Friday, July 28, 2017

Which seed?

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Hear the parable of the sower...'"
Matthew 13:18

I accepted the invitation on Pray-As-You-Go this morning and sat with the question, "Which seed are you? Seed that falls on rocky soil? Or rich?"  I've heard this reading often enough to go somewhere completely new in my head this time. I decided I'm the seed burrowed into rich, lovely soil. True enough I have had such vivid spiritual experiences and a wonderful heritage of religiosity. So I'm a seed just burrowed in this fragrant soil. But the problem is, I'm content to just stay here and not feel the need to burst up and grow. If I grow up through the soil, what could happen to me? A weed-eater could come by and zip me right up, couldn't it? I see this as a reluctance to use my gifts for others, and this is a real stunting of growth because of some silly fear. Maybe a fear of not being good enough or a fear of being rejected. Both can be realistic fears but certainly could be overcome by faith in God, who is inviting me to grow.  Today, let's not be afraid to explore how we are hearing God's word in our lives and responding. Are we growing as strong and healthy little shoots that can one day serve others? Or are we too comfy burrowed into our own little worlds?  Let's spend some of this last weekend in July quietly with God, praying with these deep questions.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Grumbling for change...

"Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling."
Exodus 16:9

I was afraid of that...that the Lord has actually heard my grumbling.  I wonder if it gets tiresome? I would imagine so; I remember about this time every summer the kids would be bored and the grumbling seemed endless. How does God put up with our grumbling? When I think about it, grumbling often precedes a change. The old has to get grumble-worthy before we are ready to delve into something new. At this point, the lazy summer days and hot nights may feel grumblesome to kids and adults.  If we find ourselves grumbling this day, let's ask, Are we on the threshold of change? Is there something new around the corner, up ahead? Can we embrace what is to come without too much grumbling, knowing that God holds us and our change in love? Can we remember and pray with gratitude for times God has answered our grumbling with change?  Love, heidi

Monday, July 24, 2017

Weeds and Wheat...

"No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until the harvest."
Matthew 13:29-30

I was thinking about this reading and marveling at the non-dualism of it. The weeds are allowed to grow along with the wheat because it's not up to us humans to determine who is wheat and who are weeds. In fact, some of us who fancy ourselves wheat can be quite weedy if the truth is told, can't we? Our weed/wheat status is not finally determined until the very end. And the One who knows hearts will do the separating then, not mere mortals.  I wonder why we think we have to play gardener and do the separating ourselves, based on our very limited knowledge? When I worked at a Girl Scout camp in the 70's, we all had camp names.  My name was Weed, because "A Weed is a Flower in Disguise." Many plants we may consider weeds here on earth are actually lovely flowers, we just can't really see them.  I am grateful to be able to grow with weeds and wheat and VERY grateful that God is the True Gardener. Love, heidi

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Come to the Great Healer

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

Today in Fr. Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation he describes faith as:
"foundational confidence or trust that God cares about what is happening right now."
Those go together so well it seems. And then, Pray-As-You-Go asks what burdens are we carrying this day? What concerns lay heavy on our minds and hearts? So, if we pray with all three of these we can spend time recognizing that the people and concerns we are carrying right now, this summer day, are of great concern to God too. And God's response is to invite us into the comfort and rest of Jesus' company. Isn't that awesome, Friends? Today, let's make time to sit and ponder these words of Jesus. Then consider the concerns of our hearts, and, in doing that, realize that God cares deeply and lovingly about those same concerns and invites us to rest with Jesus, the Great Healer. Love, heidi

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Repent!

"Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented..."
Matthew 11:20

This would be the type of reading that I would tend to avoid spending much time pondering--the kind where Jesus seems irritated and cross.  Where is my cuddly, loving Jesus in this reading?  Jesus is, in fact, very real here, cautioning the people to listen to what he is saying, watch what he is doing and change their lives as a result. Don't we want to change our lives as a result of our encounters with Jesus? Jesus isn't just the subject of a beautiful picture in our home of a shepherd with a lamb on his shoulders! Our encounters with Jesus, the ones we will have this very day in fact, must change our lives.  Our daily relationship with Jesus should push the love in our hearts outward, toward others, who desperately need it. Pray-As-You-Go described our unwillingness to change or "repent," as the Gospel says, is hardness of heart.  It's worth a ponder to pray about what our particular hardness of heart looks like in our own lives and ask Jesus to help us change it. Do we have hardness toward an individual or group? Do we have a hardness toward ourselves and find it hard to forgive and get over our past? Let's pray with this and ask Jesus for help and guidance so his mighty deeds produce good fruit in us! Love, heidi

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sounds of silence...

"Thus says the Lord, 'Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful...so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth...'"
Isaiah 55:10

Yesterday, as I was driving home from a weekend trip, I decided to set aside a period of time for silence. Usually I'm listening to music, singing along, or listening to an audiobook. But, for this chunk of time I turned everything off and just had silence. At the beginning of the time I asked God to speak to my heart, in that still, small voice. I asked no more than that, acknowledging that I may not really even know what God says to my heart, only that it may show up, somehow, in some way as fruitful for others. As I drove along, it began to rain; first the gentle tapping of raindrops, and later a vigorous downpour, quite loudly pounding on my car.  It was like God's percussion in the symphony of silence I was enjoying.  It was lovely driving in silence and I heartily recommend it, especially if you have a long journey--some of it can be well-spent in silence.  God will make God's presence known in some way or another and it will be fruitful, in one way or another. Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pulling our own 'chute

"I had to pull my own 'chute."
Blaine Larsen

Now, before you go Google other profound tidbits from philosopher Blaine Larsen, he is my son. And this may have been the most profound thing he has ever said. He said it while telling me he had completed his fifth skydiving lesson and the one where he goes solo--jumps out of an airplane at 8000 feet with no one assisting in any way. When he said this sentence, all I could think of was the metaphorical image. Maybe it was just too stressful, as his mom, to think of the reality! I think if we all look back we can imagine a time when we pulled our own 'chute for the first time. Maybe it was the first time we lived away from home or walked down the aisle. Maybe it was a hard time when we received a difficult diagnosis or pink slip. Whatever it was, we recognized in that moment, that we were being handed the keys to our lives. It is comforting to us to realize that, even as we may feel empowered and energized by our independence pulling our own 'chute, we do have an incredible back-up 'chute that will deploy if we run into trouble. As I pictured Blaine floating to the ground during his solo skydive, I pictured outstretched hands of God underneath him, ready to catch him as the safety net, the backup 'chute.  That's the only way I could keep from freaking out. Today, let's think about how God has both encouraged us to pull our own 'chutes, and also how we have been supported as we did so. Love, heidi

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gazing toward God

"Paradoxically, personal fulfillment means abandoning ourselves and putting others first. It means moving beyond wanting to be loved and moving into becoming lovers. It means growing past our need for things and discovering happiness in giving things away--even giving ourselves away, as Jesus did."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation 7/11/17

These few sentences sum up so perfectly my desired journey right now.  I'm on the journey, nowhere near reaching these goals, but only at the point of appreciating this is where I want to be.  I think it is a wonderful prayer to sit with these lines and pray about how this may look in our own lives. What does it mean in our lives to give ourselves away to others? What does it look like to move beyond wanting to be loved and becoming a lover of others? This could be an eye-and-heart opening prayer for us, Friends. It must be noted that contemplation is the walking stick for this journey, too. It is the only way we can move beyond ourselves. If we can be silent and alone, gazing toward God, our healing can begin. Silent and alone. Gazing toward God. Love, heidi

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Courage...

"Courage is more exhilarating than fear."
Eleanor Roosevelt, "The Roosevelts--An Intimate History"

I've watched this Ken Burns series a few times. I never tire of the fire of Teddy Roosevelt and I'm mesmerized by FDR and Eleanor.  Always, at the end of the seventh and final part, as they are describing Eleanor's last days, I get tears in my eyes.  Since I work with a population of people who lived during the terms of FDR, I often ask how they felt about him. Much more often than not, they loved him and credited him for helping their families. What's the spiritual message of this? Well, for me it is something that was said about Winston Churchill, in this documentary, by one of the historians interviewed. He said that it's amazing how just the right person comes into power at just the right time.  History, for me, is much easier to take than the present. Historical figures are easier to admire than the people slogging it out now. If we don't learn important lessons from history, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes. All I know for sure is, just after I've seen beloved family and friends in heaven, I'm going to search for Eleanor Roosevelt.  She'll be there, probably helping someone in some way; wanting to assure heaven is fabulous for everyone.  I'll thank her for saying this about courage...it's just what I need to hear! Love, heidi

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dinner with Jesus...

"While (Jesus) was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'"
Matthew 9:10-11

Why indeed?  Pray-As-You-Go had a fabulous little imagery exercise to go with this passage today. Imagine yourself sitting at a table with Jesus and the people in your life with whom you struggle the most.  Lately, I feel that, rather than a small booth at Denny's, I would have to rent a banquet room to fit in all those with whom I struggle, but I'm just getting old and crabby.  Anyway, imagine how you feel sharing a table with Jesus and your "strugglees." What is the conversation like? What I can vividly picture is that I'm focusing all my attention on Jesus and ignoring the others.  I'm listening intently to Jesus, staring at Jesus, drinking in everything Jesus is saying. But, realistically, I'm ignoring Jesus at the same time, because I'm ignoring the others. The others ARE Jesus. And in tuning them out, I am missing the beautiful message of Jesus. I never really read this passage with that bubbling up before.  Good thing I have the weekend to pray with that!  Dearest Jesus, by ignoring others, I ignore you and that is the last thing I want to do! Please help me to see you in others, this day and every day!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The devil you know...

