Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Success and frutifulness

"The divine love of God reveals to us that fruitfulness is more important than success, that the love of God is more important than the praise of people..."
Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, "Sabbatical Journey" (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

It seems we spend much of our lives aiming for success, doesn't it? That was drilled into me by my Depression-era parents, who learned it the hard way. We must succeed! Success equals happiness! Now that I'm climbing down the success ladder, I see that fruitfulness IS more important. What I do in a day may only make a difference to one first or third grader, but if it is done sincerely, with a loving heart, it is more important than anything counting for "success" in my life. Another important aspect of this is that we may never actually learn the "fruit" of our fruitfulness. We may be long gone by the time a person we have impacted realizes that they were impacted. We may just need to trust God that, being in the right situation and with an ability to help someone, the result is fruitful. We may not see or feel we have made a difference, but we trust that God puts us where we are needed and a difference can be made. Yesterday was such an unusual day. I started with my volunteer job at a day shelter and ended at a lovely Boise restaurant. In between I read Winnie the Pooh to first graders. As I reflected on the day, I realized that I desire to be real in all environments. I desire to be fully present to all I encounter. I desire to love everyone. That is of God. That will be fruitful. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 18, 2018

God's efficient system...

"Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals..."
Luke 10:4

Jesus is telling his crew to travel light--no U-Hauls, no luggage racks with many tunics hanging on them, no camels carrying their stuff. They were to rely on God to provide for their needs. Unlike their ancestors in the desert, however, God didn't just send manna down from heaven. God provided for their needs through the hands of human beings. They were to receive "payment" of food and lodging from those they visited along the way. Human beings were to provide for the needs of other human beings. God thought that was an efficient system, apparently, because we see if again when Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish. Jesus provided for the needs of the multitude through the hands of the apostles, who passed out the food. It just didn't magically appear on the lawn! What we learn from this is:  Those who have been blessed with means should help those who have less. If we ask, God will provide us with generous hearts so we can turn around and provide for those who have little. It is an efficient system unless we allow greed to get in the way. If we cling and clutch what we have been given, the system breaks down and people suffer. Today, let's ask God to give us the generous hearts we need to share what we have with others. We don't need to judge them or put them through any worthiness criterion, but we just need to see a need and do what we can to meet it. That's the efficient system God has devised, let's run with it! Love, heidi

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Simple life = prayerful life

"I've saved the best for now. Simplicity is a natural preparation for prayer. Simplicity will lead you to prayer. It creates an inner awareness of gratitude for the material and spiritual gifts you have. It creates time and space for prayer."
Sr. Jose Hobday, "Simple Living--The Path to Joy and Freedom"

This little book is like a How-to manual for simple living. I re-read it once a year. Sr. Jose was a Seneca elder and also a Franciscan sister so she incorporates Franciscan spirituality with Native spirituality and the result is awesome--sign me up! When I first read this book the idea of having more time for prayer due to a simple life was a pipe dream; now it is more of a reality, thanks be to God. Having an easier, less stressful, less daily-grind life certainly offers me more time for quiet and prayer, but I still need to make room for it. Other distractions are definitely still there and try to lure me in! I am realizing that having and doing less leads to more--time. Having a tiny apartment means less time keeping it up (I can vacuum the whole place from one outlet!) Having fewer possessions means less time looking for stuff and taking care of stuff. Of course, when I had a dinner party I used nearly every dish I have, but it was fine! Having a half-time job instead of a full time plus a side business means I actually get a full night's sleep--what a concept! All of that leads me to prayer--prayer of thanksgiving, prayer of desire to share all this fabulousness with others. Today, our autumn Wednesday, let's look around and see if there are ways we can simplify our lives. Even if it is just carving out an hour for quiet prayer in an otherwise busy day. Love, heidi

Monday, October 15, 2018

Help us to pray...

"In the same way, the Spirit too, comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not pray as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes with inexpressible groanings."
Romans 8: 26-28

The UK readings for yesterday included this reading and it was the one featured on Pray-As-You-Go weekend edition. I listened to it in the early morning, in the midst of a fabulously fun weekend with a dear friend and family. As I listened, I realized that the feelings of gratitude I felt were so much bigger than anything I could say to God. "Thank You," just doesn't cut it when when your heart is that full. Our little English language words cannot begin to express what I was feeling just then. So I was so glad to be able to listen to this reading and know that the Spirit within me would take my feeble words and magnify them. The Spirit could say what I could not in my human weakness. This is good for us to remember whenever we try to pray and just cannot get the words to match our feelings. Maybe we are sad and weary. Our prayer of "Help me, Lord," can be magnified by the Spirit so that its full entirety reaches God's heart, which is right there within our own heart. Whatever our prayers this day, let's rejoice that the Spirit gives our feelings the depth we really feel as we pray, when our own language falls short. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 11, 2018

God, surprise me!

"In petitionary prayer we do not wager on changing God's mind, but we open ourselves to God's holy unpredictability."
Fr. Edward Foley, "Give Us This Day"

There it is. In one sentence that explains prayer to me. I wrestled with the idea that I have to pray to ward off anything bad happening to my loved ones, to find a lost object or to get through a difficult day. I still pray for those intentions, but instead of praying that God will manipulate events to go my way, I'm praying that God will give me whatever I need to get through whatever happens. We don't pray to change God, we pray to change ourselves. Right now, daughter Jeni Rose is moving to Colorado, and then right away, heading off to Israel and India to work prior to settling down. This whole thing could drive me crazy if I felt that her safety was dependent on my prayers. Oh, I'm praying, certainly, but my prayers are more to give me something positive to do until I hear the "All's well!" from her. My prayers keep me connected to the Source of my own peace. My prayers open me to God's unpredictability and keep me tethered to the deep peace God gives me within. Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Need to escape?

"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from."
Seth Godin, Becoming Minimalist (link below)

I was wondering why I didn't have an aching in my heart to get out of town! I'm headed up to Marymount Hermitage later this month and am so excited to get there and just BE there. But I haven't noticed the sense of urgency I used to have prior to my twice-annually retreat. I think it's maybe about this quote--I have a life I no longer need to escape from. I love my much smaller life and don't feel the urgent need to get away from it like I did before. While there were lovely times in my former life, there were aspects of it that I regularly needed to retreat from. There were signs I needed a change, such as the looming dread I would start to feel late Sunday afternoons, anticipating the seemingly endless Monday. I no longer feel those feelings. I no longer need to escape from my life and that is a fabulous feeling! I think God gives us desires, deep inside our hearts, that lead us to doing God's will for us. I also believe that God allows us to feel discontent to spurn us into making the changes we may need. We need to spend time in the still silence to listen to both. Is our job feeling constrictive and less-than-satisfactory? Take the Sunday afternoon test! Is our house feeling too big, too much work, too filled with stuff? Can we do something to set up a life that we don't pine to get away from? Burning questions for an autumn Tuesday!  Love, heidi
Becoming Minimalist

Monday, October 8, 2018

Good Samaritan

"'And who is my neighbor?'...
'Which one of these three was the neighbor to the robber's victim?'"
Luke 10: 29, 36

Pray-As-You-Go pointed out an interesting detail about today's Gospel of the Good Samaritan. The man asked Jesus one question and Jesus answers it with another question, but a little differently. The man asks who is neighbor IS, implying more of a state of being. Jesus answers with more of an action, Who acted more neighborly? It is similar with Christianity, I feel. We can say we are Christian, which implies a state of being. But Christianity is much less a state of being and much more an action. We DO Christianity and if we don't, we aren't really Christian. Jesus makes that so clear in his parable about the sheep and the goats being divvied up at the end of time. Also, when Jesus says there will be people who will call out, "Lord, Lord!" And the just judge will say, "Hey I don't know you...you just claimed to be Christian, you didn't actually DO Christianity." The Good Samaritan story tells us exactly what we need to do--care for others, others we don't know, others who are different than we are, others who may not be able to pay us back. The Good Samaritan didn't know if the victim was a good guy or not, he didn't drug test him or hold up a worthiness criteria to decide if he was good enough to be helped. The victim was a stranger and the Good Samaritan helped him anyway. Let that be a lesson for us, Modern Day Christians! We are not to judge who is worthy or deserving of our love and concern. Let's get out there, this autumn Monday and DO what we believe-- serve all God's children! Love, heidi

Thursday, October 4, 2018

St. Francis Day!

