Friday, December 30, 2016

Love makes holy...

"Put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love..."
Colossians 3:12-14

St. Paul gives us a great recipe for living in a family in today's second reading...a good way to celebrate today's Feast of the Holy Family! Pray-as-you-go offered an invitation to consider our own families, holy do they feel?  Just as the Holy Family we celebrate today had its difficulties, so do our families, certainly.  As I pondered our family, I didn't have to think too far back to remember the loud screams and great peels of laughter coming from the Mario Kart game, just a week ago. I remembered the enjoyment of hearing each other's adventures and the relief when weary travelers arrived after a harrowing trip to get there. We are a family...not perfect, but very, very holy--because of the love that we share. Our love makes us holy.  And with that, I pray that you have a Happy New Year and I'll see you in 2017! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Let it start in me...

"We're singing Glory, Glory, let there be peace, let there be peace.
We're singing Glory, Glory, let there be peace, let it start in me."
Matt Maher, "Glory (Let There Be Peace)"

I've been enjoying this Matt Maher song all season, and I hope they continue to play it on the radio, even after the holidays. As our calendar changes to a new year, peace seems such a long way off, unattainable, really. But the fact is, we, ourselves need to be the change agents we seek in our world. Each one of us can pray for peace within our own hearts and then we can spread that peace throughout our circles of influence. Each one of us will find ourselves in an environment today that needs us to bring peace to it. Could it be stopping gossip in the office? Could it be visiting a person who is stuck at home? Could it be smiling at a stranger? Could it be reaching out to a friend we haven't seen in a while? Let's pray with this song (link below) and invite God's peace into our own hearts. God is always so happy to answer that prayer! Then let's really be aware of every place we visit today where God's peace, through us, may be extended out to others.  "Let it start in me. Let it start in me!" Love, heidi
Glory (Let There Be Peace)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

In the midst of joy...

"But if we walk in the light, then we have fellowship with one another..."
1 John 1:7

Merry Christmas! (It's still Christmas--hooray!) So, I had a long bus ride yesterday and I found it to be very contemplative. Last week's ride was much less so--I visited with other passengers and made new friends. But yesterday was much more quiet and led to lovely contemplation; just like today's Gospel of the Holy Innocents.  Right in the middle of the festive Christmas readings, we hear a very dark and tragic story. As I was riding yesterday, basking in the fresh, wonderful memories of a fabulous time, I overheard a conversation of another passenger describing the holiday as "painful" to whomever was on the other end. It's not all poinsettias and mistletoe, Friends. And the Gospel reminds us of that.  In the midst of our holiday joy and glow, others are suffering.  And what are we to do with that? Be aware, for one thing. Watch for folks that may need a call or a shoulder. Let's go out of our way to reach out to those who may not feel so merry and bright. We are to be Jesus' hands and feet, comforting, consoling, welcoming, and including those around us.  Can we open our eyes today? Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Relax and surrender...

"We are passing on the very love of God from age to age...This is the joining of hands from generation to generation that can and will change the world."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 12/21/16

Whenever I prepare to gather with family for the holidays, I always pray that I will be (as my mother put it) a "good girl." I don't want to be crabby or contrary, demanding or easily flummoxed. I just want everyone to have a great time! Well, today's Richard Rohr reflection gave me a much better prayer, which I will take with me into the family throng.  I pray to surrender to the great flow of God's Love.  I certainly don't earn or achieve God's love, but only need to surrender to it.  I only need to let go and allow this Love to pass through me to others.  If I can stop thinking of it as something I "do" but only something I surrender "to," I will get it.  Gracious God of Gatherings and Celebrations, please remind me through the next several days to let go and surrender to You. Help me to stop with my own agenda and remember that I need only relax in Your love that is like an ocean surrounding me.  I have everything I will ever need to pass this Love on to whomever I meet through these Holy-days.  And to you, Dear Friends, I wish you peace and oceans of Love...until next week, love, heidi

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Everyone is given a gift...

"There the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."
Isaiah 7:14

Last night I had my annual viewing of the movie, "The Nativity Story." It is my favorite because of how beautiful and real it is. Each year I seem to glean a little more gold from it and last night was no exception! There is a scene when Mary and Joseph are nearing Bethlehem and an old shepherd invites them to warm by his fire. Mary thanks him for his kindness and the shepherd tells her that his father used to say that everyone is given a gift. Hers is the child she carries in her womb. "What is your gift?" Mary asks the shepherd. Her tells her he is still waiting to find it. After the birth of Jesus, the shepherds begin to come to the cave to see what the angels have proclaimed to them and the old shepherd is among them. Mary sees him and he tenderly, yet hesitantly, reaches out to touch the tiny baby in her arms.  His hand is dirty and shaky as he reaches out for the baby. Just when you think Mary would pull the new baby closer to her, away from the dirty hand, Mary extends the baby toward the shepherd and says "He is for all people...Everyone is given a gift." It reminded me of Jesus' ministry, extending himself to the poor and the lowly, just as his mother extended him for the poor shepherd to touch with his shaking, dirty hand.  It makes me tear up just typing this, Friends. Our God came as one of us to reach out to the poor...let's ponder that today. Love, heidi

Monday, December 19, 2016

The wait drags on...

"Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home."
Luke 1:23

This sentence jumped out at me this morning.  The story is of Zechariah, while serving as a priest in the temple for a certain period of time, sees a vision of the angel Gabriel telling him his elderly wife will bear a son.  He questions the angel about the logistics and is struck mute for his doubting (which strikes me as a bit harsh). And then...even after all this, he stays on to complete his priestly duties. He doesn't go home early. Wow! He waited until his service was over. That is awesome!  We are at the point of Advent when I'm over it. The Fourth Sunday is over, all four candles are lit, let's get this show on the road, as my mother would say. This last few days of Advent seem to drag on as if the celebration will never begin.  But, just like Zechariah, we may have a bit more service to complete before we call it good.  Maybe we have a bit more in-heart preparation to make.  The tree may be trimmed and the cards written and mailed (I wish!), but our in-heart prep may need a little more time.  Let's take a good look inside today, Friends.  How does our heart look? Ready for an important guest?  Love, heidi

Friday, December 16, 2016

Simple. Not easy, but simple

"The Word of God is telling us very clearly that if you do not do it, you, in fact, do not believe it and have not heard it."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr"

Fr. Rohr makes it really clear that we don't just believe in Jesus...we KNOW Jesus and the only way that is manifested is by us doing the work of Jesus. It's not mysterious or ponderous.  It is Matthew 25:31-46, spelled out as clearly and unmistakably as possible. That's not to say it's easy, by any means, but it is clear. We are to do what Jesus did, for the people Jesus hung out with (the poor, the people on the fringe) and we are to do it with love and compassion.  We could wrangle and wonder all our lives what God wants us to do and we make many decisions every day, hoping to "get it right." But the bottom line is, what we do for others, with love and compassion, we do the same way to Jesus. How we treat others, we treat Jesus the same way.  Simple. Not easy, but simple.  Blessings on your last weekend of Advent! Love, heidi

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Joy in the morning

"Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime his goodwill.
At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing."
Psalm 30:5-6

Scripture can seem like just words on a page unless we can trace back through our lives and see the times we have lived the words.  I remember, about a million years ago, when life was difficult and there was  a song we sang at the youth masses called "Yes, Lord." It had a refrain that included this line, "the night is dark but joy comes in the morning."  I remember taking such comfort in that line that I would tear up while singing it. Scripture, indeed, comes alive, my Friends.  And the joy, indeed, comes in the morning.  The hard part, though, is getting through the long, dark night.  It seems so dark and so long and God may seem very far away.  This time of year exemplifies the long, dark night for us, physically as well as metaphorically.  As early as the end of next week, there will be .03 more minutes of daylight, the day after the winter solstice! That tiny little glimmer of light is just how our Gracious God comes to us...a small infant, a wee glimmer of light.  Today, let's pray especially for those who struggle this time of year, those who suffer in that long, dark night.  Families of loved ones who are ill and dying, families who are separated by anger and bitterness. People who are on the fringe of the happy lives we depict in our Christmas cards.  Those who feel they don't belong in our fragile little accepted society.  Pray their joyful dawn will come and that we may be able to help them until it does...Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Change of head, change of heart...

"Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart, and if the heart does not change, new ideas do not last long."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr"

In pondering this, this early winter morning, I had a real Eureka! moment. It is God, working deeply within us, that eventually gets our heads and hearts on the same page.  God may give us an idea or notion, then gently works on our hearts to give us the desire to do whatever is needed. I can know a path to take that would probably be safer and better for me in the long run, but unless my heart comes onboard and agrees, it is an empty, useless thought.  Ah, but if my heart can agree, if God puts that very desire into my heart and I feel it as a desire, then the head and heart are in alignment and I can go forth and do whatever-it-is.  God puts the deep desires into our hearts.  God urges us to follow our deep desires, that is where God's will for us is, in fact. I can look back through the choices I have made with my head and see my heart's desire line up and vice versa.  I can also see the burning desire of my heart come to fruition through decisions and plans made and followed through. It is sure easier to see looking back than it is looking ahead, isn't it?  But, looking back, when we can clearly see God's tracks in our lives, we can be less anxious about the future.  Love, heidi

Monday, December 12, 2016

Surrender to the miracle

Dear Friends,
On this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I am re-sharing a post from three years ago.  The lesson is still just as fresh to me, hopefully to you as well...

