Things as they are

thingsastheyare

I am certainly guilty of this… sometimes I can only see the “eye” in this picture; sometimes I see a butterfly wing. And, when I am whole, awake and aware, I see both clearly.  The point of view colors the the way we see our world, our friends, our universe, our God.

 

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Follow me

crosses

I waited anxiously for this election to be over. I was massively let down when my fears proved true. And the first week or so of aftermath has not eased any of my concerns or fears. Even if some folks have been reasonably quiet.

This morning I read a tirade from a white woman who, during the election season, was so anti-Hillary it just about burned in her eyes. She wanted to know why she, as a “white woman” should feel guilty for any transgressions/aggression against minorities. She took the stand I hear many, too many, of us take:  I didn’t do anything wrong. The past is the past. Get over the past.

And I thought about it. And I tried to listen to God and glean some wisdom in this area.

Jesus said “Follow me.” I believe that means all the way to the cross. Yes, we believe that Jesus died for all our sin(s). If you follow Him, I think you must also be willing to die for the sin(s) of others. To truly follow is to walk with, and to emulate that which you follow. And so, to those of us who profess to be Christians:  Doesn’t if follow that we take on the sin(s) of the world, just as Jesus did? And be willing to die to it and be recreated in Christ? To rise again?

Just sayin’…

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Querencia

restless

I learned a new spanish word back in 2012: Querencia… a place of safety, home, a place from which one draws strength, a place we all need to go to and be made whole, it seems: the Wanting Place.

At one time in my life, querencia had a very concrete, physical location. It was the interior of St. Mary’s Church in Opelika. A not too large space with cool, green carpet overseen by an oversized crucifix from the front and loved into peace by the gaze of Mary in the center of the stained glass window that graces the back of the church in the middle of the choir loft wall.

Even my skeptical, cynical self cannot wipe away sitting in a back pew and knowing that Jesus wrapped His arm around my shoulder and declared “Welcome home.” I know, kind of strange. Imagined. But, somehow undeniable and very concrete. I knew at that point that this place was HOME – Querencia – place of safety, place where I must go… my “flee to.”  It has been a place of much laughter and many tears. In this tiny chapel of a church I have been ripped to shreds and made whole — sometimes it seems the shredding and healing were almost simultaneous.

There are a few places in this world where the veil seems very transparent and Love (and Love’s associate, Peace) are able to shine no matter what madness and darkness surrounds me.

But, life is a journey, and we don’t often get to keep the same Querencia, at least not in a physical sense. There are indeed those thin places and times, but I find I must seek Home in God, in all of creation and look for the times I am almost awake and aware of God’s presence. These moments become Querencia.

 

 

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Fill up with the water of life

Friends came over to visit and have dinner the other night. Lives shared, good times together and one of our friends shared this story/idea from a Jesuit priest he had met on retreat:

Think of this: pick up an “empty” glass — what is in it? Nothing? No, not nothing — it’s full of air! Think of that air as sin ( or separation, or all of those things we do that are not good for us — annoying or bad habits, stupid stuff, whatever).

Fill that glass with water.

What happened to the air? Why it’s forced out, replaced by the water. If the water is the Water of Life, if the water is a walk with God, a growing spiritual awakening, in Christian terms it is the life of Christ in the glass… Aha! if you fill up on the water, there is no space for the sin.

So, don’t worry as much about the sin — fill up with God’s Love, with the Water of Life and there simply will be less room for other stuff.  It’s not easy. I know — sometimes I want to shake up the glass and make sure I can mix the air back in just to keep it around. But, I think this approach could really work out well.

 

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Election Blues?

In 2013 I walked the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It’s a pilgrimage route that has been walked for nearly a millenium. When you walk 500 miles, carrying everything you think you need in a backpack that weighs well under 20lbs, you learn a lot about yourself, your friends, your stamina, your beliefs, and your God (if you use that terminology).

This election season has given me many reasons to rejoice in my experience of pilgrimage. I have needed to fall back on lessons learned on the Camino just to even try to walk through this election season. Things like: each person is on his/her own journey; there is no single way to walk through this world; things ain’t always as they seem; it’s okay to be uncomfortable (really, it is!);

But most of all, I have been glad that I finally found my voice. I no longer am afraid to have my own opinion, even when it conflicts with those of my family and people I consider to be friends (most of the time); I am free to look at the things that candidates say and to evaluate them for myself.

As a result, I am better able to step aside and try to be open to seeing those I disagree with through the eyes of Christ or a loving Father, It’s not easy, but it’s worth the effort. It doesn’t mean that I could ever vote for a Donald Trump, but it means that I am learning to try to see the fears that seem to drive those who would vote for him. Not succeeding in many cases, but open to trying.

In the second debate when Hillary Clinton tried to calm the waters by saying that she had no problem with Trump supporters, only with Trump I wanted to scream — I have a problem with those who support him. The fact that there are those who are fairly rabid supporters  makes me worry… it makes me worry for our country and our world. It makes me sad that so many people feel disenfranchised and afraid. It makes me sad that so many people are afraid of “the other”  (latinos, muslims, arabs, blacks, etc). The Great America that these folks seek is not a place where I would want to live.

I’m still working thru great disappointment and distress at seeing how some people I used to hold in high esteem seem to feel. I’m trying to find how to respect them again. It’s not easy.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail miserably.

