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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

R-O-B

"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever!"
Daniel 3:52

Indeed! And I'm singing this song today, my Friends! Have you ever tried something a bit new and innovative and that first time, had no idea what to expect? We are trying a new program at work, bringing in clients and community support people to a two-day training. This is the first time we've tried this sort of deal and, I don't mind telling you, I was nervous going in. I admit I spent way too much time fretting about it, too, shame on me.  I spent a bit more productive time over the weekend praying about it and came up with a little strategy that may be helpful in other situations, maybe for you.  Remember this little acronym:
R-O-B
R for respect--treat everyone with respect, even reverence.
O for obedience--do your best to do what is expected of you.
B for blessing--bless everyone you encounter by being encouraging, supportive and grateful.

I was so busy with Day One that I didn't even have to think back to R-O-B yesterday, but I had prayed with it ahead of time, so it was just there, at the ready.  I praise God for how well it turned out and for giving me what I needed to do my stuff.  The most important thing to remember is we don't do these things alone, if we call Jesus in on the caper. Today, I head into Day Two with more confidence and gratitude!   Love, heidi

Monday, March 19, 2018

The grace of creation...

"The Sacraments," 
By St. Francis of Assisi

"I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments--
he got so excited
and ran into a hollow in his tree and came
holding some acorns, an owl feather, 
and a ribbon he had found.

And I just smiled and said, 'Yes, dear, you understand:
everything imparts His grace.'"

As quoted in The Franciscan Way course, Center for Action and Contemplation,
Fall, 2017

There isn't much to add to this incredible teaching by St. Francis. What can we glean from it, these last hours of winter? Everything in creation is sacred, imparted with the grace of God, the Creator. Let us live today, knowing this truth. Love, heidi



Friday, March 16, 2018

What's your treasure?

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."
Matthew 13:44

I am taking an online class and our lesson this week is to pray with this scripture. We are to ask (among other questions) what is the treasure we would be willing to sell all we have to obtain? Interesting, right? What would we seek so vehemently that we would let go of all we have? If you are like me, we are at the stage of life where the treasure isn't a thing.  We have certainly learned by now that things are not real treasures at all, but can be more burdensome. We have to pay for them, dust them, protect them, insure them...ugh, all of that! In thinking about the treasure I would pursue, it is the treasure I am pursuing already and have been for quite a while. I am pursuing the treasure of a simpler life, spending time with loved ones, letting go of the career I've had for nearly forty years and becoming the someone buried beneath all of those layers I spent my earlier years creating. I am willing to "sell all I have" and let go of who I thought I was to do this, because it will lead me to the who-I-have-always-been underneath it all. Let's spend some time this weekend thinking and praying about what treasure we would sell all we have to obtain.  Your mileage may vary, but, I promise, it will be illuminating to you!  Love, heidi

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The love and mercy of God...

"The Lord said to Moses, 'I see how stiff-necked this people is. Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.'"
Exodus 32:9-10

Is it just me, or does God seem sort of...crabby here? I mean, God had every right to be angry about the whole golden calf deal, but blazing wrath just doesn't sound like the same God Jesus showed us. I wonder why it is an important part of the Jewish story that a human being had to intervene for the people? It is a familiar story throughout the Old Testament though, isn't it? Jonah warned Nineveh, didn't he? The people repented and God dialed back the anger. It's a familiar theme that some may even see in the New Testament, too, but I don't see it that way.  Jesus came to show us how to live, die and rise again in love. I don't see Jesus as much an intercessor for us as an example for us of what will happen in every human life and how we humans are to be with each other. Jesus showed us God the Father's love and mercy, rather than his wrath. God's wrath was part of the Jewish story that Jesus came to soften. As Fr. Richard Rohr often says, Jesus didn't come to change God's mind about us, but to change our minds about God. Woven throughout the Jewish story about God is God's coming back to the people again and again to be part of their lives. That is the constant to remember about God...not so much God's wrath. Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Wiggle free!

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

Such a profound question and we are all asked the same thing, perhaps several times per day. Do we want to be well?  Or are we too comfortable wallowing in our "stuff" that keeps us (we think) out of God's reach? We are never out of God's reach, ever. But, sometimes we may think we are and we'd rather stay stuck in our own mire than change our hearts. God wants to soften our hearts, open our minds and extend our arms outward to love others better. But we can be like this guy on the edge, unwilling or unable or both to get himself into the healing waters. That how Jesus can change us, by giving us the nudge we need to get out of our comfort zones and makes some positive love changes. Today, as we move through our mid-March week, let's think about how easy it is to get comfortable in our own stuck-ness. We get it. We've been there a long time and we know it well. It may be easier for us to stay here than to wiggle ourselves free from it. But Jesus is here to help us wiggle and set us free.  Love heidi

Monday, March 12, 2018

Into my heart...

"Do people weigh you down? Don't carry them on your shoulders. Take them into your heart."
Dom Helder Camara, "The Little Black Book"

This spoke vividly to me this morning as I wrestle with a work issue. People are weighing me down, yes, they are. I'm getting crabby under the weight of them riding on my shoulders. It's lovely to realize they shouldn't be riding there, but safely tucked in my heart, where God and I can love them together. I cannot possibly love them on my own--I'm not wired for it. But God can love them through me and between the two of us, we can love them better. Thank you, Gracious God, for loving through me! Please help me get these people off of my shoulders and into my heart, where they belong. Love, heidi

Friday, March 9, 2018

Return, not earn...

