Showing posts with label gratitude. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gratitude. Show all posts

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What If Churches Did This? (Veterans Day Edition)

I kid around a lot about hair and shoes and hair and hair, in part to underscore my claim to being deeply shallow. What's the other part?

The other part is this reality: looks do count. We might claim that it shouldn't and preach that transformation is, as we say (in "the rooms"), an inside job; that, too, is true. Still, there's a lot to be said for changing external manifestations of self to generate engagement with Self and others.

What if churches provided free hair styling and a thrift store/consignment shop shopping trip to those in need?

We could call it an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rainy Days & Tuesdays Always Cheer Me Up

View from the front bedroom window

To be more accurate, rainy days cheer me up any day. But Tuesdays, even bright ones, cheer me up because they're not Mondays. Moving right along...

This morning I woke up to the first steady rain I've experienced in our new home. I've been luxuriating in the sight and, even more so, the sound of it. Been a while since my living space has been so close to the roof that I've been able to hear rain in surround sound. I'd forgotten how, for me, peace that passes understanding emerges with the sound of rainfall.

A mature tree in close proximity to the front of our town-home gives one bedroom the feel of a tree-house  From my office, I can see spires from the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen whenever I gaze out the window. I gaze out the window a lot in between words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages. Add rain and I'm stirred.

Today's delight is happening on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Coincidence or correlation? I'm going with the latter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Gassed to death at Auschwitz

My beloved saint
for reasons that should be obvious,
for reasons that are not, and
for reasons still emerging.

For example, I think of Edith Stein whenever one of my sisters and brothers in Christ ask if I'm "still a Jew." And yes, I do indeed get asked this...a lot.

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us that we might embrace everything we share as God's creation and reject everything that separates us from one another.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Litany of the Saints

Please join me
in savoring eight minutes and nine seconds away from the ecumenical fray...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

*My* Life with Those Who Should Be Made Saints (I)

Looks like we have Joseph Clois Shivers, Jr. to thank for segmented copolymers (United States Patent 3044989) better known as spandex. Shivers developed this fabulous fiber in 1959, after a decade of research while employed by DuPont, which later baptized it "Lycra."

His invention soon replaced the sturdy rubber typically used in constructing undergarments (e.g., girdles). Unlike rubber, spandex is incorruptible, defying the corrosive nature of body sweat, lotions, or detergents. Lighter than rubber, spandex is blended with other fibers to make clothing that can snap back to original shape after being stretched up to 600%. These factoids give me the shivers.

Looks like Mr. Shivers has already received the coveted Olney Award for Achievement in Textile Chemistry. But does that industry-based award fully recognize his contribution to all humanity? I think not. I think he should be declared a saint. I am willing and able to give compelling testimony to affirm, so to speak, the miraculous powers of spandex.

St. Shivers! Kind of snappy, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ministry: What's Mood Got to Do With It?

The Lector and EMoE schedules are constructed months in advance, so I never know how I'll feel when it's my turn to serve. Truth the tell, I'm often not in the mood to get up, wash up, and show up for the 12:10 weekday Mass.

By 11:30 am, I'll have had a half dozen conversations via different media. I'll have forgotten to eat and be hypoglycemically cranky. I'll be loathe to drive, although living within walking distance of church probably wouldn't make a huge difference in my mood -- or my ability to show up on time.

This morning, I posted this thought on Twitter: "Wonder what God has in mind for me today & how it will be revealed."

My open embrace of divine providence? Pretty much shut down by the time I got into my car. Plus, the prospect of reading what was scheduled didn't elevate my mood at all.

So, imagine my delight to race in late to find: 1) the credence table had already been set up by another parishioner; 2) because it's the Feast Day of St. Catherine of Siena, I'd be proclaiming special readings; and 3) Friday night's movie had been changed from Chocolat to The Bells of St. Mary's. "You announce that," said the Chief Operating Priest, "you're standing closer to the ambo."

Hard to feel anything but joy while reading, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5) and "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name" (Psalm 103:1). These words, during today's homily about St. Catherine of Siena, generated grateful relief: "She proved that prayer and activism go together."

Today, God has revealed how faith has nothing to do with mood. Nor, should my mood determine if, when, and how I serve God and the people of God. I wonder how often God will have to re- reveal this revelation to me. According to the Lector schedule, probably Sunday morning.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

You Want Me To Do What??

Although it may feel temporally weird to observe The Annunciation during Lent, the timing of this solemnity always ends up feeling perfect to me.

Don't know about you, but I'm pretty much surrounded by folks who treat Lent like it's a season of total deprivation. They're very busy being NO to this, that, or the other thing.

I also find myself contemplating how, in a mere two weeks, scripture will remind me that Jesus prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me" only to add, "yet not as I will, but as You will." (Clearly his mother's son.)

I'm rarely that reverentially articulate. I'm much more likely to pray, "You want me to do what?" before arriving at, "Oh, alright. Your will, Lord, not mine." Don't know about you, but at this point in Lent, I need to remember the most extraordinary "yes" ever uttered.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day, 2008

First, I woke up with the words of this e.e. cummings poem in my head. Next, it appeared as today's prayer on Ironic Catholic's NaPraGoMo (National Pray to God Month) blog.

