Category Archives: reflections

Resistance as the Way of Love

Today’s Gospel from Matthew is certainly timely (Matt 5:38-48).

Go read it.

Love your enemies. Resist evil itself, not evildoers. The way of Jesus is not easy my friends, but it is transformative. It can transform our own hearts, our web of relationships, and our world. 

The first reading from Levitivus is also challenging and timely (Lev 19: 1-2, 17-18).

“Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love

Nonviolence

Resistance

The way

Jesus

She Persisted – Praying with Gospel Women

Today’s Gospel tells the story of the syrophoenician woman, whose persistent faith led to the healing of a loved one. I was inspired by the Gospel, and by current events, to create this video reflection praying with persistent Gospel women.

The women speak out and act for healing, for justice, for compassion, and for love.

Grant me justice

Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs

I will be made well.

They have no wine.

May they inspire us, strengthen us, pray for us, be with us.

May be be blamed for persisting as well, for the sake of the Gospel

#ShePersisted

Working with the Spirit

In today’s reading from Paul’s Letter to Timothy, we hear

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.

I think we all need to pray with and reflect on these words, especially as we enter into a time like none we have experienced in our lifetimes, when the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the marginalized and vulnerable are under attack by misguided, isolationist and dare I say non-Christian policies.

But God did not give us a spirit of cowardice. God gave us the Holy Spirit to disturb us, urge us on, and give us the energy and inspiration to stand up for what is good and right and just.

We were called to these times to bring the Gospel values of love, justice, peace, inclusion, equality, and compassion to our lives together. We are called to work with the Spirit on behalf of the common good.

The church, which means both leaders and the people of God, needs to be a strong voice for Gospel values during these dark days. 

For my part, I have decided to tweet to the president each day of his administration, since it is a platform he follows religiously as it were. But more important than whether or not he actually reads any of my tweets, I am committed. I am praying for him each day. I am praying for those who are impacted by his unjust policy choices. And I am speaking out. Resistance must be centered in the goal of right relationship, and at this point when I want to just hide under the covers, I am called to stay at the table and engaged, to keep my eyes open, and to act with a compassionate heart and a loud voice for justice. As someone who follows Jesus, it is the least I can do, and hopefully this commitment will lead me to courageous action on behalf of the common good.

Who will join me?

   

  
 

Storms

Even though today is the beginning of the last week of Advent, and we actually have a full four weeks of Advent this year, I must admit to being a bit liturgically mixed up.

For one thing, I’ve been experiencing a lot of waiting and expectation these past few months, so on the one hand I feel like my Advent has been much longer than usual. And given that some of the expectation will continue into the new year, my Advent will also continue.

Next Sunday is of course Christmas, but I’ve not gotten much into the spirit just yet. This will be a simple and easy Christmas spent with community in a much needed low key kind of way.  Spiritually, I am ready to welcome God with us, Love incarnate, and to remember and share that miracle through ritual and prayer and celebration. Christmas is good, even if I’m not super into all the festivities this year.

Then there is the rhythm of ordinary time, which we won’t take up liturgically for a while but in our lives is part of the every day mix, some good, some bad, all of it part of life.  I’ve been reflecting a bit on the storms of life, both literal (we had a minor winter storm yesterday that has turned to mild rainy weather) and the figurative ones in our lives that rock our world from time to time.

The other day, a song popped up on my play list on my music player in the car. I’ve been avoiding Christmas songs, trying to stay in the Advent mood, so the other day I listened to a play list I created for retreat a few years ago.  It included a song I’ve not listened to much, by singer songwriter Amy Speace – “How to Sleep in a Stormy Boat.” Her words and music really spoke to my heart and where I’ve been a bit lately, seeking peace in the midst of the storm. The song has helped me to bring that to prayer, and today I spent some time in prayer creating a video prayer set to her words and music.

It’s not necessarily liturgically appropriate for the fourth Sunday of Advent, but life is pretty stormy right now for many people I know and even more I don’t know, so I offer this as a pre-Christmas gift in case it is helpful on your journey.

Peace

Waiting and Wondering

What do you do when life gets a bit topsy turvey 

or just filled with too much uncertainty 

or chaos 

or plain old messiness?

Do you ever find yourself wondering …

what next?

how do we get through this? or

why are things so complicated?

I know I do, from time to time.

I am sometimes tempted to wait,

for the solution, the savior, the end of the messy situations.

This is advent after all, a season of waiting.

But expectant, not passive waiting. 

It is a season of joy and hope, not gloom and doom.

How I wait, how I anticipate, how I participate and co-create makes a difference.

It paves the path, prepares the way,

for the in breaking of love,

for life-giving energy,

for the next steps in this journey.

We wait and we wonder, but we also live and risk and love.

Together. Broken and whole. Vulnerable and resilient. 

God is there, with us, emmanuel, through it all.

The Revoutionary Power of Yes

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

I like to think of it as a celebration of Mary’s YES.

Yes to love, life, and possibility.

Yes to uncertainty and confusion.

Yes to perhaps not always understanding or being understood.

Yes to life as a mix of joy and sadness, suffering and compassion.

This morning I ask myself, how am I living into my yes?

