Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

Soul Stirrings: Quenched Thirst

The Samaritan woman ultimately allowed others to see and hear what God had been up to in her life. She was thirsty for knowledge of her own purpose in her community. She had been out cast and felt displaced and unworthy to come with the other women to the well. She chose to protect her fragile identity by coming alone to the well in the heat of the day assuring that she would be there alone…and therefore not to be judged and ridiculed. She came to know her true worth as a beloved daughter of God through her unexpected encounter with Jesus at the well. The well where she had to go in order to survive since it was the only source of water. Her intention was to quickly fill her bucket and make the journey back to the village without being noticed. At the well she was confronted by the goodness and acceptance of the presence of Jesus. He confronts us with his goodness and acceptance too. He meets where we must go. It did not matter to Jesus what the woman’s past had been he wanted to quench her thirst for being a whole person. We all thirst to be known for the person we aspire to be. We all want to be something better than our past story tells. Jesus wanted her to move forward with her life and LIVE her life to the fullest. She was forever changed by her conversation with Jesus that day. She was moved by how without her knowledge she was totally transparent before him. He was able to see into the depths of her soul. He was able to see all that she was trying to hide from others. He was able to see past everything she thought as negative. He was able to give her the opportunity to move from the shadow and into the light of his love for her. He satisfied the thirst within her for so much more than the cool water from Jacob’s well could satisfy.

“So I came out to meet you, to look for you, and I have found you!” Prov. 7:15

 

Please join me in lifting up those in our lives who need to encounter Jesus at the well of their life. Carry them to the well in your prayers and thoughts. May they meet the Lord where they must go to survive. Dear Lord, through your gentle accepting presence draw my loved ones to your heart where they can safely remain.

Only you, Lord, can Quench our Thirst!

 

 

 

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Soul Stirrings: Joy within Sorrow

 

Nestled within our penitential season of Lent is the wonderful solemnity of the Annunciation. As I was trying to absorb the depth of Mary’s ‘yes’ I was struck by the church’s timing. Here we are well into Lent, a time of renewal… A time of repentance for our inability to love as we should… A time for true change. And what does the church give us, but the joyful Annunciation. What an example of renewal, love, and change. The Annunciation during lent to me represents joy within trials and sorrow. When the angel revealed to Mary, a young girl, that God had chosen her to be the mother of the messiah, she had to renew her commitment; willing to do the will of God. She was blessed with abundant grace and the capacity to love beyond measure. Little did she know then how much this love she felt in her soul would be pierced with immense sorrow. That blessed day Mary’s life changed forever and her body truly became the temple of the living God, Jesus.

My mind is flooded with images of the Passion. My heart is saddened by Mary’s sorrow as she must stand by and witness unspeakable assaults on her precious son. I see the exquisite image of the Pieta…Mary tenderly holding the lifeless body of her beloved Son. Mary’s joy at the angel’s announcement is somehow entombed within this season of lent. But yet we often hear of the many joys that can be found within pain and sorrow. Some even consider these gifts.

Reflecting on the Annunciation during Lent is a reminder to always be mindful of the joys in our life.

Celebrating the Annunciation during Lent is a reminder that even when we are struggling with life and draped in purple cloth joy can still be found.

 

Every year during Lent; we have the opportunity to renew our commitment, love more, and change our heart. Mary had one moment in time when she embraced the ultimate commitment to love more and she was forever changed for us.

Where have you missed the joy in your life?

Has sorrow instead overshadowed the joy in your life?

 

Soul Stirrings: Transfigured

Recently while browsing on another blog I was fascinated by the tag cloud. As you rolled the cursor over the list of tag words each one seemed to pop up from the screen and enlarge. Well today that is how I felt as I attentively listened to the proclamation of the Transfiguration. Here are the words that popped out to me: 

 I was filled with how these words created for me a thread of meaning.

Here is my personal message summary.

 

High upon a mountain appeared

a bright white light

covered by a cloud

casting a shadow

imbued with the name

“Beloved”

from the one who was pleased

 The others falling prostrate

afraid  touched

by the vision of Jesus.

My dear, Lord, transfigure me to become brilliant with your holiness.

Change my heart to be filled with the light of your unconditional love.

