Previous Heidi-Grams

July 18, 2011
"He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.'"
Matthew 13:29
This is yesterday's gospel (Matthew 13:24-43), and it surely bears repeating and rethinking today.  We heard in our homily yesterday that this parable was Jesus teaching that God will never give up on us.  God will absolutely hang in with us to the very end because God sees the good in us.  So, no, don't pull up the weeds.  Allow them to grow and possibly, they will change.  Allow us to grow and possibly we will change!  Who's to say who are the "weeds" in this gospel anyway.  We can puff ourselves up and feel like we are the wheat in the parable, but are we really?  Humbly, we know that we can be just as weedy as the next guy and we must be grateful for the opportunity to grow and change.  Today, let's celebrate this summer Monday by thanking God for a new chance to grow in faith and love and, with God's help, cast off our weediness!  Love, heidi

July 15, 2011
"While I was provincial (of the Sisters of Notre Dame), three sisters of my community all died on the same day. We were stunned. In the midst of our grieving, someone asked me, 'What do you think God is trying to tell us?' I said, 'God is trying to tell us what God is always trying to tell us--at every Eucharist, with every scripture reading, in our own personal prayer. God is telling us: Life is a gift, life is precious, love one another, allow others to love you, take up your cross, follow me, trust me.'"
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"
And to that, on this summer Friday, all I can add is Amen!  Love, heidi

July 14, 2011

"Thomas Merton said that when he undertook to embrace a life of nonviolence, he started by closing doors softly. Perhaps we can start with that small gesture and move on to other gestures such as walking more slowly, driving less frantically, speaking more respectfully to and about others, letting someone else go ahead of us in line, doing with less 'stuff,' spending time with an elderly person." 
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"
This made so much sense to me when I read it on retreat and in reading it again today.  We change our lives by small, do-able steps, one step at a time.  These are all things I have difficulty with, too...the driving, the 'stuff'.  The time I spend with my elderly clients teaches me so much, everyday, that I have experienced how valuable it is! And how my life was enriched by my relationship with my favorite-elderly-person Helen!  Let's read and reread this little list and see where we can start making positive changes in our lives.  If we aren't growing, changing, and evolving into more Christ-like people, we aren't living in Christ!  Love, heidi
July 13, 2011

"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?'"
Exodus 3:11
No doubt about it--Moses was a reluctant leader!  He did everything he could do to wiggle out of God's plan and yet....he was the guy.  One wonders why God didn't find someone more well-suited to the task; at least someone more enthusiastic and willing!  God cajoled, finally convinced Moses, and sent him on his way. But one wonders...why Moses?  Moses may have been difficult, but he was pliable.  When push came to shove, Moses did what God asked.  Looking at our lives today, are there things we are being called to do and we are writhing in "find somebody else" mode? God reassured Moses that God would be with him as he tackled the task.  God is no less with us today.  Whatever hard stuff we have to do we can dig deep and do.  We don't tackle it alone and we don't accomplish it alone, but with God at our side.  Love, heidi

July 12, 2011

"A healthy fear of God means we never, in the name of love or anything else, reduce God to some sort of cosmic chum or divine bellboy. We never equate God's will with our own personal preferences....the fact remains, a profound reverence for God will always be a necessary component of a loving relationship with God."
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"
Whoa...that really hit me when I read it-- several times!  Our relationship with God isn't about God doing our will.  It is about us doing God's will.  God isn't a genie or Santa Claus or this "divine bellboy" that Sr. Melannie, so vividly, mentions here.  We must have an awe of God, a reverence--often called "fear" of the Lord in scriptures.  God loves us tenderly as a father, but still wants what's best for us and doesn't give in to our wild whims and desires.  God knows what we need and we need to respect that.  And, surprisingly, that image doesn't differ much from the Prodigal Son's father running down the road to greet him. We want the loving father picture of God, sure enough.  But with that love is protectiveness, and concern about the choices we make.  And, ultimately, God's desire for us to set it all down and come to Him. God is God.  We are not.  That's a relief!  Love,  heidi

July 11, 2011
"But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears because they hear."
Matthew 13:16

Jesus was referring to his disciples because they were able to be there with him, witness the miracles, hear the explanations of the parables and in all of that, witness the Father. When I heard this yesterday, my mind flashed to a couple of hours earlier when I was doing my readings and prayer in my backyard.  It was so beautifully quiet and peaceful! I watched a small bird high up in my neighbor's pine tree and wondered if there could be a nest up there.  The light was just right and the bird moved just enough that I could see him.  It was such an amazing sight!  I felt so privileged to be able to watch this little guy for quite a while.  I realized that, this tiny bird is as precious and loved by God as any human being.  God loves all of his creation with an incomprehensible love.  I felt so gifted to be able to see and hear that miracle, this day.  Life is precious, and what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch is gift.  God continually is working miracles in our lives and our world. We just need to stop and see them. Blessings on your summer Monday! Love, heidi

