Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What God has made...

"For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, (God's) invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what (God) has made."
Romans 19-20

On my walk this morning, I noticed several trees in their full-on red glory. Other trees were still in the process of turning and their colors were almost iridescent.  Over all this beauty hung the still-almost-full moon, like a huge soccer ball, in the sky. Pray-As-You-Go asked us to reflect on what we see in creation and what does it tell us about God.  The tremendous beauty shows me how God is steadfast and never-changing, like the moon. Reassured in that, we are called to be like the trees, constantly transforming and letting go of ourselves--being open to regular shedding of the old and budding of something new. Under the steadfast love of God, we can allow our hearts to be changed, our attitudes and opinions to be transformed until we are able to look around us with eyes more like God's eyes. Our world is not just black and white. Our world is a mass of color and light, birth and death, sorrow and joy. Under God's loving gaze, we can learn to hold these paradoxes and ironies of our colorful world. Today, let's all find some time to be outside and experience the power and divinity that God shows us in creation. Especially this beautiful time of year, God is showing us, so vividly, the path of life. Love, heidi

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Living hope...

"I have in mind what the bible calls a 'living hope,' the hope that waits for God to do what needs doing to make (the) world work right."
Lewis B. Smedes, "My God and I" (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

I would say that I'm waiting for that, too. The world seems so messed up right now and I have hope that God will...fix it. I realize, of course, that God works through human beings to right the wrongs and fix things. One time things were so messed up, God sent a flood to just wipe everything out and start over, but God promised not to do that again. So God shows awesome restraint and patiently waits for people to tune in and figure out God's will, and then act on it. There are times, I notice, when I get to see a glimpse of incredible, vast goodness. When things seems to fall into perfect place and God's grace shines through like the sun through a hole in the clouds. One example was the wedding we celebrated last weekend. All the elements of a God party were there--joy, love, dancing. It was heaven. God gives us these glimpses to give us the living hope Lewis Smedes is talking about. With the love and joy of young people starting a new life together, there is living hope for the future. When we can glimpse the goodness, the hope seems so real and reachable! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The One Thing...

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing."
Luke 10:41-42

At the risk of sounding clueless, I wondered this morning what was the "one thing" Jesus was talking about. I mean, Mary was listening to Jesus, at his feet, so the obvious conclusion would be that listening to Jesus is the "one thing." But just listening to Jesus seems to be only the beginning of the One Thing. We can listen all day and night, but unless we go out and do what Jesus asks us to do, we are stopping short. The One Thing actually turns into more like Two Things...hearing and heeding. We have to hear it before we can go do it, but we can't just rest after hearing it. We need both contemplation and action; both are prescribed for us by Jesus.  Today, as we embark on an October Tuesday, let's spend some quiet time hearing Jesus, and then, as we feel directed to do, let's go out and do. It's a perfect day to love all we encounter! Love, heidi

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

God moves closer...

"For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not! I will help you.'"
Isaiah 41:13

This scripture has always meant the world to me. It was such a comfort during difficult times and now it is a reassurance in this joy-filled time. Our son, Blaine and his beautiful fiance, Jenn, are marrying this weekend and I am so caught up in the whirlwind of all that, I felt I almost had to introduce myself to God this morning on my walk. "Oh, hello, remember me?" I feel like I have drifted away on a raft made of worries, details and To-do lists. My mind has been so preoccupied with plans and other stuff I've neglected the readings and even setting time aside for silent prayer. The thing I realize, though, is, as I've tangled myself up in other activities, God has moved closer to me. God is filling the gap that I, myself, created. God has my right hand! This is a fabulous time with our family, Jenn's family, friends and the joy of two lives coming together, deeply in love. God isn't left out, God created it all. We love because God first loved us. And so, as the revelry builds through this week and hits full throttle this weekend, I appreciate your prayers and warm thoughts. As I will get to proclaim in the reading I am doing at the wedding, "Love should come first; it should be the beginning of and the reason for everything." (Gerald G. May, "The Awakened Heart"). Love, heidi

Monday, September 30, 2019

Where are we?

"Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day...'"
Luke 16:19

I should have checked the Sunday Gospel before going to the mall Saturday and dropping a wad on purple garments and fine linen. I could have avoided a wee bit of guilt! The story of the rich man, who doesn't even have a name, is always a bit cringe-worthy. The poor man at his doorstep DOES have a name, Lazarus, so we know he's already the hero of the story. Was the rich man's sin that he was rich? We learned in our sermon that Abraham, on whose breast Lazarus rested in glory, was pretty well-off by biblical standards, so the real sin wasn't just wealth. Or was his sin his indifference to the suffering just outside his door? Did he ever notice Lazarus there? Do we notice the suffering around us? At our doorsteps? On our border? In our prisons? Jesus makes it so clear to us how to do it right: loving each other, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, visiting the imprisoned. Abraham tells the now-suffering-in-torment rich man that he should have known better in life. Moses and the prophets had told him how to live and he missed the message. Jesus has told us how to live, too. Clearly. Are we missing the message? And what if our values are so different from the larger collective in which we live? What can we do then? The sins of the society become our sins, too, don't they? Let's remember this: Lazarus, the poor man in the story, has a name. The rich man and the Pharisees are not named at all--a reflection of their real importance in God's story. Those who think they have the wealth and power actually are the powerless in God's upside down system. Where do we fit in the story? Questions to ponder on a brisk autumn day! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Try something new!

Have you ever sensed God beckoning you to do harder things? We can get so complacent and comfy in our little worlds and predictable routines, that stepping out of those can be scary and challenging. Moving to Boise has been one continuing series of new adventures and I'm constantly being called to the next harder step. Just being new can be daunting! After being so "settled-in" for so long, being new can be very humbling. Looking through the Gospels, we see Jesus beckoning his followers to new adventures all the time. He tells them to go out into deep water and drop their fishing nets. He sends them out two-by-two, like lambs to slaughter, to preach his Good News. He invites Peter to step out of the boat and walk on the water. If that isn't challenging, what is? The older we get, it may seem harder to respond to these beckonings, but, as I'm finding while climbing out of the metaphoric boat myself, these challenges are where growth can really flourish in us. Feeling uncomfortable, taking a chance, being humbled in service--all of these bring us closer to God. We come to the edge of ourselves and have nowhere else to turn in our uncertainty but to God. That's when God fills in the gaps and gets the job done--with us and in us. Today, let's try something new! Let's put ourselves out there in a situation that may make us shudder with trepidation, but yet give God a chance to shine through us. Love, heidi

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Love and forgiveness

"So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love."
"I tell you, that is why her sins are forgiven--because of her great love."
"Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she has loved much."
Three different translations of Luke 7:47

So I looked at three translations of today's Gospel reading to answer the question:
Which came first, the forgiveness or the love? In the first and third translations, it seems like the woman shows great love because her sins have been forgiven. In the second, her sins are forgiven because of her love. What gives? I think the bottom line in this is that forgiveness and love go hand in hand. Real love leads to forgiveness. Real forgiveness comes from love. They go together like peanut butter and jelly (thanks, Forrest Gump!) What does that look like in our lives? It means that, if we really love, we can go to the place, deep within our hearts and find God's grace to forgive. It's right there within us, all along. Our hearts sincerely want to reconcile and forgive because of our love for the other person. It doesn't mean the hurt didn't happen or that the pain just goes away, but that the love is bigger than the pain or hurt. The grace of God gives us that sense that our hearts are bigger, our love can overwhelm the hurt. Today, instead of nit-picking through the various translations (I saved you the trouble!), let's just remember that love and forgiveness go together, hand in hand, heart-to-heart. They are within our reach, too, deep in our hearts, to be given freely to others. Love, heidi

Monday, September 16, 2019

Welcome, then Rejoice!

"Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.'"
Luke 15:6-7

Our Gospel yesterday was the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin and I'm still thinking about it today. Pastor Gretchen asked us who the lost are in our world. Who are those who feel left out, on the fringe; who have wandered away from the fold? Did they feel unwelcome in the fold? Did they feel they didn't belong, or did they feel unworthy or deficient in some way? Should we, like the Good Shepherd go after them? And what if they return...would we rejoice? She pointed out that many ELCA churches have published statements of inclusion, welcoming everyone to their faith communities. No matter what your previous religious experience (or lack of), your race, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation, or political leanings. EVERYONE is welcome. Period. "Yay," I thought to myself, "This is why I joined this community." But, as I think about it still, I realize it must go way beyond just make an inclusion statement. It's much more than putting a rainbow on our sign or having a banner saying "All Means All--Are Welcome." It may mean stretching our own beliefs and putting our actions out there as visible testimonies to what our sign says. Our hearts may need to change before an inclusive sign will mean anything at all. Once our hearts change,  our actions follow, and then our sign will really BE valid. And then (here's the best part) we will rejoice! Today, let's think about who the lost may be in our own circle of influence...can we search for them as God searches for us? Love, heidi

Friday, September 13, 2019

Of wooden beams and closets...

"Remove the wooden beam from your own eye; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother's eye."
Luke 6:42

Oh yes, the wooden beam in our own eye...the beam that blinds us to our own shadow side, as Fr. Richard Rohr calls it. Our shadows--those parts of ourselves we don't like to acknowledge or show to company. In an effort to keep them hidden from others, we tend to lose track of them ourselves and talk ourselves into believing they aren't really part of us. But, opps, there they are! It has been said that the things we find fault with in others are the very wooden beams in our own eyes. So, if I find you judgmental and overly opinionated, that's my own shadow showing and I need to pay attention to THAT.  In myself. It may be easier to make acquaintance with our shadow sides if we remember that God loves us, shadows and all. We can't keep our shadows hidden from God...God can open that closet we have shoved everything in we don't want guests to see. And the lovely thing is, God loves everything in that closet, even if it may embarrass us. If we have a chance this beautiful weekend, let's sit down with Jesus and gently open that closet door. With love and forgiveness, Jesus can help us see and sort through what is in there. Love, heidi

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Always remember...

