Tag Archives: God moments

Retreat Schedule

I expect myself to retreat to the still

quiet, familiar space

within.

Silence. Reflection.

Maybe some spiritual reading and a contemplative walk, or two or three or four.

Unplanned, yet if I’m honest, planned, with just a little room for the unexpected.

(We are talking about spending time with the God of surprises after all).

A few days in, I take stock of the surprises (so far).

Egret upon egret upon egret. And heron after heron.

And one day, a certain Ms. Egret and Mr. Heron met their neighbor the alligator for a fresh fish lunch (byof). I have photographic evidence.

Busy lizzards, or are they geckos? Defying gravity by walking sideways on the wall. Like spiderman. Or spidergecko. Or geckoman?

So much life, all around, in relationship through the ups and downs.

And the clouds!

Sunshine breaking through or simple shades of white and grey, darkness and light dancing with the wind.

And perhaps most unexpected of all was finding myself,

in my room,

having a dance party with God, of all things.

Not once but twice. (So far).

There is no photographic evidence, thank the maker.

God finds us where we are. Scheduled or not.

If we but perceive and receive.

Goodness abounds

This prayer was on my heart this last morning of retreat:

I awoke this morning

to the rising sun

and the mist hovering over the waters, just so.

Goodness abounds.

Within me, around me, above me, beyond me.

Mercy upon mercy upon mercy,

grace piled upon grace.

Behold I am always doing something new, says the God of surprises.

Do you not perceive it?

Kiss of the wind

Sometimes you need to sit

with the trees and listen

to the whistle of the leaves,

so that when

you

turn your head

you feel

the kiss of the wind

on your cheek,

just so.

The sunlight shining through the bare branches of the winter trees,

yearning for spring,

ready in hope for the

fulfillment of the promise.

The birds sing,

and suddenly you know

once again you remember,

all of this is love.

God is love.

Love.

We wait

We wait in hope

for the day when no one goes hungry or feels unwelcome.

We wait in hope for courageous leaders who are also kind and just,

for peace to prevail, and

for the possibility of togetherness to overcome division.

We wait in hope with Mother Earth, our common home,

that human activity will not spell doom after all.

We wait in hope for the in-breaking of love, God among us, Emmanuel.

We wait, yes, but we also know that we

We must act

… choose goodness

… be kind

… move beyond impossibility

… promise to love, listen, live, laugh

no matter what

Because the in-breaking of love begins

has already begun

even as we wait.

Contemplative Lessons

Today is my Mom’s 15th birthday in heaven. As often happens around anniversaries, she’s been on my heart and mind a bit of late.

I am grateful to her for so many things, not the least of which is the gift of life!  She taught me so much by her love and example.

My mom was a true contemplative in action.  She could stop and stare for hours … at the forest, at the ocean, at her own backyard.  She saw the love of God reflected in creation and knew instinctively how to soak it all in.

Mom

I used to love just watching her as she stared at the embodiment of God’s love all around us.  My Dad took this picture in West Virginia. It’s classic mom.  She’s probably a little older than I am now in this picture.  She’s got her book on her lap, but she’s contemplating the book of creation instead.

Nourished and fed by the love of God, be it at Sunday mass or all around her, my mom put it into action.  Dust did not settle under her feet.

Over the years in her work, helping prisoners at the local jail learn decision making skills or as a congressional aide helping citizens navigate our system, she found herself on the right side of justice and helped to build the kindom.

In our community, she was a leader in ways we never even knew until her wake, when person after person came up to us to tell us how she helped them with x, y and z.  So unassuming, she just did what needed to be done.

At home, journeying with her own parents through chronic illness and death, welcoming them into her own home, raising five kids, supporting her husband’s call to serve the wider world, she was most always grounded and exuding love.

Even when she herself was very ill, she would sit and ponder and teach us how to love and be loved.

I still miss you mom, and always will, but I will also always be grateful for your lessons in contemplation, action, and love.