"I will heal their defection, says the Lord, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel; he shall blossom like the lily..."
Hosea 14:5-6

Now, does that sound like a God who wants to annihilate us? Is that a God who only loves us if we behave and obey all the rules? It sounds to me like the most loving parent...the parent who loves nothing more than to give us our hearts desire and asks nothing of us in return. I'm not sure how we got to the point where we feel we must earn God's love. Rather than earn, we are just invited to return God's love. And that means loving God's creation--ALL of God's creation.  We are midway through Lent (hasn't it gone fast?) and now is the time to look inside and see where we are as far as loving God's creation. For as we love God's creation--that is how we are loving God. And this Lent of Love, beginning on Valentine's Day, is all about love. Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sitting with the suffering...

"Presence is the gift we bring to the heart of this suffering world and to our Lord. And it is the gift he most desires. It is the gift that matters."
Colleen C. Mitchell, "Who Does He Say You Are?"

Every time something horrible happens we say the same thing, "What can I do? How can I help?" That's where we go immediately--wanting to DO something, fix it, make it better. It's human nature, I believe, to want to alleviate suffering. But what about when you can't? What about those times that are so far beyond our ability to fix?  It could be that simply our presence is help enough. This particular chapter in this book on women who encounter Jesus, emphasizes that simply being with others in their suffering should not be discounted as helpful. Sitting with someone in a situation you cannot fix may be exactly what they need right then. It never seems enough to me and I tend to run the other way unless there is a concrete "something" I can do. I'm a better do-er than a sitter-with-er, believe me! But there is tremendous grace in the space of sitting-with. Taking the step to enter into the grief of another person results in great grace, for that space of suffering and pain is exactly where God is too. Entering in it allows us to be with God, cry real tears with God, and be graced by God. There is such suffering all around us and, if you're like me, it feels overwhelming-like emptying out the ocean with an eyedropper. But let's try to just enter in and be with those who are suffering, whether we know them or not, whether they live in our community or not. We may know someone going through a difficult time right now. Or we may sit and pray for the people of the world most vulnerable and struggling.  Just being with them and going to that difficult space will take us right to God.  Love, heidi

Monday, March 5, 2018

The ripples of loving well...

"We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep...Thus, we shall always be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 18

I heard this reading at a very beautiful, but very difficult funeral this last weekend...for a young man who died far too young.  But something his good friend said during his remarks really touched my heart. His friend said the way Henry (Lopez) lived meant his life couldn't be measured simply by number of years. His life would be measured by all the people he touched and the lives he enriched just by knowing him. I watched all of these beautiful young people, so stunned by the sudden loss of their friend and realized how different their lives would be now they have been touched by this grief. But they will take their friendship with Henry with them wherever they go and lovely ripples of Henry will go on and on through all the lives he touched. Those of us with several more years behind us can learn a vivid lesson from this wisdom of youth. We can learn to measure our lives, not by number of years, but by how others enrich our lives and how we can touch the lives of others. So, as we go about our March Monday, lets be aware of all who we will contact today. Can we create positive ripples that will move out and enrich others? Let's learn from the young people among us and love well today... Love, heidi

Thursday, March 1, 2018

For the love of God...

"More torturous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart..."
Jeremiah 17:9-10

I was at a high school the other day, working with a student. We were in the hall as the bell rang and moved to the side, out of the way, as the students tumbled out of the classrooms to go to their next classes. I gazed at them...they had holes in their jeans and earbuds in their ears. Some chatted with friends, others intent on getting somewhere else, moved briskly. Sadly, all I could think of was someone with a rifle letting loose on them. I tried to shake that dreadful thought from my mind and just looked on them with love. I'm sure some of them left their homes with angry words still hanging in the air. I'm sure some of them had encounters they wouldn't want to be their last encounters. I felt such love for them and sadness for how vulnerable they were in that moment as they filled the halls. What is the message here? Well, I'm not sure. Maybe just that we are one human family and only God knows our hearts and minds, as Jeremiah offers us today. We are all like these precious teenagers in God's eyes, with all of our differences and similarities, we are all unique and deeply loved. As we tumble forth into our winter Thursday, some with holes in our jeans, earbuds in our ears, let us have love in our hearts for all we encounter today--for the love of God, please! Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Puzzling...

"By solving the puzzles of what stands before us, we rise to new levels of being."
Fr. Ed Hays, "The Lenten Labyrinth"

We don't have to find a cure for cancer today. We don't have to solve the puzzle of division in our country or nuclear war. We don't have to figure out the arms race or solve the problem of human trafficking in our world...today. Today, our puzzles may be bio-locating so we can be in two places at the same time, or getting dinner on the table in twenty minutes, or sitting at the bedside of a sick child or suffering with a friend. Our puzzles may seem small in comparison to the Big Stuff we worry about. But they still are puzzles and they still befuddle us. Today, whatever we face, let's talk it over with God. God already knows about it, but still wants to hear our take on it. Jesus often asked the people he was about to cure what it is they want (even if it seemed obvious). Our puzzles may seem obvious too, but Jesus wants us to talk them over. Maybe in talking them over, the solutions will be clearer. At the very least, in talking them over with Jesus we are in relationship with Jesus, and that's what God wants the most.  Love, heidi

Monday, February 26, 2018

God within us...

"Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low."
Psalm 79:8

After a tragedy we are, indeed, brought very low. And there have been far too many human-caused tragedies lately, certainly. And, for a while, we are stunned, sad, we think about and pray for the victims and their families. And then, we move on. Other events litter the news pages and we go on to the next thing, whatever it is. We move on from our "very low-ness."I wonder if we are wired that way, because staying very low would kill us. We could become inert, unable to function. We need to move on, but I believe we move on as changed human beings. We may not be the same as we were prior to the tragedy that brought us low. And that is a good thing. Being brought low gives us the experience of compassion, the quivering of our hearts with another. Being brought low opens us up to others, taking us out of ourselves and giving us a tiny glimpse of how wounded God must feel with all the hurt we cause each other. Compassion for others and their experience teaches us how loved we are by God. God has wired our hearts to love, pure and simple. When our hearts ache with sadness for others, that is God within us, loving through us. Today, let's be aware how our hearts hurt when we learn of tragedy in the lives of others. There is no truer sign of God within us.  Love, heidi

Thursday, February 22, 2018

A glance back...

"This is my body...my blood...my whole life, with all its joys and sorrows. I offer to you as Jesus offered his life on the cross, trusting that in your hands, all will be well."
The Little Black Book

It was almost forty-five years ago, at a high school Search, that I first gave my life back to God. I was so overwhelmed at that retreat that I just knew I wanted my life to be doing something that was God's idea. "What do you want me to do, God?  Show me (clearly, please!)" It seems like from then on, doors opened, I would walk through, my life just unfolded. I guess, in my naive youth, I was trusting that all would be well. And it was. So, why does it seem harder now, as I get older, to just trust that all will be well? I seem to worry and fret about the silliest things! I need a bit more of my naivite of the mid-seventies, but where to find that now? Remembering back helps a bit, but I don't want to dwell in the past, I just want to learn from it. I want to remember how confident I felt in acting on the deep desires of my heart, for that is where God's ideas are written for my journey. Today, with one full week of Lent in our rear-view mirror, what lessons can we learn from briefly looking over our shoulder? Not setting up camp in the past, but just a wee glance back. Then, we can sit in this present moment with joy, knowing that all will be well.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I trust in You...

"While seeking God with all your heart and possessing a calm assurance provides a compass for those on life's labyrinthian road, being relaxed and confident isn't easy. You and I know from experience that fear and doubt are companion pilgrims on such a pathway."
Fr. Ed Hays, "The Lenten Labyrinth"

Ah, Fear and Doubt, my most annoying and troubling companions, for sure! I wish I could ditch them both in a dark alley, but seems like they accompany me wherever I go.  How to shake them off and continue my journey with the "calm assurance" Fr. Ed talks about? The key is, just like it says on our money, In God We Trust. God gives us common sense (though it doesn't always seem "common") and God gives us wisdom, in bulk, if we just ask. God steadies our feet on the path in the labyrinth and gives us guidance all along the way. And, as Fr. Ed points out in today's offering, all along the way, we are already "there." As the labyrinth is a rose with the center of the rose being our destination, we are still in the rose, being in the petal portion, on our journey. Fr. Ed also quotes one of my favorite sayings, "All the way to heaven is heaven!" (Catherine of Sienna).  I cannot seem to ditch my companions, Fear and Doubt. They walk with me and taunt me as I go, the rascals! What I may need to do is accept them and see them for what they are--mere distractions on the journey, but they are not able to steer me off course. You see, that is the beauty of the labyrinth, the next step is really quite clear. It is right there, the logically apparent next step. Today, if we feel taunted and teased by fear and doubt, let's pull out a dollar bill and read the sentence, In God We Trust printed on it. Take a deep breath, and pray, "Yep, God. I trust in you!"  Love, heidi

Monday, February 19, 2018

You welcomed me...

..."I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
Matthew 25:35

Even though today is a holiday I cannot let Matthew 25 go by without reflecting on it. Pray-As-You-Go invited us to ponder how we feel when Jesus tells the people they will be separated as the sheep and goats. Those who feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked will be welcomed into the kingdom with the Father's blessing. I always fear I come up short when it comes right down to it. It's hard to put ourselves on the "right" side of this reading when we are so rich as a country and live so well compared to most of the world. How are we, as a country, doing welcoming the stranger? I'm afraid we are fearing them, turning them into enemies, vilifying them, and giving them the boot.  Jesus never said "Protect yourselves!" We say we are a Christian nation but we don't live that way, I'm sorry to say. We live in fear and stockpile weapons to make ourselves feel safer. But that will never make us truly free, will it? How can we think we are free at all when we fear the stranger instead of welcoming any one of God's children who comes to our shores? If we truly believe "In God We Trust," like it says on our money, we should really trust God and live like Jesus told us to live. We either love everyone or we love no one. And which did Jesus tell us to do? Love, heidi

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Who we really are...

"If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods..."
Deuteronomy 30:17

It's all too easy to tell ourselves we aren't worshipping other gods, isn't it? But not so fast...Pray-As-You-Go invites us to think about what detractors can stand in our way and that is a bit easier to pin point. What distracts me from what I know God asks me to do? What distracts me from the person God knows I am but who I struggle to bring forth in my interactions with others? See, God knows who we really are and it is not the distracted and floundering us, but the us imbibed with Divine DNA, made and wired to love and be loved. We aren't who we aren't, Dear Ones. But who we are is lovely--truly lovely, made in the image and likeness of God. Today as we go about with the memory of ashes still on our heads, let us imagine ourselves as God's beloved, set into the world to love God and others. That is who we are. That is what we do. Love, heidi

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Hearts and ashes...