I bristle when I see posts that say "Never Forget" the events of 9/11. I prayerfully explored why earlier today as I walked, pondering the day.  I realized I tend to equate Never Forget with "Never forget what they did to us." Dwelling on the wrong that was done to us traps us there...in the negative, in the wrong. The hate wins if that is where we stay. But, conversely, if we remember the good that came from that wrong--the heros and heroines, the selfless acts of courage, the pulling together of neighbors and communities, the good wins. We learn that our compassionate and loving God forgives AND forgets our sins. That certainly would be an ambitious goal--to forget the wrong of the events of 9/11. But, as the years pile up behind us since that terrible day, can we move ahead in peace, understanding that to continue raging keeps the negative force alive?  Instead, let's remember the helpers, the first responders, the embracing love that scooped us all up in the aftermath of the hatred. Let's remember the good and decent people who were lost to their families and to those of us who didn't have the chance to know them. So, instead of saying Never Forget when it comes to 9/11, I'm going to say "Always Remember" instead. Always remember the helpers and the good.  Always remember that God loves us and can bring good from every tragedy. And always remember that we are to love each other, too, even those who hurt us.  Love, heidi

Thursday, September 5, 2019

In our hands...

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

Most likely our calls to follow Jesus were less dramatic than Jesus calling the fishermen, Simon Peter, James and John. Maybe our call was more gradual, predictable; becoming a wife, a mother, a teacher, a nurse, a builder of stuff. For Jesus calls us to follow him, but Jesus also called us to our lives--our daily, work-a-day lives, as well. Where else would we practice following Jesus, if not in our everyday lives? The first apostles left their working lives to follow Jesus, but, for most of us, we are called to follow Jesus through our working lives. Jesus calls on us to act in our daily environments and situations as Jesus, himself, would act...with love and compassion. Jesus did not wall himself off in the temple, day and night, praying. Jesus took his prayer out to the streets and among the people. He turned his prayer into action, serving all who needed him. Jesus fed, nourished, healed and cared for all who others may have cast aside or banished to the fringe. Following Jesus means we must do the same in our own time and space. Believing in Jesus is one thing--easy, really. Oh, I believe in Jesus, sure. But following Jesus to the very edge of ourselves is something else all together. From our very edge, we can let go of our own efforts and let God take over, using our hands and feet. Today, our (hopefully) last 90+ degree day in Boise, let's recognize that God's work in the world is in our hands. Let's take that to heart in our Thursday! Love, heidi

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Start a new habit!

"Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do."
Thessalonians 5:11

Hummm...not always do I build others up. Sometimes, I'm more concerned with building myself up. Making my own needs known, stating my own opinions. Remember me? I'm the one with a huge "purse of my own opinions" as St. Francis called it. Except mine's a footlocker, not a purse. I had a little realization, deep in the night when I couldn't sleep (again) and that is this: the only way I can change these things about myself is to let go of them, set them down and leave them. The best way to do that is to faithfully engage in some kind of contemplative prayer, like Centering Prayer, everyday. I have so much trouble with actually doing that, even though I know it's so helpful. It takes such discipline for me to sit myself down and turn my head off for a time. My head spins around like the little multi-color wheel on my MacBook when the system has stopped responding. And that's the whole point...the circle is going nowhere, like my head at that point, spinning, spinning, not responding. This is a new month, a new school year, a new season. It is an excellent time to adopt a new habit and build it into our day. For me, it's Centering Prayer--a gift of turning my spinning brain off, a couple of times per day. What about you? Are there any new habits you'd like to build into your day? Let's all begin together! And encourage each other, building one another up! Love, heidi

Monday, August 26, 2019

Hang on!

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your hearts be troubled..."
John 14:27

I've never been skydiving in my life (it's not even on my bucket list, if I had one), but from what I hear, it's quite an experience. You may go tandem at first, with an instructor strapped to your back to guide your movements and make sure the parachute opens--all that good stuff you want to happen. So, you have some reassurance all will go well; someone else is attached to you who knows just what to do.  You're just along for the ride...sort  of. I was thinking the other day of difficult or stressful times in our lives and I wondered if it would help if we could image God, in tandem with us (even strapped to us) just there to make sure we arrive safely on the ground (or through the difficult time). It seems helpful to me, but I like picturing God with me all the time, through good and difficult times. The strapped-to-my-back is a new image, but hey--I kind of like it. There's no getting away from God right there with me, hanging onto me, steering me through. It's a nice image. Today, as many are navigating new experiences and life-changing events in their lives, let's pray they can feel God, the Being of pure love, embracing them and holding them tight--all the way to their destination.  Love, heidi

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Take delight!

"Do you take delight in doing the will of God? Or do you find it too difficult?"
Pray-As-You-Go, 8/22/19

Depends on the day, really...Tuesday, I found it too difficult! Yesterday, it was a bit easier. I look at the will of God as doing whatever we do with love and for the glory of God. Whatever our station in life, whether we are working or retired, parents or empty-nesters, volunteering or whatever-we-do, if we do it with love and offering our activity to bring glory to God, that is God's will. Thomas Merton said our desire to please God, actually pleases God, so our intention is important. Our success may not matter as much as our intention. We encounter people each day and if we encounter them with love and compassion, that's God's will. And sometimes, let's face it, it can be difficult. And God understands that. Let's go through our late-August Thursday with the intention of encountering others with love...and let's take delight in that--for that is God's will! Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Serve in love...

"There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity.
There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity.
There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love."
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, as quoted in "Give Us This Day"

I wish I'd read this yesterday when I could have made good use of it! Instead, I wallowed around in the second verse, seeking knowledge to be known by others--in other words, in vain. Argh, that. We are experiencing what every other school experiences the first week; the stress of figuring it all out again. We'd settled into a rather lovely routine last year, but it was not without its growing pains either. What I need to remember is that God holds it all. God has placed us here, in this space, in this time, with these kids. All to accomplish God's will--that we serve in love. The knowledge we seek is so we can serve the best we can. No matter what we are doing, we are called to serve each other in love. We are called to cheerfully (that's a tricky part!) help each other navigate our lives on this planet. We all need each other, and God, to accomplish anything at all. So, today, as we embark on the Hump Day of the Trickiest Week Of All, let's remember what we are here to do and who we are here to serve! Love, heidi

Monday, August 19, 2019

Growth from change...

"Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?"
Luke 12:51

As unsettling as it seems, Jesus surprised us in yesterday's Gospel by sounding sort of crabby. The division he speaks of in Luke 12:49-56 may make us uncomfortable and squirmy in the pews. But, there it is. What we learned in our sermon yesterday makes sense to me, though, as I see it played out in history. Sometimes division is necessary for growth and positive change to happen. Sometimes something disconcerting leads us to make a change in our lives--a change for the better. Jesus asks hard things of us. We can't have an encounter with Jesus and come out unchanged. And that change may come with division. As Pastor Gretchen said, unity at all costs may not always be the way of growth. One example she gave is that, nearly fifty years ago, the ELCA branch of Lutheranism decided women should be ordained. Fifty years ago! That must have brought division and discomfort, certainly. But as I listened to her powerfully reflect on the word of God, and watched her preside over the Eucharistic table, I thanked God for the division that led to THAT change. And speaking of change, after attending Immanuel Lutheran Church for over six months, I have officially become a member. Sometimes growth means change...Love, heidi

Friday, August 16, 2019

Forever!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for God is good;
God's steadfast love endures forever."
Psalm 136

This is such a wonderful Psalm as our lives may be transitioning from summer to school. Whatever newness and uncertainty awaits us as the new school year begins (or any new phase of our lives, actually) we know that God's steadfast love will see us through. We can handle anything! God only wants good for us and God, ultimately, is the only One who knows what's good for us. Yesterday, the employees of Boise Public Schools met at CenturyLink arena to kick off the new school year. I remembered last year, how new and uncomfortable I felt, not knowing a soul amid the thousands. Yesterday was a whole different story! I feel so gifted to be working at Hawthorne and trusted with such an important task of helping these kids on their life journey. God is indeed soooo good! Today, as we go about our (possibly transitional) Friday, let's join the Psalmist and give thanks to the Lord; for God's steadfast love endures forever! Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Know that you don't know...

"'Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?' (Jesus) called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said to them, 'Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.'"
Matthew 18:1-5

Pray-As-You-Go asked the question, "What does it mean to be humble like a child?" Good one, right? I've been reflecting on how I felt I knew less and less the further along I worked in my blind rehab career. One would think the opposite would be true, really. As you work and do the job, wouldn't you feel more confident? I actually felt less confident and less sure of myself (which is one reason I chose to retire a bit early). I felt my skills were antiquated, thus, lacking, and others were able to pick up the new stuff (like the technology) and do it so much better. I knew what I didn't know. And it was humbling, to say the least. I think humility is realizing that you really don't know...you come to know that you don't know, if that makes sense. God helps us realize that and guides us, not toward knowing exactly, but being OK with not knowing. Thanks be to God, I can be OK not knowing stuff...lots of stuff. Recognizing I don't know opens me up to new learning, which I have been called to do a lot since moving to Boise and settling into a bunch of newness. Not knowing is totally OK--it keeps us humble. So today, as we go about our mid-August Tuesday, let's release some of the pressure we may feel to know it all. We can't, and it is a gift from God to enter into things with the openness and humility of a child. Love, heidi

Monday, August 12, 2019

Treasures in travels...

