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All posts in June, 2016

Part 30, June 19, 2016

Today is Father’s Day. I miss my dad, and he’s been gone for 17 years now.
He loved me unconditionally, listened to me, talked to me, welcomed me always. He wasn’t a church goer because he was brought up protestant (Presbyterian, I think?) and when he married my Roman Catholic mom, he signed away his right to raise any children in his religion but was unwilling to change it and knew that if he went, we would want to go with him, at least sometimes, and would ask questions that would be hard to answer. Especially when my mom fell away from the Church and we kids had no religious leadership in the house, I have to wonder how he managed to keep his word and not begin to take us to his church. Had he lost faith at that point? Was he just plain stubborn? Or was he that honorable? I never asked, and he never volunteered the information. There’s so much that we never talked about, even with all that we DID talk about. Dad, I love you. Happy Father’s Day in heaven!

Judgement

Who am I to judge? Only God has that right–and God tempers that judgement with mercy, grace, and love. God knows our hearts. God knows what drives us. God knows our histories and our experiences and our scars.

Who am I to judge? As a human being, I tend to judge based on what I can see. What I can see is so very limited!!! I can see only the behavior I’m looking at, and the apparent results to others. I can’t see either the good that I do or the harm that I cause. I can’t truly see all the good that others do or the harm that they cause, either. I can’t see beyond the surface. I can’t see into another’s heart. I don’t always know my own heart all that well, to be perfectly honest!

It seems that there are a lot of folks who look forward to the judgement day, believing that they will be judged “good” and those individuals and groups that they disagree with or don’t like for whatever reason will be judged “bad.” There are also a lot of folks who seem to have given up, assuming that they’ll be judged “bad” no matter what, based upon one or a few past actions. I have a strong suspicion that plenty of members of both groups will be met with surprises when their final judgement day comes.

It seems that working on this book is also a way that God is working in me, in working out my faith and defining it more clearly. How important is it to define my faith more clearly? I have no idea! But God knows.

God is Love. This I believe and always have and always will. If you know love, then you know God. But there are many paths that people are on which are paths of love. Christianity is but one path. God has created us all, loves us all, and offers to lead us all. This I believe to be true.

Do we all follow the path God lays before us, regardless of our faith tradition? Nope. I can’t say that I always have or always will, and I don’t believe that anyone has reached that stage of perfection in love. We all do our best, where we are and with what we have in the way of knowledge and experience. That can change from day to day!

This journey of writing has led me to a greater certainty that Christianity is not only my background, but my present and my future. Looking at Christian history right up to the present, it would be easy to reject in favor of something else or nothing else or a nebulous everything else, and many have done so, but I must look to Christ as my brother and redeemer and model for life.

Part 27, June 16, 2016

Responsibility … some might see surrendering to God’s will as a way of abdicating personal responsibility and taking the opportunity to blame God if they make a decision that doesn’t turn out the way they’d hope. I don’t see it that way.

I see it as a way to hold myself even more responsible! Responsible for actually watching and listening, to the world and the people around me, to scripture, and to God’s still, small voice or huge booming voice or whatever way God chooses to communicate with me. If I mishear or respond inappropriately, that’s mine to deal with, knowing that God’s grace is sufficient even for my mistakes, but it’s up to me to do my best to right any wrongs that I may cause.

Being Love wrapped up in a body is a gift that’s full of responsibility. I’m responsible for responding in love instead of reacting in fear when the world around me encourages the fear and ridicules the love. It means taking risks that society tells me should best be avoided. It means trusting that “all things work to good for those who love the Lord” regardless of what I may experience with my senses at any particular time. It means truly believing that the unseen is greater than that which is seen.

Part 26, June 15, 2016

Body, Spirit, Soul, Self … what do these words mean? It’s not so easy to figure out. I’ve wondered for a long time about the difference between spirit and soul, for example! So stay with me as I try to work it out, listening to God’s promptings as well as I’m able. And please, let me know if it makes sense to you, or if you have other ideas to stir into this soup! This is not the final word–it’s just what I’m thinking my understanding is right now.

