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Leaves waving goodbye to summer.
Trees rooting deeper.
Annual flowers dying.
Autumn is here.

Birds preparing for southern trips.
Squirrels burying their winter supply.
Wooly worms predicting a cold winter.
Autumn is here.

Daylight getting less.
Twilight arriving sooner.
Driving home in the dark.
Autumn is here.

Breathing in cooler temperatures.
Enjoying colorful falling leaves.
Remembering God is within.
Autumn is here.

Seasons are changing.
People are aging
Growing deeper in God’s love.
Autumn is here.

October 22, 2018 0 comment
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Becoming butterfly 2

 

A swallowtail butterfly landed on a purple petunia.  Then it flew to another.  It ignored the pink and red petunias, red geraniums and other multi-colored flowers on my balcony.

What a fascinating and dangerous journey it had to become a butterfly.  I doubt it was aware of its process.  It just did what it needed to do to live. It grew from the tiny egg to the crawling caterpillar.  Swallowtail butterflyIt encapsulated itself in a cocoon, struggled out of it, and stretched its wings to build up strength to fly away.

I’m sure it has no idea of the joy its beauty brings to all who see it.  We can learn from the butterfly.  We never know what may result from what seems like small act or just living our daily lives the best we know how.  Usually we won’t know how our life struggles and experience may guide us to help others.  A return greeting to a drug store clerk may make her day.  Calling persons who may be having a hard time lets them know they are important.  Letting someone know you are thinking about them assures them they aren’t alone.  These and many other seemingly small acts can bring beauty into others lives like seeing a beautiful butterfly on a purple petunia.

As you see the butterflies, I invite you to reflect on how you, too, bring beauty into others’ lives.

August 25, 2018 0 comment
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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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Snowfall indicated by white cloudy day
No blue sky visible.
When will the snow come?
How long will it last?
How much will fall?

Not important this weekend.
No need for me to leave my home.
No driving necessary.

Open the blinds.
Watch the snow fall.
Tiny white flakes
Seemingly chasing each other.
Who will touch the earth first?
Where else might they land?

Barren trees, pine trees,
Parked cars, roof tops.
All quickly frosted with a
Thick layer of
Soft fluffy white.

God’s winter beauty.
Quiet, gentle, peaceful
Urges me to soft, inner stillness
Reminding me.
God’s within.

January 2, 2018 0 comment
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Summer is a very colorful time of the year in Indiana.  My balcony flowers are showing the brilliant summer colors.  The crimson and deep pink geraniums are growing cup-sized blossoms. The rose-bud geranium is starting to bud.  The variegated purple and pink  petunias are waving over their containers.  The yellow and purple pansies have survived the summer heat so far.  The  brilliant yellow and orange marigolds are glowing in the sunlight.  The pink and salmon-colored begonias are overflowing their planters.   The grass is such a bright green.

The white cumulus clouds float across the bright blue sky.

 

The sturdy geraniums encourage us to be strong in the midst of difficult times.

The rose-bud geranium challenges us to be patient with new growth.

The variegated, waving petunias bring us joy.

The tiny pansies show us that there is beauty even in small things.

The golden marigolds brighten our cloudy days.

The full-blossomed begonias remind us of God’s overflowing love.

The multi-shades of green grass give us hope.

The billowing clouds invite us to send our thoughts and prayers to God.

God of Color and Beauty,

Thank you for the summer colors and plants that encourage us, lift our spirits, and bring us joy.

May this summer be a time in which we enjoy the great gift of summer beauty.  Amen.

 

 

July 2, 2017 1 comment
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This month we’ve had a change in the way we keep clock time.  We’ve “sprung forward” an hour.  Though not officially the beginning of spring on this Sunday, it reminds us of the beginning of spring.

Spring in Indiana brings hope as color rises forth in nature.  Crocuses show forth in lavender.  The daffodils and jonquils are bursting out in yellow and white.  Tulip leaves are pushing through the hardened winter soil.  The trees are starting to bud and sprout leaves.  Song birds are returning with their joyful melodies.  The earth fluctuates from late winter to early spring temperatures.  We even get some snow though it doesn’t last.