"Attracting followers, (Francis) launched a new order, the Friars Minor, who, in their strict faithfulness to the Gospel--seeking out the poor, the sick, the marginalized, embracing poverty and nonviolence--turned the values of their society upside down."
Give Us This Day

If St. Francis walked among us in our day he would certainly turn the values of our society upside down, too, wouldn't he? How did we get so far afield with our lust for consumerism, our treatment of the poor, our reverence of wealth? We put statues of St. Francis in our yards, but could we live more faithfully to the Gospel to honor him instead? It would be one thing if Francis had been born poor and just did well for himself, but the interesting piece of his story is that he was born rich--a Rich Young Man, in fact, who did exactly what Jesus told the RYM in the Gospel. Francis was a little more dramatic, perhaps, as he stripped naked and gave his fine clothes back to his father to the shock and horror of all gathered in the town square. From then on he lived the true Gospel: not the Prosperity Gospel of "Do well for yourselves," but Jesus' Gospel of taking care of each other, loving each other, and providing for each other. Today we honor the man who brought Jesus to the thirteenth century. How can we emulate him and bring Jesus to the twenty-first century? Let's do one thing today that we can picture St Francis doing--one act of giving, sharing, embracing, including and, most important of all, let's do it joyfully! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Speak life!

"My strong angels, be with me wherever I go...Stand at the first gate with your sword in your right hand. Keep this entrance closed to proud, lazy words. When they want to leave my mouth, don't let them."
St. Umilta of Faenza, "Sermons," as quoted in Give Us This Day

Wow, this must have been when women were still allowed to give sermons! And such a vivid image St. Umilta portrays! Angels stationed at our mouth to keep us from saying stupid stuff. My angels have obviously not been beckoned enough to this particular duty...I'll work on that today!  It's interesting to think of the mouth as the "first gate," isn't it? Jesus points out that it isn't what goes into our bodies that causes us to sin, but what comes out via the "first gate." Words cannot be shoved back down the throat like they never came out, even though we'd like them to. No, we have to stop the offending words from coming out of our mouths in the first place and I like the image of the angels standing guard. I like the image of a clutch on the mouth that must be engaged before saying something, too. Either way, our words can bring life and positivity or they can be hurtful and destroy. Today, let's make an effort to bring forth goodness from our "first gate!" Love, heidi


Monday, October 1, 2018

Teaching moments

"An argument arose among the disciples about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side..."
Luke 9:46-47

Jesus sees the ambition and competition among the disciples and wants to teach it out of them, via his lesson with the young child. I was thinking what lesson would Jesus want to teach me this autumn Monday? What unattractive trait would Jesus want to teach out of me? Well, probably my tendency to judge quickly and harshly, for one! For example,  I have some new neighbors and they make take a little getting used to. That doesn't mean they are bad, but they have been giving me someone to snap to judgment on! Ugh, that. Notice how kindly Jesus uses this moment with the disciples to teach them? He doesn't scold them or speak harshly to them, but he places a child by his side and says, Be like this kid and you may be great...I know Jesus speaks kindly to all of us when we realize, to our chagrin, what about ourselves needs changing. Recognizing that, let's be open and honest with Jesus about what we can do better. Today. Love, heidi

Friday, September 28, 2018

Everything has a season...

"God has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man's ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done."
Ecclesiastes 3:11

The more widely known part of the verse, "There is an appointed time for everything," in other words the song from The Byrds, is more popular; but this part hit me this morning. I was thinking how fast time goes and things seem to come around full circle. When we were newly married and living in Billings, my mom and I used to go shopping or "prowling," as she called it. I always did the driving, as she was beginning to feel less confident behind the wheel and I was young and fearless. Now, however, many years later, whenever Sam and I do some prowling around, she always does the driving, since I am so much less confident...yada, yada. Criminy, I even wear my mom's old blue jacket! The seasons turn round and round and before I could even catch on to the work God has done, I'm the elder, the old lady in the blue jacket, letting my daughter drive me around like Miss Daisy!  It is sneaky, though. You may not even realize it's happening until this reading from Ecclesiastes or The Byrds' song comes on the oldies station. It's sneaky and fast, but also has a right and good sense about it, too. "To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time for every purpose under heaven." Love, heidi Oh and enjoy a trip back to the sixties with The Byrds below:
Turn, Turn, Turn The Byrds

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Something new...

"What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passess and another comes, but the world stays forever...Nothing is new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:3-4, 9

This poor grumpy Gus could have been me a few years ago, I'm sad to admit. My advice to him would be to get rid of all he has, move across the state and get a job working with little kids. But, really...these difficult times we are experiencing now in our world do give us pause to wonder, What is it all for? What reason do we have for getting up each morning and doing it all again? We need to find that out for ourselves, but for me, it has been about letting go, seeking what God desires for my life and, essentially, climbing down the success ladder. It's not about what we achieve or how well we do or the fancy stuff we accumulate. It's about how we can serve God and our fellow creatures on the planet, and the planet itself. When I heard this reading this morning, I shuddered with understanding. What can we hope for long after we are gone? That some day some future relative will delight in finding us on ancestory.com? We'll be a leaf in someone's family tree? Maybe. But, for me, I delight in wanting to help out right here, right where I am. God has graciously given me a new pond, a new wineskin and I'm loving every minute of being here. There CAN be something new under the sun if we just look for it! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hear and act!

"(Jesus) said to them in reply, 'My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.'"
Luke 8:21

An interesting little caveat to this is that God is actually doing the work through those who hear and answer. That may help us get over the hump of thinking we are responsible for it all on our own. Thinking that will just get us spiritually proud and ew, who wants to be that? If we hear and act on God's nudgings in our lives, it is God who picks up the banner and waves it, not us. Knowing that may help us overcome any shyness or discomfort wading into waters with a faster current. It will help us thinking how wonderful we are for doing something charitable. It will help us give God the glory, where the glory belongs. We can be instruments and helpers of God, but God is really behind any good that we do. Does that make it easier for us to do good stuff? Love from the treehouse, heidi

Friday, September 21, 2018

Leave it behind...

"Jesus said to (Matthew), 'Follow me.' And he got up and followed him."
Matthew 9:9

I was thinking about Matthew as I exercised in the little gym at my apartment complex (I know--I'm getting weirder by the day). He was scorned by his own people for being a tax collector for the Romans. On one hand, a guy's got to make a living, right? But on the other hand, he must have seen in Jesus' invitation something better. He must have seen a way of life that was better than just making a living and being the object of ridicule from his own folks. Pray-As-You-Go pointed out that he changed his whole life, just like that. He just got up, left his former life behind and followed Jesus into new life. He became a new wineskin; he found a new pool of water, to pull out our previous metaphors. And what about us? Are we being called to change something in our lives that could make our lives a closer walk with Jesus? Tomorrow, autumn begins. It's such a good time for renewal and leaving behind what is holding us back. There's more to life than just making a living. I admire Matthew for recognizing that and just getting up and following Jesus! Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Be awake!

