This morning I got into my frosty car to go to work. It isn’t so cold that I feel that I have to warm it for many minutes before I drive. And reminded of Earth Day, it is better for the environment if I don’t start it so long before.
I got behind the wheel and looked out through the frosted window. The window was covered with the most intricate pattern of crystals. I recognize that, for me, seeing such beauty stirs in me a sense of wonder.
I do hope it warms up soon. Frost on the window is beautiful but also means I have to clear it off to drive. I am ready for the wonder that spring brings. It is beginning; buds on the willows, geese returned, other bird songs are beginning, the sun rises before I leave home for work so that I drive into the sunrise each morning now.
I need that sense of wonder. It makes me more alive and gives me a sense of belonging in the whole scheme of things. It helps me to appreciate how I am made and who made me. Wonder seems to be one of those little graces one receives from God – evidences of his care and love. It keeps me from getting too serious and full of myself and it wards off the bitterness that can accumulate from frustrations that I also face daily.
Last night as the group of women I meet with met we read a short reflection on the “prodigality” of God. This comes from the story of the prodigal son but the author spoke of how the father in the story is the real prodigal. He welcomes back this son who has come from the pig sties – likely smelling like it too – with open arms – which may mean a huge embrace for this smelly son. The father lavishes love and acceptance on this son who messed up so badly, welcomes him back with a huge party, even using some of the resources that would rightfully now be part of the older son’s inheritance. (No wonder the older brother is a bit miffed)
To the author “prodigality” = lavishness, giving excessive gifts, abundance that is given to un-meriting children.
She also reminds us of the story Jesus told in Matthew 20 of the workers in the vineyard. He tells the story of the owner of the vineyard who pays all his workers as if they worked a full day and when they protest he says, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”
The story Dixie tells over at her blog of receiving a gift – out of the blue – that cheers her day reminded me of the reading from last night. It reminded me of the daily gifts that God lavishes on us that have little to do with their utility and certainly are not given because we merit them: the vivid colours of the sky at dawn and at sunset, the joy that music stirs in us, as do sounds of nature (the call of the geese at this time of year remind me of coming spring), the myriad shades of green and brown with splashes of color thrown in, the varieties of species.
We were reminded last night of our need to follow God’s example in this regard. Jesus lavished love on outcasts, prostitutes and sinners, sacrificing all to offer them a way to freedom. We need to be willing to risk falling prey to the occasional con artist in our attempts to care for people in need. We need to learn to love with the kind of abandon with which the Father loves.
O God, forgive us our miserliness when it comes to caring for others. Give us generous hearts, non-judgmental minds and open hands.
Lately I have felt a bit like a lump of clay waiting for the potter to decide on where to squeeze me, prod me and shape me. It is hard to wait ’cause I think I should have some kind of shape. I have had a certain kind of shape for a long time and somehow it has begun to fit me poorly. I am sort of waiting for a make-over I guess. Maybe the make-over has begun – just no final shape yet and I am growing impatient with not knowing exactly for what purpose I will take shape. Which is kind of stupid since I am not the potter. I guess the time spent now being shaped, which I am sure is going on even if I don’t feel much, will result in what the potter wants.
I hope. It is hard to live in a liminal space.
I don’t want to live passively, as if nothing matters to me. I want to live expectantly even if I don’t know what is coming next. Learning to trust the potter with the design.
That is very figurative, I know. Waiting is hard. Waiting for things to move me towards retirement, towards new roles after that. Not knowing, waiting for pieces to fall into place, attempting to give some pieces a push. This in between place is a hard place to live.
This morning the fog hung low over the tops of the trees across the river and about two blocks ahead of me, everything was encased in blurry white. I like this sense of being enclosed almost as if there is a certain peace that surrounds me.
At least that is how the mist and fog in nature make me feel.
It is quite a different when I can’t see clearly what is on my path ahead in the figurative sense. Not knowing what lies ahead or having a sense but wondering what the future will look like makes me uneasy. That stuff, I want to see more clearly. I want to know. This obscurity makes me feel off balance. Instead of resting in the place I am, I find myself restless in the waiting times; unsettled.
I know that for the most part trying to discern clearly what is in the way ahead is not going to be useful. Oh, plans are good and sometimes there is a sense of clarity that really helps. But I know that I am really only called to live life moment by moment; trusting that there is someone greater than me who will help me find my way through the foggy spots.
I need to let him enfold and envelope me with a sense of trust. With him is always a secure place and I know that he is here, within and without, over and under me, on my left and on my right.
I guess this was a first for me – being called this. Not sure that I know quite how to handle that, except that I know who I am and I am not that!
I guess the stress of being a parent and having a child who did not take to the sedation well, was the reason. Not very excusable. And the main reason parents are not allowed in the operating room while a procedure is going on. At the point I was called this, I was struggling to keep the child still so that we could at least get a temporary filling in the partially treated tooth. I did not need to take my attention away from the child to deal with the dad.
Made for a crummy morning all around though.
When I was taking Physics and Math in high school, we had a teacher who had a unique and embarrassing way of making sure we got our homework done. If we didn’t have some work we could show him on problems in our notebook we would become part of the "chain gang" working out the problem in front of everyone to see up at the blackboard. Being singled out like this was enough to give me nightmares. It seemed that being up in front of such an expanse of empty board was as close to asking me to work out a problem in my head and give an account orally of how I was doing it. Not my thing.
Maybe that is why I have such a dread of working with numbers to this day. Or else it was my discalculia that made me dread the blackboard.
I have gotten over this – mostly. Numbers still cause my brain to shut down. Letting others see the way I am working out other things has, however, gotten easier. I do my best and I know that when someone is watching me work I have something to teach them. I have achieved a level of confidence with most of what I do. And I also know that if I make a mistake it is not the end of the world. In fact that can also be a good way to learn something new.
These past few days I have been flipping over to the "Blackboard" where we are posting reflections and responses to essays and projects posted there by classmates in the spiritual direction course. There’s a wide variety of reports and essays, from a paper on dreams, on addictions, to ones on the second half of life, to Ignatian Spirituality, etc. These represent a lot of work done by my classmates. I know, since it was a lot of work for me.
Reading the work of my classmates is opening up new views on these subjects. Mostly it is a treat to interact with these people again after very little contact for most of the year.
Life seems to be rolling along at a steady fast pace. If there is one thing I could ask for these days it would be time for quiet and solitude. I try to plan for it but it is easy to let the days slip by till it is too late to arrange a weekend away, or I find that the weekend I thought I could take is the one where all my kids are planning to visit. I can’t go running off on them!
Now spring is approaching. Easter is so close and then we will be in the run up till summer.
At the church we have set up some prayer stations. This space often becomes the haven I seek for a few moments in quiet with God. I grab a few moments of quiet when I can get them. Life just does not seem to slow down otherwise to let me take days of time for this. So I will take the moments I have and try to watch for places in my sometimes hectic schedule where I can see God’s presence making itself known. Sometimes it is just a few minutes talking with a staff member going through tough times, a friend who wants to go for coffee or being able to give some help with an essay my daughter is struggling to write. Sometimes it is the wide open loving eyes of my grandson who comes for a visit – love freely given and joyfully accepted.
Right now my quiet is waiting for a patient to get numb, writing this and reflecting on life. This helps me keep my balance too.