We slipped into November so quietly. The Oak Trees have dropped their acorns, the days of light have become shorter, nights have become cooler and November is here with her wisdom!
There is something mystical about the gentle flow of this season. It is an affirmation that in the midst of life’s changes, there is a quality of Presence that moves us to the depth and breadth of our souls.
It is a movement that invites us to pause and gaze at the night sky a little longer. It asks us to walk a bit slower, attentive to the changes of life. And, asks us to listen to the silence that holds the heartbeat of God. It is a breath of healing for our tired souls.
As we honor the movement of the season, a gift that arrives is a grateful heart. We are grateful to be alive to life and grateful for the life we are given to share. As the gratitude flows into love, we find the energy to dance, sing, laugh, play and celebrate life.
And into the midst of November’s wisdom comes a blast of cold artic air raging out against a small faith community in Texas. 26 people killed and many injured — lives blown away like the autumn leaves still on our trees. A town comes together to hold each other, to cry, to grieve and to resolve that this devastation will not destroy them but rather unite them in the bond of love which permeates this town.
May the gentle quiet of November prevail and lead you into new experiences and expressions of a love that cannot be contained. And, may you find in November’s Wisdom an invitation to encounter the still small voice within your heart and soul.
From the music of David Kauffman we hear these words:
Be Still my love know that I am God
The mountains shake, the waters roar
The valleys tremble with fear.
And yet our strength our refuge sure
Whispers in our ear.
Be still my love, know that I am God.
October has always seemed like the beginning of the holidays, with children running around the neighborhood looking for a treat or offering a trick. This October has begun not with the laughter of children, but rather the cries of so many people.
As I write this, the news is now filled with the horror of another mass shooting. This time in Las Vegas. This time it was aimed at people innocently gathered to listen to music, happy to be there and uplifted in spirit because they were there together.
Like so many people, my heart breaks with the deaths and injury accounts I hear. My heart yearns to know, what is happening to us and to our country? Isn’t it bad enough that hurricanes have leveled homes, displaced people and stranded the animals we once called pets? And, my heart asks, what motivates someone to open fire on a crowd when there is so much pain and suffering already in our land?
There are no answers to my questions. But raise and sit with them, we must.
This past month, I have listened to stories of people going above and beyond racial barriers as they rescued people stranded by floods. I have listened to a mayor in Puerto Rico pleading for assistance for the people who have been without electricity, food or water for two weeks. I have also laughed with joy when told of a woman who gathered $4000 and gave it to anyone who needed money to fix their homes. She gave of her resources and ended up receiving pictures of the wood a man purchased to fix his porch thanks to her generosity and a family that could repair their roof because of the money. And, the stories of kindness, speaking out for those in need, and generosity go on.
Even in the face of all that has happened, I believe in people. We grieve together. We can cry together, work together, and pray together too because under it all we know we have all been created by the Source of all creation. We are one!
Please join us as we pray for the courage and support the victims of violence and their families need. Let us hold the hope (when they can’t) for the future of those who have lost loved ones or had their lives irrevocably changed by violence. In time, with love and caring from their communities, we pray they can reclaim their lives.
With so much going on in Texas, where do we focus our attention? Where do we offer our support? How can we realistically respond to another heartbreaking challenge confronting us? How do we make sense of the thousands newly homeless and still deal with the racism, affordable housing, sanctuary cities, women’s rights and legislative issues that abound?
Beginning this past January with the Women’s March on Austin, Eremos has been inviting people to ponder the question: “What is mine to do?” That question continues to echo as I sit with all that is currently happening.
My heart agonizes at the images of people walking through contaminated water infested with rodents and reptiles. At the same time, I feel a burst of gratitude for all of the rescuers who have left homes, families and work to be instruments of care and safety.
Nursing homes and hospitals are opening their doors to the elderly and ill people.
Strangers are bringing trucks, tractors, boats and themselves to help rescue people stranded by the rising water from the hurricane flooding.
And in the midst of it, people continue to gather in homes for “Courageous Conversations” about racism, immigration, and other pressing issues of our time.
These times call for a generous spirit of love expressed through action. What Spirit calls us to do is different for each one of us. Once discerned, we need to trust that we are doing what we can do and know that it is Enough.
May we continue to respond to the needs of our time with love, rather than duty or obligation. A rescued woman said through her tears, “Thank you God for sending help my way”. May we all realize in the actions we take to serve that we are, as St. Theresa of Avila has stated, “the hands, the feet, the heart of God in our world.”