"Am I not here, your mother?"
Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego, The Text of the Nican Mopohua

A few years ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to study and learn about Our Lady of Guadalupe during a silent retreat in Boise.  There were many things that impressed me about the history, the symbolism and the impact of the events of 1531 near Mexico City, but one thing absolutely jumped out at me.  Juan Diego, the Christian Indian who witnessed the "brown skinned woman" on the hillside and carried her image on his tilma to the bishop, completely surrendered himself to the miracle.  That, to me, was symbolized in one action.  When Juan Diego opened his tilma and the roses tumbled out at the bishop's feet, they stared, in awe, at the image of Our Lady left on the tilma.  That was the miracle that showed the bishop that Juan was telling the truth, Our Lady was on the hillside, the miracle was real!  And then Juan Diego surrendered his tilma; just took it off and gave it to the bishop as proof of the miracle.  Juan was a poor man with few possessions, but he literally gave the shirt off his back to the bishop.  It was more to him than simply a garment, it was a miracle.  It was more than simply a shield from the December chill, it was the Mother of the Poor reaching out to help her children.  It was precious to him, and yet, he realized the need to give it up.  And the tilma still belongs to the people, is still on display in the Basilica in Mexico City. The lesson for us is that God is still creating miracles in our lives today, everyday we encounter God reaching into our lives.  We need to follow the example of Juan Diego:  share the miracles with others, surrender ourselves to what our miracles are telling us.  And change our immediate world around us by getting ourselves out of the way and letting God be God!  Love, heidi

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Left alone with all she needs...

"'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.' Then the angel departed from her."
Luke 1:38

It was in Fr. James Martin's book "Jesus: A Pilgrimage" that I first recognized the most amazing sentence of this chapter in Luke. "Then the angel departed from her." In that one sentence is the Christian journey of faith.  Mary hears from the angel that she has won favor with God and this amazing event will take place.  How exciting! How challenging and anxiety-producing! And then. Then the angel leaves her with her own faith to navigate it all.  When I was a little girl and my favorite movie was "The Wizard of Oz" (who am I kidding, it still is my favorite!) I was frustrated that the Good Witch, Glenda, kept coming and going while Dorothy was in Oz, but why didn't she stay with Dorothy and help her out the whole time? Similarly, I could wonder why the angel couldn't stay visible and present to Mary and help her through the coming ordeal? Mary was given all she needed to cope with it all from God, all through her life and very being.  God worked from the inside with Mary, giving her the strength and hope she needed, just as God works with us...from the inside. God gives us all we need so our faith can be manifested through all we do--on the outside.  Today, as we pray and ponder with young Mary, let's give our faith-filled "Yes!" to God too, in our own lives.  God will give us all we need to do anything...from the inside.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Time to rest!

"Jesus said to the crowds, 'Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28

Rest? Seriously? This time of year?  Perhaps this is the exact time of year we need Jesus to talk about rest.  We get ourselves so spun out of control with the Christmas machine that rest seems impossible. When, actually, the earth itself is telling us to rest. The days are getting shorter, the nights longer. That spells R-E-S-T, to me.  Trees are resting, animals are hibernating, time for us to take it easy, too.  Since letting go of Facebook and a couple other time-consuming activities this Advent, I find myself getting to bed much earlier.  I have been able to spend time just sitting with the tree lights and a candle. This pondering kind of rest is rejuvenating and recharging.  Letting go of some of the seasonal "must-dos" has helped too. (People may be pleasantly surprised to get a Christmas card in February, right?) The only "must-do" on my schedule this Advent is to restfully sit with Jesus for a time each day.  Everything else can wait.  What about you? Can you take some time to rest? Love, heidi

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Comfort, give comfort...

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

God bids Isaiah to comfort the people of Israel and let them know they will be OK. The readings of Isaiah are our Advent mainstays...we grew up with these beautiful readings promising the coming of the Kingdom of God.  So, why are we always so fearful? How could we fear a God who gives a messenger the image of a shepherd, gathering his sheep? (verse 11) Isaiah is urging the people to prepare for a gentle, loving God who shepherds them instead of punishing them.  Isaiah is laying the foundation for Jesus, the God of forgiveness, compassion, mercy, and inclusion.  The people were more used to a God requiring obedience to the rules. One wonders if these words to Isaiah can also urge us to comfort the people around us this day.  People are stressed out.  People are fearful and anxious. People need to hear words of comfort, just like the people of will be OK. God loves us all.  Today, let's keep our eyes and ears open for someone, friend or stranger, who may need a few words of comfort. And let's give comfort to God's people.  Love, heidi

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent waiting...and waiting

Deacon Wence shared a lovely story of waiting during his homily Saturday evening. When he was a little boy, he came home from school late in the afternoon. During the winter, it was already growing dark. Often his mother was visiting his grandmother and not home when he arrived, but he would sit on the front steps and wait for her.  He watched down the street for the headlights of her car.  He waited in hope for her coming...and she always came.  I remember, thirty years ago, waiting in hope for a baby boy, due the first week of December. The shortening winter days and long winter nights made me anxious and I was certainly uncomfortable. But I waited in hope. Since he was our second child, I knew that he would come, eventually! Waiting in hope.  Waiting, knowing full well that the wait would be so worth it and so rewarded with the Coming.  Finally, our son arrived on December 9, a wonderful wee lad, our Blaine.  For Deacon Wence, one set of headlights would pull into the driveway, his wait thus rewarded.  Our Savior will always, always come to us. And the Coming will be so worth the wait.  Advent is it going?  Love, heidi

Thursday, December 1, 2016

We wait for you...with you

"The kingdom (of God) is always here and not here. It is always now and not yet."
"Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr"

I'm convinced we see glimpses of the kingdom of God, showing us that it is happening right now. We wait for Jesus during Advent, certainly, but the fabulous part is that Jesus waits with us.  That is one of those puzzling truths, like the kingdom is always here and not here.  Jesus waits with us and yet, Jesus is who we are waiting for.  Advent quiet gives us the time to ponder these truths, but it is all too easy to miss them in the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations.  Let's try not to miss it this year! Let's carve out some time to sit in the quiet, light a candle, hum a hymn, and just sit and wait with Jesus, for Jesus.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Free the soul...

"On this path the soul is free and lives without inner suffering, for she wants nothing but what her Lord wants, who arranges everything for the best."
Mechtild of Magdeburg, "The Flowing Light of the Godhead" (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

I first "met" Mechtild of Magdeburg while on retreat for the first time at Marymount. I'd found a book in the library there on women mystics and, as I read it, Mechtild's words resonated with me.  These, today, in Give Us This Day do too! As I wax and wane about the future I need to remember only one thing--God holds the future.  If I can just get on board with what God's plans are, my soul will want nothing but what God wants for me.  I will be able to live and thrive wherever I am, whatever I am doing.  This is very freeing to hear!  Hopefully, it is for you, too...Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let God do what God wants...

"But God does things through me that I myself cannot do, or even measure...That's the secret. Let God do what God wants to do through me."
The Little Blue Book for Advent

It doesn't matter where I live, what my job is or who surrounds me. It only really matters that I give God free reign to work through me. I need to get my ego out of the way, though, which is a hard thing for me to do! It's not about me, it's about God and what God can do if I just step out of the way.  I learned a while back that I don't need to have a lofty vocation for God to work, but God will work anywhere I find myself, whether at work or play. What can God do through me today? Wow! The possibilities are we go, God! Love, heidi

Monday, November 28, 2016

Let go! Make room for God...

"What attachment in your life can you let go of to make more room for God?"
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Preparing for Christmas with Richard Rohr"

This Advent I'm letting go of something I enjoy, but it doesn't always leave me "in joy." Facebook. I realize I spend so much time and energy on Facebook and sometimes, it drives me crazy! Letting go of something that gobbles up our time gives us time to spend on something else, according to a priest we had long ago. I'm hoping to spend some very quality time this Advent pondering, praying, and preparing. Here's hoping I don't just find another time-sucking, mind-numbing, blood-pressure-raising activity! Advent is one day old already! How are we spending it? Is there anything we can let go in order to spend more time prayerfully? Maybe it's TV watching? Maybe it's computer time? Whatever we can do to give ourselves a few more minutes each day to spend with God will be well worth our effort. I'm convinced of that...Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thank God for the inside gifts...

"I will give thanks to your name,
Because of your kindness and your truth.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me."
Psalm 138

As we near our feast of thanksgiving, there are a couple of things that strike me.  First, it seems ironic that we pause (so briefly) to give thanks for all we have before we tear out the door in the middle of the night to buy more stuff (!)  And second, we give thanks for the goods we have, but do we stop to think about the more important gifts God gives, such as strength?  I believe that God's interaction with us happens within us.  To me, God doesn't manipulate the events of our lives as much as God builds us up from the inside so we can cope with the events of our lives. Many ask where God is during tragedies we experience and I believe God weeps with us through the tragedies and gifts us with the strength to endure. God's gift to us of our own free will can wreak havoc in the world and that is when God works within us, gives us strength and spreads kindness and truth through us.  So, as we think about and thank God for our many gifts, let's especially think of the inside gifts God generously gives to us. God gives us the strength we need to cope with the results of our own free will and that may be the best gift of all!  Blessings to all as you gather this week!  See you Monday!  Love, heidi

Monday, November 21, 2016

The end of mercy? Never!

