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I live in an Indiana city.  However, for most of my life I’ve lived in the  rural parts of the plain states.  Sometimes I long for the wide open spaces of  nearby sandhills and of  hayfields with distant shelter belts of trees.  I miss the song of the meadow larks, the ability to see miles in all directions, the occasional tree by the road, the sparse traffic and the sense of peace in spaciousness.

Here, I’ve needed to become aware of and appreciate a different kind of beauty.  Trees abound, ponds are plentiful, traffic seems constant and there are different songbirds.

My relationship with my current geographical space grows with the variety of nature here.  I’ve delighted in the budding of the redwood trees and the lacey white dogwoods as they introduce the spring season.  I enjoy watching the goldfinches compete with the red-headed house finches at the bird feeder.  I’ve yet to learn the names of the warblers that sing early in the mornings.  I’ve enjoyed the playful squirrels chasing each other.  However, I’ve not appreciated their destroying the bird feeder to get to the bird seed.

I’ve learned to marvel at the greenness of the overhanging trees as I drive home.  I like to think of the trees as reaching out to give an invitation of hope. I’ve observed the leaves turn from green to colorful autumn pink, orange, red and brown.  I’ve watched them fall to the ground as winter approached.

I’ve reflected on the leafless trees in winter, trees with their roots deep in the earth.  Trees, who seem to be resting to burst forth with life in the spring.

Spirituality is a place where I live_2Robert M. Hamma in Landscapes of the Soul: A Spirituality of Place writes about learning from children to simply be in place and be in relationship with all in that space, as children do.

In the Genesis creation story (Genesis 1:1-ff) after God creates, God said that it was all good.   There is beauty all around if I look for it.

My challenge is to honor the earth where I live now and honor all creation.  It’s to use wisely what I need and recycle what I can.

Creator God, thank you for the variety and beauty of all creation.  Help me to honor all creation.  Guide me to live simply and use all things wisely.  Amen.

July 18, 2018 0 comment
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I was sitting quietly one Saturday morning, listening to sounds around the apartment complex.

One neighbor’s air conditioner is buzzing.

Another’s dogs are barking, howling and whining.

Birds are chirping off and on.

Then I became aware of the whispering winds.

Their soothing sounds of the waving breeze reminded me of musical chant with the phrasing louder and softer, flowing gently.

I remembered the psalm verse, “You make the winds your messengers…” (Ps. 104:4)

The message I hear this day is that God is here in sound and beauty.

My beautiful cat was lounging comfortably on my legs.  She stretched out with her chin on my knee.

Suddenly we both were surprised by my cell phone ringing.  I thought it was off so I’d have a quiet day.  I let it ring.  My cat put her head back on my knee and we continued to listen and enjoy the whispering winds and chirping birds.  I thought of the wonderful gift of being able to hear.  I offered this prayer.

God of Whispering Winds,

I thank you for the gift of hearing.

I praise you for the gentle breezes and all the sounds of life.

You give us a new start each day.

Thank you for the gift of this morning.  Amen.

September 20, 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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