There are moments in each of our lives when the world seems to echo the same message for us:
“Your life is your practice.”
Working with people in spiritual direction, I’ve witnessed how many of us want to revert to what now seems like a simpler life. Many would like to be a young adult again when life is full of possibilities. Others look nostalgically at the years when their children were young, work had meaning and they had a vision of where they were going and what they would have once they ‘arrived’.
Looking back may be entertaining and seductive, but more than likely we have forgotten all the challenges life in each of those stages held. And, looking backward can keep us from being present to what needs to be dealt with now in order to move forward.
Looking fondly back at younger days doesn’t help the man whose job held such promise only to find the corporation he had invested his hopes and dreams in was down-sizing. When these hopes and dreams are dashed, how does one live? We live through the practice of life, which is deeply personal on every level – emotionally, physically, financially, relationally, spiritually. We reach interiorly for strength and reach out for support.
I can only imagine the devastation of parents whose child died through a drowning or an accident or even through childbirth. How does one live through such loss? One day at a time, one tear at a time, one movement of love to others in the family and opening to receive love in return is the practice.
Major heath challenges can arrive at any stage of life. We can’t go back before the diagnosis but we can move forward. We can resent the illness and all we now need to do to support our body or we can allow all there is within us and around us to face the illness and its implications. Our life is truly our practice!
The truth through all of life is that no matter what we encounter in living, challenges come to us asking us to trust that there is a new vision that awaits us through perseverance. This new vision is born from love: love of self, love of what we have lost, and love of what awaits us through a power greater than any of us. This power —this love— flows through us into a world that awaits our transformation.
As you move through August with all the challenges you may need to face, may you hear in your heart “I am with you always.” “You are precious in my eyes and I love you.”
Each July, like most Americans, my mind wanders to the 1776 Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I feel my heart well up within me reading those words. I marvel at the belief in the dignity of humanity that they proclaim. I am in awe at such intense passion that the writers declared all are equal, that we are born with Rights endowed by our Creator and knowing something of the subsequent history of our country the willingness to fight for these Rights.
I hear the words of Lee Greenwood’s song “I am proud to be an America” ringing through my mind. It is a dream we are still working toward and struggling to create. As I listen to many speak of their concerns about our country, they echo my thoughts: We want to be proud of being American, but we believe we need to finish the work begun with the Declaration of Independence. We need to create a country where basic human rights are indeed rights for everyone.
My invitation this year, is to cherish what we have right now and to find ways to work toward making this a possibility for everyone. May the God who has endowed us with the Rights of being human give us the grace to extend those Rights to each other.
Happy Independence Day!
In my early adult years Father’s Day was a special day for letting my father know I loved and appreciated him. But in the years since his death I have felt a need to see the day through a different lens.
In my search for more meaning for this holiday, I came upon a note about its origin here in America:
In 1907 the Monongah Mining Disaster killed 361 of which 250 were fathers, leaving around 1000 fatherless children. A Methodist Minister was asked to honor all those fathers on behalf of the grieving children. It took years to spread outside of West Virginia, but as you know, it’s widely celebrated now.
As I pondered this history, my heart went to all the fatherless children of our time and the men whom they called father or dad. Men who were killed through wars or random shootings, through accidents, drug addictions, or illness and their children who still grieve their loss.
My heart also filled with gratitude for the men in our country who are devoted to their children and welcome the expression of love and appreciation those children offer on Father’s Day.
To all fathers, we pray you experience a day of honor and celebration.
Happy Father’s Day!
“Nobody could love me like Tom does” was a remark that set me to reflecting on the miracle of marriage.
As I sit with people who have been married ten, twenty, thirty and even forty years I am in utter awe and amazement. Living with someone day after day, struggling with all the challenges of home and family and profession, leaning upon each other through the hard times and the joy-filled times is to witness something beyond anything that is understood with the mind. It is a miracle!
As I listen to the unfolding story of those who have been married for years, I hear the Spirit within each one. It is the Spirit within one encountering the Spirit within the other that draws the love relationship into existence and sustains it through all the years. I often hear “I want him or her to be what I want and yet I know there is more than ‘what I want’ that is the glue holding the marriage together.”
Marriage is truly a grace. It is the soul of the couple joined together in Love and through all they experience are a witness to others the ‘height and depths, the length and breadth of what people are capable of because of Love.
