Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

The Musical Score of Life

There are definitely times in my life where I need to listen to the sound track of a whole movie I’ve enjoyed. There is something to be said about listening to the sound track without the visual support. If you have seen the movie previous to listening to the sound track then your memory will be triggered by the music. But even if you have not seen the movie, a good sound track will give you the feeling of what was happening.

We are not regular movie goers, so it was a treat to go this past weekend. We saw the last showing of Snow White and the Huntsman. While loosely based on the well known fairy tale it was visually appealing, but the music was especially fitting as the movie unfolded. The musical score for a movie must capture all aspects of the action, but it must also bring to life the emotional content of the scene.

I am writing about this because I was moved during the movie and carried into the Sanctuary scene as well as the battle scenes. The Sanctuary was like a little piece of heaven and the music played a big part in transporting me there. As the character walked through the forest my heart felt like it too was blooming along with the animated forest creatures.

A musical score is very much like life. There are times of great intensity….times of conflict…times of tenderness…times of peace…times of sorrow…times of doubt…times of distrust…

Compositions of a musical score depict contrast and tension in a matter of a few short minutes. But I often find this to be true in life too. Maybe my life scenes and emotions don’t change in three minutes, but the fluctuations are very real.

In the movie when the ‘darkness’ falls upon the castle all life seems to cease and the song birds are replaced with squawking black ravens. I can identify with this concept, but in fairy tales you can typically count on a happy ending.

What if there was no such thing as ‘happily ever after’? Would we look at life with different eyes? Would be still have hope? Is there supposed to be ‘happily ever after’? Maybe not. If you have happily ever after give thanks to God and rejoice.

Watching a movie in a dark theater allows you to escape from your own reality and enter into the reality portrayed before you. It is so easy to allow yourself to be drawn into the story; you may not even realize it until something startles you.

Sometimes it is the change of the music that jolts you into the reality that you are sitting in a theater. In a movie you can forget about time…you can enter into a different era.

There are times in life when you may wish it was just a movie and you could get up in a couple hours and walk out. I have been in that place several times recently.

Please, God, just let this be a movie of someone else’s life. I just want to gaze at the silver screen and listen to the music. I just want to let the music carry me through this story and then go back to my normal life.

There were times during this movie where just the beauty along with the music brought tears to my eyes. I literally wanted the movie to slow down while they were in the Sanctuary so I could have more time in that space. I felt like it was a space of great peace, love, and healing. It was secluded and appeared to be a safe place. A place much like one might envision when beginning to meditate. You could let go there and just let the beauty carry you through the trees among the flowers, birds, and the butterflies. You could surrender and fully experience the scene.

In the future, I will use the memory of this scene to recall these feelings of peace and love.

The music played while Snow White sleeps in death is so perfectly heart wrenching; the somber violin strings pull you up into the realm of hope. The harp almost caresses your very soul with its delicate tones. The horns announce a new dawn and the crescendo lifts up your spirits.

Many times I have been inspired to write while music is playing, but this time the music is further supported by the movie scenes.

The music builds toward the final battle which is where we sometimes find ourselves, on the brink of a battle. Perhaps it is a battle for health, your spirit, your job, or your heart. We must draw our strength to carry on from wherever it comes to us. Today, as in the past, I am drawing from music; the musical score of Snow White and the Huntsman by James Newton Howard.

May you be blessed to encounter those things which inspire you to look up or reach deep inside for what really matters in the end. May you find your ‘happily ever after’…perhaps it is only in the way we view our life.

http://youtu.be/yBpyN_hwGXQ

Click here if you would like to hear the beautiful Sanctuary Forest Track

from Snow White and the Huntsman

I Am with You Always

For some time I have had a picture of Jesus embracing a child in a hug. In this picture, however I see the woman receiving comfort in this embrace. The muted colors reflect tenderness to me. Even moments of tenderness can carry a huge impact on your soul. I tend to close my eyes attempting to block the outside world from interfering with my feelings. The arms of Jesus are supporting the child and drawing her close into his love. Jesus also has his eyes closed so he is also focused on this moment in time. Jesus even seems to be using his head to further extend his love to this child.