"The demons pleaded with him, 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.'"
Matthew 8:31

This Gospel always conjures up the most disagreeable images for me...seems so wasteful, even if one doesn't fancy eating pork!  But, Pray-As-You-Go today offered up an interesting question which I'd like to pass on. Assuming we all have a little demoniac about us, what are our little demons we would like to send over the cliff?  What parts of ourselves would we like to exorcize and be rid of?  That's easy for me to nail down, but the harder part is letting go of them. It seems like I can get just to the edge of the cliff, the little demon is headed over the cliff and I'm holding onto its tail. Argh, that! Why can't I just give it that final shove over? Because there is something about that negative behavior or attitude that seems to serve me somehow. There is some reason I hang onto that unsavory element about myself.  Saying good-bye to the little demon means saying goodbye to something that I'm familiar with and has been a companion (although not a good one!) Remember that old saying "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't!" I guess I'm reluctant to actually let go of that old familiar devil and send him over the cliff once and for all.  Jesus and I will work on that!  Blessings on your 5th! Love, heidi

Friday, June 30, 2017

The last laugh...

"Abraham prostrated himself and laughed..."
Genesis 17:17

Well I guess that'll teach him...Abraham under-estimated the power and ability of God to completely change his life.  I think we know who got the last laugh in this story, right? So often things seem impossible to us. Because they are. But that doesn't mean God isn't working within human hearts to change things.  God provided many heirs to a couple well beyond the age of bearing heirs, and while it may not seem that God is working that dramatically in our day, God still is working dramatically.  Today, whenever we may feel tempted to laugh at the idea of God working in a difficult situation, let's instead be grateful. God is working, through people just like you and I. God is working to heal the world!  Blessings on your summer weekend!  Love, heidi

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Give us hope...

"If all you see is present reality, you do not see at all. If you are blind to the mystical dimension of the human scene, you might as well be physically blind for all the good it does you. We need and are nourished by the depths of faith..."
Fr. Matthew Kelty, Give Us This Day

I need to chew on this today.  Present reality seems daunting to me, frankly. I need to go deeper, to draw from a pool of faith deep within, to realize that God is working in the hearts of all of us; working for our good. I watched a documentary one time that showed events of history and how those events influenced what happened later. This event produced this result, eventually. It seemed at the time that the original event was tragic and horrible, but, threading back through history, it was apparent good things occurred. In most cases, no one could have predicted the good result from the bad situation, but there it was--right there in history.  It takes eyes of deep faith to believe that good is happening when things around us feel quite dismal.  But the mystical dimension, uncovered in silence and contemplation, can take us there, and give us hope.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Go to school!

"By their fruit you will know them."
Matthew 7:16

Certainly. Let's think about the fruit we are producing in our own lives. In my work, there are some days I feel fairly good about the fruit I'm producing, but other days...not so much.  One thing I've learned though, even the difficult days can yield fruit if we learn the lessons they have to teach us.  If we can learn from our mistakes and change our approach, tomorrow may give us a better batch of fruit. If we dig in our heels and become bitter, we lose the opportunity to improve our yield.  God uses even the hard and difficult times if we just keep our eyes open and are pliable to the lesson. Some of the most valuable lessons have been learned from my biggest mistakes. Isn't it just like our gracious God to use even our mistakes to help us yield sweeter fruit? So today, if we feel ineffective (and this last week of our agency's fiscal year, that can happen!) let's try to be open to the lessons we can learn from the more difficult situations. God is beckoning us to learn and grow during these times, let's wake up and go to school!  Love, heidi

Monday, June 26, 2017

Judge not!

"Can we free ourselves from the need to judge others? Yes...by claiming for ourselves the truth that we are the beloved daughters and sons of God."
Henri Nouwen, "Here and Now: Living in the Spirit," as quoted in Give Us This Day

Every time I read today's Gospel (Matthew 7:1-5) I resolve to stop judging as Jesus commands. So much easier resolved than done, I'm afraid. We humans are wired to judge. We spend our lives jockeying for position by comparing ourselves to others. It's in our every cell that makes us human. So how can Jesus expect us NOT to judge? The answer here is so beautiful via Henri Nouwen.  We can stop judging by understanding and appreciating who we really are.  We are not people who have to prove our worth to improve our standing with God. We are people who are already so loved by God and nothing we do can ever change that. None of our jockeying for position can change how God feels about us--not one little bit. In fact, our elbowing our way through others to look better is what Jesus is cautioning us against. So, today, as we go about our summer Monday, any time a judgmental thought crosses our minds, let's shake it out with the grateful knowledge that God loves us and God loves the other person we are mistakenly judging. We can love others, because God has first loved us.  Love, heidi

Friday, June 23, 2017

'Tis a gift to be simple!

"At that time Jesus exclaimed, 'I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the little ones.'"
Matthew 11:25

On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, they ask, What could the message be that God has revealed to the child-like and not the learned? I thought about it and came up with Simplicity. Think about little kids, especially on these warm summer days. They play and play all day, sleeping when they're tired, eating just for sustenance, they're (for the most part) joyful, busy, and simple. Their lives are purposeful--to learn and grow, but also to have fun. They are only really aware of the fun part, though! The simple life is so attractive to me and it has been my mission for several years now to simplify everything from the amount of stuff that I have, to what I choose to do with my time and resources. Even though I know I'm still learning and on the journey, it just feels so right and more the life Jesus invites us all to live. So, if you get a chance this summer Friday, watch some kids playing. Think about how purposeful, yet simple, their lives are and wonder what that could look like in our grown-up, yet complicated lives. Are there changes we can make to live life more simply? Blessings on this first weekend of summer!  Love, heidi

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happiness is...

"Doing anything and everything solely for God is certainly the most purifying plan for happiness I can imagine."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 6/22

Oh wow, this feels huge to me this morning. Huge!  I used to think my responsibility to God was to say my daily prayers and go to mass on Sunday. That was it, unless I became a nun, in which case I'd be giving my life to God. There was such a distinction between the two different lives. But now I see that there isn't such a manifest difference. We can still give our lives to God and live our lives for God no matter what our vocation may be. Many of you know that I considered the religious life, though briefly; it was the fork in the road I pondered but did not choose. Instead, I followed the deepest desire of my heart and chose marriage and family and for that, I'm eternally grateful! But I'm also grateful that either way, I can live my life for God. If doing everything, even the mundane tasks of my little life, are done for the glory of God, that can make me very happy. Very happy indeed. My relationship with God has gone from checking in each day and visiting on Sunday, to every breath I take being with God, taking in God, enveloped by God. So as we celebrate this early summer day, in all its glory, let's think about everything we do being for the glory of God and with the deep love of God.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The enemy within...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..."
Matthew 5:43-44

I usually begin my pondering of this reading by wondering just who my enemies are, exactly. I try to get along with others, though am certainly not perfect at it. But, when I think of loving my enemies, I sort of want names and lists of those I am to love. In reality, my so-called enemies may be more within.  Maybe I need to get on speaking terms with my own faults and foibles. Maybe I need to recognize the enemy within and know it better. By knowing and "loving" the enemy within, I can work with it more effectively. Pray-As-You-Go suggested that we may be our own worst enemy and that surely could be true. Instead of denying or repressing our enemies within, what if we sit down and metaphorically hash things out together.  Let's face it, we are going to struggle with being perfect as our God is perfect (v. 48). That just may not happen this side of Glory and we may need to come to grips with that fact. But, if we learn to love the enemy within we can tame that adversary and be able to focus ourselves and our energy outward, toward others.  Love, heidi

Monday, June 19, 2017

Live generously...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him.'"
Matthew 5:38-39

This is one of many verses that point out to us how much easier it is to simply believe in Jesus than it is to actually follow Jesus.  How are we supposed to turn the other cheek? It's downright un-American! If we just believe in Jesus we can rationalize this scripture away and think, "Well, Jesus didn't mean THAT certainly! Jesus wouldn't want us sitting there while someone else pummels us!" But if we look at what Jesus actually did when faced with being pummeled himself, I think we can see what he really meant. This is so hard as to seem impossible, isn't it? Jesus understands that, too.  On Pray-As-You-Go the prayer they gave at the end of this reading was, "Ask God for the strength to grow in generosity toward others." And that is the key right there. Only God can help us follow Jesus in the loving, non-violent way that Jesus lived and wants us to live too.  Only God can help us to live generously with others.  Love, heidi

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Be the good...

"Once we can accept that God is in all situations, and that God can and will use even bad situations for good, then everything and everywhere becomes an occasion for good and an encounter with God."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 6/15/17

It's especially important to revisit this when things seem to be heading down the wrong path. We (well, I'll say "I" here) can really get spun out and sad when I see goings-on in the world. Things just seem so wrong. But then I can go here with Fr. Rohr and recognize that God can and does use the bad even for good. God can do that and our job is to trust that it happens.  Our job is also to BE the good we want to see around us--to roll up our sleeves and help, not just sit on the outside and throw rocks (another powerful image that Fr. Rohr uses).  We may never actually see the good that God brings from the bad situations we are fretting about now, but we can trust that the good is there. And we are a necessary part of bringing about that good.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Love is the Spirit

"...a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life."
2 Corinthians 3:3

One time when I had a minor fender bender, I tried to convince the policeman that I was obeying the Spirit of the Law, if not the letter. I thought I'd used my turn signal! I knew I should, but wasn't quite sure I actually had. The policeman was kind, but looked up from his ticket book like I was seriously daft. "Well, Ma'am," he said, "I'm concerned with the letter of the law here. And you broke it." Yea, well.  The Spirit puts the love into our obedience to the letter of the law. Someone can go along and obey all the commandments and say they obey the letter of the law. But while Jesus walked the earth he showed us the compassion and love that the Spirit uses to fuel the law. Going around NOT killing people is simply not enough. We must love them. The Spirit calls us to love, which seems to be much harder than just towing the line. Let's think today, of the Spirit infusing our adherence to the law with love. Love, heidi

Monday, June 12, 2017

Give as you have been given...

