May 24 – 31 Everyday Inspired

May 24 – Carrying loss through normal days

I sat at my desk in our bedroom, shuffling through some notes, when my husband came in and asked me a question I can’t now recall. I do remember that our exchange escalated quickly. Rather than argue with me, he stood quietly, let me finish my rant, and asked, “Honey, what’s really going on?”
My dad died about 6 weeks earlier. In my grief I tried to be strong, to handle the days in a poised and calm way. Yet, the great hole he’d left in my life loomed large in every moment. Some days it was all I could do to grasp the edge and not tumble in. That day at the desk was one of those days.
wilted roseHis eyes met mine, seconds passed, and my guard came down. “I miss my dad so much,” I said, and sobbed. God’s grace swooped in and the healing began.
After dad died, I discovered that the sadness I felt through the wake and funeral was nothing compared to the pain of living without him. “Getting back to normal” would never happen. I had to find a way to carry this loss with me, somehow, and create a new sense of normal in my life. The love of my husband and family, especially in my tired and state, sustained me. The tears released a bit of the pain, and brought me peace, until the next time I needed to cry because life had caught me off guard with my broken heart.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 25 – Life is improv

I’ve heard it said that life is not a dress rehearsal.
It’s more like improvisation. Like the TV show, Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, we get handed situations in life and figure out the ending as we go along. It’s impossible to rehearse for improvisational comedy, but there are a few guidelines performers use.
improv-theatreOne of them is: “Yes, and….” This means that no matter the line, prop, or action your fellow actor gives you, the response is always affirmative, and builds on what the other has offered. Nothing shuts down a scene quicker than “no.”
This guideline is a wise one for life and faith, too. Circumstances are often out of our control, and if we resist, problems persist and may escalate. Greeting life with a “yes, and” creates opportunities. “No” will get us stuck.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 26 – Banking the embers

If your faith was a fire, what would the embers be? Those glowing, warm coals which sustain the fire through the night, even when the flame has gone out?
The Memorare prayer is one of mine. My mother often prayed this prayer to Mary, and by osmosis I learned it along with the Hail Mary. In times of stress, this prayer comforts me when I can’t find my own words to pray. As Paul comforted his church community in Rome:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8: 26

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 27 – Stoking the fire

I will try, like them
To be my own silence:
And this is difficult. The whole
World is secretly on fire. The stones
Burn, even the stones
They burn me. How can a man be still or
Listen to all things burning? How can he dare
To sit with them when
All their silence
Is on fire? -Thomas Merton

Rising in the morning at the campsite, or hearth, the embers are gathered, prodded, and fueled by new kindling, stoking the fire back to life. How, in our own faith lives, do we tend the fire of our faith? Spiritual reading? Prayer? Meditation? Daily reflections? Journaling? For me, if I miss a few days, I feel it in heightened worry and anxious thoughts. When I return to that silence, the fire of God’s love warms and sustains me.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 28 – Fanning the flames

Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us? Luke 24:32

embersLuke’s gospel tells the story of Jesus’ walk with two disciples following the resurrection. At first they do not recognize him. Later, they retraced the journey and they understood. What their minds could not comprehend, their hearts recognized. The disciples shared an “A-Ha Moment.”
An A-Ha Moment is when one has a sudden burst of insight, when grace breaks through with new information and reveals to us a new paradigm or approach to a situation in our lives. The transcendent, or something outside ourselves, is the catalyst for the insight—a song, a scripture passage, a scene from a movie, a child’s insight—which causes us to reflect. There’s a deep knowing that we’ve “hit gold.” In the A-Ha Moment, God is moving in the external circumstances to touch us, and God is there internally, too, in the recognition.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 29 – Carrying the torch

We may not describe ourselves as “mystics,” such as Thomas Merton or Theresa of Avila. Yet, our lives are rich in opportunities or reflect on and grow closer to God. The elements of water, wind, earth, and fire present such opportunities. Throughout the Christian scriptures:

…we find the four elements represented in multiple ways. The Spirit is represented as both wind and fire. The living water of baptism is a central symbol for our self-understanding as members of the Christian community. The communion feast springs from the gifts of bread and wine, earth’s nourishment. – Christine Valters Paintner

Each element illustrates a dimension of God: the wind as powerful force and life-giving breath of spirit; the fire of illumination or purification; water that cleanses and soothes; and, the groundedness of earth as the foundation of living things. These four elements aid the mystic in the journey to deeper experiences of God. They each reflect our powerful God, and yet are the simple stuff of our earthly existence.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 30 – Strawberry surprise

My mystic self dug in the garden yesterday. The strawberry plants have returned, and now dominate the small space which includes basil and parsley and assorted annuals. The strawberry leaves are wide and green, disguising the red sweetness underneath.
garden strawberriesMy fingers touched and lifted the scratchy leaves, revealing the vibrant fruit underneath. The delightful spring harvest is a feast for sight and taste.
So much to consider with this batch of strawberries: They were hidden from sight, and revealed with some gentle prodding; they multiplied and thrived through a bitter winter; they’re just getting started for the season.
How are we like the strawberry plant? Hiding our vibrant gifts from the world? Or gently nurturing them till the proper time? Or how are we like the mystic farmer: patiently waiting for the produce of the fields, watering and tending it? We might also be a bit of both, delighting in gratitude for the abundant harvest.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

 

May 31 – Spiritual friendship

Paul’s letter to the Cornithians speaks to us today of the deep, sometimes mysterious, and often graced subject of friendship, specifically spiritual friendship:

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Spiritual friendships grace us with a bit of heaven on earth through the humility and prayer necessary to establish and maintain such a connection. Spiritual friends celebrate all that is good and holy in one another, gently sifting away the failings and regrets, and drawing each other closer to God. This purity of heart and purpose brings each friend into a fuller expression of the person God created him or her to be. This is the clarity of sight of which Paul spoke. We shall see most clearly when we are united in heaven, and we can partake in some of this now, on earth, through the love and companionship of spiritual friends.
friend see the painOne of the great graces that come with spiritual friendship is freedom. As spiritual friends, we are deeply connected, aware of and sensing a mutual love and concern even when physically separated. The spiritual friend’s love is not dependent on any action we take or contract we fulfill. We are loved, unconditionally, and “fully known.” This love is also free of an adolescent approach to friendship based on a quid pro quo of texts, phone calls and mementos. Freed of these distorted calculations of love, spiritual friends are challenged and invited to explore our deepest selves by sharing and reflecting on God’s movement in our lives. There exists a “sacred space” between us where our truest selves are lifted up, empowered and graced to shine more fully in our daily lives.
Through this glorious connection, God’s love is communicated and imitated. A spiritual friend’s deepest desire for the other is full union with God. A spiritual friend’s greatest joy is to share the journey with the beloved.

Consider:
What invitation is here for me, today?
Today I am grateful for:
My intention for today is:
My to-do list for today includes:

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