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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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Chosen by a Kitten

After my first pet, a much loved cat, died, I spent some time grieving her death.  When I felt ready, I made many trips to different shelters looking for an older cat to adopt.

One morning I stopped in a new shelter and sat in a room with several cats and a 6 month old kitten whom I ignored.  The older cats all ignored me.

Miss K, as she was called jumped on my lap and contentedly curled up and let me pet her.  Intrigued and not really wanting a kitten, I left.  I went to a couple other shelters again.  I didn’t find the “right” cat.  None of the cats really interacted with me.  I thought about Miss K and how she had chosen me that morning.

Later that afternoon I decided to return to the first shelter, thinking that if Miss K was still there, I’d adopt her, even though she was only 6 months old.  Since she was so friendly and social, I was sure one of the many families visiting the shelter would have adopted her.  But when I returned, there she was!  She again quickly jumped on my lap. My heart went out to her.

I thought of how God chose us, and often leads us in unknown ways.  Scriptures on God choosing us that came to mind were from John and Ephesians.  We read in  John 15:16; “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit…” I John 3:2  “Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now…:”

Sometimes I forget God has chosen me and each one of us to go forth and bear fruit.  Going forth and bearing fruit might mean going out to others.  On the other hand, it might mean sitting and praying quietly as I gently pet my kitten.

This gives me the opportunity to reflect on Ephesians 1:4 “God chose us…before the word began, to be holy and blameless in God’s sight, to be full of love.”  Miss K chose me to give her a loving home and to love me in return.  Loving all of God’s creation, human and other, is another way of bearing fruit and sharing God’s love.

I invite you to explore how you are God’s chosen one bearing fruit and sharing God’s love.

September 5, 2016 0 comment
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I’ve seen some doves flying in the trees near my apartment recently but I’ve not seen them close up.  During a recent  spiritual direction  phone call, a dove landed on my balcony railing.  This was significant to me for our conversation was about spiritual communication.

In Christianity, a dove is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  So my first thought on seeing the dove was that God was reminding me that the Holy Spirit is present in my session.

A couple moments later, the single dove was joined by two more doves.  In Christianity, three is a symbol of the Trinity.  The second  dove came right up to the window on the floor of the balcony.  The third one almost flew into the window but turned before it hit the window.

As I reflected on the three doves, I wondered, “Was God saying, “Let me in?  I’m here but you aren’t paying attention?”

My prayer was, “God, I want to pay attention.  I know you are present.   I need your help to open the door of my heart to be more aware of your love. Amen.

August 15, 2016 0 comment
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While quietly sitting with my calico cat curled up on my lap, I reflected on the peaceful scene outside my window.   My reflection led me to write this prayer psalm.

Bless the Creator, O my soul!

O Holy One, you give us beauty in colorful nature.

I praise you for the hungry goldfinches eating thistle seed,

their gold and black feathers highlighted in the sun.

I praise you for the energetic humming bird

flying among the purple and pink petunias and deep red geraniums.

It’s rapidly moving wings keeping it steady

as it drinks the flower nectar.

I praise you for the silver leafed maple tree,

the solid oak tree and the multi-branched elm tree.

Each provides a different emerald background for my brilliant balcony flowers.

I praise you for the luminous sunlight

around the white fluffy clouds

below the light blue sky.

O God, how wonderful is all your creation.

May we always respect, value and appreciate all you have made.  Amen.

August 1, 2016 0 comment
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Late last summer a friend gave me a small different kind of geranium plant.  Instead of the usual red petals making up the blossoms, these flowers had what looked like tiny red roses clustered together to make up the blossom.

I kept it and nurtured the small plant through the winter and spring in hopes it would live and blossom.  It looked pretty spindly at the end of winter.  But after the frost, I put it on the balcony where it gets several hours of sunlight.  It grew into a lovely green plant but no buds or flowers.  I kept watering it and fertilizing it.  I almost gave up hope of having more than a nice large green plant.

Finally in the middle of June several small buds appeared.  They aren’t large blossoms but they opened up to small, beautiful, red, rose-like clusters.  The plant is now full of these lovely blossoms.

