July 13, 2018
The Ordinary time of summer
Summer for some means a time to slow down…for others it’s a “gearing up”; especially those who make a living working at resorts, golf courses, lawn care service and road construction to name just a few. For others it’s a time to pull back from routine and walk through daily life a bit less frazzled. Summer for me becomes a time to soak up as much vitamin D and porch time as I can.
Within our church year we are right now in the midst of ordinary time – green is the church color and we are also surrounded with the lush hues of green blanketing our landscapes. The season of ordinary time can and often does present us with some pretty extraordinary moments.
Opportunities for encountering the Divine Creator, can grace us in the moments of songs of praise that ring out each morning as the chick-a-Dees, cardinals, robins, blue jays and occasional high pitched screech of a pileated woodpecker landing on the suet, gather their songs greeting the day.
The swirling sound of leaves, as the wind blows first through the tops of the trees and then reaching the ground, can offer the cool, refreshing touch of morning air, as one sips the first drink from the cup of morning coffee.
Summer for me is a time to step out of routine to give myself permission to enter each day slowing down just a little. However ritual and routine sometimes become hard patterns to break and it does require some gentle effort.
Recently I came across an article entitled: Sacred Sauntering and Holy Lollygagging, by Genevieve Glen. In this article she states “we are a society driven by time management and the force to be productive – be useful”. We are coerced into doing instead of being. She goes on to say in the article “It’s summer!” Do yourself a favor and if you can shorten your “to do” list, live a bit more “untied” to your day planner and enter into a mini vacation then do so”. Reading further, I was surprised to learn that the word vacation comes from the Latin “vacare” meaning to empty out; be idle.
As I finished this article it affirmed for me the necessity of allowing myself to be idle. I am now enticed to mosey more graciously into the ordinary time of summer and would invite you to consider the same.
So take off your shoes and let the waters of mud puddles and area beaches baptize you; let the grass tickle your toes. Taste the sweetness of fresh picked strawberries and blueberries still warm from the kiss of the sun. Linger in a hammock with a good book or a squirrely child or grandchild, anticipating a nap or but more likely an afternoon of wiggles and giggles. Enjoy the fellowship of a gathering of friends and family for an evening picnic and s’mores over a crackling fire.
Know that whatever you choose, our God, our divine author and creator is there among us. For as the words of Brother Francis of Assisi echo in the Canticle of the Sun: “The Heavens are telling the glory of God and all creation is shouting for Joy”.
May 29, 2018
Then Moses said, “Please let me see your glory!” The Lord answered: I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim my name, “Lord,” before you.” ~Exodus 33:18 -23
This scripture passage came alive to me about 3 years ago on a silent retreat. As I entered this time of silence, I wanted so badly to experience the “fullness of God”. In a time of prayer during this retreat, Psalm 33 came to mind; “The earth is full of the goodness of God”. That moment began for me a new way of seeing. No longer do I just see, but I try to taste and feel and hear and smell (although for me my sense of smell is not keen) the goodness of God. I now practice awareness.
Our encounters with God are not chance, nor do they happen infrequently. They are not just for a few chosen, but for all of us. We have opportunities to encounter God’s presence every day. Sometimes these moments of intimacy happen when we’re in nature, with someone we love, with a stranger or in moments of struggle. They can come in times of great joy or a time of great pain and unknowing. Sometimes summer can loosen our rigid schedules and free us to enter a bit slower into life. I’d invite you to embrace this relinquishing and allow yourself to heighten your senses to the “fullness of God” all around us.
In Exodus 33:29 when Moses encountered God on Mount Sinai, it states “he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant, while he spoke with the Lord”. While there may not be any outward sign for us, trust of the inward power of God’s love to transform.
In the intersection of frustration and flat out denial, we meet.
In the laughter and lively conversation between friends over coffee, we meet.
In the smells of freshly cut grass, an approaching rain and Grandma’s fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, we meet.
In the faint light of morning, and the dim light of night, where the robin’s song signals the start of a new day the last song at night, we meet.
In the sometimes restless space of my heart, we meet.
In the exuberant hug of a grandchild, we meet.
On the holy ground, that produces the taste of vine-ripened, sun-warmed blueberries and strawberries, we meet.
In the chaos of addiction, which ends in shattered dreams and broken promises, we meet.
In the last breath of a dying parent, we meet.
In the pages of a good book or in the melody of music, we meet
In the unexplainable joy of holding once again, the daughter whom was birthed in and placed from my womb, to the arms of another woman to love and raise, we meet.
In the sterile environment of an exam room when a diagnosis of uncertainty is given, we meet.
When I walk with my hand clasped in the hand of the man I committed to love honor and cherish, we meet.
In the simplicity of my screened in porch, serenaded by the purr of my cat asleep on my lap, we meet.
In the inner turmoil and courage it takes to come out to your family and friends, facing the fear of ridicule and rejection, from a society that sometimes is unwilling to accept, we meet.
In the building called church
where strangers gather together to become
the Body of Christ,
April 29, 2018
Each year around this time, my husband and I become restless. We’ve just survived six months of winter and are eagerly anticipating green grass, golf courses and porch time. So in an effort to practice patience we begin some “nesting” projects to alleviate this itch for spring.