"...Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God."
Joel 2:13

 Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day have not fallen on the same day since 1945.  That tells me something right there. It tells me that this Lent must be especially about Love this year, 2018.  Think about the spring of 1945 when war was still raging throughout the world. God heard the cries of the war-weary world and yearned for love as much as the people did. Now, in our time, there seems to be such an absence of love and care for the poor and those in the margins of our world. We seem so divided and oppositional on everything. I think the Lenten calendar is telling us again, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love." As we go around with ashes on our foreheads this day, how can we bring more love, sweet love to the hurting planet? Can what we plan to do for Lent help someone else? Can our prayer, fasting and alms-giving bring the world closer to healing? Can we care for the earth better? Can we love the Hard Ones better? Can we fall deeper in love with God? If it all sounds like a tall order, it is. But it's worth the effort!  If I had my way, I would ask the person who places the ashes on my forehead to draw a little heart this year...to remind me to love! Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Desires...good or bad?

"...for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire."
James 1:13-14

I admit, I struggled with this reading today. I have grown to believe that our deepest desires are put into our hearts by God to guide us to how we can serve God. What's the deal? Are our deep desires placed there to lure us to evil? It was the good sisters, actually, who guided me to look inside to the deepest desires of my heart. It was when I was discerning the religious life, back in the earliest of 80's. I trust them to have read that correctly, since following my deepest desires has led me to this awesome gift of life I have experienced! But I wonder what James means when he talks about our desires luring us to evil. I think we can be enticed by wealth, power and greed--that enticement is all around us constantly.  It even seems to be rewarded in our society--look who we admire and put up on pedestals! Maybe we must dig deeper for the desires God places in our hearts. We may need to look beyond our immediate desires for what flashes in front of us in advertisements and billboards. We must look deeper than the new toys in the neighbor's driveway or the latest technology. The deep desires God places gently in our hearts look quite different than those passing fancies. God places desires in our hearts for how we can serve others and grow deeper in love with God. Those desires are not on any billboards, at least ones I have seen. (Especially the one that said "For the wages of sin is death!" I noticed up for a while...sheesh!). So, this Shrove Tuesday, let's think about the deepest desires of our hearts.  If we know God resides in our hearts, can we ask God to help us pray with our desires? Love, heidi

Monday, February 12, 2018

Ask for wisdom!

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it."
James 1:5

That's exciting, isn't it? Knowing that if we ask for wisdom God will generously give it to us? The rascal in me would say, "Why didn't I ask for wisdom long ago?" and "How will I know when I have it?"  I think, as we grow in faith (possibly corresponding to growing in age) we notice that things may not freak us out like they once did. We've seen this pattern before, we know it will work out somehow. We've been through a trial like this and it turned out fine. When these experiences pile up behind us, we may breathe a little easier when a new one comes along. Is that wisdom? Is that persevering through trials, as James mentions earlier in this reading? God gives us wisdom generously as God does everything, little by little, bit by bit, so that we barely notice a change in ourselves--until we need it. Then we can just pull it out and marvel that it is there at all. It's kind of like when you put Rhodes rolls out to rise before you go to bed, and you are flabbergasted when you wake up and see them all huge and risen! Wow, that! God works so subtly, yet remarkably, through our trials that we're not even aware of the wisdom and perseverance we are being given until it's time to use it.  Can we take some quiet time and notice the mysteriously subtle, yet unmistakeable work of God within us? Love, heidi

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

God is indwelling...

"Living from the inside out means we're not driven by the roller coaster of circumstances, emotions, or events. Instead of relying completely on external cues, we draw on the deep, abiding source of our heritage as God's children: union with God."
Kathy Coffey, "Give Us This Day"

Oh, I need this right now!  As a confessed news junkie, I can get way too caught up in the news and external cues, which is a dangerous activity at this time. Dangerous because it leads me to the near occasion of sin, as described in the Baltimore Catechism.  I can get so angry and feel so hopeless with the way things are, it is counter-productive! Where can we turn when we want to get off the roller coaster of circumstances and events? Do we just have to hang on for dear life, close our eyes and hope for the best? I agree with Ms. Coffey that we need to turn inside to God who dwells there in each person. God is on the inside, with a calm peacefulness the world cannot give. But it doesn't mean we close our eyes to the injustice that is swirling all around us, either. As residents of the world, we need to do our part to make the world a better place, but we cannot get overwhelmed by that task, thinking we work alone. We need to tap into the God indwelling within us and offer ourselves as healers in this suffering world. With God working from within, we can help God heal.  If that seems like an exhausting task for this winter Wednesday, it is, but we are God's children, with God's divine grace within us.  We can, (and must!) do our part...Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Commandments and traditions...

