Emmaus in Our Midst…

A number of years ago, I recall watching a news segment where an oncologist was talking about viruses, and how throughout our lives we all have viruses that appear and then disappear. The doctor went on to say that, at times, these viruses can create cancer cells, that sometimes our bodies get rid of them, and sometimes the cells remain. Of those ones, they may one day become active, they may just stay unchanged, causing no noticeable difference or harm, or they may disappear.

These days, cancer seems rampant, not only as a health issue, but also in organizations and communities. How do we stop it? Perhaps, sometimes, we cannot. Surely, though, we cannot give up.

As I think about all the people, I know or have known who have battled cancer, more than anything the spirit with which they faced their illness comes to mind. Whether or not they survived cancer, I have no doubt that they overcame it.

While there are many cancers in the world, often eating away at and perhaps breaking us down, oftentimes in the darkness and confusion that is brought about, simply, yet beautifully comfort, peace, and strength are waiting to shine through. We must remember that we are in God’s hands. Truly, there is nothing to fear…nothing to lose. All that is, or was, will be filled with something more…something better…something greater. All that is really left, and all that really matters, is to be faithful and to believe.

Each time we allow our spirits to be lifted up and sustained by God, like Jesus, we rise. We move above, and beyond, that which would seek to destroy us.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), we need to recount, remember, take comfort in God’s presence, invite the Lord to walk with us… to be with us and in us. We must rejoice and, always, keep the faith.

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What’s The Story?

“Everyone has a story to tell.” These were the words on a t-shirt. Yes, there is a story behind and within everyone as well as everything. The t-shirt was striking. It was black and the words white. It was reminiscent of a chalkboard, from younger days, that would be erased at the end of each day. In a blank state, it held promise and possibility for the day to come…a new day, another chance.

Over the past week or so, further signs of spring (flowers pushing through the earth, a bounty of singing birds, warming temperatures and more) have been appearing here and there. Along with the bursts of color and sound, life is renewed in both what is new and what is old. In looking more closely, there is often more than what is initially revealed. There waits a story, perhaps a message, beyond what meets the eye or turns the ear.

Every year in New England, as season’s change, nature’s slate, although not erased or hidden completely, changes also. It gives way to birth and re-birth in so many ways. There is something new with each day even when we cannot see it or do not notice it. So often, spring seems to blossom out of nowhere, yet we know it has been in the making all winter long, and carrying over from year to year. Our lives are similar. We are offered opportunities with each hour, each day, and each year. Whether we fully realize it or not, each day in a sense is a fresh start…a blank slate…an empty canvas. How we see it and what we fill it with… what we put on it, is up to us.

Sometimes knowingly, sometimes not, we resist the call to change. We resist the Way that seeks to bring us, one day at a time, one moment at a time, into fullness of life…into wholeness. “Everyone has a story tell,” and what a story it can be when we embrace who we truly are. When we remember how blessed we are.

“In your offspring, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
– God to Abraham as written in Acts 3:25

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In a Few Words…

When my daughter was very young, not even a toddler, her and her brother used to take great interest in a toy with one button in particular that resulted in a catchy tune with the voice of a woman singing “Hello” in a few different languages. I can still hear the tune and the words being sung… “Hello!”… “Hola!” … “Bon Jour!” … “Kon’nichiwa!” I can still see the joy on my children’s faces as they listened to the song, taking in the words. I also recall the joy in my heart as I witnessed their joy.

It seems that each year at Easter I think of that toy. I also think about how a few years removed from it, the children seemed to take on the same kind of fascination, but this time, brought about by a pause in music on a CD that we had. During the pause, there were three booming knocks, three times, followed by a spoken Easter greeting and response in various languages from across the globe. “Christ is risen!/Truly He is risen!,” “Christos Anesti!/Alithos Anesti!,” “Al Maseeh Qam!/Haqan Qam!,” “Khristos Voskrese/Vo Istenu Voskrese,” … “Krishti U Ngjall!/Vertet U Ngjall!,”… “Kristos Tensiu!/Behake Tensiu!,” … and “Gaydolk Folkwoot Leew!/Ta Koksut Folkwoot Leew!”

