Friday, November 17, 2017

Preserve and secure...

"Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.
Luke 17:33

I admit, I looked at this reading with new eyes this morning. I sat there and wondered, how do we preserve and secure our lives? Well, by overly feathering our nests, surrounding ourselves with superfluous stuff, for one thing.  When I think of all the pretty treasures that spent years in my crawl space, I shudder. They could have been making others happy but I wouldn't let them. I kept them boxed up and "secure" in the crawl space until I finally heard the word to let them go. I think we also preserve our lives by the old "looking out for Number One" adage of the 70's. We take great care of ourselves but what about our neighbor? Are we doing anything to help preserve his life? Jesus tells us that the greatest thing we could ever do is give our lives for another and then he showed us what that looks like. That seems so extreme and out of reach for us, but what does this passage look like within our reach? Can we step out of our own little comfort zones and well-feathered nests and let go of ourselves? Can we look at the other guy as more important than our own needs and wants? Our own security? Things to ponder this weekend, Friends, as we also count our blessings! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A new priority...

"...(Jesus) reveals a new law of love,
of compassion,
of forgiveness,
in the 'now' of today.
He reveals a new priority:
to be present to the poor and to the weak;
for it is they who will lead people
into the Kingdom;
they are the key to the Kingdom..."
Jean Vanier, "Jesus, the Gift of Love"

This is just one part of this beautiful poem but it speaks so richly of the quandary we as humanity find ourselves in today.  We search for God and God is right here among us as the refugee, the immigrant, the sick and uninsured, the single mother, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the prisoner on death row, the suffering planet earth beneath our feet. We, as a society, are looking up to find God, when God is actually not "up there" at all. God is right here with us and we are missing God all together and, thus, rejecting God. We need to turn ourselves completely upside down and recognize that God is not at the "top." God is not sitting in the seat of power, prestige or wealth. God is at the bottom, shivering due to our cold rejection.  Next week is Thanksgiving. Our time for giving thanks for all we have been given. What does that mean, exactly, if we are rejecting the poor? Our attitude of gratitude must include our being present to the poor and weak! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

They made it!

"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."
Wisdom 3:1-3

In the bit of study I've done on death and dying the one thing I've learned is this: Be Not Afraid! Maybe that's why that song is sung at so many funerals! Most recently, in the Franciscan Way course I've been enjoying this fall, Fr. Richard Rohr mentions that, frequently, the most peaceful person in the room of a person dying is the person dying. There is some sense of the next road being pleasing and comforting and the fear just drifts away. Dr. Kathleen Dowling Singh, in her work on death and dying, indicates that the next world seems enticing and the person dying is just enveloped into it. She calls is transcendence. I call it "sign me up!" In the work of both Fr. Rohr and Dr. Dowling Singh it is emphasized that we can prepare to let go of this world by letting go earlier...like well before we face eminent death. Material things can lose their importance to us (I'm nearly there!) and we find value in enhancing our relationships with others. We don't want to allow bad feelings and grudges to hang over our heads like little black clouds. We make sure people know we love them. We "do unto others" and treat people with respect and compassion. No need to wait until the end of our lives to do these things, Friends! And, perhaps best of all, we can know our loved ones are in the hand of God. They made it! They are there with God, enjoying the banquet. That should give us peace! Love, heidi

Monday, November 13, 2017

Forgiving heals!

"And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,' you should forgive him."
Luke 17:4

If I had been there at this gathering,  I would have been tempted to ask Jesus, "But what if he or she doesn't apologize? Do I need to forgive then?" What if someone hurts us and they seem to be unaware? I'm sure I have hurt others, unaware of their feelings. What then? Knowing Jesus, he would want us to forgive even the unrepentant, too. And I know that because I'm aware how our forgiving helps us in healing our spirits. When we forgive others, they may or may not be changed, but we are changed. Forgiveness heals the forgiver. So, today, if we feel a twinge of hurt from another, let's not wait for them to apologize to us before forgiving them. They may be completely unaware they have hurt us. Let's rely on a mustard seed size bit of faith and forgive them. The spirit we heal may be our own. Love, heidi

Thursday, November 9, 2017

This way or that?

"Discerning of God's will is concerned with recognizing and making choices congruent with who we are in God."
Rose Mary Dougherty, "Discernment--A Path to Spiritual Awakening"

I'm in a discernment place right now, so I picked up this little book from our Spiritual Direction program and re-read the yellow paragraphs (there were many!) One would think that making choices for our lives based on who we are in God would make the decisions easier...but they may not be. When people of God are trying to decide things we tend to think of a right answer or a wrong one. One is God's will, the other isn't. But God isn't really that way, I don't think. God puts a deep desire into our hearts and we tune into that desire. "I want to do that," we say and then try to make the pieces fit. There may not be an wrong way with God, though, for people who are actively trying to choose God's will. Chances are, our choices are two good ones--both life-giving and productive. Both could yield positive fruit for God. So, when the waters are that murky, which to choose? That's when we go with our guts. We go with the one that gives us joy when it crosses our minds.  It may not seem to be the most secure or the pieces may not be clearly an easy fit, but the deep down joy may give us our answer. The point is, God will always be with us, guide us, help us do whatever we do, regardless of what we choose. There may not be just one Godly choice and God will gift us to do whatever we choose. Blessings to all veterans, blessings to all who struggle this day, blessings to all who delight in God! Love, heidi

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A recipe for today...

"Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer...Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."
Romans 12:11-12, 15

There have been way too many opportunities to weep with those who weep lately. It seems like our times right now are more perilous than ever in recent memory and it hurts our hearts, doesn't it? St. Paul seems to know exactly what we are going through and gives us our marching orders. As followers of Jesus we must accompany those who suffer and suffer with them. Elsewhere in this reading he tells us to be sincere in our love, merciful, generous in giving. We must be hospitable and even bless those who persecute us.  It's a formula for what is happening in our world right now and St. Paul is speaking to first century people in Rome. People have suffered always. People will suffer always. We, as Jesus' hands and feet on this planet, must suffer and weep with them--in New York, Las Vegas, Texas, wherever people are suffering. And we know that God is suffering with us all, as well. Today, beyond praying for those who mourn, let's reach out to others. People all around us are hurting in some way or another. They may not even be showing their pain, but if we reach out and are especially kind to all we encounter today, we may help someone who carries pain we may not see. And, above all, we must not lose hope. A tiny flicker of hope can go a long way to helping others endure. Love, heidi


Friday, November 3, 2017

The law of love is bigger...

"But they kept silent; so Jesus took the man and, after he had healed him, dismissed him. Then he said to them, 'Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?'"
Luke 14:1-6

Pray-As-You-Go asks whose words or actions strike us especially as we read this Gospel? I think it's Jesus' actions, even more than his words. He went against his own religious cultural rules to be compassionate to someone he didn't even know. The laws of the sabbath were in place to give people rest from their daily toil to eke out their living. But, according to Jesus, compassion can overtake the sabbath rule and human beings, even those we may not know, are more important than rules. Jesus' law is the law of love and it must be our law, too, as followers of Jesus. In my own little Silent Sunday Sabbath world, if someone needs me on that day, compassion and love must take over and I must put myself and my day aside. As lovely as that silent time is for me, other people are more sacred and important. The law of love supersedes everything. What does that look like in our own lives? Let's think about it this weekend...Love, heidi

Thursday, November 2, 2017

All Souls, All Saints, Halloween candy...

"Brothers and sisters: Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."
Romans 5:5

Some days, we may not feel it, though; the reading should go on to say. Some days we just may feel disappointed, in ourselves and others. Our hearts may not feel the Holy Spirit present there and we may find it difficult to love others or ourselves. That's exactly where faith comes in. "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). We may not feel it, but it's there. God's infinite mercy and unconditional love for us are there. We can hang our hat on that. Today is All Souls Day and thinking about our loved ones can feel sad. Yesterday's All Saints Day can make us feel we are coming up short. We may well be, but the Good News is that God loves us even so. And God rejoices in our loved ones, perhaps gone from us, but present with God. And all will be well with all. And, if that doesn't make us happy, Halloween candy is 50% off! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What upholds our faith?

"When all around me seems to be falling apart, what upholds my faith and what gives me hope?"
Pray-As-You-Go, 10/31/2017

Yesterday, being a typical Monday, was frustrating. It seems like there are always new reporting requirements coming down from Boise and they seem nit-picking and overly time consuming.  As the frustration piled up with those, I drove off to see a new client who recently and completely lost her vision. Despite our fumbling over the language barrier I could tell we were making exciting progress and, as I drove away, something became clear to me. God has placed me right where I belong, doing what I am to be doing. Sensing that upholds my faith and gives me hope, clearly. It doesn't make all the frustrations go away and the reporting stuff was still there at the office when I returned, but the sense of purposefulness in my life and work made it all more tolerable. Things do seem to be difficult all around me. But I cannot place my trust in institutions or government. My faith has to be in God, who has guided me exactly where I can serve God's people, using the gifts God has given me. In between answering the door for Trick-or-Treaters tonight, can we sit with this question and see where God leads us in our answers? It sure is a great question! Love, heidi

Monday, October 30, 2017

Rejoice! For the right reasons...

"When (Jesus) said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him."
Luke 13:17

Pray-As-You-Go invites us to pray with this Gospel and consider who we identify with in the story. Are we the bent-over woman, cured by Jesus on the sabbath? Are we the leader of the synagogue, who calls Jesus out for curing on the sabbath (again!) Are we the stunned crowd, who witness a woman, disabled for years, rise up straight and glorify God? Oh, I found myself immediately. I am in the crowd, rejoicing, but for all the wrong reasons. I'm rejoicing, not because the woman is set free by Jesus. I'm rejoicing because the adversaries of Jesus are humiliated. Sad to say, Friends, I like it when the "bad guys" get their comeuppance. But that is the wrong reason to rejoice, certainly. It's highly dualistic for one thing. It separates Us from Them and divides, rather than unifies. Instead of rejoicing with the woman, who had so much reason to rejoice in her healing, I'm pointing a wagging finger at the adversaries. How do I know the guy didn't come around and say, "Nice healing, Jesus. Next time you could just do it on a Tuesday?" I know nothing of him and shouldn't judge him even though he is painted as the unenlightened in the story. The unenlightened are not my adversaries. The enlightened are not my "team." I need to rejoice in healing and unity and live my life accordingly. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Two wills, growing closer...

“God’s will for you is Godself. When you, in the freedom of your will, want nothing but what God wills—that is, you live by and for the ever-deepening consummation of this union in love—then these two wills are united in love.”
James Finley, Daily Meditation 10/12/17

It took me a few times reading this, and then a little while praying with it, before I said, Well, maybe. OK. I have always felt God appreciated my suggestions for how my life should unfold. I'm the one living this life, spinning around on this planet. But, as I’ve grown in faith, I can see two things: First, I recognize that the deepest desires of my heart were actually placed there by God. My desires for what I think may be my will, are actually God's will for me. God doesn't want us unhappy doing God's will! The second thing is that God has better ideas than I could even dream up. God has surprised me so many times, just by pulling a rabbit out of a hat. I’m awed by just the idea of wanting nothing but God’s will for my life, but, thankfully, as I grow spiritually, the two wills are closer than they may appear.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Travel lightly...

