Saturday, January 3, 2015

Train of events

The term used is chain of events yet the experiences I had over the past week felt more like a train moving and morphing than a static linking. 

The train's engine started on Christmas day.

I received a Christmas gift from my son of a framed picture of my mom that I took for a photography class 30 years ago.

She died three years ago and seeing the picture released memories and tears. She is remembered by my family who are alive now and may become a distance remembrance for the generations of our family to come. Maybe this photograph will help to preserve her in our family history.

I returned to work this past Monday to read an email announcing the death of a colleague, Amy. She was 51 years old and died on Christmas Eve. She left behind her husband and 17 year old daughter. Amy and I had conversations over the years about life and it's challenges. And writing this is not something I ever imagined. She had 25 years with our company and at the age of 55 she could have retired with a pension and medical benefits. I hope our company grandfather's her time in some way so her husband and daughter can receive those benefits. I hope she is not forgotten too quickly within the corporate walls. 

Last night I was watching the movie 'Conspiracy' about the assassination of President Lincoln. This took place in 1865, 149 years ago. No one from that time is alive today. And only those who gave something of historic value are remembered in our media of movies, pictures, books and magazines.

These events left me wondering about life's meaning. Why bother when all will be forgotten?

I prayed for some inspiration about my wondering. I asked to receive some insight at the Women's Insightful Hour meeting held on Tuesday afternoon. 

The topic of our Insightful meeting was the Paradoxical Commandments by Dr. Kent Keith. All but two of these commandments were used by Mother Theresa as a prayer foundation. And many people attribute them to her.   

This morning just before woke up the scripture Isaiah 55 come into my mind. I google it and the title is "an invitation to an abundant life. The full verse is written below.

My summation of this train of events is our life has meaning and purpose in our day to day living. It may not be the stuff that makes it to the general population's memory through our media. It will, however, be a part of those we interact with each and every day. Just like my mom and Amy. 

We have the profound privilege to create love, joy and peace in every moment starting with ourselves and then with others, family and strangers. We have God's support of abundance in our creation process.

And in creating love, joy and peace in these moments we create an eternal memory that we will experience when we leave our earthly boundary.  As Isaiah tells us, "This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever."

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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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This morning I woke and Isaiah 55 came into my mind.
An invitation to an abundant life.
1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
 
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
 
3 Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
 
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
 
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
 
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
 
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
 
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it,
 
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
 
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Big Bang Theory

The big bang theory is an attempt to explain how our universe began.

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From The Big Bang theory website:
According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a "singularity" and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities." Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know. - See more at: http://www.big-bang-theory.

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At the end of the article there is a link called "does God exist."

Science does not know. There is uncertainty in the above explanation.

Faith does know. Faith takes us beyond reason, beyond science. 

I believe that everything holds a piece of the expanding singularity, the beginning and the end. 
This is why I do not stay the same. 

I age, grow physically and in wisdom. I evolve and expand because this is the essence of the source, the singularity, from which I came. 

I am one tiny spec of the whole. The whole being God. Something from nothing? Yes. Designed in evolving perfection? Yes.

Ann Lamott calls God, Howard.

Some call God, Universe.

I call God, Love. And Love is beautiful, caring, merciful, forgiving and forgetful. Longing to be in relationship with me every moment of every day.  

It is so hard to imagine all of this from the facts I know or from the reasoning of my mind.



Yet, with faith Love becomes truth.

Faith takes me beyond reason.





Friday, October 24, 2014

Howard be thy name

Author Anne Lamott has a new book coming out called SMALL VICTORIES: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. 

I was thinking about Anne's book as I drove to work this morning and wondering whether I would buy the paper or electronic version.  And then my thoughts recalled reading that Anne calls God Howard. And that thought brought me to think about a dog we adopted named Howard. And I thought his story was a story of Grace and writing it would honor him 

In honor of Anne's upcoming book and the dog named Howard, here is a Grace story.