Since then, each year, we have listened to this part of the CD, captivated by the pause, the booming knocks on the church doors (symbolizing the tomb being opened by the risen Christ) and the greetings that follow. Each year we are reminded, in a very special way, of the depth and breadth of God’s love for us, and all our sisters and brothers…for all humanity and all creation.

May the promise of new life that comes with spring bring the joy, hope, and peace of Easter to all.

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Charity and Love…

To be ruled by charity and love may seem far beyond reach, or even impossible, yet it is not. More than anything, it is a choice. While it may be a personal choice, and for any one person, the impact of which may seem minute and perhaps not worthwhile depending on the circumstances, we are called to listen to the voice that says otherwise. We are called to trust that whatever one does out of true charity and love, matters and has an impact far beyond oneself in many ways…some seen and some not.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est…Where charity and love are, God is there.

Jesus transformed water into wine as the first sign or miracle (John 2:1-11), and the celebration of a marriage continued. Undoubtedly, the servers who witnessed this miracle would have been intrigued. What did they do with that?

From that time on, there were other opportunities and invitations, in many different places, to witness the glory of God as well as to partake in it. Some saw and believed and some did not. Regardless, Jesus carried on, continuing to give witness to God not just through his words, but also his actions. He did this to the very end.

Jesus poured water into a basin to wash his disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus said, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:12-15). What did the disciples do with that? How did that experience affect them? How does it affect me?

It all starts with water…creation, baptism, ministry…and while it may seem that it ends with water (“but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” – John 19:34); it is actually the beginning.

Jesus came to show us the Way. He passed the torch on to the disciples at the Last Supper, and through them, and us, to each generation to come. What did the disciples do with that? How did they respond? How do I respond?

The depth of God’s love and charity knows no limits…knows no boundaries. How do I, how do we, care for and share this gift and privilege with which we have been blessed?

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Knowing One’s Position…

I remember as a child, practice after practice, learning how to adapt the position of my body and the direction of my softball glove depending on where the ball was hit; taking into consideration the wide array of possibilities—to the left or right, moving in or out, head on, up in the air or on the ground. I also recall being advised not to overthink or try too hard to make the play. I think of times of overshooting the target when feeling under the gun to throw the ball as hard as possible, in order to get the runner out. In those times, my focus was more on the closing gap between the runner and the base than on simply throwing the ball to the target.

Each year, and at each level of play, there was something new to be learned in becoming more skillful not only as a player, but also as a teammate. Everyone on the team had a primary position, but we also had a backup or supporting position in case of injury. We were asked to be ready for whatever was for the good of the team whether it was on the bench cheering on teammates, warming up the pitcher, or on the field as a starter.

The spirit of the team depended on the embrace of this attitude and way of being. As the saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall.” However, that all depends on what it is that is bringing us together, to what it is leading and who is being served.

Oftentimes we can feel like we are running out of time or feel a sense of pressure to act swiftly. While there are cases where a quick response is necessary, there are also many cases where a sense of urgency is a trick play, seeking to take one “off their game.” There are times when the best course of action is to slow down in order to be in tune with the natural flow and instinct ingrained within each of us, patiently trying to guide us for the good of all.

Every now and again, even though I may be embracing the “team” attitude and have my positions covered, I need to ask myself, is this truly in the best interest of the entire team? This is not something that anyone else can answer for me. Only I can know the truth of the matter for myself. However, it can only be revealed, if I am willing to entertain both possibilities – I may be acting in the best interest of the team, but I may also not be acting in the best interest of the team.

“But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and gave up his spirit.” – Matthew 27:50

The Pharisees and the scribes who sought to get rid of Jesus, gave up their spirits to serve and protect themselves. Jesus gave up…surrendered his spirit as part of the plan that was truly for the greater good – Salvation.

Surrender to God is never failure, but rather victory unlike any other.

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Knowing One’s Position…