"Blessed be the God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Whoa, that's a mouthful of encouragement there! But, if we break it down, it means that God encourages us in difficult times and thus, we can go out and encourage others. It's chain of encouragement; those who receive turn around and give. And that's a beautiful thing, isn't it? Pray-As-You-Go offered a good question for pondering, "What's it like when a friend consoles (encourages) you?" Having just experienced that, I could relate immediately.  It feels wonderful! I felt very loved and supported. So having just gone through that, I'm called to encourage others who may be going through something difficult. God encourages us, we encourage others. St. Paul makes it a mouthful, but in reality, it's quite simple. Let's go out there and share what we've been given, Friends! On a Monday!  Love, heidi

Friday, June 9, 2017

Time to head Home...

"Anna sat watching the road by which her son was to come."
Tobit 11:5

We parents do a good deal of "watching the road" by which our kids come home, don't we? Listening for their call, watching the driveway, listening for the car door to shut.  We spend a good deal of time waiting for the kids.  Is that how God waits for us? I think so. The father in the Prodigal Son story sees his son coming from a far-off distance, because he is out there, watching the road.  And he runs to greet his son the minute he recognizes that familiar figure.  Our God is just as happy and eager to welcome us coming up the metaphoric road towards Home, too.  Today, as we wind up another week, let's head towards Home.  Let's try to spend a bit of time sitting in silence with God, not necessarily saying anything, but just a bit of time in quiet, listening. When we make special time to just be with God, God sees us coming up the road, heading Home.  And God hurries to meet us.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Let God be God...

"Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is your holy and honorable name. Blessed are you in all your works forever!"
Tobit 3:11

Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't pray more generally, like this beautiful prayer from Sarah in the book of Tobit. We can get fairly specific in our prayers, praying for this to happen, then that;  for things to work out this way or that. I wonder if we are so wrapped up in telling God what needs to happen that we aren't leaving ourselves open to a better way. This prayer of Sarah, who was suffering terribly when she prayed it, just heaves a sigh of release of the pain and lets God be God. She gets a little more specific later on in her prayer but this first part, where she praises God in the storm, is truly beautiful. I wonder if that wouldn't be a nice way to pray...just inviting God to bring about what God thinks may be best.  Today, despite knowing how we would like things to turn out when we pray, let's let God know we'd be open to whatever.  We may be awed to discover the gifts down the road once we let God be God.  Just as Sarah did when her suffering turned to joy as God answered her prayer. Love, heidi

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Like St. Francis...

"So Jesus said to them, 'Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.' They were utterly amazed at him."
Mark 12:17

I think Jesus showed a lot of common sense in his response. But perhaps then, as now, common sense isn't at all common. We may need the same type of practical common sense to get along in our crazy world in our day, too. We need to function within the world's laws and boundaries, don't we? One thing that has struck me about St. Francis in reading Fr. Richard Rohr's meditations about him is that Francis operated just at the edge of inside his culture.  He didn't break laws or sit on the outside and "throw rocks" at those in the center. His lifestyle was counter-cultural but not so much that they could remove him from the culture. Therefore, he could still influence it--for good.   Fr. Rohr shared that one of the Core Principles of the Center for Action and Contemplation is this: "The best criticism of the bad is practice of the better." If we are dissatisfied with the way things are, we can do them better in our own lives. Like St. Francis, we can live mindfully, contemplatively, lovingly with our fellow humans and all other creatures. We can care for our earthly home to the best of our ability and, in our quietly "doing it better" we can influence others, also like St. Francis.  So today, let's pay our taxes (if we haven't already!) but also live as gently and carefully within the world as we possibly can, loving all others. Love, heidi

Monday, June 5, 2017

Fear of the Lord...

"Blessed the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commands..."
Psalm 112:1

Just yesterday, on my relatively-silent-Sunday, I finished the remarkable book, "By Way of Grace" by Paula Huston.  In the chapter on the virtue Hope, she describes the life of St. Therese of Lisieux and the Old Testament referring to the "fear of the Lord." I tended to think of fear of the Lord as awe of the Lord, not quivering in a corner, afraid of God's wrath. Well, Ms. Huston describes the fear of the Lord as a fear of separation from God--on our end. We certainly have the choice to choose God, and, if so, we have the choice to turn away from God, too. What if situations in our lives get so dicey that we just cannot imagine God involved anymore? St. Therese was suffering terribly from tuberculosis and along with the physical suffering, she was going through a crisis of faith as well. She writes of her "nothingness" and how she wants to believe, but she "feels no joy" in singing of heaven. After such a life of faithfulness and longing for God, she felt little of that as she lay dying. She even advised her caregivers not to leave anything near her that she could use to kill herself. The "fear of the Lord" was a great and real fear, that when the going got tough, Therese could turn away from God, whom she loved with all her heart.  And we can go there, too, Friends.  If things seem so dismal that we wonder, where is God? So, today, this breezy June Monday, let's pray that we may have fear of the Lord, not as one who fears retribution or punishment, but that we may be people who continually choose God. God always chooses us, but that we will always have the desire to choose God back! Love, heidi

Friday, June 2, 2017

God's indwelling...

"For St. Francis, nature itself was a mirror for the soul, for self, and for God."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, June 2, 2017

One thing that is so clear to me on retreat, is the indwelling presence of God in all around me.  Every creature (yes, even the snake!) spoke of God to me, from the deer to the teeny, tiny little gnat that landed on the page of my book.  God is present in the big and the little, the gorgeous to observe and the scary. And I certainly didn't leave God at the hermitage. Just as I sit and type this I hear the birds outside and the wind is rustling the lilac bushes in my backyard.  That is the presence of God to me.  Fr. Richard Rohr refers to creation as the "First Bible," and I totally see how and why.  Nature shows us the indwelling of the spirit of God in each living thing. Let's keep our eyes and ears open this June weekend and recognize God in every living thing...including our neighbor! Love, heidi

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A much needed Re-boot

"I set the Lord ever before me;
With him at my right hand I shall never be disturbed.
Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too,
abides in confidence."
Psalm 16:8-9

"Disturbed" is a nice way of putting it.  I have been "disturbed" for six months and it's put me in a real funk. I haven't been myself; usually quite optimistic and cheerful., I found myself feeling dour and hopeless.  I needed a reboot and the hermitage was just the place!  I saw a brand new fawn on its birthday.  I watched an iris flower show me the Pascal Mystery on one stem...life, death and resurrection.  I saw wary little bunnies, who weren't quite sure of me, but weren't terrified either.  And, perhaps the greatest lesson of all, I was scared to death by a bull snake, who wanted to teach me to let go of fear and embrace what is. Creation around the hermitage is lesson enough, but I also read two wonderful books: "Forgiveness--Following Jesus into Radical Love," by Paula Huston, and another also by Paula, "By Way of Grace--Moving From Faithfulness to Holiness." I love how generous Paula Huston is, sharing her own foibles and how she learns and grows through them.  I was telling son Blaine that going on retreat at the hermitage is much like going to The Shack...the company is fabulous, although I did have to do my own cooking!  If you would like more information on Marymount Hermitage, click the link...Love, heidi
Marymount Hermitage

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Little While

"So they said, 'What is this 'little while' of which he speaks? We do not know what he means.'"
John 16:18

On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, they reflected on this reading (which I notice we didn't have as our Gospel here in the US). But, they pointed out the redundancy of the phrase "a little while." Have you ever had to wait for something? Or wait through a difficult passage of time? Oh man, I feel like all I'm doing is waiting for the Next Thing. But that is so silly, really. I need to live Now and let the Next Thing happen when it happens.  Maybe it will be in a "little while" or maybe it won't happen at all, but whatever happens, I'm losing the Present Joy now by just living in the wait.  In the spirit of Providential timing, I'm headed out on retreat at Marymount for the next several days, Friends, so will give this a good ponder on the porch there. Please, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend safely. Enjoy the Now that is this time in our lives. Enjoy the gift of whatever you do.  Peace out! Love, heidi

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Groping for God...

"...so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though he is not far away from any one of us,"
Acts 17:27

Yesterday was a "groping for God" day for me. There was a tragic, deadly car accident in town, world and national situations pressed in on my heart, one of the school districts I work with heard a rumor I was leaving and asked about my replacement (I'm not leaving!) Things just piled up like cordwood through the day. I groped for God.  We do, don't we? We wonder what God is up to, where God is in these sad or irritating situations. There is so much suffering...we grope for God. God reached out to me through reassuring conversations with loved ones, the beautiful smell of lilacs, and finally the joy of dancing at a Zumba class.  All of it spoke God's comfort to me. God wasn't far away at all. God is right here, right now, working for our good in situations that may feel overwhelming. We grope and God grasps our hand in the dark (see Isaiah 42:6). Gracious God, help us to feel your touch! Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

God in the mess...

