Sunday, July 12, 2020

These Times

"Offer sacrifice in the right spirit and trust in the Lord."   
Psalm 4:5   
    
These times call for the reading of the Psalms.  I know many of us do not care for the word or the idea of sacrifice, but every day we are being asked to put aside our personal whims for the good of others. We can be courageous and trust in the belief that our sacrifices will not be in vain.  We can do this because God is leading us to healing in every moment.  Our sacrifices need not be made grudgingly; they can be made in love.     
   
"We must realize that we cannot be really fed, strengthened, purified, enriched and made holy unless we fulfill the duties of the present moment."  
 
Abandonment to Divine Providence  

Jean-Pierre de Caussade    
  
photograph:  San Leandro, 2020   
  


  

Thursday, July 9, 2020

SpiritCare Weekly Meditation, July 9, 2020

During the pandemic I have been sending a weekly meditation to the activity directors of the communities I used to visit in person.  Some include these meditations in their weekly newsletters, and some read the meditations out loud to their residents.  Some, no doubt, sigh, roll their eyes and simply delete.  However, I receive enough thank you notes that lead me to believe they are being received in the spirit that they are sent: that is, of course, love.  
The text below seems quite timely for us all, so I thought I would send it to you.  Blessings in this time.   At the moment I am listening to some wonderful African music.  The attached image seems to be dancing along.  Not exactly the green hills strewn with colorful flowers that I envision in Isaiah, but close enough. 
 
Love to you all in this time and always.     

---------- Forwarded message --------


Hello Everyone, 
July is underway. I pray this note finds you well, and everyone is staying cool during the warm afternoons.  Blessings on your work, and may you be finding time to enjoy the summer season while tending to your work and caring for your families and yourselves.  You are in our prayers.  Please let us know if there is a need we might be able to help with. You are loved and held.    
   
Scripture:  Isaiah 55:12-13    
Yes, you will go out with celebration and you will be brought back in peace.
Even the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you;
all the trees of the field will clap their hands. In place of the thorn the cypress will grow in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow.
This will attest to the Lord’s stature, an enduring reminder that won’t be removed.
     
Meditation:  
This afternoon I found myself in the text of Isaiah, and pondering its beautiful words of encouragement.  This text speaks to those who may be in isolation or feel exiled from those they love. Here we hear God's assurance that we have not been forgotten.  We also hear that we can look forward to being gathered together in celebration and peace. Furthermore, we will not be celebrating alone; all of life will rejoice with us. Even the trees will be clapping and there will be music everywhere.  Aren't these beautiful images?  I wish I were a painter.  I would paint dancing trees, emerald green hills, and a beautiful river.  I would include all kinds of flowers, and yes, the blooming myrtle.  I just read that the myrtle is the Hebrew symbol for marriage.  God is declaring that his relationship with us will endure the test of time. We belong to God and to one another forever.    
We are often impatient for our time of exile to be over.  However, in chapter 55:8, we hear God telling us that our ways and not God's ways.  What I am hearing is that God is telling us to be patient, and to let God be God.  We are often tempted to plead and demand our case with God. We feel we know exactly what we need.  Yet, it is not God's way to always give us what we think we need right when we think we need it. That is the way of a child.  We may be fussy now, but we will be brought back in peace.  Let us not waste time in doubt and worry, but rather in prayer and preparation for the time when all will be revealed in song and celebration.  Let us have the courage to believe these wonderful words of life.        
    
Prayer:  
Holy Eternal God, we thank you that you speak to us of encouragement.  You know at times we struggle with patience, even to the point where our faith begins to fray. We thank you for your forgiveness, and your steadfast love that never lets us go.  Holy One, continue to stir our hearts in this time.  We thank you for those who tend to our care.  May we remember that we all wait together.  Yet in this waiting, you give us the bread of life and the cup of salvation.  You offer us reconciliation at the table of Christ that is always set before us. May we be content, knowing that your vast love is unlimited, and such love can fill our hearts to overflowing if we say yes to the invitation to rest and trust completely in your love.     
 In Christ we gratefully pray, Amen.    


 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Revisiting

In this elegant poem (which I originally sent in 2006!), Tagore refers to God as Father.  However we call on God is a deeply personal matter so make this prayer your own. I think this is what the poet is encouraging us to do.   
 Our 4th of July is quiet right now.  Tyler is giving the dog a bath.  I cleaned the kitchen.  I hear neither traffic nor fireworks, only bird calls.  A day of health and abundance. I am grateful.  May your day unfold beautifully and fearlessly.  Let us tread gently on this beautiful earth for it is life.    

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, [Holy One], let my country awake.
   