In our household this attempt to change usually involves some minor home improvement projects and general cleaning out and getting rid of. The cleaning out can be an overwhelming task to even begin. But as most of you know, with any good project dismantling has to happen first in order for transformation to take place. I don’t know what your process is but mine is messy. I start in one area and before you know it every cupboard door and closet is open and the rearranging begins.
Several years ago I was feeling totally overwhelmed with “stuff” and we ordered a dumpster for our spring time clean up. I began foraging through the house scooping up items that no longer had significance in the life of our family. I trudged back and forth to that dumpster umpteen times I’m sure, grumbling with each trip, at the amount of stuff we had accumulated and no longer needed, nor would anyone else want for that matter. After a time, I began to realize that my steps became lighter, my demeanor more pleasant and I began to feel less crabby. It took me a bit to understand what was happening, but eventually I came to realize that the physical release of some of the items I was tossing was also giving me an emotional release. The freedom I began to feel was that of letting go. With each item I threw into the dumpster I began to liberate of the emotional baggage that was keeping me from transformation. This dumpster became a holy dumping ground for me.
I wish I could say that I mastered this practice of holding on and letting go, but I haven’t. Somehow I still accumulate “stuff”; both physical and emotional. What I have become better at though is recognizing the signs of when it is time to stop and embark again in this holy task or organization.
When I begin to feel restlessness or unsettled with things or people around me, I know it’s time to give myself the privilege of, slowing down to take a look inside the dresser drawers of my heart. What is it I need to get rid of? Am I holding on to anger, resentment, fear, jealousy? Or have I just stuffed my space with so much busyness (much like my Tupperware cupboard which I quick open to throw another piece in, in hopes nothing will fall out) that it keeps me occupied and not having to deal with my own real issues? In his book Everything Belongs, Richard Rohr states, “how you are living in your heart is the truth”. My heart has been in a bit of disarray lately and needs some tending to. This requires time. Now I realize that most of the minutes in your day as in mine, are spoken for. We all have commitments and obligations to attend to; so I’m not suggesting you “pencil in” another time commitment to help you overcome your already hectic schedule. However a suggestion might be to pray for awareness as you begin this process of cleaning. By requesting awareness we seek God’s help to examine those times during our days when we have a couple of free minutes to “rest in God” and then to reorganize and regroup. It is often in those stolen moments I am filled with gratitude at what I’m surrounded by; my home, a cup of coffee, a cardinal at the feeder, my cat purring on the sunny window ledge, clothes folded on the table to be put away, dishes in the sink needing to be washed reminding me I had food to eat, cars and crayons on the dining room table, which remind me of the little people that occupy a place in my heart. These little “Sabbath moments” tell again of the presence and blessings of God in my life; helping me to stop and appreciate this yearly ritual.
So as I continue this sacramental task of “spring cleaning out” I have committed to enjoy the process this year and become aware to those buried blessings tucked away in the depths of my heart - and my closets!
March 26, 2018
Almost every day I am allowed to witness a sweet moment of connection and care. There are two school age children, about the ages of 10 and 6, perhaps a brother and a sister, maybe neighbors or cousins, who are in route to a destination known only to them. I assume though that this back pack laden two-some, holding one another’s hand are making their way to school. They protectively hold each other’s hands and with sensitivity guide one another to the side of the road as they are passed by cars.
I am affectionately, tickled as I observe the smiles on their faces and the movement of their mouths, in which I secretly wonder what it is they must be sharing to enlist such an amusing reaction. This witness of connection always brings a smile to my face and emotion rises in my throat at the tenderness displayed and the lesson they are teaching me.
This little connection of care has prompted me to reflect on the invitations I receive daily as God reaches out to me and says “take my hand”. It’s not an invitation of control but rather of desire. God says, “here reach out, I’ll walk with you; Let me walk with you today”.
Recently I did accept a wonderful invitation, and that has been to walk with the 8 candidates and 1 catechumen who will be fully initiated in the Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil. And what a walk it’s been! It has been one of friendship, of mutual sharing, of growth, joy, pain, excitement and most especially love. As we grew deeper in this walk of faith, we began to understand more fully what it means to be the “Body of Christ”. We learned from one another, through our own stories, of the ever-present, unending flow of God’s love and mercy.
As we near the Easter Vigil, we understand we reach an important destination, but we don’t stop there. It’s only a rest stop if you will. This celebration of the Eucharist will provide for us the gifts we will need to move on and enter into the next part of this marvelous journey. As we reach new destinations, we do so changed by our experiences and grateful for the comrades who have been with us along the way. We go forward, knowing we will never journey alone and each new opportunity presents the potential of a new hand to hold.
So I invite you to “take our hands” and come along with us: Tara, Reese, Gretchen, Olivia, Brandon, Richard, Terry, Austin and Andrew and all the other companions who’ve traveled with them this far, as we all make our way to this Eucharistic feast of Easter. And as we extend our hands forward to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, may it arise in us the courage we need to then extend our hands out in front of us, behind us and sideways; reaching out in compassion to those whom we might next encounter, and say, “Here take my hand, I’ll walk with you”.