Saturday, December 12, 2009

Up In the Night

Nearly always when I pray with individuals or families, groups, colleagues, I pray that we will sense God's presence. Whether in worship or going about one's daily rounds,sensing that one is not alone, but accompanied, feels important to me, and, I sense, to those with whom I pray.

I'm up in the night tonight, praying for and thinking hard about those with whom I had close contact today. I'm aware that the day didn't bring miracles or even peace, and that they and/or their loved ones may also be awake this night, anxious and fearful.
Affirming that God is present and experiencing it are two different things.
Still, it's a heartfelt prayer, that we will sense God's abiding presence, and it's a prayer for all who watch or weep this night.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fragile Time

It's been a busy morning of pastoral care and pastoral visits.

Three hospital visits and one nursing home visit later, and I'm keenly, keenly aware that many people are fighters (in the resilient, look-life-straight-in-the eye sense) and that still and yet, life is fragile and changes in a heartbeat.

We make plans... and a lab report can rearrange everything.
We have an agenda...a schedule... and a pulse rate, a fainting spell, a suspicious blood pressure reading can set that agenda on its ear.

It's been a morning and afternoon of good, intentional conversation about what matters most to folk. Some of the news is good; some of the news is hard; all of the news reminds me of this quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
Perhaps it is time for us to own the name we have given ourselves as a species, Homo sapiens sapiens--the species that knows and knows that it knows to own our own setience and literally and metaphorically come to our senses while there is still time.

Life is fragile. Time is fleeting. God is present.

Photo from here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Want To/Have To

I'm working on an e-course by Lisa Gates of Craving Balance called Fifty Two Times Two. I'll be creating a good practice of addressing two goals per week, which should lead to some pretty amazing results.

The process of selecting goals to address has left me thinking about "want tos" as opposed to "have tos" in our lives. I'm great at addressing "have to" items, but not so great at making time for myself. I'm guessing that I'm not alone in this...

To what extent is postponing personal goals in favor of the needs of others gender-based? How much is it informed by a good ol' Protestant work ethic and self-deprecation?

What informs your goal-setting and how well do you achieve your goals?
Inquiring minds want to know...

Balanced Stone image found here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Keeping it Simple-Friday Five

Sally asks us to list five things you won't be doing to prepare for Christmas.

We won't be doing outdoor decorations, except for a wreath on the front door.
We won't be having any out-of-town family with us for Christmas this year.
We won't be having an open house for the congregation because we did so in November.
We won't be sending as many Christmas cards this year.
We won't be making those little quick breads for last-minute gifts.

Oooh....we sound like Grinches. I hope we're going to be asked what we will be doing....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another perspective

I live right down the road from an order of the Congregation of St. Joseph. They are persitent advocates for peace and justice and have a ministry of the arts that is inspiring. This comes from their most recent newsletter:

The mention of Advent always stirs thoughts of waiting. . .
waiting for Christmas.
We Theologians always speak of reflecting on the three ways of Christ's coming: in history in Bethlehem,
in the daily events of our lives, and the second coming in the future.

I've been thinking that we've got it all wrong. We need not wait for God. God is always present, always with us. That's what the name Emmanuel means: God-with-us. And, that's the primary truth we hear in the Scriptures. God created us, and calls us into relationship. God is indeed present with us, and especially in the person of Jesus the Christ.

No, this Advent, I've come to see that it's GOD who waits for US. . .

. . .waits for us to notice that we are indeed created by God.
We are born with unique gifts and qualities
as well as deficiencies and lack of qualities.
God only sees our goodness, and waits for us to notice too.

. . .waits for us to notice the myriad ways
in which God is with us, always.
We know the Creator in the beauty and amazing capacities of creation, both earth and human. We know the Creator when we experience love. We know the Creator when we can not explain or understand mystery.

. . .waits for us to notice when we observe people acting in the image of God: in covenant with one another, both those known and unknown, both those alike and those very different.

. . .waits for us to notice the emptiness in our hearts
that can only be filled by God's own Self.

. . .in the season of Advent, as Christmas approaches, God waits for us to notice the wonder and innocence of little children. How God must long for us grownups to be more like them, without guile.

It is true that in Advent we wait; but really, it is God who waits for us.
May we savor and revel in that reality.

Sallie Latkovich, CSJ