 

Soul Stirrings: Surrendering

What does it mean to surrender? To yield to the power, possession, control of another…to give up completely. In a military situation the weaker side may be faced with surrendering in order to prevent bloodshed. Sometimes we surrender or ‘give in’ because we are just tired or frustrated with the circumstances of our life.

But I want us to consider what it means to surrender in the scriptural sense…the relinquishment of one’s own will to that of a higher power…surrendering to God.

When you think of someone surrendering you probably can visualize the person’s arms stretched out and raised high up.

Surrendering to God however; presents a different visualization, one of a person totally relying on the grace and guidance of God not in a position of defeat.

Surrendering to God allows us to let go and let God take over in our lives. Surrendering to God allows us to let him lead us in all that we do with our life. Let’s look a minute at the Prophet Jonah. Jonah ultimately was led to surrender to God in order to save his fellow seamen from the violent waters. God saved Jonah in the belly of a large fish and spewed him out after three days and three nights. (Remind you of anything?) Jonah attempted to ignore what God asked of him by fleeing only to find that his presence on the ship caused trouble.

Jonah says in 1:12 “…Pick me up and throw me into the sea…since I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon you.” He ultimately surrenders to God’s will and is later instrumental in saving Nineveh.

Now I want you to consider Queen Esther. Esther in a time of distress for her people prostrates herself upon the ground, together with her handmaids from morning until night. Begging for God to help her, Esther prays “Now help me, who am alone and have no one but you, O Lord, my God.” Prayer of Esther C: 12-30. Esther surrenders herself to the mercy and intervention of God.

Prostrating oneself before the Lord is such an outward sign of surrendering. I am reminded of how prostration is such an important part of the Ordination to the Priesthood ceremony. Laying face down on the floor signifies before the whole community their complete surrender to do the will of God.

While hanging on the cross, Jesus surrenders himself into the hands of his Father with these words, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) This was an echo from Psalm 32:6 which Jesus certainly knew well. This beautiful verse is also prayed daily in the Divine Office during the final prayer of the day.

When things seem to be out of control in your life; recall this verse. “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” Make it your mantra.

What do you find difficult about surrendering?

 

 

Soul Stirrings: A Steadfast Spirit

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” (Ps. 51:10)
It is hard to have a “steadfast spirit” in the face of temptations.

Jesus was led, some say even driven into the desert. (Matt. 4:1-11) Why? Was it only so he could be tempted? Or was there some other reason? Did this time in the desert somehow prepare him for the rest of his life? He had already been assured by the father at his baptism the he was indeed the ‘beloved’ son. So why was this time of seclusion so vital to his purpose on earth?

Our temptations may or may not occur when we are in the desert of our lives. There are so many implications about being in the desert. In the desert Jesus was isolated from those he had been keeping company with. I think about how much stronger I am in my faith when I am surrounded by those who are of like thinking. But I must ask myself, is that always the best? This may surprise you, but how can I know for sure if I have a ‘steadfast spirit’ if I am never challenged?

Jesus was led away from others into the desolation of the desert where the devil could occupy his thoughts and entertain him with ‘What ifs’. Oh that brings me to my own struggles with ‘What ifs’. You know you can make yourself a little stressed thinking about the ‘What if’s’. Perhaps this conversion of heart called for during Lent could be about allowing yourself to be free of the ‘what if’ temptations. What if…I had more money, a better spouse, a better job, more free time, or more education? I am sure you can fill in your own personal ‘What if’ statements.

In the desert Jesus could think more clearly even though he was probably struggling inside of his humanity with surrendering to the will of his Father. In his humanness Jesus, like us had free will. The temptations in the desert placed Jesus in a position where he had to choose to use his divine powers for himself or resist and do the will of the Father.

I have often wondered, ‘why 40 days’; other than the obvious parallel to Moses leading the people in the desert for 40 years. I think it takes time to make the adjustment when you go away from all that is familiar. It takes time to realize that you only have your own thoughts to confront and or wrestle with. Maybe when you are all alone in the silence of the desert with fewer distractions you are in a better place for a true conversion of heart. No one is there to get you off track. In the silence of the desert God can be heard more clearly. In the silence of the desert more can be drawn out and treasured from deep within.