I have a special fondness for this poem for many reasons, including the fact that one of my dearest sisters from the ashram years brought it to my consciousness. I keep a copy of this tacked onto the bulletin board next to my desk and although you'd think I'd have it memorized completely by now, I do not. I do, however, manage to recall the first line and, thankfully, the part about "everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes." I note with delight under what circumstances other lines drift in and out of memory.

Seems like not only the perfect poem for Thanksgiving but also for the advent of Advent. May the blessings of today be revealed in the next and the next, world without end.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

--e.e. cummings

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Coincidence or Correlation?

It's not even Advent and my Christmas cactus is blooming. Coincidence or correlated to the sudden drop in temperature? I may be a social scientist but high mileage along the spiritual path has persuaded me that there are no coincidences; standard measures of correlation do not apply.

Decades ago, I rejected "coincidence" as a useful concept. I'd collected enough evidence to persuade me that so-called coincidence would be more productively viewed as the "invisible hand of God made visible." I realize this won't work for everyone. For one thing, belief in God is a prerequisite. It also helps to embrace the notion of mystery and then be willing to see mystery revealed in the mundane.

My life has been enriched beyond measure by adopting this viewpoint. This morning I laughed with delight upon seeing a half dozen vibrant pink cactus flowers. I welcome them as God's visible evidence that life can be generated during even the darkest of seasons. Correlated to the temperature? Perhaps, but I prefer to believe that prayer had something to do with this morning's gift.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The God of 2nd Chances: Church Choir

While we may grow weary from granting one another yet another chance to get it right, I believe our God does not. There's plenty of scriptural evidence of God getting annoyed, but as the psalmist reminds us, God's love and mercy endures forever. And so I've come to believe -- and have seen in my own life -- how God always grants divine do-overs.

I've especially noticed this happening for me in the domain of church choir, starting last Advent and Christmas and then carrying forward to present time. I really shouldn't be surprised. The music ministry played a significant role in my faith formation as I considered entering into full communion with the Catholic church.

These days, my Inward Ho adventures continue at a venerable parish where I, a relative newcomer, have finally joined the choir. This morning, the guy who collects the music after Mass actually smiled, possibly because I waited patiently instead of shoving my hymnal at him or leaving it on the piano. Usually he seems exasperated, something I noticed because I was perpetually perturbed when it was my (volunteer) job to collect and refile hymnals and octavos.

Big deal? Surprisingly so. The way I see it, God is giving me another chance to be in harmony on oh-so-many levels.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Gassed to death at Auschwitz

My beloved saint
for reasons that should be obvious,
for reasons that are not, and
for reasons yet to emerge.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Joys of Adult Conversion

Embracing Catholic Christianity as a sentient adult has its blessings. Currently topping my list is the blessing of not having been raised Catholic and therefore unable to do anything liturgical by rote. For me, liturgy is not at all what the symbolic interactionists would call a "world-taken-for-granted." [Note to self: spend some time thinking about how to reconcile prior training in and affection for this phenomenological approach with B16's teachings about the perils of moral relativism.] Okay, back to the Earth plane.

I, for one, could not lip-sync the Mass, although I can recite most key congregational speaking parts in a heartfelt way. I'm not too proud to admit being at a near total loss when expected to proclaim anything other than A or B options for the mystery of faith. Anyone standing near by might wonder if I'm saying, "WhenweeatthisbreadandhumunahhumahJesusblahblahglory." Not to worry all you Cradle Catholics, I'm determined to learn C and D long before it's time for my own funeral Mass.

So can you imagine what happens when I'm asked to be an Altar Server?

Sometimes this happens when I show up to read for the noon Mass. And if you think it's a young priest who invites me to serve him as he serves us, you'd be wrong. I'm granted this privilege by a man who really is old enough to be my father.

I do not take this privilege for granted. I cannot do it by rote. I always think I've messed up something sacred and he always kindly tells me I've done "fine job." I always say, "thank you, Father" and mean it. I also resist adding that I'd probably do an even finer job if I were wearing an alb and a huge pectoral cross and was eight years old.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July

Over the years, Independence Day has shifted in meaning for me. When I was a kid, it meant watching James Cagney strut across the t.v. screen in the 1942 biopic, "Yankee Doodle Dandy." The screen was small, the picture was black & white but colorful nonetheless. I could count on this movie showing up every fourth of July just like I could count on seeing "The Wizard of Oz" every Thanksgiving.

During my teens, July 4th meant playing "Stars and Stripes Forever." For factoids about this great Sousa march and a clip of a Boston Pops performance, check out A Concord Pastor. Laugh and point: I played what during the late 1960s was considered a totally gender inappropriate instrument -- baritone horn.

And today? Between working for a recent war widow and having a dear friend about to be deployed to Iraq, Independence Day is especially poignant this year. I'm contemplating the freedoms I take for granted, the ones I wish for others, and the mixture of God's grace and human agency that makes any of them possible.