Friday, June 22, 2018

Treasures?

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth...For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
Matthew 6:19, 21

Our storing up of treasures can happen so innocently! Stuff seems to sneak into our homes, subtly, quietly. We don't realize what all is there until we go to move it and stand at the U-Haul counter and they ask if we need a 15 ft truck or a 26 ft. The first time I moved across country, I moved in a Chevy Chevette. Moving back, Chris and I needed a U-Haul trailer we pulled behind a sedan. The move to Idaho, a few years and two kids later, was in the biggest truck U-Haul could provide. And now...well let's just say that I'm getting a 15 footer. I think we need to pay attention to how much we have, but, even more importantly, how attached we are to what we have. We can have stuff, or stuff can have us. If we have stuff, we use it and share it with others, we enjoy it. If it has us, we worry about it, protect it and do our best to keep people away from it. The question for me will be how attached I will be to the 15 foot U-Haul's contents as it goes down the road? Good question...stay tuned for the answer!  Blessings on your first weekend of summer! Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Take comfort...

"Let your hearts take comfort, all who hope in the Lord."
Psalm 31

So, it turns out moving is hard to do. I have been downsizing and downsizing for years now and I'm so grateful for the grace to do so, but I'm having some twinges of difficulty. It's been somewhat hard watching furniture travel down the driveway on its way to new homes, even as I prepare to travel down the driveway to a new home myself. The struggle doesn't last too long, though. By the time the truck reaches the stop sign at the end of my street, I'm better and moving on to the next task. But, yes, when pieces of furniture that I probably pulled myself up on as a toddler roll down the driveway, in someone else's truck, there is a twinge of heart. What of this? It's only stuff, isn't it? Yes, it is. And it's the memory of it that will linger, it doesn't need to be the thing itself. Life is a continual letting go. We must let go of some things to embrace others. We let go of places to embrace new places. It's all a process of grace, and in that, there can be twinges of heart and maybe even a few tears.  It's all good.  Today, as we are inching closer to our first summer day, let's think about what we may be called to let go, in order to embrace something new.  Let's take comfort, all of us who hope in the Lord, that even the hard stuff is worth doing.  Love, heidi

Monday, June 18, 2018

Growth and transformation

"(Jesus) said, 'To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed...'"
Mark 4:30-31

Yesterday morning, I sat in my backyard and pondered the mustard seed. I was distracted by the crazy squirrels racing to and fro across my back fence. They were chasing each other and having a great time. It was like watching The Nature Channel! Pray-As-You-Go invited us to consider how this parable describes the kingdom of God. They mention that growth is an astonishing process and so it is. Nothing stays the same, but grows and in that growth is transformation. The mustard seed doesn't just grow into the largest plant, it transforms. We do not just grow into adults, but hopefully, we transform into loving, compassionate human beings with God's light shining forth from us. Our growth just isn't for us and our own success and well-being, though. We are truly growing as followers of Jesus when we are sharing with others and loving others. Transformation can't happen if we are tightly clenching our fists and looking down on others. That's not growth. Today, as we go about our June Monday, let's consider the difference between just growing older and true transformation from the inside. Jesus calls us to grow into lights for others, not just to be successful for ourselves. The difference is whether we grow into a huge plant that shelters others or just whither away all by ourselves. Love, heidi

Friday, June 15, 2018

Listen for the whisper...

"After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave."
1 Kings 19:12-13

Elijah, going to wait for God in the front of his cave, totally reminds me of sitting on the porch of St. Helen's hermitage at Marymount.  In the early morning, I wrap myself in a cloak of sorts, too, a blanket. I sit and wait for God, who has been waiting for me. It's hard to describe the silence necessary to hear the tiny whispering sound of God. The "silence" around me can be quite noisy with critter and bird sounds, but the actual silence is within me. My heart seems to slow down and my breath becomes slower, too. It feels like a state of repose. Blessedly, with practice I can go to this special place without going to the hermitage, but it sure comes more easily there! Here are some little helps for finding this place within yourself where you can go to meet God to listen for the whisper...

Sit comfortably and close your eyes
Pay attention to your breathing, taking long, lingering breaths
Place your hands open on your lap or, maybe, one on your heart
Feel a stillness wash over you
Pray simply, "Jesus"
If your mind wanders, just come back to your "Jesus" prayer.

Let's all take the time and do this for a few minutes this weekend!  I know I will need this place of peace in the midst of packing. As we bustle through our activities, let's find the time. Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Tired, but happy...

"God is my love, my fortress,
my stronghold, my savior..."
Psalm 14

We are nearly mid-way through our program for teaching teachers and para professionals who work with visually impaired kids. I freely admit to you that I have fallen asleep on the couch each night, exhausted, after eating a wee bit of dinner. But it is such a gratified and happy exhaustion! The teachers are eager and enthusiastic and their zeal is contagious. I'm excited to be working with them. I think I even volunteered to come back and do this again next year! For free!  I know, I may need to lay down until that feeling goes away, but the fact is, God is giving me such a wonderful way to share with others before I pack it all in. I'm getting to teach people who teach people and it's fabulous. God must have known how great a send off this would be. Today, as we go about our nearly-officially-summer Wednesday, let's think about what it feels like to do just what God wants us to do.  In his book, "Sacred Fire," Fr. Ron Rolheiser calls it "stand where you're supposed to be standing and let God provide the rest." In other words, doing what God has asked you to do where God has asked you to do it. For me, it has been exhausting, but it is such a great and wonderful exhaustion! Love, heidi

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The salt of the earth...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'You are the salt of the earth.'"
Matthew 5:13

