Monday Meditation – Tell Your Story

What are your stories?  During our recent trip to Oklahoma my husband and I were driving on our wedding anniversary.  We were determined to make it home to New York on that day, not because of our special day but because the check engine light was on in the truck.  We had some great advice from a mechanic and the prayers of many friends that we would not get stuck somewhere along the way.

We chatted a bit, turned on the radio and saw a sign.  A literal sign “Rough Road Ahead, Slow Down”   So the road was rough but the travel was a blessing.  And that’s how our lives have been at times, so far.  As we got bored of the same news story for three days and repetitive music stations we began to tell our stories to each other. It was amazing that after 38 years we still had some things to tell.   It began with a simple question and ended with a wonderful truth.

As each of us spoke taking turns in remembering childhood and adolescent experiences, God’s presence at the time and in the telling became obvious.  Though joy and trial of growing up those times seemingly most difficult held the image of God’s Grace.  And we know that does not end, it’s a lifelong journey that we still travel toward maturity in love. WE began to remember our life together, family, work and children. Such a full and wonderful life.   Mistakes are made, wrong turns confuse and engine lights warn us of impending trouble but God is here, now, loving us.  Loving all of us.

There is an old children’s hymn “Tell me the stories of Jesus, I love to hear.  Things I would ask him to tell me if he were here”. written by William H. Parker,  specifically for Sunday School.  Jesus loved to tell stories.  Parables that weave simple and complicated truths about God, ourselves and relationships with both.  I believe he still does.  Because I believe that word ‘IF’ is a mistake.  He is still here, loving us, and if we take the time to tell them, living in our stories.  If you are uncertain about God’s love, tell your story, write it down, tell someone else.  I pray you see God’s love in your life through the joy and the sorrow.  Because He loves all of us.  And that is the truth.

Blessings,

Sue

Monday Meditation – Just That

I find at times that deep meditation is difficult for me.  There are others as well who are revved up by life or just their metabolism who find it a struggle to quiet the mind.  It begins just fine.  I breathe in and out slowly and set a mantra or focus point for return when distracted.  Then the thoughts begin.  Ideas and things to do begin dancing around as I struggle to maintain quietness of mind.  Some days it’s just a no go and I let go.  Meditation is just that.  Letting go of my grip on trying and just being.  So what if all these images and words fly into my time of supposed peace.  Like dreaming I think these things say something to me, so in the moment I resist pondering and just observe.

I return to the breath and the image of sitting on the shoreline watching.  It is here, when I release  judgement on the thoughts jumping in, truth presents itself as  guide.  Minutes dissolve as awareness becomes.  Birds chirping outside the window, the clock ticking, the cool air brushing past my arm are all in this present moment of bliss.  My awareness tunes in to God and the presence within me of Holy Spirit is filled to the top with peace, love, joy.  Perhaps it is just a moment but that is all that is needed.  Just that, a moment of being, silence, presence.

Have a blessed week of presence,

Sue

Monday Meditation – Remembering

This is a most solemn day.  Remembering those courageous men and women who lost their lives in service to our nation creates a conflict in my heart and mind.  When thought about in a mass grouping of military persons it’s a little easier to do.  Songs rise up in my heart of patriotism and fighting injustice to protect our beloved nation and her people.  They bring a about a tear and elicit a mournful pride in my mind.

But when I think about individuals, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, my heart breaks. My mind ponders what is to be done to stop war.

My father was a patriot. He was also a funeral director.  When I was 12 our family hosted a Soldier who was the escort for a fellow who died on the Vietnam war.  He was an amazing young man who impressed me with his helpful nature.  He wanted to help around the house, go food shopping and cook us a dinner.  I don’t know who or where he is but I remember his service not only to a deceased soldier but to our family and our nation.

I want wars to end and evil to depart for it is evil that starts wars.  The evil of hatred and fear, pride,power and greed that people allow into their hearts and it spreads like an epidemic.

My heart and mind and spirit sing another song.

This Is My Song
by
Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.*

Thank you to all who serve, putting aside self for the good of many.  Thank you to those families who lost loved ones, my heart grieves with you.  

May we all work for peace.

Blessings of Hope,

Sue

 

Our Fear, Our Hope

Jesus, fully human, kneels in the garden where beauty is hidden in darkness, and heart torn with anquish sweats blood. “Take this cup from me”…

“Yet, your will be done”

And we like the disciples would rather close our eyes to grief and pain as we remove ourselves from consciousness and live in dreams. We cover our fears and grief, our anxiety and physical deaths with articles of pleasure, lust for beauty and by throwing stones of warfare at those we fear and hand nails to those who would torture out of hate. We run away to save ourselves.

“Forgive them, they know not what they do”

as he offered himself to pain on the cross, taunted, bleeding, each breath as if taken under water
we turn away
This man of healing and love still spoke hope to one hanging nearby takes his last breath and fully submits himself to his Fathers hands.

“It is finished”

If not for Easter morning. If not for Mary’s finding the empty tomb would we look upon his sacrifice to save us?

Thousands of Easters have come and gone, love laid in the tomb fills us with sorry. Love cast out in lands near and far from the cross, bloody stones thrown with hatred and fear..How are we to hope?