"Love never fails..."
1 Corinthians 13:8

I had what I think was quite a mystical encounter yesterday that I will tell you, without going into details, brought me to tears. It showed me that we are all in this together--all of us. People come and go in our lives and we may not give them a passing thought. Until, that is, we look back and see Jesus in the encounter. Often I can see Jesus present in people I encounter, especially the little kids at school who holler to me from their school bus as it drives away, "Bye, Ms. G!" It's so easy to see Jesus in those little faces! But yesterday's encounter was different. I looked back and saw Jesus in me, myself. Whoa, that, right? I was able to respond and react so unlike myself and yet so needed for the moment that I could only recognize it was Jesus acting and not me. We need to be awake to these occurrences, because I think they can happen frequently if we are tuned into the Holy Spirit and do what we feel God calling us to do. Because tuning into the Spirit and hearing God's call invites Jesus to act through us. And the world needs so much of that just now. So the most passing encounter you have today may be just what Jesus needs to do in the world. Be awake! Pay attention! Love, heidi

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Daily Examen

"More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and to discern his direction for us."
-IgnationSpirituality.com

So, my insurance company sent me one of those Right Track devices that plug into the car and monitor my driving. I was leery at first, but I think it is making me a more careful driver. It monitors bursts of rapid acceleration and sudden braking, as well as total miles driven and car use during the wee hours of the morning. It all makes sense to me and it makes me sort of wish I could get such a device for my whole life. Is there such a device that would monitor how closely I walk with Jesus through the day?  Actually, the Daily Examen prayer serves to give us a little check of how we respond to God throughout our days. We can pray with the Examen and ask ourselves if we excellerated too fast into harsh judgements or hit the brake too fast on living generously. We can think back and see where we felt closer to God during the day and if there were times we may have missed seeing God around each corner. There are several good Examen prayers online. Pray-As-You-Go has a nice one at the link below and Fr. James Martin has a nice podcast Examen, also link below. I access both of them from my phone, through podcasts or the Soundcloud app.  If you need to change up your prayer life and haven't tried the Daily Examen prayer, think of it as a little Right Track for your spiritual walk. It's encouraging and helpful for seeing Jesus in your day. Love from the treehouse, heidi
Pray-As-You-Go Examen
Fr. James Martin Examen

Thursday, September 13, 2018

No enemies?

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'To you who hear I say, love your enemies...'"
Luke 6:27

I have certainly run the gamut of figuring out this reading over the years. Pondering it all, from who are my enemies to how to show love to those who bug me.  But this morning I wonder if I hit on something new. I'm thinking it could be easier to love our enemies if we just didn't have any. Really. What if we stop thinking of people as our enemies and just think of them as friends we may not agree with? I'm not saying this will be easy, not by a long shot! But having enemies is so much work! There's all that energy we spend watching what they do so we can judge it and criticize it. There's the mental work of chastising them in our heads, scooping their associates up and adding them to our enemy list as well. What if we just let them escape from our judging minds and wish them well on their way? What if we just allow God to sort it all out? This is hard for me because people I struggle with take up so much room in my head that I won't know what to do with all the empty space!  (If that's all I have to worry about today, I'm in pretty good shape.) So, today, as Jesus gives us this most difficult command to love our enemies, let's make it easier for ourselves by just not having any. Those we struggle with we can take from our heads to our hearts and allow God to tend them there.  Love from the treehouse, heidi

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Blessed are the poor...

"Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of heaven is yours."
Luke 6:20

I admit I didn't get much further than this first sentence in today's Gospel. I sat and prayed about what it means. I wonder if the poor feel blessed? In our culture being poor is scorned and feared. The poor are seen as less-than, lazy, unproductive. Jesus continues by saying, "But woe to you who are rich..." (v. 24). How upside down is this compared to the culture of our country! Since it seems so upside down I wondered, what is it about the poor that renders them blessed? I wondered if they may grow more dependent on God. Their own resources have come up short, so they are more reliant on God for the little they have. Because of that, they are grateful for what they have and that gratitude leads them to share what they have with others. It is sometimes easier to share what we receive as gift than when we think we "earned" something on our own. So, a greater dependence on God leads to gratitude which leads to generosity. So, definitely, that chain reaction renders the poor very blessed indeed. It is worthwhile to think and pray about how we in our oh-so comfortable lives can follow the same chain. Our awareness of all we have as gift can lead us to gratitude and generosity as well. Living more simply allows us to live more generously. I like the expression "Live simply so others can simply live." Today, let's pray with that and see how it looks in our own lives. Love from the treehouse, heidi

Monday, September 10, 2018

Prayer of the Heart

"Next time a resentment, negativity, or irritation comes into your mind, and you want to play it out or attach to it, move that thought or person literally into your heart space."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Prayer of the Heart," 9/8/18 Daily Meditation

One thing I know I need in the faith department is for my faith to work; that is, be practically alive for me in my everyday life. I remember a good lesson, many years ago, when I was fretting about something and a wise friend said to me, "Heidi, I know you have a strong faith, why don't you pull it out and use it?" Great advice! So, I read this wonderful Heart Prayer suggestion (link below to the whole article) and I thought of a way I could apply this to my life. I have struggled lately with things so far out of my control (national and church issues), and I feel angry and helpless. I thought of a ritual that will help me to put these negative thoughts and feelings somewhere more constructive--my heart. There, as Fr. Richard Rohr says, they will be surrounded by silence and the warmth and love of God and God will take care of them. Whenever I feel a negative thought or judgment bubble up into my mind, I will, prayerfully, cup my hands in front of me to collect it. Then I will cover my heart with my hands, depositing it into my heart space. That simple physical gesture may help me remember that ruminating or venting about what I think is wrong doesn't do any good at all. As I put those feelings into my heart, I trust God will guide me to what I can do that will be constructive and life-giving. Please read the Prayer of the Heart at the end of the summary on Fr. Rohr's column. Love from the treehouse, heidi
Prayer of the Heart

Friday, September 7, 2018

New wineskins...

"Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins."
Luke 5:38

I'm sure I've confessed my bewilderment at this reading before. I never felt I had a grip on it until I attended a closing mass for a men's Cursillo a million years ago. I watched the men come in, disheveled and tired, looking rather like the "undesirable" prize in a Mystery Date game. But there was something unmistakably wonderful about them, too. They were in new wineskins! They sure didn't look new but what had occurred over the weekend for them made them new creations, beautiful to behold even in their exhausted state. So, I got the new wineskins thing a bit better after that. Today, when I heard the reading, this sentence caught my eye, "Rather, new wine must be poured into new wineskins." I likened my move to Boise and complete new way of life to a new wineskin...it is so different than what I was doing and where I was living. My life has completely changed. I'm in a different stretch of water and a brand new wineskin, both metaphors for the new life God has been preparing me for and preparing for me for the last several years. The new wine God is making in my life had to have a new wineskin, a new container, if you will. My life had to be pared down to be much simpler, with much less stuff and much more time for God. I must say this new wine is delicious, too! What about you? Has God been fermenting a new batch of wine for your life? Do you need a new wineskin to put it in? Good food for thought to ponder and pray with this September weekend! Blessings and love from the treehouse, heidi

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Different water...

"Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."
Luke 5:4

Have you ever felt asked to fish in a different sea, so to speak? The fishermen had worked all night to no avail and they were done, done, done. Jesus comes along and suggests a different stretch of water and they are rewarded mightily with a huge catch of fish. Sometimes we just need new water, a new venue, or a new place to do our thing. Maybe we even need a new "thing" altogether. I'm at a place where everything seems new to me but the other day I was asked to switch from working mornings at school to working afternoons...a bit different water. I was torn, but thankfully was able to remember the Margaret Rizza song, "You Are the Center Of My Life" and turned to God, there at the center. "Do what they ask you to do," the Center said to me. I'll admit I was fussing and fighting a bit on the end of the line, but I knew what I had to do. It's another stretch of water, another learning curve. Many more kids and names to learn, but I know it will be fine in the end. So the next time we are beckoned to a different bit of water, or even dry land, let's remember Who-it-is doing the beckoning and let's acquiesce as eagerly as Peter, who said, "Hey, we've been fishing all night and caught nothing, but if you say so" (v. 5). Love from the treehouse, heidi

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

You are the center...of my life

"You are the center of my life!"
Margaret Rizza, "You Are the Centre," Fountain of Life

The opening song on Pray-As-You-Go this morning was this beautiful song by Margaret Rizza. I'm afraid my meditation didn't get much further than that! I thought about what my day would look like if I really lived with God as the center of my life? What would that look like in my Tuesday-that-feels-like-Monday? Well, I'm sure I would be more loving toward everyone I encounter if I operate out of my center, God. I could look at people with God's eyes, seeing how beautiful and magical they are, with all their gifts and talents. I would generally feel more at peace about stuff with God as the center of my life, knowing that God freely works within the hearts of people to heal and make whole the things that we see as broken and messed up. Maybe I could feel less desperate and troubled about the world just knowing that? I think living with God as the center of my life I would be able to do my job to the very best of my ability--realizing that I'm not perfect and that perfection isn't realistic or expected. I only need to show up at my school with willing hands and a loving heart for everyone. (In other words, I don't need to be an expert in sixth grade math! Hooray for that!) And finally, living with God as the center of my life, I will speak words of Truth, Life and Love. I will speak encouraging and positive words, but also the truth that God is beckoning me to say from God's place in my heart. So, today, this first Tuesday in September, with a wee chill in the early morning air, I will live today with God as the center of my life! And it will be a fabulous day! Love from the treehouse, heidi

Thursday, August 30, 2018

God in the hard places...

 "Jesus said to his disciples, 'Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come!"
Matthew 24:42

Pray-As-You-Go had a good suggestion for praying with this reading today. Imagine what a surprise encounter with Jesus could look like. It's a surprise, you don't know you are going to encounter Jesus. So how does it play out? The thing that first came to my mind is that it would be a more difficult encounter--one of the harder moments of my day. Not because I don't want to encounter Jesus, but because Jesus is so often in the hard situations and the more difficult people. If we think back to the hardest situations we have encountered in the last week or so, right smack dab in the middle of them is God. Sometimes we have a harder time seeing God in those times, except when we look back reflectively. Then, hopefully, we can see God helping us. I certainly encounter Jesus is in the joyful times, as well. That's easy. But whatever we go through that really challenges us and tweaks us to our very core; that is where God is hardest at work in us.  Let's try to meet God right there... Love from the treehouse, heidi

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Do what's right!

"The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her."
Mark 6:26

Despite having mild flashbacks to the gruesome picture of the head of John the Baptist on a platter in my Children's Bible (really? In a children's bible?) this reading brings up an important point for our lives today. Pray-As-You-Go points out that King Herod went against what he knew to be right and did what he knew to be wrong to please his dinner guests. He'd admired John the Baptist, it was Herod's wife that had a beef with him. Because he had promised his daughter anything after she danced for his guests at dinner, he had John the Baptist beheaded. Certainly our little white lies and minor maleficence won't have such horrible results...but should we still say or do them? We know what is right and what is wrong. God's law is written on our hearts and it should pop up on our mental "screens" all through the day. Do we listen to it or get swept along with the crowd? It's so much easier to follow the crowd into gossip or negative talk. It's easy to join the chorus belittling others, be they whole races or groups or individuals. It's much easier to try to please the dinner guests than it is to stand out and stand up for what we know to be right and true. Today, shake loose that image of John the Baptist's head on a plate (if you had the same bible I did) and look more at his life. He said and did the hard stuff, because the hard stuff was the right thing to do. Love from the chilly treehouse, heidi

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sorrow and shame. And anger.

"Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you also want to leave?' 
Simon Peter answered him, 'Master, to whom shall we go? 
You have the words of eternal life. '"

John 6:68

This is a very hard post for me to write, Friends. I have been struggling with the latest news of the abuse scandal in several dioceses in Pennsylvania--aren't we all struggling with this? Thanks be to God I heard a wonderful homily yesterday addressing the elephant in the room. Fr. Radmar Jao, SJ was the celebrant at Risen Christ in Boise and tackled it head-on. He validated the feelings of so many: anger, angst, betrayal, lack of trust. He gave us three ways to channel our feelings into positive action. I truly believe we need to be able to DO something or we will just marinade in the evil brew of it, throw in the towel on the church or turn our backs on God altogether. First, Fr. Radmar suggested praying...for the victims, the church, and for all involved in sexual abuse of any kind. Second, he urged us to be proactive in our efforts against any kind of abuse--everywhere, in all of our environments. Be vigilant and speak up! And finally, he said, as followers of Jesus we need to be strong witnesses for Jesus in the world. We need to remember our own personal encounters with Jesus, the very encounters that put us on the path of life with Jesus in the first place.  We need to share these stories and bring Jesus to the world that needs to know Jesus. We need to stay and lead the church, not give up and leave the church. Thank you, Fr. Radmar...
Just as when Jesus overturns the tables in the temple, his anger is righteous and justified.  So is ours when we feel so crushed by the actions of these priests and bishops on the innocent.  But we have hope in our own personal relationships with Jesus and the need for the world to hear about Jesus. Gracious God, have mercy on us all. Love, heidi

Friday, August 24, 2018

I'll follow...

"The path that I've chosen is calling me, and I'll follow."
"Journey, " Salt of the Sound

The opening song on Pray-As-You-Go this morning says everything we need to know about finding God's will for us in one sentence! It beautifully weaves together the truth that God plants into our hearts God's plan for us. We need to look no further than our own deep desires to find out what God wants us to do. How can it be so simple? Shouldn't our mission be harder to find? Shouldn't we have to sacrifice and suffer to please God? Certainly not! God wants us to joyfully go about serving each other. If we're crabby and suffer through our service, how could that possibly please God? But could it really be so easy? Well, it isn't necessarily easy if we insist on making it difficult ourselves. If we run around chasing earthly rewards and pay offs, simply serving our brothers and sisters can seem contradictory. We need to spend time, considerable time, in quiet, contemplative prayer, giving God a chance to speak to our hearts. We also need to give ourselves quiet time to listen. This isn't accomplished in just giving God a few minutes of our time once a week. Spending deep quiet time with God gives us a chance to find that path the song describes. The path that we choose that calls us, and we follow. Blessings and love from the treehouse, heidi

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Find a robe!