I watched a PBS documentary last night on the life and work of Walt Disney. It was long, but very interesting and what I learned was that the man was troubled. Chain-smoking, with an explosive temper, his employees were often terrified of him. He fought with his brother and business partner all through his life, not speaking for months on end. The man who gave the world Mickey Mouse and Mary Poppins was, himself, quite driving and difficult. But, at the end of his life, as he was dying from lung cancer, it was his brother who was at his bedside, warming his feet and easing his suffering. At the end, the body of his work, gifting millions with his wholesome entertainment, is what is remembered about the man. The life of an individual is not just about his mistakes and difficulties. The whole life, good and bad, joy and sadness, success and failure, paints the picture of a life well-lived. Walt Disney wasn't an easy man to work for or work with, truth be told. And neither are we. But when we are nearing the end of our days, it will be the whole of our lives that we see played out for review. And, hopefully, there will be loved ones there to warm our feet.  We are the salt of the earth. Love, heidi

Monday, June 11, 2018

Pure of heart...

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Matthew 5:8

As the Pray-As-You-Go folks were reading the Beatitudes this morning, this one jumped out at me. Pure in heart; what would that look like in my day today? Well, I think it would look honest and filled with integrity. I'm going through some last minute details with the sale of my house that are irksome (now, there's a word we don't use often enough!) and I need to be absolutely pure in heart, not greedy or miserly. I need to think more big-picture. Also, I'm helping in a program all this week teaching teachers how to better work with visually impaired kids. I need to be at the top of my game, not thinking ahead to retiring in a couple of weeks. Pure of heart means I need to be my very best self, the self God has placed in these situations. Pure of heart means I'm not just out for my own gain, but for the betterment of others. Pure of heart means operating out of love for others, from my very heart--where God resides. I trust my heart because God lives there. Today, as we pray with the Beatitudes, which one jumps out? Is there one speaking to us today? Love, heidi

Friday, June 8, 2018

Faith and fear...together

I have a lot of faith and a lot of fear a lot of the time."
Anne Lamott, "Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace"

If I end up with a big enough tombstone, this quote needs to be on it. It seems so incongruent that I am such a devout believer in God and I know God is intimately involved in every facet of my life, and yet, I get so wigged out about stuff. I'm a fraud, Folks, I hate to tell ya.  Or am I? Am I just honest like my new best friend, Anne Lamott, here?  Living life on this planet is hard at times and the fact that we get crazy now and again is understandable. I'm sure God doesn't hold that against us. I wish I could get to the place where I go straight to God when things get dicey, instead of freaking out first and then remembering God, there waiting for me to look inside. God is there, in my heart, to fortify me from the inside out. God is eager to give me the grace I need to get through the bumps and blips of this world. God is also in others around me, the kind, reassuring voices on the other end of the phone. God is in the eyes of a stranger, looking at me so kindly. God is so vibrantly present that how could I miss it? Well, I can miss it by only looking down, at the problem du jour. Focusing on the problem gives us an eye disease that causes us to miss seeing God in the present. These next couple of days, as we embark on our first summer weekend, let's seek out God in all around us. If difficulties come up, let's look for God working behind the issue, giving us all we need.  Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Stir into flame...

"I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have..."
2 Timothy 1:6

What does that "stirring into flame" look like in our own lives? Such a good question to ask this June day! I only have to look back to yesterday to see an example, believe it or not. We have been doing job interviews for my replacement. I know, the craziness continues... One young applicant, when asked if he had any questions for us, asked, "What do you love most about working here?" The six of us fell silent. I started, since I pointed out, I am the one who is leaving. But I couldn't continue. My heart just came up into my throat and I couldn't speak much at all. What I could say was weepy and emotional. So yes, I basically dropped my basket of composure while sitting in on a job interview. Yikes. But, looking at it with new eyes this morning, I see that that is the gift that God has given me with this career.  That question fanned into flame the real gift of appreciation I have for all God has given me this whole time. God has given me all I needed to do this, even though I feel mostly inadequate. God knew what was really needed, besides the skills and ability. God gave me a heart for it. And that, as I tried to point out, is what is really important for this job. God willing, the right person will pick up this mantel I am laying down at the end of the month. The lesson for me is Who has really been carrying it all this time! Love, heidi

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

In every age...

"In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge..."
Psalm  90

There's something about winding up one phase of life that gives me pause to look back and see how God has indeed been my refuge all along. I remember, over forty years ago this month, heading off to North Carolina to work at a Lion's camp for blind folks. It was my very first foray into anything to do with the blindness field and it was a huge leap to travel across the country to work at a camp. But that camp led to other camps, and before I knew it, I was in school studying blind rehabilitation. Now, just as suddenly, I'm preparing to finish up a long career.  I can truly say that in every age, God has been right there. The times I was trying to do something completely beyond my skills and abilities, there was God. When frustration and angst nipped at my heels, there was God. It hasn't been perfect as, certainly, I haven't been perfect. But I have grown in it and God has worked with me within it. The job itself has been much more a lesson in love and compassion than whatever I have done. I encourage you to pray with this song, "In Every Age," by Janet Sullivan Whitaker (link below, sorry about the ad). I especially love the line, "Teach us to be patient, even as we wait." Love, heidi
In Every Age

Friday, June 1, 2018

Overturn the tables of injustice...

