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

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Of hearts and mercy...

"But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook the sins of man that they may repent.
But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things."
Wisdom 11:23, 26

If there was ever clear evidence that we should always leave the judgment to God, here it is! God is the just judge, the One who knows each heart and mind and can make a much more merciful and compassionate judgment that any human could ever make. I'm not sure why we think we should be judging others, but we sure do! We make hasty judgments based on appearance, attitude, personality; none of which has anything to do with the heart's center, where God resides. On this day of hearts, Valentine's Day, let's think of God's spirit residing in the hearts of everyone we meet. Truly, God made every heart, fashioning it carefully and perfectly. Who are we to judge it? Love, heidi

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Created equally...for love

"Then God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness'...God created humankind in God's image, in the divine image God created them; male and female God created them...God looked at everything created and found it very good."
Genesis 1:27, 31

Needless to say, I prefer this creation story to the one in Genesis Chapter 2--the whole Adam's rib thing. According to author and mystic Cynthia Bourgeault, who is teaching a course I'm taking on Mary Magdalene, can't we just give Adam his rib back and all be equally created by God? But that isn't the main point I want to bring out here. God created us and saw we are good. And we need to hang our hats on that. We are good, God loves what God creates and that should do us all just fine as we go through our lives. Unfortunately, we grew up with the notion that we are inherently sinful and we need to spend our lives making up for that, or worse, that God commanded that Jesus die on the cross to atone for our sins. I grew up with that theory and it never seemed right to me. Why would God be so angry with humans down through history to warrant Jesus dying on the cross to make God like us again? Lucky for me, I have found, through Fr. Richard Rohr, the Franciscans who didn't promote this belief. They believe that Jesus' coming was always Plan A--to show us how to live and that God loves us immeasurably. So, today, as we go about our February Tuesday, let's remember that we are created by God in love, for love and in hope that we will love in return. This close to Valentine's Day there are hearts everywhere...let them remind us of God's immeasurable love! Love, heidi

Friday, February 8, 2019

Love of money...

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have..."
Hebrews 13:5

What's wrong with money anyway? It can be nice to have when the bills come, but why is the author of Hebrews telling us not to love money? I think it's because money doesn't love us back. Earlier in the reading we are told to welcome strangers with hospitality. We are told to visit prisoners, care for the ill-treated and honor our marriages. All imply a mutual back-and-forth; a relationship. Money offers no such advantage. We can dedicate our lives to the pursuit of money and  end up losing relationships. Love of money is not a viable relationship. Today, being Friday, may be payday for some. How can we look at that check in terms of fostering relationships instead of just padding our own coffers? How can we use that money to foster hospitality and care for others--building relationships? Money isn't a good lover. Money is more of a taker than a giver and that makes the relationship very one-sided. How can we turn all that around in our lives? How can we be joyfully content with what we have, and demonstrate that by sharing it? Love, heidi

Thursday, February 7, 2019

One tunic, 100 Days...

"He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick--no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic."
Mark 6:8-9

I'm not sure if Julia Mooney, a teacher in Morristown, New Jersey, is familiar with this scripture, but she is sort of living it in our day. Last fall, she set about a project called OneOutfit100Days. She purchased one good quality, versatile dress and has been wearing it every day of the school year. Next week she will mark 100 days of wearing it on Wednesday, February 13. Her idea is that we should be more mindful of our non-sustaining consumer culture. The amount of clothes we discard into landfills each year is astounding and disgusting. And, besides, shouldn't we be more concerned with what we do and how we affect the world than how we look doing it? I have followed her since last fall and admire her message so much! Why do we have to have so many clothes? Jesus didn't even want the disciples to take two tunics! I encourage you to check out the project website (link below) and see how this message fits into your life.  She is inviting people to join her Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week--her last three days of the project--and wear the same thing each day. I'm joining her myself. Do you think the kids will notice? Her message is great! My message is: the more simply we can live, the more generous we can become! Love, heidi
Oneoutfit100Days

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Complete the circle...

