Monday Meditation -A Time for Everything

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Photo Credit Pixabay lindy15

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

One hour more.  One hour added to the day that will be taken back in the spring.  It is not a gift that is lasting.  However, the time that God provides is ours….for eternity.  When God gives it to us with our first breath, it is not taken away in another season.  If we believe that death is the end of our individual nature we are ignoring the signs all around us that speak hope.

Eternity is difficult to thing about , to rationalize or explain.  Science now talks about the expandable universe moving away from us at incredible speed and the “observable” universe holds about two trillion galaxies.  Google it!  It can make your head spin.

Everything in creation reflects the idea of eternity in simple ways and I don’t know about you but this gives me hope.  This time of the year especially reflects the unending circle and cycle of the seasons.  Here in the northeast ( and the southeast where I write today) as days naturally shorten the air cools and leaves turn showing incredible beauty right before they fall to the ground.  No longer connected to their source of life the tree, they begin their decay.  The tree though is now fed with the leaves it surrendered to the earth and waits through the chill of winter for renewed spring growth.  For everything there is a season.  Seed bearing plants also display this cycle of growth and change to new life.

Years ago wildfires claimed hundreds of acres in the Pine Barrens of Long Island.  I remember a well-meaning but distraught person coming to the door of my home imploring me to buy a t-shirt to re-plant the trees.  A noble and caring action but I explained to her that this wasn’t necessary.  When the ash blows away in the wind and the soft floor of the earth is exposed to the rain and sun, long ago dropped pine cones re-seeded the woods.  They claimed their space to root and rise to a new forest.  She may have thought me cheap however the woods are growing today.

The most beautiful display of eternity is relationship.   The workings of nature where chemical compounds that can exist separately will combine to create substance.  Oxygen and hydrogen creating water which life could not exist without and we are filled with!  Procreation in living things except in a few rare instances, takes two.  Earthworms are multi sexual and an interesting piece of a future topic.  Even our individual bodies require other living microbes to best function in wellness and wholeness.  And when we are in relationship with God, the creator of all that is, our whole individual being changes to with an eternal hope.  Even God (in my personal belief and theology) is in relationship as Creator, Son and Holy Spirit.   We have the welcome to invite God to dwell within us through the Holy Spirit eternally.

As winter nears and daylight hours limit their offering of  warmth we can rest in the hope of spring even though we will “spring ahead” and lose the hour we enjoyed yesterday.   This cycle of seasons in nature and in our lives is held in the Creators hands.  Our part is to live fully into whatever season we are in, trusting God with our lives in loving  relationship with Him and one another.

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another”. Romans 12:10

Blessings of  Peace, Joy and Love in Christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Out in the Middle of Somewhere

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My GPS often directs me to unknown places and I used to think it had something out for me.  I would end up going down dirt roads and in the wrong direction when I blindly followed and then I would hear that snarky “recalculating” when I tried to go another way.  It was not a surprise then on my recent return home that I ended up in Lost River State Park on treacherous narrow twisting roads that climbed to stomach churning heights.  It eventually opened to a breathtaking view of the mountains and valleys below. I stepped out briefly in one of the few places I could pull over to take a picture which does not do the awesome scenery justice.  The sun was still behind the ridge and the bare trees obscured most of the view but it was breathtaking just the same.

Descending this mountain ridge was heart stopping at times.  The narrow road, covered with leaves and difficult to see had several switchbacks and it began to snow.  I wondered what my GPS was doing sending me home this way, was this really the “fastest route” home?   “Really!” I said out loud  ” What am I doing here?”  The steep unguarded banks of the road and thoughts of getting lost here tightened the grip on my steering wheel as I drove at a crawl down the mountain praying all the way.

