Well, I’m already way behind in my daily Lenten Post, highlighting my human flaw of procrastination. And, then the day gets away from me, and before I know it the day is gone. To catch up I’m doing two topics: Favorite place to pray and Sacred Space. I do however, think they are a good pairing. Wherever I pray, for me becomes a sacred space. A space where God and I converse. Where, if I am good, I listen to God. Where, I hope, God listens to me. I don’t really have a favorite place to pray. That would really inhibit my praying. I like to pray everywhere, anytime. I remember at my Commission on Ministry interviews someone asked me what time did I put aside every day to pray ? I paused for what seemed to me like an eternity. Finally, I said, “My whole life is a prayer.” Everywhere then is my favorite place, and God’s world is always sacred space.
Hope. Just the word is awesome. Hope. My daughter once told me that if we didn’t have hope, she didn’t think the human race would survive. Interesting. I thought about that a lot and came to the conclusion that she was absolutely right. As Christians we say we live in the hope of the resurrection. We hope for good weather. We hope for good health. We hope our loved ones will not die too early, or without saying goodbye, or some painfully slow death. We hope our team will win. We hope we will get good grades in school. We hope our marriage will last as long as we live. We hope people will love us. We hope, we hope, we hope. Yes, hope may be the very foundation of our life. As Jesus wandered in the desert, climbed the mountain top, or spoke to the masses, he most likely hoped people would hear his message to help the poor, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, help us to live in truth, mercy, and justice. I hope that I can live up to and into the life Christ called me to be.
“the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11
I’m not sure when it started, but I know today that I absolutely need light in my life. My house is light, with lots of windows and two huge skylights. I don’t usually dress in somber clothing, light is better, or at least bright colors. I get sad when too many dark, gray days in a row roll by my windows. We often hear about the “Light of Christ,” or “God is light,” giving credence to my belief that light is good. Scriptures tell us that darkness will never blot out the light. Oh God, I certainly hope so. For me light is my soul food. Nourishing my essence. Kissing me with renewed freshness. When I am still and wait for God’s presence, I am filled with sacred light. I love that.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
I was named after Saint Rita because my mother believed she was the saint of the afflicted. She named me after this saint because my sister, some 8 years older than me, was born with Down’s Syndrome. My mother thought I might take after my name-saint, Rita, and help my sister. After my sister died at age 37, I decided to do some research on St. Rita. Turns out she is not the saint of the afflicted, but the saint of impossible causes. My youngest daughter thinks there is nothing I can’t accomplish, so maybe the name fits in an odd sort of way. I like St. Rita, and I have been told she is more popular than St. Mary in Italy. I guess we all have a lot of “impossible causes.” Human nature is just that way, a lot of impossible situations we have to pray our way through or around. I’ve never personally prayed to St. Rita, but I know many people who do pray to her. I know my mother, as a good Catholic, prayed to her and lit candles regularly for my sister. May they both rest in peace; I know they have risen in Glory and now live among the saints.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19
In my ministry I have always said, “If you feed them they will come.” Of course, we always laughed, but in truth, who doesn’t enjoy a meal together. The first Christians looked upon the last supper as sharing an entire meal, not just some wafers and wine. It is a ritual I wish we as today’s Christians would revive. The meal I most remember from the scriptures is the feeding of the 5,000 when a few loaves and couple of fish fed them all with 12 baskets of leftovers. That is how I view feeding our soul, not only our own, but everyone’s. Somehow, no matter how little or how much we have, there is enough for all. It is how I view my giving, of my time, of my treasure, and of my talent. As busy as I am, there is always a slot to help, there is always another dollar to give, there is always a gift I can give. My life is a meal to share. How about yours?
He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; Romans 14:6a
Last night I received the sign of the cross in ashes on my forehead as a reminder that I am dust and to dust I shall return. Ashes are the dust of our earthly bodies when the life breath is no longer there. Ashes are remnants of a life lived, perhaps fully, perhaps not. I have the ashes of my most beloved dog, Prince, in my china cabinet. Not because it brings me nearer to him, but because when I see the urn it brings back a flood of memories of the 12 fabulous years I had with him. Ashes. They also remind me I too will be ashes, and I am humbled by the thought of what a mere speck of stardust I am in this holy universe where we are temporarily planted. A mote. May I be a godly mote. And, when my ashes are put in the ground, I have faith my spirit will soar with God. Amen, amen. Ashes.