"For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
Luke 12:34

Well, I've spent the last nearly two weeks traveling. I went hither and yon (where is that, exactly?) celebrating the treasures of my heart--friends and family within driving or flying distance. And, now that it's all over, I can honestly say--people are my treasure.  Wait! ALL people? It seems like I got impatient with the people in line in front of me at airport security...so maybe not those people...but other people! The people I traveled to see. And, maybe not the people in front of me in line at Subway who ordered each little vegetable separately on one or another specific side of their sandwich while I was in a hurry to hit the highway! Maybe not those people either. But, shouldn't ALL people be a treasure to me? Each person, no matter how irritating or frustrating, is a child of God, just as my "destination" people are! There was a homeless woman on the streets of Boulder, pushing a cart and ranting and raving at anyone who looked at her. Yes, she is a daughter of God. And she is a treasure. It's easier for me to picture daughter Jeni Rose as my main treasure in Boulder, though. But the homeless woman is God's treasure to God, just as JRose is a treasure to me. It will take me a long time to process all the gifts of my travels, but I intend to do so--to unpack all the travel souvenirs I picked up along the way and see God's gift in each one.  For they are the treasures of my heart. Love, heidi

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A meeting tent...

"The tent, which was called the meeting tent, Moses used to pitch at some distance away, outside the camp. Anyone who wished to consult the Lord would go to this meeting tent outside the camp."
Exodus 33:7

I think my treehouse is my "meeting tent." No, I KNOW it is my meeting tent! It has become a sacred space I share with the squirrels and birds and the gorgeous tree. God is so present to me there that we can carry on conversations, just as God did with Moses in the meeting tent Moses pitched outside camp. I am affirmed in my thinking when friends visit, take a seat in the treehouse and just melt into the peace of it all. There is definitely an "Ahhh" factor when sinking into my zero-gravity rocking chair! So, a question for you: Where is your meeting tent? Do you have a sacred space in your home where you can go and meet God? Where you can reliably find God, there watching for you? Maybe it's outside? Near water? In the mountains? When I can't be out in the treehouse I have a prayer chair that is surrounded by little spiritual treasures; pictures, medals, my singing bowl, a rosary from Jerusalem that Jeni Rose sent me. This space is sacred for me too. If you don't have a meeting tent, I urge you to fashion one. God is everywhere, certainly, but sometimes it's lovely to have a special space set aside for you and God to hang out. Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

God provides...

"The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 'I have heard the grumbling of the children of Israel. Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat quail, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the Lord, am your God.'"
Exodus 16:11-12

As I was listening to this reading on Pray-As-You-Go this morning, I watched the new squirrels in the new squirrel nest in my tree. The nest is really big and when I think of all the stuff the squirrels had to schelp up the tree in their little mouths, I marveled. I also saw a parallel between God providing for the Israelites in the desert and God providing for the squirrels in Idaho, America. God had provided all the building materials that went into this nest, as well as the instinct and wherewithal of the squirrels to get the job done. I have a feeling that God cares as deeply for the squirrels in my tree as anything God has created. God loves what God creates; it's as simple as that. Going back to yesterday's post on lamenting, the Israelites were major lamenters as they wandered around the desert. They lamented, perhaps rightly so, about everything. They even lamented, wistfully thinking about the lives they left behind in slavery in Egypt! But how did God respond to their laments? God heard them and fulfilled their needs, providing food for them. Later, they even lamented about "this wretched food," but that's a lament for another day. Today, another toasty one in Boise, let's watch for all the signs of God caring for God's own creation...including us, God's beloved. Love, heidi

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Lamenting...

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; God's mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

I was blessed to spend this past weekend up in the Sawtooth mountains at a women's retreat. It was a lovely combination of learning, quiet time, prayer, and recalling the times in our lives when we have lamented. How do we deal with the times of lament we all face? Life can be so difficult and it's inevitable that we will struggle with the storms of life. One thing I learned is that we can feel free to cry out to God, honestly and heartily. That's relationship, and God wants to be in relationship with us. It's true that God's love and mercy are always waiting for us. I also believe that when we're hurting, God hurts with us. God, certainly, hasn't caused the pain and sorrow in our lives, but God suffers with us. Read Matthew's account of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) and see that Jesus lamented too. There's no way we can escape lament-worthy events in our lives, but there is hope in the steadfast love of God. As long as we cling to that, there is a new dawn on the horizon. Today, let's pray especially for those who are experiencing lamentful times in their lives. Can we be a comforting presence for them? Can we lift them up to God? I am again reminded of my lady on the bus last week, who got such disturbing news while en route somewhere. Prayers for all who are struggling this day. Love, heidi

Thursday, July 18, 2019

On the bus...

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

Yesterday, I was on the bus headed downtown. The bus was quite full and I found a seat near a lady who was on a video call on her phone (for those of you familiar with the bus rules, she had earbuds in). She was chatting away most of the ride down, when quite suddenly, she burst into tears. She quickly pulled the I-want-off string and the minute the bus stopped and doors opened, she fled, still weeping. I watched her leave and my heart just hurt for her. What had happened in that seemingly OK call? Had someone broken her heart? Had a loved one shared bad news? I wanted to chase after her and comfort her. I had to settle for praying for her. That's not too much a "settle" though, but it seemed like it. I prayed that God would comfort her, that Jesus would give her rest--she was so obviously heavily burdened. We just don't know what is going on in the lives of the people we, either metaphorically or actually, ride the bus with. We just don't know. That's why we need to be kind to everyone. We don't know what news they may have just received that hurt them. Today, we are all passengers on this great bus of life. Let's hold each other carefully, in love, and ask God to especially bless all who are so heavily burdened. Love, heidi

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Who am I?

"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I?'"
Exodus 3:11

God, in the burning bush had told Moses that the people of Israel will be freed from bondage in Egypt and Moses was the guy to do it. Moses had a couple concerns and wasn't sure he was the right man for the job. But instead of saying "No, I couldn't possibly..." Moses asked for clarification (like a good Spiritual Director!) Who am I to lead the people out of Egypt? It's a question we can all ask ourselves everyday (well, not the Egypt part, maybe). But, who am I, that I have this incredible life in a treehouse? Who am I, that I get to work with adorable five-year-olds, getting ready for Kindergarten? Who am I, that I have the life I am living? If God calls us to help with something, we may not feel entirely up to the task, but we can trust that God will help us with it, just like God helped Moses. We certainly may not feel called to such a huge task as Moses (think back to the movie, "The Ten Commandments!" Oy!) But our task may be no less important in God's eyes. Our task may be tying a shoe for someone who cannot tie their own or reading to someone who cannot read for themselves, or even smiling and holding the door open for a stranger. That's no parting of the Red Sea, but may be just what needs to happen in our environment today. God is calling to us each day to make the world better for someone else. Who are we? We are God's Beloved...and we can definitely do it, with God's help! Love, heidi

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Shake it off...

"Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet."
Matthew 10:14

That can be really hard to do, our pastor noted in her sermon on Sunday. (Link to Pastor Gretchen's sermon below!) But, harder yet, are the times when the dust we need to shake off our feet is the dust of our own judgmentalism, institutionalism and self-righteousness. The dust really clinging to our feet maybe the dust of our own making. I can relate so well to that because I'm a expert at making dust! I can ruminate and stew in my own dust endlessly, until finally, I just collapse in it. We can't really be there for others if we are wallowing in our own stuff. We need to free ourselves from as much of it as we can before we can really be present to those who need us. Jesus knew the apostles could do no good in a new place if they were still stewing about the old place and its rejection of them. Shake it off and move on, Jesus advised, and wisely so. You can't proceed forward while looking backward! Love, heidi
"Shake it off"


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Suffering and joy...

"Compassion is the virtue that moves us toward solidarity with those who suffer, rather than toward popularity and privilege through power."
Fr. Richard Gula, PSS (as quoted in Give Us This Day)

This sounds so good, but I have to wonder if we really want to join in solidarity with those who suffer. I mean, wouldn't that mean we would suffer too? Exactly. And that is what Jesus did. Jesus didn't just recognize the suffering people around him and feel pity for them. Jesus joined in their suffering and suffered with them. And he suffers with us when we are going through difficulties. Suffering is one thing that crosses all social and economic barriers. Money and privilege can't ward off suffering in our lives. Because it is hard, we may try to avoid joining in the suffering of others, relieved it isn't our turn and grateful things are working out in our lives. But the fact is, we are a human family, all children of God. If one of us is suffering, we all are. If one of us doesn't have enough to eat, no place to sleep, no work or means to sustain ourselves, none of us have those things. All of our hearts need to quiver with the pain of our neighbor. At the same time, our hearts can rejoice with each other too! It's not all sadness and suffering. If we are truly one family, we can all rejoice together, as well. Today, as we go about our summer Tuesday, let's keep our eyes and hearts open to all who enter our day. Can we share their pain, but also share the joy in being together on a warm summer day? Love, heidi

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Parable of the Trapeze

"Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I'm either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I'm hurtling across space in between trapeze bars...
But every once in a while as I'm merrily (or even not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It's empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart of hearts I know that, for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar and move to the new one."
~Danaan Parry, "The Parable of the Trapeze" (link to full parable below)

This is the most splendid description of what I feel is happening within me these days. I am swinging along on a trapeze (don't look down!) All is well until, like Danaan Parry, I see an empty trapeze bar swinging my direction. It's calling to me and feels just like what I am to do. The hardest part is that space between the two trapeze bars, when I have nothing to hold. I'm in a sort of free fall, waiting to grab onto the second trapeze bar. I know that I cannot hold both the bars at the same time, but letting go of the first intimidates me. I encourage you to click on the link below and read the full Parable of the Trapeze by Danaan Parry. Can you see yourself in the parable? Love, heidi

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Firm foundations...

