Paul as Cheerleader

I often think of a truth that I heard long ago from someone far back in memory and I bless the person who brought it to me like so many gifts from forgotten sources – the angels given to us for guidance in life…This gift, like a 100-watt light bulb, revealed that it is not at the beginning of life that we are expected to be perfect. Rather we are here to learn and wake up as we go so that by the end of life we might have come to understand what it was we were here to be and do. That was a big relief to me since I had early taken to heart the adage: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” and imagined that there was a time frame (like “today!”) appended to it.

There’s a lot of “wiggle room” in that recognition: a lot less guilt for mistakes and even for the occasional tantrum! It’s our effort that God is looking for, I believe. And that’s why I appreciate some of St. Paul’s best advice, as in his letters to the burgeoning Christian communities. Today, for example, Paul calls us brothers and sisters and urges us down through the ages to “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…” (EPH 4) Paul is sometimes very directive in his words to an audience but sometimes (as in the above quote) he is like a kind cheerleader, remembering his own lessons earlier in life, and motivating us to remember who and whose we are.

If Only…

Tags

, , , , ,

Today’s gospel reading from the lectionary is one of the most familiar to many of us. Some may not know where to find it in the Scriptures but most can usually recite a reasonable facsimile when pressed to speak about the greatest commandment. As often as we hear it, we should heed it and it seems to me there is no better time than now to take it to heart. If only we would all write it on a bulletin board or pin it on the door leading to the exit of our house or – better yet – make sure it is written on and in our hearts and keep it there until it becomes an automatic practice — for our lives and the life of the world.

Having been asked: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus answered, You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. (MT 22)

If only we would learn that short paragraph, teach it to our children and observe it ourselves, what a different world ours would be. It remains, however, like a ship passing across our field of vision until we jump off and dive into the depths of its meaning.

Are we willing to dive deeper today?

Out of Control

Tags

, , , ,

The beautiful trees outside my bedroom window have lost all their leaves now. After the wind of the past few days and the rain all night that will be with us all day, they could not hold on. It is the way of things. We are moving into a new season and have no say in how it will affect us. It is out of our control.

It feels that way with most things now and Meg Wheatley reminds me today of our options on a day like this. It is clearly not within our power to change much of what goes on around us so we ought to take her advice today. She says this:

There is only one thing we can control in life — our own self. We can control our thoughts, our emotions, our responses. We can observe our behaviors and reactions and realize we made a choice. Therefore, we could choose a different response. If we have ourselves under control. (Perseverance, p.107)

That’s a wake up call for me if ever there was one! A good thing to remember and a place to put consciousness on a grey, rainy Saturday. How’s the weather in your corner of the world?

Aftermath

Tags

, ,

8:33 a.m.: As I wait for my body to catch up to my mind this morning, I sit in the planning stage of choices. Should I reflect more about yesterday’s safe and energetic road trip and meeting? (See yesterday’s post.) Should I move toward the several household chores that await me? Should I tackle the “homework” for next week’s zoom gatherings? I could say: “All of the above” and make one of my ever-present lists on yet another small notepad or used envelope or should I trust my mind to total recall – (not really a safe option!).

The best idea is, I think, staring at me from the corner of my room: my meditation mat, ready to receive me…the best way to start my day. So please excuse me while I drop into the day with God.

Before the Dawn

Tags

, , , , , ,

It is 6:37 a.m. and still dark outside. It is totally quiet inside and out – the only sound being that of my keyboard. As I wait for the light to come I wonder when the niggling anxiety will cease – inside and out. Today I will go to Albany – a 2 1/2-hour journey from here, the safety of home, the bubble I have lived in for eight months. My only travel has been to the tiny post office in our village and the drive-up window outside at the bank, except for a few antiseptic trips driving people to doctor’s offices and generally waiting outside in the cocoon of my car.

It is a strange feeling – inside and out. I am going to a “long-range planning” meeting with nine of my Sisters in religious community at a time when any sort of planning is tentative at best. We plan for a future that has been on hold now for over seven months – a future full of important projects necessary to our lives in this time of diminishment of numbers. One would think it a futile challenge, but as I begin to see the outline of the trees outside and the sound of my alarm that tells me it is time to wake up, I do.

I hear St. Paul in the lectionary today encouraging the Ephesians, praying for them that God may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you (we), rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you (we) may be filled with all the fullness of God. (EPH 3) As I draw breath and strength from those words the psalmist weighs in with the certitude that “the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. (PS 33)

The birds are awake and singing now. I see the clearly the tree outside and a faint expanse of pink in the sky. I am ready to meet the day and all its potential for me and us – inside and out.

