Wisdom from the woods…

As a child I recall playing with friends in the woods and walking across fallen trees or planks of wood from one point to another and sometimes over water. I don’t recall how high up “the bridges” were, but I do remember us pretending that we were walking on a tightrope high up in the air. I also recall sledding down what seemed like a mountain in those same woods while trying to avoid the many trees of varying size that were all around and between us.

Sometimes situations in life can feel like walking on a tightrope or through a mine field. It’s interesting how as a child the idea of walking a tightrope or sledding downhill and maneuvering around many obstacles can seem so much more exciting and feel so much more inviting and adventurous compared to as an adult. It’s as if once one realizes all that could go wrong, a door is shut, or at least becomes one that is not so readily opened or chosen. This is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of physical activities as older bodies are not often as agile and quick to bounce back as youthful ones. However, it can become a bad thing if it spreads into other areas of life and limits one’s openness.

An aging body does not need to become an aging spirit. So while I can no longer move through the woods with almost reckless…carefree abandon as I used to, I can still move through each day that life has to offer with a youthful, free spirit. I can continue to become both stronger in spirit and wiser with each year even when I don’t feel full of the almost boundless energy of my younger years. Despite my increasing age, I can continue to carry on with youthful hope and optimism, celebrating life, channeling the energy that I do have, and being grateful. Through the grace of God, no matter the circumstances, I can always live life to the fullest whether walking on a tightrope or standing on solid ground in ways that perhaps were not possible in my youth. The choice is mine.

“The child grew and became strong in spirit…” – Luke 1:80

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The Cross…

OurFather

Just the other day I was thinking about the school year ending, summer beginning and how I look forward to the down time with my children, but I do not look forward to the increased bickering that is likely to accompany it. I guess that’s par for the course as a parent. Even more than that though, perhaps it is part of carrying one’s cross.

“Then Jesus said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” – Luke 9:23-24.

So often when I think of carrying a cross I think of the big trials and challenges. However, to take up one’s cross daily means the small things too. Each time I make a sacrifice, even if it is minute, I am in a sense carrying a cross. Often I think, “Can I just have one day without bickering!” However, the way I respond or react to my children bickering, can be part of taking up a parent’s cross. How different the experience can be when I catch myself and remember this, asking God to help me to find joy, or at least a sense of peace, in moments of bickering.

How improved each moment can be when I hand it over to God. Although it can be against the grain, especially in the times in which we live, surrender is sometimes the most powerful thing one can do. It often leads to victory; that is peace. It is in the “Letting go and letting God” that people most often get through both the big and the small crosses of life, and in doing so come to appreciate more deeply all that is theirs.

A year or two ago, someone asked me why I held my hands out and upward while saying the Lord’s Prayer. The person asked, “Is that something new?” I responded, “No. Not for me.” Then I went on to explain that this was the way I was taught to say the Lord’s Prayer as a child. I continued saying that I wasn’t sure why I was taught to do it that way, but that as an adult I had come to see this gesture as a symbolic kind of opening myself up to the Lord and the Lord’s will. A silent, “Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.” An acknowledgment that it’s not all about me. A surrendering to the idea that my life…what I say…what I do…has an impact far beyond me (and often in ways that I may never know). And, an invitation to the Lord to guide me and teach me, to lead me so that by the grace of God, I might do God’s will despite my imperfections.

Open My Eyes by Jesse Manibusan

Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see your face
Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see

Open my ears, Lord
Help me to hear your voice
Open my ears, Lord
Help me to hear

Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love like you
Open my heart, Lord
Help me to love

And the last shall be first
And our eyes are opened
And we’ll hear like never before
And we’ll speak in new ways
And we’ll see God’s face in places we’ve never known

I live within you
Deep in your heart, O Love
I live within you
Rest now in me

Somehow…Someway…

“But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.” – Richard Bach

As the school year winds down and the parental spiral into full-fledged teenage years moves steadily ahead, I find myself understanding more and more why it is important to write down, photograph…to memorialize in some way the moments of everyday life—both the challenges and the joys.

Sometimes I think back to the sleepless nights or days when it seemed like we were swimming in diapers and I think, “How did we get through that?” I chuckle as I remember moments of seeing glimpses of preferences, mannerisms and personality that are now more pronounced, part-and-parcel, of who my children are. What a blessing to be able to see and be part of all of those moments. Yes, even the diapers and sleepless nights—although I also feel very blessed to have moved beyond that stage of parenthood.

No matter what one’s stage or station in life, it can be so helpful to recall past moments when feeling uncertain, overwhelmed or simply wondering, “How is this going to work out?” or, “What’s this all about?” in the current moment or situation. Somehow, doing so makes it easier to keep things in perspective and refrain from falling prey to the trap that is “worry” or the superhero syndrome that leads me to falsely thinking or acting as if I can control all things.

It is remarkable how, somehow, we can get through what we need to get through and someway we accomplish and overcome what at times might seem insurmountable. Then I think, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

A Needle Pulling Thread…

At times, it can seem like there is a pervasive parasite on the face of society…a force intent on squashing any semblance of collaboration and working with, and out of, a spirit of love. These days it seems to be so rampant, penetrating more and more organizations. It can be disheartening to be involved in organizations where there has been a shift away from what originally drew one to become involved.

It can be challenging when what was once open and above board becomes secretive and closed off or when a place becomes one where who one knows or what one owns holds more weight than doing the work to be done. Even more than trying, it can be downright troubling, in an environment where one would expect the very opposite of what is experienced…sad to feel like one can no longer be involved in something that once brought great joy, meaning and sense of purpose.

So while one may become stuck in the muck that seems to rule the day—politics and ego…territorialism…greed…jealousy, etc.—or surrounded by it, one may also detach from it and look to do good in other ways and in other places. Doing what one can, where one can, as one can, and then perhaps, moving on.

The other day I was speaking with a lifelong friend and she was telling me about some sewing she had done for her niece. She was commenting on how she enjoyed what she had done and was surprised at how the little work she had done (in her eyes) seemed to bring much joy to her niece who was thrilled with the new hemline on her dress. My friend sewed that hemline with joy and love in her heart and her niece received it in kind.

It was uplifting to hear my friend speak of this simple experience. As I listened to her, and in light of some of our prior conversation, I thought, “That is God’s work.” It is not necessarily in a building, through an organization, or even in big things noticeable far and wide, but so often in the little things done with love and joy, and with sincerity in one’s heart.

NeedlePullingThread