 "They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area (Jesus) began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves."
Mark 11:15

Why was Jesus so angry that day in the temple? The reason that makes the most sense to me was presented in a homily long ago. Jesus was angry because the poor were being over-charged and taken advantage of as they purchased their offerings. Jesus is a champion of the poor and his actions were in their defense. I wonder, too, if Jesus wasn't upset there was so much commerce happening. Was it a bit like today where people are pressured into buying things they don't need so others can profit? Was it the commercialism that upset Jesus? Maybe it was a bit of both. In our own lives today how are we treating the poor? Are we treating them with love and compassion? And how are our consumer habits? Are we buying beyond our means? Going deeper and deeper into debt to buy stuff we don't need? Jesus was so angry with what he saw in the temple that day that it is worth peering into it and gleaning a lesson for our own day. Our treatment of the poor and our consumerism need to line up with our desire to follow Jesus. I saw a news story where a televangelist wanted his flock to pitch in and buy him a personal jet. That just doesn't ring true to Jesus' values to me! That would be a table I would suspect Jesus would overturn, what do you think? Love, heidi

Thursday, May 31, 2018

God, surprise me!

"If I were God, I'd have the answers at the end of the workbook, so you could check to see if you're on the right track as you go along."
Anne Lamott, "Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace"

Oh, I love this! I'm an answer-checker myself, and there are many times during this transition I'd love to peek in the back of this workbook to make sure I'm doing this puzzle right! One thing I have learned though, is that there aren't really "wrong" choices as we discern our lives. I mean, none of us is choosing between a life of prayerful living for God and a life of crime are we? If we are faced with a decision to do this or that, BOTH this AND that are probably good choices. We are choosing between two positives. And in that, God can work with us and our situations no matter what we choose, right? We need to listen and pray, and discern what the deepest desire of our heart says, because that is where God has placed God's desire for us. God doesn't want a planet-full of unhappy campers, grudgingly doing service in the world. God wants joyful people, eager to do what they love most, for the glory of God. But there really isn't a wrong choice, especially as we have prayed and listened about what to do. God is so excited to give us these life-gifts and watch us unwrapping them like kids on Christmas morning.  And it seems like God enjoys surprising us, too, which can be a little disarming as we grow older.  The hardest prayer of all could be "God, surprise me!" Love, heidi

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Listen, wait and pray...

"Eventually, we must allow ourselves to be drawn by our soul's desire rather than driven by ego needs."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 5/30/18

My "ego needs" led me into a wonderful career that just may have turned into more of a vocation as I grew into it. It was a deep desire to go into the Blind Rehabilitation field and I totally felt led into it. And now, that same hand, that guided me in,  is guiding me out of it. But why? I had someone ask me yesterday why not work another year and make it an even 40 years in the field? Good question. I wish I could have explained it to the person, but I can barely figure it out myself. And then, I read this and it was as clear as day. I am being drawn by my soul's desire into something else. And here's the thing: I don't know what that is yet! A little farther into today's Meditation, Fr. Rohr says, "One sign that something is your vocation is that you would do it for free, even if there is no reward or social payoff." I guess that is why I have to retire to do it! And finally, one last fabulous nugget, "Listen, wait and pray for your unique gift, your True Self." Today, as we wind up our May, let's take some time to "Listen, wait and pray," giving ourselves to God in loving service. We may not even know what we are being called to do, but we know we can trust the One who calls. Love, heidi
To receive Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation visit: Center for Action and Contemplation

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Bottom rail on top...

"Many who are first will be last and the last shall be first."
Mark 10:31

This reminds me of something I remember from the Ken Burns "Civil War" documentary, which I have watched too many times to count.  In describing how those who had been oppressed were now in a position to bear arms and fight the enemy, one former slave observer said, "Bottom rail on top now." In other words, those who had been kept down are no longer down. Those who had been oppressed are now in a position of more power. Those seem to be the folks Jesus is referring to in this Gospel. And isn't that what Jesus came to do, really? Free those who are oppressed and pushed down? Those who society or the "in" crowd have pushed to the back of the bus? Many of the people Jesus healed were cast aside by the "good" people and Jesus went to the side to find them and heal them. What does that look like in our own day? Where would Jesus be if he walked the earth in his own physical body today? I see Jesus at the border, in the margins, comforting those who are being demonized by the very people who should be helping them. I see Jesus spurning the places of power and walking through the poorest of neighborhoods and among the saddest and most suffering of people. The people we place on pedestals now, the politicians, the powerful, the elite, will be on the very bottom of the fence in the Kingdom of God. And where will we be? Unless we follow Jesus to the margins and serve those as Jesus served, we won't be anywhere near the Kingdom. "Bottom rail on top now."  Oh happy day! Love, heidi

Thursday, May 24, 2018

It's all gift!

"Poverty of spirit is a matter of gratitude. When we recognize that everything is gift, we grow in love for the Giver."
Sr. Mary McGlone, "Give Us This Day"

I pondered this a bit this morning. Time was, I admit, that I thought whatever I received I had earned. I worked hard (sort of) in school, received a good education, entered my chosen field, you know how it goes. But, during this time of winding down my chosen profession, it is clearer to me how the whole thing was a gift. The discernment I experienced even before I knew what the word "discernment" meant, was a gift. The whole enchilada--me figuring it out and doing it was a gift. And the whole time from then until now has been a gift. I sure didn't get it at first, though, which is just a condition of youth. I thought of my career as a job, a way to make a living. If I happened to help someone along the way, that's nice. But now I see it as truly a gift from God, a ministry or vocation, a way to give glory to God through encountering others. I wish I'd known this all along, but I am happy to be able to recognize it now. Maybe I'm growing up...I certainly am growing in love with the Giver! Today, as we go off to do what we do, let's be aware of how God has gifted us with the ability to do it in the first place. It is ALL gift! Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Get out there and try!