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock..."
Matthew 7:24

Conversely, those who hear Jesus' words and do not heed them will be like the squirrels in my tree, whose house has been pretty much destroyed by wind and weather at this point! It looked like such a sturdy shelter for them, too, when they built it last fall. I marveled at them, racing up and down the tree with stuff in their little mouths as they added to the nest. It was big and looked like it belonged in the high-rent district. But now, months later, there's not much left of it. The baby squirrels have grown and gone and probably are making nests in other trees. The parents have retired and have moved into little squirrel care centers, I guess. What does this teach us about our own shelters? Besides the fact that we are all just passing through? It teaches us the importance of a firm foundation. Jesus gives us a firm foundation in how to live our lives as his followers. We can either do it or not, but his words are out there for us to heed (Matthew 25:31-46). I don't think a firm foundation can be based on fear or threat of punishment. Doing something to avoid hell seems like a sandy foundation to me. But doing something for another out of love and respect for the other, who is also a child of God, seems more sturdy and reliable. Jesus taught us to love and serve each other and that is as firm a foundation as we can find. Love, heidi

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Wisdom from Joan...

From TV show, Joan of Arcadia:
Joan to the Little Girl God: "The way I felt about Iris, it was so ugly. Why would you put those feelings in me?"
Little Girl God to Joan: "Everyone has a part of themselves they don't like, Joan. You carry it around like a weight. The lucky ones realize that when it becomes too heavy you can choose to set it down. That's when you can see things the way they really are."

For those who aren't familiar with the TV show Joan of Arcadia, it was on in the early 2000's and became a voice of wisdom for me when I was going through a hard time. Joan was a teenage girl, struggling to fit into a new high school and God would appear to her and make little suggestions for her. She only knew the person was really God when God would say her name. In this episode, Joan was jealous of a new girl, Iris. She said snarky things about Iris and surprised herself how icky she could be when it came to Iris. Through the episode, she got to know Iris a bit more and found how pained and difficult Iris' life had been. She saw Iris how she really was, and it brought her up short in how she felt. Wouldn't it be great if we could chat with God when things bug us? And God would give us great advice like this? There are times I surprise myself how ugly I can feel about things. Why do I feel so icky? Thankfully, I can pop in a DVD and there is the Little Girl God saying, "You carry it around like a weight...when it becomes too heavy you can choose to set it down." Good advice...Love, heidi
(If anyone is interested in watching Joan of Arcadia, the two seasons are available on DVD from Amazon)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Praying to a dear friend...

"Your father knows what you need before you ask him."
Matthew 6:8

Jesus' disciples have asked him how they should pray in this passage and Jesus seems to give them reason to question even why they should pray. If God already knows what we need what's the point? Richard Rohr frequently says that we don't pray to change God's mind about us but to change our minds about God. That's sure a good explanation! We pray to be in relationship with God. We pray to connect, converse and convene with God. Maybe we pray less for a specific outcome than for the grace and strength to get through the difficulties of our unfolding lives. A great example for how to pray is Mary, who at the wedding feast at Cana, just stated the problem to Jesus. "They have no wine," she says (John 2:3). That's the deal. She doesn't tell him what to do about it. I try to do the same, with mixed results. "Blaine is flying solo in a small airplane." I state the concern, trying not to add the Yikes! factor. God already knows my mother's heart! Ultimately, no matter how we pray or the why, or what-for, God always just loves hearing from us. Let's spend some time today, thinking about how we can pray to give glory to God and naming our concerns just like we would to a dear, loving friend. And finally, let's try to step back and trust that God's will for us is the best outcome. "Your will be done." (Matthew 6:10). Love, heidi

Monday, June 17, 2019

Spirit of Christ...

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now...'"
John 16:12

Sometimes I feel this happens on retreat. Jesus has my undivided attention for days in a row and there is just so much for me to learn! This time I even stayed an extra day at the hermitage to get a little bit of the "much more" Jesus had to share. My main study book this time was "The Universal Christ" by Fr. Richard Rohr and it is indeed a doozy! The hermitage was a perfect place to observe the Christ-soaked universe that Fr. Richard describes in the book. Everything and everyone have been breathed into life by our Creator Christ and thus, contain the Spirit of Christ. "Whoa, that!" one would say--really? But looking around the mesa, bathed in spring, it was easy to see. From the tiniest bug to the foliage to the young buck mule deer I saw several times, the spirit of Christ was present. Fr. Rohr calls creation the first Incarnation of God. God came first in creation and we little humans are part of that, too. I felt like I was just another creature in the midst of creation, celebrating the fact that we all are en Christo, alive in Christ. So, today, our nearly-summer Monday, let's look at our world a bit differently, can we? Either the spirit of Christ is in everything or it is in nothing. Let's stretch ourselves and try to see it in everything and everyone we encounter this day! Love, heidi

Friday, June 7, 2019

Who are the sheep?

"'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' Peter was distressed that (Jesus) had said to him a third time, 'Do you love me?' and he said to him, 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.' Jesus said to him, 'Feed my sheep...'"
John 21:17

Peter is getting an opportunity to apologize to Jesus here on the beach, for his three denials the night Jesus was arrested. But, there is so much more to this exchange...stuff for us to read and heed, too. Jesus is telling Peter that loving him requires action. Loving Jesus is much more than simply saying so, it is doing so. And one doesn't have to think too hard to understand who the sheep and lambs are that Jesus is telling Peter to tend, either. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus answers the question "Who is my neighbor?" with the story of a guy who goes out of his way to help another guy--a guy unlike himself. And that is the critical message for us in our day. Our love for Jesus is demonstrated in how we treat others; from our family and loved ones to the people we may feel we share little in common. The "other" guy. The other we may not understand or see as worth getting to know. The other we may disagree with or be on opposing sides of issues. The other we may even fear for some reason. The sheep and lambs Jesus is telling Peter to tend are the "others" we are tempted to cross the street to avoid. But showing love to them is showing love to Jesus. Let's allow that to guide our actions this summer Friday! Love, heidi
(Oh, and I will be on retreat at Marymount next week, so will be praying for all from the porch of St. Helen's hermitage!)

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Joy, Joy, Joy...

"But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely."
John 17:11b-19

Pray-As-You-Go posed an interesting question reflecting on this reading today. Do we think of Jesus as joyful? Ponderous, that. I think, growing up with the crucifix being the focal point of the church, one doesn't immediately go to joy when thinking of Jesus. In his book, "Between Heaven and Mirth," Fr. James Martin quotes Teilhard de Chardin: "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God." So, naturally, connecting the dots that Jesus was God, we can assume that Jesus was joyful. Crowds followed him everywhere, obviously attracted to his miracles and astonishing works, but what about when he called the first followers? There must have been something so attractive about his manner and personality to draw these folks away from their work-a-day lives. I'm suspecting it was joy. Joy draws people. Inner joy, not just thigh-slapping good humor, but deep, inner joy really attracts people. I choose to picture Jesus as loving a good joke, laughing with his friends, smiling as he walks down the road.That joy, joy joy, joy down in his heart! What about you? Can you picture the joy of Jesus? Do you want to share his joy with him? Love, heidi

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Abundant grace...

"May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always with you
May the sunshine warm you always
'Til we meet again."
Irish Blessing (also a beautiful song, link below)

So, the jukebox in my head played this song as I walked my little route this morning. It was sad because I lost my walking buddy this week. Tebow, my 13 year old golden retriever had to be put down due to some neurological event that rendered him not him. I've done this before and it's never easy, believe me. But this time, I felt a powerful swirling of God's grace through the whole thing. My kids were with me the whole time; Tebow cradled in Blaine's lap, gazing at me, through his last breaths. Even my dear young neighbors put flowers and a card outside the door to my apartment. God is showering me with blessings through the love and care of my fellow humans. And that's what God does best...shower us with love and grace through each other. Please listen to this song and think of dear old Tebow, who I'm sure by now, has found his buddy Eiger up yonder...
Irish Blessing




Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The voice of God...

"It takes so much courage and humility to trust the voice of God."
Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 5/28

And how do we even perceive the voice of God? Maybe we should start there...Richard Rohr believes, and I do too, that we can hear the voice of God in our own thoughts. Rather than allow that to run amok, I like to pass thoughts through filters and ask myself if the thoughts sound like God; are they loving, inclusive, life-giving? If not, then it probably isn't the voice of God. Are the thoughts something that God has expressed before? In scripture? Through the mystics? Is God just repeating it for me? I also like to run thoughts-that-seem-like-God past my Spiritual Director or a spiritual companion. Another heart and mind discerning what I think I'm hearing from God is extremely helpful for me. God may speak to us in our thoughts, but God also speaks to us through the wisdom of others. I think of Mary, a young girl, who has a visit from an angel who tells her she will be the mother of the savior. (Luke 1:26-38) Then, the angel leaves her (verse 38--Yikes!) She is left with her courage and humility to trust the voice of God. But she also had supportive people, like her cousin Elizabeth, who helped her along her journey. We, too, have supportive people in our lives and we are called to be supportive people for others. If we have the courage and humility to hear the voice of God, God will show us how to lend support and help. So, today as we go about our Whatever-day-it-is (I don't know, I'm out of school) let's take some quiet time and listen to the voice of God in our own thoughts. What is God saying? Love, heidi

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Endings and beginnings...