"You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition."
Mark 7:8

Pray-As-You-Go had an interesting question based on this reading today. What is the difference between God's commandments and human traditions? Often, our traditions have a religious origin, don't they? Some of our traditions seem more important than others and when I prayed with which ones are which, it came down to what I think God would care about more. And that pointed to love and care for others. Sometimes our religious traditions seem to just make us look good. Or pious. Or righteous. And those, to me, are much less important to God than the ones caring for others. Does God really care about us bowing and genuflecting in church, if we leave our neighbor hungry? Yes, we are honoring God by our bowing, but we are also honoring God by caring for our neighbor, where God resides just as present as in the tabernacle. It may be a fine line. Jesus really takes the Pharisees to task in today's Gospel for washing their hands and ceremoniously cleaning their dishes and possessions, while missing the spirit of God's law all together. And that is to love each other. They were clean, sure enough. But they were also exclusionary and judgmental of each other. Today, on our February Tuesday, let's pick apart the commandments and laws for ourselves. Which do we believe are most important? Which seem to us to be more important to God? Love, heidi

Monday, February 5, 2018

Mercy and ashes...

"The mystery of forgiveness is God's ultimate entry into powerlessness. Withholding forgiveness is a form of power over another person, a way to manipulate, shame, control, and diminish another. God in Jesus refuses all such power."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 2/4/2018

OK, so Lent begins next week...on Valentine's Day. Rather than being a funny conundrum, I think it can be a stunning reminder to us of what Lent should be about. Love. We may think of it as about ashes and sacrifice, and those smells and bells from our childhoods, and that can be part of it. But Ash Wednesday falling on Valentine's Day is a clear indication to me that this Lent needs to be about Love. We are so loved. And we are made to love others. Whether we give up chocolate or alcohol or any of the things we tend to do, we need to remember that those things do not change God's mind about us. God already loves us immensely. God desires mercy, not sacrifice and if we could genuinely forgive one person this Lent it would mean all the world to God.  We could celebrate Easter (on April Fool's Day!) knowing that a little bit of the mercy of God has rubbed off on us, and God is thrilled about that.  So, as we have a few days before the ashes are placed on our foreheads, let's prayerfully consider how we can be merciful this Lent.  Are there people we can finally forgive? Are there relationships we can reach out to mend?  Let's pray about it before we are "ashed." Love, heidi

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Shake it off...

"Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet..."
Mark 6:11

Pray-As-You-Go mentions that this passage is Jesus teaching his disciples how to handle rejection. You know rejection--people don't want to hear you or have you around. Ouch, right? But Jesus teaches the Twelve to just brush it off. Don't take things too personally. It's not about you. Even if it feels like it's about you, it isn't. Recently, I've had a wee bit of rejection myself. But God has given me the grace to see it for what it is...not about me. It's much more about a Bigger Picture that has me surrendering to God's plan and God's idea, which are vastly better than my own. So today, this first day of the month of Love, let's take Jesus' advice and learn to accept things that do not seem to be going our way. For in the reality of God, they are working out just the way they should. Love, heidi

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Live gently...

"To live simply is to live gently, keeping in mind always the needs of the planet, other creatures, and the generations to come."
Eknath Easwaran, (As quoted in Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, 1/31/2018)

Several years ago I made a New Year's resolution I actually kept. Of all the many through the years that went by the wayside by the end of January, the year I vowed to begin recycling was one I still keep. Our city makes it easier with curb-side recycling, but even before that we have recycling bins all around the city. It just makes sense to me and I bristle when I hear people say, "Oh we don't recycle!" Why not? Do you not see that the earth is groaning under our piles and piles of stuff? Do you not rejoice when you see something re-purposed into something else useful? I used to wonder how people could only have a small little bag of trash on the curb while we seemed to have a ton we lugged out on garbage day. Now I know...they must recycle, and so must I! Today, let's think about how living simply and gently could look in our lives. Let's think about how we treat our earthy home and are they ways we could treat it better, with more care and love? It's never too late for a New Year's resolution to reduce, reuse and recycle!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Touch his cloak...

"The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth."
Mark 5:33

The woman with the hemorrhage wanted to keep a low profile, certainly. She was, after all, considered "unclean" and shouldn't have been out and about with others in the first place. Touching Jesus the way she did would render Jesus "unclean," too. So she very quietly and secretively touched his cloak, hoping against hope that his power would heal her. But Jesus foiled her plan when he felt the healing power go out of him and he wanted to know who had touched him. Imagine her fear! Imagine the courage it took her to admit it was she would had touched him and made him unclean! But the healing power of Jesus healed all of her, not just her hemorrhaging. She came forward and courageously "told him the whole truth." Can you imagine how freeing that was for her? Especially when Jesus praised her faith and held her up as an example to others? Pray-As-You-Go invited us this morning to sit with Jesus and tell him the whole truth of our lives. We need not fear that our deepest, darkest secrets would render Jesus "unclean" or even startle him. Jesus already knows them and the masks we wear to face the world are completely unnecessary for Jesus. He loves us in all of our uncleanness, illnesses, crabbiness, faults and failings. Jesus just invites us to touch his cloak. Can we do that today? Love, heidi

Monday, January 29, 2018

Uncovering our desires...

"But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, 'Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.'"
Mark 5:19

It seems like just a few days ago Jesus was calling folks to join him, like Peter, Andrew, James and John. "Come after me," he beckoned (Mark 1:17). Now we have this fellow, who certainly has a powerful story to share if he went along with Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go back to his own family and share his story with them. And the guy did as Jesus asked. What does this mean for us? I think it means we are all called to serve God according to our gifts. God knows best what our gifts are and where we can share them most effectively. God shares that information with us if we just ask and pray to serve as we are needed.  It would be lovely to have our mission so clearly and unmistakably stated, as in this reading, wouldn't it? But God does share our mission with us as the deepest desire of our hearts. If we can be still long enough to go there--deep inside our hearts--we can uncover that deep desire.  That desire may seem out of reach or impossible. Okay. But if it is really there, we must pray about it and cultivate it. God will help us make it happen if it is truly God's will.  So, as we go about our mid-winter Monday, let's take some quiet time to pray and ponder about what we really want to do. Is it vastly different than what we are doing? If so, how can we wiggle that around? Love, heidi

Friday, January 26, 2018

God's grace and purpose...