"Lose your money for relative or friend; do not hide it under a stone to rot. Dispose of your treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and that will profit you more than the gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will save you from every evil."
Sirach 29:10-13

A wise friend pointed out that this seems to be our journey at this point in our lives. I sure feel the urge (a rather urgent urge, too) to let go of material possessions.  Today's Gospel (Luke 12:35-38) has Jesus telling us to ready ourselves for the master's return.  We sure don't want to be wrestling stuff out of the crawl space when that time comes, do we? We are asked to travel lightly on this planet; carry little and leave only footprints behind. And yet, the message of the commerce-driven world is "Buy, buy, buy!" Since I have been more and more aware of this recently, the ads I hear ring particularly objectionable.  "You save 10% if you spend over $100!" Dearest God, forgive us! Help us to dispose of our treasure to benefit others. May our letting go fill the pockets of those in need. May we grow to share, not just from our surplus, but even what we're using right now. If I have two, help me to give one away...and, at that, help me to part with the one if someone else needs it.  Love, heidi

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mind the gap!

"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."
Matthew 22:21

I usually just pay attention to the first part of Jesus' statement here--give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. But as I reflected on this Gospel, I paid more attention to the second part--about paying to God what belongs to God. I wondered, What belongs to God? What does God want from me? I've been getting rid of a lot of stuff lately; is that what God wants? My mother's china? In the Franciscan Way course I'm taking online the answer is spelled out beautifully. God desires that we see all living things with God's eyes of love. God wants us to close the gap between ourselves and all living things...we are all One. So when I revisited what God wants from me it was fairly clear, though not easy. God wants me to close the gap with others, especially those with whom I disagree or with whom I may struggle. I thought of that expression in the UK around the public trains, "Mind the gap!" I decided to make it a little mantra, reminding me that my differences with others are in my own mind. In God's eyes, we are all loved and treasured beyond our own imaginations. We are all creations of the Living God, who loves every cell ever created.  Love, heidi

Friday, October 20, 2017

Look for grace...

"What if God's grace had a bright face and chased us around the block?"
Fr. Guerric DeBona, Give Us This Day

So there's a fun image to get us through our Friday! We can't as much see God's grace as we feel it, at least that's the way with me. I can feel the warmth of the Spirit flowing through me at times, but seeing God's grace seems abstract. Unless we remember that seeing any goodness at all is seeing God's grace. Just yesterday I watched a school crossing guard at a busy intersection. The care with which she shepherded her little charges seemed grace-filled to me. I experienced a moment of grace when I reached out to a coworker who gently, kindly explained why my braille-writer wasn't working--operator error. Even the harried UPS guy who came flying in at the bitter end of the day, when it seemed all hope of him arriving in time, was lost. Grace. We once heard, in a homily, that grace is our next breath. We can certainly take that in and feel it, but let's actually look for the bright face of grace in our autumn weekend, Friends! We will see it when we see anything that looks like love. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Roll up your sleeves!

"It is not enough for a Christian to condemn evil, cowardice, lies, and use of force, hatred, and oppression. He must at all times be a witness to and defender of justice, goodness, truth, freedom, and love..."
Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, as quoted in Give Us This Day

A martyr in our own day, Fr. Jerzy died for the cause of solidarity in Poland in 1984. Over thirty years ago, but yet the cause of suffering with the oppressed lives on this very day. If one of us on this planet is oppressed for any reason, we all are. If one of us is bullied, maligned, turned away when seeking help, refused medical treatment, tricked, abused, ignored in our need, we all are. If one of us suffers due to race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, we all should be feeling that pain. We are one human family, united under a loving God, who relies on us to minister to each other.  There is goodness in this world, but things seem so difficult right now with the negative blaring of division from places of power.  Lord, please help us to speak truth to power and help us to roll up our sleeves and help those among us who suffer. Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko, pray for us!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Clean the whole cup!

"Give for alms those things that are within and see, everything will be clean for you."
Luke 11:41

Wow, I was surprised this morning, at the difference between this verse in the Pray-As-You-Go version (UK) and the US version: "But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you." The UK version seems to imply that we can give from our inner selves, letting go of our anger or our tendency to judge others, and thereby clean our insides. While the US version seems open to our giving alms from our physical wealth.  This is fascinating to me, Friends! I think we can cover all our bases and take a both/and approach. Let's think about what within we can let go of to clean ourselves from the inside--any grudges, bitterness or lack of forgiveness? And we can also see so much need in our hurting world for our physical wealth. What can we share with others? Let's ponder how we can clean our insides and outsides, both, it seems, require a letting go... Love, heidi

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sneaky snow...

“For just as from the heavens the rain and the snow come down and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful...”
Isaiah 55:10

Saturday morning we woke up, surprisingly, to several inches of snow! Oh, the weather guy had said we might get some, but what does he know? When I got up to let the dog out, I was caught  completely off guard! What is this? It was so quiet and sneaky...just coming and piling up like that. I didn’t go back to bed like I usually do on Saturdays. I opened the blinds and lit a candle and just prayed with the sneaky new snow. Is this how God sometimes comes into our lives? We may invite God’s Presence and then we forget we asked. Suddenly, we wake up to see our hearts rearranged, wiggled around, feeling different. We may be surprised, wondering, When did God sneak in and wiggle my heart around? Why do I feel differently about this or that? When did God quietly take that anger away, or help me forgive that person? I am convinced that God can work like the sneaky Saturday snow...quietly, gently, while we are sleeping. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Deeper Place...

