Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Joy of ... Snow!

When I lived in Michigan, snow was a way of life. It came in the Fall, stayed into Spring, and if you lived in or visited the Upper Peninsula, you were likely to see snow in July. In the Triangle of North Carolina, snow is ... different.

We had our first snowfall today. Tomorrow is the first day of Winter, so right on time. The snow came in big, fluffy flakes and fell slowly, gently, in no rush at all. Each flake landed and disappeared. The ground is still too warm to hold such a small offering. The whole snow event  took place in the early morning, around 7 AM, and lasted 15 minutes.

My husband hurried into my home office where I was writing and pulled the blinds open. "It's snowing!" he said with the excitement of a little boy. To which I replied, "Will you look at that!" and we stood for long minutes, an arm around each other, watching.

In those moments, I experienced the Joy that Sister Wendy talks about in her Book of Meditations. She says that Joy is not constant, but flashes suddenly upon our shadows and darkness, illuminating and transforming our interior landscape. In joy, the world becomes different, marvelous, unique.

And so it was for those few minutes this morning.

As we finish this third week of Advent, Laudete Week, the week of joy, I pray that you find such joy in your life. Often.

Blessings on your day!

Friday, December 12, 2014

What Does Love Look Like?

During this second week of Advent, the theme is Love.

For my Advent reflection, I often use Sister Wendy's Book of Meditations in which Sister Wendy uses art, mostly paintings, to visualize four topics. One of these topics is Love. As I consider the different paintings and the author's perspective, I am amazed how often we use the word "love" and to how many different things we refer--Bromance, friendship, romantic attachment, sex, casual affection for humankind, parental love, significant engagement in another's welfare. We talk about being in love with nature, family, books, sports, movies, celebrities, pets, spouses, new shoes, our homes.

Some people who swear they are in love can be greedy, clingy, secretive, blind, obsessive, exclusive, angry, possessive, controlling, dramatic, self-indulgent (which is different from self-care), confined and insular.

Other people say they are in love and are patient, kind, inclusive, expansive. They find joy in the truth, look for what others are doing right, acknowledge blessings, make allowances, trust with their intelligence engaged, work actively for the other's welfare, repent when they hurt someone, relate to others with open-eyes and open-hearts.

Simply put, Sister Wendy offers:
  • If it is love at all, the happiness [I would add, the welfare] of the other comes first.
  • Love is a verb. It is an action verb. Love displays itself by putting the other first.
  • If love is a verb, then it is a choice. Day by day. Hour by hour.
Paul sent a few words on the subject of Love to his boasting congregation in Corinth (1 Corinthians 13).

Read Sister Wendy. Read Paul. Then make your choice.

May you choose Love.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Prepare To Be The Light

There are many phrases and words associated with this Season of Advent -- getting ready, waiting, reflection, looking forward, anticipation, the coming, meditation.

Today, what came to the forefront of my thoughts was PREPARATION.

Many Christians talk about preparing for what or who is coming. The baby Jesus. The Light. The Sun. All Love. The image is of a Coming from the outside, from the Heavens, from somewhere else to save us from our brokenness, wrongness, suffering. History and the Bible shows us that for that ultimate Coming, we're going to be waiting a long time.

And what do we do in the meantime?

During Advent, we prepare. Not for a power outside ourselves to bring the Kingdom, the Beloved Community. We prepare ourselves by stirring up the Divine power within us so we can be the change during the rest of the year.

The Eternal Birth must take place in you....The birth of Christ in our souls is for a purpose beyond ourselves: it is because his manifestation in the world must be through us. ~Meister Eckhart
Celebrating the birth of Jesus honors a human who shows us the Way to manifest the Light and Love of God. Another model is St. Nicholas whose feast day we celebrate today. We don't need to wait for something or someone outside of us. It is through us that Light and Love are brought into the darkness of the world.

Let us take this time in Advent to learn how to transform our inner lives so that we will consistently reflect what Jesus taught us about how to live. Let's prepare ourselves for our mission -- to bring God's Light into the world every day for the rest of our lives.

Blessings on your day!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Source of Your Significance

I was sharing with a friend this week that I sometimes struggle with the feeling of being overlooked in life. It comes from some childhood experiences, but remains a consistent piece of my personality. I continue to recognize this feeling and work with it. My friend asked a question that stopped me in my tracks:
What is the source of your significance?
Rephrase. What reminds you that you're important in the world? What provides a gut-deep knowledge that you are significant?

My first reaction was, "Well, God is the source." But a moment later, I wasn't sure that was true. Yes, true out in the world, but perhaps not a truthful answer to this question of my significance and what is the source in reality. We often see ourselves as sources for change, pushing change into the world through our will and perseverance. Is that our significance, our personal contribution?

The darkness of this season may keep us a little closer to home, a little less eager to rush out and be a change agent. In the dark, no longer able to see clearly, we may be more ready to stop, to receive, to listen, to wait.  To focus on our Inner Light. To let silence and meditation bring forth an understanding of our true significance. In the dark, that Inner Light can smolder, refuel, recharge. When the longer days come, we'll be ready with a better comprehension of our purpose, a way forward.

May you find your way. Amen.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Psalm 90: On Human Frailty

The Psalmist speaks of how short our time on earth is--"eighty [years] for those who are strong" (v.10). Instead of the resignation of Ecclesiastes, here the writer offers a simple prayer:

Teach us to count up the days that are ours, and we shall come to the heart of wisdom. Each morning fill us with your faithful love, we shall sing and be happy all our days; let our joy be as long as the time that you [God, life] afflicted us, the years when we experienced disaster.  ~Psalm 90: 12, 14-15
 May it be so. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Daily Conflict - The World or God?

I'm coming back online during Advent (perhaps I'll be able to carry on through the New Year!) because my own spiritual path is in transition. More on that as the season proceeds. I'll start with a meditation that I found in an Advent booklet published by United Church of Chapel Hill a few years ago. 

The meditation is based on Matthew 22: 15-22, the question of paying taxes. “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” The writer of the meditation feels that this is an opportunity to reflect on our own lives and ask the questions what is our obligation to God, what are our obligations to the world, and how do we choose between the two.

My reaction was to remember one of the things I've learned in reading Bishop John Spong. The Bible was written in a day in which God existed outside the world, in the sky, and humans existed separately, on the earth. So there was a divide. The world or God? Ancient image, ancient concept.

Modern concept: the Divine Spirit permeates around and through everything. Earth, heavens, people, deeds, seas. Everything. I believe that the question for me in this modern world do I make the Spirit VISIBLE, how do I manifest it?  My purpose is to bring the Light out from under the bushel and place it on a lamp stand. Every choice, every action can be a Revelation of the Spirit. That revelation comes from the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23): Joy, Love, Peace, Patience (Forbearance), Generosity, Kindness (Compassion), Gentleness, Self-Control, and Faithfulness. As the United Church of Christ says, "God is still speaking". God speaks through me.

God speaks through us.

May it be so. Amen.