"After all, Jesus is calling me today to a future I do not recognize and cannot comprehend--and the choice to hear that call requires a loss of control that I find terrifying."
Nancy Dallavalle, "Give Us This Day"

In today's Gospel, Mark 9:30-37, Jesus tells the disciples that he will be handed over and killed. Three days later he will rise. The disciples just can't fathom all that and sort of disengage as they walk along, arguing with each other which one of them is the greatest. Jesus is laying out for them a future they cannot possibly figure out, so they just resort to talking about things they understand, trivial and silly things, really. None of us really knows what lies before us, up around the bend, do we? We can anticipate what may be coming, we have plans and know what we think lies ahead, but we cannot know for sure. Our slippery grip on control may reassure us somewhat, but the truth is, we don't know. All we can do is trust and try our best to do what we do for the glory of God. And, I really think God appreciates that. God loves it when we try. Today, our May Tuesday, let's get out there and try. We don't have all the answers, nor do we even know the questions. But we can rest assured, we love a God who loves us even more. Love, heidi

Monday, May 21, 2018

Pray without ceasing!

"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

We learned this past weekend at our silent retreat, "Praying with the Psalms," that the Psalms are a great way to "Pray without ceasing," as St. Paul writes to the Thessalonians. Sister Mary Beverly told us that unceasing prayer is being aware of God's presence throughout all that we do and that was surely evident to me last week. I celebrated enough life changes last week to make my head spin, and through it all, I felt like I was praying my own little psalms. "Please help me find an apartment!" "Wow, these kids are amazing!" "Thank you for all these fabulous co-workers!" And, finally, as I settled into silence at the retreat, my long exhaling prayer of just "Ahhhh..." Prayer, to me, is an on-going conversation with God. Sometimes, I can imagine poor God wondering if I will ever stop talking so God can get a word in. In the silence of a retreat, I finally let God have a say. And what does God say when I am finally listening? God just says, "I love you. You are special to me. We're in this together." And that is definitely worth turning off the phone to hear! Love, heidi

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Clarity and resolution...

"But grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on."
Anne Lamott, "Help, Thanks, Wow"

I think I am at the age where all I want these days is clarity and resolution. I mean, change is harder when you're 62 and 4 months. When I was in my twenties I loved the adventure of not knowing where I would land (who am I kidding, it freaked me out then, too. Never mind.) Now, I want the clarity of a safe landing. Interestingly, what I am getting instead is "stamina, poignancy and the strength to hang on." It's lovely, too, and I will deeply appreciate looking back on it in a few months when, God-willing, I'm nestled into clarity.  I am on vacation this week, Friends. It's been a wonderful time, full of laughs, food, and so much love I can hardly believe it. It may take me a month to recover. Blessings to you all and see you next week...Love, heidi

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Endings and beginnings

"So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere..."
Mark 16:19-20

Today is technically the Feast of the Ascension, so the readings were geared toward that this day. Pray-As-You-Go had a wonderful little prayer this morning about endings and beginnings, which really landed on my heart. Especially this time of year, our lives are full of endings and beginnings, aren't they? Anyone working in the schools feels the cycle of beginnings and endings vividly. PAYG invited us to sit with what may be ending in our lives and what we may be called to begin as a result.  As we let go of one thing, something new emerges for us. The blessings of the past remain within us and we take them into the new beginning. So, today, our May Thursday, let's carve out some time to reflect on what may be ending in our lives and what new beginning we may be called to embrace.  Our comings and goings, our endings and beginnings are all so richly blessed by God! And God gives us the Holy Spirit to tackle them all...Love, heidi

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Don't wait til Sunday!

"The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything."
Acts 17:24

We little human beings build churches and try to confine God to them. "You stay there, and we will come to you! We'll get all dressed up and spend an hour with you and that should take care of that, right?" And God sighs deeply and shrugs. God doesn't want our fancy churches and one hour a week. God wants to be part of everything we do in between our weekly God Hours. We want to meet God on our terms, when we're ready and spiffed up for church, but that isn't what God wants at all. It isn't until we invite God to the messier parts of our lives that we can really get to experience God in the type of relationship God wants to share with us. God wants to clean the garage with us (probably to ask, "Why do you need all this stuff?") God wants to sit in the teacher lunchroom with us or around our dinner table each evening. God wants to be in on our book club conversations and with us in 5:00 traffic on a Tuesday. God wants to enter into our lives in the most mundane, insane, and arcane events we participate in.  God wants the Real Us, not the scrubbed-up us. Today, as we go about our May Wednesday, let's be aware and invite God into whatever we are doing this day. Let's invite God into our conversations and silences, our meals and recreation. If we wait until Sunday to catch up with God, we are the ones missing out. Love, heidi

Monday, May 7, 2018

"A lack of forgiveness is like..."

"A lack of forgiveness is like leprosy of the insides, and left untreated, it can take out tissue, equilibrium, soul, sense of self. I have sometimes considered writing a book called, 'All The People I Still Hate: A Christian Perspective...'"
Anne Lamott, "Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace"

Thanks to daughter, Sam, I have encountered Anne Lamott, a Christian writer of great wit and wisdom. The thing is I could never read her books in a quiet public place because I laugh out loud too frequently. The second sentence above had me howling. For some crazy reason, we think we abandon our own humanness when we take up our walk with Jesus. We think that suddenly, we will be in lockstep with God and be perfect little Christians, living, loving and doing it all just right. It's disappointing when we realize we are still so human, isn't it? People still bug us, we are still impatient and critical. We judge harshly and quickly, even though we should know better. If we look at how Jesus treated all those he encountered in the Gospels, we find that the only people he gets even a bit ornery with are the self-righteous people who think they are better behaved than everyone else. The people who know and acknowledge their weaknesses are comforted by Jesus. Ms. Lamott points out that forgiveness is one of the hardest things we ever do. It's hard and yet, so necessary. Our forgiving others heals us and frees us, whether the relationship with the other is restored or not. Let's think about that on a beautiful May Monday.  Love, heidi

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Way It Is...