My son had been bugging me to get a new dog. Our yellow Lab, Zoe which is Greek for life,  had died several years ago and I was not interested in going through the loss of a beloved pet ever again.

I kept telling my son "no" to his constant inquiry and got some respite from his questioning when my husband and I visited his brother in North Carolina. It turned out that they had a Cockapoo named Mollie. I stayed away from Mollie as best as I could while we were there but she kept sitting by me. By day two she was sitting on the couch with me. And I enjoyed it. It reminded me of how wonderful it is to be unconditionally loved by these amazing creatures.

After we arrived home from the trip I searched for a dog to adopt from nearby shelters until I found Howard. Howard's description said he was a Cockapoo which is what I wanted because Mollie had such a nice temperment. I showed my family and asked if they wanted to go see him. They said yes and off we went to visit Howard.


We liked Howard from the start. He was black with a spot of white on his chest. He was small which made him easy for me to handle. After some discussion, we filled out the adoption papers and left to wait for a call in a couple of days.

We were so excited when the shelter called to say we could adopt Howard. We picked him up that day.

We were all in the living room and Howard seemed perfect until he attacked my son. It was shocking. I thought it might be because Howard was nervous and needed to get comfortable with us. But the attacks continued. So I hired a trainer and began training Howard. He wasn't getting any better. My sons said there was something wrong with Howard. So I brought in another trainer to evaluate him. It turned out that he was a red zone dog which meant he needed a lot of rehabilitation and training. And if we were to keep him the trainer would have to train us too so that Howard would not go back to this red zone state.

The trainer also offered to get us a perfect dog for our family if we chose to return Howard. What a decision!  I wanted to rescue a dog to do something good, to save a life and now was faced with returning him. Oh the heartbreak!!!

We decided to return Howard because we did not have the means to help him.
After a week of grieving I called the trainer and told her we were interested in the dog she offered.

Several months later the trainer gave us a dog, Dash a 14 pound Maltese. His family could not care for him and wanted him to go to a loving home. We were the lucky home! 




Dash came into our lives on a Friday in December 2012. He was so excited to be with us! I loved him from the moment I saw him.

The next day after Dash arrived the trainer asked me how it went with him. And I said it went really well. He calmed my anxiety and I slept great! I asked if it was possible to bring him to people in hospitals and she introduced me to Dog Therapy. 

Several months later Dash and I were certified as a Dog therapy team and have been visiting people ever since! 

Yes Anne, God's name is Howard and he works in the most mysterious and marvelous ways.




As I wrote this post a friend posted this link to her Facebook page.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blessed

I became a Eucharistic minister and I feel blessed.

My day started rather strangely. I was putting a sock on my foot and my foot looked like my mother’s foot, not mine. My mom died three years ago. There was a point before she died that she could not take care of her feet. When I visited her, I soaked her feet in warm water, dried them, clipped her nails and then massaged her feet and calves with lotion. I enjoyed this intimate time with her. Seeing her foot reminded me of this time and gave me a sense of her presence.



I thought of Jesus and how he washed the disciple’s feet. Those were some dirty feet! Back then people wore sandals and walked dusty roads. I realized, through the experience I had with my mother, that his act of love may have stayed with the disciples after his death and they may have felt his presence when they remembered this intimate time with him.





My day continued as any other day. I got to work and handled a multiple of topics at a pace that is at times inhumane. And then I stopped to get some lunch. As I waited at the salad station (the chef was making berry salad with goat cheese, YUM!) I saw a rose and the word victory on the refrigerator against the back wall.

One day as I cared for my mom I asked her if a rose could be our symbol. She touched my cheek and said, "everything will be alright." The word victory is what Jesus accomplished through his sacrifice on the cross, victory over death. He told his disciples that he would send his spirit as his symbol and guidance.

I thought of both my mom and Jesus as I waited for my turn to order a delicious salad and the words of a song, “the words I would say” by Sidewalk Prophets, a friend introduced me to came to mind,
“Be strong in the Lord and
never give up hope.
You're gonna do great things
I already know
God's got his hand on you."