July 8, 2011
"As we journey through life, may we grow in our hunger to meet Jesus. May we always feel as if we have so much more to gain. May we always feel that the journey is still before us..."
Sr. Melannie Svoboda, "In Steadfast Love"

Surprisingly, after my three-day silent retreat, my reaction was, "I need to do this again--maybe even a longer one!" I was afraid, going in, that I would have trouble with the silence, but, turns out, the silence was like meeting a new friend.  I find myself hungry and restless for more time with Jesus, in silence.  Fortunately for me, I can find that right here, without going back to Kansas! I am choosing times of silence, where before I may have listened to music or had the TV on, if even for noise.  Sr. Melannie quotes St. Augustine about this restlessness, "Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in thee." We are not to be content in this life; it is not possible.  Our hearts yearn and long for our Home and God and, while we are on this earth, that hole cannot be filled.  But the restlessness and the longing are good. We know there is something missing and we yearn to find it.  That longing can keep us searching for God and in a state of openness.  Today and this weekend, let us spend some time in silence.  Even if it is just turning off the car radio.  Let's listen to the yearning of our hearts and thank God that one day that hole will be filled.  Love, heidi

July 6, 2011

"I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. not reproach yourselves for having sold me here..."
Genesis 45:4-5

The story of Joseph and his brothers treating him so badly and him later forgiving them is one we should read and heed!  It teaches us about forgiveness and also how God can make good come of the messes we make.  Joseph's brothers hated him because their father favored him.  It was pure jealousy that occurs so often in families, among siblings (I was an only-child--it baffles me!)  Here is Joseph, recognizing his brothers and realizing their sin against him and forgiving them...embracing them even!  And, since the brothers came to Joseph for help during a famine, he points to God as the healer of the whole mess.  "God sent me here ahead of you." (v. 5)  So, not only does Joseph let them off the hook, he shows them how their evil actions were part of God's plan to help their whole family!  Amazing!  Today, let us think about any jealousy we may harbor against anyone.  Let's allow God to turn that around in our hearts and work miracles in our relationships. Love, heidi

July 5, 2011

"I will not let you go until you bless me."
Genesis 32:27

Jacob's night of wrestling with God troubles us.  We'd rather have our encounters with the Divine go a little smoother and be a little more pleasant, wouldn't we?  And then, Jacob is left with a lifelong limp after wrestling with God all night!  That part IS part of our experience though.  We never come away from an encounter with God unchanged.  Whether we are wrestling with God or just sitting and basking in God's grace, we are experiencing God and God's Presence.  So, the results are that we are changed forever.  Sometimes, I think, we can fear encounters with God because they may lead to too much change and that is fear-producing. What if we have to give up this or that? What if people in our lives don't understand this change that takes place in us?  We can get comfortable in a little niche and not want to go deeper or cast our nets out further.  And yet. God beckons.  Today, let us think about Jacob's wrestling with God and our wrestling with God and ponder how changed we have been.  And let's thank God for these encounters...even if they leave us with a limp!  Love, heidi

July 1, 2011

"There is nothing quite like a friend who, when he or she says, 'I will pray for you,' you already begin to feel the tide of hell retreating."
J. Ellsworth Kalas, "Strong Was Her Faith"

Isn't that a beautiful truth?  We have heard in the readings lately about the Centurion's servant who was healed by Jesus without Jesus being there or without the servant even asking for healing himself.  His employer was the one who asked Jesus...thus, interceded on his servant's behalf with God (Matthew 8:5-13). Jesus' mother, Mary, interceded at the wedding feast of Cana, by simply identifying a problem, "They have no wine." (John 2:3).  So, it seems, we are to pray for one another...if to join our hearts with another person and share in their need or concern.  Do random thoughts of people pop into your head?  Then pray for them, right then and there.  When difficulties arise with others, respond to their needs physically and prayerfully.  Lives are changed through our prayers for others!  Let's celebrate our Independence this weekend, but also our interdependence on each other and God!

June 30, 2011

"The mystery of God is what holds up your whole life...Your holiness is God's holiness in you. Your love is God's love in you...You carry God's light within you, and you become wholly yourself when this light shines through you unhindered."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

"The mystery of God is what holds up your whole life." Isn't that an amazing truth? We are "spiritual human beings," according to Fr. Stinissen, because God's Spirit resides within us.  St. Paul says in Galatians, "It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me." (Gal 2:20) The Spirit is there, we just need to tap into it!  The love is there, and beyond our human ability to love, we just need to tap into it.  Deep within us is a reservoir of holiness, we just need to tap into it.  These are some deep thoughts for our last day of June, but let's think them!  Love, heidi

June 29, 2011

Exchange with one dear, little elderly sister as we passed in the hallway at the Motherhouse:

Sister: Good Morning!
Me: Good Morning, Sister, how are you?
Sister: Oh, I'm just fine, Dear, how are you?
Me: I'm great Sister, thanks.
Sister: Oh! Thank God!

