they are sharing with us. So, today, as we move through our newly autumn Thursday, let's be very aware of acknowledging all we meet.  Even if it is just a nod and a smile as we pass by them on the sidewalk or in the hall.  Every single person is valuable and well worth acknowledging!  Love, heidi

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mercy, not sacrifice

"Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'"
Matthew 9:13
We all will do well to listen to Jesus, here, and do the same. Pope Francis has declared a Year of Mercy, beginning later this year. There are already signs that this Year will have real legs on it--signs of forgiveness and reconciliation from the church toward those who feel on the fringe. The pope has already shown that this Year of Mercy is not just a nice idea to get his name in the papers. The Year of Mercy is a chance for each one of us to look deep inside and see where we can extend forgiveness and mercy in our own lives.  Are there past hurts we can forgive and, thus, really put in the past? Are there people with whom we haven't talked in a while we can reach out and reconnect? Are there people with whom we struggle that we could embrace? What will the Year of Mercy look like in our own lives? What can we do to spark merciful change? Real Mercy. Real Forgiveness. Real Change. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."  Love, heidi

Friday, September 18, 2015


"For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it."
1 Timothy 6:7

I still have my mother's stuff.  I mean, I have furniture that was hers, old photo albums with grainy old pictures of unsmiling faces I can't identify. I have boxes of mysterious bits and bobs of old jewelry that belonged to someone ages ago.  She got to leave it all behind when she died fifteen years ago this month and now I have it.  I suppose, when I die, some of these things will end up in my kids' homes and the grainy old photos will be even more unfamiliar.  Who ARE these people and why don't they ever seem to smile?  I've said it before and I'll say it again, stuff can be so burdensome! My only hope is that, when it is my turn to go Home to heaven, my kids won't come in and say in dismay, "Oh, look at all this stuff!"  Lord, I'm asking you today to help me detach from stuff!  I always hear the message in prayer, "Pare down! Let go of it; someone else may be able to use it."  Help me to heed you and follow you.  As you traveled village to village you had very little stuff.  I aspire to that, too. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our gift--God's work

"Do not neglect the gift you have..."
1 Timothy 4:14
Any mention of using our gifts reminds me of Fr. Caleb and his definition of humility: using the gifts God has given while giving God the glory.  I think I can see that so evident as I grow older and see God working through my own weakness.  I have long ago run out of ideas for this Daily Heidi-gram thing and yet, somehow, God gets one out more often than not. If I think about it, the real gift is in the yielding to God and not in the doing myself, and isn't that true for most of God's gifts? When our gifts become about us they quickly lose steam, but when our gifts are in letting God shine through us, we can step aside and see God work. The other part of this reading is about perseverance; Paul telling Timothy: "Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks..." (v. 16). That speaks to me richly, too.  We must never stop learning ourselves so we always have something to share with others.  Those of us who have had the same career for many years may feel tempted to phone it in at this point, and that is NOT what we should do.  We need to keep it fresh, realizing that God's work through us is always new.   So, let's get out there this September Thursday and let God shine though us! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Come to the party!

"Solitude is a place 'where only God will do.'"
Ruth Haley Barton, "Sacred Rhythms"
I think the reason I crave my solitude on Silent Sundays is because I am not "alone." I am alone with God, which is a very different alone-ness than just being by myself. It doesn't feel empty or void at all; it feels very full and rich. I feel very much "least alone," as Lord Byron put it. I feel surrounded by loved ones--all in the presence of God.  I know it may sound crazy but I feel so much more my authentic self when it's just God and me.  Heidi--the display model--is nowhere in sight and I can just be the me that God created; faults and all.  I encourage you to try spending some time alone, and unplugged, with God, even just a few minutes.  You may be so surprised who shows up!  God will be God and you will be you; and that's a party!  Love, heidi

Monday, September 14, 2015

Who am I to you?

