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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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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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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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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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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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