   
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)   
  
photograph:  San Leandro, August 2018   
    


     

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Ponderings Repost

Yesterday, I was giving some thought as to how I want to structure a Zoom prayer gathering on Friday, July 3 at 7:00 p.m. (If you would like to take part and pray with others for our nation and our world, send me an email and I will forward the details).  A line of poetry kept coming to mind, "I am a citizen of that kingdom..." but I could not remember the source. Well, Google has a much better memory than I.  This email from June 29, 2008 quickly surfaced. 

This is not an easy time for our nation, nor for much of the world.   Being reminded that we are a citizen in the realm of God's Divine Presence gives me strength, and I pray it does for you as well. 
  
Yesterday I also did a search on the theologian, Karl Barth.  Such is my world. 
   
The photograph is an older one.  It was probably taken in San Leandro, but I am not sure when.    
   
Peace, this week, and always. Remember, God right at this moment is leading us to healing.  Let us trust the revelations.  
  
Love, 
Sue Ann    
  

----------------------

I received the following song via email today.  The only thing I know about Kabir is that he was a 15th century Hindu mystic.  One of the things I love about mystical writings is that they encourage me to stretch into that place of universal love that truly knows no boundaries.   Change a word here and there, and this could easily be Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist, or a celebration of the Divine Feminine.  Today, let us sing the songs that bring our hearts to life.  What a wondrous garden that would be – where every fruit and flower is ripened by wisdom, joy, and love.  Let us begin to sing this glorious banquet into being.    
   
I am a citizen of that kingdom
Where reigns the Lord in all His glory;
Neither pain nor pleasure cast their shadows
Where the sun of joy never sets.

I am a citizen of that kingdom
Where every day is a day of celebration;
The river of love overflows its banks,
And the lotus blooms in the devotee's heart.

I am a citizen of that kingdom
Where shines the Lord as the source of light,
And lights the lamp of wisdom in my heart
To burn without oil, without wick.
— Kabir in God Makes the Rivers to Flow: Sacred Literature of the World selected by Eknath Eawaran   

   

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Kith and Kin

"I am ever present to those who have realized me in every creature. Seeing all life as my manifestation, they are never separated from me.  They worship me in the hearts of all, and all their actions proceed from me. Wherever they may live, they abide in me."        
The Bhagavad Gita, 6:30-31, translated by Eknath Easwaran     
     
As we make our way to the 4th of July weekend, it would be behoove  us to give thought to unity, not division. No matter how separate we might think ourselves to be, we are all related, and we journey together.  Let us keep all life in our hearts, and respect one another's struggles. May we risk deep listening to the unrest, and find common ground.   
   
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen. 
Father Richard Rohr, OSB     
   
photograph:  San Leandro, 2020     
   

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Where

Yesterday, as Jack and I were walking, I heard what I initially thought might be a large chicken.  I wondered if perhaps it had managed to get out of its yard.  I could not see it but it sounded close.  The owner of the house where I thought the chicken might reside came out, appearing to be getting ready to go for a run.  He did not seem concerned at all about a possible AWOL chicken.  I then see movement high in a large pine tree.  Jack and I move closer (I am grateful he is not a dog given to barking).  No, not a chicken but two crows fussing over one another. They had much to say to one another, but they were speaking differently than the crows I often see out and about, and that was why I was confused.  I think I was witnessing them in their home tree. They repeatedly touched one another's beaks as they advised each other of their morning's activities. I appreciate that birds talk to one another as much as they do. They enliven my walks and remind me that we are woven together in so many ways.  Trees, crows, sunshine, a woman on a walk with her dog. We are all communicating, in our own sacred language, God's love.  
   
Yesterday, I also came across a book that I have not read in quite some time:  Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue.  In it, I found the following passage where he writes of the human body. This morning as I reflect on his wisdom, I think of all the bodies, human and otherwise, that exist in this world.  What is this world but an incarnation of God?  I cannot think of it as otherwise.  
The human body is beautiful. It is such a privilege to be embodied. You have a relationship to a place through the body. It is no wonder that humans have always been fascinated by place. Place offers us a home here; without place we would literally have no where. Landscape is the ultimate where; and in landscape the house we call home is our intimate place... Your body is the home of your soul on earth.*   
    
Last night Tyler and I dined on the first of the summer corn, lima beans, and a tomato salad.  I was grateful to be home. I was grateful to have a body.  I was grateful for God. 
   
*Anam Cara, A Book of Celtic Wisdom, Perennial, 2004, p. 44-45.  

  
I do not have a photograph of the crows, but this Datura, beautiful, yet poisonous, resides just down the street from them.  They are neighbors.      
       


Saturday, June 13, 2020

Touching

"There is a teaching that says that behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time."*

~ Pema Chodron   
 
 This tree lives close  to a trail at Del Valle Regional Park.  I look at this photograph and I see dance and I sense prayer.  Ah, to be so rooted and to know such freedom. Yes, I yearn.  Yet, today I think  the unlimited sky is so very close, even when I fall.      
 
* First Sip, June11, 2020. www.claudiacummins.com