As I sit to write at the very end of the morning, I am feeling blessed for the hour-long phone conversation I had this morning with my sister. We talked about good things in the family and the country that had happened over the past week. We even laughed a lot—an experience that has been severely lacking lately… It’s very cold here this morning; we’re in the grip of an arctic blast, they say. I was glad that I got out of bed when I did, however because, looking out the window onto the back yard, I thought I was in a Disney movie like Fantasia where teapots swirl in a wild musical dance and the snowflakes are huge and blinding! I was in the midst of a very energetic squall – happy to be watching from inside! It was an altogether pleasant morning.
Eckhart Tolle has an appropriate message for today. His “Present Moment Reminder” says the following:
When you make the present moment the focal point of your life instead of past and future, your ability to enjoy what you do – and with it the quality of your life – increases dramatically.”
That seems a perfect corollary to the celebration of the Epiphany, the date of which is usually January 6th but has sometimes been changed to accommodate the faithful whose work schedule is Monday – Friday. I think of the song from the movie “Mame” that shouts out how “we need a little Christmas, right this very minute…we need a little Christmas now.” It was difficult to have a “normal” Christmas this year so maybe what we ought to try is a “do-over,” spending some time on this day when we celebrate the manifestation of Christ to the world to consider how we see Christ in those people who cause gratitude to rise in us whenever we think of or encounter them – and all of the blessings – spiritual and physical – that we have been given over the past year.
Today is a significant one for us – the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province. It is the day on which we are filled with gratitude for the Sisters who have served us in the ministry of leadership over the past seven years and when we look forward in hope to those who pledge themselves now to lead us for the next five years. This is a monumental time of transition and challenge, not only for us but for religious communities of all kinds. I need not enumerate the challenges but we know that wisdom has been and will be the essential element in their ministry. We are confident that we have been well-served and trust that we will not be disappointed as we go forward. In other words, we are very blessed.
In that spirit we would do well to pay attention to the messages of today’s Scripture passages. It’s one of those days when each of the readings has a “stand-out” line or two, in my opinion (of course!). Please join me in a reflection that will be a blessing prayer for our community for today.
- “Come to me heedfully, listen that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.” (IS 55: 3)
- The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs. (PS 145)
- “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ROM 8: 37-39)
- Jesus said to them, ” There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”…They all ate and were satisfied , and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve baskets full. (MT 14: 13 ->)
Won’t you pray, rejoicing with us, in thanksgiving for all our blessings?
It’s mid-afternoon by now, as I finally sit to reflect on this very different Easter Sunday. What I find as I think about it, though, is that it doesn’t really seem so different from all the other Easters that I have known. Susan is always prepared so we have sweet little bunnies (oh yes, stuffed ones) and other treasures for each of us. The livestream from my favorite Church in our area offered a lovely liturgy and I saw on the livestream that there were 397 people attending in addition to me and Liz. Dinner was a grand gesture from Omaha Steaks, provided by a very safety-conscious and delightful new acquaintance who has blessed our lives over the last month.! All that’s left is to clean the grill which is soaking away all the remnants of the yummy steaks. Now come the naps or other quiet occupations, likely to be kindly interrupted once or twice by well-wishers and others calling to make sure we’re okay.
We are okay. We are actually better than okay. We have a home and food and people who love us enough to forego visiting this time, and a God in whose image we and all others have been created and today we give thanks for all those who shine as examples to us of that beneficence. Happy Easter!
The season is well-begun!
About 20 minutes ago I watched the sun peek out from behind the mountain at the back of our property. I was surprised that it showed at all since it was about 8:00am already. It didn’t seem convinced about showing a lot of energy, however. I hope I’m wrong because we need a sunny day. We need to remember the blessings that come to us through the light of the sun – and even the moon on a clear night. They are reminders of our own ability to shine, especially when everything seems so dark around us.
Here’s a short prayer from John Philip Newell that might help us to find some gratitude inside ourselves for what may seem muted right now. We need to remember:
The blessings of sun, the blessings of moon, the blessings of east and of west to guide us on the way…to lighten our eyes, to strengthen our will and our loving. The blessings of earth, the blessings of air, the blessings of fire and water to fill us with heaven, to free us with mercy, to stir us with flames of compassion. (Praying with the Earth: A Prayerbook for Peace, p. 36)
I have a dentist appointment this morning. What does that have to do with spirituality, you might ask. I have come to know that anything can be brought into play in that realm depending on our outlook. Here’s what I mean.
