In the last week a dear dear person I knew died. Her life was everything we are called to be. She had a loving family and loved and cared for them every day of her life. She loved God and often wrote wonderful posts about his love and his care for her. She never lost this nearness to God even in the darkest of times.
Her name was Elaine. I first met Elaine as a Parish Nurse and her health journey would have crushed most of us early on. She was determined to live every moment of her life in spite of all the doctors who couldn’t see her going on for long. She not only went on but went on with joy. She traveled, boated, spent time with family and friends. She shared her joy with everyone and each day was one to be explored and lived. She lived! Each and every day she lived!
Now she is gone but never forgotten. Her example will remain with all of those who knew her and spur us on to live fully every moment. She has transitioned to be with the God she loved and who she knew with her whole being loved her. While those of us here are saying goodbye others are welcoming her home. Good journey Elaine.
There is so much fear out there…..with good reason. For those of us in places not usually touched by war, bombings and attacks fear may not be an everyday thing. We are not used to it. But we are now. We are concerned about our safety and the safety of our loved ones. But God tells us to rely on Him.
Proverbs 3:24-26New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
24 If you sit down,[a] you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden panic, or of the storm that strikes the wicked; 26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.
This morning as I was driving out of my driveway I saw what looked like a small creature lying beside the drive. As I passed I could see it was a small, possibly baby, raccoon. It lifted its head and shook in fear as I went by. It was obviously hurt. I assume it was hit by a car. As I paused and watched it gave a last breath and was gone. Sitting for a moment to be sure he/she was gone and then went to my appointment.
This quick incident really bothered me. I felt so much empathy for the poor creature that tears were close. It had such a short life. I really saw it as one of God’s creatures and said a prayer for its passing. I saw the same imagery as with the dogs and pictured it moving over the rainbow bridge. I can’t help experiencing grief over any creature I see in pain. I wish I could have helped but there was nothing to be done. We will give him/her a decent burial.
I can’t help but see all of creation being linked and the death of one creature, flower, tree, insect being part of the whole. I know I am epathic and can feel pain for the smallest thing but we all should feel that loss. It is what we have ignored for too long.
Go little raccoon, over the rainbow bridge and join those who have gone before you.
Warning…today I have wandered…like a train of thought novel. Sorry
Today, in church, I started to think about the trappings of religion. No matter what faith each has customs and symbols that are used. In Christianity there are many. Everything we say in church, everything in the church has meaning. Even the absence of things can have meaning. For example, the Roman Catholic community has many statues. They frequently have a Crucifix ( a cross with Christ on it). Some churches don’t have a cross at all. Some churches are plain and some are fancy. These kinds of symbols have grown up around the practise of each persons faith.
This is also true of other religions. A Jewish Synagogue has the Torah. Hindu temples have images of God. Buddhism has the absence of objects or statues of Buddha. There are many other examples.
Where did these things come from? What was their origin and idea behind them? For me it seems that over the centuries we have found things or ideas that we feel will draw us closer to the God we worship. We create an environment that we hope will enhance our experience of God.
Today I thought about how, in some ways, we have watered down symbols for convenience. We have let them become less than they were. In my faith communion is frequently given at a railing in the front. Ceremony has blessed the elements used and each of us takes them…essentially bread and wine. But can we see in this ceremony the event that precipitated it? I imagine most people do but I was distracted today by the communion wafers. Flat, tasteless representations of bread instead of the real thing. Most times this doesn’t concern me but today I wanted it to be nourishing and tasty as I am sure the original was. For convenience we have replaced real bread with something easy to use. We do use real wine. Some churches use grape juice. Maybe they do use bread.
How many other elements of worship have been changed over the centuries? I bet there are many.
I know that somehow I have gone off the track today but I can’t help wondering what would happen if this were really like a meal. I know that is illogical and that sometimes churches do an agape meal (communion at a meal). I suppose today I would have liked that.
I have loved this song since the first time I heard it. I have been blessed with people in my life who have held me up from my parents and family, to my husband and friends and my God. They have all been so patient through my struggles with anxiety and IBSD. The song always brings tears to my eyes remembering how their love has held me in the midst of trials. My life would not be the same without their presence. Some are gone now but their love is never gone. Others have filled in the spaces especially my children, grandchildren and wonderful friends.
This morning the pastor at our church said in her sermon…spoken to God….“Let me not confine you in the narrowness of my mind.” This is a very profound statement.
Whatever your belief, if you espouse any God, this tells us where most of us want to be. We want a God who is like us. We want to create God in our image instead of the other way around. We want a God who thinks like us. We want a manageable God.
If God is like us then God has the same bias, the same prejudice and the same belief system. Then it is easy for me to point fingers at others and scoff at their beliefs. It allows me to pick and choose what God thinks. Aren’t I amazing?