Jesus said to her “I am the Resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? ” John 11:25-25 NKJV

On this Easter morning, with snow covering the earth I ponder the gray sky, my search for signs of new life and spring hidden under the snow. Sorrow could overcome me yet my heart has known the joy of Easter and others know it too.

It is up to us to remember, have faith that seeds of love will grow where we plant them in due time. Turn our hearts toward the emptiness to know the Love that passes all understanding. The empty cross, the empty tomb leave space to fill.

Jesus said to him ” You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.

And the second is like it: “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:37, 38

It is that simple.

Happy, Joyous, Easter, Alleluia, alleluia He is Risen!

Penned by Idols

Girl on Beach“Tell us you idols, what is going to happen. Tell us what the former things were, so that we may consider them and know their final outcome. Or declare to us the things to come, tell us what the future holds, so we may know that you are gods. Do something, whether good or bad, so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear…..I look but there is no one-no one among the gods to give us counsel, no one to give answer when I ask them. See, they are all false! Their deeds amount to nothing; their images are but wind and confusion? Isaiah 41:22-23, 28-29.

Wealth, Vanity, Material Possessions and SELF have all appeared as characters in my book. They thankfully are not the main characters but make occasional appearances thinking they might make the story more appealing. They can be beautiful and exciting in different ways.  They are also false idols that can cage me.

Wealth creates a life of ease for Vanity who sits on the beach with a margarita reading great novels, her toes in the warm sand. Vanity is slender and tan in a sleek black bathing suit, skin smooth and young. She heads up to the house where Material Possessions lives in a quaint summer cottage on the shoreline. Right off the pages of House Beautiful each room decorated with crisp blues and greens, bright white gauze curtains wave in the breeze around a small porch facing the sea. Vanity pads barefoot into the house, as Self whispers, “no worry about the sand, the housekeeper will sweep that up”. SELF turns on the news and disgusted with the stories of others suffering, shuts it off and gets a sandwich prepared by her chef with fresh arugula salad. Ahhhh and Lust for a life like this! I forgot about her. She is a control freak and tends to be the ringleader. Fiction, nice to read but eventually I reach “The End”.  Time to get up and clean the house, put some dinner on and throw a load of laundry in before I sit down to some TV.

In reality, wealth puts food on my table, clothing on my body, a roof over my head and material possessions that I can’t even keep track of under that roof (and in the shed, the barn and the garage). Too much stuff! Vanity creates stress with worry about weight and ability in my yoga practice, she revels in the idea that she doesn’t look her age and often devotes her time to an unrealistic goal for her body. SELF is constantly poking her head up and saying “what about what I want?” and “why can’t others live the way I think they should.?” SELF can tend to be lazy and does not use her time well.

These are the idols (false gods) that I turn away from  daily as I pray, practice yoga and meditate on God’s word. They have proven as scripture says to amount to nothing but wind and confusion.  In Yogic scripture Patanjali identifies five causes of pain one of which is raga which is attachment or passion and another abhinivesa –love of or thirst for life, fearing death.   Yoga helps me to still my mind and listen .  I hear that to live life to its fullness is to find my self as God created me, not as the world sees me (or I in turn identify with the world).  I seek to follow, learn, serve others and live in peace with all.  So I Pray, Practice and in doing so hear the still small voice of Love encouraging me to Worship God, creator and redeemer who provides for all that we need.  Gratitude is fostered for all blessings of home, family and friends.  My heart opens to love others and release the grip on earthly things.  There is where true freedom lies.

 

“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”  2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Painting in the Morning

I have seen beautiful paintings and photos of sunrise, full of bright colors and textures that the artists with such divine gifts move from the sky to the canvas. But there is nothing as beautiful as the real thing.
There has yet to be a human artist who could paint the moment by moment changes of clouds and color. No one to paint the breeze as it brushes against skin, speaking softly good morning. Never heard in the human copies are the gradual increases in birdsong as the night creatures become silent.

Though made in God’s image, the awe exists in that we could never attain the creative completeness of God’s nature, try as we might. Even our love pales in comparison to the grace poured put on us. Good Morning is a new invitation to try.

God saw everything he had made and called it good, there was evening and morning, a new day. Genesis 1 paraphrase.

Passion

Yesterday was rest.  I wasn’t comfortable in it however as my mind was still churning trying to form goals for my retirement and other things.  God whispered, rest….  I just needed the rest.  I napped and read, walked and read some more.  But this morning is different.  After an amazing nights sleep I awoke early and ready.  I guess there was a reason God set only one day a week for us to rest.  So, rested I awoke to a routine (which I need) Coffee, scripture, prayer, yoga and mediation.   

 In my time meditating, which I find difficult with my busy mind, I was able to become quiet.  Just sit with the Lord and wait.  I became aware of the passion that my pastor has for vegan-ism and one church member preached on just last Sunday.  It came to mind that we all find a passion and that if filled and directed by God keeps the body (individually and corporately) alive!  We must listen to one another’s passion and remember that it may not be our own but there is much to learn from each other.

 “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort, and salvation; if we are comforted , it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our suffering, so also you share in our comfort.”  2 Corinthians 1:6,7 NIV

So my promise to “listen” more in yesterday’s meditation is followed by “reflect” on others passionate actions and words.  What does God have to say to me through them.  For I believe God uses everything in our experience to build us up, teach us and love us.  If we listen.