June — the month of weddings, hopes and dreams, new beginnings and celebrations — is a lovely time to ponder our commitment to live a lifetime of love. May each of our ponderings open us to a re-commitment to the One who calls us into this marvelous dance of loving others out of how we have experienced being loved.
It is a miracle!
In some cultures, placing flowers on the graves of relatives who have died is still part of ‘Memorial Day’. They remember, give thanks and bring beauty to honor them.
But for most of us, it is a custom long abandoned. Ours is a culture of striving toward the future while forgetting that the future is born out of the past.
For me this year, Memorial Day has taken on a whole new meaning. With the thousands of people killed violently and at times buried secretly, I am aware there are no markers for them as in a cemetery. No one has brought flowers to honor their life nor their death.
Yet, the earth receives them and holds them in her heart. The flowers sing of beauty as they blow in the gentle breeze remembering all the years of violence that have marked her face. They did not die unnoticed.
Memorial Day this year is an invitation to transcend our futuristic culture for just a moment. Gaze at the flowers and be reminded that no violence can destroy us ultimately. The God of all creation holds each person and embraces all in mercy.
Please join me in a moment of remembering this weekend as we celebrate Memorial Day.
Memorial Day Blessings!
When I began pondering the meaning of this month of May, I kept sensing it is about requesting: “May I…” and giving permission.
Often, after being with someone I briefly encountered and have touched at a soul level, I will ask “May I give you a hug?” “Oh yes, please” is the most frequent response I hear in return. Within each of us is a deep-seated need to feel respected and cherished. Yet, in our world today this need seems to be superseded by violence, abuse, indifference or exploitation.
Asking ‘May I’ also conveys a quality of gratitude that says: “You have touched my innermost being and I am so grateful”. This makes me recall the profound respect our First Nation peoples have in relationship to all of creation. They thank the plants and animals for their life and for being what was needed to sustain the lives of the people.
We have lost this awareness in our culture. As I watch lands devastated by over-use or by developers building more and more structures, I don’t hear ‘may I’ or ‘thank you’.
Can you imagine how different our culture would be if contractors would bow before the land and ask “may I build new homes upon you”? And can you imagine the earth’s response of “Oh yes, thank you for asking, I have longed to uphold families searching for a home”!
Imagine spending this month of May asking “may I…” to all that touches your soul and imagine being opened to seeing the earth, the people in your life respond by welcoming you into their tender, respectful and familiar embrace.
I smile as I imagine asking the birds: “may I listen to your song of love?” or the trees blowing in the wind: “may I watch you dance today?”
I think this is the way God is with each of us: asking “May I come closer?” “May I share with you the depth and breadth of my love for you”? May I share your life and be with you in all of your daily challenges”?
In this month of May, students will be preparing for graduation into a new moment in their lives. Mothers will be celebrated for all they are and forgiven for all they could not be, new life will be born, others will feel the ebb of their lives fade, and within it all may you hear a gentle voice ask: “May I be with you”?
I hope your heart will respond as mine does today: “Oh yes, you certainly may, thank you!”
One of the most difficult Christian celebrations for many people is Easter. Well, not so much Easter because we have made it a secular celebration with all the candy, Easter eggs new toys etc. But more to the point, the resurrection! It just does not make sense to so many.
I won’t pretend I fully understand it myself, but my experience of life and the lives of people who come to Eremos is that resurrection is a reality!
There is a Life, a Vitality, within each of us that moves us through the myriad of sufferings that we experience. There is a woman who was diagnosed with Cancer. With chemo and then radiation she was told the margins showed her cancer had been eradicated. She was now ‘cancer free’. In the process of months dealing with side effects, treatments and uncertainties she was changed. She looked at the world differently. She looked at people she loved with a level of love that friends and family members could feel. Through her cancer she was ‘raised up’ to a new level of consciousness.
Scripture does not say Jesus rose up from death, but rather Jesus was raised up. So it is for us. We do not have power over our lives, but we have been given a quality of Life that will always rise us up through the challenges of living. We call this ‘New Life’ but in truth, it is the Life of God that has always been there since our conception. It is the Life of Christ within us raising us to a participation in the Life that is Christ that is greater than us.
As you pause this Easter, my hope is that you will experience resurrection through reflecting on all those moments and events that will let you also proclaim: “He is Risen”. As the old Easter hymn says: “I know because Christ lives in my heart!”