How can this encourage us to spring forward in our spiritual lives?

Are you feeling like the frozen ground waiting to thaw?  Maybe the rain would encourage the thawing if you would feel the sadness of a frozen heart.  Letting the tears come could soften your heart and let you know that God is present in the sadness and tears.

Perhaps you are feeling like the trees whose roots deepened over the winter and are getting new life from the nutritious earth.  Your encouragement to spring forward may be by reflecting on the ways God has nourished you in the midst of winter.

Do you feel like the tulip leaves carefully peeking up from the ground?  Your encouragement to spring forward little by little may be as God guides you gently through quiet and prayer.

Are you feeling like the spring daffodils with their bright yellow color spreading joy to all who see them?  Your springing forth may be sharing your own joy of God’s gifts to you.

Or are you like the cheerful songbirds encouraging others by offering the music of your life through your presence and not asking anything in return?

I invite you to take some time this season to reflect with gratitude on how God has encouraged you to spring forward in your own awareness of God’s gifts to you.

Creator God, thank you for the many beautiful examples of your love you’ve given us in nature this season.  May they inspire and encourage us to spring forward to deepen our own love for you and all creation.  Amen.

March 19, 2017 0 comment
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Ash Wednesday

Most religions have a ceremony or a time in which the faithful reflect on their actions during the past year.  This is often combined with a time of discipline which may be fasting, almsgiving, and prayer.

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for many in the Christian church.  The forty days of fasting or penitence (not counting Sundays) may begin with the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful.

Many Christian denominations use this ancient ceremony of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful with the words from Genesis (3:10) “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”    Receiving ashes may be part of the act of confession, of penitence and as a sign of our mortality.  The Ash Wednesday service connects us with the past, with our present, and with our hope for new life in our Risen Christ.

Burnt palm ashes from the palms of the previous Palm Sunday symbolize our past history.  While anointing with ashes was widely used after the seventh century, there is evidence that it originated in Gaul in the sixth century.

This ancient ceremony has another valuable reminder for us.  Dust is of the earth.  Receiving the ashes reminds us that we, too, are from the earth.  The earth is very important to us.  Our earth is a gift from God.  Yet, we forget we need to take care of it and all creation, too.

The words of Isaiah still hold true, “The earth is mourning, pining away,…the earth is defiled under its inhabitants, for they have transgressed the laws, violated the decree, broken the everlasting covenant.”  (Is. 24: 4-5)

More and more we are made aware of the ecological disasters of the earth such as the depletion of ozone layer, the destruction of the rain forests,  climate changes,  the massive oil spills and the chemical spills in the rivers     Each of us is led in different ways to take care of our part of the earth.  May being blessed with ashes help us renew our care of the earth.

In preparing for Ash Wednesday, I was reading some of the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century prophet, healer, preacher and mystic.  Hildegard understood that for those who live in Christ, all creation is God’s work, and that the earth especially is waiting with eagerness to be saved. .  Hildegard writes “Creation reveals the hidden God just as clothes hint at the shape of a person’ body.”  Praying with Hildegard of Bingen  by Gloria Durka  ISBN-10 0884892549

During this holy season, we are invited to repentance, reflection and renewal.  It is a time to reflect on our failings, not only in relationships with God and each other, but how we relate to ourselves and all creation.   Our relationship with God is effected by how we relate with all around us.

I invite your reflections to include how God has led you to positive relationships with others and creation.  Also, remember that though you are dust,  at the same time you are God’s special creation.  You are God’s handiwork whom God loves and in whom God delights.  (Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 18:19 (or vs.20 in some Bibles);  Ephesians 2:10

The more we are really aware of God’s love for each of us individually, the more we’ll be able to live that out in our daily lives and share it with others

Prayer:

Loving God, may these ashes remind us of our connection to you and our earthly home.  Thank you for delighting and loving each of us and for giving us our beautiful earth.

As we go through this season of Lent create in us new and contrite hearts.  Help us remember that our strength for repentance, reflection and renewal is in quietness and trust in you.  (Isaiah 30:15)  Amen.

 

 

 

March 11, 2017 0 comment
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“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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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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