I can remember holding my children close to me in much this same pose. Looking back at the child her right hand seems to be clutching to Jesus’ shoulder.

I am describing this picture with such care because it closely represents much of what I was gifted with this weekend during a guided meditation. We were initially led into a church with large heavy doors.

I was at first in a church we had visited while in Barcelona a few months ago. I could easily picture the massive doors. The exterior surface was covered with cut out raised words. You could easily trace the letter of each word with your fingers. The name of Jesus was highlighted in gold and could easily be read.

As the meditation progressed I found myself in another European church with the typical smaller altars lining both sides of the inside walls. I am kneeling there to pray for my friend, which I had actually done, when I began to feel this warmness.

My friend was embracing me; our hearts were merging and the tears were beginning to well up in my eyes. I remember thinking I wanted to wipe them aside, but I did not want to move for fear of spoiling the moment. I remained still letting this embrace be enough to fill my heart with her love.

I think God used this special time to let me know that she would be with me during the rest of the weekend. Towards the end of the meditation time we were asked to touch the place on our body where we experienced God’s glory, I think, anyway I could only touch my heart. I felt her embracing my heart much as I had felt her hugging me physically many times before.

I did not want to let the moment pass, but I knew it was not meant to last. This picture above is a wonderful snapshot of a moment frozen in eternity.

I felt her presence with me at other times during the weekend too. She was beside me during many conversations I had with the other women. She knew most of the women present. She never met a person she did not remember on subsequent occasions.

If she met you she cared about you it was that simple. So she would not have missed the opportunity this weekend to be with those she knew.

So in spite of not really wanting to be on this retreat I know now it was a blessing of peace. It was a blessing of reassurance of her presence. I know Jesus said he would be with us until the end of time.

So if my dearest friend is with him in heaven, which I have no doubt she is, then it seems reasonable to me that she would also be with me until the end of time. Without the hindrance of her physical body she can now be with many at the same time, family and friends.

The beauty of the ‘spirit’ of a person is that there are no boundaries, but only a thin separation as some call the ‘veil of death’. Shortly before my friend became ill my sister was inspired to paint her in an embrace with Jesus similar to this image.

This week as celebrate Valentine’s Day my heart is rejoicing at the friendship and love we shared for so many years. Sending my valentine wishes via thoughts and prayers sprinkled with joy for all the times we shared together.

I invite you to pause tomorrow and think about those who have been a part of your life and touched your soul in a special way. They are with you if only in your heart.

“And behold, I am with you always,

until the end of the age.”

(Matthew 28:20)

Etching the Heart

 

“Make your hearts firm because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

James 5:8

One of my favorite crafty art projects is called crayon etching.

You begin by taking a plain white piece of paper, any size will do.

 I will use my heart today in place of paper…not a young child’s heart…not a well seasoned heart…just a heart open to all the possibilities friendship has to offer.

Next you gather crayons of every color.

The heart explored all that was new and good in this loving relationship…it took in every little nuance…each twinkle in her eye…the curve of her mouth in a warm smile…and the joyful sound of her laughter.

 The more colors the better.

We joined together the hearts of our families bringing together every color possible under the rainbow…it was glorious…sharing together around the table…playing games late into the night…sharing funny stories.

  Now you begin to color the paper with one color at a time pressing as hard as you can.

Our two hearts reveled at each opportunity to bring more colors into our souls’ consciousness…we had so much precious time together…sometimes filled with hurried busyness…sometimes simply sitting in silence enjoying the sunset.

 The whole idea is to get the paper saturated with as much color as possible.

The more opportunities to share together the more saturated our hearts became with the vibrant colors of our beings…the colors filled up our hearts and overlapped with such vivid brilliant color…it was almost magical.

 It should feel slick as the wax builds up from the crayons.