"Jesus, aware at first that the power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who has touched my clothes?'"
Mark 5:30

It struck me this morning when I read this Gospel, that Jesus felt the power go out from his body at once when the woman with the hemorrhage touched the hem of his cloak. So it was his healing power that healed the woman, right? But then, when she bravely comes forward and lets him know it was her who touched him in her unclean state (thus rendering him unclean, too), he says to her, "Daughter, your faith has saved you..." (v. 34) I thought about that and realized that God's power needs our faith to complete the circuit and let the healing happen. Jesus doesn't inflict himself on anyone. He is there, available and eager to be part of our lives, but he doesn't force himself upon us. Our faith, willingness, openness and invitation are essential for completing the circle of healing in our lives. It would have been so easy for Jesus just to pass through crowds of people, healing everyone of every illness as he passed by. But that is not how Jesus worked at all. Jesus sought personal encounter and relationship with the people healed.  He needed their faith to complete the circle. Today, as we go about our February Tuesday (in Boise, it's snowy!) let's be aware of the faith on our part that is necessary for the circle of God's love to be completed. Let's allow the healing power of Jesus to pass from him into our hands and then into our hurting world. Let's let our faith complete the circle. Love, heidi

Friday, February 1, 2019

The sprouts are sprouting...

"...It is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how."
Mark 4:26-27

I told some folks this week that Wednesday was my BEST day yet at school. It was funny--I just felt like I got a hit each time at bat. Each class went well; kids were excited to learn, I was excited to share with them. It was great! I don't know what the difference was exactly. I've been at this for five months now and suddenly, I see sprouts where the seed was scattered. This is all so new to me I think I'm trying harder. I think I care more than I even realize. And, to be honest, I don't want to fail at this gig. I just want to do this job well and help the students. Now, I realize each day won't be as wonderful as Wednesday was, but the fact is, I know what it feels like to have a great game and I will shoot for that each day. I know not how, but God is quietly working in the whole deal, making the sprouts sprout. And I'm so grateful! Love, heidi

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Sowing wildly...

"Because for Jesus, success does not mean efficient, it means magnanimous--it means having the outrageous courage to give away the best of what we have been given, knowing that not all we give will come to life. But some will."
Paddy Gilger, SJ, "Give Us This Day"

This is one of the best reflections I've read on the parable of the Sower. I've related to the Sower being hugely extravagant with the seed, flinging it wildly about, not as concerned with its future success as just trusting that some of it will take hold. But I love the idea that Jesus had the outrageous courage to give away what he had, his healing, his compassion, his concern, to everyone regardless of who they were. Did you ever want another book of the bible called "Where Are They Now?" Picture it: a camera crew and interviewer go around to all the people who had contact with Jesus and found out what happened to them? What happened to the woman with the hemorrhage? The Rich Young Man? The guy with the demon at Gerasa? Did they continue to follow Jesus and live The Way with the apostles later? Jesus cast his net out far and wide, reaching people society had shunned, but how did it play out in the end? Jesus gave the best he had been given and knew not all would come to life. But some would. I think this is the way we should live our lives too. We should be kind to everyone, not knowing what their lives are really like. We should give everyone the benefit of the doubt, knowing only God knows their hearts. We should give the best we have to all of our endeavors, not being concerned with pay-back or pay-off. Success isn't efficient. Success is magnanimous. Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

We are fam-i-ly!

"Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."
Mark 3:34-35

For some time I have felt that Jesus wasn't so much dissing his blood relatives in this passage (although it sounds kinda like it, doesn't it?) as he was making his "family" bigger. Jesus was inclusive all through his ministry. He included those whom his culture and society purposefully excluded. He went out of his way to be inclusive, even rendering himself "unclean" by touching a leper. Family ties were blurry to Jesus as shown in this passage and that should excite us. I think what Jesus is showing us here is that we are all "family" together...the family of humankind. We are all brothers and sisters and our responsibilities to our wider family are bigger than just taking care of our kinfolk. Jesus says that "whoever does the will of God" is family to him. He explained that the will of God is loving and caring for our neighbor, which involves much more than just showing up for  the family Thanksgiving dinner! Jesus wasn't diminishing his blood relations in this passage as much as he was elevating everyone else to the position of his family--his loved ones. How can we manifest that in our world on a January Tuesday? Love, heidi

Friday, January 25, 2019

As close as our desire...