"God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began."
2 Timothy 1:9

Pray-As-You-Go used this last verse in the reading today, while the US version stops at verse 8. This is my favorite part of the reading, though.  Paul tells Timothy (and us) that it isn't about us and our works, but about what God can do through us, with God's grace and purpose. It's so easy to get caught up in the economy of us spinning around in prayer circles so God will give us what we want. Or us praying enough that God will like us and reward us someday. Paul reminds us that it isn't what we do, it's only about what God does and until we can let go of our Me-ness we miss the Good News all together. God gives and gives and gives us more and more, not because we earn it or deserve it but because God loves us, the same today as before the world began. The Good News is that we are good and God loves us. It's that simple.  Or is it? We find it hard to be on the receiving end of a gift not earned, so I guess it's hard.  Sometime this weekend, let's sit still and just bask in God's love! Let's soak in it like a warm bubble bath. Let's melt into it and let it cover us. And then, let's go out and share it! Love, heidi

Thursday, January 25, 2018

What shall I do, Sir?

"I asked, 'What shall I do, Sir?'"
Acts 22:10

St. Paul reminds us that we are definitely changed when we encounter Jesus. Paul was literally knocked-off-his-feet changed and we may be changed less dramatically. But if we are not changed, we have not encountered Jesus.  Paul also seems to realize that the change just isn't in belief or mental, but the change must manifest in our actions. "What shall I do, Sir?" Paul asks. Not What shall I think or believe? We don't just believe in Jesus, we DO Jesus, by our actions and attitudes. How do we DO that? By loving like Jesus. By scooping up those on the fringe and in the margins and loving them, not based on what they can do for us, but because they are lovable children of God. We are all brothers and sisters,  and together,  we are God's beloved. If one of us is hungry, we all feel the hunger pangs. If one of us is persecuted, we all feel the sting. We are not Us and Them, but just Us, God's beloved. Today, as we go about our late January Thursday, let our actions in our world reflect that we have had a loving encounter with Jesus. We are changed by this loving encounter and the world needs to feel it, too. Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jesus' family...

"For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Mark 3:35

I have usually felt that, rather than dissing his blood family in this passage, Jesus is including all throughout history who would follow his path of love.  And that includes all from every creed who do the will of God--which is loving others. No matter what our station or task in life is, we are to do it with love for others.  There were many more defined lines of service when I was growing up. I remember my dad telling me that priests and nuns were giving up their lives to God, for God's service. But now I see that anyone who does whatever they do with love is living in God's service and doing God's will. It sounds easy, but we all know it isn't at all. It's hard loving people sometimes! Clearly, in our world, there seems to be a definite shortage of love. I could go off on retreat for days to discern what the will of God may be for me, but, in reality, it is all very simple. God's will is that we love each other. Which means caring for each other's needs with compassion and mercy. Sharing God's love in this world is God's will for our lives and places us right in Jesus' family of brothers and sisters. Love, heidi

Monday, January 22, 2018

Love what we don't understand...

"The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul,' and 'By the prince of demons he drives out demons.'"
Mark 3: 22

When people don't understand something they usually go straight to fear. The scribes were perplexed by Jesus, he was so out of the box. So they slapped a label on him and soothed themselves into thinking that he was the one out of line. We do this all the time, don't we? We don't understand the culture of another, it makes us uncomfortable, we condemn it. We don't understand an individual's actions, they make us uncomfortable, we slap on a label that may give us some kind of comfort. We tell ourselves we have it all figured out. We place ourselves back in control of what we don't understand. But what if we cannot control what we don't understand? And what if we refrain from labeling and soothing ourselves into some illusion of comfort? What if we accept discomfort? What if we just allow ourselves to not understand the ways of God? We cannot, for the life of us, understand the immensity of God's love for us. We can't figure that out so we find ways to justify ourselves or we find actions we can do to earn God's love. We would be further ahead just to take fifteen minutes, unplug, light a candle, and sit with God, basking in this vast love we cannot comprehend. God loves us because God does. And nothing we do can change that. We'll never understand it, but we can relish it and soak ourselves in it. And try to love each other better, whether we understand each other or not. Love, heidi

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The path to life...

"Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices, my body also dwells secure...
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever."
Psalm 16:9,11

And so it is.  During my New Year's retreat, I was going through some files in my desk. I came upon the file of application materials for the Spiritual Direction training program I attended, four years ago. As part of the process, I had to write a spiritual autobiography, where I put into words and on paper, my journey with God lo these many years.  I remember I enjoyed writing it, but the real gift of the autobiography was in reading it out loud (to the dog), sitting on the floor on New Year's day. In it, I recounted my journey, as a little girl, as a high school kid on a Search retreat, as a college student, and a young adult, trying to find the best way to serve God with my life. Because, see, I knew that much--that I wanted to serve God with my life. As I read, I could see the unfolding of each life choice--how it began as a desire, deep in my heart. I could see how God opened my eyes to the desire, and I could see how God guided me to fulfill the desire. Seeing it all open up to me in print, I just sat there and marveled at how God has worked in my life.  And I needed to see this now, at this stage of new beginning, a new unfolding.  So, therefore, my heart is very glad, and my soul greatly rejoices, and even my body, a wee bit sore from last night's yoga class, dwells secure.  God is so good...all the time!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A law of love...

