The book of creation tells us
… the sun will rise, even in our darkest hours
The book of creation tells us
… the sun will rise, even in our darkest hours
My novice classmate, sister, and friend Chero reminded me that yesterday was the 11th anniversary of our first profession of vows.
So much had happened since then: four years of social justice ministry, two and a half years of graduate school, and now four and a half years of community ministry on the leadership team. Many moves. And so much in between!
This morning, as I walked down the stairs in my pajamas to get my morning coffee, I remembered that today is the 3rd anniversary of the fire at St. Michael Villa, our regional center where I happen to live. While we are back in our corner of the house that received less smoke damage, we are anxiously anticipating the reopening of the main house soon. Lots of losses and discoveries and moves to temporary housing since waking up to a very real fire alarm.
Both memories lead me to give thanks for the gifts of community and belonging.
The past eleven years have been filled with so much love in action.
Prayers, hopes, and dreams shared.
Challenges and disasters navigated together.
Waiting in joyful hope, and maybe a bit of impatience thrown in for good measure.
Invitations and opportunities.
Roadblocks and detours.
Growing together as community for mission.
Finding my voice as a writer and discovering bit by bit my role as a leader.
It is the big moments and the little ones that make up this adventure called life, and God is always in the mix if we care to look.
I want to continue to believe in the presence of God, the one who strengthens, cheers, and encourages me at all times. – St. John XXIII
I have a little prayer booklet I use sometimes from Twenty Third Publications called Walking with St. John XXIII: 30 days with a good and beloved Pope. This morning I turned at random to a page, which happened to be the second to last page, and read this quote.
Interestingly enough, just a few minutes earlier, I had read this post on our current Pope’s Twitter feed:
In the midst of all those passing things in which we are so caught up, help us, Father, to seek what truly lasts; your presence and that of our brother or sister. – Pope Francis
And I was reminded, instantly, of this quote in our CSJP Constitutions:
We value the ministry of presence as an important dimension of the gospel of peace. In the hope of continuing our tradition of gracious hospitality, we welcome others to our communities and also try to be present to people in their own situations. – CSJP Constitution 18
We are so in danger of disconnection and tuning out all the noise and chaos and bad news and suffering, when truly the invitation is to see God present with us in and through and and beyond all that. Emmanuel, after all, means God with us. God created us, Jesus became one of us, and the Spirit is present among us. Ours is to grow in understanding what this means. Ours is to be open to the presence of God in our day to day moments, not only those precious aha spiritual moments, but in the messy bits too. And I don’t know about you but I have a lot more messy bits than spiritual highs. Our is to be the presence of God for others, and to experience (and accept) the presence of God in others.
At least that’s what my morning prayer time led me to ponder, and I join John XXII in praying and trusting in my loving God who strengthens, cheers, and encourages me/us at all times. If we but listen.
I pray with the rising sun
confident that a new day is on its way.
I rejoice with the birds in the air
and the symphony of creepy and crawly things,
knowing that all good things come from God.
I reflect on the swirly waters,
shifting this way and that
directed by the tides and the wind and
I step into this new day
in the company of the newly risen sun
ready to shine and to love and to live.
For God is good
All creation is good
We are good
And goodness flows like a river
even in murky waters.
Last summer I had four flight cancellations due to weather, which may explain why I wasn’t too upset when my flight from the west to east coast today was delayed three and a half hours. It was still going and it was a direct flight for me, no connections. No worries.
Of course those with connections were no doubt put out as their carefully constructed plans fell apart. I get that.
But I was fresh off a mini break weekend at the Oregon Coast with a friend I have somehow already known for 28+ years. I was renewed, mostly grumpy free, and a bit zen. I had just watched the choppy waves of the storm one day become beautiful shining waters the next day.
The plane ride itself was uneventful, until, that is, we started our descent just as the sun was setting above the skies and the storms brewing below. Breathtaking.
We landed into mid storm, with lightening strikes and tornado warnings. Ground crew were grounded, so it took awhile to get to the gate. But we were safe.