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

Paul's question as he withers in awe on the road to Damascus, is a question we also ask, right? I remember asking that question of God during the Search retreat my senior year of high school. OK, I'm excited about the idea of God vibrantly alive in my life...what do I do now? I'd asked that question for the last several years and one day woke up in a treehouse in Boise working with second graders who know more math than I do, but I digress... Doing God's will comes down to making choices. Sometimes bigger choices, some smaller. God knows not to give me too many difficult choices, but even a choice between two possible jobs or two possible apartments can be daunting. There may not be a "bad" choice, either; both options are fine. But, prayerfully, I ended up using my heart to make my choices. Which option was the desire of my heart? Which option filled me with excitement and joy? That made it easier. God's will for us is as close as our heart's desire. Think about that for a moment. God's will is placed into our hearts as our desire. Incredible, isn't it? As we prayerfully make choices, big and small, in our lives, we only have to look to our heart's desire to answer our own question, "What shall I do, Lord?" That's fun to think and pray about all weekend! Love, heidi

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

More rules...

"Looking around at them with anger and grieved at the hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.'"
Mark 3:5

Pray-As-You-Go asked a ponderous question with this reading today. What caused the hardness of the Pharisees' hearts and could that happen to us? Wow, that's not something I admit I've thought about. They were the leaders of the faith, the Higher-Ups, the guys in charge. What caused them to totally miss this guy with the withered hand and concentrate only on the fact that Jesus healed him on the sabbath? Couldn't they see how diminished his life was with this disability and how better he would be with two good hands? What was it about them that prevented them from going there? I'm thinking they were very comfortable within the rules of the faith and those rules gave them a sense of security. After all, in those days it was all about obeying the rules to being able to justify yourself before God. Here comes this guy, Jesus, who is disobeying the rules and making good things happen in the process. What would that do for those who depend on the rules to look good themselves? Compassion could fly right out the window in that case, couldn't it? And what about us? Do we get so caught up in the rules that we lose compassion and concern for those who we perceive breaking the rules? Are we so concerned about our own well-being that we can't look beyond ourselves to the needs of others? Can we ever look into the eyes of real, live human beings and see their Divine spark or do we just see them as threatening rule-breakers? It isn't a stretch to see this scenario playing out in our country right now.  Where are we with it? Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Rules, rules, rules...

"Then he said to them, 'The sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord, even of the sabbath.'"
Mark 2:27-28

As I am watching a beautiful sunrise in Boiseville, I'm thinking how the sabbath was meant to be freeing for the people. They toiled long and hard all week, they deserved a nice rejuvenating rest, and that is why God told them to take it easy for one day a week. But, humans, as humans tend to do, got all twisted up in the rules of it. The sabbath became much less freeing and much more confining, with intricate rules marking what people could and could not do.  The goal became about obeying the rules rather than resting. Pray-As-You-Go asked if we think humankind is still too caught up in the rules and I nearly spit out my coffee.  Jesus proclaimed himself Lord of the sabbath to return it to its freeing nature, to give it back to the people as it was intended to be, sans all the strict and crazy rules. Take a day off, put your feet up, spend time in quiet mindfulness. Don't get wigged out about the rules for yourself and, certainly, don't be nit-picky about the rules for others. Because, you see, that's exactly what they did; they policed each other strictly and critically, which is why Jesus had to remind them not to judge, too. And this was two thousand years ago...where are we with it now? Love, heidi

Monday, January 21, 2019

Like a bridegroom and his bride...

..."and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you."
Isaiah 62:5

My ears perked up when I heard this at mass yesterday. Our son just proposed to his wonderful girlfriend while they were in Australia and New Zealand. Last evening, we got to see them for the first time since their engagement and hear all about their adventures. It doesn't seem possible that God could rejoice in us more than this young couple rejoices in each other! But I know it's true...It makes me tear up to realize that so much love exists; I can't begin to comprehend it.  But it does and it is showered upon us constantly. Isaiah uses the example of a bridegroom and his bride to illustrate the most powerful love human beings can experience and thus, fathom, and still, God's love is so much more. To see a young couple so in love, though, I feel I've gotten a glimpse and it's so fabulous... Blessings on your Monday! Love, heidi

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Take action...

