Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Tonight, after a long, hard, difficult, head-slamming day at work, I reconnected with someone I haven't spent time with in 6 years. We spent 10 precious Tuesday evenings in each other's company--I was a new, intimidated, unsure writer and participant. She was a grieving mother writing about loss and love and rebuilding. But tonight, we were friends. Tonight, we laughed and listened, and watched as her sweet 6 month old mischievously stayed up so as not to miss out on the visit. And that was God. Pictures of her sweet lost baby hung on the walls and I sat in awe (as I did 6 years ago), that she was still standing. It is grace.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Song of Trust in God’s Protection
1 In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city;
He sets up walls and ramparts for security.
2 “Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter,
The one that remains faithful.
3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.
4 “Trust in the LORD forever,
For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.
5 “For He has brought low those who dwell on high, the unassailable city;
He lays it low, He lays it low to the ground, He casts it to the dust.
6 “The foot will trample it,
The feet of the afflicted, the steps of the helpless.”
Tonight, the Advent retreat calls for prayerful reflection on Scripture as opposed to Ignatian contemplation. I am supposed to think about what the text is saying, what it is saying to me, and what does the text make me want to say to God.
Oh, Old Testament, you are a formidable foe. The NT is so accessible to me, and then I try to deconstruct this...I like what it says about trust, though. That trust in God brings peace, which is ultimately a gift of God, and that trust brings us closer to God, and God closer to us.
Verses 5 and 6 brought Occupy Wall Street to mind. While the verses seem to be alluding to destruction or active ruin, I actually like seeing it through a lens where the afflicted and the helpless are SEEN and HEARD. They demand to be seen and heard, it is God's will for their experience to be validated and made real. Their experience is not to be ignored or swept under the rug...it is to be faced and acknowledged by those with power and privilege.
Examen (incomplete, but with good intentions)
I continue to be grateful for friends. I am also grateful for my parents and the coaches I had over the years. They made a difficult job look easy, and always handled the chaos with grace...I am thankful for their example as I coach.
I ask for your help and guidance as I try to be a good friend. I really try to listen well, to be attentive, to be like Kim, but I think I fail more than I succeed.
Allow me to use my free time wisely this weekend instead of letting it disappear.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The First Disciples
18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “[a]Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, [b]James the son of Zebedee, and [c]John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
I am going to try something this Advent. I need structure in my blogging, and I may have found it. Thanks to my Jesuits, of course:
So, each day, I am to spend some time praying with scripture...not an easy task for me. I picked the right day though...this is a story I can get behind. Today's assignment is to pray with this passage using Ignatian Contemplation, which asks that we enter into the story and see it as an eyewitness, hear it right from Jesus' mouth, and try to imagine what it would feel like if He was talking to us.
I've always loved the line about "fishers of men," sexism be damned. Even before I really understood it, I liked the turn of phrase (this was before I knew what a turn of phrase was of course). This scene is a good place to start my Advent journey because I enter into this scene easily. I am standing behind Jesus, watching him walk up to the shore, hearing His call to these disciples. They recognize something in him, clearly. They drop what they are doing...they drop their lives, to follow this man.
Two thoughts came to me as I read, reread and reflected a bit on this passage. First, I started singing "You Are Mine" to myself.
"come and follow me, I will bring you home...I love you and you are mine"
This is their call. Jesus is offering them a life with him...and from the looks of things here, they know very little--if anything--about him. And yet they are willing to leave everything--homes, families, their own identities--to follow this person. "Fishers of men"?! What does that even mean? They must have been confused...but something inside must have told them that there were bigger things ahead.
I think about the people in my own life who draw others to them...whose light is so strong, so enchanting, so beautiful, so powerful that others are willing to follow them. Not blindly, but with an unspoken understanding that they will be safe and treasured and valued. It is that light that Peter, Andrew, James, and John saw and trusted when they dropped their nets. And that is why I know them, why they are familiar to me and why I see myself in that scene. When someone has the light of the Creator, of God, shining so brightly from their core, you are willing to follow, to listen, to go with them on a journey. It wasn't grand promises of fame and fortune that had these disciples leaving all that they knew; it was the promise of community, of connection, of relationship. Who doesn't want that?
The Advent Retreat asks that we also pray in the tradition of Ignatius Loyola at the end of our reflection by praying the Examen.
Loving God, today I am ever so grateful for my friends...for the community that I have created for myself, for the time and space to be with these friends, even in the difficult moments.
I am grateful for a teacher who did not meet my student's disrespectful and threatening "test" with anger or malice, but instead with patience and grace. Even though he didn't understand what was happening, he was able to handle the situation without escalating it and in a way that may allow him to build a relationship with this student in the future.
Please help me to better manage the time with which you have blessed me. Help me with focus and attention.
I hope I was able to show my friend some of your love, compassion, understanding and empathy today. She needed it, and I tried to give it without reservation or second-guessing my own reactions.
Forgive me for the times I fall short with my patience, or spend my time, energy and focus on things that don't deserve it as much as my work and my students do. Give me the strength and the patience for SM, TH, MM and more.
I look forward to tomorrow...to being a better reflection of you to all I see.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Travel by Chris Guillebeau
If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
My list of places is long...the A's dominate the top of the list--Africa (South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia), Australia, and Alaska. I do think Africa tops the list though...my mother's cousins spent some of their childhood there--in Johannesburg in the 1960s. They've been back many times. I want to visit the cities (Jo'burg, Cape Town), as well as safari/game park. I want to experience something so vastly different from my world.
How will I ensure I get there? I don't know, but I know I will. It'll take planning and saving...and hopefully someone with whom I can travel. A traveling companion is probably non-negotiable...there are a lot of things I am willing to do alone, but this is a trip that will be richer for the company, I think.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Gwen Bell – 15 Minutes to Live
We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.
Afraid of each other? Not me. I am one who craves community. I love to be surrounded by people, to hear stories, and tell my own. Life is to be shared, of this I am sure. It is possible that being the product of a large, loud, story-telling Irish family ruined me for life in the very best way.
Community has not always been easy for me to find, though. I struggled to find my place—spent many years being more comfortable in a room full of adults or small children than with my own peers. I felt lost and often alone. I had wonderful friends along the way—some of them came and went with the years, and others stuck around and we delight in our years of friendship even today. But it seemed everywhere I looked, people had a ‘group.’ People belonged somewhere. Even these friends of mine had groups of friends…groups that didn’t quite have room for me.
I kept looking though. I moved 3,000 miles away from everyone and everything I'd ever known in search of the elusive community. Community was promised to me, but once again, community failed me. It was not going to come easily. I was going to have to work for it. I was going to have to be brave, going to have to strike out on my own and do things that scared me.
I am so grateful for that lesson. If I only had a few minutes left to live, I'd be most grateful for that one...learning that I just had to trust myself enough to jump. My tribe was there waiting. With a net.