The Way It Is
By William Stafford
There is a thread you follow. 
It goes among things that change.
But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die;
and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop times unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.

I offer you this beautiful poem as a weekend meditation for your lovely spring weekend! It was a reflection for my Immortal Diamond class and, in itself, is great for mining deep within and asking ourselves, can we trace the thread we have followed throughout our lives? Where is the thread taking us next? Love, heidi



Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pruning the branches...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.'"
John 15:1-2

This was yesterday's Gospel and I'm still chewing on it today! Pray-As-You-Go asked what branches of ours do we see being pruned?  I sat with that a while and realized that this whole moving, retirement, life change thing I am going through is one big pruning. Some of my branches are being pruned to allow other branches to receive more nourishment and thus, become more fruitful.  It was lovely to recognize! And then I noticed, in my mental image of my branches, a lovely new little shoot, just sprouting. What's this? In addition to my branches of family, spiritual life and a life of simple service, this new little shoot is unknown to me now, but will also be enhanced and nourished as my branches of career and security are pruned.  It is exciting to think that this new little shoot will grow and flourish yet, is unknown to me now. Our lives are a continuous series of letting go and grasping onto something new. We need to let go, prune, if you will, the old; those branches have born their fruit already. New shoots await the nourishment that they can receive when we let go. Do you recognize any branches that need pruning? Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Always tethered...

"As long as I was tethered to him, I would never completely fall."
Fr. Tom Lankenau, SJ, Bronco Catholic homily

During his homily on Sunday, Fr. Tom described an experience he'd had climbing a climbing wall while blindfolded. He described the experience of slipping and missing the holds and the difficulty of the climb.  But he also described the experience of knowing that the instructor was holding onto the ropes and he would never completely plunge to the ground. Listening to the homily brought me to tears. I feel like I'm climbing blindfolded myself, at times (and I'm fairly OK doing stuff blindfolded!) But it is still uncomfortable. I'm missing some of the footholds and handholds, to continue with the rock climbing metaphor. And it's is disconcerting to me.  But it is also very good for me. I'm learning and growing and gaining strength as I'm growing on the vine. And, as Fr. Tom points out, I'm being prepared for producing good fruit. We are always tethered to God from God's side. From our side, we can slip and wiggle around, hanging from the support rope. But we can dangle secure, knowing that God always has hold of us.  If you would like to listen to the wonderful homilies offered from Bronco Catholic, click the link below. And happy Tuesday! Love, heidi
Bronco Catholic Preaching

Monday, April 30, 2018

Eureka!

"The answer to every prayer is the same; it's the gift of the Holy Spirit. That's not, maybe, healing Grandma right away. But if there is an influx of the Spirit, then God  has answered the prayer."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Immortal Diamond" course materials

I can't tell you what this did to me when I heard it as part of my CAC course a couple of weeks ago. It's like all the world made sense to me in one little paragraph. It explains how God is active and vibrant in our lives, without necessarily manipulating events, when we ask for this or that.  It sent me scurrying to remember the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Spirit, which all weave together to perfectly demonstrate how God answers prayer. Fr. Rohr points out the passage in Luke where Jesus says, "...how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?" (Luke 11:13).  Praying for the Holy Spirit makes sense to me, but the idea of every prayer being answered with the Holy Spirit feels new. No matter what we pray for, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are the answer. We may pray for healing, for example, and the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of understanding and the fruits of patience and peace as we heal. This seems huge for me, Friends!  As I have grown in faith, I can appreciate how God helps us from the inside, giving us whatever we need to live our lives. All we need is the Holy Spirit.  And, in today's Gospel, Jesus assures us, "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." (John 14:26) Love, heidi

Friday, April 27, 2018

Dwelling places...

"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places."
John 14:2

Pray-As-You-Go had a lovely little Lectio Divina prayer with this Gospel this morning and it was wonderful for me. Maybe it would be worthwhile for you to try this spring weekend! First read the Gospel (or you can listen to it, link below) Think about the words that jump out and capture your imagination in the reading. For me, the words "dwelling places" jumped out, probably because I'm wound up about my dwelling places right now. I'm selling one and am needing one in my new place when I move, so dwelling places are on top of my fret list! Then, PAYG asks that you pray with the words that jumped out for a little while and imagine those are the words Jesus is saying to you today. A bit later in the reading Jesus tells his apostles, "I am the way, the truth and the life." (v. 6)  In my prayer, I heard Jesus say to me, "I am your dwelling place, heidi-dear. Live in me. Rest in me." Seriously, a wave of calm came over me in hearing that!  I invite you to try this with any Gospel, but this one sure gave me exactly what I need today.  Blessings on your spring weekend! Love, heidi
Pray-As-You-Go

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Twirling at the crossroads...

"As to (St) Francis, he twirls around like a top at a crossroads to discern which way God wants him to go, and then sets off with utter confidence in the direction where he finally lands."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 4/26/2018

I giggled when I read this today because it sounds a wee bit like me, but for the "utter confidence" part. I wish I had more of the utter confidence. I mean, I do, but it is quite buried in the depths of my heart and I need to visit it there often or I will go nuts. I need to just stop my racing brain and sit in stillness, several times a day, in fact. I need to go deep or I will get dizzy from the twirling I am doing at this crossroads! Whenever we make huge changes in our lives we may spin around, but something mysterious lures us in one direction. I have seen it many times in my own life and now see it as our adult kids grow and make changes in their lives. Today, as the school year winds down and big changes are occurring in the lives of many, let's pray that all can find peace deep within. It is there, but we have to stop twirling and tap into it. Love, heidi

(If you would like to receive Fr. Rohr's Daily Meditation, sign up by visiting Rohr Daily)

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

New calls and possibilities...

