Thursday, December 12, 2013

Even your limping can bless you

What I am suggesting here is that everything in your life is a stepping-stone to holiness if only you recognize that you do have within you the grace to be present to each moment. Your presence is an energy that you can choose to give or not give. Every experience, every thought, every word, every person in your life is a part of a larger picture of your growth. That's why I call them crumbs. They are not the whole loaf, but they can be nourishing if you give them your real presence. Let everything energize you. Let everything bless you. Even your limping can bless you.
—From A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Stonecutter

There was once a stonecutter, who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day, he passed a wealthy merchant's house, and through the open gateway, saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"

Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"

Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"

Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"

Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it — a huge, towering stone. "How powerful that stone is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a stone!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a stone!"

Then he became the stone, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the stone?" he thought. He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Extract from Prayers of life by Michel Quoist (p90-91)

Lord, why did you tell me to love all men, my brothers? I have tried, but I come back to you, frightened… Lord, I was so peaceful at home, I was so comfortably settled. It was well furnished, and I felt cozy. I was alone, I was at peace. Sheltered from the wind, the rain, the mud. I would have stayed unsullied in my ivory tower. But, Lord, you have discovered a breach in my defences, You have forced me to open my door, Like a squall of rain in the face, the cry of men has awakened me; Like a gale of wind a friendship has shaken me, As a ray of light slips in unnoticed, your grace has stirred me… and, rashly enough, I left my door ajar. Now, Lord, I am lost! 

Outside men were lying in wait for me. I did not know they were so near; in this house, in this street, in this office; my neighbour, my colleague, my friend. As soon as I started to open the door I saw them, with outstretched hands, burning eyes, longing hearts, like beggars on church steps. The first ones came in, Lord. There was after all some space in my heart. I welcomed them. I would have cared for them and fondled them, my very own little lambs, my little flock. You would have been pleased, Lord, I would have served and honoured you in a proper, respectable way. Till then, it was sensible… But the next ones, Lord, the other men, I had not seen them; they were hidden behind the first ones. There were more of them, they were wretched; they over-powered me without warning. We had to crowd in, I had to find room for them. Now they have come from all over, in successive waves, pushing one another, jostling one another. They have come from all over town, from all parts of the country, of the world; numberless, inexhaustible. They don’t come alone any longer but in groups, bound one to another. They come bending under heavy loads; loads of injustice, of resentment and hate, of suffering and sin… They drag the world behind them, with everything rusted, twisted, or badly adjusted. Lord, they hurt me! They are in the way, they are everywhere, They are too hungry, they are consuming me! I can’t do anything any more; as they come in, they push the door, and the door opens wider… Lord! My door is wide open! I can’t stand it any more! It’s too much! It’s no kind of life! What about my job? My family? My peace? My liberty? And me? Lord, I have lost everything, I don’t belong to myself any longer; There’s no more room for me at home. 

Don’t worry, God says, you have gained all. While men came in to you, I, your Father, I, your God, Slipped in among them.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

An Easter Meditation

Lord Jesus, sometimes dark clouds of doubt and fear hang over me.
I'm not sure where you are,
or even if you really are alive now for me.
I don't seem to be achieving anything,
and I feel weighed down with heavy feelings of despair.
Lord, make yourself known to me again.

Lord, is it your voice I hear?
Help me to be still as I listen for your words to me.

~~{ silence }~~

As each day dawns fresh and new, so the light of your love
breaks through the dark shutters of my life.
Help me to recognise you and to respond with my whole life.

Here I am, Lord.

Lord Jesus, you nourish me day by day.
You provide me with strength to face the week ahead.
You transform my futile efforts into abundant harvest.
You forgive my past foolishness and give me energy to face life afresh, strong in the knowledge that you are always with me.

Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Resolutions for Life

I'm really not into the whole "New Year's Resolution" thing - I do like to spend some time thinking about the direction God might be leading me though (although I try to do that regularly throughout the year too). Anyway, I came across something from a few years back, "Resolutions for Life in 2001" by Michael Harbour that challenged me anew.  Here's an adapted list- perhaps you will find them useful too:
  1. Listen. Quiet your mind and take in what other people are saying as they tell their story. Listen to their words and to their heart. Listen to their body language. Seek to understand before you seek to answer or contribute.
  2. Keep the storms in perspective. Struggles are going to come. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). He also said, "Take heart for I have overcome the world." Practice a non-anxious presence. When you walk with God you cannot ultimately fail.
  3. Be gentle and passionate. Paul said, "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near" (Phil 4:5). Everywhere you go, in whatever circumstance you find yourself, the Lord is near. Awareness of this will keep you gentle, truthful, and hopeful.
  4. Give yourself away. The pattern of the life of Christ is one of self-sacrifice. The blessings that you receive are not to dead-end with you. The goodness that you receive is not something to exploit for your own benefit. Rejoice and create opportunities for joy in others.
  5. Extend the grace of God. As you have received freely and fully from God, so extend to those who need grace. Forgive others just as God in Christ has forgiven you (Colossians 3:13).
  6. Remember that it is not your job to set everybody straight. Choose your challenges with prayer and wisdom.
  7. Look for opportunities to encourage a child, to love a stranger, and to do something good for someone you don't like. Do something good for someone who doesn't like you.
  8. Love your family by making happy memories this year. Run in the rain, play in the snow, be spontaneous, and get them gifts at unexpected times.
  9. Love your friends with gifts of time and attention.
  10. Be a good student. Read the newspaper. Read as many books as possible. Watch less television.
  11. Do unto others what God would have you do.
  12. Take a Sabbath. One day out of the week the world can turn without your work.
  13. Be affectionate.
  14. Be daring. Take risks for goodness sake. Use your talents with gusto!
  15. Watch for answers to prayer and give God the glory. Give thanks for God's extravagant, undeserved love for you.
  16. Don't eat until you are hungry. Stop eating at the first sign of fullness.
  17. Lean into life and be excellent.
  18. Tell the story of God's great Grace. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8).
Grace & Peace for 2013