"In the improperly clothed wedding guest, we recognize the many occasions when we follow Jesus in only the most superficial ways. We show up for the feast, anticipating our share in the goodness of God's kingdom, yet we neglect a vital part of God's invitation: the summons to repentance and reform."
Jessica Coblentz, "Give Us This Day"

This is such a great explanation for a passage that has always gotten under my skin. In fact, Pray-As-You-Go invited us to talk to Jesus about how this reading (Matthew 22:10-14) makes us feel. I sort of unloaded on Jesus, wondering why the guy gets thrown out of the wedding feast for not having a wedding robe.  "I thought you wanted us all, Jesus, why should something as insignificant as a robe come between us being with you in the banquet?" No sooner were those words written in my journal, I read Ms. Coblentz's excellent interpretation. Jesus made it clear what our wedding robe was: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, welcoming the stranger. Those tasks hang on a clothing rack as wedding robes for us to put on and wear.  Our decisions to bypass the rack and think of getting to heaven just on our good looks alone (i.e. without a wedding garment) will lead to our disappointment. Typical me though, I imagine the king showing the guest to the outer room where many wedding robes are hanging. "Pick one out and put it on," says the king, "and come on back in!" If we woke up this morning, and most of us did, we have a chance to put on our wedding robes. Let's get out there and find the need in our world that Jesus puts us in the position to fill. Love from the treehouse, heidi

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

What's in it for us?

"Then Peter said to him in reply, 'We have given up everything to follow you. What will there be for us?'"
Matthew 19:27

Peter has the knack for saying what the rest of them were probably thinking but didn't have the nerve to say. St. Peter, the Patron Saint of the Cringe-Worthy. But how often do we think or even say out loud, "What's in it for us?" Some people spend their whole lives working diligently to get to heaven. I wonder if they'll be disappointed when they get there? I think I'd rather spend my time working for a better Here than just aiming for There. I'm sure heaven will be wonderful but Here can be pretty fabulous,  too, really. And we are desperately needed by God to make Here a better world for everyone. My first day with the kids yesterday was absolutely splendid! Such imaginations and built-in wit and wisdom! I have every desire to help their Here to be the best it can be.  My reward for anything I do is just the warm comfort of knowing God has placed me where I need to be, doing what I can to help Here to be a good place. Heaven for me, right now, is basking in Here. That is plenty for me! Love from the treehouse, heidi

Monday, August 20, 2018

Traveling light

"Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'"
Matthew 19:21

The Rich Young Man (or RYM, as I refer to him in my journals) and I go way back. I  heard the haunting words of Jesus to him, as if for the first time, while on my first retreat at Marymount exactly five years ago. I shook in my sandals. Here Jesus was extending a fabulous invitation to the RYM and it was just too hard for him to sell all his stuff and follow Jesus. I remember praying that I wouldn't do the same thing. I wanted to do what Jesus asked of me, but selling all my possessions seemed a little extreme for me, too. I was so afraid I would go away, sad, like the RYM from Jesus' invitation. Fast forward from that retreat to now and I write from my wonderful treehouse, with considerably fewer possessions (Jesus said I could keep a few things!) Today is the first day of school and the first day of my new life as a Title I tutor at Hawthorne Elementary. I feel, so deeply, that I am following Jesus in this that I could barely sleep and am itching to get to school already! If this is a dream I don't want to wake up.  What Jesus asks of us, Jesus puts into our hearts as desire. The RYM may have come around, in fact, I love to think of him coming to his senses and realizing what Jesus was offering him. He got rid of his stuff and met up with Jesus in the next town. To travel with Jesus, we must travel light. Not just fewer possessions, but fewer prejudices, judgments, hang ups about others. You never see the disciples pictured walking along with Jesus with camels carrying their stuff and the mental stuff? Seems like they left it all on the road as they walked. Today, let's all think about how we can travel lighter with Jesus. What can we discard so that our journey is freeing and nourishing? Love from the treehouse, heidi

Friday, August 17, 2018

Rescue the lost!

"I call to you, Lord, all day long; to you I stretch out my hands."
Psalm 88

As exciting and wonderful this new beginning has been for me, there is humility lurking within every new situation. My first trip to the library, I accidentally walked into the men's restroom, freaking out a poor gentleman who was, thanks be to God, just washing his hands. I have been on job interviews with ponderous questions, trying to sell myself to people. I have attended a couple of meetings where I didn't know one single soul and I felt so awkward as others joyfully reunited after the summer. Having been in the same place and job for so long I hadn't felt the awkwardness of being so new and uncomfortable. Feeling it so vividly now will make me more aware of how I can help others who are new when (hopefully soon!) I am an old hand. It is incredible how God draws us toward the lessons we need to learn. I needed to step out of the boat, out of my comfort zone, and into a brand new life. It is exactly what I wanted to do and I'm thrilled with the lessons I'm learning.  I appreciate so much when someone  reaches out, greets me and shows me kindness. This is a fabulous lesson for all of us today, Friends! As school begins all around, let's make a special effort to reach out to someone new. Does anyone look lost and unfamiliar? Does anyone look like they're headed into the wrong restroom? Let's rescue them!  Love from the treehouse, heidi

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My soul proclaims!

"And Mary said, 'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...'"
Luke 1:46-47

I feel like I could sing Mary's Magnificat myself this morning, from the treehouse, for all to hear how happy I am this day! I can see the footprints of God all over my life and it's grand and wonderful. But what about when it isn't? It's so much harder to proclaim the greatness of the Lord when hail pelts our roof, or people mistreat people, or it feels like the wheels are coming off our country. Can our spirit rejoice in God our Savior then? I am reminded of a scene in the movie, "The Shack," when Mack is wracked with anguish in the boat. It is crumbling around him and scary black ink seems to be filling it. He is writhing in fear. Jesus holds out his hand to Mack, beckoning him to just look into his eyes. "Look at me," Jesus says as he holds out his hand. "Don't be afraid."  Knowing that God is always with us, and being convicted of that, helps us through those inky dark times so we can still proclaim the greatness of the Lord. And not just after the storm passes either, but even in the midst of the storm. So, today, no matter what is going on around us or in our lives, let's sing with Mary, her great words of faith, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." Love from the treehouse, heidi

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The greatest in the Kingdom...

"The disciples approached Jesus and said, 'Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?' He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, 'Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.'"
Matthew 18:1-3

On my last day of working with my mobility kids last spring, I had a lesson with the dearest little lad and was sad to say good-bye to him. Especially since I knew I was retiring and moving and that little portion of my life was ending. I walked out of the school teary, sniffling past the gym where there were angelic voices of kindergarteners, practicing for an end-of-the-year shindig. As I walked, I realized that I really wanted to continue working with kids, somehow. Well, after spending some good, quality time in God's employment office (noon mass). I am happy and grateful to report that I'm heading off to an orientation meeting this morning--at a school!  I've been hired as a part time Title I para professional at Hawthorne Elementary!  I have such a sense of being called to this, both by my desire to contribute and also to serve the "greatest in the Kingdom of heaven," the kids.  It's a dream come true for me and I'm so excited! I have two meetings this week and school begins Monday. I was thinking about how dreams really can come true and then it hit me...the dream I had was put right into my heart by God. God gave me the desire to do this kind of thing in the first place. God's work in our lives is an inside job. We just need to pay attention!  Love from the treehouse, heidi

Friday, August 10, 2018

We reap what we sow...

"Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."
2 Corinthians 9:6

Simple enough--we reap what we sow, right? But Pray-As-You-Go adds another ponderous spin to this reading today by asking what areas of our lives do we sow sparingly and what do we sow bountifully? There are probably a few of each in our lives and the areas we sow sparingly may be worth taking a look at to see if we can bump up our sowing. PAYG also asks what areas of our lives do we see God's generosity poured out to us and what are we doing with those gifts? Personally, I think God gifts me with such a powerful presence. I can sense God all around me, in people, in creation and nature, even just in sitting still and feeling a calm wash over me. It's hard to explain but unmistakable to me. And what do I do with that great gift? Do I share that or clutch it tightly to myself? Some days I'm definitely more clutch-y. This weekend, let's spend some time praying with these questions...are we sparingly sowing the gifts God has given us or are we freely giving what we have been given? Can we recognize God's gifts in our lives? Can we see the world through the more loving eyes of God? Seeing others with loving, compassionate eyes may help us sow more lavishly to others.  Love from the treehouse, heidi

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Weather the storm...

