The Land of the Living…

Every year, usually in May, my local library displays artwork created by students throughout our school district. When attending the opening night of the art showcase, one can expect the library to be noisy and bustling with people rather than its usual quiet, slow-paced atmosphere. During this nighttime, community event, students show their artwork to loved ones, and people of all different ages not only view the work on display, but also tend to strike up conversations.

It is a time of excitement and joy at the library. One can sense it in the air and on the faces of those who attend. It is nice to be there and to see such creativity, and it is often a good time for all. The work, all created in the confines of art rooms throughout the school district, remains on display through the end of the month for all who may enter to see.

This week, during a visit to the library, in the midst of writer’s block, I got up and moved to another spot to take a break for a few minutes. As I was sitting in one of the more comfortable, living room like chairs, I looked up to see rows of magazines in one direction and rows of newspapers in another, and then between the two, display stands covered with art work from the school district show. As I gazed, I was struck by the beauty of the colors, the creativity, and the various forms of artwork around me.

While I have always enjoyed opening night of the art show and the beauty of the work displayed, this particular day, I had the opportunity for a viewing in a quieter setting, and during the daytime. In revisiting some of the work, the beauty was even more noticeable and spoke to me in new ways. Just as the students were sharing a piece of themselves (their minds… hearts… souls) in their art, we share pieces of ourselves wherever we go… wherever we are.

Overall, the experience was a great reminder of how good it can be to revisit or retrace one’s steps every now and again, even in what might seem minor at first glance. It is good to reflect on the ways in which I contribute to the environment around me. This is especially true in the midst of societal events that can lead one to see darkness and death more so than Light and Life in the world as well as in our day-to-day routines.

The truth is that there is, and will always be, more good, and potential for good, than there is bad. Oftentimes, all we have to do is take a step back, look again to see what perhaps we did not notice before or to remind ourselves of the good that we have experienced. When we allow the goodness that God has planted within each of us not only to take hold of us, but also to shine through us… to influence our words and actions, and most especially our prayers, we cooperate with God in building and creating.

We have are far greater impact than we might imagine. It is up to us to acknowledge and appreciate, as well as to nurture goodness, in ourselves and in others.

“I believe I shall see the goodness of the Lord, in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13

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All is Grace…

There is so much that goes on in the world and in each of our lives that sometimes it can be hard to sift through it all. Situations, people and things can become lumped together, making it difficult to see clearly or to have a good sense of what is authentic, and what is not. Without that, finding a grain(s) of value in the midst of it all, is nearly impossible.

More often than not though, and yes, even in a dense fog or in the darkness of night, there is something to be gained. Like a lost gem waiting to be discovered, there is often wisdom to be found in all things, even in what might seem like drama or nonsense.

Oftentimes, it can be very appealing, and perhaps all too easy to walk away or quickly discount that which one does not understand. However, what seems more important is doing so for reasons that are true and pure.

How does one know when to walk away?

Seek Wisdom (Sophia) first, and she will lead the way. Wisdom tells me that wherever I am at any particular moment, that is the place and time that God has anointed for me to be there. It is a place for me to encounter, as well as to be, the face of Grace. Each moment and each situation in my life, in each of our lives, has something sacred in store for us. It is as if we are constantly on the brink of greatness; a greatness that extends beyond this world.

Desire therefore my words;
long for them and you will be instructed.

Resplendent and unfading is Wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.

She hastens to make herself known to those who desire her;
one who watches for her at dawn will not be disappointed,
for she will be found sitting at the gate.

For setting your heart on her is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever keeps vigil for her is quickly free from care;
Because she makes her rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them on the way,
and goes to meet them with full attention.

For the first step toward Wisdom is an earnest desire for discipline;
then, care for discipline is love of her;
love means the keeping of her laws;
To observe her laws is the basis for incorruptibility;
and incorruptibility makes one close to God;
thus the desire for Wisdom leads to a kingdom.  (Wisdom 6:11-20)

By the grace of God, we are where we are meant to be, at this particular point in time. Through Wisdom, we can see, everything is Grace.