My positive attitude lasted the next hour while we waited for our bags. Remember those storms? Baggage crews were also grounded, not able to go outside and take our bags off the plane.
Bags started finally to come out of the gate and make their run around the circle. Bags from Aruba and Chicago, but none from Portland. Then the bags stopped their ride around the belt, and no new bags appeared. For quite a while. Admittedly, my positive attitude had lost some of its shine by now. But there was bonding with the other passengers. Two of us embarked on fact finding missions. And one or two walkie talkie messages later and magic … bags!
Storms come, and sometimes a grumpy or angry response is warranted and appropriate. But other times going the grumpy annoyed route just makes you grumpier. How we approach the storms of our lives makes a difference it seems.
And of course it always helps to be coming off of a three day weekend of friendship, fun and fabulous walks on the beach.
I don’t know about you, but from time to time I turn into a Grumpy McGrumpypants.
What they say about waking up on the wrong side of the bed has some truth to it.
As does the reality that sometimes life is just hard, or at least seems that way.
Listening to the news exposes us to violence and toxic conversations on a daily basis. We are steeped in a social and political soup that I experience as increasingly divisive, polarizing, and awfulizing. This cannot help but seep into our daily lives and interactions.
And so we may be forgiven for waking up on the wrong side of the bed from time to time.
This morning I am not quite sure which side I woke up on. I sat with my coffee and pondered the tasks ahead for me this day, and reflected on the challenges of this past week. I read the news and prayed with the grumpy inducing happenings near and far.
And I listened…
… to the bird song outside my window …
… to the call of God within to act justly, love tenderly, and walk in the way of peace…
… to my own inmost desire, etched into the silver ring I received at my first profession of vows, to live with an open heart.
I soaked it all in and remembered what a good friend of mine likes to say …We’ve got this.
So I breathe into this day, ready to love, ready to live into all it holds.
Breathe. Live. Love.
God is with us through it all.
(Even when we’re grumpy. )
The invitation for me this Lent, it seems, is to focus on beauty, to add to and look for and create and celebrate beauty amidst all the goo of life. I’ve been invited to focus on beauty in my work, in loving community, in the challenges and in the blessings. I do believe in the power of redemption, in the awesome continuing work of our creator God, in and through us and yes, even in the most messy bits, when beauty can be harder to see.
May you and I be graced with a beautiful Lent
Click here to read the whole reflection
I expect myself to retreat to the still
quiet, familiar space
Maybe some spiritual reading and a contemplative walk, or two or three or four.
Unplanned, yet if I’m honest, planned, with just a little room for the unexpected.
(We are talking about spending time with the God of surprises after all).
A few days in, I take stock of the surprises (so far).
Egret upon egret upon egret. And heron after heron.
And one day, a certain Ms. Egret and Mr. Heron met their neighbor the alligator for a fresh fish lunch (byof). I have photographic evidence.
Busy lizzards, or are they geckos? Defying gravity by walking sideways on the wall. Like spiderman. Or spidergecko. Or geckoman?
So much life, all around, in relationship through the ups and downs.
And the clouds!
Sunshine breaking through or simple shades of white and grey, darkness and light dancing with the wind.
And perhaps most unexpected of all was finding myself,
in my room,
having a dance party with God, of all things.
Not once but twice. (So far).
There is no photographic evidence, thank the maker.
God finds us where we are. Scheduled or not.
If we but perceive and receive.
This prayer was on my heart this last morning of retreat:
I awoke this morning
to the rising sun
and the mist hovering over the waters, just so.
Within me, around me, above me, beyond me.
Mercy upon mercy upon mercy,
grace piled upon grace.
Behold I am always doing something new, says the God of surprises.
Do you not perceive it?
Sometimes you need to sit
with the trees and listen
to the whistle of the leaves,
so that when
turn your head
the kiss of the wind
on your cheek,
The sunlight shining through the bare branches of the winter trees,
yearning for spring,
ready in hope for the
fulfillment of the promise.
The birds sing,
and suddenly you know
once again you remember,
all of this is love.
God is love.