And it was good

front lawn shadowsToday I decided to eat breakfast on the porch. It is frequently too hot but today is milder and there is a breeze. We live on a tidal marsh. We have an 8 ft tide change. When tide is low you can smell the marsh. Some people don’t like that smell but I love it. When I was a child and visited my aunt and uncle here that smell meant we were on the way to the beach… on the way to a fun day so that smell has wonderful memories for me. It is interesting that smell can stimulate such strong memories.

I love the play of light and shadow made by the giant oak trees that we have here. There are ferns that grow on the trees (along with Spanish moss). They are called resurrection ferns. When there is no rain they are brown and look totally dead. Then it will rain and behold they are beautiful and green. I love the name and the connection.

resurrection fern

Today sitting on the deck I just reveled in the beauty of the day…how green everything is…the beautiful oaks..everything in God’s world. God is in the midst of it all. Creation continuing in the world.

I am blessed to be able to sit and absorb the beauty. I don’t do it enough. It soothes my soul and reduces anxious thoughts. It is part of my journey that I have committed to see the world around me each day and immerse myself in it.

Pull your head out of the sand

ostrichSometimes I feel like an ostrich with my head stuck in the sand. I have written recently how it seemed that I was being of little use/help to anyone and wondered if there was something else I should be doing. That was Monday or Tuesday. On Wednesday I wrote about my day with the death of a friend and my other friend’s husband having a set back.

Yesterday I spent the day helping the first friend make plans for a funeral and after arriving home the other friend called that her husband needed a procedure done and could I come. I got home last night so tired I could hardly move. I am still tired today and am shaking my head over my stupidity. God does have a sense of humor. I complained and I got what was coming to me. Not that I wanted any of this to happen to two dear friends but God certainly showed me in no uncertain terms what I need to be doing.

my-life

It is so amazing that we can’t see clearly and know that we are where we are supposed to be. God is very good about putting us in the right place at the right time. If I had things planned that couldn’t be changed I would not have been available to help where I was needed. We all need to learn that God knows best and has it all in hand.

 

Who knows what the day brings?

strong 1

Today I am tired. It has been a strange day. I worked in the yard this morning and came in for a shower. The phone rang and it was one of my best friends telling me that her husband died. This is not the one I have written about before but one whose husband is in his nineties and has been fading for awhile. However, I did not expect to get that call. My husband and I immediately went to her home to help where we could. Things seem to be on track there and we got back home about 3:30. I am sad and feel a loss for her and all of us. He was a wonderful man.

I decided to call and check in on the other friend whose husband has been struggling at home to improve (with much needed help) only for her to tell me they were taking him to the hospital as he was more ill. He is being admitted.

Strange day. I asked my husband, (somewhat tongue in cheek) if we could lose two of them in one day. May God grant that this doesn’t happen.

It is clear once again that we never know what will happen in a given day. There are no assurances or guarantees. We have to live each day as it comes. One of my grandmother’s favorite Bible verses was “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Don’t look for more to happen. Absorb what has already happened. That will be enough.

I am grateful that I was available to be where God needed me to be today. I guess this is a reminder to me to use the gifts he has given me where he is calling me and stop griping about what I need to be doing. I think I am doing it.

coping skills 1

These events do tweek my anxiety but I will continue to cope and be available when needed.

 

 

We are free to think

tolstoy

I have decided that I am a somewhat unorthodox Christian. I have difficulty following the rules. I am enamored of those who stepped outside of the norm: Matthew Fox, Martin Luther, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi. Hildegard of Bingen, Jesus and many others. I also love the stories/parables of Anthony DeMello and the plain speaking of Marcus Borg. I grow reading them.

I grew up in an eclectic family. My grandparents were Methodist, my parents Presbyterian and my Aunt and Uncle Lutheran. I guess I decided early on that no denomination had all the answers. I still feel that way. Jesus did not follow rules but loved people. He broke the Sabbath rules and many others.