"That's why I have to go into the wilderness, where I let God call me by name to a deeper place. This is the peace that the world cannot give. But I promise you that it is also the peace the world can no longer take from you."
Richard Rohr, "Simplicity-The Freedom of Letting Go"

This was one of my retreat books and this is taken from the last paragraph.  I read this, put the book down and said, "Yes!" That is why I go into the wilderness. I hear God call me by name to a deeper place. I sit in that deeper place and soak in the grace God gives me there.  This time the deeper place calls me to a deeper simplicity in my life...trying to let go of the need for power, prestige and possessions. There are many ways to live a simpler life and letting go of stuff is just one part. There is also the need to let go of, what St. Francis called "the purse of our own opinions," which, in my case, is more like a footlocker and weighs almost a ton! I will be continuing to explore and pursue this journey for the next several months and the above book was a wonderful guide, as was my second retreat book, "Eager to Love," also by Richard Rohr.  Dear Friends, I learned so much! And the beauty of the high desert was breath-taking this time of year!  Stay tuned for more gleanings...love, heidi


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fleeing to the desert...

"We don't come to the monastery to get away from suffering; we come to hold the suffering of all the world."
Thomas Merton, as quoted in Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 10/5/2017

Tonight, I head over to the western side of the state to begin my five day silent retreat at Marymount. I shared with Sister Beverly that I have never felt more need to retreat...to get away from the suffering of this country and world, but, I see that going on retreat I can learn to hold the suffering instead of escaping it. Even as I can escape the news when I am unplugged at the hermitage, the images of the suffering of our fellow humans beings, be they hurricane victims, refugees, immigrants, or those running from crazed gunfire, are still in my mind and heart. No, I will not be getting away from the suffering, but as I tune into the Holy Spirit in the silence, I can learn to hold it and somehow allow it to transform. And, as always, anything I glean on retreat I am meant to share when I return. Dear Friends, you will all be in my prayers at the hermitage, and will place your intentions on the altar while there.  Much love, heidi


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Be a radical!

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

Following Jesus with just our opinions could be hard enough. We would need to be against war and violence of any kind. We would need to forgive. We would truly need to welcome the stranger, lovingly instead of fearing those who are not like us. In fact, we would need to abandon fear all together. Jesus didn't seem to fear anyone or anything, did he?  But, as hard as sharing the same opinions of Jesus, the really hard part would be following his actions. We would need to live simply, since Jesus had "nowhere to his head," (v. 58). We would need to physically embrace those on the fringe, those our society rejects. Now it's getting harder! Maybe it would be easier to follow St. Francis, whose feast we celebrate today? After all, his life looks a bit charming in the movie, "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," doesn't it? That is until he strips naked in the middle of town and walks away from his wealth and family; the townspeople aghast and jeering. OK, so radical discipleship isn't as easy as we'd like it to be. But as Tom Hanks says in "A League of Their Own" about baseball, "If it was easy, everyone would do it!" Today, in honor of St. Francis, let's do the harder thing. Let's take concrete action today to recycle if we don't already. (And maybe ask ourselves Why don't we already?) Let's embrace someone who we may find difficult. Let's reach out to a stranger who we may feel a bit leery of. Let's be simple in our choices today...simple meals, fewer frills, more awareness for the other guy. Let's try to be a bit more radical in our discipleship today! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Close to the brokenhearted...

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and those who are crushed in spirit he saves."
Psalm 34:19

Last night, I was sitting in the candlelight, praying for the tragic events of yesterday. I wondered what I could possibly share that would be hope-filled and positive.  I was reminded of a book I just finished called "Sacred Fire: A Vision for a Deeper Human and Christian Maturity," by Fr. Ron Rolheiser. In it, he talks about how we can bless one another. We bless each other when we share our appreciation for another's gifts. When we encourage, support, and lift each other up. We bless each other when we recognize the efforts of others and show them our gratitude. We encourage each other with God's love, a love beyond ourselves. Today, as we continue to struggle with the horrific hurricanes, earthquakes, and now the mass shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, let's all make a special effort to bless all the people we encounter today. We may feel helpless to assist those in Puerto Rico or Las Vegas, but we can love and bless those in Idaho Falls, Boise, Leavenworth or wherever we find ourselves. People will cross our paths, stand next to us in line, maybe they even need us for special help or assistance. Let's bless them, each and every one of them. Let grace come forth from our hearts to touch others today. Beautiful ripples of grace will go out through our hurting world.  Bless you, all, my Friends...Love, heidi

Monday, October 2, 2017

Just do it! With love!

"A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, 'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.' He said in reply, 'I will not,' but afterwards changed his mind and went."
Matthew 21:28-29

I have noticed an interesting thing as I inch (and I mean at a elderly snail's pace) toward retirement. I find that I have more zeal for my job than I did years ago. Doesn't this seem like the opposite of the typical case? Four years ago, I went on my first retreat at Marymount Hermitage and had a real breakthrough about my work. I had prayed to have a spiritual vocation, a "holy" job, as such.  The message I received from Jesus was this: "You already have a holy job...just do it a better." I remember feeling so enlightened that I called coworkers on the way home and apologized for my lackluster performance since I'd been phoning it in for years. I vowed to do better. I wish, at this point, to say that I did just that, but, alas, again, I move at a snail's pace. Anything we do with love and for the glory of God, is a spiritual vocation. I feel like the son in Jesus' story. I whine about my job, but if I go out and do it, with love, to the best of my ability and for the glory of God I am doing God's will.  Let's all do that today! Love, heidi

Friday, September 29, 2017

Filled with God

"If you comprehend it, it is not God."
St. Augustine, as quoted in Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 9/29/17

We humans like to figure things out. We like to know for ourselves, do the research, get a handle on things. There are plenty of things we can study and learn, but God isn't one of them. No matter what our spiritual/religious experience, God is unfigure-out-able. And that's just fine. Even when we go on retreat for several days of silence, just spending time with God, we still don't know what God is up to. God surprises us. We mustn't feel discouraged, though, because we can't figure God out.  God is still enlivening every cell of us.  Every fiber of our very being is infused with God's grace.  That's what we can ponder and marvel at all this autumn weekend. We may not comprehend God with our minds, but our minds, bodies and souls are filled with God.  And that is beautifully ponder-worthy!  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pure delight