"At this the Pharisees said to him, 'Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?'"
Mark 2:24

In the book, "Abba's Child," by Brennan Manning, he explains why Jesus wasn't as concerned about the laws of the sabbath in this and other scriptures.  Manning explains that originally, the sabbath was set aside in the Jewish culture for two reasons. First, as "a worship of adoration and thanksgiving for all God's goodness." And second, the sabbath was a reminder of the covenant of love between God and the Jewish people. Only after the Babylonian exile did the Pharisees shift the emphasis to not working on the sabbath and imposed strict rules against most forms of activity.  According to Manning, "The Pharisees falsified the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper whose favor could be won only by the scrupulous observance of laws and regulations." ("Abba's Child") Wow. So Jesus, knowing the true meaning of the sabbath, saw nothing amiss in the disciples picking and eating the heads of grain while they are hungry.  If one wonders why Jesus performed so many of his healing miracles on the sabbath, this is an explanation, isn't it? Jesus knew that the Pharisees had twisted the sabbath around for their own gain and to lengthen their own tassels, and Jesus would have none of that! Jesus came with the law of love and the spirit of that love is that no one go hungry or unhealed or uncared for.  Isn't that just as true in our world today? Love, heidi

Friday, January 12, 2018

A new way of seeing...

"To begin to see with new eyes, we must observe--and usually be humiliated by--the habitual way we encounter each and every moment."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 1/12/2018

Humiliated is right! When I read this today, I didn't have to think too far back to find an example of this in myself. I only had to think back to last night! I found out the neighbors (the other side of my twin townhouse) were moving.  This was completely sudden and unexpected, apparently they had really struggled there. My first thought--several thoughts--were only about how this would affect me. He's been taking care of the snow, etc. Only after working myself up into a real stew, did I snuggle into bed and begin to think of them and their difficulties. It's as though, when I finally settle in to say my prayers, God just cradles my heart and says, "Heidi-dear, how do you think they feel?" It's all very loving and compassionate, but God draws me face-to-face with my own short-sightedness. With a gentle arm around my shoulder, God opens my eyes to another way of seeing...a more other-focused way.  I'm afraid this new way of seeing doesn't come naturally and takes a great deal of practice and doing-it-wrong, before our vision improves.  It is surely something to pray about and be aware of this winter weekend.  Love heidi

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Unplug and listen...

"Speak Lord, your servant is listening."
1 Samuel 3:10

This familiar line prompted me to think about how we hear God speaking in our lives. I know I often toss around lines like, "I heard God saying to me" or "God suggested I do that." What exactly is happening here?  I can honestly say that I can hear God in the silence, in pure quiet, much more than in the clanging gong.  When I think back on the times that God's voice has been so clear to me, it was in silence. How do I know it's God and not something else? Because it sounds like God. In my years of listening and learning about God, it fits and feels like God. Maybe it's reassuring and comforting; and so God is. Maybe it's a good idea and if I follow through with it, I see the God tracks later. I hear God especially on retreat, where I pray to be led and am especially tuned in. There are no distractions like the phone or even music. That's when the still, small voice of God can break through my heart. And that where God speaks to us most--in our hearts. Maybe we feel a twinge of compassion for someone going through a hard time. That, to me, is God speaking to our hearts. Maybe we have an idea that is beneficial to others. That seems like God to me.  Maybe we change our minds or surprise ourselves by saying Yes to something when we first decided no. Could that be God giving us a nudge? We often wonder why God would bother speaking to someone like us, but if we really notice--God speaks to the lowly in scripture, like Samuel in this reading today. Why wouldn't God speak to us? Maybe we just need to unplug and listen. Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

With authority!

"All were amazed and asked one another, 'What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.'"
Mark 1:27

Imagining what this could have been like for those who attended the synagogue that day, I mean...it was a scene. Jesus confronts an unclean spirit, who knows he is the "holy one of God." Jesus speaks with authority and the spirit comes out of the man who convulses and cries out loudly.  And it all happened on the sabbath!  There is so much to unpack here, but the thing that touched me was the authority with which Jesus speaks. Pray-As-You-Go speaks of authority as backing up our speech with our actions, our behavior.  In other words, living authentically and walking the talk. As the new year is still fresh, it is a good time to ask ourselves how authentically are we living? Are we people who practice what we preach? Do we go to church, hear the Word of God and then leave the church, not thinking about that word until the next Sunday, when we go through the motions again? I doubt that! But where are we on the authenticity scale? Are we living and practicing our love for God or just believing in God? Our belief and our faith need to be manifested through our actions and how we live our lives. Can those with whom we live and work and move through the world tell how much we love God?  Love, heidi

Monday, January 8, 2018

Without interfering?

"Can you allow God's plan for you to unfold without letting yourself interfere?"
Pray-As-You-Go, January 6-7, 2018

When I heard this one sentence on PAYG yesterday I immediately stopped and replayed it...several times! It is exactly what I need to hear and heed.  What I wondered, though, is how I cannot interfere, when I seem to know full-well exactly what needs to happen?  I came up with a few things that could help me not interfere with the unfolding of God's plan for me--maybe they could help you, too...

