Tag Archives | prayer

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’…

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.

Who touched me?

Sunday’s readings included the story from the Gospel of Mark of the woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years. She fights her way through the crowd surrounding Jesus, believing that if she can just touch the hem of his clothes, she will be healed. This story is stuck in the middle of the story of Jairus, the temple official who’s daughter will be raised from the dead at the end of the story.

But I digress — I’ve head both of these stories multiple times and this time, the woman’s story jumped out at me in a different way. She manages to touch Jesus’ hem and she knows in her body that she is healed. She’s going to slip away and be happy. But, Jesus stops and recognizes that he has been touched. He demands to know who touched him. I can see his buddies rolling their eyes as they say “What? Of course somebody touched you. You’re in the middle of crowd with all sorts of folks touching you.” But he knows and she knows. And she realizes that she must come forward and acknowledge her healing.

I think what caught me short was that she knew she was healed, even before Jesus stopped, asked who touched him and then proclaimed to the crowd that her faith had healed her. She knew. She didn’t have to have Jesus tell the world that she was healed.

At the same time, she also realized that she had to own the fact that she was healed. She had to acknowledge that touching his hem did it. She had to acknowledge that she believed.

There have been times when I knew that something changed — that a hurt or problem had been healed — long before the public acknowledgement. Sometimes the healing is the easy part. Owning it is more difficult. Folks my laugh or think I’m a bit odd because I believe that somehow Jesus or God has healed me. But I must admit it, to myself and to others.

Share the word.

What difference does Easter make?

This morning, Susan, over at Creo en Dios asks “What difference does Easter make to you?”

I’ve not exactly been pondering that question, but I’ve come close. This is the first Easter season in decades that I have not participated in the full Triduum; I only showed for Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning. I have been questioning “Did I miss it in my soul? Why did I skip out this year? What is different in my life and my faith?” I can say that I know that in part, I opted out of the Vigil (which is by far my favorite liturgy of the year) because I wanted to be at home and be with my son and his family. Baby Avery is only 3 months old, and it was her first road trip.

I’ve made some changed this year. I retired from being THE English language music minister in my parish. There were many factors in that decision, and many that will not be aired in this forum. But, I finally just said, “I’m retiring. I cannot carry this alone any more. I don’t want to. I believe that while I am important, I am not so essential that parish life will fall apart without my presence.” I thought that it was a sabbatical. I figured that by Easter, I would be back. Instead, the weight lifted from my shoulders has been such a blessing. The freedom from feeling bound to the schedule has given me room to breathe and grow. If I ever go back, which at this point seems unlikely, I will only do so if I can do it with joy and a positive attitude. It will be a choice not a something I do because I would be afraid that folks might be angry if I didn’t do it. For now, I have let go and that seems to be good. Far better than doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

I’ve continued to bring myself to my yoga mat and take the time to breathe and be and let go of outside expectations. I have taken to heart some of the practices of a meditation grounded in breathing and just being with God.  I have learned better to laugh gently at myself when my body and my mind make different decisions about what I can do. Isn’t that so true in our Christian walk?  I mean, there is so often a disparity between what I think I should do and be and what this body can and will do. It is a learning process to pay attention to the emotions and what they are saying to me — without falling prey to being absorbed by them. In my seventh decade, I believe I am getting a glance at the fact that I am not my emotions (or my hair color, or my body shape). It’s about time.

Maybe next year I will be back at the full Triduum. Maybe not. I just know that at this point, my current focus seems to be more strongly on Jesus among us than on Holy Week.  That is not to put down the importance of Holy Week. I just need to treasure and explore the Presence of the [Risen] Lord in my every day walk. Maybe, even treasure the presence of Jesus, who put on bones and blood and muscle and was a human, like me. And rest in the love that brings to my consciousness.

Happy Easter!

 

Burden of Myself

Ran into Fr. Gary over at Holy Trinity Sunday… well, he almost chased me down when I walked past him. I thought he was busy, and didn’t want to disturb him. Guess I was wrong.

Reminded me of the prayer he laid on me last spring:

Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.

or maybe he says

Relieve me of the terrible burden of  myself, that I may better do Thy will.

Yup. Last year, it made a little bit of sense. This spring, it runs deep. I struggle with letting go of the bondage of protecting myself. I am more and more aware of the times I do so.  As I practice yoga, especially Yin, I find how difficult it is to let go physically. Move into a pose — a pose that requires you to relax and let go so that you can get a deep stretch. Sit with it. Do a self-check while you locate those muscles that are holding on tight to protect other things. Relax, let go and allow the earth beneath you to support you. Breathe. Oops! those same muscles start tensing up again. They don’t really accept that it will be ok to relax and be supported. The cycle repeats, each time with a bit more success.

