Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

The Caterpillar Ultimately Flies Away

If we truly believe in the resurrection of Jesus then we must also believe that our loved ones and we too will be resurrected….some day. This Easter weekend, beginning with Holy Thursday, is everything we believe as Christians.

During these last few days we entered into what it means to be a living breathing human being joined with our one redeeming grace…Jesus. He alone enters and relinquishes all doubt.

He alone gives meaning to suffering and joy.

Sharing a meal with friends…being betrayed by loved ones…being loved by relatives…suffering without guilt…loneliness in a crowd…false accusations…humiliation…comfort from by standers…assistance from a stranger…forgiveness of offenders…absorbed in prayer…acting according to the will of the Father

If Easter stirs nothing else within our souls it should be that God the Father keeps his promises. Death is but a passage into something far greater and more beautiful than life itself.

Easter is about dying to those things in my life that are not important.

Easter is about realizing that all things pass on into something more; and sometimes we are blessed to catch a glimpse…the Resurrection.

Just when we foolishly or mistakenly think that the tomb is empty it is actually filled with the life of the spirit. Our human eyes have only limited vision. Even in the Gospels those who saw the resurrected Jesus often did not recognize him or mistook him for someone else. Perhaps seeing the resurrected Jesus was much like seeing in a dream…where things can be confusing.

Easter teaches us that when we surrender and let go God does carry us the rest of the way. Easter shows us that what we see with our eyes is not the complete picture.

Easter is like the hidden egg in the yard; in plain sight except to the hunter. In spite of the contrast (in color) the egg is often still missed; missed because we become frantic in our search and intent with filling our basket. We rush around ‘helter skelter’ overlooking so much.

Jesus did live his life doing amazing things. But he also lived his life doing ordinary things just as we and our loved ones have done. It is through living our ordinary life that we are given the promise of an extraordinary eternity.

Easter gives me hope that someday when we are reunited with our loved ones. We will see with new eyes and the brilliance will be more than we could have imagined.

You cannot experience great joy without first experiencing great suffering.

 

Death must always come before the glory of the Resurrection!

The Caterpillar Ultimately Flies Away!

 

 

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Do You Ever Feel Stripped?

Romans 8:28, 31 “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose…If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Throughout life we are stripped in many different situations. Daily we strip from our clothes in order to cleanse our body. Thus we have the sanitary reason for stripping. Whenever I make my annual gynecological visit stripping is also required. Thus we have the medical reason for stripping.

Refinishing furniture requires stripping off the old finish. A stripped screw can no longer function properly. And of course we have the whole adult entertainment industry where stripping is used to attract and tempt men and women.

There are other examples of stripping I could include, but I want to focus on feeling stripped as a result of a death. A stripping you cannot control; more on that a little later.

The idea here of feeling stripped is about loss; not of clothing but of emotional support. Since losing my friend I have felt stripped of her presence. It is like I do not have my complete wardrobe.

Looking into my ‘closet’ I am not able to find an acceptable substitute. I get dressed, but always something is missing. I feel things do not coordinate together. Something I highly valued has been stripped from my life.

Throughout our lives we are involuntary stripped of things we hold dear…material things….money…personal security…peace of mind…hopes…and dreams…health…the list could go on.

I know in my heart that it is more about how I react than to what I perceive is being stripped from me. This realization requires vigilance.

I often try to connect situations in my life with a familiar biblical story. When I think of being stripped I picture Jesus being stripped of his clothes. He chose to submit to this humiliating act allowing the soldiers to strip him and cast lots for his garments. No greater Love!

Without clothes you are naked and vulnerable to the external elements. Without clothes you lose some protection. There is nothing to cover your sensitive skin. The death of my close friend to me is much like being stripped.   I feel vulnerable.

Being stripped of your soul friend leaves you without familiar cover. Not that you can hide inside your clothing, but the friendship provides a safe place. Within friendship that which is less than perfect and hidden from others is accepted by your friend. Inside the clothing of friendship you are not preoccupied with what others think. You are accepted and loved for just being…you. You can actually be better at who you are.

Occasionally I have left home without something as simple as my earrings. It seems ridiculous, but I feel naked without earrings. I know it makes no sense. Earrings are a very small part of being dressed.

I feel stripped and vulnerable without my friend, but at the same time there is this sense of freedom. This sense of freedom almost makes me feel guilty. Freedom seems to contradict the loss and feelings of being stripped. A freedom from being stripped is the freedom from expectations.