And, she is right.  There it is...we need to thank God every single morning we wake up breathing, and then many more times throughout the day if we continue breathing. This little sister was slowly making her way down the long hall with her walker and, in stark contrast, I was loping along like a stag.  And, she reminds me who to thank.  And I'm gonna remind you.  Thank. God.  Love, heidi

June 28, 2011

"Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
'I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world.'"
John 6:51

I just attended the 50th Jubilee mass for the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, on the Feast of the Body of Christ!  Sr. Maureen, one of the Jubilarians and the Community Director told a moving story during the celebration.  She recalled working at a soup kitchen and how grateful they were, this day, for the day-old bread donated by a local bakery.  They had many hearty, multi-grain loaves; what we might consider "gourmet" bread.  One gentleman came up to her and humbly asked, "Sister, do you have any good bread today...something soft? I just had eight teeth pulled."  He was hoping for some white Wonder bread that he could eat with his very sore mouth. Sister Maureen reminded us Jesus gave us the "Good Bread"...his very own Body.  Our task is to take that and then BE good bread for the world, by loving, caring, forgiving, and nourishing others.  Today, as we go about our summer Tuesday, think about all we can do to be Good Bread.  As we have received this gift, we must share it!  Love, heidi

June 20, 2011

"All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You."
Gungor, "Beautiful Things"

When I first heard this song on K-love, I double-checked the station...was I still on K-love?  It is a bit different from the usual playlist, or so I thought.  Then I listened to the words and it hit me right between the eyes.  Yes, indeed.  This song is so much of our lives.  We get into messes and God makes a garden of it.  Think about this amazing fact today.  And look around at the beautiful things God has made! Oh! And I will be gone the rest of the week, retreating and celebrating with the Sisters of Charity!  You will all be in my prayers! Love, heidi

June 16, 2011
"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness."
2 Corinthians 11:30

This is so interesting because we would think that St. Paul would rather boast of being a big, strong, Soldier of Christ, wouldn't we?  Why then does he boast only of his weakness?  I think it is because God can work through our weakness so mightily!  It is in our weakness that we are pliable.  In our weakness we realize that our own power is limited and small.  That is when God can come and lift up the heavy end.  In our weakness we are open and vulnerable.  God can enter and infuse us with His power.  As soon as we can realize that God is big and we are little we can let go of our own egos and allow the One who really can do something to do something.  But, it is hard for us little humans.  We want to be able to take pride in our strength, when, instead, God wants us to give Him our weakness.  It's a magnificent nearly-summer morning.  Let's celebrate our weakness with this prayer:  "Help me, Lord, I'm inadequate!"  Love, heidi

June 15, 2011

"The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. 'Jesus took a towel...and began to wash the disciples' feet.'"
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

Jesus is our perfect example!  He used the simple things and they became the profound.  He took bread, blessed it and broke it...he took wine.  Jesus used the things around him to teach and to heal and to help.  Of course he did.  He was born in a manger.  His people were simple people.  His life was usual...until it wasn't.  Jesus teaches us that it is in the simple and even the mundane that God works miracles.  This never ceases to amaze me and I see it everyday in my work.  Our job is to trust that God works through us even when we feel unworthy.  God works through the simple and usual things we do...wiping a child's runny nose, preparing a meal for loved ones, planting a garden, using our gifts to help others.  Today, let's be aware of the little things we do that may seem insignificant to us, but, with God's grace, can really help others.  Love, heidi

June 14, 2011

"If you have ever sought answers to the most important questions of life from Jesus, you will never again find the deep, lasting joy anywhere other than in him, in obedience to his will for your life."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

This was stunning to me this morning.  I guess the phrase, "in obedience to his will for your life" jumped out at me because I wonder what exactly Jesus' will is for my life.  Am I already doing it? Or is doing Jesus' will up around the next corner?  What exactly is Jesus' will for my life and do I REALLY want to know it?  The whole conversation I had in my head reminded me of when I spent a Come and See weekend with two orders of nuns, trying to discern this exact question.  When I asked about the call to the religious life, they answered me, "God's call is deep inside your heart, Heidi-dear, what is your deepest desire for your life? God doesn't expect you to serve him miserably your whole life...he puts his will deep inside your heart."  Such wise women, these sisters!  I guess that is why I am going on retreat with them next continue to discern Jesus' will for my life, and also to celebrate the life, in Jesus, I have right now!  Love, heidi

