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

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

What began as just a normal invitation to tea last week turned into a most spiritual moment for me Friday. It wasn't the first time I had been asked to such an engagement and it certainly wasn't the first time I had been in my friend's lovely home. Nor was it the first time we had talked about the beautiful blue and white tea canister sitting on her mantel -- and her father's remains that were encased within it. What was different this time is that she actually opened the container and pulled them out after making sure none of her 3 guests found it morbid.

There he was, at least 1/5 of him, as the other siblings each had a share, completely comprised in a plastic zip-lock bag no larger than my hand. I stood there just looking at the silvery gray ash before asking if I might hold it. When my friend said, "Of course," I reverently took it in both hands and studied the metallic "dust." It was much more dense than one would have thought for ashes, and much heavier than one would have suspected, even though it only weighed 1.8 lbs. (Yes, we actually weighed it later.)

But somehow I knew that I was standing on sacred ground, and no words seemed appropriate. It was indeed a moment to be embraced.

"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust." I've heard them all my life and have even participated in the imposition of ashes to my forehead on Ash Wednesdays for more than a decade now. But not until that moment did I catch the magnitude of those words. From surely we come and to surely we will go. And in the meantime, God chooses to give us life -- His life, that we might know Him, so that when those ashes return to their former state, our spirits live on forever. With Him.

Who but God could think up such a plan?

Just an ordinary moment...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wall Street Versus East Africa

I was not shocked by today's headlines; after all, it had been all the over the news and internet last night. In fact, an entire page in this morning's paper was given to just such. Complete with pictures. Stocks fell 634 points in yesterday's trading.

What did catch me off guard however was when I turned the front page and saw the small 1 1/2- by 3-inch blurb concerning the famine in East Africa. In less that 70 words, we were told that "hundreds of thousands of kids could die in famine." The news wasn't new to me, but it jolted me as if lightning from last night's storm had hit its mark on my own heart.

And so I wondered: what stirs the heart of God more? A middle-aged man crouching behind a computer screen with his hands covering his face or a starving refugee child reduced to nothing but skin and bones looking through bulging eyes at his mama.

I know and I think you do as well. Now what are we going to do about it?

Honestly, with such an unstable economy, maybe we're thinking we can't afford to do anything. Beloved, we can't afford NOT to do anything.

Is this not the fast I have chosen: ...
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry ...?

THEN your light shall break forth like the morning,
your healing shall spring forth speedily,
and your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, "Here I am."
(Isaiah 58:6-9)


Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wordy Girl

I'm such a wordy girl. I probably should apologize for it; but it's who I am. I know some of my friends must roll their eyes when they receive letters or emails from me as I tend to fill my epistles with way too much information. Useless facts. Needless news. But if they only knew what I actually left out... And on more than one occasion, after a rather wordy flirtation, my husband has been known to say, "Yet another insignificant moment in the life of Nancy." Which is just another way of saying, "Much ado about nothing."

I also confess to being somewhat nerdy. After all, I receive a "word of the day" each morning -- and I'm not talking some rich devotional thought to inspire spiritual thinking. I'm talking about a word with its definition. For example, today's was "overslaugh." It means "to pass over or disregard (a person) by giving a promotion, position, etc., to another." Maybe you think that's useless. Maybe it will show up in a blog one day.

And is it asinine or peculiar to have a shortcut to thesaurus.com on one's desktop? If indeed it is, then call me so.

I also keep a game of "Words with Friends" going with both my son and his wife. Basically, it's just Scrabble played at one's leisure back and forth on our smart phones. It always thrills me when I can use all 8 letters -- like "pirating"! And a triple word square makes it even better! Today I was able to play "abba," "rotated," and "faux," which brought in some hefty points with the "X".

But what has me thinking is the weight words can and do carry. In fact, God's Word has a lot to say about words and their effects on you and on me.

Just listen:

Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction (Prov. 18:20).

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions (Prov. 10:11).

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18

A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul (Prov. 18:7).

And can I just add that the world itself was framed by the word protruding out of the mouth of God? It all began with, "Light!" And there was. Words hold creative power, my friends! Not to mention destructive as well. Whoever said, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," had his head in the sand. They can downright kill!

Yep, I'm a wordy girl. But I need to be careful. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Prov. 18:21). Sounds like I have a choice to make every time I open my mouth or put pen to paper.

What about you?

Just an ordinary moment...