"Whether the path is difficult or easy, confused or clear; it is true for everyone that one is never at the goal and must always remain open for new calls and possibilities."
Adrienne von Speyr, "The Discourses of Controversy" (Give Us This Day)

As we grow older, it is harder to hear and process new "calls," I fear. We get overly comfortable in our old calls and settle in, even if they began to feel constricting and less comfortable. They still seem to fit, somewhat. Sometimes we may think we think we hear a call that goes against conventional wisdom (whatever THAT is). People question us, we question ourselves. But the call may seem so alluring and beckoning that we just can't turn off its music in our heads. It's like a siren song, guiding us through a murky fog, leading us to a new place.  If all of this sounds like I know what I'm talking about, it's because I'm going through this right now. Retirement and a move are on the horizon for me, and while it is all so exciting, it is all quite nerve-wracking, too. I'm on the amusement park ride and I'm a little too anxious to throw my arms up in the air--I'm holding on for dear life. But, through this whole thing, I know that this is the answer to my prayers for the last several years, "What am I to do, dearest God? And where do you want me to do it?" When we pray and pray and pray...at some point we may get an answer! And, as I'm learning in my Immortal Diamond course, "The answer to every prayer is the same; it's the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Fr. Richard Rohr).  And that is the most tremendous gift of all! Love, heidi

Monday, April 23, 2018

Live abundantly!

"I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."
John 10:10

I had super abundant life this past weekend, as most of my time was spent outside! It was the first weekend this spring I was outside enjoying God's gift of warm sunshine. I was able to dig in the dirt, clean out flower beds, revel in a freshly mowed lawn (that I didn't have to mow!) I just sat and listened to birds singing and watched a lady bug doing her lady bug thing in my daisy bed. It was all so perfect! It's amazing how a couple of days of sun can warm our winter-weary bones, isn't it? Not to mention our saggy winter spirits. We can see abundant life in the fresh newness of spring as we study the First Bible--creation. Every living thing teaches us about God. The tiny lady bug I watched was as beautiful as anything I have ever seen.  How do we see living abundantly as Jesus promises it to us here? There are as many ways to live abundantly as there are people living it. What is abundant life to us?  Love, heidi

Friday, April 20, 2018

Leap out of the boat!

"To be a follower of Jesus, I too have to be willing to take risks, to speak truth. To follow Jesus is sometimes to go for broke, to give without counting the cost, to be reckless in loving and forgiving."
The Little White Book

And those risks can feel difficult when one is a person who likes security and the cozy comfort of the "known." That's why it is so important to recognize that we don't go through these experiences alone. Our prayer should be that God will give us all that we need to weather change and uncertainty. If God is beckoning us to step out of the boat and walk on the water, Jesus is right there to take our hand and steady us for the journey. Today, as we celebrate a spring Friday (is there anything better?) let's pay close attention to any beckoning we may be sensing from God. Shake away any fears or misgivings, if the call is from God, we should leap out of the boat! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Celebrate life!

"Sing joyfully to God all you on earth!"
Psalm 66:1

As I was sitting in my prayer space this morning, doing the readings, I heard a lovely birdsong outside. The bird was singing her little heart out, celebrating the coming dawn. I stopped and just listened. A spring day is being heralded, most joyfully, by this little bird. It struck me that the Psalmist is calling all of creation to sing to God, not just human beings. Every living thing on this earth and flying above this earth is called to give glory to God. Sometimes I wonder if the birds, creatures and plants don't heed this calling better than humans do. The trees budding are giving glory to God, the critters critter-ing are doing what they do, giving glory to God. We can learn so much from our brothers and sisters in creation. Today, as we go about our usual spring Thursday, let's make sure we are singing joyfully to God in our celebration of life and all of creation. It's a great day to celebrate the gift of life! Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Prayer for the journey, part deux

"...But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."
Fr. Thomas Merton

Friends, I can't tell you what joy and comfort this prayer brings to me right now! As these life changes come about I feel like I'm on a scary ride at an amusement park, hanging on for dear life and screaming my head off! But deep in the mystery, there is peace and reassurance that "all will be well" (thank you, Julian of Norwich).
Many have asked me for the entire Thomas Merton prayer and I found this treasure--Fr. James Martin, SJ reciting the prayer...Love, heidi
Thomas Merton prayer


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Prayer for the journey...

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing..."
Fr. Thomas Merton

This is the beginning of this beautiful prayer by Thomas Merton and it was the first handout we received in our Spiritual Direction program we began exactly four years ago. I remember reading it when it was passed to me and I teared up. It so beautifully describes the journey, doesn't it? And now, four years later, it still rings so true, no matter what I am going through, whether it be huge changes or the usual day-to-day. "I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you."  We can rest in that, Friends.  Thanks be to God, we can rest in that.  We will explore the second part of the prayer tomorrow. Love, heidi

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Seeing the problem...

"If we are all made in God's image, if we are all the Body of Christ, then treating black and brown bodies with love and respect is the only way for our country, our communities, and our Christianity to be whole. Our love must be active and embodied."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 4/12/2018

It's sad that this has to even be stated in our day, but it does. We may have thought we were further along overcoming racial prejudice, I'm sure we'd like to think so. But we aren't. Maybe we are still back at Square One or Two. Until we can humbly and painstakingly see that people are still held down and treated unfairly because of the color of their skin, we will never overcome our own racism...or any of our hideous "isms." We cannot change if we don't recognize there is a problem. And we can easily talk ourselves out of seeing the problem.  We need to honestly ask ourselves if we are living as Jesus indicates we must live in Matthew 25:31-46. Are we, as a Christian country welcoming the stranger? Feeding the hungry? Loving those in our midst who need our help? Can we hold our heads high, seeing in our own actions, love and compassion for those of different races, genders, creeds, sexual orientation? Jesus never told us to protect ourselves, see to ourselves first, or look out for Number One, did he? Most of what Jesus said we must do emphasized caring for others and putting our own needs second. And the ultimate good is laying down our lives for others. That's what Jesus told us to do...and then showed us how.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The threshold...