As the “church” grew throughout history it took the message of Jesus and added rules/doctrines to try and be sure that we all follow the norm…. that we are all in sync. This is not wrong in and of itself as we do struggle with the meaning of the writings in the Bible and the words of Jesus. We must listen to the teachings of others and weigh them against our own experience. We also need the community of other Christians. We learn and are supported by the stories of others. I hope that I find a middle ground in all of this.

freedom with God

This doesn’t mean that we can’t find our own way.  It’s freedom within form. I don’t ask others to follow my path. Each of us must find our own way and I pray that God leads me in mine. May he also be with you in yours.

Finding church

Uncomfortable_LowRes-WebSlide

Those of us who are Christian have often struggled with finding a place to worship that feels right to us. I think that part of  this disconnect comes from our struggle with Christians themselves…including us. We keep wanting to find a place where Christian behavior fits Christ’s lessons to us. Yet we never find it.

There is a reason for that. Churches are made up of people and people are flawed. Not only are we flawed but each of us has our own beliefs and our own ideas of how to live them out. Probably no two of us would agree on everything. Some of us want to be given rules or directions to follow. We are uncomfortable with uncertainty. Some of us want to think for ourselves and are not afraid of asking questions and doubting answers. Some people are in the middle and expect a blending of both.

All of this makes finding a place where you feel at home more difficult. However, we need to think about a family. Families certainly don’t think alike or function in the same way.

Henri-J-M-Nouwen-Quote-Christian-community-is-the-place-where-weThe conclusion that I have reached is to try and find a place (at least for me) where you feel at least accepted. One where you can be challenged to grow and where you can hear stories of the struggles and journeys of others. We will always agree with some and disagree with others. This is normal. Church is not perfect and never will be. It was created by mankind not by God. God speaks anywhere at any time. Church gives us a place to share our faith and a community of believers even if we don’t agree about everything.

It is very hard to follow the teachings of Christ outside of community.

The Beautiful Death

My friend Deirdre loved and cherished all those who crossed her path. She welcomed people from different faiths and different cultures. Her death was so amazing with people of many faiths joining together to send her on her way. I wrote this poem following that experience. The “all shall be well” is a loose copy from Hildegard of Bingen.

RisingSun-Feature

The Death of De

The light is waning and the gloaming is here.
There is a hush in the turning of the earth
it holds its breath for just a moment.

We stand watch sensing each breath
matching it with our own
anxious with each pause
while darkness encompasses the room.

Her soul loosens but holds
I sign the cross on her brow and Christ is here
A Hindu friend joins and her prayers are added.
Another comes and the prayers to Allah are lifted up.

With loving hands we anoint her with sweet lotion
brought from France by another.
All faith is here, we can feel God's gentle breeze,
there is true communion

My friend is held in the arms of love
She is suspended between life and death 
through the night.

As the sun lifts itself into the heaven
love lifts her on her journey
and with the smallest wisper
she is gone.

Behind her from the air come the words...
All shall be well
and all shall be well
and all things shall be well.

 

Strange apathy –missing what?

apathy1200xLately I have felt apathetic about going to church. There is no specific reason for this that I can see. Nothing is wrong with either the church I worked at or the church I am attending with my husband. They are both friendly churches that adopt members as part of the family. You always feel welcomed and loved. It makes me wonder what’s up?

I am not really sure. I have not backed away from my relationship with God. It is growing stronger than it has been in a while. When you work for a church there is always the danger that you are working more than worshiping. I know I fell into it easily.  Now I actually spend time with God. Not enough but much more than I was. My connection with God is enriched and I am grateful for that.

I do still miss greatly laying hands on people and praying for healing. This is a part of my past ministry that causes my soul to ache, It fed me in a way it is difficult to explain. I was not doing anything myself for it was God who was using my hands and my love….outpouring for others. I still tear up when I think of what it meant for me. God was physically present each moment.

My spiritual life is much more solitary and I am not a solitary person. This is a struggle for me but one that God is pushing me into. I am caught in the longing to do something more physical instead of meditative. Maybe I need to try moving meditation. (which actually is a thing) I would still want to do it with others.

connection-004I have always been aware of my need to deepen my relationship with God and at times during my life have had a deep and amazing connection. Now I need to re-connect.

