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.

 

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Monday Meditation ~ Bridges

After a busy summer of courses and camp, vacation and travel I finally returned home this weekend.  The road tugged me homeward through the changing landscape of suburbia through city to rolling hills and lakes.  To get there requires many  bridges, two very large and many smaller over various bodies of water.  I became excited when the car radio reported that the new northbound span of the Tappen Zee bridge had just opened.  I have watched it’s construction rise up from the water with each trip I took to Long Island.   I would be one of the first to drive it’s span over the wide Hudson River. It was beautiful and impressive in structure and form.  Very different from the rusty steel cantilever bridge it will replace.   This much larger steel cable bridge with shining towers supporting the road was higher and longer and much smoother.   The old bridge had served its purpose for a time but like most things created and made by man it was not safe to travel for much longer.

Bridges cross over otherwise difficult to traverse terrain to get us where we are going.  They vary in form and function but serve this similar purpose.  They are not only made of wood, steel and concrete and stone.  Sometimes they are made of flesh and bone, ideas or words.  Any time there are difficult crossings in life it is our nature to seek help, a bridge to get from one side of trouble to the safer shore of healing, love, freedom, rest.   But sometimes there just isn’t a man made crossing.    Moses faced such a time leading his people across the Red Sea.  No bridge in sight, raging waters between them and those who would enslave and kill, he trusted in God and the waters parted.  No bridge needed but the way made passable by divine intervention.

I have been blessed by many human bridges who offered help and I hope that I too may serve others in the same way.   But when there is no bridge in sight, human help fails and the way through seems too difficult  to manage I turn to the One Divine Creator who is eternally trustworthy, to lift me above the chaos and fear so that I may journey home in safety.

May your travels be lifted by bridges of hope.

Sue

Picture credit PEXELS

Monday Meditation ~ Waiting in Faith

My yoga practice is much like my faith practice.  There are days that I can flow through with grace and ease.  The path seems lit with promise and I know the way.   Movement through breath and asana (poses) is a lovely dance that stirs up joy.  Then there are days that are hazy,  what seemed clear yesterday is distant across the far horizon of a day.  I stand at the edge and choose to wait and see.

I step to my mat, thankful to God for the day and my breath.  Practice becomes waiting.  No flowing here with ease but holding on to each movement as the breath moves me deeper.  As each movement of body, stretch with breath, release begins.  The haze begins to clear and as muscle and bone remember how far they can stretch so too my heart and mind recall that the promise of yesterday is still the promise of today and tomorrow.  Looking at the horizon while grounded on this far shore becomes an act of faith.  What will happen there is unknown to me but known by the One who is my guide, who goes behind and before me.

Here I wait, not frozen but flowing I dip my toes into the day and wade into the promises of Love.  May your day be blessed as you wait.

Monday Meditation- Signs and Signals

Living in the present moment with awareness of others, surroundings and self creates direction for this journey of life.  Not always with certainty but there are practices that provide help to be present and centered.  Prayer, meditation, Gestalt work and Yoga have been guides to quiet my mind and heart to focus on the here and now and decide which steps to take on the path.  But sometimes I need more.  I need a physical symbol,  a wake up call to know I have wandered off the path.

The most obvious are signals of neglect.  When life becomes too busy and I stray off my course my plants begin to wither.  I have a schedule of watering my houseplants, they are important to me and the health and aesthetics  of my home but it seems they are the first to suffer from my negligence.

Others are less obvious and only creep into my awareness when missing.  When I am attuned to my spiritual life with God, when I am focused on prayer and meditation, attending worship and studying scripture I generally wake up with a song of praise in my mind and on my tongue.  On these days other signs and signals are glaringly obvious.  Awakening to God’s presence of love opens my heart, mind and eyes to so much more of life.

Years ago I came to the conclusion that if I believe in a creator God who made the heavens and the earth, and if I believe that God is a love so great that my guilt and shame were erased through that love in Jesus, then I needed to spend more time getting to know Him.  On a Monday, because that is when you start new things, I read from the Bible and meditated on the reading.  I thanked God for this leading and guiding and then went for a walk.  I discovered that my conversation with God, listening to the creation sounds of birds and leaves applauding in the wind, continued with the taking in of so much beauty. Love seemed to wrap around me, joy filled my heart and peace settled into my whole being.  It had not rained in several days,  there was not a cloud in the sky and a soft breeze blew.  I turned the corner and right above me was the largest rainbow I had ever seen, it seemed I could touch it if I wanted to. I felt light and I heard a whisper “thank you” .  It wasn’t my word, the Divine Love touched me in that moment as I decided to love back.  To love the creator is to love the creation, the earth, all people, myself.

Much has happened since that time and I continue to learn and grow, I forget and stumble, my plants can suffer and I can wake up without that song in my heart, but I know God loves, not only me but all of creation.  God speaks to us, in dreams, in nature, in music, and all we need do is open our hearts, our eyes and our ears.

I wish you awareness to see signs of love.

 

 

Monday Meditation – Wondering Momentous

How many times we say or have heard, “If I could only go back in time but knowing what I know now”?  It’s crossed my mind and my lips on many occasions and opens the door to wonder.   How would it look or feel to actually do that, to go back in time and not rush through life as a series of tasks?   How would it make a difference in who I am now and how would those in my family, especially my children be changed?  I remember being a child and looking into the night sky wondering how many stars there were.  It would fill me with awe and a tinge of fear.  My newly forming ego didn’t want any questions left unanswered.  Wonder would continue but for a while was overshadowed by fear.