"I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth..."
Psalm 138:1

It never ceases to amaze me to see God working vividly in our lives.  We may not see it at the time as clearly, but, eventually, we look back and wonder, Wow, how did all that work out? How indeed. God continually works in our lives for good. God continually works for growth to come from difficult situations. God is continually in the midst of our messes, building us up from the inside, giving us exactly what we need right then. Maybe what we need are people to talk to. Maybe what we need is quiet time to think. Maybe what we need is the ability to surrender and let go of the heavy burden we are lugging around needlessly. So, today, as we pray with all the world, for all that troubles us, let's thank God, too. For even as we pray with our struggles, God is working through those very struggles to give us comfort and grow us from the inside.  Love, heidi

Monday, May 22, 2017

Jesus comes to us...

"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
John 14:18

It was one of the Jesus movies out not too long ago, which gave me a vivid picture of what this scripture says. The scene is after Jesus' death and resurrection and one of the disciples was alone in a house. Jesus appeared in the doorway. It had such an impact on me, for some reason, to the point where I can still picture Jesus in the doorway. The movie is one thing, but personally, I've experienced such vivid encounters that it's very personal when Jesus says, "I will come to you." It's not even that I need to go to Jesus, but that Jesus will come to me. Can and has. Early yesterday morning, I threw on some sweats and had my coffee outside. The neighborhood was quiet, with only birdsong breaking the silence. The sky was a vibrant blue and the sun already warm. All I could pray was "Good morning, Darling God..." We don't have to go to Jesus...Jesus comes to us! Love, heidi

Friday, May 19, 2017

Love to share

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.'"
John 15:12

Pray-As-You-Go this morning offered a good question, How have you experienced God's love in your life?  Good one, right? I sat and thought about it and the one answer that jumped out at me is People. I have experienced God's love through People. What people? Well, certainly the people who have loved me throughout my life; I have experienced God's love through them. But, also, I experience the love of God through other People. People I may not even know, really. People across the world or the country who challenge me to love better--with the love of Jesus. The poor, the marginalized, those on death row, those who have lost their way in the world, those who struggle, those I too-often judge harshly, the addicted, refugees, those who I can never imagine how difficult their lives are because mine is so cushy in comparison. The love of God challenges and compels me to love more deeply, more convincingly, more genuinely. And not just the people who love me back. Loving Jesus, you shower me with love, but not to cling to and hoard just for myself. You know that your love can only come to life and bear fruit when I share it with others. And that's harder for me to do! Please help me to love better...to love like you. Love, heidi

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Abide, Stay, Remain...in love

"Abide in my love..."
John 15:9

Today is a good time to ponder and pray what that means, exactly. I think it means to be in love, to stay in love, to let love influence all we do in a day. We consider each person we encounter is a child of God. We see our work as God's work, done with our human hands. No matter what we do, if we do it with love, we do it abiding in God. This may sound simple, but we cannot do God all by ourselves. We can only love with God's loving us first.  God is love and abiding in God means abiding in love.  Today, as we go about our mid-ish May Thursday, let's think about God's love extending out to our world through us! Love, heidi
If you'd like a little more on this, click here for my last Gospel Reflection on Catholic Moms for this year:
Gospel Reflection

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Prune away fear...

"...everyone that does (bear fruit) he prunes so that it bears more fruit."
John 15:2

About the only plant I can reliably grow is a philodendron. They must thrive on neglect because I can grow them living up to the name "Gainan." (visit http://www.gainans.com/) The window sill in my office has a row of philodendron plants and they seem to grow overnight, winding all around each other and filling up the whole space, taking it over, like in a B movie. During a particularly profound pruning phase, I trimmed them all back and they burst forth from their centers, creating even bigger plants than before. Ah! The lesson of pruning on my very window sill! Sometimes, we need to cut back in order to grow forth. Sometimes, we need to let go before we can truly strengthen. Sometimes, there is more of us if there is actually less of us.  Less is more. Yada, yada. Let's think and pray a bit about what this can look like in our lives, this Windy Wednesday. I find this lesson building on the one from yesterday, about realizing what I can and cannot change; letting go of what I cannot change to concentrate on what I can. I need to allow God to prune away from me the anxiety and fear of what I cannot influence to allow me to burst forth with what I can. Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What can I do?

"In the second half of life, one has less and less need or interest in eliminating the negative or fearful, making rash judgments, holding on to old hurts or feeling any need to punish other people...You learn to ignore and withdraw your energy from evil or stupid things rather than fight them directly."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "A Spring Within Us"

When I read this last night, just after reading a troubling news article, it hit me.  I'm not called to fight THAT big fight. I'm called to operate within my own circle of influence and do what I can to help people in my own life. The world is just not mine to fix. I have a mission but it is much smaller than the whole world, and that should comfort and reassure me.  I am still called to pray for the world, surely. But as far as what I can do, I am to just serve God's people in my job, my neighborhood, family and the strangers I meet each day.  I am called to care for God's creation, by simplifying and recycling all I can. I am called to love those who are easy to love and also those who seem hard. All of that should keep me busy for all my days! If I can withdraw my energy from all I cannot change, I can channel it to what I can.  Love, heidi

Friday, May 12, 2017

Do not let your hearts...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Do not let your hearts be troubled...'"
John 14:1

I should start every day with this quote...seriously! There are so many things that trouble us, aren't there? All the way from a weird ailment my dog has struggled with recently to the pain and suffering of human beings, to much larger fears nation and world-wide. It can all seriously beat us into despair. And then we are reassured by our Jesus, who has walked and traveled our very earth with many of the same or similar troubles. The way of Jesus' cross is very much our way of our individual troubles, too. We fall, we struggle to get up, we fall again, others step in to help us, we mourn what we see in each others' eyes. Jesus shows us how to traverse it all with dignity and with our heads high, because God has us through it all. Today, as we go about our May Friday, let's pray for those who feel the weight of their crosses. Can we step in and help carry? Can we pray for those who may be far away and struggling? Can we celebrate the fact that God holds and cherishes us, through it all? Do not let our hearts be troubled this day...but let's trust that God's got us and holds us securely. Love, heidi

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Set apart...for the work

"While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them...'"
Acts 13:2

So, if we received our vocations that obviously, we would think about our hum drum days a little differently, wouldn't we? How often do we trudge off to work thinking we have been called as vividly as Barnabas and Saul? Especially if our jobs seem quite secular! But, I learned a very rich lesson while on a retreat years ago, and that is that any work that is done with love and for the glory of God is a spiritual vocation.  If we do what we do honestly, with concern for the other guy, to help and to serve the people of God, God honors that.  Some professions are a bit easier to see as an extension of God's work, but whatever we do in our day to help someone else and to serve God, we are being "set apart," even as the Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Saul. Today, as we leave our homes to get our there and do what we do, let's think of ourselves as being especially called forth, this May Wednesday, to do something special for God and God's people. It may seem small to us, but to God, it's big...and needs doing!  Love, heidi

Monday, May 8, 2017

Just and merciful judge...

"If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?"
Acts 11:17

Who indeed? Who are we to hinder God by thinking we have all the answers about who is "in" and who is "out?" Or who God approves of and who God doesn't approve of? Certainly we can appreciate that God loves everyone, right? I find myself looking to Jesus, who went far out of his way to reach out to the folks on the fringes of his culture...those who would not be welcomed in the temple, those who people weren't supposed to touch. Those are the very people Jesus gathered and with whom he mingled. So, who are we to make those hefty decisions about who God includes? God's love is so much more inclusive and bigger than anything we can imagine, really.  We should relax and rest assured that we will never have to judge the people of the world--that will never be our job. Let's just trust that God is the only just judge of anyone, and merciful as well. Love, heidi

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Let nothing disturb you!

"Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing distress you,
While all things fade away,
God is unchanging.

Be patient for with God in your heart
nothing is lacking,
God is enough."
Margaret Rizza, Prayer of St. Teresa, from "Chants for Prayer"

Well, that seems completely enough to say on a beautifully dawning spring Thursday! If you would like to pray with this beautiful chant, here is the video...sorry if there is an ad:
Prayer of St. Teresa

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ask. Then trust...

"If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it."
John 14:14

This is reassuring and wonderful...but, how do we know it's happening? I mean, we pray for something and it turns out differently than we think it should. Does that mean the prayer didn't "work?" Did Jesus not come through? I think this scripture urges us to trust that Jesus is doing his part, whether the outcome is what we prayed for or not. God can work much good through the messes we create and we need to trust that. We also need to pay attention and try to learn from our mistakes, that's a fact too. But the outcome we receive has Jesus written all over it, regardless of our judgment of it. So, Jesus encourages us to ask in his name and then we need to trust the outcome. It may not look like what we asked for...praise God, it may be much better!  That is a ponderous thought for a dawning Wednesday, but let's ponder it!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Drop the stones!

"But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him (Stephen) together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him."
Acts 7:57-58

The mob who stones Stephen, because of his hard-to-hear yet truthful words, covered their ears to avoid hearing his testimony. Did they know, on some level, that they were wrong about him, but just couldn't admit it? He wasn't violent toward them, but yet, they murdered him. They may have thought they were acting justly in their killing of him, that it was the right thing to do. How often, throughout history, have people killed others thinking they were doing the right thing? Will we ever really learn Jesus' way of forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration? Sadly, there has been a mad dash to kill inmates on death row before the killing drugs are no longer available. People are killing each other in the streets all the while we may think of this martyrdom of Stephen so far away from our own culture. It is not. We are murdering Stephens everyday. It's been two thousand years since Jesus taught us about life and love. What have we learned? Today, as we pray and ponder with the first martyr, Stephen, let's ask ourselves how we are still killing others, with our words, our dualistic, self righteous attitudes, and our indifference to suffering of others. Let those stones fall from our hands!  Love, heidi

Monday, May 1, 2017

Do we have what we seek?

