The pathway of 2017 has led us to the doorway of 2018. For many of us, the wind of change has blown carrying us into the unpredictability of a new year.
In these early days of transition to 2018 we have heard stories of illness. Some have been debilitated by the onset of the flu season. Others grapple with cancer and the side-effects of chemo treatments. Others grapple with the very Breath of Life. Walk into any emergency room and you will find the vulnerability of what it is to be human.
Perhaps 2018 is a wake-up call for all of us. We have spent years focused on the work that is ours to do, the amazing advances in science, medicine, technology and even care for the earth. Being focused has had a toll on our body, mind and spirit.
For those of us struggling with health issues, we need to open to a different rhythm of living. To listen and respond will take us into new ways of being with ourselves, others and life itself. For those in pain, we are invited to let our pain open us to experience pain that is part of our world. For those confused by the unknown reality of life, it is helpful to be with a friend, spouse or perhaps an author who can walk with us through the unknown because they too have walked in the darkness and can share insights or metaphors to touch our souls. These instruments of grace are God’s presence as we undergo all that life presents.
The door of 2018 has indeed opened. Like Teresa of Avila, we will be led into many rooms within the mansion of our souls. In letting ourselves be led, we will be transformed. We will discover trust and wisdom in our bodies (our Incarnation) that God is truly with us and within us.
As you walk through your door to 2018, may you discover new meaning, new ways of listening, new experiences of the predictability of the Unpredictable we call God for truly, the door is into the very heart of God.
Advent 2017 has begun. Sunday, I sat in the silence of my heart and the quiet of Eremos before lighting our first candle of Advent. Memories of last year’s theme of “Sit in the darkness and it will reveal the Light” came to me.
This year is different. I listened to the proclamation of the opening scripture reading and kept hearing “‘Watch”. In that one word came an understanding of Advent that I had not previously considered.
Watch for the Light,
Watch how it slowly radiates warmth and gentleness.
Watch as the Light begins to fill the room with a glow that is silent and inviting.
Watch – just watch!
In watching a small candle, my mind and heart enfolded all the changes going on in our country. Light has come into our world. Watch for its transforming influence in our world!
Local and national stories reveal:
- The abuse of women in a way that cannot be hidden again;
- People speaking up for the rights and justice for all peoples and our environment;
- The FBI exhorting our political leaders not to act as if they have the full picture of anything, but to give time and space for the actual full investigation to bring the Light of truth; and,
- Homes for the homeless and for those who have experienced human trafficking are now being built in the Austin area.
So many gentle lights are shining this Advent. We need to step back and watch.
Advent watching in this way will necessitate an openness to seeing life differently. It will ask us to let go of old thought patterns and old ways of struggling against the principalities and powers that fill our world.
It is not a matter of having an Advent Wreath as much as enfolding the world with Light and Love and watching what happens.
As we journey into this amazing season, watch for the miracles unfolding before our eyes. Notice the hope that befriends us and share with each other what we see—all because we have been watching!
May this Advent be a blessing for you and touch your heart with Light and Love.
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.