Going the distance

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Perhaps, some days, we get too caught up at the distance we have to travel, and so we miss the path we are really on.

Remember that each day is a gift.  So, stop.  Pause.  Breathe.

Savor the path you are on right now, and trust the path of the future to God.

Because the now matters more than all of the ‘wonder ifs’ we think about.

God is here, right now.

Here.

 

Wonder

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Rose bushes have this amazing capacity to delight.  Especially when you have literally hacked them down to canes, cleaned them up and prayed for the best.

This hacking down and cleaning up resonates – we do it in our literal gardens, but do we tend as diligently the gardens of our souls?

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Not often enough it seems.  It’s even harder work than pruning in January.  But, just like the rose bushes, when we tend to the interior garden of our souls, our souls begin to flourish.

To blossom.

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And then to bloom in a riot of buds and color, unexpected and delightful.

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Spend some time on yourself and tend your interior garden.  Give it the same nurturing love that you might lavish on your external garden, and when you have paused, remember to give thanks to the One who creates for the wonder of it all.

 

It’s been a long day …

There is an odd rhythm to being a priest.  We teach about sabbath and self-caring as we try to model that and carve out our own sabbath as we can, finding moments of peace amidst the chaos the seasons bring.

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Moments and bursts of color after thunder squalls and lightning flashes and downpours.

Finding hope and beauty in this season of Lent.

In the busyness that enfolds us, our parishioners, our families and the world in general, I find peace in pausing, as I did tonight, to read the office of Compline, courtesy of the New Zealand Prayer Book, and I share with you this closing prayer:

Lord, it is night.  The night is for stillness.  Let us be still in the presence of God.

It is night after a long day.  What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.

The night is dark.  Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.

The night is quiet.  Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.  Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities.

In your name we pray.  Amen.

 

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Enough

 

War-torn, damaged, dismayed.  Yet another school shooting.  And all I can say is enough.

This is not how we should live our lives – surrounded with fear and violence.  Regardless of blame or cause, we need to stand up and figure out a better way forward.

Our children should not have to live in fear.  Our educators should not have to live in fear.

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World War I trench

These images were taken in Belgium/Flanders.  For me the image above conveys the horrors of war, the horrors of violence, of people trapped, of damage done, a metal labyrinth into the depths of a man-made hell.

My point in all of this, is that the cycle of violence – war, mass shootings, whatever name you want to give to it, must stop.

This is not how we are intended to live.

Instead of violence, why not peace.

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Peace Pond created out of a bomb crater.

Why not hope and love.

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Maybe, just maybe, we can be the change we need.  In this journey through Lent, perhaps the questions should be, Lord, how can I help?

 

 

In search of hope

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In the midst of winter, with cold and wet, sun and clouds, there are moments of hope.

In the midst of the daily grind of work, politics, opinions and fact checking, there is indeed hope.  The hope that comes from God’s love for and of us.

It is this hope that helps us to center ourselves, take stock, and give thanks.

IMG_2188.JPGSo find the beauty that surrounds you and remember to stop, breathe and pray.  Give thanks to God for all of it.  For that is where hope lives.

Christmas

There is a tension that we live through, when we live into Advent.  To prepare ourselves – not by gift shopping, not even by holiday baking, but by sitting for a time in the silence with God.

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This sitting in the silence with God, is like looking through a screened window where the picture changes because our clarity of vision changes.

We can only find real peace, real connectedness with God, real clarity, when we make the time to sit in prayer-filled silence and ask God to reveal his/her plan for us.

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The greater part of the tension comes from being willing to listen and submit, listen and change, listen.

In the silence hope is born.  In the silence peace is born.  In the silence.

As this fourth Sunday in Advent dawns and transforms itself into Christmas Eve, remember where our hope and peace come from.

Born of that teenaged Mary into a world unwilling to transform itself, yet still our hope rings out like the birth pangs of Mary, and we sing do please come, Emmanuel, and set us free.

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Settling into the ordinary

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I don’t know if we are every truly settled.  I guess it depends on how we view our lives and our circumstances.  Perhaps instead of saying we’re feeling settled, it might be better to say that we’re finding a way to live each day in an ordinary way.  In ordinary time.

And just when we feel that this ordinary time is ok, we change seasons.

Summer into fall.

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Fall into winter.

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Ordinary time into Advent.

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On the cusp of this season of preparation, remember to pause, breathe, and pray.

Use this time to deepen your relationship with God.  Because that relationship is a gift beyond your wildest imaginings, and it is the gift that will nurture and sustain you throughout your days.

 

 

Butterflies

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Sometimes, when we take a break, go outside, and simply stop and look around, we are surprised by beauty.

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And sometimes, it is this type of gentle reminder of the glory of the Creator that allows us to remember that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.

That God does indeed exist.  That there is hope.  That we are loved.

Stop.  Breathe.  Pray.

Lord, in your mercy

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I did something this morning I don’t normally do – I turned on the news.  And was hit by the barrage of images from Las Vegas.

Violence – in all of its ugliness – is what greeted me.

With 50 dead and the count rising, with so many wounded, with so much pain, sorrow and suffering, and with absolutely no answers as to why or how such an atrocity could be and was committed, Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers for peace.

We are broken.  We are fragile.  We need your healing breath, the gift of your peace, the grace of your love.  Heal us and make us whole.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

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The anxiety of the not knowing

We are being pummeled – quite literally – by storms.  Hurricane Harvey in Texas, and now Hurricane Irma headed toward Florida and into Georgia.

We have no real way of knowing how and when these storms hit – we watch the weather forecasters trying to predict which way the storms will track, where they will hit, how bad the damage will be.

And we become – with good reason – anxious.

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The sounds and smells and presence of waves on a beach are – under normal circumstances – something that soothes, calms, heals even.

Not so these storms.

Not so the interior storms of our lives.

And so there isn’t much anyone can do except be prepared – for the weather storms, we follow the common sense guidelines given to us – water, food, shelter, etc.

For the interior storms, it is a different path.  A path that seeks God, seeks peace, seeks redemption.

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If you can, try to pause in the midst of your preparation.  Pause in the midst of the internal chaos, pause and listen for God.  Pause and breathe in the Spirit’s healing essence.

Prayer is – for many – a way of preparation, of healing, of finding your connectedness with and to God.

As we pray for all who have been and will be impacted by these storms, pray too for those whose storms begin within.

Pray for healing, mercy, and grace.