On the way down one pickup truck passed me, definitely a local who had no difficulty navigating the road.  I still have no idea how he made it around me on the narrow turn.  Once the road opened to a more pastoral spacious area my breathing and my grip on the wheel eased.  I was grateful.  Not only to have arrived safely through the mountain pass but for the opportunity to see and experience it.  It wasn’t until I returned home and Googled a map of the place that I saw there was another simpler way to go.  The GPS did it again but this time I am grateful for the remarkable views of the journey and the testing of my ability.  Some of the best growing I do is when tested.  I highly recommend a trip to this beautiful place and plan to return one day to really enjoy it.  Lost River State Park

Enjoy the journey, rerouting and all.

You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5 NIV

 

 

Deep Water Questions

My husband almost drown this past fall.  As a matter of fact a person in the water with him did lose his life. It was in his words seeming like the end.  He had given up, ready to sink into the deep water and let go, to surrender his grasping for life and breath, though he really didn’t want to.  The last question in his mind, is this how it ends?  It wasn’t.  A wave, instead of crashing on his head as all of the others had done, nudged him closer to shore allowing him to get a foothold in the sand.  Another wave, close enough to struggle to the beach, breathless, exhausted, confused.  This just leaves such unanswerable questions that our minds have to ask.  Questions that we all ask in these circumstances.  Why did I survive, why didn’t my friend?  What could have been done differently to prevent this tragedy?  Why do bad things happen to such great people? What causes a riptide or a tornado? Why does one home survive a raging fire when the neighbors home burns to the ground.  Why to poverty, war or why some have so much while others so little, why to disease or trauma that take away our loved ones.  So many questions.

I don’t know the specific answers to any of these questions.  Anyone who says they do leads  me to another question, how do they know?  What I do know is the fragility of life.  What I have experienced is  that the deepest darkness may still hold a glimmer of hope.  That a life lived has gifts that extend beyond their passing.   That we are, each of us capable of surviving or causing horrors.  That this life, our lives have the fullness to be explored to fathoms of experience, meaning and wonder.  While we exist in these complicated bodies they become a road-map of sorts to our souls.  The ache in my neck cries out the dissatisfaction with my job, or friends.  The gnawing in my stomach growls the anger I still hold at a betrayal.  The heaviness in my chest is the weight of undeserved shame inflicted by  abuse The tightness in my throat are the unspoken words of fear at what might have happened if indeed my love slipped beneath the surface and away from me.  And sometimes, more simply and surface that ache of loss and grief when someone I love has succumbed to death.

What I believe is that everything has great meaning. that nothing in this life is wasted, the good and the bad.  Life is a series of experiences we are meant to rise to and learn from.  Sometimes the path seems like walking uphill, on glass, barefoot and other times gleefully sledding downhill.  I believe each breath is sacred, each death, physical or otherwise can be as Holy and amazing as birth.  I believe that there is a loving Creator who allows us freedom to choose and who responds when we call out for help. That this one and same creator provides companions for the journey.  We are meant to be in relationship with one another and with God.  Who can or even wants to travel this life road alone?

When your heart aches, find someone to sit with you in the pain, to listen to your heart without giving you answers.  Find someone to hold your hand when it trembles in fear, to embrace you when you are lonely.  Be that person for another when you can for often there is much more richness to be experienced when you hold another’s space.  All of our questions may not be answered but we will be able to feel the hope that springs up from our discoveries and then grow and love with compassion for ourselves and others.

Gestalt Pastoral Care is one such compassionate listening and exploring practice.  If you are not aware of who is on the road with you this may be a beginning to explore.  Check out their website for more information and feel free to contact me.

Blessings of Wholeness

 

 

 

 

Looking Back

This year seems different.  Not the childhood anticipation of Santa and gifts or the preparations of church and decorations in the hanging of the greens.  This year as many of  us  look back to the preparation of Jesus birth it all feels much more profound.  Remember  Mary’s devotion and acceptance of God’s choosing her as the Holy Mother vessel for a Savior.  Remember ancient telling of a coming King who will rule with love and justice.  Remember wise men who read the stars to know something big is happening.  Remember the working class poor in the fields with sheep who get the first birth announcement.  Remember angels who say over and over, “Fear Not”.  Remember a baby, born in a cattle feeding trough, homeless yet worshiped.  Yes there is deeper meaning for me this year.