As our hearts became “slick” with the love of our friendship…they also came to an understanding of unconditional love…an acceptance of the short comings of one another…a knowing that we would always be there for one another.

 When you have completed this step no white paper should be visible.

Our hearts are now filled with so much love… only the colors of love can be seen; by all who observe from near and far.

  Oh, and one word of caution I forgot to tell you; there is one color you may not use, black.

The heart was happy not to use the color black. But now the heart is beginning to feel as if it is being covered in black and there is nothing it can do to stop the black from coming. The heart tries to only look for the beautiful colors, but it gets more difficult each time the hearts are together now. My heart tries to comfort her heart as best as it can…mostly no words are necessary. Even if my heart can no longer see the vivid colors I know they are there underneath the black…for together we completely filled our hearts with vivid colors.

 The color black is not used when you color your white paper…

 I know the other bright happy colors are there, but the color black absorbs and obscures all other colors. 

  …you will see why later…

 In this craft project you have one more step. In this step a new colorful picture emerges as you carefully scratch away the black crayon little by little. Little by little the scratching reveals a “new” picture. This “new” picture becomes intensified because of the black.

 My heart does not yet know when or even if this black will be able to be scraped off.  I can only hope that when it happens the new etching revealed will be equally as beautiful.  Patiently we wait, trust, and struggle to believe.

 

 

For my heart the color black
is Sorrow…
 an emotion of great sadness associated
 with loss or bereavement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Full Bloom

This video above seems for me to visually represent what happens to your heart as you prepare to receive the Holy Spirit. Just as the petals of this flower open and unfurl so does one’s heart as we anticipate Pentecost.

Now is the time for the Holy Spirit to blossom in us and through us.

If I do not open my heart to let the Holy Spirit bring forth God’s gifts within me I have wasted some of God’s brilliance and beauty. How ungrateful would that be… to waste the opportunity to bring forth the beauty of God.

Pentecost is about God’s brilliance; about his beauty being realized through each one of us. We are His Beloved Creations and Pentecost is about living up to that reality “in full bloom”.

I have had some time during my recovery from surgery to think about the approaching feast of Pentecost. I want to be ready for Pentecost ready for the Holy Spirit to burst forth…ready to reveal God’s lavishness.

The beauty in these flowers is nothing compared to the beauty the gifts of the Holy Spirit can reveal in each of us. Each and every petal layered together…a thing of incredible beauty.

Now imagine for a moment the beauty you have inside with all the petals of the gifts of the Spirit. The petals of Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord known now as Wonder and Awe.

As you watch this next video relish the beauty of each flower as they unfold before your eyes in a fleeting time lapse moment. We can bring the vibrant beauty and breath-taking brilliance of God to others. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22) Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Generosity, Mildness, Faith, Modesty, Self- Control, and Chastity become our internal bouquet. A bouquet we can offer to others every day.

When was the last time you really took pleasure and appreciated a flower? We are all here to spread the Fragrance of God everywhere we go and the Holy Spirit is within us in every way.

You are a beautiful flower in the Garden of God…fragrant beyond comparison…

Let this Pentecost be like no other you have experienced.

Make a bouquet in your heart of these gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Live your life “in full bloom”!

Light of Christ:50 Days after Easter

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus interacts with people while they are going about their normal daily routine? The Emmaus story is just such a story. These two friends were walking along back to their home, a bit sad. Their hopes and dreams for the Messiah had not come to fruition. He did not appear to secure their freedom from Israel.

We spent forty days preparing for Easter. Fasting, sacrificing, and spending more time in prayer, becoming more penitent for our short comings and our sinfulness. So now what? Now is the time to rejoice and celebrate the love and light of the world. Alleluia! Alleluia!

My favorite part of the Easter Vigil liturgy is the ritual lighting of the new paschal candle from the newly created and blessed fire. This fire burning brightly in our church is a reminder of what should be burning brightly in our hearts. Just as the two companions experienced their hearts burning as Jesus spoke to them. Can we not expect to experience the same burning each time we pray with scripture? This burning is not from a consuming fire, but rather a stirring of excitement within…a realization of what has been done for us.