Tears were welled in my eyes as the chef asked, “how would you like your salad?”

I took my salad to a conference room where I ate it and studied for a test on the Synoptic Gospels.
I am nervous about taking this test because it has been over ten years since I was in school. I hope my brain provides the answers when I need them! By the way, the salad was absolutely delicious!

I completed my day and then drove to the church for the Eucharistic minister training. I knew a few people and we chatted as we waited for the training to begin. Fr. Bob welcomed us and Fr. Benny trained us. The Catholic Tradition is so fascinating, rich and deep. We practiced what we learned and went home!

Reflection on the day’s experiences left me feeling blessed, like I crossed a divine threshold.


It is a feeling I hope to project each time I say “the body of Christ or the blood of Christ.” Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Principle of Accomodation




This principle has nothing to do with the quality of my hotel room when I am traveling! As in, I travel therefore I want the best accommodation.




This principle is what God does when interacting with us. Our faith teaches us that the bible was created through divine inspiration. The inspiration flowed through the authors of the bible. The authors of the bible translated the inspiration through the language and writing style of their time.

Through this principle God gave us all that we need to know about how we return home after our time on earth has expired. My husband and I refer to this as "taking the trip."

As with any trip the use of directions enables us to get where we want to go.

The bible is our book of directions. Our life is the journey.

Connect the two and I am homeward bound.

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A few tips for reading the bible;
Start with prayer. Ask for understanding and application the the situation.

Remember the scripture being read was written thousands of years ago for the people of that time to relate to the situation of that time.




This is why starting with prayer activates the principle of accommodation where God inspires us right were we are, in our time, place and situation.

Journal the experience and learn from it.

Adjust where needed.

Repeat often.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sponge

I have often wondered why God chose to come to us in human form during a period of time when crucifixion was the means to punish criminals.

God is timeless.

In one event, Jesus took on all of our pain and suffering for all time. From the beginning of time, before we were born through eternity. Everything we are experiencing right now was experienced by Jesus on the cross 2,000 years ago. All of it back then, before then, now and to come.

This is why Christ's passion was so gruesome. It had to be in order to capture all of our humanness.





Hymn
May we see you in pain;
May we know you in pain;
Lord of might may we love you in pain.
May our eyes be open
To see those in grief.
May your Spirit guide us
To tend to all in need.
May we see you in pain;
May we know you in pain;
Lord of might may we love you in pain.
May our hearts be open
To love those in grief.
May your presence guide us
To give to all in need.
May we see you in pain;
May we know you in pain;
Lord of might may we love you in pain.
May our ears be open
To hear your holy Word.
May your Word give us courage
To bring your love to all.
May we see you in pain;
May we know you in pain;
Lord of might may we love you in pain.
May our minds be open;
Implant your Word, O Lord.
May your love bring us peace,
Your peace to comfort all.
May we see you in pain;
May we know you in pain;
Lord of might may we love you in pain.
May We See You by The Choir Of Holy Rosary Catholic Church.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faith

Are you discouraged or angry about the events of this world?
Have you lost contact with your faith?
Begin to rekindle it to find hope. Love and peace.
Our world, our life is temporary. Our creator, our God is eternal.
Trust in eternity.
All is well.
Peace and love to you my friends.
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2 Timothy 3:14
But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it.
There are many similarities between the times of Saint Paul and our own. Living a Christian life was a conscious choice and was not supported by society at large. Christians were faced with many temptations to turn from their beliefs or to grow lax in the practice of their faith. Paul exhorts Timothy (and us) to be faithful to what we have learned and believed about Jesus. Our gathering for Eucharist is a way we strengthen our faith, as well as support one another for our common mission as disciples. Our individual faithfulness builds a stronger faith community.
Where do I find strength for living my Christian faith?
Loyola Press 3 minute retreat