Body … identity … physical … fully in this temporal (time-limited) world …

Spirit … God’s spirit, “poured out upon all flesh” … the divine living within us … eternal … Love … complete …

Soul … our real identity … shaped by our life in this world limited by time and space, but not fully of it … eternal … striving toward wholeness …

Self … an intricate, confusing conglomerate of body, Spirit, and soul … the wholeness of who we are–a gestalt, if you will … agent of our free will, going with or against God’s invitation and leading … constantly changing …

Part 25, June 14, 2016

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This is a message for me, today … and every day! My understanding, no matter how superior it may sometimes seem to me and even to others, is so very limited in comparison to God’s understanding! Letting go and leaning on God is hard sometimes … many times … but the more I do it, the easier it becomes–at least sometimes!

It’s not about gun control. Our gun laws haven’t become more liberal over the last 200+ years. Mass murders have become more common over the last 15 years or so. Ever since 9/11, when the fear/hate/xenophobic rhetoric began to heat up and grow like a snowball in a Minnesota winter, violence has escalated. It’s not about gun control.
It’s about self-control. It’s about societal attitudes. It’s about love and fear and faith.

Healing. Jesus did it. Jesus said that we could do all that he did and more. Yet we don’t. Why? Why do we ridicule the healing evangelists? Why do we tend to assume that they’re all scamsters? Yeah, some of them are and have been. But all? Hmmmm … something to think about!

We all long for healing of one kind or another.

In The Green Mile, John Coffey “takes it back” to grant healing. What is he taking back? Yes, I know that it’s just a book/movie/story, but our thoughts and our word do have power. What was he taking back? Corruption? Can you just imagine being able to do that?

Yes, God has given us plants and techniques and medications of various sorts that contribute to creating a healing environment in our bodies, and that’s great! It is, after all, our own selves that actually do the healing. Placebos seem to have nearly as much healing power as drugs and even surgery sometimes. That proves to me that our minds pretty much do the healing.

How do we harness our own healing power? How can we do so more reliably? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look into someone’s eyes and tell them that they’re healed, and to KNOW that they truly are healed? Wouldn’t it be amazing for someone to do that for you?

Can we all heal one another, or are some people especially gifted? What do you think of all of this?

Eating together.

Feeding one another.

Talking and laughing and singing together.

Sacramental.

 

What is a sacrament? There are probably as many definitions as there are branches of christianity or religion in general. To me, a sacrament is an action in which we purposefully place ourselves in the path of God’s grace, and we trust that it will be there. Some religions have several set-aside sacraments, to be officiated over only by those ordained to do so. Some religions don’t believe in sacraments at all. For all I know, there probably are some in which every moment is considered to be sacramental, or at least potentially so.
I consider any opportunity to share an eating time with others to be sacramental. “Where 2 or more are gathered, there am I.” so said Jesus. Throughout scripture, hospitality is seen as sacred. We humans do need alone time–some more than others–but we also need one another.

God/Love loves us ALL of the time. Even when things seem to go wrong, even when things are most difficult, even when life hurts the most, God is with us, within us, and filling us with love and healing. There is a lesson to be learned in every situation, ESPECIALLY the painful and difficult ones. How willing are we to learn the lesson the first time it’s presented?

 

I confess that I’ve passed by learning opportunities by seeing circumstances as negative. I’ve never been rich, and that’s okay … I have been in a position to be going to a local food pantry for groceries more than once, in order to learn that it’s okay to receive. Not only is it okay, it’s a blessing to those who need to give!

 

What lessons have you had to attend over and over before you were really able to get the point? Are you able to see that it’s a lesson?
The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that all of the hard life lessons are really about the same thing: Insert Love. See Love as the solution. It may be a lesson in learning to love myself better, or it may be a lesson in learning to love others and all of the Creation better, but the solution is always Love.

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