"But who do you say that I am?"
Mark 8:29
I spent some time praying with yesterday's Gospel and this line jumped out at me; specifically, the word "you."  I remember learning that, in Spanish, there is a plural word for you, "ustedes."  Interesting, that in English "you" can be either singular or plural. This creates some confusion to the point that we have to make up a word for the plural you--like y'all or youse (yikes!) But, when I prayed with this, the word "you" was very singular.  "But who do you, heidi ann gainan, say that I am?"  Along with all people reading this Gospel yesterday, Jesus wanted my opinion!  That's a bit heady! "Who am I to you, heidi?"  And what is my response to Jesus?  And how will this change my life? What will this look like as I open the door to my office in a little while? That is where the rubber meets the road for all of us, Friends. How we answer that question indicates how we bring Jesus to a waiting world.  Who do YOU say Jesus is, this September Monday? And how will that affect your world this day?  Love, heidi

Friday, September 11, 2015

Gospel vs. gossip

"Remove  wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye."
Luke 6:42
As I was praying with this Gospel this morning, I realized the similarities in the words "Gospel" and "gossip."  Gospel signifies good news; the Good News of Jesus.  Gossip is the opposite, really. Gospel is truth, gossip is probably not. Today, let's concentrate on living the Gospel of Jesus and not let ourselves get sucked into the gossip we may hear at work. Jesus gives us the perfect blueprint how to treat others--giving them the benefit of the doubt.  That is truth.  What you may hear around the water cooler, not so much.  Blessings on your Friday and your later summer weekend!  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Examen

"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
Luke 6:36

One of the prayers that I find very helpful is the Examen, given to us by St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. One could actually incorporate this prayer into the silence at the end of the day, if that was helpful.  The Examen is simply, prayerfully going through the events of the completed day and seeing where God was vividly present.  God was certainly present in the entire day--every single minute! But, sometimes combing through the events of the day helps us to see God where we may not expect to see God. We could note certain promptings or inclinations that may have occurred through the day. How did we respond?  Can we see where God is present as we look back where maybe we didn't see God while the events were happening?  Are there times we can say, "Wow, I wish I'd done THAT differently!"  Or, "I sure could have gone without saying THAT!" (If that pops up for you, welcome to my head).  The Examen is a time to connect at the end of the day to see the God tracks throughout the day.  It helps us to see how God is very active and present throughout our daily work-a-day lives.  It also helps us to see the times we may want to do a bit better next time.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Think of what is above...

"Think of what is above, not of what is on earth."
Colossians 3:2
I tried something new last night that really helped me turn off the day and my "thinking of what is on earth." Since it is getting dark so much earlier I took advantage of that, lit a candle and just sat in the candle-light and silence for a while.  I didn't do any reading, thus not engaging my mind there.  I didn't turn on any music, thus engaging my mind there, either.  I just sat in the glow of the candle and let go of the day.  My mind wandered a bit, as it swept out the last of Tuesday, but it gave me such a lovely, peace-filled mind and heart.  Still in silence and without turning on the lights, (don't try this if you don't have some adaptive skills!) I crawled into bed.  I was able to settle into such a peaceful rest and can't help but wonder if letting go of the day like this may be the reason. If you have a difficult time thinking of what is above and letting go of a busy day on earth, you may want to try this little prayer form.  Just sit in the glow of a candle and rest with Jesus.  No need to say anything, read anything or listen to anything except Jesus. Just rest and let go of the day.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Happy New Year!

"Brothers and Sisters: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to God's purpose..."
Romans 8:28
It's easy to see things working for good when good things happen, isn't it? It takes a bit more faith, on our part, to see the good when things seem to be going sour or we're just plodding along dismally. That may be because we have such a limited view of things from out little human vantage point. From God's infinite perspective, God can see so many more possibilities that can bring us good--a good we never could imagine on our own. Today, this Tuesday after Labor Day, always feels like the beginning of a new year to me.  Probably because the kids used to always start school this day.  In the spirit of a seasonal new year, Happy New Year to you all!  Let's celebrate with healthy habits, prayerful, eager spirits, and open minds and hearts to seeing God's good in all things!  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The calls and the mira-calls