--Don't just think everything to death...use a combination of thinking, praying and feeling (checking with ours hearts) before deciding.
--Be open to all possibilities and "routes" like the Magi, who traveled back home by another route in the Epiphany Gospel.
--Also like the Magi (and St. Joseph) listen to our dreams--especially our daydreams. They can be a window to God's plan for us.
--Say Yes to the moment right in front of us now--this moment may be all we really have.
--Trust how God has worked in our lives before; look back and see all the God tracks in all we have ever experienced.

So, there you go! That's my list but I'm sure you can come up with even more.  Blessings on your winter Monday. Love, heidi

Friday, January 5, 2018

Checking in...

"Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, 'Follow me.'"
John 1:43

Pray-As-You-Go had a wonderful thought to ponder regarding this Gospel today.  They explain that the time of Jesus' early ministry was exciting and filled with enthusiastic followers, so eager to share his message with others. Like Philip sharing with his brother Nathanael in today's reading.  PAYG offered the suggestion to remember a time in our lives when we were that enthused and excited about our spirituality. Maybe it was years ago, or maybe it is now? I thought back to making the Cursillo in 1998 and, afterward, the world was on fire!  Everything was different--infused with God and God's presence was unmistakable!  It was a Woo Woo time for sure!  But I also think that my life now is just as exciting.  Even though things seems quieter, God's presence is even more vivid.  In between have been times of twisting, winding roads where I wasn't sure at all if God was even around. But those times of darkness have yielded these times of quiet, more peaceful, presence. Maybe God and I are more like the old, married couple, who don't have the Woo Woo of our early romance any longer, but are just content to sit in each other's company?  I invite everyone to pray with this sometime over the winter weekend. It's wonderful to take our own pulse on this and see where we are.  Anywhere we are is absolutely OK, too.  It's just sometimes nice to check in with it.  Love, heidi

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Deep calls to deep...

"Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?'"
John 1:38

This is a great question for us to pray with at the beginning of a new year! What are we looking for in 2018? As I prayed with this a bit this morning, I realized I always go to the same space...I am always looking for a deeper relationship with God manifesting in a deeper love for others.  The old song, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" popped into my head.  It dawns on me that however close I feel to God, which seems even closer after a retreat, there is always deeper. Deep calls to deep. Drawing closer inspires me to draw closer still. And I am always aware that I can love others more fully. The richness of my relationship with God goes hand-in-hand with how I treat others. Whatever I gather from God needs to show up in how I treat the world. Oh, and have you noticed that the days are a couple of seconds longer each day now? It's hardly noticeable as the nights still seem to come early. So during these long, dark nights, let's pray with this question from Jesus, "What are you looking for?" Jesus is asking us just as he asked the fellows following him. Love, heidi

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

God's family...

"Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed."
1 John 3:2

Yesterday, a 102 year old former client called to request a 2018 large print calendar. I admired her optimism! I visited her later in the day to deliver the calendar and found her to be so sharp and enjoyable, although she is a little impatient with God. She is wondering if God is trying to figure out what to do with her, thus she is still hanging around earth. I wondered to myself later how it would be to be so close to the end of this life's journey. "What we shall be has not yet been revealed..." True, but I feel we have an inkling that it will be fabulous, at least I have that notion.  We talked a bit about her family, her life and all she has lived through--being born during the first world war--can you imagine? Her family immigrated to the US from Switzerland in 1917. We don't know what we will be after our time on this planet is over, but I knew that I experienced a lovely piece of heaven on earth yesterday as I gave a 13 month calendar to a 102 year old lady!  She gave me a gift I will treasure for a long time, a gift of optimism, but also a gift of living in the here and now. Who knows if we will wake up tomorrow? She told me she loves me as I got ready to leave. I gave her a lingering squeeze and told her I love her too. We are God's children now and, no matter what we shall be, sharing together as God's family is heavenly.  Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Singing in silence...

"God, You Rascal!"
~Heidi Gainan

This year, like last year, I decided to do a silent retreat, at home, over the New Year's three day weekend. It was like last year's "Clean and Glean" retreat, where I had a few household projects interspersed with prayer, spiritual reading and being unplugged and silent. It was so lovely last year I thought I'd go with a sequel.  "Clean and Glean II--The Second One."  I had a few projects again, and a couple of spiritual books to read, Advent readings to catch up and I just wanted to sit in silence...so lovely. So, I notified the kids, turned off the phone, unplugged the Roku, powered-down the iDevices and, with three gongs on my singing bowl (startling the dog), I began. I prayed that I would be led, completely, to do whatever I should do. Clean what I should clean, glean what I should glean. On Day Two, I felt led to go to Sunday night mass, since I never go to that one, I could sneak in and out and remain in silent mode. Well, the minute I walked in, Tennessee, the music group leader said, "Hey! Sing with us!" Remembering what I had just read earlier about saying "Yes" to the moment right in front of us, I heard myself say a tepid "OK!" So, there I was, on a silent retreat, singing with the music group for the first time in ages.  But it was all so fun and good. The fact was I'd asked to be led and God led me to that mass and into that kind invitation to sing. And God just giggled. I learned many wonderful things this weekend, but here is my favorite: Let's be open to the God of Surprises this new year! Love, heidi