Everyday Spirituality

Archive for November, 2012

Cornucopia of Blessings

Here we are at the threshold of Thanksgiving 2012.

This year I can honestly say has been a cornucopia of reasons to be thankful.

For the few years of my teaching carreer I not only taught all of the academic subjects I was also the art teacher. Well in reality it was more like time for creating and assembling craft projects. At Thanksgiving we would usually create our Cornucopia of colorful fruits and vegetables. This ‘horn of plenty’ was to appear to be too small to hold the abundane of fruits and vegetables. They were always pictured as spilling out of the horn onto the table top.

So many things can be learned from this simple cornucopia. The fruits and vegetables overlap one on top of the other…sometimes one blessing can partially obsecure another one. At times we are so preoccupied with what is easily seen when there is another blessing just out of sight.

Today if I were to be taken back in time to my former third grade classroom I would have them cut out the colorful fruit but I would also have them write on each piece something they were thankful for.

The cornucopia symbolizies aboundance. As I look back on this year I know I have been abundantly blessed. I know I have many things to be thankful for. I also know that some of those blessings in my life have been like the sour lemon. I know that some of my blessings have been like a pineapple…prickly on the outside but juicy and sweet on the inside.

A cornucopia gives the feeling that there is no end to what can pour out of the opening. You can not see inside as it tapers to a point. Which makes me think about the blessings I have received that could easily been overlooked…to tiny…too insignificant…not important…but blessings none the less.

This horn of plenty has became a staple for Thanksgiving decorations.

In Greek mythology, Amalthea raised Zeus on the milk of a goat. In return Zeus gave Amalthea the goat’s horn. It had the power to give to the person in possession of it whatever he or she wished for. The Cornucopia came to symbolize the unasked profusion of gifts from the gods.This gave rise to the legend of the cornucopia we believe today.

Well that does make for a nice story, but if you are thankful and express your gratitude to others you will be spreading abundant goodness out to others. If you express gratitude when it is unexpected by the other person it will be your gift to them.

The fruits and vegetables are crowded together in this horn of plenty yet they each retain their true form and properties…just as for the many blessings in our life remain unique for us.

The many blessings I have experienced this year in my life have been just like a cornucopia…all shapes sizes, different textures, some more obvious than others. 2012 has been a year filled with more blessings than I could have imagined and some I have yet to discover in the weeks ahead.

Many of you who are faithful readers of this blog are among the many blessings I have experienced this year.

Please know that I treasure the many gifts that pour forth from the cornucopia of my life.

The horn of plenty makes its own music for the heart…a symphony of thankfulness.

May you experience abundant blessings each day of your life.

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Five Dollar Parking

 This weekend we continued our quest to find a church we would like to attend for the remaining months ahead. So this week we ventured into the downtown area of the city. We went to the local Cathedral. After driving the sixteen or so miles to reach the location, we were surprised by the parking situation. The biggest surprise was the five dollars it cost to park across the street to attend Mass.

Now granted we do have some people back home that bid much more than that for a single parking space for a year. But five dollars on a Sunday when people are attending church seems so greedy to me. In many other cities, on Sunday, parking is free in the nearby parking lots.

Well needless to say we will not be returning to the Cathedral very often. What if I did not have the cash money to pay for parking? Of course we were not aware if perhaps there was additional parking in another direction from the church building.

This experience gave new meaning to the gospel message of giving to Caesar what is his and to God what is his. This city has found a way to tap into both at one time. Not sure if it is clever or sneaky. The city was sure to get its share whether or not you were giving to God in the church.

The truth is any time you must divide your income or your time there is the potential for conflict and tension. In life we find ourselves in situations where more and more people want a portion of both your income and your time.

Before Mass began the presiding Deacon come down the main aisle and shook hands and personally greeted many people. He even asked us where we were from…how did he know we were visitors? I checked to see if our camera was visible, but it was in my husband’s pocket. I guess we just looked like we were not familiar with the worship space.


Sitting behind us were about six or seven young Dominicans, possibly seminarians. It was a pleasure to hear them singing throughout the Mass. Religious men chanting make for a unique prayer experience. Their voices are full, rich, and dynamic symbolic of what our spiritual life should be like.