During the time after Jesus’ resurrection he appeared to those who loved him calming their fears, erasing their doubts, and even nourishing their bodies. With each encounter, he met them where they were, from the upper room to the seashore.

The Risen Christ wants us to believe that he is with us and will be with us until the end of time.  

These 50 days after Easter are building towards the magnificent feast of Pentecost. It is the perfect time to let your eyes sparkle with the light of Christ. It is the perfect time to speak words of encouragement lighting the way for those around you. It is the perfect time for a gentle touch to warm the heart of someone lost and alone.

Let your Baptismal light shine through in all that you do. Christ is the Light of the World and we have been brought into that light to shine with his love.

 Let your light shine! (Matt. 5:16)

Lord, lead me through your holy Light. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet! May your words light the path of my journey through life.

Christ be our Light! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

 

Soul Stirrings: Waiting in Silence

Holy Saturday is about silent waiting. Jesus has been laid in the tomb, wrapped in the traditional burial cloths, and sealed in darkness with a large stone. We wait in the stillness of his promise of Resurrection. It is as if we are between breaths, the emptiness between words on a page. We wait with Mary.

Perhaps the women knew best this holding…this pause in the Divine plan. The other apostles may have still been in fear for their own safety, but the women kept watch. The women kept the hope alive through their silent waiting.

The agony of the crucifixion left them all numb and now there was this awful time of waiting. This kind of waiting I have experienced with many loved ones; as they wait for test results. In real life this silent waiting period does not always end in the Resurrection we had hoped. Sometimes the Resurrection is delayed and we may need to sit inside this Holy Saturday state a bit longer.

The Blessed Mother finds herself waiting again just as she was before the birth of Jesus. Once again she surrenders to the will of God the Father.

A mother feels such intense pain deep within at the loss of a child; Mary undoubtedly felt this agony mixed with the promise of her beloved Son’s Resurrection.

How she must have longed to hear his voice one more time…to look into his precious loving eyes. How she must have longed to hold him once again in her arms.

She might have heard echoing in her memory the words Simeon spoke, “And your own soul a sword shall pierce”.

She waited patiently filled with hope, clinging to the words her son spoke of returning on the third day. In spite of the stone blocking her from entering into the tomb with him; she kept watch nearby. In spite of the darkness within the tomb, Mary clings to hope.

The Blessed Mother is a brilliant example for us of Faith, Hope, and Love.  

Today the church leaves us in the stillness of darkness and sorrow to contemplate that Jesus died for each of us. The church appears barren. We have no Mass, no Holy Communion, and no Adoration.

We wait with Mary in silence.

Soul Stirrings:Empty Bucket

The Samaritan Woman carried her  empty bucket to the well.

We all know the ‘well’ story.

 

 

 

May I offer you a slightly different view…the Samaritan woman did carry her bucket that indeed was empty, but embedded into the clay of the bucket were the burdens of her life. I am amazed at how God is continuing to speak to me through this familiar story.

 

She carried with her to the well all of her burdens; things she could not go back and change…things that had become a way of life for her…things she could not see…things strangling her very soul.



Jesus offered her so much more than her bucket could hold, but more importantly after their encounter she did not return to her village with the bucket. She left without her bucket. She did not forget her bucket. She left it behind. She was a changed woman. She was not only able to leave the bucket, but all that it represented in her life.

This is what the sacrament of Reconciliation can be for each of us. We too come with our heavy laden, empty bucket and leave filled with the love, mercy, and forgiveness of our Lord.

Carry your bucket to the foot of the cross… leaves it there…return home with a changed heart…filled with God’s mercy and love.

You alone, Lord, know what burdens are embedded into the clay of my bucket.

I give them all to you…I surrender my bucket to you.

Let my life be a living testimony to the power of the ‘empty’ bucket.