"Turning our feelings into practical action is one expression of solidarity. Jesus was good at finding ways to be with and support people and was a living expression of solidarity."
Pray-As-You-Go, January 17, 2019

No doubt, Jesus had a powerful belief system. He grew up in a Jewish home, going through the prescribed rituals and studying the scriptures. He was a faithful Jewish man. But, all through scripture, Jesus took it a step further. Jesus showed the people of his time, as well as the rest of us, that it isn't enough just to believe, we are called to go further. Our actions must follow our beliefs to make them real and living. In today's Gospel (Mark 1:40-45), Jesus seemingly goes against the Jewish laws about touching lepers and heals the leper who comes to him for help. Jesus' action reflects the greater law that he gives us with his whole life--the law of love. In touching the leper, Jesus shows solidarity with those suffering, in this case a leper. But all through the Gospel, Jesus shows solidarity with those on the fringe of society, the outcasts of his time. Let's spend some time thinking and praying about where Jesus is today, showing solidarity with those cast out. Because, Friends, we are Jesus' hands and feet in our world now. Where Jesus would be is where we should be. Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Simply living simply?

"If we follow Jesus we need to live simply--it's not just giving up possessions but about putting Christ at the center of our lives."
Pray-As-You-Go, January 15, 2019

It's no  secret that living simply has been a theme for me the past several years. But Pray-As-You-Go really gave me pause today when they pointed out that Jesus should be the one replacing all the surplus possessions and the focus of the extra time I find with a simpler life. It's one thing to get rid of stuff, live small and clutter-free. It's another thing altogether to put Jesus at the center of my life. Am I truly putting Jesus front and center of my simple life, or am I just simply living simply? I mean, it sure is fashionable now to declutter and downsize, isn't it? Am I just doing it to be eccentrically interesting or can I fill up the new empty spaces with Jesus? These are ponderous questions, Friends, and, if I can pull myself away from Netflix long enough, perhaps I will ponder them! No really, what do we fill our empty spaces with as we uncover more time in our lives? Let's pray with these questions today! Love, heidi

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Message to us, too!

"You are my beloved; with you I am well pleased."
Luke 3:22

One thing I noticed with this reading is that the voice from heaven is affirming Jesus, not talking to the crowd telling them who Jesus is. Had you noticed that before? God is letting Jesus know that he is loved and appreciated and, here's the thing: Jesus hadn't really even started his ministry yet! God isn't expressing appreciation for what Jesus has done because Jesus is just getting started! So, what about us? Can we imagine God saying this to us? Maybe each morning, before we even begin our day? Before we have a chance to get out there and make busy doing what we think will please God? Because, I believe, God loves and affirms us just on the basis of having created us. God loves what God creates--God actually loves us into being. There is nothing we need to do to earn God's love, nothing we can do really. So, this morning, let's prayerfully imagine God greeting us this very day with this very greeting: You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased! With that in our hearts, we will have a fabulous day! Love, heidi

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Love of neighbor...

"Whoever loves God must also love his (or her) brother (or sister)."
1 John 4:21

Continuing with the letter of St. John about love, we see the hard part. Loving God seems so much easier than loving our neighbor. God seems more abstract, easier to love, while our neighbor could be right next to us, saying things that drive us crazy, getting on our last nerve. No question about it, it's easier to love the abstract than the real thing next door. But what if we imagine for a moment that it is God living next door? Maybe it's God using a leaf blower at 7:00 AM? What if it is God challenging our good will by taking up the position opposite of ours (and we know we're right!) What if it's God at the border or in the prison or on the street corner with a sign? If we can imagine God as our neighbor it may help us overcome the ill-will with our neighbor. If we believe that God creates all living things (including people) and breathes life into all creation we can maybe wiggle around to the idea that God is in all creatures. The love of God is in all, whether people choose to manifest that love or not. It seems that creation has less difficulty manifesting the glory of God than human beings.Think of sitting out in nature and taking in the vast glory of God there! Human beings have free will, which may make them a bit less loveable at times. Just for today, let's imagine all we meet are carrying the love of God within them, whether or not it shows outwardly. And let's try to make sure our love of God does show outwardly! Love, heidi

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

God is love...

