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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++
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.
+++++++++++++++


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

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Breath

I attended centering prayer on Saturday. The leader mentioned that the Holy Spirit breathes us.
That was my focus for the exercise of centering to silence.
Allowing, like I have a choice, the Holy Spirit to breathe me.

After centering I thought, I can only hold my breath for so long. Then I breathe. It is not my choice to do so because I am trying to hold my breathe. It is the choice of the Holy Spirit to breathe me, to keep me alive for awhile longer, and that length of time is not mine to choose or decide either.

Think about this, the Holy Spirit breathes us. We are not the breathers. Breathing is not of my own doing or my choice. Breathing is holy, it is sustaining life with the Holy Spirit. It is life.

How will I go through the day with this concept of the Holy Spirit breathing me?
Will I think about it or be unconscious of it just like I am unaware of my breathing?

Our God, in this Holy Spirit is alive with us, within us and around us in others, in all things.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Easter in us

For those of us who have experienced dissension and strife,
let Christ, the Prince of Peace, Easter in us!
May he give us quietness of heart.

For those if us who have suffered deceits and lies
let Christ, the Truth, Easter in us!
May he teach us the truth of his love.

For those if us who have a difficult time forgiving-
  forgiving others and ourselves,
let Christ, the Merciful Lord, Easter in us!
May he draw us nearer to his compassionate heart.

For those if us who struggle with self-esteem-
   a feeling of lack of worth,
let his Majesty, the King of Glory, Easter in us!
May he remind us of our royal dignity.

For those if us who have experienced betrayals,
let Jesus, the Divine Friend, Easter in us!
May he introduce us to his intimate friendship,
and to people whose holy friendships will bring us
closer to God and neighbor.

For those if us who struggle to find the right words to say,
let Jesus, the Word himself, Easter in us!
May he give us the gift of speech - speech that is
holy, good and affirming of God-given life.

For those of us who suffer illness - of mind, heart, body
let God, the Divine Physician, Easter in us!
May he touch us with his gift of healing.

For those if us who experience the stress of scholarly endeavors
let Jesus, the Teacher, Easter in us!
May he give us the gift of recollected study time,
and the gift to express our thoughts readily and clearly.

For those of us who have lost direction or are searching for the right path,
let Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Light, Easter in us!
May he help us to see where he is directing us,
and may we follow him with steadfast devotion.

For those of us who have experienced hatred
or violence to body, heart, or mind,
let God, Love himself, Easter in us!
May he introduce us to his great love,
and may his love shine forth in our daily lives.

God is alive!
May he Easter in us!
Today, let us carry his life into the world!
St Edith Stein, pray for us.
Amen

By Dr. Dianne M Traflet
Author of Saint Edith Stein, a spiritual portrait

On 8/19/2014 verbal permission received by author to post to this blog.