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In word: “Everything is a grace because everything is God’s gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events—to the heart that loves, all is well.” – St. Therese of Lisieux.

In song: “Everything Is Grace” by Matt Maher.

Legacy…

While oftentimes society can see “legacy” in terms of what meets the eye, and what can be measured, legacy is much deeper than that. William Shakespeare wrote, “No legacy is so rich as honesty,” in his play All’s Well That Ends Well (Act 3, Scene 5). Catherine of Siena wrote, “For people become like what they love,” in a portion of a letter (Letter T29) to Regina della Scala, a noblewoman. When fiction gives way to truth, and one scratches beyond the surface reaching the heart of the matter, therein lies what will be left behind and passed along, whether individually or collectively. What stands the test of time, whether for good or bad, is legacy.

Often a question or thought like, “What is this about?” or “There has to be something more than this,” leads one to pause and take notice. In spiritual direction, we strive to discern and live out choices that uncover and align with one’s deepest, God-given, desires. In the process, whether or not one is aware, the force within that often works to serve one’s own legacy becomes tamed, almost naturally. Over time, when one works consistently, in union with God, at being faithful and honest, persevering and following through, trusting the call to rise above and move beyond, though there may be moments of fear or shadows of doubt, the transformation occurs. When it does, legacy is turned toward serving that which is greater, the legacy that is God.

It does not stop there though. Perhaps that is the true beauty of legacy. In relationship with God, while the promise remains the same, we are called to be not only faithful, but also ever-growing and ever-changing. We are called to evolve. We are challenged to take stock of what is around us, and what is within us, as we go through life and each situation we encounter or interaction we have.

The lesser legacy (personal legacy) secretly seeks to keep us where we are spiritually. It seeks to keep one’s sight on the best way to reach one’s own personal goals and ultimately to serve oneself. While the legacy that is God always seeks the greater good. It reveals the way to move beyond and rise above that which would look to undermine, drive a wedge between us—or bring us down—individually or collectively.

Since the beginning of time, a divine desire for unity and wholeness has existed within and among all creation. Throughout time, many a soul has searched to discover, to become one with, and to live from that place of legacy. The contemplative, spiritual life is all about legacy. It is a shared legacy that calls us to remember, to see and to be the light. This is what truly makes us one with God and each other.

It can be good to ask oneself, from time to time, “How is legacy operating in my life?”

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SDIBlog

The Apple and the Light…

It is unfortunate how the air can be sucked out of a room or a dark shadow can be cast upon it, by the words and actions, or even just the presence of one person. Not only that, but it can also be very uncomfortable, and have a lingering effect, even after that person leaves the room.

Why does one bad apple have to spoil the bunch (or “the barrel” as the saying goes)?

What is it that causes us, at times, to become paralyzed, dragged down, divided, or driven away when faced with a bad apple? What is it that can cause the rest of the apples to turn to mush instead of continuing to hold true to form? What if, beyond the surface, the bad apple is not really bad at all, but rather hanging from a limb, and by a thread?

Through the eyes of faith, there is the assurance that the Light of God far outshines any darkness that might come our way. Through faith we also believe, that the mercy and compassion of God extends to all creation. What then creates an atmosphere that leads to the Spirit within being quieted or perhaps even smothered in the face of darkness?

There is a force, at every corner, that seeks to take us away from the Truth, most especially in the midst of darkness. It seeks to create confusion and gradually, or perhaps swiftly, tries to shift our focus, and convince us that we are less than what we really are. Oftentimes, when this happens, we become paralyzed, dragged down, divided, or driven away. That suppression of the Spirit, or Light, contributes to an atmosphere that fosters darkness.

Jesus says, “Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:9-10). The thief is like the bad apple, looking to steal, slaughter and destroy what he does not have or what he has lost himself; that is the ability to reflect the Light.

This is why we are called not only to meditate on and to let the Light shine brightly, no matter the circumstances, but also to pray for those who persecute us.

 

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