"The Lord takes delight in his people..."
Psalm 149:4

This verse of the Psalm jumped out at me this morning as I listened to it on Pray-As-You-Go. The Lord takes delight in his people.  So lovely and, sometimes, maybe hard for us to grasp, right? Is it hard to picture God taking delight in ALL people? PAYG also asked the question, "What makes you grateful for the gift of life?" That's easy to answer. I spent time last weekend and this week with some incredible people! The people with whom I share this life make me so grateful for life itself. I'll be the first to admit that I'm often not as grateful as I could be for people. You've heard some of the struggle-stories here! But, today, I'm most grateful for people. The people who delight me every time and even the people who teach me difficult lessons. All the people in my life have been placed by God, and by God, I yearn to love them! And with the love of God deep within me, I do love them. Today, let's think about this question, What makes you grateful for the gift of life? And let's show by our actions that we are grateful for this awesome gift of life! Love, heidi

Friday, September 22, 2017

The root of all evil!

"For the love of money is the root of all evil, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the path and have pierced themselves with many pains."
1 Timothy 6:10

Is it Providence this reading should fall on a pay day? I think so. Reading this today, I wondered how those teaching the "prosperity" gospel can sell it? It seems pretty clear here that we are not supposed to sell our souls to be materially rich.  But it goes beyond just pointing our judging fingers at those who sure look like they're doing it wrong! What in my own life do I chase after more than I seek God? What do I spend more time doing than spending time with God? I consider all living things to be infused with God, so spending time alone in nature or with other people, working, laughing, sharing, celebrating is time with God to me. I probably spend too much time mindlessly transfixed in front of either a computer or TV, so that is one thing to consider. And where will today's paycheck go? Will it bring life to others as well as myself and my old dog who loves his rawhide treats? It is one thing to read these wise scripture passages but how do they transform our everyday lives? They certainly should! That is a question to be pondered this autumn weekend, Friends!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

God is working!

"Bring us back, O God; let your face shine forth..."
Psalm 80:4

Recently, I was called upon to find a phone that an elderly gentleman could use. I took over one that I thought would do the trick, crawled around in the ancient corners of the netherworld to get it hooked up and, lo and behold, it didn't work. I tried all I knew to do, with interested bystanders "helping" me to the point of distraction. In terrible frustration, I took it back to my office to study it in peace. I was so disappointed in myself, not for my inability to get the phone to work, but in my irritation with the people and situation. I made arrangements to go back the next day, armed with the tweaked phone and, more importantly, a tweaked attitude. I prayed all the way there for God to help me; again, not just hooking up the phone, but to love the people. That was ultimately what I was called to do, what I was there for. The phone was just the excuse.  Well, the next day, the situation was exactly the same--the same cobwebs were in the corners, the people were still "helping" and the phone still didn't work. The difference was, as I drove away, I knew God had helped me. I was so different than the day before. I was able to love better.  Today, as we go about our Windy Wednesday, let's think about how God works in our lives.  The phone may still not work. But God is working feverishly in our hearts! Love, heidi

Monday, September 18, 2017

Seven times?

"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

I wonder if Peter was thinking that forgiving someone seven times was plenty? Or a lot? Was Peter thinking himself magnanimous going for seven? If so, Jesus blew him out of the water when he replied that, no, you must forgive seventy-seven times! I remember reading that when we humans forgive, it is always through grace given to us. It isn't so much our own doing, but a gift of grace that we receive from God that allows us to forgive. I totally believe that, since forgiveness seems so often out of reach for me. And we can and should pray for the gift of a universal forgiveness just for the way things are. Fr. Richard Rohr says that the Spirit within us gives us a desire and a longing for reconciliation and forgiveness (Daily Meditation, 8/28/17). That's the only true way we can move forward in our lives--to let go of the hope for a better past. So, today. as we breathe in the wee bit of fall in the air, let's pray for the grace we need to let go of anything we need to forgive, including within ourselves. Maybe we can picture a gust of wind blowing it away...love, heidi

Friday, September 15, 2017

Another mother...

"'Woman, behold your son'. Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother.'"
John 19:26-27

What does it mean to us that Jesus "gave" us his own mother as he was dying on the cross? I thought about what my mother did for me; I thought about what I try to do for my now-adult kids. My mom was my cheerleader, my second biggest fan (my dad was my Number One fan). But my mom was there for me until it was time for me to be there for her. My mother was a confidant, I could tell her anything and she would try to understand my point of view, while pointing out that there may be another way to look at it. She was a practical guide for me growing up, and later her advice was invaluable. She loved me as no one else possibly could, as the person who nourished my tiny self in her own body, under her own heart. This gift of mother is one Jesus gives us from the cross, too. Another mother, who cheers us on, nourishes us, sits with us when we need her and comforts us when we're struggling. No one can ever love us quite like our mother can, so the gift of another mother is a treasure...and we have that in our mother, Mary. This weekend, let's pause and thank Jesus for this beautiful gift of sharing his mother with us.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Woe to...us?

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry..."
Luke 6:24-25

Deacon Mac from Bronco Catholic had an inspiring, if a bit blistering, homily this past Sunday and I will post the link to it below if you would like to be challenged by the Gospel. Why would we want to be challenged by the Gospel? Aren't we supposed to go to church, pay our tithe and walk out of church feeling good about ourselves? I think not. Living the Gospel is way different than just reading, listening or even believing in it. If just saying we are Christian, and listening to the Gospel on Sunday was enough, we'd be all set. We seem to be able to do that much. But it's not enough. Woe to us, if we think it is. Jesus challenges us to go beyond ourselves and live for others, love others, care for others. THAT is the Gospel. In the verse shortly after this one, Jesus says, "Love your enemies." (v. 27). If that doesn't challenge us then we aren't reading it correctly. Or maybe we are just reading it and not trying to live it. These are challenging times, calling for challenging messages. How can we follow Jesus and actually live the Gospel? Especially since we are the rich and the well-fed? Love, heidi
Deacon Mac's Homily

Monday, September 11, 2017

Remember with service

"Lord, take me
where you want me
to go;
Let me meet
who you want me
to meet;
Tell me
what you want me
to say, and
Keep me out
of your way."

