"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, November 14, 2016

Would You Like to Dance?

I have always loved to dance, despite the fact that I've never been particularly good at it. For those of you from my area, you might can appreciate that at only 3 years of age, I was one of Sally Stanley's very first students. Whereas I loved it, I also wanted to take piano; and seeing that my body shape was probably more conducive to the latter, the summer I was entering 2nd grade, my uncle Bernie bought me my first piano and my parents signed me up for lessons with Mrs. Bedingfield. But I still loved to dance. 

On several occasions, neighborhood friends and I would hold shows on my parents' front porch or in the carport. We performed skits (my friend Jeannie received a pie in the face) and told jokes, but there was always singing and dancing involved in the midst of it all. In fact, I specifically remember doing a dance number to Doris Day's "Que Sera, Sera." And on one such occurrence, "Miss Sally" herself was sitting in the crowd. I was very young. She was very gracious. 

As time waned, so did the shows, but never my love for dancing. Unfortunately, my dance card never filled up. It seems I was always the last to be invited to the school dances, and even then it was often by the guy who had depleted all of his other choices. I even went with a distant cousin one time. I caught some grief for that one. Then my future husband came on the scene and not only did I have dates to the proms but I also got to go to his college dances! We still laugh at our different dance styles. And, yes, after I married him, we joined a local square dance club and literally danced circles around everyone else.

Today, most of my dancing is done through my fingers at the keyboard. Or vicariously through Dancing With the Stars which is the only show I have set to record on my DVR. And if truth be known, I can be caught twirling through the kitchen while I'm baking. Like I said, I have always loved to dance. My body tends to want to move when I hear a good beat. 

Throughout the Scriptures we are told to "rejoice." The Psalms are particularly filled with such charges. But if we delve a little deeper into the true meaning of the word, we will see that it's more than just to be glad. The Hebrew is gyil which means "to spin round (under the influence of any violent emotion)." Wow, that's a lot different than just smiling and clapping our hands. Sounds a little bit like dancing to me.

But here's the cool part: whereas we are told over and over to "gyil in the Lord," there is a Scripture where God says HE gyils over us. Zephaniah 3:17 -- The LORD, your God ... will rejoice (gyil) over you with gladness..." Do you hear that? Our God twirls around over us in violent emotion. In other words, He passionately DANCES over us. How can we not get caught up in that kind of rejoicing? How can we not enter in to such a divine dance? 

Yes, we are invited. Not as a 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice, but as His first. His desire is for you. For me. All of us. Fully accepted in the Beloved, with His name written on every line of our dance card. Why not accept the invitation to join in? Kick up your heels. Tap a toe or two. Move back and forth in rhythm. Or swirl violently. But know that regardless if you choose to or not, He's still dancing over YOU with much joy ... and a whole lot of wildness.

Just an ordinary moment...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Bread Given

The light tap on the door revealed my darling, young friend standing there with a warm loaf of bread in her hands. Laura Carroll. It's what she does. It's one of the many ways she loves me. She informed me that it goes stale fast; that I might want to slice and freeze it. But no need for that. Bread disappears quickly around here; especially hot, homemade bread. In fact, I had already had two slices before the dinner hour arrived -- and then another with my meal. 

But by far my favorite partaking has been at breakfast. These last 2 mornings I have sliced, buttered and toasted a couple of small slices and brought them out here to my sunroom where I could enjoy them in the quietness of the breaking day. A candle is lit -- and breakfast becomes communion.

What grace. What gift. A young mother TAKES some wheat and mills it herself; BREAKING it. The BLESSING comes in her act of mixing, forming and baking. It's her spiritual act of worship. Her spiritual practice. Baking bread. And then she GIVES it, which just might be the hardest part of all. Sounds an awfully lot like Jesus to me. Like God. 

Henri Nouwen wrote, "As the Beloved of God, my greatest fulfillment lies in being bread for the world. I am chosen, blessed and broken so that I might be given." Yes, that's my young friend.

Toast and coffee. Bread and wine. Communion. Just me and Jesus -- and Laura.

Just an ordinary moment...

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Psalm: O Living Flame of Love

There has never been a day I didn't love You,
     Though often times the embers barely glowed;
     Nor could the heat be felt by anyone but me
          And even then only faintly.