Looking back this hindsight view that we take every year, our traditions of celebration have become the focus of the season.  Many have lamented the commercialized event of Christmas yet still the traditions are strong and who does not love to watch a child’s gleaming face on Christmas morning unwrapping gifts they requested from Santa.  What an amazing miracle is uncovered as the empty milk and cookie crumbs next to the tree seem to prove the existence of this giver of gifts.  My heart fills with love and joy as I look back on my own children’s Christmases in our home when they were young.   And now my grandchildren carry the traditions forward.  To me it all feels different.

Jesus was most likely born in March some historians say.  Yes he has been proven to exist.  It seems in our past 2000 plus years of history we have humanly tried to drink the milk and eat the cookies to prove to others that Jesus was and is the promised coming King.  Our winter solstice Christmas celebration and hymns to the tunes of old pub songs lure the unfaithful to belief…or not.  Because it’s just fun to celebrate and exchange gifts and for a few weeks be a bit kinder and happier than usual. To me it all is different.

This year, my heart longs, seriously and deeply longs to live in the presence of this amazing Divine Love.  I am growing to know but will never fully understand the mystery and miracles of  Jesus birth, life, death and resurrection.  As I seek to be a student, disciple of this master teacher and experience glimpses of the amazing love and forgiveness he offers it changes how I live and to whom I live for.  Because we all do get to live in the light of this love, the love of a parent who would sacrifice anything for their children.  The love of a mother who gives birth in a homeless shelter with dirty smelly occupants who knows her child is Divine is the image of God’s love for us.  The love of this same child who would grow to teach us and to pray for us.  The love demonstrated 30 some years later in a giving up of himself for us.

We don’t really go there on Christmas that’s saved for Good Friday when we remember this sacrificial act of love.  I have learned that Jesus died for our sins and what I now know is that he also was crucified because of our sins and to show us just how far God will go to love us.  We in our human and ego driven ways get stuck in our rules, our traditions and what we think we know.  God came down, Emmanuel, God with us to show us a more magnificent love,  joy in poverty, escape as a refugee, healing compassion, and complete self-sacrifice to connect us forever with God in love.  The cookies and milk are eaten now in the Bread and Cup of life and we are all invited to the table of Grace.  We may experience this indwelling hope of love and peace no matter our situation in life.  God with us in our pain of loss, suffering, sickness or poverty seeks to fill us with Love. This Christmas is different.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”  Isaiah 9:6

No matter how you celebrate this season may you experience the joy, hope, love and peace that is the promise of Christmas.

 

Monday Meditation ~ Getting to Know You (self)

I really enjoy musicals,   I also enjoy walking in nature and spending time with my family who I love.  These things are a part of who I am in only small measure.  The deeper me, the one full of experiences in this life is sometimes more difficult to get to know.  Sometimes I am full-out in the sun, clear and bright.  But there are places, experiences within me that are beneath the water or hidden under the protective overgrowth of scars that keep me walking through life pretty happy.  Every now and then though, when a bump in the road suddenly appears, I get thrown off kilter.

Breath is life, without it we literally can’t exist.  Inspiration  filling us revives as the exhalation emptying creates release.  Our yoga classes always begin with the breath.  Feeling and deepening the breath.  Then to just be, to sit with the breath as we feel this body we inhabit.  Noticing tension or heaviness we can breathe into these spaces with our imagination.  We become fully present as we focus on breath and body.  And then, sometimes, a wondrous awareness occurs.  Emotions may rise, joy or sorrow, strength or fear and connections occur to let us know a deeper part of ourselves that has been hidden away, waiting to be revealed.