This cathedral is also a Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The architecture is classic Victorian. The high pointy steeples are symbolic of our prayers rising up to the heavens. The choir loft houses an impressive pipe organ and the cathedral choir was very nice.

I must confess that the music at Mass greatly supports my overall state of prayer.  The music probably should not matter, but in reality it does matter, at least to me.

We are still on the hunt for a good Sunday homilist. This Sunday was adequate, but not that inspiring, yet better than most others we have heard in the last three months.

Yes, it now has officially been three months since we began living this foreign life…Living in a space that could fit in our living room at home. Housekeeping came today. Funny I actually look forward to their weekly visit. I guess it is at least someone to talk to. The last couple weeks we have had a different person cleaning our room, a man. He does a terrific job, nothing gets past him. He takes pride in his work. He wipes up the kitchen floor on his hands and knees. Pretty impressive.

In all fairness I must ask myself these questions…

How much in the past have I just taken for granted?

How many things went unappreciated?

How many things went unnoticed?

I am still wondering what God has in store for us here in this place. I am confident he does have a plan…a ‘plan for good’ just as he revealed to the prophet Jeremiah 29:11.

 

 

Window Falling—Fan Recycling

 

 

Is this describing my feeble attempt at praying?

 I certainly hope not.

 

The morning sun is streaming through the windows warming the edge of the bed. It is a cool crisp morning. There is a light breeze today. The leaves are beginning to change to shades of yellow. The branches sway and the leaves dangle like the mane on the back of a horse’s neck. It is the beginning of Fall. The time has changed and the holiday season is right around the corner once again.

A little bird flew up to the window this morning curious to see what was inside. He could not stay long for his tiny claws had very little to cling on to. He flew away and then returned for one more attempt to hang on and peer inside the room.

 

Part of me wants to lie down on the bed and soak up the warmth of the sunshine. I want to feel its heat on my body. I want to be in the light yet remain unseen.

I cannot open the window because it does not work properly. It appears to be a functioning window, but in fact it is dysfunctional. The windows are a safety hazard in reality. When you raise them up they later come crashing down and fall out of the frame. Not really what you expect to happen when you open up a window.

We discovered this quite by accident when we needed to open the window after heating up some oil too hot. Electric stoves are a challenge to control.

First we turned on the overhead stove vent fan only to find that it drew up the smoke into the cabinet above which quickly seeped back into the room. There must be some safety code violation here, but who knows. So the vent fan is useless for venting it just recycles…novel concept at best.

We really do not want the smoke detectors to begin going off alarming the whole building. That would be soooo embarrassing.

This is when we discovered the dysfunctional windows. There are even parts on the window that say do not use. It seems someone got a good deal on some windows; not bothering to make sure they would work. Maybe they do not fit properly into the frame and that is why they just fall out. Maybe they were not properly installed from the beginning.

Later in life when you begin to feel the necessity of prayer; then comes the question…

Is my prayer life simply dysfunctional windows? Is my prayer life just a method of recycling my inability to turn to God?

If your prayers are not bringing about change in your life they are just like the vent fan recycling the same smoky air. I recently read that the devil does not mind if we pray and worship God just as long as we do not change. Prayer should be bringing about a change in your heart. We can pray night and day, but unless we are willing to let God change us we are like the windows in the hotel….nice but non-functional.

If you do not let God change you into a better you; then you are going to fall out of the window frame when the first real crisis comes along.

The time has changed, the trees are changing, the season is changing…now is the perfect to take an inventory of your heart. How have you changed since last Fall?

Are you saying your prayers and letting them wash over you like water off a duck’s back? Are you ‘installing’ the proper words on your lips even if you know they are not from your heart?

As long as the window remains locked and not raised it appears to be a functional window…when it is in fact broken.

As long as the vent fan is not needed to do its job the switch does go on and off…but the intended results cannot be realized.

Even if the window is falling and the fan is recycling; they still have the potential to be working properly.

Prayer must change you in some way… no matter how great or small.