During Lent we are challenged; challenged to move in a totally new direction. We put up a fight. We are resistant to change. But as you walk the path, you begin to break through the discomfort. You put one foot in front of the other. The experience is exhilarating and you find yourself anxious to move in a totally new direction. With each step comes confidence as you realize that you are nearer to the heart of God. You hear Him whisper, “don’t look away. Don’t look back. Don’t look down.” As He opens His gate of forgiveness, you are surprised by the enormity of His Grace. You shouldn’t be. You knew this all along. You realize this every step of His way.
Archive for March, 2011
Spring burst through the morning, forcing the windows wide open. Soft, warm 80 degree weather rested on my shoulders. A gentle breeze resulted in the newly blossoming branches of the apricot tree to sway ever so slightly. Sweet, competing voices rose from a variety of small wild birds filling my head with happy thoughts.
This was the start of a wonderful way to clear through the overcrowded growth in the yard. Focusing on the earth, my mind was allowing the Lenten meditation for this day to penetrate into the most hidden corners of my heart. Yanking out the weeds, I prayed that God would show Himself to me. Hand raking up dried brush and brown leaves, I asked that God allow the work of my hands to humbly serve others for good.
I was struck by the decomposed fruit from the generous satsuma and lemon trees. How rich was the soil that surrounded the grey ash! I was reminded of the deaths of acquaintances of the week. And just as God raises the dead and gives them new life, the soft wind lifted up the remains, carrying the dust towards heavens gate.
When you belong to something, anything, you can find yourself preparing to loose. Whether it is God or a faith community, a family of any size or a circle of friends ~ the more you give the more you loose. The same is true for your job, school experience or community organization. The more you invest, the more you loose. Over the course of time you may find yourself clinging to people, but at the end of it all you know you must release them. And with the passing of time you find you are left with a memory or the spirit of it all. So must we detach ourselves from these material things in order to discover a true sense of reality? Must we build barriers so as not to receive the love that is dying to break through? Do we hold back, just a little so as not to be available to pain?
Or is it that by the very acceptance of the knowledge that some day, at any moment you must be prepared to loose someone in your circle of friends; or that job you love, or a dear family member you will give everything you have knowing that just may be your last gift. So you prepare to loose.
I have far too many random thoughts throughout the day that cause my mind to wander.
What is the name of the guy who sang that one hit wonder, Montego Bay? (Bobby Boom)
Who was that Wonder Woman? (Lynda Carter)
But mostly I have been wondering about Stevie lately. Born prematurely in 1950 in Michigan, the blood vessels at the back of his eyes had not yet reached the front and their aborted growth caused his blindness. As a child he grew up in the church where he began playing instruments: the piano, harmonica, drums and bass. Impressing Barry Gordon in 1961, Stevie became known as the eighth wonder of the world.
When Don Henley sang, people listened. Whether it was about the End of the Age of Innocence or what Everybody Knows, it always got down to The Heart of the Matter with this Eagle singer.
When Joseph Aloysius Marmion wrote, his words captured people’s hearts. Beginning in the late 1850’s to the turn of the 20th century, Blessed Columba Marion wrote with clarity, commitment and spiritual inspiration. Their vehicles may have been different, but the message on forgiveness is the same:
“You must be persuaded that your sinful past is in no way an obstacle to very close union with God. God forgives, and His forgiveness is Divine. With the Angels, God was not merciful because they had no miseries. With us, who are full of miseries, God is infinitely merciful.”
Never underestimate the power of kindness and generosity. A little bit will go a long way.
You are invited to spend time with Luke today. His sixteenth chapter is filled with pearls of wisdom we have heard and spoken numerous times. Through bold story telling we are reminded of how actions performed when no one is looking, when actually God is watching, is how we are judged. Stealing of another’s words, or just a few; taking of another’s time with idle words; or filling your briefcase with an employer’s ideas or property no matter how small affect your judgement and behavior in greater ways. Luke shares that ” The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones”.
How often we find ourselves wrestling with balance in; what I WANT over what I NEED. Who owns your moral compass? Buried in this passage of the Gospel of Luke we hear that “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” If you have your priorities straight, it shouldn’t be difficult for you make decisions throughout your temptation-filled day.
Take it from Luke, size doesn’t matter.
Some creatures will eat anything. Termites are a fine example of indiscriminate taste. Vultures are another such species with a voracious appetite for a few good carcasses. It makes you wonder if the termite or vulture could speak, just what words would be uttered from their throats? Personally, I can’t imagine a termite saying, “How wonderful it is to destroy your home!” Or, would the vulture say, “I can’t wait for you to drop dead!”
Creatures are attracted to sweet: whether it is sugar, honey, pollen or oranges. Consider the baboon who thrives in Citrusdal in the Western Cape. The town is lush with oranges, varietals grow side by side. Annually, one crop of mineola grows alongside other oranges. But this particular grafted tree produces weeks earlier, a sweeter crop that brings out the beast in the baboon.
So too it is with our words. Long before email, humans would skillfully craft a letter or communiqué. Pre-dating the text, folks would leave succinct voicemail messages. We learned to communicate by well written novels and speeches. You were judged by how well you wrote and your ability to deliver your point “on point”. Perhaps we could benefit by returning to a more dignified time when saying what you mean and meaning what you say is an outward sign of your kindess, clarity and thoughtfulness. Because, if you are what you say, sometimes you ain’t so pretty.
He made eye contact, however he could not see.
She was a good listener, but she heard nothing.
His hands provided a gentle touch, but were numb.
She stopped to smell the roses, but its fragrance was empty.
He stood at the altar to receive the body and blood of the Lord, but could taste nothing.
Seeing the wickedness of man, God grieved. We remember the story of Noah and the ark from Sunday school. God saw his creation in ruins and sought a righteous and blameless man. Just like Noah, many have spoken up. Their message has been loud and clear. But those in “power” have not been listening. In this time of uncertainty they gathered hand in hand; the godly, the ghosts and the sinners. This is the day that God cried. He sent the rains. He stood among them searching for the righteous in the midst of the separation of church and the state of anxiety.