How does that apply to the prayer? For me, it is the physical embodiment of my spiritual and soulful life. Can I find those things that hold me tight and protect me from God’s love and support? Can I then let go and rest in God’s love and presence? It’s not easy for me. I might let go a bit and rest, only to discover that I have picked up that baggage again, and am using it to insulate me from freedom. The physical practice has given me a way to work through these things, to experience the letting go and the picking up and letting go and picking up and letting go… I seek to move with this experience and apply it to my emotions and my prayer life.

Jesus came to earth and walked among us as one of us. That must mean that God experienced life in the physical body of Jesus. The physical body is animated by the spiritual and emotional self. I’m doubtful that they can be separated successfully. Incarnation, to me, means that God is indeed here, in muscle and bone as much as in spirit. The experience of one must integrate with the experience of the other.

Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. 

And help me to live fully and freely. Amen.

Watching

Watch your thoughts, for they become words
Watch your words, for they become actions
Watch your actions, for they become habits
Watch your habits, for they become character
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

One of my 30-something friends posted this on Instagram and FB this morning. I’ve seen it before. But, today the word(s) that leapt off the page was WATCH.

When I pause in my day and take the time to pray I find that some sort of contemplation or meditation is my mode. When I make time to try to sit quietly and clear my mind and listen, I find that the thoughts still come. WATCH. Those who are far better at these practices than I, often remind us that we cannot control those thoughts. Therefore, as they wander through our minds we can allow them to come and go without attachment to them.

And so, I Watch my thoughts… they tell me a lot about what is going on with me. They tell me where I am uncomfortable and where I relax. I don’t have to make them turn into words (which lead to actions, habits…) I can do that, but first I must watch them and learn to let them go and let them be.

I certainly cannot control my thoughts! If I could, I wouldn’t think of my friend Henry every time I buy a lottery ticket, and I might win! Henry told me once that he had bad luck, and that even thinking of him when buying a lottery ticket would insure that it was not a winning ticket.  Bingo! I seem to have no control over thinking of him when throwing my money away on the lottery. I’ve tried replacement (think of something else) but Henry always shows up. I have to let the memory of him walk into my mind and then walk on by.

So, indeed: Watch. Be awake. But, don’t hang on to those thoughts like you own them. Don’t believe you actually control them. Control what you do with them? Oh, yes. Open yourself up to transformation so that the Image and Likeness of God shine through more easily? Oh yes. Those thoughts tell me a lot about where I am on my journey, but the are not ME. I can learn from them, but I cannot hang on to them.

 

Find it wherever it is…

Just as those yellow arrows appeared in so many different places along the Camino, God’s arrows can come be seen in some very unexpected, not-traditional places. You just have to be open to seeing them wherever they appear.

This summer, I took up a yoga practice. The physical stretching is good. The physical challenge in even beginning to attempt some of the poses is excellent. The deep physical calm that comes at the end of a practice is much needed in my life.

More than that, I find the emotional and mental practice to be a way to open up. It is, for me, truly an occasion of prayer. To get the benefits of a Yin Yoga practice, I must learn to stay where I am and stay with a bit of discomfort. I must learn to relax into the present moment and allow my entire self (body and mind and soul) to relax and sink deeply into whatever is being asked of me. I must listen to my body and learn what is pain versus what is discomfort. Sharp, shooting pain does damage. Staying with discomfort gives me a way to learn to be here now, to listen, to progressively relax and accept the limits of my current condition while pushing ever so gently to new depths.

To me, that is such a picture of my relationship with God and myself as a child of God. It is a picture of prayer. Learning to rest in God’s love. Learning to see from a new place. Being transformed into someone/something that is more than I knew before. And trusting that  I can stay with the discomfort and not run from it.

I had a chance to practice that on the Camino. One step at a time — just one more step. I might have had a name for my goal for the end of a day, but I had to trust that this would be a good place. I had to take one step at a time and travel to places unknown. There were times when that was easy because the sun was shining, the view beautiful beyond belief and the light a photographer’s dream. And there were days when it was cold, blowing rain, slippery rocks and many hours of solitary walking. Each involved one step at a time. Each involved being open to what was happening in the moment and trusting where I was being led. And each involved an openness to being transformed by Presence.

I do not often find this type of prayer in a church, or in a mass or other organized group. But, I feel it is essential to my growing in love and wisdom and living the call I feel as a baptized Christian. I will look for these opportunities wherever, and however God puts them in my path.

