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Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will refresh you.  Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart.  Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is fitting and my burden light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30)

The past few months have felt intense.  From all appearances, it seems the intensity will continue.  I have felt weary.  At times I’ve felt life burdensome.  I need to be refreshed.

In the midst of busyness and needed activities it’s necessary to take time to remember what is really important.  I believe it’s important to take time to reflect on one’s spiritual calling, to reflect on how God is present in all of life. Some may do this near lakes or oceans.  Others get refreshed by camping in the woods or mountains.   I do it by taking specific retreat days to be quiet, reflect, pray and enjoy nature.  God leads each person differently.

I need the quiet, silent, alone time with my comforting cat to examine how God has been giving me life and sustaining me.  I become aware of times when I forgot God was in control.

During these quiet days, there may be challenges as I focus on whatever yoke God is offering.  I may feel peaceful.   Other times I may feel like I am in a dry desert.  Am I willing to stay with the feeling?  Am I willing to listen to what’s in my heart?  What I may hear is to be aware how my daily calling is really fitting with God’s help.

So I pray:

Compassionate and Merciful God,

Thank you for these quiet days.  Keep reminding me that where I am is where You’ve called me to be.  You are present in the midst of busyness even though it may feel like You are absent.  As You refresh and renew me during these reflective days, help me deepen my awareness of Your constant help and presence.  Then, guide me to share Your compassion with others who are weary and burdened.  Amen.

 

August 5, 2016 0 comment
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I woke up tired on a cloudy, snowy day.

I woke up thinking of a duty I had to do in the near future.

Why did it seem so heavy?

I felt like much of my future depended on performing it successfully.  Even though I remembered some past unpleasant experiences connected with this duty,  I’d done them well.

Why was I so anxious that morning?

I said I trust in God.

I believed God would help me through it, pleasant or unpleasant.  But my anxious feelings remained.

I struggled to understand.

I prayed.  I asked for God’s peace.  I struggled.  I hoped.  I petted my cat.  I played the piano.  I breathed deeply.  I wrote my thoughts.

It was hard to let go of the anxiety.

I prayed and knew that God was with me.  Yet, the feelings remained unchanged.  This is life.

The sun broke through for a brief instant and hid again above the clouds.

The snow continued to fall.  It didn’t seem so pretty on that dreary day.  My heart was heavy.

I looked for a certain scripture that I thought would be helpful.  Instead of the one for which I was searching, I came across this passage in Matthew 6:32b-34.

“Your heavenly Father knows all you need.  Seek first God’s dominion over you, God’s way of holiness and all these things will be given you besides.  Enough, then, of worrying about tomorrow.  Let tomorrow take care of itself.  Today has troubles enough of its own.”

I tried to focus on living in the present moment, an ancient Christian practice, knowing that God is present.  This is easier said than done.  I remembered reading a book many years ago called  The Practice of the Presence of God.  It was written by  Brother Lawrence a few centuries ago but is still applicable today.

So I ended that day still feeling like God was absent though I knew that wasn’t true. At the same time knowing that each moment is the important one.   I reminded myself to focus on the Holy One’s presence and be assured that God is always present with me even on dreary days.

July 24, 2016 0 comment
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Much is being written and talked about being grateful today.  With all our social media opportunities one can find many sources of grateful quotes or passages.

I remember hearing the quote attributed to Meister Eckhart that if the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.

It’s easy to be grateful when all goes our way.  However when we experience struggle or suffering it’s more difficult.  We can say the words but it’s hard to feel them.

Being grateful and sad at the same time may seem like a contradiction but we can have many different feelings at the same time.

When we’re struggling with a situation we need to acknowledge what the struggle is.

Denying it doesn’t help.  Once the issue is identified, we can explore it more realistically.  Then, even though the situation remains, we can be thankful for other things.  We can be thankful for nature such as sunshine, colorful flowers, plants that grow in offices with only florescent lighting.  We can be thankful for pets that welcome and comfort us.  We can be thankful for the health or limited health we have.

We can be thankful to the people in our lives, those who planted, harvested,  transported, sold, etc. the food we eat.

Most of all we can be thankful for God who loves us just as we are.  Psalm 138 is one of the grateful psalms that we can pray. (From The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version: Oxford University Press  c.1995)

Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O God, with my whole heart;

Before the gods I sing your praise;

I bow down toward your holy temple

And give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and faithfulness;

For you have exalted your name and your word above everything.

On the day I called, you answered me,

You increased my strength of soul.’

All the rulers of the earth shall praise you, O God,

For they have heard the words of your mouth.

They shall sign of the ways of God,

For great is sthe glory of God,

For though God is high, God regards the lowly;

But the haughty, God perceives from far away.

 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,

Your preserve me against the wrath of my enemies.

You stretch out your hand, and your mighty hand delivers me.

God will fulfill God’s purpose for me;

Your steadfast love, O God, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands.

June 22, 2016 0 comment
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I’ve heard a rooster crowing in the morning here in my apartment complex.  It reminded me of one of my aunts. She had raised chickens in her back yard.  I remember going into the chicken coop to throw the chickens some corn or to carefully gather eggs.

This connected with a Gospel passage where Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills prophets and stones those who are sent to it, How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings and you were not willing.”

Jesus must have known something about chickens.  I wonder if he fed them and gathered eggs when he was growing up.

Reflecting on this Scripture I wondered how God gathers us under God’s wings.  Are we willing to be gathered?

There are times when I may not be willing, when I don’t consider God in my decision making.  I get too absorbed in what I think is best.  Then, God usually uses ordinary life events to focus me into what is better for me, even when I’m resistant.

One example was the time I was getting some gentle nudges that it was time for me to move to another city.  I liked my job, my co-workers and friends and I was comfortable where I was, except for the cold SD winters.

The winter we had bitter cold, snow and an unusual amount of ice for an unusual length of time I knew that it was time to move on.

I was sure God was calling me to the Rocky Mt. area so I sent out many resumes.  No response.  Letting go of my own thought and asking God’s guidance I became willing to look elsewhere, though not in the far north.  In 6 months I had 7 on-site interviews and a new job.  God had called me into a place where I could grow spiritually in a new way under God’s wings.   There are still many difficult times in my new place but when I remember to let God gather me into a place, then I can deal with the difficulties better.

May you remember that God wants to welcome and shelter you under God’s wings, too.

June 6, 2016 0 comment
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