Now this fear was not like running away from a hungry bear or any real threat of danger.  This fear was one created by the culture I lived and grew up in.  A slow creeping kind of fear that I might not measure up, I might fail was the first I am aware of.  Being a student in a school where perfection seemed required was one perception I held.  As I grew and struggled just a bit in school, the culture of consumerism also jumped on board.  My family did not have what others did and so hand-me-downs were the norm.  One new outfit a school year was exciting until I realized I couldn’t wear it every day.  I began to want things I didn’t have.  And I grew.  To college student, new nurse, wife, mother and friend, all of these mini-identities held a special ongoing competition for my attention to control and perfectionism hence creating fears of their own.

It wasn’t all bad or all fear, if it had been I would have succumbed and been lost.  All along the way there was faith.  Faith in a creator God who was good, who created good things, kept my head just above the water until I chose to dive deep.  “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child;”  1 Cor. 13:11a    As I grew, through life experiences of love, sorrow, trials and joys, a longing was bubbling up through the wondering that continued.  The wondering turned to questioning and study.  The study became filled with conversations between God and myself in prayer.  Slowly a wonderful crack in my perceptions of fear and finality let in some light to shine on the mysteries of life.

Being a Grandmother is teaching  me some new and wonderful lessons, not the least of which is to just love every moment and enjoy the mysteries.  It’s easier now to just love and not worry.  Looking into those sweet faces, so similar to my own children’s  is like looking at the stars in a mirror.  There are so many amazing possibilities for their lives.  They are beautiful and sweet, funny and loving.  There is the answer and no need to wonder.  It is Love.   Just Love.  I did a lot of that when my children were young.  There are so many memories of sweet baby kisses and sticky hands hugs that fill me with joy.   And so I would not want to go back, I don’t have to go back.  God was there all along helping us all grow.  He was loving me through sweet times of growing and some sticky situations.

I am happy for my now grown children and who they have become.  They are making their own way now and will most likely repeat some of my mistakes but that’s how they learn.  I let go of fear and swim in the beautiful night sky of wonder.  I let go of the worldly ideas of how life should be and enjoy each moment as it is.  Every life change and event is momentous and filled with wonder.  I love to wonder momentous.

He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name.  Psalm 147:4

Monday Meditation – Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  [2Co 1:3 RSV]

 

Some days what I see right in front of me are challenges and when I attempt to see beyond them anxiety empties me and I am filled with lethargy.   I can choose to go with this feeling, to sit in self-absorbing distress in front of the TV with a bag of chips.  And believe me, I have done this.  Or, I can turn to what I know is true.   Love.

Another word for Comfort is Contentment –   Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and is one of the Niyamas (rules of behavior) in the eight limbs of yoga.  It means finding peace within you when outer experience causes distress.  The big things, like losing a loved one or loss of a job or home can be overwhelming and comparably small things like financial difficulty, conflict at home or work or just having way too much on our plate create emotional and physical pain.   Even the anticipation of these creates dis-contentment. What it is within me that can bring relief?   “To be or not to be” content is really the question.

It is interesting that in New Testament Scripture (NIV) Jesus never used the word “comfort”.   He does use the word “Love” 217 times.  “Love God , Love your neighbor, Love your enemy” are foremost in his direction.  He goes on with stories of what that looks like.  It is the decision to Love God and not money, it is the generosity of sharing loaves and fish, and it is the help toward healing of the Samaritan.    It is in His example to go into the garden or up on the mountain alone to pray that I find my direction.

In the quiet space and time of meditation I focus on Love.  I use it as a mantra along with “peace be still” (Mark 4:39 ) to slow my breath and busy mind.  Here I come to the truth of Love.  Love is not always comfortable but it always comforts and God’s love fills my empty spaces with light so that I can see there is nothing in the present or future that can’t be healed.  I remember with gratitude those who have and will help me and I am inspired to be a help of Love to others.  Peace and contentment fill me now, for this day.

May you find peace and contentment this week.

Sue

Monday Meditation ~ Rain

Everything is wet….rain and more rain creating soggy ground and it seems a mushy brain and body.  Still, the new plantings in the garden grow taller by the minute and their greens become greener.  Droplets glisten on their leaves.  For me a time to sit and read, clean out a closet and take a nap.  .  A rainy day can be splendid after a week of hot dry days.  But a rainy week??  After a few days I become lazy, I feel too tired to take on any chores or read (as that seems to send me directly to nap-time).

I made an attempt, really I did.  In the yoga studio I practiced sun salutations with the intention of warming up my inner being, getting that light to shine from within.  I forced myself to tidy up some spaces and prepare for upcoming events, but the things I usually like to do were onerous.   And on this particular Sunday I attended the funeral of a long-time family friend.

Now this week of rain seems different.  It is still wet and even soggier in the garden but the plants are not complaining.  Perhaps they know that warmer, drier days will be coming so they drink it all in now.  Death reminds us of our terminal physical nature and a funeral in the rain seems appropriate.  The hearts of those who remain are waterlogged with grief yet still full of wonderful memories and blessings for having known such a man.

There is no controlling the weather; there is no keeping back the rain, or the tears.  Our physical mortality eventually claims us. . There is a time for everything and in the every things a time for us to drink it all in.  Learn lessons, clean out the closets, take a nap and wait, for the sun will come out.  Life has changed as it is always doing and I can choose to turn my face to the rain, slosh my feet in the puddles or take a nap.   Whichever I choose, I pray to do it with an awareness of the blessings that arrive even when the rain keeps coming.  At the end of the day it is my faith in God that opens my eyes to the blessings of the rain, the continuity of life in changing seasons and the hope of life eternal.

May you have a blessed week no matter the weather.

   Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.   So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18