Over the last ten years I have had dental check-ups twice a year and only once has it involved more than a cleaning – that being one small cavity. (I often say my teeth aren’t pretty but they are strong and healthy!) Today’s visit will involve replacement of a crown – a rather more involved process that will involve novocaine and a fair amount of drilling. The truth is, it will probably hurt. The amazing thing today is that I’m not dwelling on that part of the day but rather on the fact that by the time the novocaine wears off my mouth will be healthy and free of decay and I will be good to go!
My point is that a shift in attitude has a lot to do with how an experience can play out for us. Worrying about pain that is not yet present is a waste of energy. I would do better to spend my time welcoming the feeling of blessing that I have a good dental team. Living from the inside is always a good idea and days like today help me to remember that fact.
I have to go now and brush my teeth. I don’t want to be late for my appointment! Blessings on whatever your day holds!
According to the liturgical calendar, today is a “Christmas weekday.” Would you know it if I hadn’t told you? Are your presents still visible under your tree? Are you saying: “What tree?” I’m being facetious, of course – trying to make the point that sometimes we move from expectation (a long process) through experience (sometimes very brief) to let-down (“business as usual”) without savoring the event itself or being changed by it at all.
There are two sets of readings for today and in both St. Paul seems to be pleading for our attention to the effect of Jesus coming into the world. First, the Christmas weekday reading says this: “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we are children of God…Beloved, we are God’s children NOW!” (1 JN 2) The second, from the Letter to the Philippians, urges an even deeper consciousness of who we must be in the name of Jesus. “Brothers and sisters,” Paul says, ” if there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind with the same love, united in heart…”
Can you feel it? Did you experience the love that Christmas calls us to? If not, is there still a chance you might manifest it today or work toward the recognition of which Paul speaks even in some small way? A “hello” or a kind word to a colleague? Even a smile would do for a start. You may be surprised to “see what love God has bestowed upon us.”
Blessings on you this day, children of God.
Today is Thanksgiving. I have been so blessed in my life that it’s sometimes difficult to express the gratitude I hold in my heart for all of it. The most sacred blessing of all is coming to the belief that God loves me unconditionally. No matter what happens I have that conviction and it is my prayer today that others will come to know that truth as well. The message from Brother Luke Ditewig of the Society of St. John the Evangelist says it well today.
You are invited to the feast. It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or who your family is or what you’ve done or what you’ve not done. It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed or how you speak or who you love. There’s a place for you. Dinner is ready. (ssje.org)
May you know God’s choicest blessings today!
“You are an angel!” That’s a common statement for people who have experienced the kindness and help of another in a time of need. We have pictures of angels from our childhood bedrooms and a prayer (“Angel of God, my Guardian dear…”) that got some of us through scary nights in our youth. Today is the commemoration of the Guardian Angels and we can find mention of those holy, welcome beings in both Scripture and Church documents (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 328, 336) Moreover most of us have stories that illustrate God’s protection that we attribute to beings of other realms and humans who have acted as such.
This is a comforting feast, a day on which we thank God for the presence of angels in our lives, be they seen or felt. May you know the blessing of angels and walk in peace today and every day!
Finally, the leaves are beginning to show some colors of autumn! It’s not that I long too much for this miracle of beauty; it means the approach of cold and often inclement weather, after all. It is, however, one of God’s great gifts to those of us who live in the Northeast of the United States. One could spend a lot of time thinking of autumn as metaphor. (Going out “in a blaze of glory” comes to mind as an image.)
I wonder sometimes if all of life is not meant to be that kind of alternation of beauty and dissolution so we don’t hold on to anything too long. I wait for the autumn colors and would love to see them for months, but that would hold back the wonder of snowfall and interrupt the natural order of things…Some of you are already saying, “Fine with me – if I never saw snow again it would be okay!”
I could go on but I don’t know how I even got this far. It doesn’t take much sometimes to set my mind to wandering. I guess my point today would only be one of gratitude for God being in charge of the workings of the world and a wish that we would stop interrupting the flow…of global warming, for example…but there I go again with a new topic!
Enough! Blessings on your Tuesday!