--Mychal Judge, O.F.M., Chaplain
New York Fire Department
 
As we remember the terrifying day sixteen years ago, let us especially remember the Saint of 9/11, Fr. Mychal Judge, chaplain of the NYFD. Fr. Judge was one of the first casualties of the WTC as he went in to minister to his men that morning. Jesus told us that greater love has no man than to lay down his life for another, and that is what Fr. Judge did that day. What can we do this day for another person? Can we honor those who were lost on 9/11 by helping someone else today? Let's channel our remembrance, not through bitterness or anger but through service for others. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Answer the call...

"When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus."
Luke 5:11

I was thinking about this and wondered about the times I have felt called to do something. Did I leap up and rush to do it? Have I ever followed as eagerly as Peter, James and John in this reading? The "calls" I have received haven't been quite so obvious and vivid as Jesus calling the fishermen on the shore. And he did have to work a fabulous miracle before they left it all behind. The calls I feel I receive start out as a stirring within my heart. An idea about doing something turns into a desire to do it. That desire leads me to investigate the possibility of doing it and then that can lead me to begin doing it. I can't say that I rush into it, leaving everything behind. But I look back and see there have been calls answered, desires tackled and met, even things left behind. All of this is God working within, which is how I believe God works in our lives, from within.  Today, as we go about a short-week Thursday, let's think about the calls we have answered in the past and pray about answering the calls we may be receiving right now in our lives. Eagerly jumping up, leaving whatever else behind and answering the call is us exercising our faith muscle! Can we do it? Jesus is calling! Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

We must go with him!

"The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them."
Luke 4:42

Is it me? Did I wake up on the wrong side of the bed and, reading this, see the people of Capernaum in a negative light? I see them as trying to keep Jesus for themselves, as their own miracle worker, healing their sick and working miracles in their town, but reluctant to let him go to others. Do we still tend to do that? Claiming Jesus for ourselves, wanting Jesus on our side? If Jesus is on our side, then our side must be the right side and other sides must, therefore, be wrong...right? Argh, that! Throughout history we see groups claiming Jesus who have no real adherence to Jesus' teachings. Jesus, for his part, went far out to the edges, to the fringe, and scooped up those were cast out of the "group." Jesus went out of his way to include those society spurned. If Jesus is on our side, or if we are on Jesus' side, we must do the same and reach far and wide to include others...ALL others. This Jesus "club" of ours is expansive in its width and breadth. It includes rather than excludes. Not only must we let Jesus go out to others, but we must go with him! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A season of new...

"Anticipate all the blessings that take place each day rather than dreading things that may never happen...A positive attitude can assist us in shaping our days."
Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, "Abide" (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

This is just perfect for the day after a holiday weekend, isn't it? One could feel some drudgery headed back after a lovely respite. One could feel a bit of sadness that summer is winding down. One could have difficulty settling into a new season routine (I need to get to the gym!) Or, one could look at today with excited anticipation and think, What wonderful new adventure awaits me today? OK, I'm not exactly THERE either. But I do appreciate the fact that going into today with a positive attitude would be much better than thinking the worst. My attitude shapes my behavior and my behavior certainly can affect others and their reactions to me. So chin up! Deep cleansing breath! Out we go to discover what wonder God has in store for this nearly-Autumn day...And thanks be to God for walking through it with us.  Love, heidi

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Fullness of Time

The Fullness of Time

by James Stephens

On a rusty iron throne,
Past the furthest star of space,
I saw Satan sit alone,
Old and haggard was his face;
For his work was done, and he
Rested in eternity.
 
And to him from out the sun
Came his father and his friend
Saying,—Now the work is done,
Enmity is at an end—
And He guided Satan to
Paradises that He knew.
 
Gabriel, without a frown;
Uriel, without a spear;
Raphael, came singing down,
Welcoming their ancient peer;
And they seated him beside
One who had been crucified!
 
I invite you to sit and pray with this poem for while. How does it feel to you? I was stunned when I first heard it and each time I read it now, I get teary. It just sounds so much like God to me, and God's infinite mercy brings me to tears. Blessings on your weekend, love, heidi
 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Reach out through the ordinary...

"...may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all..."
1 Thessalonians 3:12

I was thinking, as I went about the tasks of my ordinary Thursday...let the dog out, feed the dog, make coffee, yada, yada...about how the ordinary days stack up--one after another. Not long after, I thought about those who would love to have an ordinary day, but whose days are upside down after the hurricane. People who are waking up on a cot in a shelter would love to have an ordinary day. People who are on Day Three or Four of no sleep at all, who are helping with rescue and recovery. People who are battling terrible fires in other areas and for whom rain may seem like a relief. Many people are waking up to difficult days and our ordinary days are what they dream about. Today, let's thank God if our day is full of routine tasks and responsibilities. Let's also think about how we can help those who are having difficult or trying days. Even in our non-flooded or not-on-fire communities there are ways to help others. As we thank God for the ordinary, let us reach out to those who suffer through extra-ordinary. Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Called to forgiveness

"Forgiveness becomes central to Jesus' teaching, because to receive reality is always to 'bear it,' to bear with reality for not meeting all of our needs."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 8/30/17

I remember hearing that Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past. Interesting, right? People being human, situations being what they are, mistakes are made. Reality is what it is. And if we grow to be forgiving of ourselves and others, we also grow to be more patient and humble (Rohr). My favorite part is that God is always eager to help us to forgive others and ourselves. We struggle with forgiving on our own, but God's mercy and love can course through us and open our hearts to forgive. God is so happy to help us lift the burdens of shame and guilt through forgiveness! We also need to remember God wants us to forgive ourselves...maybe that is where we need to begin, Friends. Today, as our week-before-a-holiday inches along, let's ponder where we are called to forgive this day. We are called to forgive others, ourselves, and we are called to ask for forgiveness from others, too. A tall order of forgiveness all around, but God is there and eager to help.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Prayer of silence

Let Your God Love You
by Edwina Gateley
 
Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.
Let your God—Love you.
~Edwina Gateley (www.edwinagateley.com)
 
We prayed this each morning, before our time of silent prayer, when I stayed with sisters in Kansas. It is a beautiful way to begin the day! Blessings on your Tuesday, love, heidi

Friday, August 25, 2017

Celebrating our Ruths!