"Then the angel departed from her."
Luke 1:38

May we step back into yesterday's feast of the Annunciation for a minute? Several years ago, when I read of the importance of this one sentence, it was such an enlightenment! How many times do we find ourselves in just this space, the moment the angel departs and leaves us with this mission, or idea or desire of God's will for us. We have an encounter with God, we recognize God's will in our desire, we recognize God's hand in how to bring it all about, and then...Then we wait.  I feel like that right now, and I am so grateful to Mary for being there waiting with me. Some call it the liminal space or a threshold where we are waiting for the next story arc of our lives. We think we know what's going to happen, but it isn't happening quite yet. I often wonder how Mary felt when the angel leaves her with this tremendous, yet scary, foretelling of what was to come. I admit I think she makes it look easy and wonder if her very young age didn't give her an edge for handling new things better! As the end of the school year approaches, we may find ourselves in this exciting, scary, breath-taking space.  Thankfully, we have Mary here to wait with us! Love, heidi

Monday, April 9, 2018

Late to the tomb...

"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
John 20: 25

I feel like I’ve been late getting to the empty tomb. Being sick over Easter meant that I was sort stuck on Good Friday and missed going to the tomb early with Mary. I’m more like one of the tourists who arrived to the tomb later on a tour bus…we peer into the tomb and say, “Yep, that’s empty all right!”
Maybe I'm like dear Thomas, who missed the initial Jesus sighting and couldn’t quite buy the others’ story. My favorite part of the Thomas Gospel is that Jesus doesn't chide Thomas for his need of proof. Jesus just meets him where he is, right there in his unbelief. He needed to see for himself, so Jesus showed him. We mustn't feel too badly about ourselves when we say, "I believe! Help my unbelief!" The opposite of faith isn't doubt, it's more indifference. If we care enough to doubt, we are still well on the path. Today, thankfully, is still Easter and I'm feeling more Easter-ish. Thomas and I are filled with fervor and joy even though we showed up late, with the tourists.  Love, heidi

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Sounds like Jesus

"While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'"
Luke 24:36

When Jesus first appears to the gathered disciples the first words he says to them are of peace. And that just sounds like Jesus, doesn't it? When I hear Jesus speaking to me in my head I run the conversation through a little reality filter. I ask myself, Does that sound like Jesus? Is that something Jesus would say, based on what Jesus has already said? Are the words loving and inclusive? Is Jesus speaking comfort and peace? That isn't to say that Jesus doesn't challenge me at times. Sometimes I hear suggestions that I know sound like Jesus because they are loving and difficult! The love is always there, but the request may be nudging me out of myself or my own comfort zone.  And that sounds like Jesus. Today, as we go about our April Thursday, let's listen carefully for the sound of Jesus' voice. The words will likely be words we have read from Jesus...words of peace, comfort, and love. Words of including those on the fringe, scooping up the weary, loving the difficult-to-love. And the words will just sound like Jesus...love, heidi

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

We were hoping...

"We were hoping..."
Luke 24:21

As the disciples walk the road to Emmaus, a mysterious stranger joins them. They are sad about the death of Jesus and they wonder how this stranger has not heard of the events of the past few days. "We had hoped..." they said in another scripture translation. They had hoped things would have turned out differently. Can't we say that about so many things in history? As we look back on this date fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. I was just a kid, but I remember the tumultuous times so vividly. Every time there was a special news bulletin on TV, someone had been assassinated. The year would continue its tragic spiral until we couldn't imagine what could happen worse. There are certainly aspects of these times right now that remind me of back then. "We had hoped..." What can we do with these feelings of hopelessness? Well, we can walk with the disciples along the road and recognize our traveling companion. They recognized Jesus later, in the breaking of the bread, and we have that advantage, too. We must turn to the Source of our healing when feelings of hopelessness seep into our minds during difficult times. Martin Luther King took his strength from the Gospel and we must too.  Today as we commemorate such a sad time in our history and appreciate the nonviolent mission of Martin Luther King Jr.,  let us ask God to show us how we can help right our world today. Our desire is for peace and justice for ALL people throughout the world, as we are ALL brothers and sisters, the children of God. Love heidi

Monday, April 2, 2018

Jesus shows up...

"Christ returns to his physical body, and yet he is now unlimited by space or time and is without any regret or recrimination while still, ironically, carrying his wounds."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Reflection, 4/1/2018

I was sick all weekend so had plenty of time to ponder the resurrection in a NyQuil haze.  What does it mean to us that Jesus was raised from the dead anyway? What difference does it make? What does it tell us? I think it means that Jesus can be very present to us wherever we happen to be and whoever we happen to be. If we look in the Gospels, Jesus sought after those on the fringe and didn't just hang out with the "good" or well-behaved people. And I believe Jesus is still doing that now, in his risen body. Jesus can be with the pope at the Vatican or with me on the porch at the hermitage. Jesus can be with us no matter where we are when we need him; at a doctor's office or driving through a snowstorm in Wyoming. Jesus is available in his risen form to be with us whenever and wherever we need him to be. I remember a powerful scene in a movie (can't remember the movie title, sorry!) where, after the resurrection, one of Jesus disciples was in a room alone and distraught. Jesus appeared, in his risen form, in the doorway.  If I remember nothing else from that movie, I remember Jesus showing up and that image sticks with me. So, the the resurrection for me can be summed up in three words...Jesus shows up.  Blessed Easter everyone! (Oh, and remember Easter lasts fifty days--ten days longer than Lent! So, you Lent lovers, get your party on!) Love, heidi

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Wash my feet?