So why does this translate into a lack of passion for church itself? I wish I knew. I can see clearly that stepping away is not the right choice. It is so easy to develop a pattern of staying home on Sunday morning and it becomes a habit that is hard to change. Church is also not about my feelings although for me, until now, it has frequently been an emotional boost. Church has not changed. I have and I need to spend time delving into myself to seek answers.

soul on fire1

I need an emotional boost. I need to find an amazing conference or heart rending speaker who challenges me and reignites the fire that I can’t find.

God will supply my need. I just wish he would hurry up!

No answers?

no answersIt is so hard to live without answers. I want to know how things will work out with my friend’s husband. I want to know how my granddaughter’s life will go with a new baby. I want to know how I will feel tomorrow. I want to know if my IBS will kick me. This is just a small portion of what I want to know.

We don’t do well with uncertainty. We want to have answers so that we can plan. We want to brace ourselves if the outcome is bad. We want to run and hide if we think we can’ cope. We want to know!

It is so hard not to be able to make plans even if they don’t come off. Somehow planning makes us feel better but life with anxiety doesn’t let you make many plans. Maybe I have to stay home tomorrow and just cope or maybe I can meet friends for lunch. But each of us has reasons to explore what life has in store for us. Giving up is not an option. There are good things…things that we can be thankful for. If we wake up in the morning it is time to thank God and get up. It is hard to learn to live in the moment but we need to keep trying.

give thankws

Thank God and get up.

 

 

Will you stand up for your faith?

Having studied a good bit of history and over the years a lot about the history of my faith I have noticed some interesting parallels in today’s world.

women in the churchIf you learn about the early church and the followers of Jesus it is apparent (although seldom mentioned) that women played an important role. After all, they were the first to see Jesus after his crucifixion. Mary Magdalene was a follower of his and important in his ministry and NOT a prostitute. She was relegated to that role later in church history when the Roman church did its best to disavow the roles of women. Women were the personification of sin and not allowed to be a meaningful part of the church. The church did a good job and it wasn’t until centuries later that the protestant traditions began to reverse the trend. It has always been interesting to me that priests were not allowed to marry in spite of the fact that our beliefs sprang from Judaism which believed that men should marry.

So much for the past. Now, in a parallel to removing women,  the culture seems to be set on destroying belief in any religion. They are intent on removing the one system that wants to employ a moral code. Religion is being mocked and followers are thought of as not intelligent enough to see reality. This may also follow the “I” principle. “I am more important than anyone else. Others don’t matter nor can I be held to someone’s outdated moral code.”

stand upI am offended by this trend and concerned for the life of believers. Who knows…maybe we will end up being persecuted and it will revive the faith. Hardship and persecution does seem to bring out the best in belief.

At my age I have learned to speak my mind and not be afraid of the outcome. I will continue to follow my faith and be willing to stand up for it.

 

hear the music

New day, new person

new dayToday I am waiting for news of the birth of my first Great Grandchild. I can’t possibly be that old. My granddaughter is in labor and her mom and her aunt are with her. They are both nurses. Her aunt is an OB nurse so I’m sure she is getting great care.

It is amazing to think that this is a new generation. One that I am unlikely to see become adult. That is such a sad thought for me but that is how life goes. I do not expect to live forever nor would I want to.

There is a pattern to life. Some Hindus believe that at each stage of our life we have certain tasks to complete. The last stage is to gain wisdom and enlightenment. I really hope that I can do that but I will have to do better than I am doing now. I do not spend enough time in silence. I don’t listen for God enough. I am terrible about turning things over to God and letting them go. I am trying and I will keep on but enlightenment seems a long way off.

At some times in my life I have had the incredible experience of sensing God’s presence. It is a mountaintop experience. Each time I spent time immersed in meditation and let myself approach God fully. I know god is there just waiting. It is up to me to seek that communion.

new day2Each day is a new day. Soon I will see a new life for my family. I think God is present in each newborn in a way that we can’t do as adults. Their connection to God is unique. They just came from His presence and can still experience the connection.

I look forward to meeting this new person and acknowledging God in his life.