This week I had the opportunity to explore some of those places within as I moved from breath, to body, to awareness, in Gestalt Pastoral Care class.  A new opening to grace as I shed tears that washed away debris and allowed light to reveal a new knowing of myself.  The song from “The King and I”  began running through my head this morning, “Getting to Know You”  “Getting to know all about you, getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.  Haven’t you noticed, suddenly I am bright and breezy.  Because of all the beautiful and new, things I’m learning about you, day by day” Written by Oscar Hammerstein II in 1951, in the play  a teacher is singing to her new and foreign students.   But I sing it to myself with joy and anticipation to greet the child, teen, adult within me and uncover the beauty and mystery of my life.  I learn that deep sorrow and pain can be a wonderful teacher and that I am never alone on the journey.   We can walk the road together.

May you get to know and love yourself.

Blessings,

Sue

 

 

Monday Meditation ~ Harvest

Ripe tomatoes hang waiting in the fall frost in the bed right next to tall swiss chard and a zucchini that has gotten out of control.  The harvest in my garden this season is scarce compared to last year.  I could blame too much rain, the snails that demolished the early green bean crop or the early fall parching heat.  But those are just factors that I can’t control.  I could have adapted had I given the garden the attention it required.  I was an absent gardener this summer.  I planted and visited but did not provide the attention needed for an abundant harvest.   It is a blessing of the sun, the rain and the hardiness of some of the plants that I have a harvest at all.  We will be eating zucchini everything for awhile and fresh tomato sauce will grace our table for some months.  But I will miss those fresh green beans.

Attention, care and time for self (body, mind and spirit) when lacking can also reap a crop of stress and diminished energy.  If left too long physical symptoms arise as warnings like  dry, limp plants seeking water.   It happens.  Life happens with all of it’s highs and lows pressing in on our awareness to create the things to do lists.   The lists get longer and the days get shorter and our harvest basket of life is not full.  What to do?

Time is relative, check this out by attempting to meditate for 10 minutes.  Set a timer and sit to breathe.  Breathe in and out slowly and focus on the breath.  10 minutes becomes a long time.  And in that 10 minutes of quiet and focus on the breath you have calmed your nervous system which in turn benefits your whole being.   Add a physical activity prior to your meditation time, a 20 minute walk or yoga! Incorporate your spiritual practice as well, a reading or prayer.  No equipment required just 30 minutes.

Once a week do something that provides for your whole self wellness.  What helps you relax, what inspires you, what brings you joy?  Give it an hour or two.  Then practice a short time of meditation daily.  The garden of your soul will grow to support your body and mind as you move through life with attention and intention.

May your week be full and ripe with opportunity for growth and peace.

Blessings,

Sue

 

Monday Meditation – Challenge

The woods declare the Glory of God.  This was the thought that came to me as I took a walk this weekend.  It has been my experience that everything is a lesson but I find that nature is an exceptional teacher.  Each stroll or view provides new insights into who I am and where I fit in the creation.  Each meditation on the beauty in the stillness speaks volumes better than the A – Z in my old Britannica Encyclopedia.

Take a walk with me in these woods, silent except for bird and cricket song.  The scent of pine occasionally breezes by.  The soft floor of old leaves, moss and acorns provides a silencing of footfall and a gentle ground to stand.  Some trees are so tall, high above our heads as they reach for the sunlight.  Others, small and thin sit in their shadows with anticipation of growth.  Some of the larger trees bear scars of natures effects, broken branches, leaning and bent in unusual growth.  The sun which covers the tallest of tree tops filters down to gently touch the ground in a mosaic of light and dark.  The smallest trees and bushes receiving only a small ray of the warmth.  It is peaceful, it is beautiful, it is in some places rough and dark.

What did you notice or feel?  I became aware of challenges.  I wondered did the slow growth and protection of the small struggling trees create a stronger taller tree in the end?  I think, they can’t uproot themselves to move into the sunlight so they must grow upward.  I see children, ours, who struggle in shadows, I see elders, bent and scarred yet still tall and strong with the experiences of growth brought about by things they could not control.  And in their lofty stance protecting the little ones.   In the sunlight I felt the Creator of it all dappling down and calling each one to grow.  It was then I thought, the Woods declare the Glory of God.

May today provide an awareness of God in nature and an insight into challenges.