June 13, 2011

"And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit...'"
John 20:22

Yesterday was the feast of Pentecost, so these readings are still fresh in my mind.  The coming of the Holy Spirit in our lives may not look like the first Pentecost, with the apostles receiving the Spirit as tongues of fire.  Or we may not have felt much or remember much of our Confirmation or Baptism.  But, for most of us, there was a time and place, we can put our finger on, when we felt God touching our lives.  Maybe it was a Cursillo or other retreat.  Maybe it was a difficult time in our lives when we felt carried by God.  Sometimes, the Presence of the Holy Spirit is felt when we least expect it, not during a ceremony when we are "supposed" to feel it.  We all have our own personal Pentecost experiences...maybe even many of them! The important thing is that we have experiences where we feel touched, empowered, energized and deeply loved by God.  We need to be awake and aware!  Love, heidi

June 10, 2011

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us."
Psalm 103

Casting Crowns has a great song called "East to West," which really brings this scripture home for me.  One of the best lines is: "I'm not holding onto you but you're holding onto me." God's forgiveness is so vast and so out of our realm that we cannot imagine we can stand there, after God's mercy, as though we've never sinned.  I invite you to listen to the song and take some time this weekend to think about the enormous gift of God's mercy. You can check out the video here: 

June 8, 2011

"God himself builds up his reign in you, if only you remove all obstacles."
Fr. Wilfrid Stinissen, "This is the Day the Lord Has Made"

This really interested me this morning because it started me thinking about what are the obstacles we put in the way of God building within us.  Our own will or agenda could be an obstacle, as well as our mistaken idea that we can, or must, do it all.  It seems that only when we let go of a situation can we watch God work miracles.  Later in this same reading, Fr. Stinissen says, "Death is a reminder that the most important thing in life is not to do but to trust."  At the moment of our death, we finally release that tight control we cling to throughout our lives.  But, why not try to do it sooner?  Why not try to trust God now?  We all may have different obstacles that God encounters trying to work in us.  What are they and how can we let go of them?  Love, heidi

June 6, 2011

"'What if you had one day perfectly healthy,' I asked. 'What would you do?'
...After all these months. lying there, unable to move a leg or a foot--how could he find perfection in such an average day. Then I realized that was the whole point."
Mitch Albom, "Tuesdays With Morrie"

If you ever read "Tuesdays With Morrie," you may remember the chapter where they discuss the perfect day.  You may have even shared that musing with others...what would your perfect day be like if you could design it, start to finish?  Surprisingly, the days I heard about didn't include fancy trips or cruises.  They didn't include winning the lottery or meeting famous people.  They were days that we did our favorite things with our favorite people.  Just like Morrie, the days included rather ordinary activities, with the people we love, from enjoying our favorite breakfast to falling into a comfy bed at night.  And that was yesterday for me.  Please take some time today to think about your perfect day.  Think about how God gifts us with perfectly average days all the time and we really need to thank God for them.  Think about those who are struggling with life right now and a perfect day for them seems far away.  Love, heidi
June 3, 2011

"The things that make God dear to us are not so much His great blessings as the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us."
Oswald Chambers, "My Utmost for His Highest"

This is such a great opportunity, today and this weekend, to ponder some of the tiny blessings that show us God's involvement in the smallest niches of our lives!  Let's open our eyes and really be aware of the tiny blessings, the times when we just KNOW that God has swept through our midst.  The other day, while riding my bike to work, I caught the fragrance of a lilac bush.  I would have missed that gift had I been in my car! The littlest blessings, like the fragrances of spring, are gifts that God gives us constantly!  Let's not miss them!  Love, heidi 

June 1, 2011

“I have much more to tell you“, but you cannot bear it now."
John 16:12

It seems that, lately, as I close out my day with prayer, I am apologizing to God for coming up so short.  You know that how, as we age and learn more, we actually learn what little we know? Well, this is similar.  The closer I get to God, the more I can feel I am letting God down.  Yesterday's revelation, that we are basically good and that our natural selves reside in good behavior, was such a surprise because I look around my attitudes and behavior and see there is so much room for improvement.  My dad used to say that after Sunday mass when describing my behavior..."There's always room for improvement," he'd say, leaving me wonder what on earth I'd have to do to actually get a "good" rating in church!  Bigger than all of this, of course, is the fact that God loves us so hugely that we cannot begin to comprehend it.  That is where the Holy Spirit comes in.  The Spirit can guide us into being better people as well as giving us a glimpse of God's bigger-than-life love for us.  Jesus couldn't tell it all to his disciples, even after spending three years with them, continually teaching them.  I cannot get it all here and now either.  But the Spirit can open my eyes and give me a glimpse.  Love, heidi