Mary shows us that our yes, freely given and lived into day by day, has the power to change the world.

Or as Pope Francis recently said in an interview about negativity in media: “Today there is a need for a revolution of tenderness in this world that suffers from ‘cardiosclerosis.”

Hardness of hard or tenderness?

You get to choose.

Morning Sit

I am back from my private retreat days, ready to face what this day has in store. Or as ready as I can be. This morning after my morning coffee I sat for my solitary morning meditation, and then wrote these words which I share in case they speak to any one of you who are reading them:

A messy solitary morning sit, present to the messiness of life these days. This and that flitting in and out along with my breath.

So messy, yes, but still this overwhelming sense of God, one with us, inviting me, inviting us, to be present to and amidst all the messiness.

To be present, to recognize the goodness that is there in the mix, clouded though it may be by all that is messy.

To nurture and build upon that which is good, co-creating even more goodness with our loving Creator, Jesus our brother, Emmanuel, God with us, and of course the pesky and mischievous Spirit.

As best we can, as best I can, breath by breath, step by step, moment by moment.

One with God, one with it all, even the suffering and anxiety and impasse, believing there can be more.

Commiting to staying with the messiness and bringing light to the goodness, with God.

Constant One – Video Prayer

I’m spending a few days of private retreat at the ocean.   Sometimes you just need to step away and renew your spirit, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do so these days.

This morning as I was watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean (a favorite past time of my mother who I was communing with this morning through memory and action), I reflected on the amazing love of our creator. Sometimes it is easier to recognize God’s loving presence in the midst of it all than at other times, but looking back, God is there, one with us through it all. Later, as I was taking a long walk on the boardwalk while the sun continued to rise, the song “Constant One” by Steffany Gretzinger came into my heart and mind, step by step, which led me to make this video prayer, pairing her music and words with my photos and video of the sunrise this morning.

Constant One – Lyrics

In the moment I am hiding
Your love, it seeks me out
You hold me and You know me
From the inside out
From the inside out

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising
Over us

It’s amazing
How You take me just for who I am
In the valleys and in the mountains
I’m always in Your hands
I’m always in Your hands

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising Over us

There is no place that I could run
That You won’t chase me down
You won’t chase me down
There is no place that I could hide
That I will not be found
I will not be found

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising
Over us

(Bethel Music, Steffany Gretzinger, The Unfolding album, 2014)

To lead in fog, we must be led

I am spending this week steeped in the wisdom, presence, inspiration and challenge of my sisters in leadership at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious annual assembly. This is my fourth assembly, the second I have attended in my role as an elected leader of my own congregation (the first two I was here representing Giving Voice).  As one sister shared yesterday, this experience of contemplative listening and dialogue with 800 other sisters has been balm for my soul.

Yesterday, Sister Pat Farrell, OSF gave one of the keynote presentations, “Leading from the Allure of Holy Mystery: Contemplation and Transformation.” Pat was of course the president of LCWR during the kerfuffle with Rome. Her integrity and contemplative leadership helped us shift the narrative and reality of our relationship with the hierarchical church from one of conflict to one of faithful dialogue. I was particularly moved by this passage of her talk:

“This is our moment. The world around us teeters on the edge of both peril and promise. Breakdown and breakthrough tussle with each other. The path forward is hidden in fog. It is your time to lead. To do so you must learn to be led and to listen deeply. Together we will discover personal and communal processes for deep prayer and dialogue. We will be given what we need to tend the soul of our communities by nurturing contemplative spaciousness.”

In other words, to lead in fog, we must be led.

Yesterday, another sister shared an image that came out of her small group contemplative dialogue experience.

“When the redwood sits in the fog (rooted in contemplation) it absorbs the moisture within the fog and nourishes the entire tree and allows the moisture to reach the earth which nourishes other creatures. We (LCWR and our congregations) are a forest of redwoods focused on contemplation that the world may thrive.”

A northwesterner at heart, I immediately imagined this picture in my heart, which I took this summer on retreat in Oregon not of redwoods but evergreens in fog.

Fog

Truth be told, I have been feeling a bit lost in the fog of late. The fog of fear, hatred, and isolationism which seems to be taking hold among much of our body politic. The fog of grief and loss that is such a part of religious life these days, as our elders transition to the next phase of their journey with God.  The fog of uncertainty about exactly what the future holds for our communities which are in the midst of yet another period of transition and transformation.  Lots of fog.

This week in Atlanta has given me companions in the fog and given me a clarity in the mist. Contemplation is the way.  And so, once again, I recommit to my own regular contemplative practice, in my own life and in my life in community. As another group shared during our contemplative dialogue process, contemplation is essential to leadership.

I remember many years ago when I was discerning religious life, I felt like I was driving down a mountainous road in the dark, where my headlights only showed the way a few feet ahead. I felt an invitation to trust that when I turned the bend, I would see the next steps, and so it has been. At this particular moment, to be honest, I feel like the high beams would only reflect back to blind me. I cannot see the way forward. And yet, I feel called to stay on the path by my loving God.  Jesus is the way, even in the fog, and it is in the still quiet moments that the Spirit speaks. We need only to listen, to listen often, and to listen deeply.