"But Ruth said, 'Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you! For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people, and your God my God.'"
Ruth 1:16

Interestingly, I woke up thinking about this reading one night earlier this week. I wondered why God woke me up with this story of loyalty and friendship, but it is surely worth a ponder! Pray-As-You-Go asked the question, Who do you cling to when times are difficult? I thought back this morning and remembered the friend who brought me lunch at the vet's office, while I waited through a difficult dog diagnosis. I thought of the friends that raced right over to see me when my mom passed away and the friends who kept vigil with me when my friend Helen struggled through those last hours. I remember the friend who picked me up after a medical procedure and helped me once I got home. These are the "Ruths" in our lives, Friends, and, thankfully, they are the ones we cling to when times get rocky. As we think about and thank our Ruths, let's also keep our eyes, ears and hearts open for opportunities to do the same for others! Our summer is waning...let's get out there and enjoy the weekend! Love, heidi

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It's good to be back!

"Nathaniel's response was, 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'"
John 1:46

Is it just a human, knee-jerk response to look down our noses at someone from another town, culture, country? Looks like it's been going on for centuries. I get it, though. It is easy hanging out with like-minded folks. It's easy spending time with people who agree with us, share our hometown or history. It's easy for me to go to the SCL Mother House; number one, because everyone is so kind and nice to me. Often, they taught me or my kin in school in Billings and they are forgiving in their recollections of us! Thanks Be to God! Also, I'm among very like-minded folks. We are all unique, certainly, but we may be inspired by similar things, maybe we tune into the Holy Spirit on the same channel. Whatever it is, it is lovely on top of that mountain and it feels daunting to climb back down and resume life-as-usual. That's today for me. After such a rich and wonderful experience, it's time to share that richness with others as we are all called to do.  So, today, this late August Thursday, let's be aware of any time in our day we are tempted to look down our noses at someone from another town, creed or culture. That's definitely not what Jesus calls us to do, but in this difficult time of divisiveness, it's all too easy to say, "Can anything good come out of ______?" Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Where two or three...

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:20

There is such comfort in that promise from Jesus, but there is also a great responsibility! Where two or three gather there is sometimes a tendency to gossip or say unkind thing about others, isn't there? It just dawned on me for the first time after so many readings of this Gospel, that, just as Jesus accompanies us as we gather in prayer, Jesus also accompanies us as we gather to share. So, what are we sharing?  Let's do a little self-check to make sure we're comfortable with Jesus hearing what we say to each other! And, speaking of gathering with two or three others, I am headed off to the SCL Mother House for an exciting gathering--a Teilhard de Chardin retreat culminating in the solar eclipse on Monday. I know, I can hardly believe it myself! I will get a chance to see dear friends, visit sacred spaces there at the Mother House in Kansas, and learn about the mysticism of Teilhard de Chardin...all fabulous gifts! I will return next week with newly gleaned wisdom (I hope and pray!)  Be careful watching the eclipse, Friends, I love you as friends and readers, but don't want you as clients! Love, heidi

Monday, August 14, 2017

Befriend the stranger...

"So you too must befriend the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt."
Deuteronomy 10: 19

Moses reminds his people to love those in their midst who are strangers in their land. He reminds us, too. We are to love them as God loves them, and show that by feeding and clothing them (v. 18). We are not to throw rocks at them, kick them out, disparage them or make them feel unwelcome in any way. Why do we need reminders of this in the 21st century? Jesus was drawn to the outsider, the despised, those on the fringe. Jesus made them the heroes and heroines of his stories, to show us that we are all glorious in the eyes of God. So who are we to divide and align? Our saint today, St. Maximillian Kolbe, gave his life in love for others at Auschwitz. The lives he touched by giving of himself were likely not people of his own religion, country of origin, or culture. They were more than likely strangers to him before they were all imprisoned together. St. Maximillian served people who started out as strangers to him, and yet he sacrificed for them; in one case, he gave his own life for another. That is what Jesus said is the greatest sacrifice ever. Today, as we think about St. Maximillian Kolbe, what can we do to sacrifice for another? Let them cut into line in front of us?  Pay for someone's coffee or lunch behind us? Hold our tongue from gossip or unkind speech? Speak positive words of life to encourage others and lift them up? Let's go out of our way, today, Friends to be beacons of God's love to others...ALL others! Love, heidi

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bring our best!

"Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work."
2 Corinthians 9:8

Boy, that's a relief! There are times I really feel inadequate for the task at hand.  Even though I have done this kind of work (Blind Rehabilitation) for a long time, there are constantly new challenges and difficulties that just stump me. It's not a perfect learning curve where you get better at it the longer you do it. It sometimes seems the more I do it the less I know!  Anyway, faced with a powerful feeling of falling short, this reading reassures me that whatever I bring to the task, God multiplies. I don't have all the answers or perfect methods, but God can complete and fill in the gaps to help me serve others.  What I can bring is a heart for helping and desire to serve. God appreciates that and can pick up the ball from there.  Today, if we are challenged with a difficult task, let's not forget to call in our best resource! And let's not be daunted by what we feel we can't do or don't know. Let's bring our best to the job for God to multiply. Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Love bigger

"The fierceness of love invites, even insists, that we abandon any smallness of vision and embrace the new--the new idea or understanding, and most especially, the new person."
Sr. Pat Kozak, Give Us This Day

In her reflection on today's Gospel of Jesus and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:21-28), Sr. Pat reminds us that love always grows out, bigger, more inclusive. Love doesn't grow smaller, extended to fewer people. Love does not exclude. The Kingdom of God isn't an exclusive country club where just a few participate. Jesus seemed a bit taken aback by the Canaanite woman who insisted he reach beyond those he thought he came to serve. The faith of the woman stretched Jesus further, beyond just those of the Jewish faith. Can we stretch further today? Can we reach beyond our own comfort zones, extending our love further than just the folks we already love? Can we love further and further out from ourselves and our own little groups? Love is bigger than what we think. Love includes the new person, the new idea, the new understanding. Jesus recognized the woman's faith and praised it, "O woman, great is your faith!" (v. 28) Can we be open to God nudging us to love bigger?  Love, heidi

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jesus bending toward us

"But Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise, and do not be afraid.'"
Matthew 17:7

I was touched when I pictured Jesus reaching down and touching the disciples during yesterday's Gospel, for remember they had fallen "prostrate and were very much afraid." (v. 6) It just goes to show us that Jesus meets us exactly where we are, whether it is flat on our faces, or upright but running away. Jesus tenderly and lovingly beckons us, reassures us and lifts us up to new heights. In today's Gospel on Pray-As-You-Go (they had a different one than here in the US), Jesus reassures the shivering disciples in the boat, "Be not afraid!" (Matthew 14:27) He meets the fearful fellows tossed around at sea and beckons them to relax, fear not, "It is I." Today as we go about our August Monday, there may be situations that send us reeling in fear. Or we may just have a normal Monday (which would be preferable to the folks "reeling from fear"!). However our day unfolds, let's remember Jesus who bends down to meet us, wherever we are, and touches us gently. "Be not afraid   It is I."  Love, heidi

Friday, August 4, 2017

Faith that moves mountains...

"He didn't work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith."
Matthew 13:58

One of the things that struck me this morning as I read this, is that, if they had so little faith, why wouldn't Jesus want to work miracles and "prove" himself to them? Interesting, that. Jesus wasn't so much about proving himself as engaging with the people, urging their faith to complete the miracle, thus empowering them in their own healing. Jesus comments often after someone is healed that it is their faith that has accomplished the healing, deflecting the miracle away from his own power and pointing to their faith. Ah, but what about those who are healed from afar, whose relatives or friends come to ask Jesus for healing on their behalf? Well, if we think about it, human faith is still a big part of that--the faith of the relative or friend--human faith still plays a part, collaborating with Jesus to bring the miracle about. Today, as we charge into our first August weekend, let's marvel in the power of faith--our little mustard seed size faith and recognize that Jesus makes miracles happen with what we bring to the party.  Love, heidi

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Do you get it?

"Do you understand all these things?"
Matthew 13:51

Jesus had just used metaphors to describe the Kingdom of heaven to his disciples...it is like seed thrown onto various kinds of soil, it is like a mustard seed, it is like yeast in dough, it is a treasure in a farmer's field, it is like a valuable pearl.  And then, after all of these rich images, Jesus asks, "Do you get it?" Do we? Some days I can see it more clearly than others, that's for sure. Jesus knew and I am finding out that it takes a whole lifetime to understand. We grow in our faith and inch along on our journeys; some days we get it, others it's too mysterious. At some times, our faith seems stretched to the limit, trying situations that we can't imagine are happening to us. Where is God? Then things settle down and we coast for a while, our faith safely resting in our back pockets. Hopefully, we remember where it is when we need it again and we pull it out and use it. These early days of August, let's sit quietly and pray with the ebbs and flows of our faith journey. Can we plug some of Jesus' metaphors into our own experiences? Can we just sit and thank God for the treasure that is our walk with God? Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Our prayer tents...

"The tent, which was called the meeting tent, Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp. Anyone who wished to consult the Lord would go to this meeting tent outside the camp."
Exodus 33:1

A couple of things bubbled up in my head when I read this today. First, the advantage of having a prayer corner or prayer chair set aside in our homes as a form of "meeting tent." I just have a comfy chair surrounded by my readings, a candle, my singing bowl, pictures, pens and a journal. Dear Sister Mechtilde sat there once when she came to dinner and exclaimed, "I feel edified just sitting here!" Setting aside a little place to pray is lovely, but...
The second thing that I thought of with this reading today is the fact that we DON'T need to only go to a certain place to find and chat with God. While it is nice to have set aside time and space, it isn't necessary for us to meet God anywhere but in our own hearts. God is always there, waiting and eager to meet with us--in the tent of our own hearts.  Sorry for the wee bit of paradox, today...but there it is! Welcome Bountiful August!  Love, heidi

Monday, July 31, 2017

An understanding heart...

"Give to your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong."
1 Kings 3:9

When this reading was read at mass over the weekend, I knew I wanted it to be my prayer too.  An understanding heart bridges the gap between Us and Them. An understanding heart helps us reach out to people with whom we may not agree. An understanding heart helps us love when we don't see eye to eye with someone. King Solomon could have asked God for anything and he asked for an understanding heart so he could be a fair and just king. An understanding heart can help us live as followers of Jesus, reaching out to those on the fringe or in the margins. We are called, not just hang out with those who like us and agree with us but with those who can teach us the hard lessons. We are called to love like Jesus and for that we need Jesus. "Give to your servant an understanding heart."  And, the best part is God was pleased with King Solomon at this request (v. 10) It was asked and granted.  Love, heidi

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