Tag Archives: God moments

How vast and wide

I am spending a couple of days at the Oregon Coast for some rest and renewal.

This morning, armed with my coffee and perched in a comfy chair looking out at the ocean, I cracked open my morning prayer book and prayed these words from Psalm 104:

How many are your works, O God!

In wisdom you have made them all.

The earth is full of your creatures.

Vast and wide is the span of the sea,

with its creeping things past counting,

living things great and small.

The ships are moving there,

and Leviathan you made to play with.

All of these look to you

to give them their food in due season.

You give it, they gather it up.

You open wide your hand, they are well filled.

Vast and wide is God’s love, like the sea. So big it is hard to imagine. There are storms in our lives. The horizon may be hidden in fog. But the sun rises in the east and sets in the west each day. God is present, source of everything that is good, wanting us to soak up and spread that goodness that comes wave upon wave, if only we are open to receive it. God’s goodness strengthens us, helps us to weather the storms of our lives, and to welcome the wonder and majesty of the gift of creation. And then my friends we can share the gift of that goodness, becoming the waves ourselves.

At least, that’s where my prayer led me this morning. Guess I have been a bit renewed!

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)

10 Years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace

My novitiate classmate Sister Chero texted me this morning to remind me that ten years ago today we were received as novices and added “Sister” to the beginning of our names.

Then I wrote on my old blog: “Mostly I’m deeply happy and grateful to God for this invitation and the whatever it took to finally say yes. Not to mention this amazing community of friends I have found to journey with. Wow…”

Now, ten years later, I can only say that my joy and gratitude has deepened in ways I could not have even imagined then. I continue to be amazed at the joy, love, grace, and blessing that comes with being a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace.

Decking my heart

Wow, it is already Christmas Eve. Advent has been very full, as has the past year. Full of good things, full of hard work, full of light and laughter and love and loss, because all of those things come together in this package we call life.

This Advent I’ve been spending some time with words written almost 150 years ago by Margaret Anna Cusack, who later as Mother Francis Clare founded the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1884. Thanks to the wonders of the internet, her little 1866 book Meditations for Advent and Easter is freely available under public domain.  Her words are steeped in theological worldview of her day. That is a given. But there are also kernels of wisdom, insight and challenge sprinkled throughout that are every bit as relevant today as they would have been to a 19th Century audience.

In her reflection for Christmas Eve, she writes this:

Tomorrow sweet Jesus will come. Oh, how blessedly near is His advent! Today we are decking our houses for His divine visit; let us not forget to deck our hearts.  Let us sweep out every imperfection, every imperfect disposition, every wandering thought, with the besom of penance and adorn ourselves with the fair bright flowers of contrition and love.  Tomorrow our Infant King will come. Are we prepared to receive Him? Have we all the love ready for Him we should like to offer Him?

This is my prayer this day, that I may deck my heart to be ready to welcome the one who is love incarnate.

ChristmasEveMeme

 

Finding God (I AM) where I am

Last week I had a tremendous opportunity to join 800 or so other women who are in elected leadership of their religious congregations at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly. It was an amazing experience on so many levels, but if I had to share just one take away, it is this line from the keynote by Sister Janet Mock, CSJ

“Notice that God does not say I WAS nor I WILL BE. God is I AM. What a profound consolation that is for us today, in these times. I AM here, I AM with you. I AM light. I AM within Mercy, Charity, Providence. I AM Divine Compassion. I AM in the many faces of Mary, Joseph and Jesus; of Benedict, Scholastica, Catherine, Dominic, Clare, Francis. I AM with you until the end of time. Allow yourselves to sink into that truth: I AM with you.”

I have indeed been letting myself sink into that truth. God’s very name, spoken and recorded in our sacred texts, means that our God is a God of the present moment. God is there in every moment, with me, with you, with us. Loving us, present to the mix of confusion and joy and frustration and grief and satisfaction and generalized grumpiness and inexplicable peace that is life as a human being who is paying attention, or not paying attention as the case may be.

Perhaps that is why the movie Inside Out touched me so much. I recognized my own mix of emotions which drive me, and the ones that I push to the outskirts or send on wild goose chases so they stop bothering me. My main driver of course is anxiety. 

But what Janet said adds a whole new dimension to the equation, and one that is so obvious when I stop and think about it.  God says I am there no matter who is in the drivers seat. 

I remember when my mom was very sick, and later after she’d died when my Dad was in ICU after emergency surgery and I was there on my own until my siblings could get there.  In those days which felt like a lifetime I had some of the most intense experiences of God I have ever had. My defenses were down and my need was outsized, and so I suppose I was able to notice the I AMness of God in the moment. It was pure grace, and in that moment my relationship with God began to be more mature and real.

Other times when I am at the ocean or I’m among the trees  I am so awestruck at the incredible beauty of God’s creation that I catch my breath and have a fairly intense burst of gratitude and a definite God moment. At those moments when I cannot help but see the God who is and who created every good thing, it is easier then to be present to God and God’s love.