"For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him..."
Luke 5:9
When we accept the call from Jesus do we always witness an accompanying miracle?  Peter and his friends in today's Gospel come in from a night of fishing with a meager catch.  Jesus tells them to "Go deep!" And they return with nets so full they are tearing!  Jesus follows up the miracle with a call to them to become "fishers of people." My question today is, what miracle did we witness when Jesus called us?  We have all been called by Jesus...what was the accompanying miracle?  As I thought about this, I remembered so many times in my life when I felt the call...and then I could recount the miracle. The Spanish word "mira" means "look."  It is a lovely prayer to just sit with Jesus and remember your calls and your "mira-calls"...Look at the calls from Jesus and see the miracles accompanying them.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It's OK

"It's okay
to not be okay..."
"Exhale," by Tiffany Lee, Matt Armstrong, Josh Silverberg; performed by Plumb
This song has been getting a lot of airplay lately and it has message I really love. The artist explains on a "Behind the Music" segment that her husband heard this message from a pastor the first Sunday he attended church after they had separated.  He was definitely NOT okay and really needed to hear that he was still in the right place, there at church.  In thinking about it, it is so reassuring to know that God is with us throughout it all.  There are times when it is so easy to praise God; things are going well, we're cooking right along.  And then there are the other times.  When we feel weak, we reach out as vulnerable, needy children.  God is always closer than we can imagine.  In our weakness, God can show us strength. 
If you have a chance, today, listen to this beautiful song:
Blessings on your Wednesday!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Encourage all!

"Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11
It's amazing how powerful a few words of encouragement can be! Many of us have jobs where we encourage people all day, but, in thinking about this, there are some people I tend to feel don't need any encouragement.   Those who already seem so confident and self-assured, for example.  Their bluster tends to leave me withering in their wake...they don't need ME to boost them up! But, in reality, maybe they do. Maybe their arrogance is masking a real insecurity, a lack of faith in themselves. Today, as we naturally encourage those who come easily to us, let's keep an eye open for those who may really need a kind, encouraging word from us, though they don't show it.  Our day will be filled with people who need encouragement from us.  Let's keep our eyes open and give it to them! Love, heidi

Monday, August 31, 2015

Perfect Love

"And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth...
When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury."
Luke 4: 22, 28
What a difference a few verses can make! Verse 22, the people love Jesus; verse 28, they run him out of town.  People can be so fickle! Jesus, the first century celebrity, has learned what many, even most, celebrities learn; one minute you're up, the next minute, you're down. But why did the hometown crowd turn on Jesus? I'm wondering if it was out of fear. We learned in our homily this past weekend that fear makes people do crazy things. And if a whole group feels fear, the group-think kicks in and, stand back, REALLY crazy things happen.  We also learned in our homily that we have no reason for any fear, because we have Jesus.  The people of Nazareth may not have appreciated him, but we do! We have no reason to fear because Jesus is Perfect Love and Perfect Love casts out fear.  And that is a wonderful gift to ponder this last day of August!  Love, heidi

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Healing hands

"And may the gracious care of the Lord our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!"
Psalm 90:17
Our hands are very busy right now, aren't they?  Families, students and teachers getting back to school.  Many hands are harvesting the gifts of the earth we will all enjoy throughout the winter. Our hands are busy, Lord, please help us to do it all with you and for you!  We pray for all those whose hands may be idle due to illness, injury or the loss of work.  We pray for all those whose hands are folded in prayer due to terrible life circumstances and suffering.  We look around and can feel so worried and fearful about our world, and yet, know that you, Lord, carry us in your Hands.  Help our hands to prosper, sure, but also help us to roll up our sleeves and put our hands to work, helping to heal our hurting world. Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Inside, outside, upside down

"Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing."
Matthew 23:28

Ouch!  This must be what people mean when they talk about having a "Come to Jesus" talk, right?  Jesus calls it like he sees it, and we may cheer from the sidelines as he gives it to the scribes and Pharisees, but should we be cheering?  These self-righteous tassel-lengtheners seem to be so obviously in the wrong as they are called out by Jesus.  But, rather than throwing stones at them we maybe want to look at our own lives and make sure our insides match our outsides.  Even as we profess to follow Jesus, white-washing our outsides, do we harbor prejudices and attitudes on the inside that don't match up? Let's put away the pom poms and spend some time sitting and talking with Jesus about this in our own lives.  And, as we may feel a bit chastened, we can be grateful that our merciful and marvelous God still loves the dickens out of us!  Thanks be God!  Love, heidi