"When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus."
John 6:24

Pray-as-You-Go had a wonderful little reflection on this today which really gave me pause. Why are we looking for Jesus? Presumably we are, since we are spending time reading the Gospel, listening to PAYG or even reading this daily Heidi-gram. Why ARE we looking for Jesus this May Day? And, once we find Jesus, what would we say to him? I remember having such a powerful encounter with Jesus many years ago and the first thing I could think of to say was "Please stay with me!" I didn't want the moment to end; I wanted to feel that Presence all the time.  I still feel that way now, many years later. Saturday night, we had a wonderful homily, sharing about the Road to Emmaus when the two disciples did not recognize Jesus as he walked along with them.  We learned that Jesus is always walking along with us, but we just don't always recognize him. How can we see him? We can rely on Jesus being present in the face of the poor, in the compassion of others and, certainly, in the Eucharist--in the breaking of the bread. We just need to keep our eyes open!  So, today, let's spend some time pondering...why are we looking for Jesus? Do we already have what it is we seek? Do we just need to open our eyes and recognize it? Blessings on your May Day! Love, heidi

Friday, April 28, 2017

Wait and enjoy!

"I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go..."
Acts 5:38

I always love this reading where the wise Pharisee, Gamaliel, advises the other Pharisees to let the disciples go. If their movement is of human origin it will dissolve naturally, if it is of God, there is no way they can stop it.  Sr. Melannie Svoboda, in her reflection in Living Faith, calls it the "Wait and see" approach and it applies to our lives too.  We all have things we are "waiting to see" in our lives, don't we? Sometimes, I feel like I'm always in "Wait and see" mode! But I would like to add a word to the "Wait and see" approach. I would like to add "Wait, enjoy, and see."  As we are waiting, we need to appreciate the Now, the liminal space, the time of waiting.  There is so much here in the "waiting room" to teach us and for us to enjoy. Today, as we get ready to weekend, let's see, appreciate and enjoy exactly where we are right now.  Let's settle in and enjoy this day. It has much to teach us and much for us to soak up, wring out, and relish.  Love, heidi

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A law for all of creation

"But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, 'We must obey God rather than men...'"
Acts 5:29

I sit here, this morning, musing about how God's law is actually different than the law of men.  I came up with a few differences, but I'm sure there are more. God's law is definitely kinder and more forgiving than the that of men. Our justice system is far more punitive than it is restorative and God's law is all about restoring relationship. God's law is much more life-giving and life-sustaining, too, asking that we give to the poor and not kill each other.  God's law invites us to live simply and share what we have with others. Man's law tends to drive us toward accumulation and storing all extra into barns for ourselves...someday. On this day, when we're reminded that we are here to obey God, what can we do to follow and promote God's law, even as it may be contrary to our own culture? We can trust that God's law is for the ultimate good of all creation, from a loving, compassionate, and merciful God. Love, heidi

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lead me, Lord!

"Jesus said to all, 'Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps.'"
Luke 9:23

The folks on Pray-As-You-Go had a different Gospel this morning and it spoke to me quite loudly. All the time I spend pondering the future seems to be so wasteful, really. I made the decision, years ago, to follow Jesus wherever I am led, but I also feel like a fish on the end of a line, battling it out for my own agenda.  When I was just a kid of eighteen, I offered my life to God--to do whatever God led me to do, which, as it happens, led to a fabulous ride! So why do I feel I need to over-think it all now? Good question! Yesterday, as I drove back from Montana listening to a book on the life of St. Francis, I was awed by the way Francis made his decisions based on God's will for him. Whatever God wanted of him, that was his choice. I hope to do the same, but it sure seems hard to get beyond my own little plans. Loving and giving God, you led me into the work I do and I have enjoyed it all these many years. Please give me the faith I need to trust You to lead me out of it, when You think the time is right.  Love, heidi

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Touch me and see...

"Look at my hands and feet, that is I myself. Touch me and see..."
Luke 24:39

Jesus appears to the Eleven in this passage and sees their shock and fear. He offers them proof that, yes, it is him and no, he is not a ghost. He offers them physical, indisputable proof. Do we have such proof in our lives that Jesus is with us? Pray-as-you-Go offered that ponderous question this morning. What is our evidence that Jesus is alive and in the world today? There are so many, but, if I really am honest, it's a calm stillness I can find, deep within, whenever I let myself go there. I think I first learned it while learning Centering Prayer many years ago. I can just go still, for lack of a better description. It's hard to explain, but whenever I start to pray, begin a walk, settle into church (well before it starts) or set out in the car, I can just turn to heart center. A calm comes over me and I feel a tangible Presence in there.  I can also find indisputable evidence of the Presence by seeing the little critters at the Hermitage, or even a plump robin on my walk with the dog. I can see the Presence of God in people helping each other, caring about each other. Whether it's a peace deep inside, or in creation or in the love and compassion of my fellow travelers on this journey, Jesus is alive and well for me.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We had hoped...

"We had hoped..."
Luke 24:21

In "Jesus: A Pilgrimage," Fr. James Martin says this could be one of the saddest sentences in the New Testament. Said as two disciples of Jesus recount the activities surrounding Jesus' crucifixion and death to a mysterious stranger who walks with them on the road to Emmaus. It is a sentence that we have often probably had on our lips as we go through the ups and downs of our lives. We had hoped _______. You can fill in the blank with anything that you had hoped would turn out differently; a relationship, a job, a move, an election. The disciples are described as "looking sad" at the beginning of their encounter with Jesus, but by the end of the passage, having walked, talked and broken bread with Jesus, their hearts were burning (v. 32). They finally recognized him in the breaking of the bread.  We, too, can encounter Jesus, especially through the "we had hoped" times of our lives.  Through the times of loss, trial, and sadness that seem to entomb us in sorrow, we can encounter the risen Lord.  We can experience Jesus, through our prayer, through meeting and helping others, or maybe through silence and awareness of creation. Our encounters can lift us back on the road. Today, let's pray for all who are going through "we had hoped..." times of life. They may need to encounter Jesus and that could possibly happen through us.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cut to the heart...

"Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and they asked Peter, 'What are we to do, my Brothers?'"
Acts 2:37

"Cut to the heart." Isn't that descriptive? True enough there are times I've felt cut to the heart. Yesterday, in fact.  I was in a hurry to get out of town to see a client (that's my excuse, anyway) and a guy in an adjoining parking lot to our office building flagged me down. His van needed a jump. I mumbled something about being late for an appointment, my apologies, etc. As I turned out of the parking lot, it hit me. I spun back around and went back to the where the guy had been, but didn't see him. Soon he came back with another guy who was available to help him. A guy who'd actually recognized Jesus, and didn't think he was the gardener (today's Gospel, John 20:11-18).  As I drove off I asked forgiveness a hundred times. I missed it. I didn't recognize Jesus and help when I was asked. I felt cut to the heart. Jesus gently reassured me, "Next time, you'll know. You'll recognize me."  Love, heidi

Friday, April 14, 2017

Die to yourself, before you die yourself...

"And, bowing his head, he handed over the spirit."
John 19:30

I was struck this morning, while reading this, how Jesus willfully handed over his life.  No one took his life from him. No one wrestled his life away from Jesus...he gave it up as a conscious act of surrender. In the little bit I've studied and learned about the act of dying, it is certainly a letting go. People may fight it to the end, but it is, ultimately, a surrender.  It can be much easier if we are able to surrender a bit sooner, in that we recognize our lives belong to God and we are returning to God and we needn't cling to the things of this earth. Some people have such a hard time letting go of things...
Today, as we walk up the difficult road to Calvary with our Jesus, let's think about ways we can surrender to God prior to that last bit of letting go at our own death. Can we adopt an attitude of unimportance of material things of the world? Can we embrace others as our companions on the journey and realize that helping them is part of our true purpose for being on this planet? Can we get to a point where it's not about us after all?  Blessings on your weekend that promises New Life! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Holy and Whole

"Peter said to him, 'You will never wash my feet.'"
John 13:8

Peter just couldn't handle looking down and seeing Jesus washing his feet. It was just too much for him. I can hardly blame him.  The couple of times I have had my feet washed during this beautiful ritual, on Holy Thursday, have pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Where do you look? Do you say anything? What if I start crying? Hold it together, try to just hold it together.  Let's put ourselves in Peter's sandals. We have traveled this three year journey with this guy who we really think is going to be the King of Israel. Like a King-in-power-type King. But sometimes he says and does the oddest things.  He says he has to die and be raised again on the third day. He gets down on his hands and knees to wash our feet like a common servant.  We just don't understand it. It's too hard for us to understand. So Peter just draws the line. "You will never wash my feet!" Aren't we all just like Peter? Tonight marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the most stunningly holy time of the whole year. Holy and whole. Life, death and resurrection.  Let's not miss a bit of it! Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spy Wednesday

"One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?'"
Matthew 26:14

I sincerely hope that one of the first people I meet in heaven is Judas Iscariot. Because Jesus is forgiving like that. I like to think Judas was the first redeemed by Jesus; a friend for many years who took a wrong path, but was redeemed through Jesus' unfailing love. Jesus modeled this redemption with Peter, who also failed him that fateful night. I imagine that, during the time both Jesus and Judas were dead, Judas after hanging himself and Jesus after his death on the cross, that it went down something like this:
Jesus: "Judas, did you love me when we were both alive and together?"
Judas: "Jesus, I did and I still do. I don't know what went wrong, but I'm so sorry. Please forgive me."
And then, they were together again, brothers in Paradise. Because Jesus is like that.  We hope in that. We relish that. There are no enemies in these events, only human beings acting like human beings.  We all make mistakes and all we need do is ask Jesus for forgiveness.  Let's think about that this "Spy Wednesday." Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

At the edge of our seats...