But God is I AM even when I am not paying attention. When I am distracted by many things to do or anxious about this or that. When that person does that thing, again, and pushes all of my buttons. Or when I push hers. When I am just tired out or confused or busy just making it through the day. When I am too busy to notice that God, I AM, is with me, nevertheless so it is, even then. 

Of course, if little old me is honest, these moments are the majority of my life.  I can get stuck too in the past, in what I should have done or what I missed out on, just as my anxious planning self can miss out on the present moment by having my head too much in the future.
But the invitation of Janet’s words is to let it sink in that God is present, with me,  even then. I AM with you, God says, when you are too distracted or anxious or annoyed or tired or confused or busy to notice.

The spiritual life is just that, life, and the invitation to growth and transformation and compassion and love and peace and justice is to let God be God … Always.

Retreat Videos – Good to Me

This is the last video I made on retreat, and it sums up the week for me. In the words of Audrey Assad:

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise
Because You are good to me, good to me

Indeed. Thank you God for the many graces of my life, for the opportunities to grow and be transformed, for the chance to share my gifts, for the gift of life and love, and, and, and …

God is indeed good to me and you and all of creation.

Laudato Si!

Retreat Videos – Letting Go

The spooky internet algorithms that led me to the music of Audrey Assad also led me to discover Steffany Gretzinger, a singer with a non-denominational Christian music project.  She’s got a very unique voice, sort of reminiscent to me of a Christian Bjork meets Beth Orton. In any case, I found this song very moving and helpful for inviting God into the messier spaces of life. It’s called Letting Go. It speaks to me of the invitation to be vulnerable before God, to trust and most of all, to let God be God.

You’ve brought me to the end of myself
And this has been the longest road
Just when my hallelujah was tired
You gave me a new song

I’m letting go
I’m letting go
I’m letting go
Falling into you

I confess I still get scared sometimes
But perfect love comes rushing in
And all the lies that screamed inside go silent
The moment you begin

You remind me of things forgotten
You unwind me until I’m totally undone
And with Your arms around me
Fear was no match for Your love
Now You’ve won me

Because God Loves Us

When I professed my vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I said as part of our vow formula: “In response to God’s call to seek justice, to love tenderly, and to walk in the way of peace …”  What is implied in that introduction to the profession of vows is made clear in today’s first reading from the Letter of St. John:

“Beloved, we love God because he first loved us.”

Having just finished up coursework for a graduate degree in theology, I have big theological words for this thanks to Thomas Aquinas – exitus et reditus. God loves us and so we seek to respond in kind.  But I don’t need big words or theological concepts, because it is written on my heart.

God seeks justice, and so I seek God’s justice. God loves tenderly, and so I desire to love tenderly. God is peace, and so I begin each day praying that I too may walk in peace.

Simple, really, when you get down to it. I love the readings this week from John.

Love. As another John once sang, maybe that is all you need.

LoveisAllYouNeedYoda

Guide our feet into the way of peace

About ten years ago I began a personal Christmas tradition of taking a long solitary walk on Christmas Eve morning.  That first walk was very special and played a key role in my discernment to become a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace. Not every Christmas Eve morning walk has been quite so profound since, but each one has held its own special blessings.

Last year, for example, I went for a walk in the forest on fresh new snow! (You can watch the video prayer I made from pictures taken on that walk.) It was spectacular to celebrate the incarnation in the midst of God’s wondrous creation.

Christmas Eve morning walk - 2014
Christmas Eve morning walk – 2013

This year I went for a soggy walk in the rain in my Chicago neighborhood.

Christmas Eve morning walk - 2014
Christmas Eve morning walk – 2014

I found myself praying with the Gospel reading from this morning (Luke 1: 67-79) which is actually the Canticle of Zechariah which the church prays daily as part of morning prayer. As hinted at by the title of this post, my footsteps especially echoed the last lines:

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

I walked through this tunnel, as I often do, on my way to the lake. This morning as I approached the tunnel, I saw two gentleman having a conversation. One was holding a black garbage back and pointing to the litter in the park. He handed the trash bag to the other man, told him there were plastic gloves inside, and that this was as good a place as any to start. I was intrigued, but I kept going on my walk to the lake.

On my way out of the tunnel heading home, I spotted the one man who had been given the trash bag and gloves. Sure enough, he was wandering through the park, in the rain, spotting trash and putting it in the bag. I found myself thinking, “What a lovely gift for Christmas, cleaning up the park.”  As I rounded the corner to cross the street, the man was within speaking distance. I wished him a Merry Christmas and asked what he was up to. It turns out, he’s down on his luck and trying to raise some money to go visit his son for Christmas. The other man was paying him to clean up the little patch of park. Again …. in the rain. Given that I had been praying for the tender compassion of God to break upon us, I of course gave him a little contribution myself.

How wonderful to celebrate the gift of the incarnation in the midst of God’s wondrous creation.

As I turn off the computer and get ready to head off to spend this day with my own father, I hold this man and his family especially in my prayers.

And I pray for all of us, that we may indeed welcome the prince of peace by stepping onto the path of peace. In our hearts. In our families. In our cities. In our world.