“I am so frightened!” kept coming from the woman across the hall from me. She was confused, alone, and confined to her hospital bed—not knowing why or even where she was. Whenever she saw someone passing her room, she would call out, “Will you help me? Please help me!” Each time I heard her cry my heart ached for her and for myself, knowing I was unable to go near her.
How sad it is to be alone in the world with no family or friends to care. I heard one of the night nurses say to her, “Don’t be afraid. You are in the hospital and we will take care of you.” In the dark of night one voice said all she needed to hear and for a moment all was quiet.
Over these days and now weeks, I have had the time and space to reflect on how people are crucial to healing. In Sacred Scripture Jesus touched people and that touch brought forth the power of healing in people who needed that touch.
“I’ll pray for you” is that profound touch that holds us when we don’t have the strength to hold ourselves and engenders within us the power to be healed.
“I’ll pray for you” is a gift so deep and personal that the individual is enfolded in the love of the one praying and in that love knows him/herself as beloved. What a gift it is to hold another in prayer and what a blessing it is to know oneself as held in prayer!
Of all the gifts I have received during these weeks of recovery, this one refrain has sustained me at a level beyond words. The healing is not mine to do but is done within me through the people who hold me in prayer.
As we begin our Lenten journey this year, I invite us to do as the prophet Joel proclaims, “Come back to me with all your heart.” Touch others with your love and invite others to touch you. Come back to practices that have had meaning for you but perhaps have slipped away over these months.
There are so many people who, like the woman across the hall, cry out “I am so frightened. Please help me.” Maybe you are one of them, maybe you know someone who is. Can you respond? Can you hold or be held in prayer until life is restored to you?
There is such hope and joy in the air these days. Washington DC is filled with people who want to be ‘there’ for this historic moment for the people of America and for the world. They want to be part of this historic moment not just a by-stander. I have heard news media people speak so emotionally about being caught up into the hope and joy of the crowds. There is a connection among people that the country and world has not known before.
And on this day, I find myself asking if I will be there with and for others as we experience the demands this new time and administration are going to ask of me. Am I willing to put myself truly with this leadership in ways I may find uncomfortable. Am I truly willing to be for the people and with the people in a way that I have never been asked. My mind and heart today say ‘yes’! But I know all too well that when the going gets rough, I can want to run away. Obama and our administration will only be as strong as we are willing to participate. He has vision and grace but it will take all of us working to make this country what we have dreamed it could be.
Obama has said he is going to work from the moment of his inauguration and I know this will be true of him and all who will be working with him. That includes me! I see this as truly a spiritual discipline. It is one thing to say yes, it is another thing to put myself in the yes through my actions. I know I don’t have to rely on myself. We live in a time when everyone has the capacity to reach out to each other. And so today, I ask that all who read this reflect on their personal calling as an American of the 21st century. What does THIS time ask of you?
As we stand on the threshold of a new year, I find my mind reflecting on the similarity between the birth of a new year and that of a newborn child. There is something so special and sacred in the birth of a child. People gaze at the infant in awe at the miracle of his/her entrance into our world. Holding this child in our arms, is profoundly contemplative. There is nothing other than the present moment and we know we are holding God’s miracle of life. As we watch this child grow seeing his/her personality emerge we find ourselves begin to wonder ‘what will become of this child’!
It seems this is also the pattern of each new year. We anticipate it with great hope and excitement wondering what this new year will bring. 2009 with the anticipation of a new president, there is a level of excitment not know for many years as the hopes and dreams we hold are put on Obama’s shoulders expecting him to fulfill our lives.
This sounds a bit like parents with their children, doesn’t it? We hope they willl have all we did not have. We hope they will become more than we feel we have become. And we learn (if we are able) to let the child be his/her own person. We learn to stand back and behold the wonder of their creation and evolution.
As the years have passed, I have discovered that this too is the wisdom of each new year. The famous or perhaps infamous ‘resolutions’ that I can never accomplish, have been replaced by a sense of wonder in the gift of each new day, each new encounter with the Giver of all gifts. In all the ups and downs of life, I have found this wonder fills my heart with joy and gratitude. All is gift and I am so blessed through the graciousness of God expressed throughout each day.
Each year truly is new, special and sacred. As you step through the doorway of 2009 may you find strength and support for the difficult moments that may await you and the gifts of peace, joy, happiness and love that will fill your life with meaning.
Blessings for 2009!
I can think of no better greeting for Christmas than the blessing of Joyce Rupp as so it is also my blessing for you this year.
A Christmas Blessing
May there be harmony in all your relationships.
May sharp words, envious thoughts, and hostile feelings be dissolved.
May you give and receive love generously. May this love echo
in your heart like the joy of church bells on a clear winter day.
May each person who comes into your life be greeted as another Christ.
May the honor given the Babe of Bethlehem be that
which you extend to every guest who enters your presence.
May the hope of this sacred season settle in your soul. May it be for you a foundation of courage when times of distress occupy your inner land.
May the wonder and awe that fills the eyes of children be awakened
within you. May it lead you to renewed awareness and appreciation
of whatever you too easily take for granted.
May the bonds of love for one another be strengthened as you gather
with your family and friends around the table of festivity and nourishment.
May you daily open the gift of your life and be grateful
for the hidden treasures it contains.
May you keep your eye on the Star within you and trust
this Luminescent Presence to guide and direct you each day.
May you go often to the Bethlehem of your heart and visit the One
who offers you peace. May you bring this peace into our world.
Adapted from Joyce Rupp’s Out of the Ordinary
The stores are dressed for Christmas shopping hoping to attract the cash flow they need to stay open during this financial crunch.
It is difficult to focus on Advent in a culture so focused on gifting-giving and parties. I wonder what this will mean for us in a year when over 25,000 homes have foreclosed and when so many people have lost their jobs and now struggle to meet their financial commitments. Many people have seen ½ of their financial portfolios disappear in the financial crisis hitting our country.
Maybe all of this will give us a year to focus on Advent – that time of quiet reflection in preparation of our hearts, minds and souls for Christmas. I think of the culture 2000 years ago in the middle-east when the Jewish people were anticipating a Messiah – one who would come to liberate them from the oppression of their political and economic burdens. They too wanted a leader who would restore them to being a powerful influence in their world.
I find myself wondering “what are we waiting for?” “What expectations do we have this year?” The gift of Christmas has already come into our world. Emmanuel is indeed with us already. The Gift that is Christmas is already among us. Perhaps this Advent waiting is more an experience of awakening to what has already happened. And so my questions are now ‘What are we seeking?” “Where are we looking?” “How can my awakening during Advent transform the world in which I live?”
I invite us to ponder these questions, not just with our minds, but with our hearts as we journey into and through this Advent Season.