"After they had gotten into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, 'Truly, you are the Son of God.'"
Matthew 14:32-33

This was yesterday's Gospel, but something I heard on Pray-As-You-Go about it whirled around in my head through the day yesterday.  PAYG invited us to sit with Jesus in the boat after the storm had calmed down. After everyone was safely back in the boat (like you, Peter) and they were just stunned by all that had happened (they had also watched Jesus walk toward them on the sea) it hit them. Jesus was the Son of God. I sat with Jesus in my own little boat (the treehouse) and felt much the same way. Through all the "storm" of the last several months, the move, retiring, hail storm, selling my house, all of the storminess of that, I sat in the metaphorical boat with Jesus and just said, "Wow, you're awesome! Look how it's all worked out!" But just because that storm is behind me, every single day I need to recognize Jesus in my day because Jesus is always accompanying me. And I need to share with others how Jesus was a life-line for me during times of uncertainty. Jesus didn't just wave his arm and beam me into Boise, but Jesus gave me all I needed to weather the "storm," and forge ahead. Jesus gave me friends, family and even strangers who helped me, too. Now, Jesus will put me in the path of others who are weathering storms, far more scary and difficult than the the one I just came through. My desire is to listen to Jesus and do all I can to help them through their storms.  Love from the treehouse, heidi

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Wisdom from Dorothy Day...

"So she (Dorothy Day) thought each one of us, with our particular gifts and interests, was good. It's not that we need to change to be holy; we need to live what we are in the consciousness of God."
Judith Gregory, as quoted in "Dorothy Day: Portraits By Those Who Knew Her" by Rosalie G. Riegle

So, I am on a Dorothy Day kick right now and am just fascinated about all I'm learning about her. I sat in the treehouse and pondered the idea of living what we are in the consciousness of God. What does that look like in our everyday lives? Dorothy Day loved music, opera, specifically, and listened to it as much as she could. She didn't restrict her music to Gregorian chants or hymns. She loved opera, and while that isn't my cup of tea, I love that she loved it in all its secular-ness. I think that living what we are in the consciousness of God means that we live our lives, uncovering our True Selves; who we are when we aren't trying to impress anyone or get ahead or make people like us. We are who we are, and God made us that way. As we can appreciate that and be fully aware and present to that means we are living in the consciousness of God. Awareness of God threading through all of our decisions and choices, attitudes and actions means we are living in the consciousness of God. I invite you to pray with the phrase, "we need to live what we are in the consciousness of God." Maybe journal with it or just sit with it for a bit. What does God say to your heart? Love from the treehouse, heidi

Monday, August 6, 2018

The Transfiguration in the iPhone age...

"As they were coming down from the mountain, (Jesus) charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead."
Mark 9:9

If we ever have wondered why Jesus came into the world at the time in history he came, today's Gospel gives us a clue. Can you imagine if Jesus waited until our time to come into the world? Peter, James and John would have had their phones out filming the Transfiguration and it would have been posted on Facebook within seconds. There would be no waiting to share until the Son of Man was risen from the dead! But, even more importantly, I think, the three disciples would have missed the impact of the whole event in the effort to capture it all on their phones. There's no personal interaction when there is a phone filming the event. There was a wonderful video of Paul McCartney on James Cordon's show doing Carpool Karaoke a while back. When Paul and James emerged from Paul's old apartment in Liverpool, many people had gathered on the street to catch a glimpse of Paul. But all Paul could see was a wall of cell phones, filming the event. There were no faces to see and greet, just phones. What if today, our August Monday, we have a chance to be present at an exciting and uplifting event? What if we have a chance to meet someone who touches our hearts? Can we be fully present to the moment and leave our phones tucked away? If we really live the moment fully, we won't need a little film of the event, it will be forever present in our minds and hearts.  Love from the treehouse, heidi

Friday, August 3, 2018

Faith or lack of it...

"And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith."
Matthew 13:58

As I heard this reading this morning, this line jumped out and me and I realized, again, that faith was such an important piece of Jesus' healing ministry. He didn't impose anything on anyone or just go sweeping through the crowd healing all he walked past. The essential elements for healing seem to be the presence of Jesus, someones faith (not even the person being healed, but their friend or relative) and some type of affliction or ailment, whether physical, mental, or emotional. The faith sometimes shows up even before Jesus is aware of the person, such as the woman with the hemorrhage. And the person needing healing may not even be aware of Jesus' involvement, such as the cases where a concerned person sought Jesus out to come or even "only say the words." So, that tells me that we, and our faith, have a huge part to play in the the miracles of God. May we have faith and eyes to see these miracles happening all around us, every day! Blessings on your weekend and watch for the miracles! Love, heidi

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Potter's caress...

"Indeed, like the clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel."
Jeremiah 18:6

On Pray-As-You-Go they ask, "Perhaps you'd rather be more free? To shape things your own way?" Good point, right? But, as I am getting older and more spiritually inclined, I'm more than happy to let God, the Potter, shape me.  I worked so hard to shape myself back in my youth. I had plans and ideas and goals, and that was great...then. Now, God knows better than to give me too many choices! I like clear choices or no choice at all--just tell me what to do, please! I can look back and see the tender, loving hand of God gently shaping me into the person I always have been in God's eyes, but not always recognizable to myself.  Today, let's pray and ponder how we feel in the gentle hands of Our Potter, who art in heaven (sorry, couldn't resist!) Do we see ourselves trying to wiggle free from the shaping of the Potter? Or can we just relax and melt into the Potter's caress? Good food for thought on a warm summer day!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Let go to gain...

"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

In pondering this reading, sitting in the treehouse, I'm wondering if I just didn't do that very thing. Find a treasure and sell all that I have to get it, I mean.  I felt very led to let go of so much to move here...my career, my home, my stuff (Lord knows how much!) And what I have found here is, truly, every bit the treasure I desired. Thanks be to God! This reading can carry us through many times of our lives, if we think about it. Years ago, I knew that the treasure I was "selling all" to attain was the Spiritual Direction program I attended. It was a sacrifice of time, resources and energy, and  worth every bit (and more) of what I put into it. It was truly a pearl of great price! Let's ask ourselves, as we turn the calendar to a new month today, what treasure are we seeking at this time in our lives? Is it something we may be asked to sacrifice to gain? That would make it all the more valuable, wouldn't it? Love, heidi

Monday, July 30, 2018

Bigger tables...

"Jesus’ most consistent social action was eating in new ways and with new people, encountering those who were oppressed or excluded from the system. He didn’t please anybody, it seems, always breaking the rules and making a bigger table."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Weekly meditations summary, 7/28/18

I have long struggled with the Catholic church's "requirements" for participation in the Eucharist. Early on, I read Jesus' words at the Last Supper and didn't see any such requirements at all. Jesus just said, "Take and eat..." There were no worthiness qualifiers because no one is truly worthy of the gift of Jesus. That is why it is called a gift; freely and widely given. Jesus offered a table big enough for everyone and the gift of his body and blood should be shared inclusively, with everyone who shows up at the table. The Eucharist is not a reward for the well behaved, but a gift to the hungry, and aren't we all hungry? How can we take this lesson and apply it to our lives? It's easy to point fingers and see others who aren't as inclusive, but are we? Can we be more inclusive in our lives? Can we make our tables bigger? Let's put many "leaves" in our tables and set the table for many! Love, heidi

Friday, July 27, 2018

Hearing God's word...