2016 election blues — only in God is there a cure.

 

 

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A prayer to learn and remember

God for us, we call you “Father.”
God alongside us, we call you “Jesus.”
God within us, we call you “Holy Spirit.”
Together, you are the Eternal Mystery
That enables, enfolds, and enlivens all things,
Even us and even me. 

Every name falls short of your goodness and greatness.
We can only see who you are in what is.
We ask for such perfect seeing—
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

Amen.

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Palm Sunday Gratitude

We went to mass at a place rather distant from my home parish this weekend. Distant as in miles, distant as in Presence. A nice blessing of the palms in the square in front of the church. A procession. A well rehearsed chorale accompanied by a pipe organ in mass. A leader of song up front. The Passion read clearly. Very brief homily. Lots of incense. A beautifully decorated and appointed church.  250 miles from home. The motions were very well carried out. It felt empty to me.

God is good. I am not asked to attend this church, or one like on a regular basis. I am invited to walk with Him in everyday events, or in a small (ok, tiny) parish without regular musicians. I am aware of God’s presence in so many ways. This distance of a cathedral with smells and bells is not insisted upon.

Thank you Lord.

Thanks – you should know who you are

I found the following in today’s email reflection from Richard Rohr:

We seem to think God will love us if we change. Paul clearly knows that God loves us so we can change. The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what loving people do for one another–offer safe relationships in which we can change. This kind of love is far from sentimental; it has real power. In general, you need a judicious combination of safety and necessary conflict to keep moving forward in life.
This is a “thank you” to those who have given me the time and space to feel safe, to feel I do have dignity and let me know that I am loved. I’m not going to name names, but I do thank you. I only hope that I can bring these things to someone else.

Dying and Rising

This is going to sound really shallow and self-centered, I fear. I’m going to write it anyway.

We are building a new house. We will be leaving this house that has been home for 31 years. Granted, we are staying in the same town. But, we’ve been on this spot of ground for 31 years — raised 3 children here, survived a fire and rebuilding here, planted blueberry bushes that I will truly miss here.

This morning in mass I had a flash of Holy Week and Easter and it was captured in this whole house business. How’s that? It’s all about the excitement of new and the future rather like Palm Sunday. That’s followed by the Holy Week walk where one realizes that to get to that new, shiny, happy place, there is all kinds of dying that’s going to have to happen. All kinds of things to let go of. There’s the realization that some old friends just won’t make the transition successfully. Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter denied knowing Jesus and the disciples just couldn’t stay awake all night with Jesus as he prayed his way through these realizations. There’s the moment when it looks like there is no hope — Jesus has died on the cross, after all, and what’s it all for? Then, there is the new beginning when Mary Magdalen discovers that He has risen. Even then, she (and the world) have no real idea of what this new life will be.

I am excited about the new place. It’s larger inside, has a 2 car garage and someone else takes care of the yard. The other homes on the street with the same floor plan feel spacious and comfortable. There will be a zero entry shower which is near and dear to my heart after being in a cast and a boot for over 2 months now and dealing with a wheelchair ( I was a failure at crutches), a knee scooter and a walker. High ceilings, large closets and an open kitchen. So much to look forward to.

But the journey, while nowhere near the struggle of Holy Week has some mild parallels. To get to that new home, I must walk away from this home of 31 years. I will no longer live next door to Mary and Larry. I won’t have dog doors or a fenced yard for Cooper and Grace. If I want blueberry bushes, we have to plant and nurture new ones. The yard will be smaller, the covered back porch will be smaller. We must decide what goes with us and what goes to the curb or gets sold or given away. And, I’m sure there will be moments when I think “What in God’s name was I thinking? How will this work? Will this work?” I don’t let go easily.

Yes — it seems shallow in many ways to even begin to make a comparison. However, I have found that great spiritual and emotional lessons are often learned best in the most common, but concrete experiences. Moving. Just deciding to move. Realizing that it’s time to move.

Transfiguration

Today’s Gospel is the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36) — Paraphrased it goes like this:

Jesus takes Peter, John and James up to the mountain to pray. As usual, they doze off while Jesus prays and is transfigured ( I think transformed might be a good word for the event) as he hears from Moses and Elijah about his mission and what is to come. The sleepyheads come full awake and behold the Jesus in his glory. They of course want to stay in this wonderful time/space and make a memorial. But, God says — “This is my chosen Son. Listen to him.”  In the end, the leave the mountain and keep their mouths shut about what they have seen, at least for the time being.

My first thought was that the Transfiguration says a lot more about the disciples than it does about Jesus. Jesus was still Jesus, but he was being seen in a new light. They began to get a glimpse of what was really happening. They saw the light. They were touched. They began to see differently. And God spoke to them.

Upon a second reading, I begin to see that Jesus was changed — I think that as he prayed, he came to see himself differently and more clearly and that change just couldn’t be hidden. It had to shine. It had to show.

Along my current path, where I find myself questioning the institutional church, its teachings, its functioning, its place in my life I also heard the words that God said: “This is my chosen Son. Listen to him.” In the Gospels, I am having difficulty finding any references to Worship Jesus. I find the verbs listen & follow. It’s proving difficult for me to reconcile the stories of the biblical Jesus with current church practices. I know it must be possible because people like Pope Francis seem to be able to live out the Gospel and still work within the Church.

Still thinking. Still praying. Still seeking.

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