“..and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” Ecclesiastes 12:7
Today is the first day of Lent. Forty days of reflection on how this little speck of dust is living her life on this fragile planet, earth. A list of 40 words was published on FB for contemplation, so I plan to try (I might not succeed) to write a brief paragraph each day on this blog as my Lenten discipline.
It was in the middle of American Idol. The electricity went out in our development. The night was without a moon. It was as dark as I ever remember. But, it was the quiet that astonished me. Nothing buzzed, hummed, chirped, dinged, clicked, clacked, or shuffled in the house. Quiet. I wanted it to last forever. It didn’t, but the memory of those few minutes of quiet will forever ring in my ears. It is in that kind of quiet we are closest to God. Maybe, if I try hard, I can muster up some interior quiet and talk with God. “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
The Holiday season. A time of celebration, gifts, parties, happiness, lights, decorations, jubilation. Well, not quite for everyone, and especially for some of my close friends and associates.
Grief by Gwen Flowers
“Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself-
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.”
It started on December 23rd when the son of one of my clergy associates died in an automobile accident. He was 42 and he died on his birthday. He was an only child.
On January 1st, amidst all the football games, Heather, the daughter of our Council member Jerry Davis, died at age 43. Many of you have followed her five-year journey in a battle to conquer colon cancer. Some might say she lost that battle. I believe she won the hearts of all of us with her open and honest sharing of her journey. Through her we were there with her. We cried with her. We laughed with her. We prayed for her. She might have lost her body to the dust, but her heart and soul will live on in many forever. She inspired everyone she met. She was a brave warrior to the very end of her bodily strength. I believe God will use her spirit to continue to touch the souls of those of us left here on earth. I believe that.
HOPE by Heather Davis Johnson (From a talk Heather delivered to the staff of the Kimmel Cancer Center on the importance of hope.)
“Life is to be enjoyed NOW.
Tomorrow will wait.
Each day is a celebration.
Each day is chance to get a running jump
before hitting the slip and slide,
a chance to jump in the leaves,
a chance to roll down a hill,
a chance to dance in the rain,
a chance to take in all of the small things…
a chance to recognize the big things.
We don’t wait “until” whatever to live.
Living happens now.
Hope happens NOW!”
Epiphany, January 6th, which celebrates the light of God shining in all of us, the Christian Education Director at St. Peter’s church in Lewes, died of a blood clot to her heart at age 59. They tried heroically to save her, but couldn’t. She was one of those people we call “beloved,” because the love they shared with us touched us deeply. I didn’t know her, but the grief and testimony of those who did touched me.
My prayer is that all three of them will rest in the peace of God. That the comfort of God will dwell in the hearts of those left behind to cry and mourn and grieve.
My prayer will be that each of us, as we enter this year of 2016, will have an alteration of our self, find a new way of seeing life, and a new definition of ourselves. That in spite of the specter of death in our lives, whether that be an actual death of someone we love, or the death of dear pet, or the death of a marriage, or a dream, or a wish, we will always, always hold onto a kernel of hope. Hope for living and enjoying life that God has planted in our heart. Heather held onto that hope.
My prayer is that we will live the coming year with love, and joy, and a spirit of kindness to ourselves, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our enemies, and the stranger we do not know. For as it says in my Christian scriptures (Hebrews 13:2):
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
And we all know and love angels, right?
It has been well over three months (maybe more) since my last post. My computer crashed, can you believe it? I mean, no one’s computer ever crashes these days, right? Okay, okay, they do. At any rate, after crash after crash after crash, a trip to Staples, and 4 more GB of RAM, I’m in business again. It was a memory problem, just like my life these days.
My in-house techie now has to upload (or is it download) all my archived blogs, and I am hopeful that will happen sometime within my lifetime. Next, I have to figure out if those faithful readers who were getting my blogs via some kind of feed or via email is still working. And, if not, how I let them know I’M BAAAACCCKKK.
I’ll ponder that for a while.