"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Master, are you going to wash my feet?'"
John 13:6

I'm with Peter here, truthfully. It's too hard to comprehend the fact that Jesus wants to take such a humble servant role and it's especially uncomfortable that he wants to do it for me. I wiggle and squirm in my seat as he begins to wash my feet, not knowing where I should look or what I should say. It's cringe-worthy for sure. But harder than that, even, is the fact that Jesus asks me to do the same and to love the same and to humble myself the same way for others. The whole thing seems much too hard! Whenever I feel challenged to love someone else, all I need do is sit and imagine Jesus with my foot in his hands and him tenderly showing me what I am to do with others. I have been shown how to do it and I will be helped in doing it, too. Jesus, as we begin these holiest of days, please help me learn from you. Help me look deeply into your eyes as you wash my feet and seeing your love and compassion, may it touch me to do the same for those around me. I love you. And may I show you my love by loving others. Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Carrying our crosses...

"Your cross in life may be a mystery that seems to escape understanding."
Fr. Ed Hays, "The Lenten Labyrinth"

Today is a good day to think about the crosses we carry in life. We all have them, in fact, Jesus tells us to "take up" our crosses and follow him. This week is a good week to ponder what they are. What is the most difficult thing we have ever had to face? What is the hardest part of our daily lives? What do we struggle with the most? Whatever we consider our crosses to be we need to remember two things...
First, we must remember our crosses help us to share in the cross that Jesus carried and ultimately took his life. In our sharing of that cross, we share in the healing of the world.
Second, Jesus helps us carry our own crosses every single day. If someday we feel a bit lighter in our burden, we just have to look behind us and see Jesus carrying the back half of our cross, lightening our load. Let's pray with that image today...the week is about to get really holy! Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Our greatest sin...

"Our greatest sin is not falling or failing, but refusing to rise and trust ourselves--and God--again."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 3/27/18

I am pondering if this isn't the exact difference between Judas and Peter as demonstrated in today's Gospel (John 13:21-23, 33-38). Jesus foretells that one of his closest companions will betray him and another will deny him. We all know who does what and we also know how they both deal with their shame and regret. Like many other situations in life, it isn't so much what happens as it is how we deal with what happens. I remember, as a kid, being so troubled by Judas' reaction to his own action. He tries to undo the betrayal, give the money back to the chief priests, un-ring the horrid bell. His desperation comes to a sad conclusion when he takes his own life. Peter, on the other hand, slinks off, also in despair, knowing he--who said he would do anything for Jesus--is caught denying Jesus. Peter's despair didn't lead him to his own death, however. Something in him kept him on this side of life, until his chance to answer the risen Lord's questions on the beach, "Do you love me?" Today, as we inch toward the holiest of days, let us think about our need to rise and trust ourselves and God. We need God's mercy and it is there for us every minute of every day. There is nothing we can do to lose God's love. Love, heidi

Monday, March 26, 2018

Right concern, wrong reason...

"Then Judas, the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, 'Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days' wages and given to the poor?'"
John 12:4-5

This reading today brings up a good point to ponder this Holy Week. It wasn't bad that Judas was concerned about the poor, we are all to be concerned about the poor. But it was a misplaced concern, as explained in the next verse... Judas was actually helping himself to the common purse. So he had a right concern for the wrong reasons. We can ask ourselves if we ever have the right concern, or even action, for the wrong reason. Do we ever help so as to be seen helping? Or do we help so the favor may be returned? Do we contribute to be publicly thanked? To have our name on a plaque or on a list of contributors? If so, there is no further reward for us--Jesus makes that very clear in Matthew 6, the Gospel that started Lent for us on Ash Wednesday. Our giving is to be in secret, our motives just sincere love and compassion. As we walk this difficult week with Jesus, let's think about why we are doing what we do. And lets genuinely walk this most arduous walk with him. Love, heidi

Friday, March 23, 2018

The silence of God...

"Jesus is not questioning the existence of God. He is struggling with the apparent silence of God."
The Little Black Book

When Jesus cries out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) he is struggling on the cross. Bystanders are no help, they are jeering and mocking him. His friends have fled, except for his mom, a couple other women and John. And he honestly prays in his anguish. Jesus shows us that it is OK for us to pray honestly, from the very depths of our being, whatever we may be going through. We don't have to put on a false front of being good sports for God. In the Psalms we see laments to God as well as praise to God and Jesus' cry from the cross was a Psalm he heard throughout his Jewish life. The questions for us, this final weekend of Lent, are these: Do we ever struggle with the apparent silence of God? Do we pray honestly, even in our hurt, anger, disappointment at how God seems to not be showing up? Do we feel our prayers have to mask how we really feel about things? Why would we think we should (or could!) hide our true feelings from God? Love, heidi

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Be yourself!

"'Yet God says, 'I made you, and I like the you I've made, so just do your best and be yourself, and I'll be there to help you.'"
Mary Beth Ingham, SSJ, as quoted in Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 3/22/2018

It was pointed out in this Meditation that we often try so hard to be someone else, but in realty, God specifically made us to be us and that's who we should be. After a big event, such as the one this week, I find myself so critical of how I did this or that, when the reality is, I was put there to do this or that because that is who I am. Not that I can't try to do better and be my best self, but just not to get too wound around the axle about myself. That is rather self-indulgent naval-gazing and surely doesn't do anyone any good. Today, as we shake off the dust of winter and think spring, let's thank God for making us unique and truly ourselves. We aren't someone else because God already has all the Someone Elses God needs. God needs us to be us. Love, heidi