"You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, 'You cannot come,' so now I say it to you."
 John 13:33

Imagine how befuddled the disciples must have felt hearing this from Jesus as they shared their last meal together!  Here they had walked away from their own lives to follow him, stuck with him for three years and now he was saying he was moving on and they can't come? They must have felt flummoxed. Maybe rejected. Certainly confused. Was all of this going to just end? Was all they had worked for and sacrificed for just going to dwindle away as Jesus headed off on his own? "But the crowds were so excited to see you when we got to town!" Our Gospel starts out today saying, "Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled..." (v. 21) So, no one was actually comfortable at this gathering, beginning with Jesus.  This was looking like a dark cloud coming quickly.  Think of all the emotions experienced by everyone at the table...fear, excitement, angst, anticipation, uncertainty, confusion, wonder, bewilderment, all circling back to fear.  What was going to happen? We imagine these same emotions with the disciples and Jesus as we sit at the table, at the edge of our seats.  Love, heidi

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Journey to Calvary...

"Jesus, then, gentle-hearted as a grandmother, as dignified as a king, could ride serenely up to his death because he knew he was returning to his source."
Fr. Ed Hays, "The Lenten Labyrinth"

Fr. Ed Hays offers some pondering questions in the Palm Sunday entry in the Labyrinth.  Jesus rode into Jerusalem, knowing that the end of his journey was near. And yet, he was serene, allowing the people to laud him as king.  What about us, Fr. Ed asks. Are we OK with our own death--the hows and whens of it?  Definitely some rich food-for-thought on a Relatively Silent Sunday. I had to admit, now that my Will is complete, I'm much more at ease about dying! It isn't the actual death that scares me as much as the passage toward death-the walk to my own, personal Calvary. The physical/mental diminishment, the dependency on others, the lack of capacity myself scares the dickens out of me. I'm so independent and self-contained that the idea of depending on others scares me much more than the thought of taking that last breath. I'd choose to die peacefully in my sleep--causing minimal fuss and trouble for anyone. But that may not be the cross I am dealt.  Jesus asks me to accompany him to Calvary with whatever cross I am meant to carry--that is part of what being a follower of Jesus looks like. I can journey with Jesus this difficult week to his Calvary and I can rest assured that Jesus will walk with me to my Calvary, whenever and however that comes to pass.  This Holy Week, let's be especially aware of journeying with Jesus as he shows us how it's done.  Love, heidi

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ponder-worthy...

"We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God."
John 10:33

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories about St. Edith Stein.  Remember her? She was the Jewish woman who was a philosophy scholar in Germany, pre-WWII.  As a result of her studies (of St. Teresa of Avila) and the influence of Catholic friends, she became a Catholic and later a Carmelite nun. She was killed at Auschwitz in 1942, at age 50.  My favorite story is when she finally told her Jewish mother that she was joining the Carmelite order. She had just been living with the sisters while teaching at their school. She told her mother that she was actually going to join the order and be a Carmelite nun. Her mother was quoted saying, "Why did you have to get to know him (Jesus)? He was a good man--I'm not saying anything against him. But why did he go and make himself God?" ("Edith Stein--A Biography," by Waltraud Herbstrith). Isn't that fascinating? We have  two thousand years of history and the deep faith to know that Jesus is God. The people of his time and even Jewish people throughout history see it so differently.  So ponder-worthy, this last weekend before Holy Week. And as we ponder and pray, let us remember that the Jewish people are, and always have been, so richly and completely loved by God. They are our brothers and sisters under our father Abraham. Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Praiseworthy!

"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever..."
Daniel 3:52

Pray-as-You-Go had a lovely little exercise surrounding this today...inviting us to think about what we would praise God for on this day.  That's easy for me, having just spent a fabulous weekend with three out of four of my kids! I was thinking how funny it is: I did a good deal of pondering and nourishing my relationship with God in my early twenties. Then busy family life began and I was caught up in a whirlwind of all of that for thirty years. Now, here I am again, on my own pondering and nourishing my relationship with God. These God-times are like bookends of my life--times of awareness, while the years in between are somewhat of a blur to me.  I spend time this late-Lenten Wednesday praising God for it all.  I relish each phase, each period of life, as I look back.  I see how God was there through it all, even as I was so caught up living a busy life.  The constant through it all is God...who is definitely praiseworthy and exalted forever!  Let's all ask ourselves today...what do we praise God for this very day? Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Alone. With God.

"So they said to him, 'Who are you?'"
John 8:25

I love that the people just come right out and ask Jesus, "Who are you?" Indeed, it's a good question for us to pray with these last two weeks of Lent. Who IS Jesus in our lives? Is Jesus an historical figure who lived in a confined period of time and place? Is Jesus still alive in our lives today or do we relate to him only as he was then? Is Jesus someone we think about Monday through Friday or only on Sunday? Is Jesus merely symbolic to us or is Jesus real to us? If we haven't really gotten into Lent this year, we can spend the next couple weeks praying and pondering these questions in our own lives. Who, exactly, are we celebrating on Easter? And what does this whole deal mean in our own work-a-day lives in 2017? We're in the home stretch, Friends...let's spend some wonderful, peace-filled time with alone. With God.  Love, heidi

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Get outside!

"The great brightness, the Son of God, appeared for the health and salvation of humanity, taking on the poverty of a human body, but shining like a burning star amid shadowy clouds."
Hildegard of Bingen, as quoted in "Give Us This Day"

As March blows out of here tomorrow and Lent begins to wind down, it is so wonderful to read the descriptive prose of one of our church's finest, Hildegard of Bingen. She was a mystic who studied the word of God in nature as well as scripture. This time of year is full of nature! The weather changes in east Idaho by the hour, it seems. But in that changing, that bursting forth from the recently frozen earth, new life is coming for all of us.  This weekend, let's all take some time to read what Fr. Richard Rohr refers to as the First Bible...let's get outside! No matter if it's raining, windy, sunny or still, God is recreating the world...and us along with it.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Nudge me out of the way...

"I know where I stand...in theory. I'm FOR Jesus. But I can get around that by leaving Jesus out of some real-life issues...
Am I for Jesus or against Jesus?"
The Little Black Book

Oh that question is as easy as "Do you want to get well?" from yesterday! Isn't it?  I sat and thought about which real-life issues I may be excluding Jesus from in my life.  What about my unattractive tendency to judge others harshly? Where is Jesus in there? Those hardest to love in my little kingdom ARE actually Jesus and how do I treat them? Looking at it that way I look to be quite against Jesus and that is the last thing I'd ever want to be.  The solution for that is for me to yield to God who resides in my heart and let God love through me.  God is very happy to love all those I find difficult to love. I may need to just step out of the way so God can do just that.  Gracious and Forgiving God, my judgments, prejudices, and just general ickiness about others prevents me from truly loving Jesus well.  Give me a nudge out of the way so you can love others with your heart. Hopefully, my heart will learn from yours to love better!  Amen. Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jump onboard the healing train!

"When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, 'Do you want to be well?'"
John 5:6

I remember my dad had a friend who (as Dad described it) "enjoyed" ill health.  When I was finally old enough to realize the inconsistency of that I asked my dad what he meant by that paradoxical phrase. "Oh, he enjoys ill health because it gives him something to talk about." Ah, yes, I get it.  Some of us, frankly, resist getting well, as Jesus knows already in today's Gospel.  We may be so uncomfortable with change that we stay in our own little sicknesses because the absence of them would take away our unique us-ness. Where would we be without our internal stuff? Who would we be? What would we talk about? Jesus doesn't inflict healing on someone who doesn't really want to be healed. That's why he sometimes asks the obvious question. He asks us today, too.  Do you want to stay crabby with your coworkers? Do you want to perpetuate the gossip in the teacher's lounge? Do you want to walk by the guy with the sign without as much as a prayer for his needs? We need to be onboard with Jesus' healing within us. Do we want to be well?  Love, heidi

Monday, March 27, 2017

Healing--this way or that?

"Jesus said to him, You may go, your son will live.'"
John 4:50

So Jesus didn't see or touch the child he healed in today's Gospel. Contrast to yesterday's when Jesus was so intimately involved with the blind man's healing he made mud out of his own saliva to put on the man's eyes! (see John 9:1-41) We had a wonderful homily about how different Jesus' healings were throughout the Gospels. Jesus could heal from afar and Jesus healed with a touch. Jesus healed by someone merely touching the hem of his cloak. Jesus healed with the words, "Go and show yourselves to the priest." Sometimes the people being healed actively sought Jesus and asked for his healing, other times, the individual's friends brought the person closer to Jesus. Many times, Jesus told the "healee" that it was their faith that healed them. So in the homily it was shared that the answer for so many different styles of healing is in the first reading from Sunday, 1 Samuel (16:7). "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart." God looks into the heart of each person and knows exactly what healing they need.  Some can be healed without their own asking, as the official's child in today's Gospel. Others may need a more hands-on approach, like the man born blind yesterday. God does the same exact thing for us, too. God can look deep into our hearts because God resides there. God just has to look around in our hearts and know exactly what we need in the way of healing.  God is so eager to heal that! Are we onboard with the healing God knows we need?  Love, heidi

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A conversation with God...