“God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are his beloved children. And he believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.”
Pope Francis, closing out the Year of Mercy

So the Year of Mercy is over. It sure went fast, didn't it? We had a ceremonial final walking through our Mercy Gate at Christ the King over the weekend and it couldn't have come at a better time.  I'd gone to mass early to read and pray.  Trouble was, it was hard to concentrate, there was a lot going on there just then. I found myself getting irritated and short-tempered...just in time to walk through the Mercy Gate one final time.  Later, as I snuggled down into bed and started my prayers, I was still irritated and wrestling with people in my mind. "Now, now," Jesus whispered to me. "Remember the mercy you asked for and received walking through the Mercy Gate earlier? Pass that mercy along to others." Whoa! Right as always, Jesus, thanks. Mercy never ends from God's side.  We need it now in our world, more than ever and it's up to us to pass it on.  Love, heidi

Friday, November 18, 2016

Care for Creation...

"We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good."
Pope Francis to the United Nations Assembly, September, 2015

This is an area where I'm feeling overwhelmed by the thought of What can I do? The problem is much bigger than one person and it seems out of reach to make any kind of impact at all.  Over the years, I have made subtle changes and those subtle changes can add up.  If everyone makes changes, they can all add up.  We are fortunate, here in Idaho Falls, to have a very good recycling program that makes it so easy to recycle most everything.  We had a enlightening program several years ago at the Motherhouse that urged me to make simple changes like never leaving water running when I brush my teeth or any other water-using activity.  Every drop of water is precious! Here lately, I've taken to bringing a garbage bag whenever I walk the dog and I pick up trash along the route. I am always dismayed by how much stuff people just throw out their car windows! Really? The earth is ours to gently use, Friends. We are stewards and we need to be aware, every minute, of how we are treating our precious planet.  Can we spend some time this weekend thinking of small changes we can make in our day to tenderly care for our home?  Love, heidi

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Climbing a tree in fear?

"Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd..."
Luke 19:2-3

Does anyone mind if we revisit Zacchaeus from Tuesday's Gospel? I must admit the Revelation readings baffle me...they seem science-fiction-y and I like more concrete stuff, like a guy climbing a tree to see Jesus!  Our Deacon had a wonderful thought about Zacchaeus that I have been thinking about since he preached on this Gospel a while back.  It says in the reading that Zacchaeus had to run ahead and climb a tree to get a better look at Jesus. Deacon Chris explained that Zacchaeus, being a wealthy tax collector, would have been hated by the crowd.  It would have been hard for him to walk through the crowd because of their distain for him.  The Gospel saying he ran ahead and climbed a tree because he was short was, perhaps, just a nice way of explaining his actions. The real reason was that the crowd may have roughed him up.  I have thought about this long and hard in light of our divided state as a nation.  It pains me to think of the negativity in our country today.  Zacchaeus' encounter with Jesus completely changes him from that day on.  Encounters with Jesus do that for people.  Let's pray for each other today! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The most splendid cathedral!

'Daily cosmic events in the sky and on the earth are the Reality above our heads and beneath our feet every minute of our lives: a continuous sacrament."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Reflection, 11/15

Fr. Rohr is talking about Creation being the "primary cathedral" for both St. Francis and also Jesus, who used stories of nature and natural human observations to teach his lessons.  Nature can teach us if we are open and observant to its lessons.  The past couple of nights there has been a tremendous Super Moon, so large and beautiful to behold! I was grateful to take lovely walks observing it and it was very spiritual for me. Also, I spent some time, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, observing the burning bushes in my front garden.  The vibrant red leaves have given way to bright orange berries, which I had never really noticed before.  Observing these gifts of nature is prayer, appreciating them is sacramental. Both teach me of the circle of life, the rising and shining of the moon one day, the only-visible part of the moon the next.  We can't see the good all the time, but seeing it occasionally reassures us that it is always really there.  The leaves giving way to berries mirrors our very lives, helping us realize that life is cyclic, sometimes it is filled with the splendor of vibrant red leaves, other times, it's just the berries! In any case, observing creation is prayer. Creation is God in action in our lives and we are missing a fabulous sacramental service if we can't take the time to pray in nature's cathedral.  Love, heidi

Monday, November 14, 2016

A gift of Hope

"Seen through the eyes of faith this is a desolate landscape but it remains God's world for which Jesus died and over which the Spirit broods."
Sr. Ruth Burrows, "Love Unknown" (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

This past Saturday I helped out at an Alternative Gift Fair. I thought that I would volunteer an afternoon, do my part, you know...But, in reality, God gave me some wonderful gifts that afternoon, the most splendid one being a gift of Hope.  I enjoyed visiting with wonderful people, but there were two young women I met who passed God's gift of Hope along to me. One was a young counselor of very young mothers in difficult situations and the other an intern in Probation and Parole. Both young women were filled with love and compassion for the people they serve. Both serve a population whom others may find difficult to embrace. Both showed me that enthusiasm and zeal can go a long way to fan the fire of Good (and God) in the world.  I'll admit, both reminded me a tiny bit of an idealistic young Heidi Gainan eons ago, who sincerely desired to make the world better.  Is it too late for me and my generation? Are we too jaded or burned out to make a difference anymore? Certainly not! Not when God shows us Hope through young people taking up the banner of serving humanity today. I was taught a vivid lesson that the young people of today are rolling up their sleeves and doing good things in the world.  And that gives me tremendous Hope, for them and for us. Thanks be to God. Love, heidi

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Be the Good...

"For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you."
Luke 17:21

As I continue to reflect on the events of this week, the more I see that we are to be the change we seek in this world. We can't look to anything around us to be just or right, but only to ourselves to love and BE the Kingdom of God here and now. Fr. Richard Rohr offered a much-needed prayer yesterday and part of it said,

"If you are indeed a Suffering God, may we hold this suffering with You..." (Richard Rohr, 11/9/16)

There is much suffering all over the world, not just in our own land. Our God doesn't cause suffering or even fix suffering, but indeed, suffers with us.  All we have to do is look to the cross and see that God suffers with us.  God also commissions us to go out to comfort and ease the suffering of others. God relies on us to be the good we seek. Thankfully, God also will gift us with what we need to do that...we just need to ask and invite God into our hearts.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Our refuge and strength...

"God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken
and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea."
Psalm 46:2-3

We pray, not that we will change God, but that God will change us.  May we be open and pliable to the change we need. Only God can change us. Only God can heal us. Only God can work within us to bring out the REAL us. In the meantime, more will be asked of us. We are asked to be light where there is darkness. We are asked to be hope when things seem hopeless. We are asked to stand with the poor, disenfranchised, and suffering when they feel left out and abandoned. We are asked to care for our earthly home. We are asked to be God's hands and feet in the world when the world needs us. We are asked to look in the mirror and be the people we thought we already were, but, apparently, we aren't. Yet.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day...

"Trust in the Lord and do good
that you may dwell in the land and live secure."
Psalm 37:3
I admit it--I don't know exactly how it works when we pray for an election. I'm not sure that God manipulates elections, even if invited to do so. God gives us free will, as well as hearts, minds and consciences. Our democracy gives us the opportunity to use all four to elect the leaders of our country. If God can manipulate elections, what does that do to our free will? Are not both sides in a polarizing election praying to the same God? Confusing, isn't it?  I've been learning lately that we don't pray to change God but we pray for God to change us.  In other words, we don't pray to sway God's mind about something, but that God will fortify our minds and nourish our hearts to fulfill our destiny on this planet. Maybe God helps us deal with the results of our own free will? In any event, this election day, I remember the many, many people who have sacrificed to give me the privilege and responsibility to vote. My great-grandmothers couldn't vote simply because they were women, so in their honor I will humbly, and prayerfully, vote today.  And I will also pray today, that God will touch the individual hearts of all in this country. For God loves us all and God resides in all of us. God bless us!  Love, heidi

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A cat in the daisies...

