Talents

We are all given talents – gifts, that is.  Jesus even taught about this in the parable where the 3 individuals were given varying talents. He goes away for a while and returns later to see how these talents were used… It sounds like a talent is like a dollar, but it could be anything. Anyway, as we all know, the one who got 5000, went out and doubled the amount. The same with 3000. But the one who had little, only 1000, buried them, and returned exactly what he received. The first 2 were praised, the 3 scolded and sent away.

It seems to be about investment. I have many gifts, many talents. Not great talents, not great gifts, but an adequate supply. These won’t make me famous. And, in my mind’s eye, they are probably minor talents. But, the ones that I have invested are the ones that have paid off.

I love music. I don’t have a wonderful voice — I’ve long suffered from allergies, and I’ve done things that haven’t helped my voice quality. Over the course of nearly 45 years, I have spent a lot of time with a guitar in my hands. I’m good enough to know how good I’m not. But, the investment has paid off. I am a parish musician.  As such, I have been put in intimate contact with music that expresses the things that I don’t have spoken words to express. I have had the opportunity to learn from other musicians. Scripture put to music speaks to me at many levels, and I remember it better. It has led me to read church documents of liturgy that I would probably have never looked at otherwise. It causes me to consider the Sunday readings more deeply as I try to select music to celebrate the themes. For me, the investment in this bit of a talent I have been given has paid back even more than the doubling of the gift that the 2 good servants experienced. I pray that this is what the Lord is asking of me.

In other areas, I’m a bit more like the bad servant. I’ve buried gifts that I don’t care to pursue. My mother has observed repeatedly that I always wanted to pursue things that I wasn’t good at, and ignore things that came easy or that I could be good at. Maybe that is true. I’m certain I have never lived up to my academic potential.

It’s funny though – the practice of crafting these posts is an investment in a talent that maybe I have buried. I thank my friends who encourage me to practice writing. I am grateful for their support of my investment in any small gift I have for stringing a bunch of words together to convey an idea.

With that said, I’ll also continue to encourage the gifts and talents of others. The ability to do that seems to be such a gift that I see in others, and one worthy of investment.

John 3:16 and beyond

I’ve not been in a reflective mood of late. But, Sunday, I was back at mass at St. Mary’s and, as happens on most Sundays, the homily caused me to stop and reflect.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.

Fr. Jack said the homily was still in the making. He got stuck at the word “gave” and proceeded to reflect on the gift – the gift of God’s Son. But through the weekend (I was at the last english mass), he had asked for reflections from the congregation… and so the homily grew.

“It’s not fully a gift until it is received.”

“A gift doesn’t have to be a thing – sometimes it’s a comment. Sometimes it’s just letting someone know that you are thinking of them.” (that from a 15 year old).

“He gave His Son – even to the point of giving him up to death. That has to be one of the hardest things for a parent to do.” (This from an oncology nurse, who has lost a child of her own.)

But, one that hit closest to home for me was the observation that John 3:16 is followed by John 3:17 – that’s the part that gets skipped… For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world…

If Jesus didn’t condemn, I’d better be careful about my own judging and condemning. If Jesus doesn’t condemn, then when I judge others harshly and condemn them, I am not walking with Him. And, I am so good at lying to myself about the times I do that. When I am angry with someone because they didn’t live up to my hopes and expectations it seems that I try to convince myself that I am not judging. But I am. I’m holding that person up to my standards and my expectations and finding them lacking. Condemnation.

Better I should simply love them where they are. Not so easy. But definitely easier than being judge and jury.

The most peaceful place…

I’m home again.

I’ve been reminded that the most peaceful, glorious place to be is with a baby and/or toddler asleep in your arms. The world is right; the universe is right; God is present. It creates the sense of resting in God – or perhaps God resting with you.

Quiet

I’m sitting here in the quiet – I’ve been listening to the Hallelujah song from Shrek with Lily, but she’s gone off to play group and I have an hour or so to just sit and be.

I must admit to some apprehension when I was on my way down to spend the week. My daughter-in-law and I had never had the time or space to just be together before this week. My son is in some training, so we’ve not seen him since Monday.

It’s been a gift – this time and space. Just the girls – us and the 2 little ones. We’ve have a chance to visit, to get to know each other a bit better. Not even the man who is our link to one another has been around. We’ve worked out how to deal with a 23 month old and a 1 month old… feeding them (well, I can’t help wih Ella), changing diapers, going to eat, making dinner.

Yesterday was a bit of a test. I had a time of concern when she took the girls and went off with a friend for a few hours in the afternoon. And, I obviously wasn’t invited. It seems that we have very similar basic personalities — and after talking about needing space, it seems we both did. No harm, no foul.

And so, I’m just sort of reflecting — getting to know another person, or the Lord takes time and attention. It takes a sort of letting go. It takes allowing the Other to be fully Herself/Himself. It takes accepting that it not all about me.

Thank you Lord for Now.

I Am?

WordPress.com has this option to show “possibly related links.” And, Creo en Dios! is a WordPress.com blog… which brings me to reading Susan’s blog, and finding a “possibly related link” to a guy who’s hot to discredit Ekhart Tolle… and a posting about “Who do you say I am?” (among others).

So, lacking wisdom or restraint I started reading not only his posts, but the extensive responses. Whoa!

It all comes back to what does scripture/Jesus/you/me mean with that cryptic little two word phrase – “I Am.” I get twisted up in the arguments (polite discourse, but arguments nevertheless.) In the Old Testament, “I Am” is the way God references God. Jesus uses the phrase from time to time… Let’s see, I think it’s in John’s Gospel (I’ll have to look this up) – He says something like “before Abraham was, I Am.” And we all know – “I Am the way, the truth and the life.”

But the discussions over on ProlepticLife keep circling back on is “I Am” something/someone else – God – or is “I Am” to be found in me? Not my problem, says I. “I Am” is definitely God, the source of all creation. Oh, wait, “I Am” is found deep inside myself, when I take the time to go into that secret room (the one where Jesus tells me to go to pray). It seems that most of the orthodox Christians on that site are convinced that looking for “I Am” inside myself is going to lead me astray.

It seems to me that believing that God is present in “I AM” that is the core of my being rings true. If I am God’s child, if God created me (with the assistance of my parents), then, just a I am made up of the same stuff as my parents (that being the nature of life), then there must be a bit of God that resides at the core of my being. I am not the same as my parents, but I spring from the essence of their being, just as I spring from essence of the Creator of Life.

Neat.

Lord, give me patience – NOW!

Yesterday afternoon provided me the opportunity to observe just how impatient I really am. As I sat through a 2 hours and 45 minute departmental meeting (which could have been completed in an hour, to be honest), I found myself scribbling notes along the lines of

Patience is a virtue, or so I’ve been told. But right now, if I had a couple of socks, I think I could fix this problem…

I practiced the “Am I breathing” technique for stepping back from the situation. It did allow me to step back, but in the process of becoming more awake and aware, the voices just got louder. Things that needed to be resolved by 2 or 3 people being aired out in front of 7 or 8. Talk, talk, no real action.

Made me start to wonder how God might feel about me sometimes. So much talk. So many plans. Anything to avoid real change or real action. Discuss the past, dream of the future, but forget being present right now (which is really all we have).

I survived. I didn’t embarrass myself, or stuff a sock in anyone’s mouth. We did reach some conclusions, and made some lists of tasks to be accomplished.

Lord, please be more patient with me than I am with others…