"But God is love, only love, and God's Spirit is the Spirit of love longing to guide us to the place where the deepest desires of our heart can be fulfilled."
Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, "Here and Now" (as quoted in This Us This Day)

If I had to sum up the last several years of spiritual awareness I have gleaned, this sentence would be it. Religion seems to make things so much more complicated than they need to be, but, spiritually, this is all I need to recognize and appreciate. Since this is the last week of school, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the whole deal--how I felt guided to this job, how I felt supported and buoyed up by Sources totally beyond myself. I can look back and see just about when the desire was placed inside my heart to do this kind of thing. I can see how God worked through my own desires to do the best I could possibly do for the kids. It's so not about me, but so vividly about God weaving through each day and opening me up to find what to do and how to help. In the Gospel on Wednesday, Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit." (John 15:5) This has been the key to me doing anything of value this year. As I remain connected to the vine, I can bear much more fruit! Today, as many are experiencing transitions, let's pray for endings and beginnings. This time of year holds many of both and both can be tricky to navigate. Just yesterday, I had a first grader tell me when I asked how my reading group felt about the end of the school year, "I feel bittersweet, Ms. G..."  Me, too. Love, heidi

Monday, May 20, 2019

Jesus in the rain...

"Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him."
John 14:23

Pray-As-You-Go asked a lovely question reflecting on this scripture this morning: How could we expect to see Jesus come to us this day? Easy, I thought. I have the last Monday of school and it's supposed to rain all day. Jesus will be so present in the chaos of all that. I used to see Jesus easier in the good stuff--the celebrations, the happy times. Now, I recognize that, as much as Jesus enjoys those times with us, he is even more present (if that's possible) in the messy, chaotic times. Those times when we're pulling our hair out--there's Jesus, giving us a wink and smile, saying "hang in there." And I will need that this week as my first year working in an elementary school winds down! There's the excitement and joy of completing the year, but there is also a bit of sadness that some of these kids won't be back next year and those who do come back will be taller and more grown up. Our time together will be over. While this is the beginning of a new season, it is also an ending, too. In the rain, I tend to dwell on the ending.  Today, let's all be on the lookout for Jesus, present in our May Monday. And don't be alarmed to see him in the mess and the rain... Love, heidi

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

God's dwelling place...

"Where can you see God dwelling around you as you enter into prayer now?"
Pray-As-You-Go, 5/15/19

Settling into prayer this morning I glanced around for where I could see God in my surroundings. Certainly God dwells in the dear, old dog at my feet, wiggling himself into position so that my foot is always touching him. There are the Mother's Day flowers, still beautiful; God's love reflected in the love of my kids. There's the glorious tree outside, so close I can touch its leaves from my third floor balcony. God dwells in the tree, but also in the life supported in the tree--the squirrels, birds--all who call the tree home. Every living thing pulses with the life-blood of God. God breathed life into all of creation, which should make it really hard to not love it all, shouldn't it? I know that in a few hours I will go to school, where God dwells in each little student and each staff person, whether they are aware of it or not. I know it was God who drew me to that school, and I know that God is vibrantly alive there, even as our zeal is waning with only days left in the school year. Anywhere there is love and created life, there is God and God is indwelling. And finally, there is God in my very own heartbeat and my own breathing in and out. God is indwelling in me, too, which sometimes I find too good to be true. Look around you right now. Where is God dwelling around you this spring day? Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Images of God...

"If I can expand my images of God to include thinking of God as Father, Mother, Son, Jesus, Shepherd, and Holy Spirit at my side like a guardian angel, I will have a richer appreciation of God."
The Little White Book, May 12, 2019

One of the first things we studied in the Spiritual Direction program I took was our image or images of God. Our images of God may reflect how we are raised in faith, or they may challenge how we were raised. We may see God as a stern judge, taking note of every wrong we do. We may think of God as a Santa Claus-type, gifting us with our list of desires, based on our naughty or nice-ness. We may have had difficult authority figures in our lives who make it hard for us to picture a loving, caring God we are to call Father. Whatever our image of God growing up, it is helpful, as we grow, to expand our imaginations and let God out of the box we may have put God in. If we  ever think we have God figured out we need to prepare to be surprised, for God is un-figure-outable. Can we think of God as a loving Mother-type? The book and movie, "The Shack" may have expanded us a bit that way with the beautiful portrayal of God as a woman called "Papa." Can we expand our image of God as represented in creation? Can we image God in a beautiful sunset or a field of wildflowers? If we limit our encounters with God to only a few places and images we are seriously selling God short. God is much bigger than we can imagine, and the bigger we can expand our image of God will open up many more ways we can encounter God each day. If we believe God's spirit is in every single thing, we can encounter God all day long! Love, heidi

Friday, May 10, 2019

Reach out...

"Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters...that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains."
Acts 9:1-2

And there we have it. Saul, as a religious leader, thinking it's a good idea to persecute people for their beliefs. Even murdering them for believing differently than he believed. And we are still doing it today--all religions seem to have a crazy faction that thinks it's a good idea to persecute others who believe differently. We just need to read the headlines to see the attacks on churches, mosques and synagogues to see that "murderous threats" are still being carried out two thousand years later. Have we learned nothing? What can we do to break this chain of intolerance? All we have, really, is our own life. We, in our own circle of influence, can stop the negative conversation as we hear it. Showing love and companionship with those of other faiths is a small start, but it may be the only start we have. We need to broaden our circle of cohorts--get to know someone of another faith so they aren't so foreign to us. Read other scriptures to familiarize ourselves with what they believe, so we can appreciate that their scripture is similar to what we read. Read our own New Testament and the words of Jesus that we are to LOVE each other, no matter what! God weeps at the way we treat each other on this planet. What can we do, this beautifully dawning spring day, to help? Jesus stopped Saul in his tracks on the road to Damascus. Is Jesus calling out to us?  Love, heidi

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Keep us guessing!

"The Almighty likes to keep us guessing, that is why my devotion to him never stales!"
Mother Mildred, "Call the Midwives"

The minute I heard this come from Mother Mildred I knew I had to write it down. Yes, it's fiction, yes, it's TV, but it is British TV and it rings so true! Every day we have new opportunities to serve God in ways that really keep us guessing. We can't imagine the interesting twists and turns God weaves through our day, but there they are. We can look back through our day by praying the nightly Examen (I'm linking my favorite below) and see where God was all through our day. I was chatting with Daughter Jeni Rose the other day and we both marveled at where we are now compared to where we were just a year ago. Last spring, both of us were in the midst of uncomfortable uncertainty. We look around now and we are in awe of how things turned out. Rather than preferring to have everything all laid out, predictable and easy, we should take Mother Mildred's approach and just enjoy God's surprises. (Easier said than done, I realize) Either way, it's a glorious spring day and there is much we can do to give God a hand today, so let's do it! Love, heidi
Examen

Friday, May 3, 2019

Growing up...

"And whatever you ask in my name, I will do..."
John 14:13

When I heard today's date, I was reminded that thirty-nine years ago today, I moved from Miles City, Montana to Billings. In a Chevette and a Buick (my parents helped). All I owned fit into the two cars and I lived, very simply, in a furnished one bedroom apartment once I got to Billings. That's just what I have now except that I'm the one whose stuff furnishes it, but still. I think I've always had a yen for the simple life. On Pray-As-You-Go this morning, we were asked what would we ask of Jesus, knowing that whatever we ask for in his name, he will do. All through my life I have compiled long lists to answer this question, I'm sure. But today I could think of nothing. Not a darn thing, do I need this day. Oh, I always pray for the kids, their "others," the world, what I can do to help in the world, yada, yada, but for myself, I need absolutely nothing. I pray to accept all that happens today and to be a good sport about it. But on this gorgeous spring morning, I need only to bask in all that is, right here and now. I don't need or want more than what is in front of me today. It feels like I'm growing up...Love, heidi

Friday, April 26, 2019

Breakfast on the beach...

""Children, have you caught anything to eat?' They answered him, 'No.' So he said to them, 'Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.'"
John 21:5-6

Sometimes Jesus calls us to change. It can be a little change or a huge change. It can be as slight as dropping our nets from the other side of the boat, or as big as moving to a whole, new place and fishing there. We can get comfortable and complacent where we are, until we feel a strong beckoning to change. Maybe it feels like a gentle nudge at first, then a needling, and finally it goes into a discontent with the status quo and we know a change must be made. I can certainly see this in my own life these last several years, but it didn't stop with the move to Boise! I'm still feeling called to something new. "Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19). What about you? Are you feeling beckoned to something new? Even to fish from a different side of the boat? We need to pay attention to the nudgings and needlings we feel...they could be Jesus calling us to something new--like breakfast on the beach. Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

We had hoped...