"Because you are in love with God, you can relate to him as you would relate to a friend. You can talk to God in order to find out what he thinks. You want to do as he suggests. Listen to him, then, that you may know. God speaks quietly, very quietly, but he does speak, and he will make known to you what he wants you to do."
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, as quoted in Give Us This Day

Yep. What she said.  I think we grow up thinking we are only communicating with God if we are praying the formulated prayers we grew up with.  The idea of talking to God as we would talk to a friend seems uncomfortable, forced, or even weird. But, the older I get and the more, could I say, familiar I get with God, the more honest I feel I can be. Even to the point of looking up and praying the simple prayer of the surprised, "Seriously, God?"  We have been asked to "Pray always" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). It's hard to do that if we stick to only rote prayers.  But we can keep a running conversation going with God if we are familiar enough to talk with God as a friend. Let's try something today: Let's make a Sign of the Cross first thing in the morning, and let the whole day be our prayer. Then we can close our prayer at the end of the day. Our whole day is a prayer, a conversation, with God.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Alone with the Alone...

"In solitude when we are least alone..."
Lord Byron, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"

I had a long drive yesterday and realized too-late-to-go-back-for-it that I'd left the Talking Book player at the office. Rats, that, I thought. Long drive made even longer by no book to enjoy. I did have a prayerful music CD. That, and perhaps some time of silence, would be the order of the day.  The mountains are still snow-covered and breathtaking. God felt as close as in the passenger seat beside me. Prayers prayed and felt. Tears flowed. It was a trip to church.  Why are we so afraid of silence? Why do our hours need to be filled up with noise and activity? To keep our minds off stuff? Maybe. But also the silence can amplify the sound of our own heart beating; our own "who-ness" as Fr. Richard Rohr often says.  And that can be intimidating.  Today and maybe for the remainder of Lent, let's put ourselves in positions of solitude and silence. On purpose. Let's not be afraid to be alone with the Alone, as Marymount advertises on its webpage. It's very safe and lovely with the Alone.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Forgive and let go...

"Peter approached Jesus and asked him, 'Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?'"
Matthew 18:21

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we humans have to wrap our minds around. And one of the most difficult aspects of that is the act of forgiving ourselves.  We can be so good at guilt that we can mire ourselves in it for years, thinking ourselves unworthy of God's forgiveness. If we cannot imagine God is merciful enough to forgive us, how can we picture our little human selves able to forgive others? A couple of lessons from "The Shack" really stood out to me in the forgiveness realm.  First, God tells Mack that the healing of forgiveness affects the forgiver. Mack's anger was harming him, much more than the offender. God wanted Mack to forgive to free him, Mack, thus releasing the offender to God. "I'm just asking that you let go of his throat," God pleads. God assured Mack that he could forgive with God's help and he wasn't alone in his efforts. That is reassuring. And finally, it takes time and even practice--the act of forgiving. Just saying the words are a beginning, eventually the heart will follow. Lent is such a good time to revisit any grudges or ill will we may harbor towards others, and to let it go. Release it to God, who knows what to do with it. Love, heidi

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hear and recognize...

"Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said..."
Matthew 1:20

Pray-As-You-Go this morning asked the question have you ever been compelled to do something in a dream...did you do it? I'm sure there are many times I have been influenced by dreams, but one time in particular I was iffy about a situation and then received clarity in a dream. I acted on the clear message I'd received and it was the right thing to do.  A while back I heard a homily about St. Joseph which emphasized that St. Joseph KNEW God's voice because he was so familiar with God. It's harder to hear and recognize God when you aren't necessarily close to God in relationship. It's a lot easier to hear a friend's voice if you've heard it before and speak together often. The more time we spend with God, the easier it will be to hear and recognize God's voice, whether we hear it in a dream or while out hiking or while in silence, listening for the whisper.  Love, heidi

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Open the door...

"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

As I pondered this reading this morning, I wondered to myself (that's what happens when you live alone) who are the Lazaruses (Lazari?) at my door? I know there are people I step over each day to go about my everyday life.  It pains me to recognize this, but it also is the point of Jesus' story to the Pharisees. There are people in our lives who have much to teach us, but we ignore them. They may seem difficult to us, or they make us uncomfortable.  The guy on the corner by Walmart with the sign. The relative we never contact. Jesus is reminding us that we don't need to look far to find the people who have the most to teach us. We don't need to go to a far off land to help far off strangers, admirable as that may be. All we need do is look outside our own door, in our own little lives and the lesson is right there.  All this makes me so ill at ease. I like being in my cozy little world with me inside and Lazarus outside.  The idea of inviting Lazarus in is unsettling.  Blessedly, I don't have to do it alone.  Lord, please help me to see Lazarus, invite him in and show him hospitality.  He is You...Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Santa Fe, All the Way!

"'Holy Faith all the way. Lord, it is good to be here.' It will be your holy faith which tells you that wherever 'here' is at this moment in your life is a gift from God since the purpose of each 'here' is to transform us."
Fr. Ed Hays, "The Lenten Labyrinth"

Fr. Ed refers to the slogan from the Santa Fe Railroad, "Santa Fe, all the way!" which translates to Holy faith, all the way! It is such a fitting slogan for Lent, as is the quote from Peter at the Transfiguration, "Lord, it is good to be here." (Matthew 17:4) Though these two phrases may seem contradictory, they are actually quite compatible. I surely need both in my life right now, as I'm one who likes to have the future planned to the day and that just isn't possible. Or realistic. Or even spiritually edifying! I need to shout Santa Fe all the way! And rely on God to guide me into the future God wants for me. And, just as importantly, I need to relax in the knowledge that this "here" is exactly where God wants me to be right now. What about you? Is your faith allowing you to leave the future in God's hands? Are you appreciating that the "here" you are experiencing is just where God has placed you to grow? Food for thought, right?  Love heidi

Oh, the website Catholic Moms was kind enough to publish a reflection from me today! Please check it out:
http://catholicmom.com/2017/03/15/daily-gospel-reflection-march-15-2017/

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Choose joy...

"I am convinced that we can choose joy. Every moment we can choose to respond to an event or a person with joy instead of sadness...To choose joy does not mean to choose happy feelings or an artificial atmosphere of hilarity. But it does mean the determination to let whatever takes place bring us one step closer to the God of life."
Henri Nouwen, "The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey"

I have been blessed to read enough of Henri Nouwen to know his life was not a bed of roses, so his saying that we can CHOOSE joy makes me sit up and take notice.  But what about when things seem really difficult? (I rhetorically ask Henri Nouwen, who has been in heaven since 1996).  I think the main thing is the difference between joy and happiness and Fr. Nouwen clearly knows the difference. He was a man of deep thoughts and deeper feelings, so he knows joy when he talks about it, but also the frivolity of surface happiness, too.  Joy is so much more God-ish, really. Joy is the sensation that all will be well, as Julian of Norwich told us. We go through ups and downs of human life and we can feel like we're on a roller coaster at times. But joy is deeper, more lasting, more penetrating all we do and are.   Joy is the God-presence in our experience, no matter if it is happy or sad. The presence of God in it can give us a calm and peace, even if the circumstances don't seem calm or peaceful. That is worth a pondering this last Tuesday of winter! Love, heidi

Monday, March 13, 2017

Message of the heart

"God also speaks in braille, in messages that must be felt in the heart."
Fr. Ed Hays, "The Lenten Labyrinth"

Wow, has this ever happened to you? You just feel or sense a message that either comforts you or compels you to do something? It's not like a voice, really, but a sense, a stirring, deep inside that has results.  I think if we pay attention we may find that it happens frequently. This morning I was praying for someone and had a sense to invite them to join the prayer. It was as clear as day. It just stirred in my heart to reach out and ask them to pray with me.  Today, as we go about our "Wish-I-Had-My-Hour-Back" Monday, let's pay attention to the stirrings of our hearts.  God is embossing them with braille messages.  We need to feel them to read the message.  Love, heidi

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learn from my mistakes!

"Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil"
Psalm 37:8
"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you."
Matthew 7:12

One of the things I try to do with these little reflections is pass along lessons I'm learning, even the hard lessons! So, there is a guy walking around town with a political sign. I know, it's March and the election is over, but this fellow is still campaigning. I saw his sign as I walked out of my office building leaving work yesterday. I thought the sign said one thing--which I agreed with. But when I flashed a thumbs up and he came running over, I noticed the sign said the opposite of how I believe. Yikes! I told the guy I'd misread his sign (I, seriously, am going to the eye doctor Monday!) and he went off on me, wanting me to defend my position. I told him the election is over, the ship has sailed, why still argue about it? Suffice it to say, by the time I told him I was finished talking to him (he'd said that my salary, as a government employee, was causing the country to be trillions of dollars in debt) I was physically shaking with anger. My head was throbbing. My knees were weak. Why did I engage like that?  Where was Heidi, the Sister of Charity of Leavenworth Associate, in that conversation? Why didn't I just disengage, bid him "Have a nice day!" and get in my car? I realized this morning that there are many lessons to learn from this guy. The first is to Let It Go...the second is to pray for him...may God keep him safe as he walks the busiest street in town with a campaign sign. The third is, what Jesus teaches us today, "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you." And, finally, if there is a next time, nod and smile at the guy with the sign, then get in your car and go home! There you have it--learn from my mistakes! Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Humble-hearted

"My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."
Psalm 51:19

I sat and thought about what it may look like to be humble-of-heart.  For me, I think it means not thinking I have all the answers or am doing it right and everyone else is wrong. Being humble-hearted means that we need God...desperately. We cannot do any of it on our own and trying to just makes us look arrogant and paradoxically, weaker. In our honest, admitted weakness is God's strength, but first we must recognize our weakness and be open to God's working within us.  And that can be so hard when our culture values self-sufficiency, as Fr. Richard Rohr points our in his Daily Meditation today. It's counter-cultural for us to revel in weakness, when our very weakness opens us up to God's strength.  Today, let's think about what it means to be humble-of-heart and what that may look like on our windy Wednesday. Could it mean we admit to God, "I just can't do this without you!"  Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

We have no idea...