Stillness

Tags

, , , , ,

A few days ago I read a sentence that Eckhart Tolle had on his website. It was a “thought for the day” that might well be be made into a poster to hang in the bedrooms of busy people – or anyone really. See if you agree.

Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.

And remember that stillness is not the same as silence. Just check into your brain if you think you’re in stillness to see if there are still thoughts running around, and then breathe, letting everything fall away in the same way that the leaves are falling these days from the trees even when there is no wind – or even a breeze. They just let go…

Metanoia

Tags

, , , , , , ,

In Lynn Bauman’s book on the psalms, Ancient Songs Sung Anew, the commentary speaks of the concept of metanoia, one of my favorite terms for reconciliation or turning around. In a more exact rendering, it is Greek for “after or beyond the mind or thought.” It suggests a change of mind or heart, a spiritual conversion or even a re-formation. There is (of course!) a song by the Saint Louis Jesuits that speaks well of that process, with God saying: ‘Turn to me, O, turn and be saved,” says the Lord, “For I am God. There is no other, none beside me. I call your name.” It’s that last part that always makes me stand to sing it and move my body slowly to the music in a circle while almost stationary (just tiny movements of my feet) that takes me in the opposite direction to where I was facing.

Hearing God’s call is always a motivator but we need to be still and attentive to hear the voice. It helps to use our bodies to listen. Try it. (Song on YouTube “Turn To Me,” by John Foley) Be sure to listen to the verses…Try it. You may like it.

Bigger Barns

Tags

, , , , ,

I have been in the process of “de-cluttering” for some months now. It seems that’s the only good opportunity in this season of Covid-19. Sometimes I wake up with great incentive but when I look at the end of the day I see that I have gone through my closet and there are only four or five items in the box that I will give away. Maybe my intention for the day had been clearing out my e-mail list and I find it much longer than I expected with things I am sure I will give attention to in the near future so I turn off my computer after reading one or two “important” documents. And then there is my car which seems forever destined to have very little room for companions because of all the boxes that I call “my traveling office.”

I have always identified today’s gospel as “Bigger Barns” and often remind myself of my state of consciousness with that simple alliteration. I wonder at those times where “letting go” went as I take a deep breath and attempt a purge in whatever corner of my life or heart seems most cluttered. I wonder where I would choose to start if I heard God speaking to me as did the rich man in today’s gospel (LK 12) who was looking for a place to store his “bountiful harvest.”

I’m glad today is Monday. I’m always willing to start over on Monday. It’s getting late so I ought to get started before “overwhelm” sets in. May you have the kind of profitable day that I hope for. I will be satisfied, I hope, with crossing off at least some of the items on my “to-do” list. What about you?

Snippets

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Kitchen conversation this morning yielded an important lesson. Sister Paula picked up one of the devotional pamphlets from the table next to her and began to read a reflection. Set a guard over my mouth, Lord, it read. Keep watch over the door of my lips. (Ps. 141) A worthy prayer, we all agreed.

Messages are everywhere of how we should be in this world, especially in the USA in the run-up to our national elections. Psalm 141 could follow us around all day, finishing as the light disappears toward evening with the following verse: May my prayer come before you like incense, the lifting up of my hands like the evening sacrifice

As if that isn’t enough, the gospel acclamation for today fairly shouts: Shine like lights in the world as you hold on to the word of life. (PHIL 2) So as the Pharisees go off and plot how they might entrap Jesus in speech (MT. 22), we ought to remember these words and those of Paul that tell us how we were chosen. “For the gospel did not come to us in word alone but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.”

Have a meaningful day!

Right Timing

Tags

, , , , ,

I’m always amazed at the transformation in the natural world that happens in the autumn here in the Northeast United States. Somehow, absent a catastrophic event like a hurricane, the “peak” weekend for the splendor of the colorful foliage – the weekend for “leaf peeking” is around Columbus Day (now being named by increasing numbers of people as “Indigenous Peoples Day”). It seems to make little difference whether or not there is good evidence for the timing but this year was a late blooming yet eventually spectacular event precisely on the central date of October 12th. Now it’s up to us to allow the leaves to fall, remembering the beauty of the miracle of transformation that has just happened.

In another example of synchronicity, today’s lectionary readings offer a commentary on this beautiful happening with Psalm 8. It begins: O Lord, our Lord, how glorious is your name over all the earth! Next is a reflection that could and should move us to wonder. The psalmist puts us directly in the midst of the miracle by a statement and then a question.

When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars which you set in place – Who are we that you should be mindful of us, that you should care for us? Yet you have made us little less than the angels and crowned us with glory and honor…

Let us give thanks for the kindness and creativity of our God and revel – perhaps through video and photos – in the wonders that we continue to see in the turning of the seasons throughout the year.