Their slow growth to blossom reminds me to be patient with myself.  It teaches me that growth usually is slow to become permanent.  Waiting is important.

Portions of Psalm 40 from The Message:  by Eugene H. Peterson  speak to me of the importance of waiting.

Psalm 40

“I waited and waited and waited for God

At last he looked; finally he listened.

He lifted me out of the ditch.

Pulled me from deep mud.

He stood me up on a solid rock

To make sure I wouldn’t slip.

He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,

A praise-song to our God.

More and more people are seeing this;

They enter the mystery,

Abandoning themselves to God.

Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,

Turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing.”

Ignore what the world worships,

The world’s a huge stockpile

Of God-wonders and God-thoughts.

Nothing and no one

Come close to you!

I start talking about you, telling what I know,

And quickly run out of words

Neither numbers nor words

Account for you.

Doing something for you, bringing something to you –

That’s not what you’re after.

Being religious, acting pious –

That’s not what you’re asking for.

You’ve opened my ears

So I can listen…”

Thank you, Understanding God, for giving us beautiful new flowers that inspire us.  They remind us that growth can be slow and that you are always supporting us in the process. Keep opening our ears to listen to you.  Amen.

 

 

 

July 6, 2016 0 comment
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Gusty winds blow strongly, spreading dandelion seeds, casting out dead branches, causing power outages.

Where do they come from?

What brings these wild gusts?  Why are they so strong today?

Just when they seem to calm down, they blow strong again.

Objects that aren’t grounded are blown away.  Trees with strong root systems bend with the wind but don’t break.

Meteorologists give us explanations, but we still wonder.

The gusty wind makes me think of life.  There are times when we feel almost blown over in our lives.  We may feel blown about like a dandelion seed.  We feel overwhelmed when many things are demanded of us at the same time.  We may feel like all our energy is gone. The challenge is getting connected to our  Divine Energy.  Perhaps it’s time to reflect on what are the dead branches in our lives. What are the branches that aren’t life-giving?  How are we rooted and grounded in God?

That’s when my prayer is the beginning of psalm 130:  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.  Lord, hear my prayer, let my cry come unto you.”

The situation doesn’t generally change but usually a glimmer of hope comes.

Holy Creator of Wind, thank you for your presence.  Blow your wisdom in our overwhelming situations.  Assist us to stay grounded and know we’re surrounded by your presence.  Give us your energy to deal with each situation in an appropriate matter.  Help us let go of what isn’t life-giving in our lives, knowing that you will guide us to new energy.  Amen.

June 12, 2016 0 comment
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My neighbor has a crab apple tree just starting to bud.  The branches are covered with small green leaves and tiny deep pink buds.

The beauty of the tree is in contrast to the huge oak tree nearby.  Even though its spring, that oak tree seems still to be in winter mode – strong, sturdy and deeply rooted but not a leaf in sight.

Sometimes I feel more like the oak tree without leaves.  How have I deepened spiritually during the winter?  Hopefully I’m deeply rooted in God like the oak tree in the earth.  Even though I may not feel that rootedness, I know God is the source of my groundedness.

As I delight in the budding crab apple trees, I feel a sense of hope in the new life coming forth in spring.  I reflect on the Scriptures that fit this spring season.  Two come quickly to mind:

Isaiah 43:13 “See I am doing something new, it springs forth.  Do you not perceive it?

John 10:10b “I came that you may have life and have it to the full.”

Springtime can give us hope as we see nature awakening.

What new thing is God inviting to come forth in you?

Holy Creator, thank you for the beauty and hope of springtime.  Help us become awake to the new things you are bringing forth in us.  Guide us to sense the abundant life we have as we grow in our relationship with you.  May we share the newness coming forth in us for your glory.   Amen.

May 31, 2016 0 comment
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Have you ever wondered what kind of a psalm David might have prayed if he lived in Indianapolis today?   I wonder if he wouldn’t have used the squirrels for inspiration.

As I was watching them one afternoon, a psalm verse came to mind:

“How manifold are your works, O Lord, in wisdom you have wrought them all – the earth is full of your creatures.”  Ps. 104:24.

March 26, 2016 0 comment
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