Thomas Merton says in Life and Holiness, “[The] ‘upsetting of our inner life is essential to spiritual growth, because without it we remain comfortably at rest in more or less illusory ideas of what spiritual perfection really is.” Merton goes on to say “There is no spiritual life without persistent struggle and interior conflict.” In the desert Jesus experienced this interior conflict. He had to experience what it felt life to be fully human. Jesus’ human experiences give him profound credibility for us. Without these human situations we could easily dismiss what he calls us to be by simply saying…BUT Jesus was Divine

I invite you this week to set aside some ‘desert’ time in your home. Commit to the same time each day in the same ‘sacred’ space to spend time with God. Contemplate the ‘What if’s’ in your life and how you can surrender them to the Lord. Ask for the grace of a ‘renewed steadfast spirit’.

If you can actually get some sand bury your hand in it…lift up your hand and let the sand fall between your fingers. Embrace your prayer time through your senses. Feel the texture of the sand, the coolness of it against your skin.

~ To LOVE Tenderly ~

We are called
to love tenderly…
to serve one another…
to walk humbly with God!

You may be familiar with the ‘MacDonald’s’ Breakfast email. A woman has accepted the challenge from her Sunday school teacher to spread the love of Christ by smiling to at least three strangers.

While at breakfast with her family she encounters two homeless gentlemen whom she greets and finally buys them breakfast too.

Through her small act of smiling at these two strangers she is drawn in to something greater. She is filled with God’s grace to be more…to do more…to give more…to walk humbly with him. In return she is emotionally blessed to her own surprise.

Last night during the Grammy’s we watched a new show starring Kathy Bates on NBC. She plays an attorney who leaves her six figure patent attorney practice to set up her new practice in the inner city.

Harrie, as she’s called, begins defending people no one else would even talk to much less represent in court. It was a very inspiring show drawing attention to how serving the forgotten people with tender loving care can have a positive outcome.

Today is Valentine’s Day. I challenge you to befriend in some small way, through smile or kind gesture, a stranger.

We are all called to love tenderly.

To walk humbly with God serving others is to love tenderly.

Ps. Hope you have written that love letter or poem! If not you still have time…it only need take a moment of your time to express your love.

 

Fresh Squeezed Inspiration: Believe

All the many years that I spent as an educator; every summer I always felt like the empty school building was equivalent to a ghost town. The lights turned down low or even off in most of the building. The only sounds are from the custodial crew; the hum of the vacuum cleaners and music from their radios. The bright colors on the walls and bulletin boards have given way to the drab dull gray. But the most important missing ingredient was the students and the teachers. In other words LIFE was missing from the building. Even during the year if I stayed late to complete grades or lesson plans it never felt like a ghost town only in the summer.

This is the time of year when those summer ‘ghost town’ school buildings return to life. The kids and the teachers once again walk the halls, sit in the chairs, write on the boards, and eat in the cafeteria. All is well…LIFE has returned. The voices of children learning to read, discovering the joy of books, will always warm my heart with fond memories. The voices of children singing, laughing, playing is a reminder to me that we are called to be like little children. Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

In Mark 10:15, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”  

And again in Luke 18:17 we have almost the exact words cautioning and instructing us to be like a child inorder to enter the kingdom of God.

What exactly are the childlike characteristics Jesus is talking about in these verses?

During my many years of teaching first graders I was blessed to be in the presence of these very characteristics. Children, for the most part, are open, receptive, trustful, and loving. The very ways, I believe, we are called to be inorder to enter the kingdom of God.

I believe that we can all be inspired to a more fulfilling relationship with God if we spend some time with small children. Just observe how they live with joy and abandonment. I believe one challenge we have as adults is to find a way to live in joy.  To remain open, receptive, and trustful of our heavenly father until the day comes when we can enter into the kingdom should be our prayer.

Teachers try the best they can to preserve the child’s love of life…the joy.

I would like to share with you a wonderful and inspiring video about children and their teachers. I hope you will take the time to enjoy it and in the process remember a teacher who nurtured your joy of life. Leave us a message about that special teacher. Here’s to all the teachers!!! Live the Joy!!!

\”Believe\” 

Blessings, Sharon

Make it a Lemonade Day!

Squeeze out every drop of flavor!