"But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold."
Matthew 13:23

On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, the question is asked, "How do you hear the word of God?" Usually the question accompanying this Gospel is, which kind of soil are you, rocky, rootless or rich? But today's question was easy for me to answer. As I was listening to the podcast, my little squirrel neighbor was just getting up (we've both been sleeping in lately). I hear her before I see her, and this morning, on hearing the rustle of her presence in the tree, I looked for her. (Disclaimer: Sister Beverly is certain my squirrel is a "she," because it's the females who build the nests and actually "nest." I agreed, noting that one who works as hard as this little critter is probably a "she.") Anyway, I am hearing God's word in nature as I sit here. Observing this beautiful tree and its inhabitants teaches me about God's tender and loving care for creation. The tiniest little creature is beloved by God. God cares about the coming and going of this squirrel more than I do and I've been riveted by her for a couple weeks now! So I am hearing God's word gently spoken to me by nature. What about you, this deep summer Friday? How are you hearing God's word? Love, heidi

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Blessed are our eyes and ears...

"Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear."
Matthew 13:16

See and hear what? I asked myself in the treehouse this morning.  Well, first, I thought, see the good in all. See what God is doing behind the scenes, see how God is working through people to make good things happen. Sometimes, when things seem so far out of whack, this is hard to do, but not impossible. "Look for the helpers," Fred Rogers said. We need to see those doing good and do it ourselves. I also think we need to open our eyes and ears to the suffering around us. Some people do a good job of covering up their suffering and we may have to look deeply into their eyes to see what they need. We need to see them and hear the words they say and maybe peer under the words they say for how we can help them. Finally, (I love lessons in threes!) we need to open our eyes and ears to how we can help. We may feel completely helpless in healing situations that feel way too difficult to fix. That's when we sit down in silence and just show up to God for ideas. Here I am, what should I do? And, as we trust that all will be revealed exactly when we need it to be, we go out of our way to be kind to everyone we meet, we pick up trash when we see it, and we look for the good in all that is all around us. And that is plenty for a summer Thursday! Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Here I am...

"And in one of the most grace-filled moments of a life full of grace, Dorothy finds herself praying to the Blessed Mother. 'Here I am--what would you have me do?' Isn't this that liminal space cherished by the Irish, that mysterious time of waiting and wandering? Isn't it about hearing the call?"
Kate Hennessy, "Dorothy Day--The World Will Be Saved By Beauty"

Thanks be to God for this liminal time of waiting I am enjoying right now, giving me the time to read this fabulous book! Dorothy Day's youngest granddaughter has written this intimate portrait of her "Granny," as she calls Dorothy Day, and it's wonderful. Before Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin establish Catholic Worker, Dorothy is in process, growing in faith and conviction, growing in love with God. All this growing had to happen first. Yesterday, as I sat in God's employment office (noon mass), I prayed this same prayer...
Here I am, Lord, show me what I'm to do. I feel I'm waiting for your call to serve, too. I pray to be eager and ready to serve you by serving yours!
Meanwhile, I'm relishing this time of rest and beauty, hanging out in the treehouse, knowing that God will call when the time is right. I pray to be able to leap up and jump in!  Love, heidi

Monday, July 23, 2018

Justly, tenderly, humbly...

"Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

God was having the prophet Micah tell the people he (God was a "he" back then!) was no longer interested in the blood sacrifices and previous methods they were using to worship. The burnt offerings, gallons of oil, critters of all kinds sacrificed on penitential altars were no longer what God asked of the people. I had to wonder myself, was God trying to make it easier for the people? Was God essentially lowering the bar to make him happy? Because I think not. Isn't it easier to go in, sacrifice an animal and then just go out and do what you want? It's messier, surely, but it's easier to do this ritual and then go out and treat people every which way. You can be as crabby and disagreeable as you want because, hey, you performed this ritual for God. God is calling it exactly right here. Treat each other better, love each other tenderly, and don't act like a big shot; that's all God really wants. And that is so much harder than just going in and performing a ritual. What can we do today to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with God? What does that look like on our summer Monday? We probably attended our church ritual yesterday, but our desire to please God doesn't end there, with that! Love, heidi

Friday, July 20, 2018

No enemies...

"I say to you something greater than the temple is here..."
Matthew 12:6

This is the Gospel where Jesus confronts the Pharisees when they complain about his disciples picking the heads of grain and eating it on the sabbath. Jesus points out that they may be missing the forest for the trees, too caught up on the immediate rules and regs and missing the bigger picture. And aren't we still doing that? Pray-As-You-Go asks us to consider how we feel about the Pharisees through this reading. Do we think they are nit-picky and ridiculous? Or could they just be earnest and doing what they think is right? It got me thinking, why do we tend to demonize those with whom we disagree? It's so easy to make them the enemy and wrong, isn't it? What if they are just being earnest and believing what they think is right? Especially in our polarized society, what if we took steps today to consider those we disagree with to be friends-who-disagree instead of enemies? I'm one who always thinks of the Pharisees as the "villains" in the Gospel, but what if they are just friends-who-disagree? Good food for thought this summer Friday! Blessings on your weekend! (I'm retired. In the immortal words of the Dowager Countess of Grantham, "What is a weekend?" Ha!) Love, heidi

Thursday, July 19, 2018

God's peace...

"Lord, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done."
Isaiah 26:12

This part  of today's first reading jumped out at me as I sat in the treehouse listening on Pray-As-You-Go. Do we receive the peace the Lord is giving to us? Sometimes I wonder as I don't feel it myself. I trust that God is giving us peace, but God's peace is very different than what we consider peace to be. I've grown up thinking peace is merely the absence of war. I think God gives us a peace that transcends what the world gives us and that we find it deep inside of our hearts, not in our news feed. The peace that God gives does not allow us to sit idly by, either, but God's peace is more a call to action. God's peace gets us up off the couch or camp chair and gives us something to do. God's peace calls us to roll up our sleeves and help and that, in itself, can be peace-inducing. God's peace is not passive, but active--people with God's peace are out there loving and serving. People with God's peace know that the peace is placed in their hearts by God for them to share it with others. We can plug in and find that peace through quiet contemplation and prayer.  And then, just as mystically as we receive it, we are to share it actively with others.  Today, our summer Thursday, let's spend some time quietly soaking in God's peace.  And then, how can we share it? Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The childlike and the learned...

..."for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike."
Matthew 11:25

On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, they ask which camp we think we may be in--the learned and wise or the childlike? And what does it even mean to be childlike? Or learned? In thinking about it, I believe being childlike is more about faith and being learned is more about knowledge. Both can help us find God, but faith seems the more powerful. Look how often Jesus tells those healed, "Your faith has healed you." He laments that mighty deeds cannot be done in places where faith is slim. The childlike faith of those who have reached the end of themselves and reach out eagerly for help gives Jesus the go-ahead to work miracles. On the other hand, we can study and learn about God from here until the end of time and still not have an experience of God--the kind of experience that leads us to true faith. The faith that can lead us, when things get dicey, to just exhale deeply and remember that God is with us, loving us--and that is all we really need.  (Oh, and for those following the squirrel-in-the-tree story, he came back and is working feverishly. Stay tuned!)  Love, heidi

Monday, July 16, 2018

Of squirrels and liturgies...