This God can occupy a nice closed box in my mind and I will only let out what I deem appropriate. However, God is tricky and sneaks out of the box in and plants ideas that I don’t want to consider. He/she is constantly challenging me and widening my mind, calling me on prejudices and making me rethink my ideas.
It is abundantly clear to me that however much I could live with God in a box that is not going to happen. And in reality it would not be something I want.
I see a God who is infinite and intimate. I see a God whose mind I cannot comprehend. I see a God whose thoughts are so far above mine that the universe can’t contain them. Maybe this is not at all comfortable but this, for me, is God.
The last few months have been filled with such stress that it has been hard to keep focused. It hasn’t been one thing but the combination of things. Friends sick, husbands sick, travel, whatever. It is time to get my focus back and to remember an event from last week.
Wednesday of last week i realized how sick I was and decided that I must go to my doctor. It was in the morning and while I was trying to make a logical decision the phone rang and it was my doctor’s office. They called to let me know that they had called in a refill for some routine medicine. This is not how their system works. They never call to let me know about that I just get a text from the pharmacy when it is ready. Their system has been skewed due to some doctors moving and the office being understaffed at the moment so this was not the usual person. While I had her on the phone I asked if I could see my physician that day and she managed an appointment for that afternoon. Absolutely amazing. That would never have happened at any other time!
Madeleine L’Engle says “a miracle is a coincidence where God prefers to remain anonymous.” People say miracles don’t happen and this was just nothing but it didn’t feel that way to me. I have a friend who says “the ARANGELS were at work” and I agree. For me this was a miracle and due to that visit I am now better.
I am tired, sad and struggling. I can’t seem to shake the tiredness left over from my cold and the stress of traveling and my husband’s surgery. I have a strange habit of not reacting physically to something when it is happening but it always hits when things are getting better. I guess I should have expected this.
I have mentioned before that I am blessed to have four dear friends. I know that it is rare to have four and thank God for it. They hold me up when I am down. At the moment two of them are having problems to deal with. Things that maybe can be solved and maybe not. I feel so much grief for what they have been and are going through. If only I could help more or take away some of the pain. Sometimes the only thing we can do is be present but it doesn’t feel like enough.
For the last month I have had to cope with the things in my own life and it has taken me away from being present more than I wanted. I hope that things shift soon and become more manageable.
I don’t know that any of us could possibly have coped without having a deep faith in a loving God. When things seem impossible leaning on God is my only recourse. Somehow I can sense his presence in the midst of all the chaos. My friends feel the same and we all have the prayers of many to uphold us. At times is is possible to actually feel that support and love.
I know there are people who don’t have this belief and that is their decision. I wold find it lonely and fearful without it. I hope that everyone has something that they can hold on to in the midst of life’s trials. May you find that thing that gives you peace and strength to hold on.
Yesterday I wrote about the challenges in the last year and that I hope we are heading for a break. So that’s what I thought? Guess again. Now with plans to leave my home in coastal Georgia and travel to Florida there are three storms in the Atlantic! I just want to yell at God and say “GIVE ME A BREAK!” By the way, it is ok to yell at God. He can take it.
So now we are watching hurricanes and hoping that we get a miss. My brother-in-law will be with our dogs. He is flying in tomorrow. I bet he wished he had never agreed to this!
Well, life goes on and we cannot control mother nature.
I am sharing a poem I wrote about life:
Life is very strange its patterns like paisley swirl on fabric
blending colors and shapes our life takes strange twists unexpected directions
and we are unable to see the form from within the design our viewing point
deep in the weave we can only see one color at a time
and cannot know the beauty of the whole
and even though God allows us to choose colors and patterns he alone can see the beautiful design
I started to think about how we view and talk about prayer. I am somewhat of a eccentric Christian and have finally found peace after 77 years with my beliefs. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have questions. I will always have them until I “fly away.” But I am at peace about forming a relationship with God. Again, this does not mean that the relationship is perfect on my part. I am sure God’s side is ok.
We humans have spent centuries making a relationship with God complicated. We have created rules about prayer, rules about worship, and rules about anything else we could think of. I don’t remember Jesus mentioning any rules except:
Matthew 22:37-39New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
He broke many rules of his time. He ate with tax collectors, gentiles and women. He touched lepers to heal them. He excluded no one. He was radical. So often we have managed to turn him into someone I am sure he would not recognize.
So what about prayer? He gave us one prayer called “the Lord’s Prayer” because he was asked to teach us to pray. It is a wonderful prayer but it is not the only prayer. Prayer comes from the heart of the person praying. There is no rule for how it is done. It is simply pouring out your heart to a loving God. If you have a routine…fine. If you don’t…fine.
The thing about prayer is the person you know best is the one you speak with the most. If we speak with God about our day, our hopes, our distress, our job, our pain, our family….I could go on and on, then we spend time with God. Tell God what is on your mind and know that you are heard. That’s all there is to it and the more we do it the closer we become with the one who loves us.