"Papa was reclining on an old Adirondack chair, eyes closed, soaking in the sun. 'What's this? God has time to catch a few rays? Don't you have anything better to do this afternoon?'
'Mack, you have no idea what I'm doing right now.'"
William Paul Young, "The Shack"

OK, I admit, things in our country and world seem to be a scary mess to me. I can get so caught up in fear and trepidation...I'm nervous and afraid. It all seems to be unraveling. There it is. What I need to remember, always, is that God can and does work for good in all that seems bad. This scene from the book and movie is comforting to me. Oh, I know I can read many scripture passages that provide comfort and assurance, too, but there's something about seeing and reading God saying the equivalent of "I'm on it, trust me!" It doesn't SEEM like God is working in the scene from the movie, but we can't tell what God is doing as the character sits, soaking in the sun. We may not be able to readily see God working, but we need to trust that it's happening. It's there. God is on it. And, since God works through human beings, we need to be open and willing to do what God asks us to do.  We will only learn what that may be by listening to God, in silence and prayer.  We need to trust that God is doing God's part and we need to listen and be open to our part.  And that seems to be how it works...Love, heidi

Monday, March 6, 2017

Do this, not that...

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me..."
Matthew 25:35

If we thought we were getting a gentle start to Lent, today's readings shake us to our very core right off the bat...on a Monday morning! Leviticus 19 (our first reading) tells us what not to do and Jesus is telling us what exactly we must do...care for those among us who are hungry, thirsty, naked, in a strange land and imprisoned. We must help and care for them because they ARE Jesus.  Phew! That is so much to take in, but there it all is...

We say we need to discern God's will, but really, God's will is clearly spelled out for us. All filtered down and laid out we are to love one another.  The stranger, the poor, the outcast are all Jesus. There must be love in our actions, too, not just rote, heartless, grumpy giving because it's Lent.  Our hearts must be in our actions. Our actions must be our love with hands and feet. If we love Jesus, we must serve Jesus in the poor and the marginalized, even those we'd rather avoid.  OK, so now Lent feels like it's started...Love, heidi

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Carry and help carry...

"Then he said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'"
Luke 9:23

And we're off! Lent Day Two. The ashes are carefully washed off our foreheads and here we go. We still have zeal for this, right? Although, Easter seems a long way off, doesn't it? It was inspiring watching people (lots of people!) go forward to receive ashes last night. A sign of taking up our cross and following Jesus, just as he suggests to us. It's the long haul that can get difficult. Talk to me on Day Twenty-two of Lent and let's see how excited I still am. But following Jesus isn't just a one-time decision. It is a daily, "here-we-go-again" thing and definitely a marathon not a sprint. It will get tiresome and we will need some support on the other end of the cross we are trying to carry. And that is where community comes in. We have others to help us on this journey and we are called to help them too. That's the whole deal with Simon the Cyrenean, helping Jesus carry his cross, to help us recognize that we need help at times and others do, too.  We carry and we help carry...that's what we are to do today. Day Two. Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Return with your whole heart...

"Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart...Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God."
Joel 2:12-13

Funny how familiar these words are to us who have grown up with Lent. This morning, when the reader on Pray-As-You-Go read them, I could recite them from memory.  But each year, familiar as the readings are, it's a new Lent. I am on a completely different space on my journey than I was last year on Ash Wednesday and that's a good thing.  This year Lent means something different than previous years, because I'm different.  I was thinking of the Prodigal Son reading and thinking how the wayward son was feeding the pigs, yet starving himself and, suddenly, it dawned on him to go home and face his father. That was his Ash Wednesday, choosing to go back and seek forgiveness and reconciliation with his father.  We all may not feel as estranged from God as our friend the Prodigal Son, but each of us can decide to return home and embrace our loving God. The best part is that God will be scanning the horizon, watching for us. The minute we are just a dot in God's view, God will come a runnin', meeting us on the road! And that is such a beautiful thing! Blessings on your Ash Wednesday! Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Give as we've been gifted

"In a generous spirit pay homage to the Lord, be not sparing of freewill gifts. With each contribution show a cheerful countenance, and pay your tithes in a spirit of joy. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously, according to your means."
Sirach 35:7-9

Well, THAT sure doesn't need much commentary from me, does it? In a reflection on this reading, Fr. Dan Talafous, in Give Us This Day, hits the nail on the head when he said that if we cannot give cheerfully, with kindness, we needn't bother. As Lent sneaks up on us, let's think about how to honor the "giving alms" part of our Lenten observances. If we give to be seen giving, if we give announcing our sacrifice to assembled company, if we give just enough to satisfy a requirement, we may as well skip it. That is not the kind of giving God wants at all.  Rather, God desires that we give generously, cheerfully, compassionately and without judgment...just as we have been generously gifted by God. Love, heidi

Monday, February 27, 2017

Lent is coming!

"The mystics would say whenever you stand apart and objectify anything you stop knowing it. You have to love, respect, and enter into relationship with what you desire to know."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation for 2/26/2017

When I read this yesterday it hit me...that is what I want to do for Lent this year. We can only learn so much by reading and studying someone. That gives us a start but only takes us so far.  To really get to know someone we need to meet them, spend time with them, and enter into relationship with them.  I can read many biographies and watch documentary films about Abraham Lincoln but that doesn't mean I actually know him.  I hope to meet him in heaven someday, but until then--I can only know about him.  With God, I can spend extra time during Lent getting closer through experience.  Letting go of distracting activities and chasing shiny things will give me time to spend just sitting with God. And that is how I can get to know God experientially.  So, as we spend these next couple days planning our Lenten activities, let's pray about what God desires we do, not just what we have always done or what makes us feel good about ourselves.  Let's turn to God for ideas. What will help us draw closer to God in our own experience? What will draw us deeper into relationship with God? And how will this directly benefit our fellow human beings, because that is important too. Our Lent practices must enhance the lives of others. What we glean behind our prayerfully closed doors, must help others on the other side of the door!  Love, heidi

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Live Godfully!

"Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone's face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions."
Henri Nouwen, as quoted by Brother Silas Henderson in "Give Us This Day"

This is a wonderful little Examen we can pray at the end of every day! As well as looking back through our day and seeing the God tracks, we can pray with these questions and ask ourselves, how did we do? I don't know about you, but I have so many opportunities each day to smile at strangers, comfort those who are struggling, and, certainly, curb my resentment as I rant and rave in the car. I have chances everyday to live more Godfully, with the mind and heart of Christ. Maybe if I know there will be a quiz at the end of the day, I will be more aware throughout the day!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Looking for God, in all the right places...

"The coming and going of our moments of awakening begin to graze our hearts with longing."
James Finley, Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation for 2/22/2017

James Finley is describing meditation as a form of prayer and, during this week of exploring it, I find it resonates with what goes on during silent retreats for me. Finley describes meditation as moments of awareness which transcend what we are actually prayerfully observing. He shares that Jesus taught us that we are "drenched through and through with God's love." Meditation can give us glimpses of that and leave us longing for more...a kind of homesickness for heaven.  And this is exactly why I'm trying to wiggle several silent retreats into my calendar this year! I can sit on the porch of St. Helen's hermitage at Marymount and just gaze at the draw and ridge in front of me and it just shouts of God's glory.  I can observe all the little critters and creatures there and it seems like I'm looking into God's own eyes.  These moments of awakening leave me wanting more and more of them, because they affirm God's presence and glory all around me.  I feel very tiny under the immense star-studded sky, but I also feel important enough that God wants to show it to me, personally.  And, just recently, I've learned I don't have to go too far away to experience the awakening that comes with just sitting in silence, with God. I sat on my own front porch last fall and looked at my very own bushes and noticed these tiny little orange berries on them. I marveled at them and recognized what I had missed even though they are in my own front garden. We just need to take the time to sit in silence and prayerfully observe the many gifts of God all around us.  The more we do that, the easier to see God all around us! Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Upside down order...

"But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest."
Mark 9:34

How human of the disciples! How very human of us when we do the exact same thing! It's human nature to jockey for position, isn't it? It feels like there's a hierarchy--an order of people, and we humans like that order. We appreciate having everyone in a predictable, logical order. But Jesus turned all that upside down when he put a small child on his lap and said, "Whoever welcomes this child welcomes me..." (v. 37) Children, at that time, we not highly valued in society, so Jesus' action was surprising.  What if we turned the world upside down in our time and put those who seem to be de-valued on top? Pope Francis does that all the time when he speaks of the plight of immigrants and refugees. Jesus is reaching through 2000 years of human hierarchy and telling us our "order" of people is all wrong. Welcoming those who struggle the most in this life and putting their welfare before the powerful, before kings and queens and presidents, is the true order of the Kingdom of God. And what does that look like on our Feels-Like-a-Monday Tuesday?   Love, heidi