"The mystery of Christ is revealed, and the Christ "comes again," whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation

If this is true, and I believe it is, Christ came again to my backyard on Saturday.  I saw a mysterious cat in the yard, actually Tebow-the-dog found it first.  I thought it would go home on its own, but later, even when I couldn't see it, Tebow found it hiding in the daisies.  I tried to coax it out with a bit of food and it made a very angry face and hissing sound that made me take a few steps back (I'm not a cat person!) I called the one person I knew could help, Porsche from Teton Kennel.  She came over after work with her daughters and a little cat carrier. The cat was hunkered down in the daisies, making itself very hard to see. Porsche, a Cat Whisperer, just reached into the daisies, bare-handed and pulled the cat out by the scruff of its neck and placed it gently in the carrier.  The cat gave a speech, but I didn't understand any of it! Porsche posted the found cat on Facebook and, literally, I kid you not, she'd found the owner within an hour.  The owner was so grateful, explaining the cat had been missing for ten days!  So how in the world is this story Christ coming again? A small creature, loved by God, is gently and lovingly returned home, where it had been mourned and missed for days.  This story's got Christ-coming written all over it!  Love, heidi

Thursday, November 3, 2016

All good gifts are to be shared

"No, we do not truly comprehend any spiritual thing until we ourselves give it away. Spiritual gifts increase only by 'using' them, whereas material gifts normally decrease by usage."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps"

This is one of the most important lessons I feel God is trying to teach me.  I say "trying" because I am a rather hard sell in this area.  I love going off alone on retreat and just letting God love me so much! But God has made it clear to me that retreat time is only me filling up to give to others.  I could soak in God's love for days and days, just taking, taking it in. But God is clear that my receiving is for giving to others later. Anything I glean on retreat must be shared or the true gift is lost. We can pray with this message by first looking, gratefully, at the spiritual gifts God has given us.  Once identified, we can ask God for avenues to share them with others, since that is what God had in mind when we were given them!  All good gifts are meant to be can we do that today? Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Peace in the journey

"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. But they are in peace."
Wisdom 3:1-2

This reading, on the Feast of All Souls, never ceases to comfort me.  Losing loved ones and friends is terribly hard and you don't reach this age without experiencing it.  But actually being with someone as they pass from one life to the next can be illuminating. The passage can be so gentle; just the difference between one breath and the absence of another one...peace-filled and gentle.  Seeing that certainly can give us a peaceful image of death, but it isn't always the case, unfortunately.  My dad, for example, struggled so as he inched toward death, it was too difficult for my mom and I to watch.  Dying isn't always peaceful, but death is.  Today, as we remember our dear loved ones who are rejoicing on the other side, let's remember those who struggle in dying as well as those who struggle in life.  Peace, the peace of God, is what we all long for and, ultimately, will rejoice in. For all of us on the journey, let us pray...Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Communion with the saints...

"Today's festival (All Saints Day) reminds us that the communion of saints is not some elite club...Rather it is a gaggle of the gifted and the not so gifted who choose to practice holiness together."
Fr. Edward Foley, "Give Us This Day"

This and other things I read this morning remind me that Christianity isn't an exclusive club. It isn't elite, made up of perfect people, or even successful, really. Remember our leader was put to death! Jesus and the saints we celebrate today were rascals in their time. They didn't conform to their own cultures necessarily. They may have stood out because they were different. Jesus certainly did. Much of what he did ran against the grain of his Jewish society. I was thinking about the saints and had this idea for a little prayer exercise. What if we pick a few saints we would like to gather in a booth at Denny's or Dixie's or wherever we gather to sit, drink coffee and share. What saints would we choose? I'm thinking of St. Ann, my name patron who tradition believes is Jesus' grandmother. I imagine she has some stories! I'm thinking St. Jude who helped our kids get through school. I'd love to buy him a cup of coffee and thank him! I'm thinking St. Francis who inspires me to live a more simple life.  I'm thinking of St. Teresa of Calcutta, too, wouldn't it be neat to sit and chat with her? The saints were real human beings who simply grew so close to God they began to look like Jesus in the world. What if we could do a faith sharing group with a handful of saints...who would you pick? What would you ask them?   Love, heidi

Monday, October 31, 2016

Thy Kingdom come...thy will be done

"In short, prayer is not about changing God, but being willing to let God change us, or as Step 11 says, 'praying only for the knowledge of God's will.'"
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps"

Whoa, and all these years I have prayed to get God onboard with what I want and think I need!  This makes so much sense to me now, though. Jesus invites us to pray and our prayers will be answered (Matthew 7:7) and we all have had the experience of saying, "Really? I didn't get what I prayed for! I prayed for this to happen and it didn't. That happened instead, so I guess prayer doesn't really work." But when we pray for certain outcomes to occur we aren't necessarily praying with the mind of Christ or for a greater good or for the Bigger Picture.  We are praying for what we think is best on any given day, and our prayers may be naively short-sighted.  Today let's think about praying more for God's will than our own.  Our prayer isn't to change God's mind...but to change our own minds to align better with God's.  Love, heidi 

Friday, October 28, 2016

No longer strangers...

"Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God..."
Ephesians 2:19

I think the most powerful experience I've had the last several years is journeying with seniors during the last years of their lives.  The nature of my caseload and the fact that most of the people I work with are in their 70's and 80's just lends itself to me watching them decline and even enter Eternal Life on my watch. Since I've just recently started as a Hospice volunteer, it is reinforced to me that we are no longer strangers and sojourners, but one family of matter who we are.  I have had the experience of just sitting with a person as they journey toward God's full embrace and it is amazing how nothing else matters. It doesn't matter what religion they are, or what political party they belong to or any other particularity about them or me. It only matters that we share time together and journey together, even if it is just a short time. We all share time and space on this planet and that is a truly beautiful thing.  Today, let's take a loving look at the people in our day. Let's be reminded that each person is a gift to us from our God who loves us beyond measure. Is there something we can do to make their day better?  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Serving God

"...but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not human beings..."
Ephesians 6:6-7

All this talk about slavery can make us uncomfortable, can't it? But this part about serving God and not human beings hits home for me. As fulfilling and wonderful as my job is, I've been doing it nearly forty years and, frankly, there are days I long for something else.  This discontent gives me pause, and I listen to it, because, amid the clamber of restlessness, God may be calling me to something new.  Yesterday I had one of those moments, driving between appointments, when I just wondered "How long, Lord?" (Psalm 13:2) I arrived at the lady's house, spent a wonderful hour with her, was able to provide an item that helped her a great deal and left there with a sense of serving the Lord.  All good, that.  It is the will of God I desire to do. The human beings, most often, give me joy, and I really love them, but it is God I serve.  So, thank you, Gracious God, for helping me serve you and showing me your will. Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The mriacle of growth

"(The Kingdom of God) is like a mustard seed...It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour..."
Luke 13:19, 21

Pray-As-You-Go invites us to ponder both of Jesus' images of the Kingdom of God and think which one we relate to better.  What I found was more the similarities of the two; mainly, that the Kingdom of God occurs miraculously.  Both the tiny little mustard seed growing into the huge plant and the small bits of leaven making a loaf of bread rise seem miraculous to me.  Both miracles are surprising, you may look over on the counter and catch your breath when you see the risen loaf. Or one morning you go out and notice, "Whoa! That plant grew overnight!" So it seems with us when we surrender to God and try to become pliable in God's hands.  We may surprise ourselves with choices we make that seem a little kinder or welcoming. We may be surprised to find our hearts melting as we feel differently about others. These signs of God working quietly in our hearts may take us by surprise! But first, we must let our own agendas go and release our hearts to God for the changing. God certainly won't change us without our willingness to be changed! That is what our free will is about.  God doesn't infringe on that, but God will delight in growing us, leavening us and filling us with God's own love if we are just open to be changed.  Love, heidi

Monday, October 24, 2016

To have and to hold...

"Brothers and sisters: Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ."
Ephesians 4:32
I have been learning a lot about non-dualistic thinking and sincerely have the goal to try and live more like that...with less "us vs. them" and more "both/and" ways of seeing things.  Just when I think I'm getting somewhere I am faced with how deficient I really am and how much further I have to go.  During this difficult election I'm especially challenged, but I sure don't need an election to show me I'm still very dualistic! I took it to prayer yesterday and really asked God for guidance. Does being non-dualistic mean not having my own opinions? That doesn't seem realistic at all. If we have a brain we have opinions and someone who has lived as long as I have has rather strong opinions based on sixty years of living on this planet.  The answer I gleaned was this: It's not about whether or not you have opinions, it's about how you hold your opinions.  Do we hold our opinions as the only way to believe? Do we feel everyone is wrong if they disagree with us? Do we feel compelled to share our opinions because they are so "right" and others need to know how right we are? Do we feel justified by our opinions and thus, like the Pharisee in yesterday's Gospel, we are saved by them? Is it possible to hold our opinions too tightly? Deep and ponderous questions we can ask ourselves. Being non-dualistic means allowing that there are other opinions and people feel just as passionately about their opinions as we do. We do not have all the answers and neither does anyone else.  We are trying to live our lives as faithful, loving, compassionate people. As we muddle through this difficult time, let's all pray for each other, and our country, these next couple of weeks and beyond. Love, heidi

Friday, October 21, 2016

With patience and love...

"I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love..."
Ephesians 4:1-2

So, I was on retreat all last week with absolutely no news, phone, or connection to the world to interrupt my bliss.  I thought I'd be curious as to what was going on but I settled into ignorance very well.  The world could certainly do without me for a few days! The problem with that is that, upon returning and hearing all that is happening around me, it had a cumulative effect--a sort of piling on. "You weren't part of this last week so we are doubling down on you this week!" It hit me hard. It certainly helps to know that, instead of watching us from a distance, God is right in our midst, suffering with us...Fr. Richard Rohr explained that in his meditation for today. That helps, but so does this advice from St. Paul. We can get along with each other by bearing with one another in patience with love.  We can disagree and DO disagree, but the bottom line is that we are all God's children and loved enormously by God. This difficult time, too, will pass and (somehow!) all will be well (Julian of Norwich). So, let's go forth this autumn Friday, in humility (we don't have all the answers!), gentle and patient with each other.  We are all loved mightily by a God who knows our sufferings, and, in fact, suffers with us.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Entrusted with more?

"Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more,"
Luke 12:48

I sure can see how I've been entrusted with much! I grew up well-loved with every advantage of education and experience. I'm grateful everyday for the love of my parents, family and friends and for all I have been able to do and see in my life. So what am I to do, now that I see myself firmly in the "people entrusted with much" column?  I see it as such a responsibility to give back, but, as obvious as that is, I still struggle with it. I remember that first retreat at Marymount when I was praying that I could change my life all around and have a spiritual vocation. It was such a grand ambition, seemingly so far out of reach, and yet I felt so drawn to that.  And I remember the answer coming just as clear as a bell. Heidi-dear, what I'd really like is if you would just do your life better now, where you are right now. Any vocation is a spiritual vocation if you just do it with love and for God. Huh? What is being asked of me, as a person given so much, is to do what I do with love and for God.  I am to love those I serve in my work, love those I encounter each day and do it all for the glory of God, who gave everything to me in the first place. (See, this is why I go on retreat! I get clear answers to murky questions!)  Abundantly Gifting God, please help me to give back to you today by doing what I do, better, with more love and for your glory! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A magnificent distraction...

As I was sitting down to do my readings and morning prayer, I had the most incredible distraction ever! Daughter Jeni Rose is in Barcelona and was texting me as she explored her neighborhood. She happened onto the Cathedral, which is a few blocks from her little flat.  She went inside and sent me pictures of it with her little commentary of how beautiful and amazing it all is. An organ was playing and a soloist practicing. She was awed by the holiness of it. And, to me, THAT was my prayer time right there. No, I didn't quite get to the readings, but traveling through the Cathedral at Barcelona with Jeni Rose was a magnificent prayer in itself.  So, thank you, Gracious God for the gift of distraction! And the gift of seeing the Cathedral through the eyes and iPhone of Jeni Rose...Love, heidi

Monday, October 17, 2016

Take care...

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

This is a drumbeat I've tried to march to for quite a while, with varying degrees of success.  I first learned about voluntary simplicity many years ago and the idea of living more as a minimalist intrigued me right away. I got rid of a ton of stuff immediately. But now I can see that living with less is only part of the call of Jesus.  Jesus' own lifestyle and his preferential concern for the poor and marginalized is the more important second part of this equation, I believe. It doesn't matter if I have just thirty-three things in my closet if my lifestyle doesn't show generosity to the poor. (Although the 333 Project has been fascinating!) The real message is if I am living with less, I can share more with others.  That seems to be the whole ball of wax for me this autumn Monday. Jesus, you know how I struggle with stuff and my need for security keeps my grip tight around my resources. Please help me to live with less so I can help others.  As Fr. Richard Rohr says so wisely, "Live simply so others may simply live." Amen! Love, heidi

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Are you mad?

"Are you people in Galatia mad?"
Galatians 3:1

Since Pray-As-You-Go is a UK production, sometimes their versions of the readings are just a bit...well, British! That is the case today, isn't it fun? The US version is still a bit of a wake-up call, "O stupid Galatians!" St. Paul has had it with the Galatians, no matter who you talk to.  So what's the rub?  St. Paul is asking the Galatians if they are living more by the law or the Spirit, in faith. The Jewish people love their laws...they had a bunch of them and the law was their life-blood. It was a safety net for them.  As long as they were obeying the laws they were OK. But along comes Paul and they are baptized into Jesus and the Spirit and they're asked to step out in faith, propelled by the Spirit.  That's a bit risky when all you've had to be before was law-abiding. That safety net of the ritual laws is gone! So let's ask ourselves this autumn we believe God loves us because we are good? Or does God love us because God is good? Do we believe it is our behavior that saves us and grants us eternal life? Or are we graced with life by a God who couldn't possibly NOT love us?  Happy pondering!
Oh and I will be away from the computer for the rest of this week and all next week.  Abundant blessings and love, heidi

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Teach us to pray...

"Lord, teach us to pray..."
Luke 11:1

I've been thinking about prayer lately.  In today's Gospel the disciples of Jesus are thinking about it, too, it seems.  They see Jesus going off to pray and they have a "I'll have what he's having" moment.  My first memory of anything prayerful was, as a small kid, being taught my prayers.  The Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be.  I also was taught to add prayers for loved ones...I still remember the order and fashion, "Grandma Katie Rogers, Grandma Gainan..." Even though it wasn't formulated prayer, it was formulated.  As I grow in faith, my prayer has become much more conversational. I talk to God. Sometimes when something funny happens and there's no one around to appreciate the humor, I share the chuckle with God. I've been known to wink at God, as if to say, "Did you catch that?" But as conversational and personal, even enjoyable, as my prayer life has become, I'm now realizing that anything I pray is a response to God reaching out to me first. I may think I am sitting down to pray and I'm the one beginning the conversation, but it is always God who has reached out first. God is constantly touching my heart. I occasionally respond. Another important aspect of prayer I am learning is Listening as prayer. More often than not, my most powerful prayer is just sitting still and listening.  If prayer is conversational, then I need to take time to listen...I needn't be talking ALL the time! So, as we begin an autumn Wednesday, let's consider how we pray...Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

God is MORE than enough!

You have enough.
You are enough.
You are centered in God and God is MORE than enough!
~ Me, inspired greatly by Fr. Richard Rohr

On this feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I need this little reminder. Fr. Richard, in his Daily Meditation, reminds us that "Happiness is an inside job," and all the shiny things we can accumulate won't give us one bit of REAL happiness.  Also, all the success in the world, measured by the world's standards, won't give us happiness either. Only recognizing that God is at the center and our center can give us the realization we have it all.  We have all that really matters. If we have eyes to see and/or ears to hear we can experience God in everything around us, family, friends, strangers alike. We see God reminding us, through Creation, that leaves fall, the cycle of life goes from life to death to life again. All is well as long as we can find God all around us. We have enough. We are enough. And our God is more than enough.  Love, heidi

Monday, October 3, 2016

Who is my neighbor?

"But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?'"
Luke 10:29

Pray-As-You-Go invited us to sit and think about who we identify with in the story of the Good Samaritan. That was easy for me...I'm the guy asking the question. First, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (v. 25) and then, pushing Jesus for more clarity of the requirements, "Who is my neighbor, exactly? Who do I have to be nice to, to stay in the good? What are the boundaries of what I have to do? Where is the line?" I want clear-cut instructions!  And, just like to the guy who asked in the Gospel, Jesus gives me the answer to a different question.  Jesus doesn't tell me who the person I have to be nice to is. Jesus gives me the definition of who I should be--the kind and merciful person who scoops the injured guy off the highway and takes care of him.  That's not what I asked, Jesus, but thanks, anyway. I think. But not really. It's too hard to be that guy who helps the victim of robbers. I wouldn't know what to do (how does he?) I don't have two silver coins to give to the innkeeper either. I'm too comfortable in my little cocoon to reach out that way, what's the least amount I can do and still inherit eternal life? Wow, I really don't like being the guy asking the questions, but here I am. On a Monday, asking "Who is my neighbor?"  Love, heidi

Friday, September 30, 2016

Limitless love inside!

"Love is just like prayer; it is not so much an action that we do, but a dialogue that already flows through us."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 9/30/16

I so often call myself up short because I don't feel I am loving well or just not loving others at all.  Between my harsh judgments and snarky thoughts running through my head (and sometimes they tumble out of my mouth, unfortunately), I just know I could love others better. So what if I think about love as a limitless pool deep, deep inside me? I can access that deep pool of love anytime I want...that is prayer.  The love is already there, I just need to dip down and grasp it, pull it up in a bucket like water from a well. After grasping it, it is very available for me to share with others; friends, family, strangers, people who bug me.  Love isn't something I can work on or attain, but love is something already there I just need to tap into, scoop up and pass along.  This is such good stuff to ponder!  As we end our September and turn ourselves deeper into fall, let's carve out some time to sit and pray and access the deep love God has put in our hearts already...not because we are good, but because God is good! (Thanks, Richard Rohr!) Blessings on your autumn weekend, love, heidi

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Leaving it behind!

"As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey, someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.'"
Luke 9:57

Pray-As-You-Go invites us to pray and ponder what it looks like to leave everything and follow Jesus.  Is it necessary to actually really leave everything? The apostles surely left their fishing boats, relatives and tax collecting booth to, literally, follow Jesus from village to village. What about us? Can we, even briefly, leave our nests and worldly responsibilities to spend some time with Jesus? Could we spend a day, an afternoon or even an hour unplugged? Can we make a conscious effort to turn off the ringers, the computer, the TV, the car radio? Letting go of those seems to me to be the modern day equivalent of "leaving it all behind" and following Jesus. Jesus can give us so much if we can just let go of the ringers and vibrations of our daily lives, if even for a short period of time. And through that time, maybe we can ask Jesus to help us shed other hindrances we are so tied to, like our judgments, prejudices, worries, unloving thoughts. Leaving all that behind would make any sacrifice of time so fruitful!  Let's make plans for carving out some quiet time with Jesus...our nests and duties will survive while we're away! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Just like Job...

