Reaching…

Do not worry. Trust in God. Seek to do God’s will and all will be well. All of creation is provided for and carries on from moment to moment and day to day. Remember this.

What great advice, no…what wisdom. Easier said than done though. With all the brain power in the human mind one would think it would be easier than it is. That it would be second nature to remember the truth and not to worry. However, it is not. It takes practice and discipline to learn or re-learn how to simply be, let alone how to think about tomorrow, but not worry or attach so many plans to it that any hope for spontaneity or re-direction is lost.

While Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow, he does not say not to think about tomorrow. He cautions us. It is good to look ahead, but to do so without jumping ahead and submerging oneself in tomorrow, leaving behind and perhaps missing out on today and the gifts, blessings and opportunities that it carries.

When one looks at the birds and see how they fly and soar so free-spirited, it is not hard to imagine that Jesus wants the same for us. Deep down, if not close to the surface, we share this desire to fly and soar untethered by worries, possessions or anything else that might seek to hold us back.

Sometimes though, maybe we are too smart for our own good. Thinking that we know what is best for us and zooming in on it to the exclusion of all things other or readily dismissing them in the hunt for the golden prize. What happens though when the goal is reached, the prize in hand and there is still something missing or awry?

Stevie Wonder sings, “Like a branch on a tree I keep reachin’ to be free…” (A Place In The Sun written by Brian Wells and Ronald N. Miller). Branches mostly reach out and up as with open arms. They are pathways and resting spots for creatures of all kinds along their way. They stand tall, soaking in the sun, swaying in the wind, bearing the rain or the weight of the snow, and faithfully…patiently waiting to bloom or for the last leaves to fall.

“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone,
but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” – Martin Luther.

A tree simply, beautifully being a tree; authentically being what it was created to be. As it is with all living things that remain true, an image of strength, character and endurance. A sign for all ages.

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Intuition…

Intuition is sometimes referred to as the voice within or direction from one’s soul. Famed physicist, Albert Einstein once said, “The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know why or how.”

As we travel along our way throughout life, we all have moments where we act or respond based on a gut feeling, or intuition, more than anything else. Just the same, there are moments where perhaps we ignore that gut feeling and lean toward the voice of reason and act or respond logically. Renowned poet William Wordsworth said, “Faith is a passionate intuition.”

In a letter to the Hebrews, St. Paul wrote:

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God,
so that what is visible came into being through the invisible.
By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s.
Through this, he was attested to be righteous,
God bearing witness to his gifts,
and through this, though dead, he still speaks.
By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death,
and he was found no more because God had taken him.
Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him,
for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him.
By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen,
with reverence built an ark for the salvation of his household.
Through this, he condemned the world
and inherited the righteousness that comes through faith.” (Hebrews 11:1-7)

Whatever one might believe, no matter how different one’s approach might be, we all have intuition. Both the wisdom and insight of intuition are planted within us, pushing through the soil that is knowledge and/or experience to the contrary, and budding at just the right time for just the right occasion, seeking to guide and protect us…to help us choose what is best. This occurs regardless of whether or not we consider and heed it.

While Albert Einstein, William Wordsworth, and St. Paul lived in different times and traveled in very different circles, they all lived with an awareness of that which is sacred and an openness to creation and innovation. They seem to have made every effort to reverence the fruit of the Vine, the work of their hands, and the dreams and longings of their souls. We are called to do the same.

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To Love and Be Loved…

As Valentine’s Day approaches, flowers, chocolates, cards and other gifts that have come to be seen as expressions of affection and love abound. There are so many ways to express one’s love for another, especially materially. However, ultimately, love is much deeper than that which can be smelled, eaten or touched. It is about what we do and in how we respond to one another.

Genuine love is priceless and often reaches farther than one might realize. It comes with meaning and depth that includes freedom to be one self, trust, truth and acceptance toward another or at the hands of another. Genuine love is not a one-way street. It flows to and from, and then over and beyond.

“To be loved, to be loved (to be loved)/ Oh what a feeling/ To be loved,” Jackie Wilson sings in the song written by Roquel Davis, Gwendolyn Gordy Fuqua, and Berry Gordy Jr. The song continues, “Some wish to be a king or a queen/ Some wish for fortune and fame/ But to be truly, truly, truly loved/ Is more than all of these things.”

There is no power greater than love. In fact, all creation springs forth from Love. In God’s love we enter this world with the capacity to both love and be loved. This genuine love is the bond that holds humanity together.

What is it then, that gets in the way? What is it that prevents love, the kind that shines bright and true, from being realized or lived out? In what ways do I contribute to, or detract from, the flow of God’s love within, around and beyond me?

While at a quick glance, money and power seem most likely culprits, at the heart of the matter, love is most often trampled upon by self-interest that exceeds or excludes care and concern for others; a primary focus on gathering, preserving, receiving or taking for oneself. When vision becomes narrow and self-centered, the ability to love and to be loved also narrows; becoming inhibited or incapacitated.

When this happens though, hope need not be lost. With real love, there is no such thing as a “point of no return.” Perhaps one of the greatest characteristics of authentic love is that its source is ever-present. Genuine love is always within reach, waiting for that moment of turning around to show us the way…softening the heart…embracing and lifting us up in communion once more.

To be loved is a blessing…to love…a gift.

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The Call of Compassion…

The voice of compassion calls us to reach out and minister to one another. After all, the origin of the word “compassion” is the Latin word “compati” which means, “to suffer with.” With the recent spread of a stomach flu that is going around the school system in my town, the word “compassion” instantly conjures a vision of parents caring for their children.

Renowned spiritual writer Henri Nouwen wrote, “Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

As I go about my life, it is good for me to be aware of, and to explore, the instances where I might feel uncomfortable or resistant to compassion as I interact with others. No matter the relationship, it is important to notice the places where compassion may be lacking; where my heart may be hardened. Do I recognize and accept these as possible invitations to growth and new life, or do I avoid them?

Often when I heed the call to compassion, it leads to a place of discovery, re-discovery, and ultimately, joy. Compassion often holds the key to both joy and peace. It calls me to look beyond myself. It is rather interesting that in looking outward, I can see more clearly inward. With compassion, there is healing in both directions.

It does not end there though. Compassion, like so much through which grace shines, is multi-faceted. On the one hand, it has us reaching out to others, but on the other, it has us coming back to also show care for ourselves. One cannot give what one does not have.

Sometimes compassion and sacrifice go hand in hand, challenging us to open and lend our hearts all the time, and in many different places. Even those times and places that may not be convenient or preferred. However, compassion does not always require sacrifice. There are times when the greatest expression of compassion is simply being present…lending one’s ear…offering a caring smile.

In ministry and in service to one another…in being present, moving a little closer, and listening attentively, we both embrace and, at the same time, exude compassion.

purpleflowerck

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