"And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple--Amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward."
Matthew 10:42

It's a beautifully dawning morning in the treehouse! Yesterday, there was this crazy squirrel, dashing about, taking twigs and leaves to one central location. He did this for a long time, to the point where I Googled "Do squirrels build nests in trees?" The answer was "Yes, squirrels do!" So Tebow and I watched the squirrel for a while and then, suddenly, he left. Maybe he decided the rent was too high. Maybe he couldn't live with the 34 page lease (Yes, 34 pages! I haven't lived so regulated since Catholic grade school!) So, back to this Gospel... Jesus is so clear and I feel we are still missing it. God doesn't care how deeply we genuflect. Period. God doesn't care about our rituals, ceremonies and La-Te-Da that we do in order to please God. (Read today's first reading,--Isaiah 1:10-17 for even more clarification). That stuff is easy and may make us feel good about ourselves, but God doesn't need it or even particularly want it. God wants us to love and take care of each other.  That's it! And that is so much harder for us to do than gathering once a week to liturgize. That doesn't mean we shouldn't gather and pray together, it just means that should launch us forth into giving cold drinks to the "little ones," whoever they may be. Love, heidi


Thursday, July 12, 2018

Tending the vines...

"Once again, O Lord of hosts,
look down from heaven and see:
Take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted..."
Psalm 80:15-16

So, before I moved, son Blaine trimmed my many plants to make them travel easier. Now, he did this, not with the tender green thumb of a Gainan, but with rather wild abandon. They looked dreadful (but did travel easier--what was left of them!) I placed two of them in the treehouse and really didn't think they would survive. Each day I looked at them and wondered if they will come back. Just yesterday, I noticed several new little shoots of new growth on them! Eureka! I wondered if it isn't a bit like all of us. We go through a big change and things may seem weird at first, maybe we feel out of place, uncomfortable. But, gradually we notice new little shoots of growth in us. Change, even difficult change, can surely bring about new growth! Just like my plants, I see new shoots of growth and opportunity in me and it's lovely.  Today, as we go about our deep summer Thursday, let's be extra aware of the areas of our lives God is beckoning us to step out and grow.  Just like my funny, old philodendrons, God is tending the vines of our lives. What does that look like?  Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

God's employment office...

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest."
Matthew 9:38

This was yesterday's Gospel, but I pondered a bit more after I heard it at mass (there's a daily mass at noon here--now, there's a time I can get to!) Anyway, regarding the need for laborers and all...I heard the call for laborers and sort of feel like I'm at God's employment office, waiting to find out what my job will be. God is giving me a bit of a break right now, knowing that I certainly need and want to do something, but God is letting me rest a bit between innings. I left a full time job, plus a little side job. Now, I'm looking for something part time, VERY part time! When I heard the Gospel proclaimed I prayed that God would show me clearly, without me having to read tea leaves, what my job will be as a laborer in the harvest. So, here I sit...in God's employment office (my treehouse).  What about you? Are you hearing the call of the harvest? The call isn't just for clergy like we used to think. The call is for all of us...let's open our ears!  Love, heidi

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

No more "idols"...

"With their silver and gold they made idols for themselves, to their own destruction."
Hosea 8:5

At the risk of being a bit of a Debbie-Downer, I gotta wonder out loud if this isn't what we have done in our world today. I mean, we worship at the altar of wealth, prestige and power, don't we? We tend to admire people dripping with money, reveling in power and yet, people in our country are suffering terrible injustices, children even. Will our, so called, "civilized" society end up being our downfall? I'm too much of an optimist for that, rest assured! There are many more good, solid people who see injustice and try to right it. If anything, this challenging time in our history is bringing out the better angels of our nature, borrowing a phrase from Abraham Lincoln. The better angels in us must move us to action, mobilized into doing and being the good we seek. Amy Kuebelbeck says it well in Give Us This Day today...action is more than just posting something on social media so others can see where we stand. That's a bit too easy. But what can we do in our circles of influence? It may be as simple as extending kindness to those around us or cleaning up litter, as Anne Lamott often suggests. Is there someone we can reach out to, smile at, hold the door for? I met a nice fellow at mass yesterday who showed me around and his kindness meant the world to me. Is there a small way we can tidy up our environments and make a difference that way? I live in a large apartment complex now, and there are many ways I can make small differences here and there. I just need to keep my eyes open for them! Meanwhile, let's be very careful what we worship. Love, heidi

Monday, July 9, 2018

Astonished and astounded...

"...many who heard him were astonished."
Mark 6:2

In yesterday's Gospel, the people were astonished at Jesus' teaching in the synagogue. They were astounded last week when he raised the twelve year old girl they believed was dead (Mark 5:42). I totally get it. I've spent the last couple of weeks astonished and astounded too. There was a flawless move (thanks to several awesome young folks), a lovely send-off (thanks to fabulous friends), and a warm welcome (my new library branch is open on Sundays!) Yes, I've been astonished and astounded a lot lately, sitting in my treehouse with my old dog, who, himself, is astonished by the proximity of the squirrels. Things have gone so well with my move that I'm chiding myself for all the needless worry the six months prior. (I worry. It's what I do.) I have been so astonished and astounded, though, at seeing such good in others and even in situations. Can we feel the same when things don't go as well? I wonder, and hope so. The thing is we can be astonished at the beauty of creation around us. We can be astounded at the kind deeds of people, even as other people may be naughty. We can look inside our own hearts and see the love of God right there, and that may really astonish us!  Today, as we go about our July Monday, let's look, astounded, at the goodness of God.
Oh, and it's good to be back! Love, heidi

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tales from the treehouse...

"Just so, every good tree bears good fruit..."
Matthew 7:15-20

But also, just so, some years the crop may be a bit better than other years, am I right? I'd like to think that I'm a good little tree, bearing good fruit. Thanks be to God, my life has been rich and wonderful, filled with fabulous friends, family, rewarding work and all. But, I am honest in realizing my crop of good fruit was smaller some years than others! Even so, the career that I began August, 1979 in Miles City, Montana, ends today in Idaho. I can honestly say that it's been the best career I could have ever hoped to have, having met such great people and being able to help people, every day, if I did it right. When I prayed, as a high school senior, for God to show me what I was to do, I couldn't imagine how God would lead and guide me into such a lovely life! Now, it's time to move on, move over, actually, to my new home and life in Boise. I hope my new tree there will bear good fruit, too. I plan to continue writing these reflections, as long as God continues to teach me these little life lessons. They may be a bit different, however, as I will be writing from my new home, a third floor apartment with a big tree growing right outside my little balcony. Because of that, the reflections will be called "Tales from the Treehouse" and will begin in a week or two. Blessings and prayers for you and yours and see you soon! Love, heidi

Monday, June 25, 2018

Stop judging!

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Stop judging, that you may not be judged.'"
Matthew7:1

This is one of the hardest lessons Jesus gave to us, clearly! We all read this, each time this Gospel comes around, and give it a groan. "It's too hard!" One little technique I have found through the years is this...
When tempted to judge someone for an action we find difficult to take, ask yourself what may be behind the action. What is it about the situation or the individual that causes them to do what they do? Is there something about the situation or the person that makes their action logical? Or reasonable? Going for the "why" of person's action, may help us to stop judging them or at least may help us to judge them more kindly and with compassion.  Judging others is in our human nature and we must battle the urge constantly.  If we pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance to look at the actions of others with more understanding, we may find our judgments less harmful. If we pray for loving eyes to see others how God sees them, our judgments will be more kind.  Maybe that is a good first step for us on our road to stop judging others. Love, heidi

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