Piet Mondrian

As we approach Lent I invite you to consider; what you can strip from your own life. During Lent we have the freedom to look at our lives and decide what we can strip away in order to have a closer relationship with the Lord.

We can ask ourselves these questions, “What am I hiding behind?

What is compromising my acceptance of God’s plan for me?”

“What am I clutching onto for dear life?”

Like St. Paul I often do not know how to pray as I ought; especially when I feel stripped, vulnerable and sometimes even deserted by God.

Just a Little More Time… pt.2

“Just a little more time, Dear Jesus, just a little more time.”

And then a flash…I am kneeling at the feet of Jesus not washing them with my tears, but asking him to please help me to accept that which I cannot change. Serenity is not a word I use in my daily conversation.

I cannot control the way I feel, I cannot make these feelings go away. Wait! I do not want to make these feelings go away. I want to feel this pain of loss; I want to feel this sense of helplessness, I want to feel this true sense of surrender.

My friend and I for over twenty years have walked together through thick and thin. We have been there for each other in good times and in bad times. We have comforted and consoled one another and now I just want to hold her tiny frail body close to my heart. To whisper words to her heart that she can take with her to heaven.

To be sure we have also had our times when we disagreed, but it did not matter because in the end it was our mutual love for one another that was stronger. And yes she fusses at me from time to time when I have moments of self doubt.

We pray together. We eat Cheetos together. We laugh until our jaws ache and tears well up in our eyes. We invite the Holy Spirit to be present in everything we prepare.

I just want to hold her tiny frail body in my arms and tell her how much I wish I could make her all new.

But wait; I love butterflies. Butterflies exemplify what the beauty of life after death…resurrection…must truly be like…emerging from what appears to be death only to be a creature totally different and more beautiful than before…more graceful…more joy filled. Free to soar where before only limited to creeping and crawling on the ground or on tree limbs.  Butterflies are fragile you cannot hold them and you cannot caress them, but yet they bring great joy. They drift peacefully in the sky landing on a flower sipping nectar, catching some of the sun’s warmth.

Free to soar!

Will she be free to soar?

 

 

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: Drenched Senses

During this Holy Week we are literally drenched with what it means to be a human being. During this most Holy time we repeatedly hear proclaimed every aspect of what it means to be a flesh and blood human being. You might say we hear Jesus’ last days depicted through the ‘good, the bad, and the ugly’.

On Palm Sunday Jesus is gloriously greeted as one would welcome royalty into Jerusalem only later to be mocked, scourged, and spit upon. How does one begin to comprehend the dramatic chain of events that followed his triumphant entry?

This whole week our senses are pressed into overdraft. We are presented with Jesus celebrating his ‘last supper’ with his beloved disciples. The very men he called by name to ‘come and follow’ him. The men he most likely confided in and shared so many intimate things about who he was and what his heart desired to teach. These men had witnessed his healing touch and his ability to bless baskets that never emptied. They sat together on this night. They shared a simple meal of bread and wine. Jesus first attended to their human physical needs…nourishment for their bodies.

But then Jesus did something he had never done before…he rose from the table filled the basin with water and began to wash their feet. He knelt at the feet of each man and took their dusty dirty feet into his holy hands and poured the cool refreshing water over their feet. Jesus became ‘the humble servant’. He looked up into their eyes and down at their feet. He lovingly washed their feet as they sat speechless in confused disbelief.

How many times, Lord, do I also sit in confused disbelief?

How many times have I been speechless?

Would I sit still and let you wash my feet, Lord?

 If only I could wash his holy feet.

If only I could hold his foot in my hands and caress it with love and care.

If only I could kiss his feet that would be pierced with the nail.

 

 

May we be ever mindful of Jesus walking beside us.

May we be ever mindful that Jesus would have humbly washed your feet and my feet.

This week our senses are drenched with how Jesus fully embraced what it means to be human while holding within his Divinity.

 

Soul Stirrings:The Look of Love

Eye – Gazing with JESUS

Gaze into

the eyes of Jesus

Allow him to gaze back

into your eyes

Be Still

Gaze into the eyes of Love

Allow his eyes to gaze into your eyes

Streaming love into you

Filling your soul

Gaze deeply…

intently…

into the eyes of Jesus

Gaze into the eyes of Peace

Allow this peace to

Still your soul

Gaze into the eyes of Jesus.