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January 2017


“God sweeping over the waters…”  – Genesis 1:1-2

Movement and exercise have rarely been of value to me.  I didn’t see that as part of my spiritual life or connection to God.  I’ve prayed with Scriptures that focused on quiet and stillness such as where God came to Elijah in the cave  (I Kings19:11-13) or Ps. 46:10  “Be still and know that I am God.”

I’ve been drawn to books such as Whispers in the Stillness: Mindfulness and Spiritual Awakening by Martha Lehane Sheehan.  I’ve made spiritual retreats to try to become more interiorly quiet and spiritually centered.

But recently the theme that has been running through my night dreams has been movement and exercise.

Why at this time of my life, I wondered.  Probably it’s because that’s part of my life that I’ve neglected.  A part of life many people seem to not only value but enjoy, though I haven’t.  I’ve reflected on the question of where is God in all this movement and exercise.

I was reminded that in the very beginning in Genesis, God moved over the waters.  Only after moving over the waters did God speak creation.

So I pray and ask myself, what new life or creation could come from my exercising or moving more?

Maybe it won’t be something new but more of an awareness of my body’s need to move to be healthy.  Perhaps it’s just to realize that God is in movement as well as in silence.  Maybe it’s to remind me that lasting growth comes slowly and usually only after much practice and sometimes pain.

So my new spiritual practices is to schedule a specific time for conscious movement and/or exercise.

My prayer:

God, You who swept over the waters, create in me an appreciation for movement and the new awareness or life that can come from it.  Thank you for the awareness that you are present in movement as well as in stillness.  Amen.

 

January 15, 2017 0 comment
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Winter in our area brings darkness sooner in the evenings.   In winter I look forward to Dec. 21st after which the days start having more sunlight, at least until June.

What is there about darkness that many of us do not like?  In the daylight there are many things to see or on which to focus.  I seem to have more energy when I see daylight.    I’m a visual person.  I feel safer when I can my surroundings.  In the darkness, I can easily stumble for I can’t see what’s around me.

Often in the Christmas season we talk about the light shining in darkness, implying that darkness is negative.   Yet, if we didn’t have a sense of darkness, we wouldn’t appreciate the light.  There are gifts in the darkness if we look for them.  Unless it is dark outside we can’t see the twinkling stars.

How does this affect in my spiritual life?

When I’m feeling darkness in my inner center, I ask myself some questions.  Is there something I feel led to do but am resisting?  Have I forgotten to be aware that God is with me and will light my way if I take the first step?  Am I so looking for sunlight that I can’t see the twinkling stars in what feels like total darkness?

We talk about Jesus being the great Light of the World.  In the Gospel of John 1:5 the writer refers to Jesus, the Word as “The light that shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it.”

And Isaiah 9: `1-2a  we read  “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;  Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.  You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing…”

I’m not always aware of light in the midst of whatever I’m experiencing as darkness.  Sometimes when I’m feeling inner darkness I just need to take reflective time.  Other times it seems I need to let go of remaining in the darkness and act on the direction I’m being led.

How do I know what to do?

Usually either my life situation or my dreams give me a clue.  As I respond, I may still have a sense of darkness but know that by my staying with it, I can find the gift and/or light it brings.

May you find the gift of starlight in the midst of your darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2017 0 comment
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What does it mean to listen to the Mind of God, to follow God’s mind?  I hear people say God has told them this or that.  How does that happen?

I believe we learn of God’s mind or God’s direction in numerous ways.  Some may actually hear the spoken words from God.  But I think there are other ways that most of us learn of the mind of God.    Scripture, creation, music, art and life’s coincidences are how I think most of us become aware.

Scripture consistently shows how God was faithful to God’s people even though they weren’t always faithful to God.  Jesus taught about a loving God and he demonstrated that in his lifetime by frequent healings and forgiveness.

In the book   Things Hidden:  Scripture as Spirituality  Richard Rohr wrote (p.200) that “Divine love is not determined by the worthiness of the object but by the goodness of the subject.”  He adds “Jesus didn’t come to change the mind of God about humanity but to change the mind of humanity about God. “

Scripture gives us examples of God as loving, caring, patient, merciful, compassionate as well as challenging.

God provided

  • Water for Hagar and Ismael when they were in the desert.
  • Provided manna and water for the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert.
  • Direction to Ezekiel to the mountain cave where God came to him in the quiet breeze.
  • Questioning of Job where he was when God created the world

Jesus gives us many examples, too.

  • Forgiving – Peter who denied him three times
  • Be merciful – woman taken in adultery
  • Compassionate – examples of healing – deaf man
  • Caring – changing water into wine at the wedding of Cana
  • Challenging –Gerasene Demoniac to go back home and recout all God had done for him.

The mind of God is a mystery.    Although Scripture gives us ideas about the mind of God, I also find  glimpses of the mind of God in the beauty of creation and in life’s coincidences.

When I look at nature and see the variety God created for us, I’m amazed.  In just around the block where I live I see robins, finches, hummingbirds, sparrows, doves and many other birds I can’t identify.  Then the variety of trees – oak, maple, evergreens, elms, poplars and others.  Present are even insects such as wasps, mosquitoes, bees and others, that I admit I don’t appreciate,

Once I heard that instead of complaining that roses have thorns, one should rejoice that the thorns have roses.

What an imagination God has!

I believe that God’s mind is present in what many call coincidences.  For example, after much research, I found the apartments in which I’ve lived.  None were what I thought I was looking for in the beginning, but each has brought joy as well as challenges.  Through all of them I’ve grown and hopefully became a more spiritual person.

A creation coincidence happened one Pentecost when a brilliant red cardinal perched on my balcony railing.  This happened only once in the 17 years I lived there.  It reminded me of the Spirit and the Pentecost passage in the Acts of the Apostles.

Another memorable coincidence happened when I was in the middle of a difficult four day exam.  One afternoon someone had a beautiful red rose delivered to my door.  This gave me hope and encouragement.

Other examples of the mind of God in our life are in music and art.  Often they touch my soul and leave me in awe.

The more I’m sensitive to such coincidences, the more I open my heart to God.  Then I’m aware of an inner peace and God’s help throughout life’s struggles.

Holy Mystery,

Thank you for giving us glimpses of You in Scripture, creation, art, music and life’s coincidences.  Help us be more sensitive and appreciative of all life and of your constant loving presence.  Give us the strength to listen to and follow your guidance.  Amen.

 

 

January 2, 2017 0 comment
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