Even when

Even when twilight approaches and the clouds pepper the sky

And the trees stand firm and tall as their leaves show off their new bright colors preparing for their downward fall

Even then …

the sun peeks through the tiny spaces to shimmer and make the leaves glow as if from within

while the wind blows through the all of it, adding a symphony of sound to the moment

Even then, I stop in wonder and awe and gratitude, adding my Amen to that of creation

These days

These days are not easy.
Not easy to be
peaceful
joyful
grateful.

Easier to be confused or worried or angry or sad.
All of which are ok–don’t get me wrong.

Righteous anger, after all
led that Jesus guy to overturn the tables.

Speaking truth to power
and standing with those on the margins
also led to the cross.

Those days were not easy either,
to be peaceful, joyful, grateful.

We humans have a way of making life complicated.

And yet the sun will rise this morning, I am sure.
Babies will laugh and puppies will snuggle.
Mothers and fathers will struggle to feed their kids
and keep them safe in this world.

And I will do my best to stay engaged,
and hopeful,
facing what’s what,
but also looking to what can be.

I open myself to God, who is Love.

In the words of Carrie Newcomer (Help in Hard Times, a great song by the way):

“And I believe in something better, and that love’s the final word,
and that there’s still something whole and sacred in this world.”

So my prayer this morning
before the sunrise
is that I may love
into these days and trust
that this is enough.
Amen

before sunrise

Restoring Ourselves

When I was a novice, we participated each week in an intercommunity program with novices from other religious communities–men’s and women’s communities across the entire spectrum.  We gathered each week to learn about the various aspects of religious life.  When it came time to learn about the vows, the presenter shared unique perspectives present in the Constitutions of each community. That is when I realized that  the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace “recognize the value of leisure as contributing to restorating and wholeness.”

Now, of course, this is both common sense and good self care.  But we put it in our Constitutions! Not only that, we placed it in the section on the vow of poverty and in the context of work.

In solidarity with our sisters and brothers
we engage in human labor
as a means of service and sustencance.
We recognize the value of leisure
as contributing to restoration and wholeness.
In these ways we come to share
in the creative power of God.

(CSJP Constitution No. 54)

For Apostolic religious women, leisure is not the aim or the goal or the norm, but it is critical, so critical that it enables us to live our vow of poverty and be about the mission of peace with joy, and from a place of wholeness.  I write these words a few days into my annual summer vacation, this year a solo adventure to a spot that’s been on my bucket list for years … Prince Edward Island.

Yesterday when I was driving around a part of the Island where one of our CSJP Sisters was born, this view caught my eye and so I pulled over to take this picture:

PEIWorkLeisure

The perfect juxtaposition of the value of human labor, leisure, and the creative power of God.

Work is the norm, but sometimes we just need to stop and soak in the beauty to remind us that in the end it’s not up to us, but to the creative power of God.  And besides, we all need to stop and take some time to just soak in the sheer beauty and wonder of the world God has created, including us!

Slowing down to keep up

Things can seem to be spinning out of control these days

From the news cycle to the general frenetic pace of life

(and from meeting upon meeting in my own life)

To the growing inequality, systemic racism, uncivil discourse and general status quo which seems to inch farther away from the benefit of ordinary folks, especially those on the margins who Jesus loved so much.

How do we/I stay centered in the midst of it all?

To do lists, crisis management and holding the powers that be (and each other) accountable, to be sure.

But also kindness?

And looking with eyes of hope for signs of joy?

And slowing down

Yes, slowing down.

Slowing down to keep up.

Morning prayer (in early spring)

Morning sunshine beckons:

Sit here a while on the back steps.

Birds singing their hopeful song-

Spring is (maybe) here.?!

In other parts of the world near and far the hope seems farther away. Bombs dropping, visits to the oncologist or a family member in detention. Life.

The birdsong fades as police sirens sing in the distance.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Peace. Hope. Mercy. Love.

Pain and promise, mixed in this thing called life.

And the sun continues to shine.

The birds sing louder.

And I hope.