Being Seen

A week or so ago at a funeral I listened as a son stood and offered his memories and reflections on his father and his father’s life. Much of it was the very personal, but very normal, memories of events which brought smiles from the family and friends that knew Bob well. Some was history and background that added to my understanding of the man whose life we were celebrating. And then, the son hit that place where the voice cracks, and the words are difficult to push out. In one of those profound, soul touching moments where you look down into a well and in shock see your own face greeting you from the mirrored surface of the water he said “I finally saw that those things I so admired and loved in my father, he saw in me.”

What a gift!

My soul was touched well beyond this particular father and son. Perhaps I can begin now to see that some of those things I so “admire and respect” in Jesus, in Christ, in God, in the Spirit are also seen by God in me. May we all truly be One in the Spirit. May those good and loving attributes be seen in each of us. And may we have the gift of recognizing it.

 

The Sacrament of Home

That’s funny title… and it is only a starting point for my thoughts.

This morning I was reading my friend Susan’s reflection, Home in the Heart of Jesus, on her blog, Creo en Dios. She reflected on how sad it made her to know that the place that represents her “spiritual home” will close it’s doors in June. But she ended with the vision given her by her former spiritual director that her home is not a place, but in the Heart of Jesus. (forgive me Susan, if I am slaughtering your reflection — people should just go read it for themselves!).

As I read the reflection, it gave me some insight… an epiphany of sorts.  I have a real, chronic problem with practices like Adoration and Benedition. Just bugs me — at times it seems like folks got God all trapped in that bit of bread — all safe and sound, and controlled. On reading Susan’s  reflection on sorrow at “losing your home” — the realization that your home (our home) is in the Heart of Jesus, gives me a way to look at Adoration and see that it can be a way of sitting with the understanding and appreciation of just that reality:  home is in the heart of Jesus. To be there allows me to more consciously realize and appreciate that.  There are many times when we really need the concrete to be able to sense the reality beyond.

I know I’ve tried to write this out many times before. Each time I grasp a bit of the truth. Each time the light fades and I find myself back in a cloud of unknowing, a fog of non-comprehension. We, as humans so need something concrete to hang on to. That special place, the cross or crucifix on a chain around the neck, the hug that comes when we most need it, the water of baptism and the oil of confirmation. The bread and wine on the altar at mass. Sacraments: those physical realities that make things real for us now. And we do that for one another:  we become “God [Jesus] with skin on” for each other. So, yes, my home is in the Heart of Jesus, but, I so need some things to touch and know in order to understand that reality.

And so, next time I am invited to Adoration, I will try to dig up these reflections. I will try to allow the Blessed Sacrament to be Sacrament and lead me to the reality. I will try to be open and listen to all the hope and prayers and Love that come from the Reality behind the physical. I will try to be open to accepting and growing in that love.

At least, I hope I will.

 

 

Praying for the Enemy

I had a serendipitous  conversation with a friend a couple of days ago that started with being tired of being angry. Anger is a very tiresome emotion. It can really suck the life out of a person, and it is pretty useless and non-productive. Oh, I know that there are times when Anger has seemed to energize me and moved me to action. But, even then, it is a very draining way of being moved to action.

My friend mentioned that she had in the not so distant past decided to pray for all the men she had dated over the past 20 years… I don’t know what the issues are/were, but, I could tell that that there had been much anger and frustration. I knew where she was coming from, since I once had a penance that involved offering every song I sung at mass for those that I felt persecuted me. (Music was one component of the persecution)  Aaarrggghhh! I almost cried because I knew it was exactly what was needed.

Funny thing about this idea of praying for those who persecute you: Both of us reflected that we started slowly and begrudgingly to walk through the motions of praying for those we were angry with and had been deeply hurt by. We just said the words because it was the right thing to do. Slowly, it changed. Slowly, the process moved from saying prayers for them to praying for them. Then, to really praying for them. And one day you look up and realize that you are really praying for them, and Anger has given up trying to hold you in that place where you eat the rat poison  and hope the rat dies.

Myself, I understood that when one of those who I felt persecuted me launched into something that would previously have angered me, hurt me, made me feel in danger. I realized that I was no longer angry, but very sad for this person. I was praying for him. I was asking God to bring healing and good things into his life. What a load I set down that day.

That’s not so say that these persecutions were not painful or that at some level I was not justified in my feelings of anger toward the other. And, in some cases, in many cases, you may not ever be close to the persecutor. It might be bad and downright dangerous. But, to move from a need for vengeance and anger to a place of letting go, stepping back from me and into a place of sincere concern for someone is one of those miracles we need in our daily lives.

 

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