"...for God is love."
1 John 4:8

We've heard it before, many times probably, but what does it mean for us this January day?
Pray-As-You-Go says that it means God is active and engaging, not static or far away. God wants to be part of our everyday lives, not just thought about on Sundays as we dash off to church. The fact that God is love means that God wants to be in relationship with us 24/7, no matter what we are doing. I used to think the "religious life" was defined as being a priest or sister, but in fact, all of us are called to the vocation of being in love with God and being actively engaged in God's love in the world. No matter what job we do or where we are in life, we are little ambassadors of God's love. Let's pray with that a minute and see what it looks like in our Tuesday. For me, I was so happy to get back to school yesterday! The kids seem to have grown over the break and I had missed them! I know God has me right there to shower them with love and compassion, patience and kindness, too. God wants them to feel loved and, blessedly, there are so many at our school who love them. I feel so grateful to be one of them! What does it look like for you to be God's love in the world today? Love, heidi

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Jesus Star...

"They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother."
Matthew 2:10-11

The Magi hadn't spent much time with the infant Jesus, but just finding Jesus and his mother filled them with joy! The star stopped over the place where Jesus was but finding Jesus may not be as obvious for us. It may not be so obvious to see Jesus in the faces of the poor, the refugee, the prisoner, the drug addict. We may choose to keeping looking, thinking that Jesus couldn't possibly be in such forsaken faces and places, but that's where the Jesus Star stops. The Magi were wise because they followed the star wherever it went and, rather than stopping over a palace, it stopped over a stable. Jesus shows by his humble birth that his star always stops over the poor. That's where we find him, not in the palace, not with the wealthy or powerful, but in a humble place, with humble people. If we are truly wise, like the Magi, we will stop looking for Jesus in wealth, power and possessions. In fact, those were what Jesus discarded while he lived among us. Satan, himself, tried to offer all three to Jesus while he was in the desert. Jesus, true to himself, chose to hang out with the poor and those cast out by the system. For us, we need to remember that the wise still seek Jesus, and the really wise know where to look. Love, heidi

Friday, January 4, 2019

What are you looking for?

"What are you looking for?"
John 1:38

As we grow older, and, perhaps more reflective, we can sense Jesus asking us this question too. We have reached some of life's goals, we have raised families, we have done what we felt called to do. Now what are we looking for? Ponderous, isn't it? No wonder older people seem wise! Maybe we've been too busy doing all the other stuff to sit for long stretches of time in silence. Maybe we are too stir crazy to think too deeply and come up with an answer to Jesus' question. But there is no time like the present to give it a think. What are we looking for? The old hymn "Just a Closer Walk with Thee" pops into my mind when I think on this question. I always seem to desire to be closer to Jesus, though Jesus living right in my heart should be close already, right? The problem is that I tend to fall back on the idea that God is out there, somewhere, not in here, in my heart. I can sit and hear Jesus say to me, "What are you looking for? It's right inside your heart, right now. Always. Sit still and go there." I think that is the gift of contemplation...sitting and finding, both what we're looking for and where it is. Blessings on the first weekend of the new year! Love, heidi

Thursday, January 3, 2019

More important than ourselves...

"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others."
Philippians 2:3-4

The folks at Pray-As-You-Go used this reading today and it really struck me. What if everyone heeded this from St. Paul? Oh, I'm sure there are many who do live this way, in the quiet of their own lives, but what if those in power thought more of others than themselves? Can you imagine how the world could change and heal? There must be a deep survival mechanism wired within us that causes us to look out for ourselves. But there is also a grace deep within that urges people to sacrificially serve others. Think of the heroes and heroines we hear of whenever there is a tragedy...the helpers, as Mister Rogers would say. Those are the people who react as this reading suggests, for others, putting others first, not looking out for themselves. That grace is stronger in them than the instinct to look out for their own safety or need. Today, as we still bask in the freshness of the new year, let's pray for help uncovering that grace within ourselves. God put it within us; it is there. We just need to tap into it. Love, heidi