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.
Life circumstances have meant that I have had to go to the laundromat from time to time in recent weeks. I don’t mind. For one thing I get it all done at once. For another, I remember my mom all those years when our washer and dryer were broken and visits to the laundrymat, as I called it, were part of the routine.
Memories flood back from some forgotten place, summoned by the sounds and smells.
Saturdays and weeknights at the laundromat. Plugging coins into the machines. Playing make believe. Helping Mom fold (I am sure she had to refold most of it). Making laundromat friends.
I found myself wondering about those boys and girls I knew as I watched kids bonding amidst the too clean smells and preoccupied adults.
Tag. Tossing a stuffed animal. Conspiratorial whispering. Jumping off the sorting tables until an adult looks up and intervenes. Dancing to the music.
In my memory I played.
But more often I was really more like the little girl across from me now. Self suffcient in her pink tennis shoes and practical ponytail, she observes it all, arms crossed.
What impresses me most of all is the working moms–and dads–filling the car with the laundry on a busy weeknight after a very full day. Then filling the car again with kids and heading to the laundromat to be about the business of life, one load at a time. Rinse. Repeat.
Just like my mom, doing what needed to be done. Day by day.
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. )
My latest Global Sisters Report column has been posted. Yes, it includes theological reflection on the current state of our world, using images from Harry Potter. The books we read, music we listen to, and movies we see influence our world view. Every culture has had its stories which help us make meaning of our lives.
The image of muggles perceiving London encased in a gloomy and dreary soup of fog (as the Dementors hover above) in HP3 has been a recurring one in my own reflections of late. So I finally wrote about it this week.
(By the way, a friend challenged me to take the patronus quiz online – mine – according to pottermore – is a White Mare apparently, hence the image on this post.)
The 2018 Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year was announced and it is, you guessed it, toxic.
Not a new word, but a word with a whole new embodiment of meaning. “The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance. Our data shows that, along with a 45% rise in the number of times it has been looked up on oxforddictionaries.com, over the last year the word toxic has been used in an array of contexts, both in its literal and more metaphorical senses.”
Among the top collocates to toxic in 2018 … toxic masculinity, toxic relationship, toxic culture. As I said in a recent interview, “We all know that toxicity is not good for us.” And yet it spreads, oozing out and choking our happiness like the fog of a group of looming dementors.
But we have a choice my friends. We can be kind, in our relationships, our words, our interactions, our ways of living. Every moment presents a choice. Let’s choose to be kind! Our very democracy and social fabric may depend upon our choices.
Sounds simple, but sometimes the most answers to the most complicated problems are the kind ones.
We wait in hope
for the day when no one goes hungry or feels unwelcome.
We wait in hope for courageous leaders who are also kind and just,
for peace to prevail, and
for the possibility of togetherness to overcome division.
We wait in hope with Mother Earth, our common home,
that human activity will not spell doom after all.
We wait in hope for the in-breaking of love, God among us, Emmanuel.
We wait, yes, but we also know that we
We must act
… choose goodness
… be kind
… move beyond impossibility
… promise to love, listen, live, laugh
no matter what
Because the in-breaking of love begins
has already begun
even as we wait.
These days are not easy.
Not easy to be
Easier to be confused or worried or angry or sad.
All of which are ok–don’t get me wrong.
Righteous anger, after all
led that Jesus guy to overturn the tables.
Speaking truth to power
and standing with those on the margins
also led to the cross.
Those days were not easy either,
to be peaceful, joyful, grateful.
We humans have a way of making life complicated.
And yet the sun will rise this morning, I am sure.
Babies will laugh and puppies will snuggle.
Mothers and fathers will struggle to feed their kids
and keep them safe in this world.
And I will do my best to stay engaged,
facing what’s what,
but also looking to what can be.
I open myself to God, who is Love.
In the words of Carrie Newcomer (Help in Hard Times, a great song by the way):
“And I believe in something better, and that love’s the final word,
and that there’s still something whole and sacred in this world.”
So my prayer this morning
before the sunrise
is that I may love
into these days and trust
that this is enough.