My prayer at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019 plays in my head with “Flourishing (Psalm 119)” – a song by Sandra McCracken – as its soundtrack. So I did what I do and made a video prayer set to this beautiful song with some of my photos from 2018.
May we give thanks for all the ways we lived and loved in 2018 from our best selves, for the best of everyone
May we remember those times when we weren’t so able to be good and kind for whatever reason and resolve to try again
May we honor those we love and all we hold dear through our words and our actions for the common good
May we recognize beauty, Live gently, and flourish together as we walk in the way of peace.
Our Father. Our daily bread. Forgive us as we forgive. Lead us. Deliver us.
This prayer that for decades I have said desperately at my most lonely hours calls us to be community. It is not a prayer to my Father for my daily bread and my forgiveness or deliverance. It is a prayer for the whole. As I have prayed this prayer anew in these days, I haven’t been able to get this sense of the collective out of my heart and mind. The hour for “our” is now. …
What would happen, I wonder, if instead of spreading negative energy in our conversations that contribute to the toxic levels of our current civic discourse, we practiced loving even those bits of the whole we struggle with? Speaking the truth in love, standing in solidarity in love, acting for justice in love.
Maybe this would lead us to deliverance, provide our nourishment and sustain us, help us to listen deeply for that which binds us together, no matter how small, in the sea of division.
It’s Holy Saturday, a fitting time and space for prayer these days, when we often seem to find ourselves in the Holy Saturday moments of our lives. There’s so much suffering in the world, yet even more there is so much love in the world (f we can just remember that!), and here we are called to live into the promise, in between the already but not yet.
This morning I found myself praying with Mary, friend of Jesus. She had stayed with her dear one to the end, through the suffering that she was powerless to stop, even standing at the foot of the cross in witness to love and life. She was there as his body was laid in the tomb, and the stone rolled across its entrance. The others departed then, but as Mathew’s Gospel tells us, she stayed there, unable to leave just yet. Another friend kept her company as they sat together with their memories and grief and uncertainty.
“But Mary Magdalene and the other Mary remained sitting there, facing the tomb”
We too keep her company. We face the tomb. We love, we remember, and we live into the promise of Easter Sunday, even in our Holy Saturday moments.
And so I share with you this video prayer reflection, the fruit of my contemplation this Holy Saturday, as we await the Resurrection. Peace.
I had the best of intentions at the start of this Advent season, hands down my favorite liturgical season. And then …. life happened and I responded with my little human ways. You know the drill, anxiety and busyness leads to stress and grumpiness and less patience and less compassionate responses to the folks in your own life because of course you are busy and stressed. Maybe you don’t know, but it’s a familiar pattern for me unfortunately, and one I fell right back into the past couple of weeks.
Thankfully, this past summer when I was on my annual directed retreat I made a commitment to schedule some mini-retreat time this December. I tend to take the most beautiful photos when I am on retreat, and so when I saw a listing for a Contemplative Photography retreat in Advent, I signed up right away. For the months since, I have guarded this weekend on my calendar, knowing I suppose deep down that by now, I’d need it. And I certainly did!
While the retreat itself was excellent, especially the experiences of guided visio divina and the opportunity to pray with the photos taken by the other retreatants, really it was an opportunity to reset my own best intentions. Adapting today’s second reading from the 2nd Letter of Peter, I pray:
I can no longer ignore this one fact,
I am beloved, and so are those around me and all of creation, and with God one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. God’s promise is not delayed, as some think of ‘delay,’ but God is patient with me, not wishing me or you harm but that I would return & center myself on love.
Since everything is grounded in love, what sort of person might I be living with a spirit of gratitude and compassion, waiting for and hastening the coming of love in our midst.
That is of course the kind of person I want to be, to see with God’s eyes the beauty and love and light and hope in the midst of the busyness and anxiety and sorrow and uncertainty. My best intentions may not seem like enough, but they are because God is patient and there is always today to return to the center and prepare the way for the incarnation of love, reflecting God’s love for us to the world.
Advent begins on Sunday, and with it the season of waiting. This year, it feels like we are waiting at the edge. I reflected on this theme in my latest column on Global Sisters Report: Advent Waiting at the Edge.
Advent is not a time to despair or become overwhelmed by all the turmoil and woe, but rather, watchful and alert, to prepare God’s way joyfully. In the midst of it all, the surprising call we hear on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, is to rejoice: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks … Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.” We are invited to rejoice, even as we stand on the edge, recognizing that life itself is gift in all circumstances and that our actions, no matter how small, can make a difference.
On the one hand, this message is so simple, and yet life can seem so very complicated even on the best of days. We know the promise of the good news, yet like Mary, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we find ourselves pondering, “How can this be?”
Mary’s question to the surprising news of the angel Gabriel always comforts me. I find myself with lots of questions; the biggest one these days is how to be the presence of love in such a mixed-up world.
Advent gives us the much-needed opportunity to pause, step back from the chaos, and wait on the edge during these in-between times.
Today is November 11th. A day to pause and remember during this month of memory and thanksgiving.
Since the first World War ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, today has been known as Remembrance Day in many parts of the world. In the United States we mark this day as Veteran’s Day. At breakfast this morning we sang Anchors Aweigh to Sister Mary Robert, a navy veteran of WW II.
In my family, today is the day we celebrate the birthday of my eldest brother Joe.
In my CSJP community life, November 11th has two very special meanings. On this day last year, we said goodbye to Sister Kristin, a vibrant community member who I was privileged to get to know and love deeply during our two years together on the Leadership Team.
And six years ago, on November 11, 2011, I professed my final vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace.
Our lives together in communities, as families, nations, and part of our global community are filled with so many moments, big and small, that make us who we are and bring the best out of ourselves for the sake of the whole. Sometimes we dwell on the problems, the challenges, the things that worry us or aren’t quite going right, not to mention the very real existence of evil and the darkness that exists along with the light. We need to pay attention to those messy bits, but even more we are called I think to stop and smell the flowers, to celebrate the gift of life and the joy and laughter and hope and very breath we breathe.
Blessings upon blessings if you think about it, really.
And so I pause this November 11th to remember …
I pause this November 11th to give thanks …
I pause this November 11th to pray for peace, for love, and for joy for all of God’s creation.