"Job opened his mouth and cursed his day. Job spoke out and said, 'Perish the day on which I was born...'"
Job 3:1

As the mass readings reveal the Book of Job in the fall, I always think back to my freshman year of college, attending the nightly 10:00 mass in a small chapel in one of the dorms. The fact that I was attending mass each night should tell you a bit of how that first semester was for me! I was miserable and identified with Job myself. Sad, now that I think of it, that I was too young to really see how God was nudging me. But, I was so young and the fact that I turned to God in my misery was much more God reaching out than me.  Job is going through a terrible time and even rails against God, and you know what? That is wonderful.  God doesn't mind.  God can take it. It means that even in his sorry state, Job still believes in God enough to rail against God. You can't shake your fist and fight against Someone you don't believe in, can you? It's a sign of relationship to fight back. It's the sign of a two-way street there, and that is exactly what God wants from us...relationship.  We can question God, get angry with God, shake our fist at God and God can shoulder all of that.  And God recognizes that, even in our sorrow or anger, we believe. We acknowledge God and have a relationship with God.  And God joins us in our sorrows and cries with us. God rejoices with us in our good times, too. And God can be one with our anger and understands everything we feel.  So we are safe going to God with our full range of emotions. Just as Jesus did, we can go to God and ask, "If there is any way this cup could pass me by..." Love, heidi

Monday, September 26, 2016

Watch for Lazarus...

"Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus...'"
Luke 16:19-20

And so begins the cringe-worthy Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus. Both men die and Lazarus can be seen resting at the bosom of Abraham by the rich man, suffering in torment. And what does this teach us today? Obviously, it teaches that we, the rich, are to do what we can to help Lazarus at our door. Oh, we may not be dressed in fine purple linen and we may not exactly be dining sumptuously, but we are certainly the rich in this story. And why are we to help Lazarus? Because he deserves it? He was a hard-working guy who fell on hard times? Not necessarily. Maybe Lazarus was a recalcitrant son who squandered his father's money, living it up! And we are still called upon to care about him and help him...why? Because he is there. He is there and he is beloved of God, just as all humans are beloved of God. We are not called to judge the Lazarus-folks at our doors, we are called to love and help them. All humans share the dignity of being God's beloved, regardless of what we may see in them. We are not capable of judging them justly, that is solely up to God. But we are called to love and serve.  So, as we embark on an autumn Monday, let's keep our eyes open for the Lazarus(es) among us this day and let us love and serve.  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Far from just vanity...

"Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth..all things are vanity! ...There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them."
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 11

I will admit it. I have a tote in the crawl space filled with photo albums of people I don't know. They are ancient relatives of my mother's and the tote has followed me house to house to townhouse for most of my adult life. And I still don't know who the people are behind the grainy, serious stares. My mom probably told me who they were at one point, but I can't keep them straight now.  So what's the deal with Qoheleth, in today's reading? Why so grumpy? So hopeless? It's easy to see that we can get caught up in the hamster wheel of everyday life and yes, it can see like rather useless toil. I feel a bit sad that one day I will be a nameless face in a photo in a future generation's crawl space. I get that, but I also get something bigger.  Each one of us and each person in photographs is the beloved of God.  I may not know who they are, but God certainly knows them, inside and out. And God purposefully and carefully chose them to be my ancestors and their DNA flows through me today and my children, too.  And, far from being useless vanity, that seems quite stunning to me.  Today, let's thank God for all who have gone before us and realize that their lives led to our lives. They are the beloved of God and so are we! Sounds like a party to, heidi

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jump up and follow!

"I have come to call, not the righteous, but the sinners."
Matthew 9:13

When Jesus walked by Matthew's tax collecting booth and said, "Follow me," we are told that Matthew just got up and went.  Jesus called a sinner and Matthew got up and followed. Just like that.  We don't even get a hint of hesitation on Matthew's part. He changes his life for Jesus immediately and completely. Amazing, that. What about us? We are fortunate in that we are the sinners Jesus came to call in our time. How do we respond? Do we just get up and follow? What does that look like? It could look like this: changing our thinking into a more loving approach. Thinking of our possessions as not ours but belonging to all who are in need. Loving the people who drive us nuts and scooping up those who are lonely and alone on the fringe. How quickly do we get up and follow Jesus, if we really know what that entails? Jesus, I know you call me every single day! You call me out of my comfortable, cozy little life into doing harder stuff. I may want to follow, just as easily and willingly as Matthew, but I may get stuck along the way.  Change my heart, please, into a more loving heart for others!  Then I can jump up and follow you!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

You are enough!

"All I can give back to God is who I really and fully am."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Reflection, 9/20/16

I could sit and ponder this forever, and just may when I go on retreat next month! But the first thing that pops into my mind, unfortunately, is that who I really and fully am couldn't be enough for God. And that isn't humility, either, which would be OK. That is me doubting and questioning the goodness of what God has created. And who am I to do that? I think we really need to move past the picture of ourselves as falling so short of God's desire, when all God really desires of us is surrender.  Let's go there again...all God really desires of us is surrender.  Not perfection. Not hours and hours of rote prayers. Not beating our breast to be seen beating our breast. Another quote from this same Reflection today is, "All God wants from you is you."  Our unique selves, our unique gifts and abilities are treasured by God. Our "you-ness" was created by God. And all God wants is that back in surrender.  And what would that look like? Our surrender means we choose our actions to be what Jesus would do in any given situation.  And that's easy to figure out if we read the Gospels. It isn't a mystery what Jesus would ask of us...kindness toward others, compassion and love for the poor, welcoming strangers, sharing what we have, living simply and generously. It may be easy to figure out, but it's sure harder to do! Love, heidi

Monday, September 19, 2016's all prayer

"'And' demands that our contemplation become action
'And' insists that our action is also contemplative..."
Fr. Richard Rohr,  A Spring Within Us, "The Shining Word 'And'"

I had a chance to ponder this yesterday on a Somewhat Silent Sunday.  I recognized that it is exactly what happens when I volunteer at the Hospice Home. I still have so much to learn about it all--action and contemplation and also the Hospice Home.  I'm not totally comfortable with any of them, but that's OK...I'm learning.  Mostly at the Hospice Home I am doing household chores while trying, diligently, to stay out of the way.  The work of dying is very difficult and is a struggle, sometimes, for the person dying as well as for their family.  How can action and contemplation work together to keep the flow of God's love, well...flowing?  After a few weeks, I am finally getting the picture (I'm a bit of a slow study!) As I went about my chores last week, I could sense a real need for prayer among the patients and families.  I could feel a palatable need for peace and letting go.  I felt so helpless and yet, I was able to connect with the need by sitting down and praying for a while in between dusting and laundry. Then, after a time, the prayer actually became the dusting and the laundry.  What I learned from all this is that any action I do there (and anywhere, really) needs to come from a prayerful place within me. And the prayer that I am saying needs to manifest in the work of comfort, be it sweeping the floor or offering beverages.  It is all prayer.  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Free to live and love...

"...and you, yourself, shall be  pierced with a sword--so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare."
Luke 2:35

Not exactly what a new mother wants to hear, but I believe that if the small sword-piercings of motherhood were clearly explained in advance, no one would ever sign up to be a mother! Of course, Simeon the prophet is speaking to Mary here, at the time of Jesus' Presentation in the temple.  Couldn't Simeon think of something more encouraging to say? Really! Anyway, yes, we mothers know the small little swords that pierce our hearts through the lives of our children and you know what? We wouldn't have it any other way. Because of our deep and loving investment in our kids, we are "laid bare" and ripe for the joys as well as the pain of launching a new life into the world. We give our kids roots and wings. The roots in the day after day of it all; school year after school year, science project after science project.  The wings are a bit harder; watching them back out of the driveway for the first time, or waiting for them to call the first week of college.  Or what about when they bring a fellow home for the first time and you just know he's "the One," when she turns to do the Sign of Peace with him first at mass? But, with that little piercing, you know she is free--free to love and live in this world, even without you, when the time comes.  And that is why God gives us kids in the first place...for us to let them go.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God among us...

"Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death..."
Philippians 2:7-8

I have always loved this reading, but each time I read it, I see something more.  I've also been reading Fr. Richard Rohr's daily meditations, and he is sharing how God is relational; participatory in our lives, not just watching us from afar.  This is exactly played out in Jesus becoming human and sharing our humanity with us...relationally with us.  Jesus came among us, in very humble, human form. Jesus wasn't born in a palace, regally.  Jesus came, taking the form of a slave, the humblest of humans.  This is especially startling as we look around and see who we, as a culture, admire. Yikes! The people we make our heroes and heroines often do not pass the humility test...some do, but many do not.  Our heroes need to be the humble among us, who live and work as Jesus demonstrated to us--with love and compassion for all. Our loving God is relational, not some distant deity judging us from the sidelines. Our God came to live and work among us, washing our feet and loving the most vulnerable in our midst.  Our most vulnerable are our most valuable.  Let's never forget that! Love, heidi

Monday, September 12, 2016

Lost and Found...

"Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost."
Luke 15:8-9

I've been waiting for this Gospel to come around so I can share my Lost and Found story! See, I've had this ring for ten years. It has Jesus fish all around it and is inscribed with the scripture 1 Corinthians 7:34. It's very special to me because it represents a commitment I've made and I'm reminded of that commitment each time I see it on my finger. Carelessly, I've lost this ring more than once. It even had to be sent back to me from Kansas one time! About a month ago, I lost it for good. Or so I thought. I was devastated. I just didn't feel complete without it on my finger. There was something missing in me and I was heartsick. When I heard this reading yesterday, I flashed back to how sad I felt with my ring missing and realized that there is something missing in God's world when we are not connected to God. So, it's not just that God rejoices when one of us is found and back in the fold, but God feels the tremendous ache of loss when we wander away.  I turned the house upside down, just like this gal in the Gospel, to search for my ring. At one point, I peered under the couch with a flashlight and caught a glimpse of something shiny, way in the back. Apparently, it had fallen through the couch cushions to the floor. I rejoiced and vowed to be more careful. But in that Lost and Found, I'd caught a glimpse of how treasured we are by God, who seeks us when we are lost, too. Love, heidi

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget or Always Remember...

I bristle when I see posts that say "Never Forget" the events of 9/11. I prayerfully explored why earlier today as I sat in silence, remembering the day.  I realized I tend to equate Never Forget with "Never forget what they did to us." We learn that our compassionate and loving God forgives AND forgets our sins...shouldn't we try to forget as well as forgive those who harm us? What I choose to remember about the events of 9/11 aren't  the bad things that happened, but I choose to remember the good things. I choose to remember the heroes and heroines of the day and months that followed. I choose to remember the strangers reaching out to each other, united in tragedy. I choose to remember the helpers, the first responders, the selfless acts of courage from that day and days since.  I choose to remember the good and decent people who were lost to their families, but also to those of us who didn't have the chance to know them. So, instead of saying Never Forget when it comes to 9/11, I'm going to say "Always Remember" instead. Always remember the helpers and the good.  Always remember that God loves us and can bring good from every tragedy. And always remember that we are to love each other, too.  Love, heidi

Friday, September 9, 2016

A nest to put her young...

"Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest in which to put her young--
Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God!"
Psalm 84:4

One special joy I experienced this summer was watching a nest of robins, built in a tree in Sam and Allen's backyard. The nest was surprisingly low and could easily be seen from the patio.  Watching the nest became quite mystical...first it was just there, then there were signs of activity, then one could even see little beaks poking up as the parents flew all around gathering breakfast, lunch and dinner for the new little lives. Finally the nest grew too small and soon after, the little tenants moved on, leaving the bare nest.  It was mystical because it was such a window into the Divine for me. I'd never really seen a real nest with real birds before and it was enchanting. And yet, it is so normal and happens all over the place, all the time. So it is with God. God happens all over the place, all the time, and yet, we too often miss it as we busily go about our lives.  It is said that nature is the first bible. I totally saw that this summer, watching a little robin's nest. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A better question...

"Instead of asking 'What does God want me to do?' Ask 'What kind of person does God want me to be?'"
Fr. Radmar Jao, SJ, Sunday homily 9/4/16

This is an amazing discernment tool given by Fr. Radmar at St. Paul's at BSU this last Sunday. I will post the link below for all the homilies from St. Paul' can listen to them on Soundcloud and they are WELL worth your time! So often, when we are faced with too many things to do we try to discern what would God want us to do. Fair enough. But this question, "What kind of person does God want me to be?" may be a better discernment question.  Then we can filter the activities or tasks through that lens and ask ourselves, "Does this activity lead me to be the person God wants me to be? Does it support my transformation? Or not?" First, it causes us to sit down and really ponder what the person God wants us to be looks like. That's worth prayerful exploration right there. Next we can ask God for guidance and help in becoming the person God knows we are deep inside and wants us to show to the world. And maybe, some of the things we are doing or activities we are choosing are not the best for us.  I've been thinking about this since I heard the homily and it really is an amazing process!  I encourage you to check out the St. Paul's Preaching page here:
This series is called "You Got This," and Fr. Bentz and Fr. Radmar are knocking it out of the ballpark!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Happy New Year!

"Halleluiah! Sing to the Lord a new song..."
Psalm 149:1

For so many years it felt like a brand new year, the day after Labor Day. The kids usually began a new school year this day and it had a sense of freshness and newness to it. It was a day to begin new healthy eating habits, get to bed at a decent hour, meeting new friends.  It was like New Year's Day in the fall.  Even all these many years later, it still has a sense of newness to it, even though I'm still doing the exact same thing I did last week! I can begin again today, maybe mustering up a new zeal for what I have done for so many years.  I can begin today to eat healthier (certainly healthier than I ate this past weekend!) I can get to bed earlier with the earlier darkening of the change of seasons. Maybe I can even begin to add some prayer time to my day that, for some reason, I didn't have time for during the summer.  Let's think about today as a new beginning for us, even if we are doing much the same thing as before. We can always begin again and invite God to help us do it all better.  Love, heidi

Friday, September 2, 2016

The knowing smile...

I want to share a little story with you, today, as we begin our three-day weekend.  The other day, as I finished paying for my coffee at Maverik, I turned to leave and caught the eye of the woman behind me.  She was quite small, shorter than me, and she looked at me with a smile.  There was something about her smile that seemed so knowing and familiar.  It occurred to me, as I reflected on this, that this happens to me quite often. I will exchange a glance and smile with someone and it seems oddly familiar. There is a knowing, a recognition, in the glance. The person is a stranger, but yet, there is a knowing.  I'm reminded of Fr. Richard Rohr's sharing of Thomas Merton's experience of seeing strangers on a busy street corner and suddenly being overwhelmed with love for them. Merton recognizes that these people, as they busily traverse the intersection, are people of God; God's very own and he is overcome with love for them.  I guess it may be happening to me one person at a time, but it seems similar.  I am becoming able to recognize, through the grace of God, these strangers that God has placed in my day to share a smile.  This seems incredibly wonderful to me! This weekend, as we go about our end-of-summer revelry, let's take special care to take a look at each other. Let's look into each other's eyes and smile.  We are all children of God and brothers and sisters! Love, heidi 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Better at the follow-through

"Simon said in reply, 'Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.'"
Luke 5:5

This little conversation between Jesus and Peter is so similar to the little exchanges I have with Jesus throughout any given day.  I wish I could say that I'm as compliant as Peter, but, usually, I'm not.  Here's an example, Jesus: "Maybe you should go over and talk to her, she looks lonely." Me: "No, I don't want to bother her." Jesus makes suggestions to me all day for nice things I could do and I usually talk myself out of them, preferring to stay safe within myself and not reaching out to others. Ever once in a while I may pull a Peter and say, "Well, if you insist..." After those times I am very aware that was the right thing to do and am grateful I acquiesced. I love the way Peter makes his doubts known, though..."We have tried this, Friend, and weren't successful, but if you want us to..." His mild little protest said out loud, then he does what Jesus suggests.  If I could be a bit better at the follow-through, instead of just stopping at the protest!  Help me, Lord!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

You're already inside!

"We cannot attain the presence of God because we're already totally in the presence of God. What's absent is awareness."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 8/30/16

Needless-to-say, I didn't learn this in my catechism class at St. Patrick's in 1961. We grew up believing in a more Santa Claus-type god who doled out treats or punishment based on our behavior, i.e. the size and quantity of our sins. Thanks be to God I have lived long enough to grow out of that! There is no "if" and "then" with "If I do this, God will do that." God is not in my control like that! God always loves me, is present with me and nothing I can do or say will change that. Thinking about it with a bit more age and experience, especially experience as a parent, I can ask what would be in it for God to expect us to earn or work to attain God's free gifts of grace and salvation? Why would God want us to jump through hoops if God only and always just loves us? I think God only desires that we recognize how loved we truly are and realize we can extend that love to others, so they can bask in it too. One of my favorite Richard Rohr quotes is: "Quit knocking on the door, you are already inside!" Let's enjoy that today! Love, heidi

Monday, August 29, 2016

Enough is enough!

"What is the source of our own fear? And, more importantly, what--or who--is the source of our courage?"
Sr. Pat Kozak, "Give Us This Day"

These are the questions I pondered on a (relatively) Silent Sunday yesterday.  One of the fears I recognized is my fear of scarcity...not having enough. I think I inherited this from my mother, who, growing up in the Depression, had one good dress she had to share with an aunt who pitted it out.  There was never "enough" for Mom, coming from that trauma, understandably.  Why I inherited the fear, mystifies me.  I never lacked for anything, but still, a nosey visitor would find 8 bottles of hemp lotion on my closet shelf!  So, where does the courage come from to conquer this irrational fear? It comes from knowing that I have always had "enough" and probably always will.  I don't need all I have and if I live to be 100, (Please God, no) I wouldn't need another thing.  Less is the new more.   Sharing is better than hoarding (would anyone like a bottle of hemp lotion?) It is illuminating to take a look at our fears and where they may have come from, but, as Sr. Pat suggests, the Source of our courage to conquer them is even more ponder-worthy. Gracious God of Every Abundance, please help me let go of this fear of scarcity! Enough is more than enough!  Love, heidi

Friday, August 26, 2016

Strength in weakness

"God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God's weakness is stronger than human strength."
1 Corinthians 1:25
I wish I'd read this yesterday!  I was way too human yesterday in so many of my dealings through the day.  As I did my little Examen at the end of the day I shuddered.  Yep, way too human.  Short-tempered, whiny, said things I wish I could stuff back into my mouth.  That was me yesterday...human weakness without one thought of asking God for help.  Lucky for me, and all of us, we have another shot at it today!  We can be more aware, alert, awake to seeing God in the day instead of all the frustrating humans we may run into.  Like I told one of the people who were at the unfortunate end of an encounter with me yesterday, we learn more from doing it wrong than we learn from always doing it right!  Here's to doing it "righter" today! Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Can anything good come from...

"Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
John 1:46

So, we haven't learned anything about regional prejudices and hasty judgments since biblical times? Nathaniel learns about Jesus from Philip; "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote...Jesus of Nazareth." (v. 45) And Nathaniel's rather disparaging response, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Ouch. Fast forward to our world today and we hear, "Can anything good come from Syria? Mexico? Pakistan?" We are just as shamefully prejudicial today, as if we haven't learned a thing from past mistakes. Turns out, Nathaniel was dismissing the Son of God.  Are we dismissing the Children of God? Let's think about that today...Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Loving the mystery...

"Mystery is not something you can't know. Mystery is endless knowability."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 8/23

As I'm getting older, I am more comfortable with not knowing stuff. Oh, I get frustrated with not understanding all the technology needed for my job, but I'm talking about bigger "not knowing"...mystery.  One time I was talking with a fellow whose religion has a good deal all figured out.  They believe that after we die this happens, then that.  He asked me what my religion taught about heaven and the afterlife.  I answered that we really don't know. I fumbled around for the "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard..." scripture. We don't know what it's like or who will be there, but that is perfectly OK with me. I'm happy with the mystery; I'm just happy anticipating it will be great! I think accepting the mystery is a lot easier than trying to figure it all out, frankly. Knowing all about everything sounds like Too Much Information for me just now. So, in accepting the mystery of Whatever Happens is, in some sense a knowability (which keeps coming up on spellcheck as not really a word, but that's OK with me, too) I am happy knowing that I don't know. In fact, that's worth celebrating...So, this later August Tuesday, let's find ourselves OK with the not-knowing of mystery. We don't need to know what happens at the end. Let's just be grateful for today! Love, heidi

Monday, August 22, 2016

The "Just This" moments...

"Just This"
Fr. Richard Rohr

Our lives are full of Just This moments if we are just aware and open to seeing them. A Just This moment is a flash in time, an instant of awareness that you want to freeze and bask in. A moment of clear awareness of the Grace and Love of God because the moment is so perfect.  Maybe it is a moment around a campfire with family or friends. Maybe it occurs while driving a scenic road with the autumn leaves turning. Maybe it is sitting in the back of a pickup truck on a country road with friends from high school, singing TV theme songs. (Yes, this past weekend was the Girls of '74 gathering!) But, the beauty of the Just This moment is recognizing God in our own personal experience, in our little human lives. Because God is there! God is in the gathering, the sharing the joyful laughter.  God is in the comradery, the hugs and tears, the memories. God is in the silence, the pondering, the stillness. God gives us the Just This moments and is present in them for the seeing.  Let's be especially aware as we embark on a waning summer Monday. Love, heidi

Friday, August 19, 2016

Be the miracle!

"He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? I answered, 'Lord God, you alone know that.'"
Ezekiel 37:3

This dry bones reading always reminds me of doing "The Cup of Our Lives," a Sr. Joyce Rupp prayer/study, so many years ago.  The vividness of the description of the dry bones ("How dry they were!" v. 2) always sends me back there, to the field of dry bones.  Pray-as-You-Go this morning offered some good food for thought around this reading. First, we all have gone through a dry bones time in our lives--perhaps several.  When we think about those times, can we remember the dryness we felt, perhaps hopelessness, lifelessness, so dry?  Going back there, can we remember a person or group of people who were there for us, encouraging us, getting us up and moving, one foot in front of the other each day? In the reading, God uses Ezekiel the prophet to bring the dry bones to life.  Even though God worked the miracle, God chose to accomplish the miracle through Ezekiel, a human being.  And that, Friends-celebrating-a-summer-Friday, is how God works today.  God still works the miracles through human beings...real humans, like us.  Let's pray that God will find us open and willing to be used as a miracle for someone going through a dry bones time.  God can do anything, but God chooses to use us to make the miracles happen. And that can only happen when we are open and willing.  Love, heidi

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The spirit of God within us...

"I will put my spirit within shall be my people, and I will be your God."
Ezekiel 36:27-28

We are aware that Jesus asks such difficult things from us.  We are to love our enemies, forgive those who hurt us, turn the other cheek...basically act contrary to our very human nature.  We wonder how in the world Jesus expects us to do all this and then we come across the answer in the Old Testament.  God gifts us with everything we need to do the hard stuff because God's very own spirit is within us.  It's not so much us doing the good, it is God's spirit working within us.  This isn't the cop out it may feel like initially, either.  Our part in it is huge--we must yield to the spirit of God within us.  You know the times you are called upon to help someone, or bury a hatchet with someone, or maybe you recognize  the need of another and you are able to just step up. Those are the times you reach out of yourselves and reach out to others, giving them what they need.  Those are the times you yield to the spirit of God residing in you, that gives you all you need to do the hard stuff.  Yes, hard stuff is expected of us, but, more importantly, we already have all we need to do it--the spirit of our God, living right there within us.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It is all gift...

"What can we do for a God so generous that (God) died for us, created us, and gives us being?"
St. Teresa of Avila, "The Interior Castle," as quoted in Give Us This Day

What indeed? I thought about this a bit this morning and realized that it will take much more pondering. But I also came to an idea right off the bat. What we can do for our God who gives us everything is to love each other better. People come and go in our lives and they affect us.  Some are easy to love and we just enjoy loving them. Others may be a bit harder, but those are the people who have the most to teach us. Those are the people God specifically gifts us with to help us grow. We can go with that, learn to love them better and thus, grow. Or we can throw up a wall and keep them on the other side, thereby refusing the chance to grow.  Everything is gift. Everyone is gift. How we open, unwrap and appreciate the gift is up to us.  But it IS all gift.  Love, heidi

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Beauty from fire...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!'"
Luke 12:49

My first instinct, when this reading comes around, is to wonder why Jesus chose such a destructive medium to change the world--fire.  Why so harsh, Jesus? Then, when I look to the school of creation, there is the answer.  In a forest, for example, there are some species of pine tree that only can spread seed during a forest fire.  The heat of the fire causes the pine cones to burst and sends the seeds out all over. Only the heat of a blazing fire can make this growth happen.  Also, I remember how new little shoots spring up after the ground has been cleared by fire.  The nutrient rich soil nourishes the new growth and the previously scorched earth produces new plants and foliage.  From the fire, goodness comes.  Like a phoenix rises up from ashes, new life--healthy new life--can emerge.  Isn't that just like God? And isn't that just like Jesus to be so excited about the kingdom of God to wish it could hurry already?  Are there things about ourselves we would like to see seared away?  Think about our bad habits and harsh judgements...could we roast marshmallows on a campfire burning some of those away?  Only God can make good come from bad. Only God can produce growth from something as destructive as fire.  We can just stand in awe of in, heidi

Thursday, August 11, 2016

EVERY time!

"Peter approached Jesus and asked him, 'Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"
Matthew 18:21-22
Jesus might as well have told Peter a million times!  Because what he meant was Peter has to forgive others EVERY time.  And Jesus is telling us that, too.  Jesus calls on us to do stuff that is way too hard for humans to forgiving every time and loving our enemies and welcoming strangers, and taking care of people who can't give back. Jesus is asking us to do things that are especially difficult for humans.  We tend to want people to admire us for what we do and we may want to take revenge on others who do us harm. So, what gives? Jesus is asking the impossible because Jesus wants us to draw from the deep Source within us that may not seem readily accessible. Jesus wants us to draw from the God/Love within us to do these seemingly impossible things. God's love is imbedded within our hearts and will give us just what we need to forgive others and love each other fully, if we just sit still long enough to tap into it.  If we can take the time to see others the way God sees them, we can love them.  It's certainly harder in our "Us against Them" world, but again, it's not impossible if we tap into the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  Today, let's be aware of acting contrary to our first instincts.  If we become angry or impatient, let's go deep inside and pull out the grace we need to take a deep breath and recognize the indwelling God within the other person.  The indwelling God within us can see and appreciate the indwelling God within them.  That is the Gospel. That is what Jesus wants us to do.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Inefficent truth...

"Discipleship does not measure compassion in terms of efficiency and return but seeks out every 'little one' who requires more than we might be ready to give."
Jay Cormier, "Give Us This Day"

This struck me this morning because it is the very definition of the "hard ones" that Jesus is constantly asking me to seek and love. The "easy ones" are just easy--the 99 sheep munching away in the meadow--easy to love, right? But that one sheep that goes wandering; that's the one God is especially asking me to reach out to.  Jesus tells us that is what the Good Shepherd does--goes off after the one difficult sheep when there are 99 doing just what they're supposed to do.  It's the one who needs going after.  We all have these Ones in our lives, don't we? The one kid who marches to a different drummer, the one relative who grates on our nerves. Or maybe it's the co-worker who doesn't do her share in the office. Our compassion toward these people must not be doled out according to how we feel toward them or how much we may receive back from them. Our compassion and love must be inefficient...over and above...going after them even though it may not be convenient.  They are the ones who need us the most.  Love, heidi