"But we had hoped..."
Luke 24:21

Such sad words for an Easter Wednesday, but there they are. I think it was Fr. James Martin, in his writings, who said these were among the saddest words in scripture. And, he pointed out, they are also sad in our lives when we find ourselves saying them too. "We had hoped the cancer was gone." "We had hoped he would stay sober." "We had hoped the job would work out." Our lives are splattered with "We had hoped" moments, as we look back. But look what happens when the guys on the road to Emmaus encounter Jesus.They are able to recognize Jesus in the simple task of sharing a meal with a stranger. Their hospitality opens the door for a vivid encounter with God. Their disappointment gives way to seeing the work of God in even the most devastating of events. It wasn't that God orchestrated the devastating event, but God was at work in the healing of hearts broken by it. God can be seen in our "We had hoped" moments when we look for the helpers, as Mister Rogers used to say. When we see people reaching out to others and rolling up their sleeves. In those kind acts, we see Jesus as on the road to Emmaus. And we are on the road ourselves. Several times a day we may be nudged to help someone else. The tiniest, simplest kindness may make a huge difference in someone going through a "We had hoped" moment. So let's keep our eyes and ears open as we continue to celebrate our Easter joy! Love, heidi

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday

"And they said to him, 'You're not one of his disciples are you?' (Peter) denied it and said, 'I am not.'"
"When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, a share for each soldier."
"It is finished."
John 18:25, 19:23, 30

Listening to the Passion in John's Gospel this morning, particularly these three passages, I pondered the journey toward death. While we won't die as horrifically as Jesus died, there are similarities in all of our end-of-life stories. Our journey toward death is a letting go. We let go of people; gradually there may just be a few taking those final last steps with us. In John's Gospel, Jesus had his mother, Mary Magdalene, another Mary and John with him at the very end, but where were the crowds of well-wishers who had welcomed him into town earlier in the week? And where was Peter, his rock?  The crowds drift away as death nears and only a few, if we are blessed, stay with us. Second, we let go of our stuff. All the more reason to let go of it now, I say. Jesus had so few things in his possession, but that didn't stop the soldiers from dividing them and rolling dice to see who got his tunic. Willingly or not, we let go of our possessions; we don't need them anymore. Finally, we take that last breath and let go of our very selves. We let go of the "us" we have come to know throughout our lives. Kathleen Dowling Singh, who studied death and dying at the bedsides of many people, says that it can be such a peaceful release, a looking beyond the now and reaching toward something beckoning us. Jesus knew his work was complete. He'd done all he could do and all that was left of letting go of his very self; the self he had come to know in his human form. As we go about this somber day thinking of that road to Calvary, let us thank God for our own journey, too. We don't know when or where or how our lives will end, but we know that Jesus will be with us and that Jesus has walked it first. All blessings and good to you on your Easter weekend. Love, heidi

Thursday, April 18, 2019

From the feet to the heart...

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

What is the deeper meaning of Jesus' washing the disciples' feet in today's Gospel? I think it feels deeper and richer every year for me. I see such an act of humility and service--Jesus down on his knees, washing the grime from the road off of the lowliest part of the human body. Jesus came to tend and nourish the hearts of humans, but he chose to show that by washing feet, which seems like a stretch, even for Jesus! The distance between the heart and feet is quite far, depending on how tall a person is! But what is it in witnessing this humble act of service that changes our hearts? For it surely does. First, there is the possibility of eye contact, which is so powerful. Looking into the eyes of someone washing our feet tweaks the heart like nothing else. Maybe tender words are spoken because it is such a loving gesture. There is a deep vulnerability in someone caring for us so intimately, too. Our hearts can be opened wide as our feet are washed; I'm not sure exactly how. And as we put all of these elements together, we realize that Jesus is asking this of us, too. We are asked to get down on the floor and tenderly, lovingly wash the feet of others. Looking into their eyes, speaking tender words, washing the dirt of the earth off the farthest part of their body from their heart, to touch and nourish their heart. Today, as we go about our Holy Thursday, let's think about the act of washing each others' feet. It is far more than just dealing with the dirt of the road, it is meant to touch the heart. Love, heidi

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Judas as teacher?

"Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?'"
Matthew 26:25

As I listened to this reading on Pray-As-You-Go this morning we were invited to check in with our own feelings about Judas. Are we angry with Judas? Disgusted? Do we identify with Judas in some way? It's easy to look so far back and see how all the apostles were clueless, but especially Judas. What could have he been thinking? I think I identify with Judas' statement here, "Surely not I, Lord!" But I can also recognize that I am complicit in the betrayal of Jesus when I don't love others as Jesus tells us to do. I may not be selling Jesus' whereabouts for thirty pieces of silver but I'm hurting Jesus through my harsh judgments of others, my impatience and my surveying everything from my pedestal of privilege. The next question on PAYG, was can we see how gently Jesus treats Judas? That I can. And I see Jesus treating me the same way. And that, in itself, compels me to want to do better. Jesus isn't letting either Judas or me off too easily, but Jesus' gentle love urges me to share it with others, not repaying wrong with wrong, but forgiving others and giving them another chance. This Holy Week, let's learn from the whole cast in our Passion story, even the ones with whom we'd rather not identify! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Accept and reflect...

"We humans are always unwhole, but we still receive and can ever more perfectly reflect our divine identity in God."
Richard Rohr, "Wondrous Encounters--Scripture for Lent"

In today's first reading, God is having a wondrous encounter with Abram inviting him to a covenant relationship. God promises Abram that he will be the father to a host of nations and will be exceedingly fruitful. (Genesis 17:3-6) When I heard that on Pray-As-You-Go, I wondered what a "fruitful" life would look like in 2019. We are invited to the covenant, too. Our lives are promised to be fruitful, too...what does that mean? Then I read the above quote from Richard Rohr and it all made more sense. Our being fruitful in our covenant with God means we reflect our divine nature in our everyday lives. Our divine DNA is in every cell of our bodies, we reflect that in how we interact with our fellow God-Reflectors. Because, you see, it's not just us that reflect God's divine DNA, it's everything. Everything created by God, reflects God's imprint. So, how I can reflect God's love in my daily life is how I am fruitful. And, notice what God says to Abram exactly, "I will make you exceedingly fruitful..." (v. 6) In other words, we just have to receive. We don't initiate the process at all, God does. We just have to be aware and receive. God does all the heavy-lifting here. Let's realize that as we go about our April Thursday! Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Serpent vs calf?

"...and the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a seraph and mount it on a pole, and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live.' Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten looked at the bronze serpent, he lived."
Numbers 21:8-9

As often as I have heard and read this reading, and shuddered at the whole serpent thing, today was the first time I ever thought, "Wait! What's the difference between a bronze serpent and a golden calf?" The people of Israel made the golden calf and worshipped it while Moses was off meeting with God. But the bronze serpent was actually God's idea...what gives? Wasn't the serpent a sort of idol? I guess the difference was between life and death. The golden calf was just there to be mistakenly worshipped by the people instead of God, who had brought them out of Egypt. That was life-taking, in other words, didn't give them life but sucked life out of them. The bronze serpent, on the other hand, was life-giving for them. Those who had been bitten by serpents were healed after looking at the bronze serpent on the pole. God is always life-giving to us. We, left to our own devices, come up with things that work to take away life, or zap the life right out of us. Think of addictions and our ill-advised substitutes for real joy--they take life from us. What God offers us is real life, real realness, in God and with God. Okay, so the whole bronze serpent thing is a weird distraction, isn't it? But the point is, that God offers us life--abundant life! Love, heidi

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Mind the gap!

"But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, 'Why, O Lord, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?'"
Exodus 32:11

Pray-As-You-Go had a great take on this this morning, mentioning that Moses stood in the "gap" between the people and God. In this verse, he is pleading with God to relent in punishing the people for building and worshipping a golden calf. PAYG asked who, if anyone can we think of, in our own day, is "minding the gap" for us now? Is there anyone we can identify who is reminding people to turn away from the many idols of our day and return to God? Pope Francis, certainly, comes to mind! Now, the harder question: Can we ever picture ourselves in the position of helping people return to God? Not in a preachy, obnoxious, fear-mongering way--for that will never truly win people over to God. But in a genuinely loving, compassionate way? Can we be that person in the gap for someone else? We may not feel up to the task of negotiating with God as Moses is here, but can we live in such a way to remind people that God loves them? Maybe that can be our task for this April Thursday...
Love, heidi

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Let it go...

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

Here is another situation where Jesus asks the obvious..."Do you want to be well?" He puzzles me by asking questions that would seem to most to be easy--but are they? I often find myself in a stew about something. I mull it over, chew on it like a wad of gum, talk it over with the committee in my head until even I'm weary of it. I can almost see Jesus, lovingly looking at me saying, "Are you finished with that now? Do you want to be rid of it? Do you want to be well?" Then, just like with the guy by the waters of Bethesda, he gives me direction, "Let it go." He told the guy to take up his mat and go home, but he tells me to set it down and leave it--whatever the "it" dujour is. Today, in reading this Gospel, I notice that Jesus doesn't help the guy into the water; Jesus empowers the guy to help himself. Jesus gives direction and the guy is healed through his own participation. That tells me that Jesus doesn't manipulate our surroundings to suit us, but gives us what we need to survive and thrive in our surroundings. "Rise, take up your mat and walk," Jesus tells the man, who has been sitting there in misery for thirty-eight years. I can just picture the expression on Jesus' face when he looks at me and gently says, "Let it go, Heidi-dear." What does like look like today in your life? Love, heidi

Friday, March 29, 2019

Knowing vs understanding

"And when Jesus saw that he had answered with understanding, he said to him, 'You are not far from the Kingdom of God.'"
Mark 12:34

I think this is a piece we can miss in our faith journey. We are taught to believe, what to believe, that our belief makes the difference in our salvation. But what about understanding? There are certainly many things we may not even begin to understand. But the young man in today's Gospel showed Jesus he had a deeper relationship with the law because he understood it. And what he understood was this: We are to love God with all we have and are as well as loving others as ourselves. All of that is more important than the rituals and activities we do, supposedly, for God. We can go to church every Sunday, even contribute to the collection each week, confession every Saturday (as used to be the norm) and yet...If we don't love others as we love ourselves, we are not understanding.
Having all of our kids together through this last couple of weeks has been a real joy. They are all adults, leading very different, yet wonderful lives, and it's a real pleasure seeing how much they enjoy and appreciate each other. As an only child, this can be mystifying to me, but it's a fabulous thing to see. No wonder God wants us to love each other! Isn't that a great joy for God to see us all caring for each other with compassion? I love that our kids love and respect us, as parents, but it's even more special that they love and appreciate each other. So, I can see a glimpse of Jesus' point here. Our loving each other is much more valuable to God than our rituals and ablutions we go through trying to please God and, supposedly, save ourselves. This weekend, let's try to see what that looks like in our lives. Love, heidi

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Not about me!