But I have always longed for You,
     A built-in yearning not of my own;
     Often searching in the wrong places
          But longing and looking nonetheless.

Today I ask for a fresh breath of Spirit oxygen --
     "The enkindling of love, wherein the will of the soul is united,
     And it loves most deeply, being made one with that flame in love,"
          As John of the Cross so beautifully put it.

Yes, be rekindled in me first,
     O Living Flame of Love, and then
     Radiate Your love, Your peace, Your warmth
          To an ice-hardened world that so desperately needs Your heat.

Just an ordinary moment...

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sacred Heart and Tattoos

I got a tattoo once. A biker's cross on my left ankle. No, it wasn't some whim when I turned 18, but a fun day at the fair with 4 girlfriends. We each got one; different designs in diverse places on the body. I finally washed mine off the day I had to play for a funeral as I figured the grieving family had enough to deal with without my tattoo blaring from the my seat of service at the front of the chapel. I'm not opposed to tattoos, though I do think I might have an aversion to the pain inflicted while getting one.

In a nearby town, there's a tattoo parlor called Sacred Heart. For years, I thought it was a poorly done billboard advertising a Catholic school. I couldn't help but laugh at myself the day I became enlightened. Coming from a Protestant background, I must admit that I've never quite understood what the Sacred Heart emblem is all about. But after a little image searching on the internet, I've discovered that many do indeed go for this particular brand on their body -- and often in some of the oddest locations.

So what it is about the Sared of Heart of Jesus that attracts so many -- to churches, to schools, to tattoo parlors? As I looked at the images on the screen, there were several things that stood out. For one, Jesus was almost always pointing to it or holding it. Secondly, it was always, except for on one occasion, on the outside of His body. And lastly, it was always burning.

So what does all that say to me? Love. Love. And more love.

In my times of (attempted) centering prayer here on my deck, I have been using the word "love" to draw me back to God's presence when my mind begins to wander to other things. I had already noticed a large opening in the oak branches above me, allowing me to see through to the blue sky. But when I opened my eyes after my quiet prayer and looked again, I noticed that the aperture was in the shape of a heart. Tears welled and my own heart swelled as I realized that God pours Himself through the heart. His Sacred Heart.

Jesus paid the price for loving, and in giving His burning heart to us, as so portrayed in all those images, He tells us to do the same. To love. But here's the catch: when we love, we, too, must pay the price for loving. We, too, have to risk the pain; to suffer for it. But to do so is to be Christ-like. I agree with Richard Rohr: "The cross is not the price that Jesus had to pay to convince God to love us. It is simply where love will lead us. ... Jesus names the agenda: If we love, if we give ourselves to feel the pain, it will crucify us." Yes, crucifixion is painful. Thus, so is love.

Are we willing to pay the price of love? A price that demands we give up our rights to have our own way; to dominate; to always be right. A price that necessitates we lay down our hurts, our feelings of rejection and injustice, our grievances, our unforgiveness. A price that leads us to lay down self-centeredness that pretends it's all about you when really it's still all about me, which just might be the most insidious one of all. In short, to love with a price means discarding any behavior that does not take us forward into the nature of God and committing to a behavior that does.

This Sacred Heart of love is risky business. Sometimes I wonder if it's even attainable. For now, I will stand in the place of grace, receiving from His hand this gift of burning fire and pray that its glow will attract others to do the same. Maybe then and only then can I truly be branded.

See you at the tattoo parlor.

Just an ordinary moment...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Morning Psalm of Lament: Madder Than a Hare in March

I'm mad.
Just pure, stinking mad.
Not the crazy kind of mad.
But the angry kind of mad.

What has brought me to this place?
What has flipped the switch to make me
          Throw the bed covers
          Be careless about doors

Could it be the constant schedule I face
          The pressures of life I combat
          The rejections I contend
          The disappointments I confront?

Or have I just given in 
          To self-pity
          To envy
          To ingratitude?

What is the answer to this foolishness?

I sit in silence ... and wait.


Rather, He sends a rabbit

Encouraging me to lay down this madness
          To retreat within
          To align myself again with the holy
          To reflect on majesty.

I bow to the Beloved
          Source of All Life
          Breath of the Merciful
          Silent Speaker
A dove perches above me in the pine.

Just an ordinary moment....