"Jesus, I pray that this Lenten period may make me more aware of your forgiving presence in my life and less concerned about performing well in the eyes of my world."
Henri J.M. Nouwen, "A Cry for Mercy," as quoted in "Becoming Instruments of God's Peace"

Yep, that has long been a bug-a-boo of mine--being far too concerned about what others think of me. I grew up a people-pleaser and it's really hard to let that go. It's important to treat others kindly and lovingly, but doing it just for the sake of being well-thought-of is where the problems arise. I'm not here to please the world, but to give glory to God. And that means loving others with compassion. It doesn't mean getting others to like me! I can't control that, anyway, and it really is none of my business what others think of me. Again, that is really hard to let go when one is an only child of older parents and raised to be (hopefully) loved by all! I guess all I can do is to try to joyfully serve God and God's people and let the chips fall where they fall. I can pray this lovely prayer and be aware it's never about my "performance" but only about God's work in the world.  Love, heidi

Friday, March 22, 2019

It's good to be here...

..."when I am blessed with an experience of God's presence, the best response is simply to say what Peter said that day on the mountain, 'It's good to be here.'"
The Little Black Book

'Tis good, indeed. I find that my mind goes to this regularly in my still-new life in Boise. I go out, pre-dawn, to walk the dog and see the full moon, giving its last glow to the neighborhood. It's good to be here. I'm volunteering at a music festival this week, checking-in young, excited artists. It's good to be here. With that, I get to see Daughter Jeni Rose and her BFF, Johan, in their full-on festival mode. It's good to be here. It's good to be sitting in my treehouse as my tree is budding and the buds get bigger each day. We had our whole family together last weekend for a day of moving, laughing and sharing over Thai food. It's the BEST to be here. All of these experiences are, to me, experiences of the goodness and presence of God. I'm overwhelmed with gratitude and so I said, again and again, it is good to be here! Lent is a good time for us to think about the many experiences of God we have in a day...in looking for them, we will see them. Love, heidi


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Forgiveness = tough stuff

"What humanity really needs is an honest exposure of the truth and accountability for what has happened. Only then can human beings move ahead with dignity. Hurt needs to be spoken and heard. It does not just go away on its own."
Richard Rohr, "Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps" (as quoted in "Becoming Instruments of God's Peace")

That certainly helps...the accountability and the sense of feeling heard. But what if the entity we need to forgive is just too big, like an institution?  It doesn't seem feasible to sit down and be "heard" or, maybe, we have spoken out and have been ignored or patted on the head and placated, "There, there, now, go away."  What if they aren't sorry? I think we still need to forgive on our side. We are the ones who need our forgiveness--for them. We need to be able to let go of our anger and bitterness, as yesterday's Daily claimed Mary did, somehow, at the foot of the cross. In the same little lenten book, Sr. Joyce Rupp is quoted on forgiveness: "I don't have to do this instantly, and I don't have to renew a relationship with that person...Until I have peace within myself regarding the relationship, I have not fully forgiven the other person." (Sr. Joyce Rupp, "Inviting God In") Bottom line: this forgiveness business is tough stuff, not for the faint of heart. Maybe that's why we need the period of Lent to work on it! Love, heidi

Monday, March 18, 2019

Transform the darkness...

"In essence, what Mary was doing under the cross was this: her silence and strength were speaking these words: 'Today, I can't stop the crucifixion; nobody can. Sometimes darkness will have its hour. But I can stop some of the hatred, bitterness, jealousy, and heartlessness that caused it--by refusing to give it back in kind, by transforming negativity rather than retransmitting it, by swallowing hard, in silence, and eating the bitterness rather than giving it back in kind.'"
Fr. Ronald Rohlheiser, "Sacred Fire" (as quoted in "Becoming Instruments of God's Peace")

I feel that darkness is "having its hour" right now in our country and world. We feel powerless to stop it, so what can we possibly do? We can stop it by not contributing to it, for one thing. We can do our part, within our circle of influence, to help all around us and extend our love as far out as possible. Lent gives us the opportunity to reach out a little farther, to maybe stretch ourselves a bit beyond our comfort zones. We can transform our anxious feelings and frustration into concrete action, not by just complaining, but by getting out there and rolling up our sleeves. We can become the good we desire to see instead of complaining that we don't see it. Love, heidi

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Our deepest desires...

"God seems to plant within us the desire to pray for what God already wants to give us, and even better, God has already begun to give it to us!"
Richard Rohr, "Wondrous Encounters--Scripture for Lent"

I'm rereading this little Lent book again this year and it's always fun to see what I highlighted in years past. This sentence was highlighted and then highlighted a second time. This has been such an important realization for me through the last several years. The realization that God plants deep into my heart, as desire, what God wills for me. God makes it seem like my idea, when, really, it was God's idea all along! I first encountered this concept when I went to a "Come and See" weekend with the Sisters of Charity and Mercy, back in early 1981. I'd asked the sisters what this mysterious "call" from God looked like for mere mortals and they assured me the call from God was actually the deepest desire of my heart. Say what? I couldn't imagine that God would want me to do what I really wanted to do, what about all those saints who toiled, sacrificed and suffered their way to sainthood? But now, so many years later, I can see that rascal God has done just that all through my life. And look at the fabulous time it has been! This Lent, let's take extra time praying with the deepest desires of our heart. Are they doable for us? Is there a path to the desire? If not clear now, pray for clarity of path. If the desire is there, it may be exactly what God wants us to do! Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Forgiveness! Now?

"Real forgiveness is often a long process sometimes requiring a search for justice, an expression of anger or hurt, or an acknowledgement of a sin which has been committed."
Pray-As-You-Go, 3/12/19

Forgiveness, real forgiveness, may not happen overnight. Sometimes we may think we've forgiven and then we're reminded of the old wound and it rears up again. That wave of bitterness and anger comes back...we go there, again. I like this from Pray-As-You-Go because it recognizes that there may be steps to forgiveness. It's not unreasonable to expect that someone deeply hurt may need to seek justice and an acknowledgment of the sin. We may want an apology, too, but what if that never comes? That is when we prayerfully remember the times that we have done wrong and need forgiveness ourselves. We can recall the words of Jesus in today's Gospel, "If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you." (Matthew 6:14)
Seeking forgiveness and forgiving are beautiful threads weaving through the fabric of Lent for me this year. We are on both sides of the equation, certainly, and need to act from both sides. But we also need to realize it may not happen as instantly as we'd like. The desire deep within us to want to forgive and be forgiven is a huge start. Love, heidi

Monday, March 11, 2019

Fuel for the desert...

"Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil."
Luke 4:1-2

And...we're off! Lent is fully underway now--now that we've heard about Jesus' temptation in the desert. It reminds us every Lent that we'll be tempted and tried these forty days, too. How will we do? Our Pastor yesterday reminded us how Jesus held off the temptations of the devil during the temptations in the desert. First, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He'd just been baptized in the Jordan and it was the Spirit that led him out to solitude and silence. He was walking with the Holy Spirit. Also, he was able to withstand the temptations because Jesus knew his story. He knew who he was...a beloved child of God. He'd been raised with the scriptures and deep knowledge of the history of his people. Jesus knew his story. And his story was enough to wrestle with the devil and win. We all have our own stories, too. We, too, are filled with the Holy Spirit, since our own baptism. We, too, have a history that includes our Jesus story--when and how we came to love Jesus and desired to follow him. Our faith journeys remind us of how we have experienced God's presence in our lives and how we have overcome all kinds of stuff. Our faith journeys, our stories, will be with us no matter what we have to face. We can go through any trial because we know, first and foremost, we are beloved children of God. Love, heidi

Thursday, March 7, 2019

In weakness is peace...

"Where is (God's) peace to be found? The answer is surprising but it is clear. In weakness, in our own weakness, in those places of our hearts where we feel most broken, most insecure, most in agony, most afraid."
Henri J.M. Nouwen, "Finding My Way Home"

That is surprising, finding God's peace in our weakness, isn't it? Nouwen goes on to explain that, in our weakness, we have less control and cannot rely on ourselves. We reach the end of ourselves and what we can do and must rely on Someone Else. And there is peace in that. In our insecurity and weakness, we can finally just stop rolling that boulder up the hill. We can rely on a strength beyond us and find peace in the Other's ability. It reminds me of that funny bumper sticker: "Rejoice! You're inadequate!" That's lovely to ponder on a rainy Thursday here in Boise. This morning on our walk, Tebow and I heard the most wonderful birdsong! It gives us hope that spring is on the way! Love, heidi

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Out with the old...

"Remember, finally, that the ashes on your forehead are created from the burnt palms of last Palm Sunday. New beginnings invariably come from old false things that are allowed to die."
Fr. Richard Rohr, "Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent"

Wow, oh Wow! I really needed this now. Rather than giving some some tangible, some food or drink, I desire to let go of the old false things that burden me from the past. I'll happily do that and wear a cross of that on my forehead! I even have some ideas of what those may be, but won't burden you with my burdens. Let's think about what tired old parts of ourselves we can ask God to help us let go of during this lent. Because we know we cannot do anything by ourselves. Richard Rohr's prayer for this Ash Wednesday is this: "God, give me the desire to desire what you want me to desire," Yes! Please! Help me to identify the old false parts of myself that are not working for me any longer (as if they ever did). Help me to look forward, unburdened by those encumbrances, toward new life with you! Love, heidi

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Give up everything?

"Peter began to say to Jesus, 'We have given up everything and followed you.'"
Mark 10:28

Pray-As-You-Go invited us to ponder a question with this reading today. Have you given up anything to follow Jesus? Fascinating, right? When I think of my relationship with Jesus, it definitely has enhanced my life much more than leaving any kind of void. But conscious decisions on my part, based on my relationship with Jesus, have led to my lovely simple life in a treehouse! I think what has happened is this; if there has been any gap or letting go of anything to pursue my life with Jesus, Jesus has filled in the gaps. I desire nothing more than a simple, yet joyous, life with Jesus, so I'm completely unaware of any loss. Unlike the early followers of Jesus, we are not likely to be persecuted for our faith, which is a blessing. There are other ways, though, within our circle of influence, we may feel uncomfortable sharing our own spirituality with others. Just last night, a guy was coming door-to-door in our apartment complex inviting people to a bible study. When I shared with him that I was actually doing a little bible reading myself, right then, he said I was the first one he'd encountered to that point who read the bible. He was really sticking his neck out! He was giving up his Monday evening to go around in, what could be an uncomfortable, effort to round up bible readers. Today, as we look toward Lent tomorrow, is there something we can think of that we can let go in order to spend more time with Jesus? Anything we can do to encounter people that we may not always feel comfortable around? Anything we can do to stick our necks out a bit? I believe this is what we should be looking at for our lenten practice. Love, heidi

Monday, March 4, 2019

Grace is infinite

"The moment comes when our eyes are opened and we see and realize that grace is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and acknowledge it in gratitude. Grace makes no conditions."
Babette's Feast

The movie, "Babette's Feast" was recommended viewing for a class I am taking on Mary Magdalene. What's the connection, you wonder? I think Mary Magdalene, and Babette and the general who actually makes this beautiful little speech are all conveying the same thing: God's love is extravagant and infinite and always available to us if we just recognize and appreciate it. Mary Magdalene used a jar of expensive ointment to anoint Jesus just prior to his Passion in an over-the-top act of love. Babette used all the money she had to prepare the extravagant feast for the squabbling church members. Just like the devout, yet sad little Christians in the movie, we all have our quarrels and differences. It's hard to see God in our day to day lives, especially if the days are dreary and gray. But there comes a moment in all of our lives when God's love is illuminated for us. Maybe it's an event, or a retreat. Maybe it's a change of scenery or life choice. Maybe it's just the sun coming out after several days of gloom. However it manifests to us, it is instantly clear that God is close. God is good and plentiful and richly present in our lives. As we look toward the beginning of Lent this Wednesday, and, perhaps prepare to put on a bit of gloom ourselves, let's remember that there is nothing we can do to earn or make ourselves worthy of the infinite love of God. It is already available to us, no matter what our state is. We only need to see it, appreciate it and share it with others; and the more lavishly, the better. Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Humble service...

"If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all...Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me..."
Mark 9:35, 37

Humble service. That is what Jesus is showing the disciples in this passage today. They had been jostling with each other along the way about who was greater. Jesus puts a child in their midst and talks about humble service. I think I'm getting a wee glimpse of both the humble service and welcoming the child in my job as a tutor. It's humbling to be so new, when most of the staff has been at the school for ages. It's humbling to be relatively clueless in classroom education; I previously worked with the visually impaired students individually, out of the classroom, in mobility. It's humbling to have much less decision-making capability through my day...I just do what they need and ask me to do. It's humbling and yet, it's absolutely fabulous! And the reason it's fabulous is because, first and foremost, I am to welcome the child. In Jesus' time, children were not valued at all, so it was quite astounding that he told the disciples children must be welcomed and served. Thankfully, times have changed, but our kids still may feel less-than-valued in their situations and circumstances. Our job is to love them and treat them with kind firmness and compassion. Believe me, there are times I have to dig very deep within to find the patience to give them what they need! But the good thing is that I can dig deep...I know that Jesus-within-me can give me just what I need to welcome the child. It's not a far away God who helps me, but Jesus within me, who doles out just what I need at any moment. Today, as we have finally reached our last February Tuesday (after like 25!) let's realize ALL we need to do what we do is found within our very hearts, where Jesus resides. Love, heidi

Monday, February 25, 2019

I believe! But!

"I believe! Help my unbelief!"
Mark 9:24

I think most of us can relate to this father's cry. Jesus had explained to him, "Everything is possible to one who has faith." And the guy cries one of the most honest prayers ever prayed. If we are honest, too, we'll admit that we have times of doubt. Why wouldn't we when we can look around and see such difficulty and chaos in our world? I think we could call it "reasonable doubt," like in the judicial system. But, as followers of Jesus, once we can settle down and be still for a moment, we can pray this honest prayer, "I believe, help my unbelief!" Jesus understands. In a few weeks we will follow Jesus into the Garden of Gethsemane and hear him pray desperately, If there is any way this cup can pass me by... Our reasonable doubt is understandable, but our healer for that is Jesus, who will sit quietly with us and remind us of all the times we have been gifted and healed throughout our lives. Jesus tells the disciples in the last line of this Gospel, "This kind (spirit) can only come out through prayer" (v. 29). That's a good reminder to us to sit still and let God be God, and let God heal our unbelief. Love, heidi

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The First Bible...

"For a true contemplative, a gratuitously falling leaf will awaken awe and wonder just as much as a golden tabernacle in a cathedral."
Fr. Richard Rohr, Daily Meditation, 2/20/19

I had a job interview last summer at a church. On the third interview I met with the Pastor of the parish and he asked me about my prayer life. I threw caution to the wind and explained that I sit in my treehouse and read the First Bible--nature.  I have a magnificent church beside my balcony, with squirrels and birds, teaching me about God. I didn't get the job. No matter, I got the job that was a better fit, but it was funny. So many times in my life God has shown me God's grandeur and beauty outside a church. God's presence is just as vivid for me to see in my tree. God also speaks to me, ever so clearly, while sitting on the porch of my little St. Helen's hermitage at Marymount. The chapel is nice too, on a rainy day, but being outside, with the sights and sounds of God's creation, is where I hear God's voice--and it's grand. Today's first reading from Genesis (Gen 8:6-13, 20-22) tells the story of Noah sending out the raven first and then the dove from the ark. Eventually, the dove returned to him with an olive branch in her beak. God speaks to us in creation, as sure as the snow is falling in Boiseville this morning! Let's get out in it and listen! Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Do you still not understand?

"(Jesus) said to them, 'Do you still not understand?'"
Mark 8:21

The disciples are concerned because they only brought one loaf of bread and they are in a boat with Jesus. I totally feel for them because that is a trivial thing I would get worked up about too, truth be told. Jesus uses the bread metaphorically and they sit, confused. Jesus has to remind them of all the miracles involving bread to help them feel secure they will not starve on this trip. It's easy to shake our heads at their cluelessness, isn't it? But, really, I am so much the same way. How often have I seen God-at-work in my life and yet, with each new little challenge, I can fret and stew better than any of the disciples. Last year, as I prepared to retire and move, I encountered issues that really drove me out to the ledge, and instead of remembering God's steady hand in all my other Big Stuff, I'd get all freaked out. This year, I can look back on that and grin, apologetically. Pray-As-You-Go asked the question, How do we feel Jesus responds to us in our stew? When we seem to still not get it? That, I know for sure, is easy. Jesus reacts lovingly and tenderly to me. I don't ever feel scolded or chastised for being me. Jesus understands me better than I understand myself. Jesus encourages me to peaceful calm. Jesus encourages me to pull my faith out and use it. And Jesus offers to help me get to where I need to be on the trust scale.  That makes it easier for me to get out there again and do what I do. We have a Champion in our corner!  Today, our February Tuesday (doesn't it seem like we've had a hundred February Tuesdays?) let's recognize that Jesus helps us grow into our best selves. Our best selves are already within us, in fact. Love, heidi

Friday, February 15, 2019

A garment of love...

"For the man and his wife the Lord God made leather garments, with which he clothed them."
Genesis 3:21

Today's first reading is the story of Adam and Eve in the garden. Eve is tricked by the serpent, who is described as "crafty," which is a fun description. Eve eats the apple, gives some to Adam, and yada, yada, yada, we're all doomed. But, if we read a bit further in the chapter, after Adam and Eve have made themselves fig leaf outfits and are hiding from God, we see that God makes them leather garments to cover themselves. God, even though they sinned against God, is helping them to heal from their own sin. God recognizes how their sin has harmed them, making them aware of their nakedness and inadequacy and God tries to heal that, right then and there. I have the most delightful mental picture of God sitting at a sewing machine, fervently sewing these garments! (Who's "crafty" now, serpent?) I sort of wish THAT picture would have been planted in my mind as a young child, instead of the emphasis on Adam and Eve's sin...But that's just me. Blessings on your February weekend and remember: don't wallow in your guilt and sin. God is sewing for you a garment of love and forgiveness. Love, heidi