The heart stirs

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Find the thing that stirs your heart and make room for it. Life is about the development of self to the point of unbridled joy.  Sister Joan Chittister

What is left? Prayer…

So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.
Mary Oliver

On this quite night we come to the most important moments of our Advent journey. We feel the time for slumber with all projects complete and hearts and homes prepared. We were asked to be on alert and to get ready. We have watched for the signs and completed the tasks

But all the preparation leads us to this moment. For like midwives we must stand near, ready for the ultimate job. In/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/751/11099331/files/2014/12/img_1937.jpg prayerful presence as this young baby is born we are here at highest alert – to assist if needed. This is why we have been waiting. This is the moment, all of our preparation leads to ‘now’.

May we stay calm – to draw our breath as it swims inward and exhale as it flows outward; the rhythm of birth and the practice of prayer.

 

True friends

Hold a true friend with both hands. (Nigerian Proverb)

True friends are small in number. For good reason — to nurture these relationships we have to build on life-stories shared and experienced together. Small in number, maybe, but these friends shine with the brightest light. By their side, we celebrate joyful moments of our lives. Times filled with promise, hope and celebration. With the strength of their support, we move through difficult of times of our lives. Times blanketed with the darkness of trust broken and the sadness of letting go of the most precious dreams. Whether the times are filled with joy or sadness, we are shield and comforted with a true friend by our side. No need for words just presence – when moments are shared and saved like notes in a diary.

Interesting – this Nigerian proverb does not say how to hold these friends. No description of a tight grip or straightened elbows – just to hold with both hands. Yet certainly, true friends are to be held with intent. Fully aware of the treasure before you, cradling it with the strength of gratitude.

The Wisdom of Birds

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Once upon a time,
when women were birds,
There was a simple understanding
That to sing at dawn
And to sing at dusk
Was to heal the world through joy.
The birds still remember what we have forgotten,
That the world is meant to be celebrated.
– Terry Tempest Williams, When Women were Birds

art by Jennifer Lomners

quote and art – Shamntube

A priest for 20 years

945376_10200639118971887_1219769675_nToday — I celebrate twenty years as an ordained priest. Reflecting on one’s experience in ministry can be a risky endeavor. I share these thoughts inviting the wisdom and insight of those who read this blog.

My life as a priest has been unique and filled with surprising moments. On a day such as this, many of these memories greet me for celebration and reflection.

We planned my ordination for May the 8th to correlate with the feast day for Dame Julian of Norwich. A holy woman – devoted and faith-filled, Julian lived in the middle ages during a time of plagues and war. While struggling with a life–threatening illness she experienced a compelling and personal encounter with God. Surviving – she knew the gift of health and life and vowed to live a mystic’s life. Most of her adult life was spent living in a small room connected to a church in Norwich, England. Like an anchor to a boat, Julian anchored herself to the church. From her room, through a small window, she met and counseled people who came to her, offering comfort and holy wisdom to the village of Norwich and beyond. Within one room, she counseled those in need, spent hours in prayer and put into words her insights about God’s love and mercy. These writings would come to be known as: Showings – The Revelations of Dame Julian of Norwich. It is believed that she was the first woman to have her writings published in English.

We planned my ordination for May the 8th and welcomed the communion of the saints led by Dame Julian. Twenty years later I find myself curious about the connection between my ordination and Julian’s feast day. Being a woman and a person with a disability, living my life as a priest would present unknown challenges for me and others. As time has passed I know my ministry has been filled with courage and grace. Courage–unashamed of my differences, I have entered doorways into churches and homes that had previously not been opened either to women or people with disabilities . Grace- all has been possible through a vision beyond me.

Anchored in her one-room home, Julian of Norwich shared her wisdom and faith with confidence and compassion. Her story has been encouragement and inspiration for me. I know something of being held in one place–anchored if you will. From this wheelchair I have been present to people in their joy and sorrow, prayerfully spreading God’s good news.

In many ways twenty years is just the beginning! What have I learned up to now? I have learned there are many more questions than there are answers and much of our time is spent learning to live with the questions. I have learned that while we live in a world wrought with anxiety, people long for the presence of peace–not a lot of words just peace. I have learned that miracles do not always manifest as we might have envisioned but miracles they remain. I have learned to be grateful for hope and honesty in moments of despair.

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Most important, I continue to reflect on the wisest words ever shared from Dame Julian. “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” We do not get to know how life’s story ends. Carrying these gentle words along the way has brought light for the journey.

Life’s Lessons…again

 

 

Nothing Goes Away... Pema

How often do you find yourself in a situation that brings up feelings you thought you had resolved long ago! Life lessons often seem to re-appear still full of new perspectives and teaching. These are the ‘teachings’ offered when we find ourselves in old, familiar discussions; you know, the conversations that are filled with those same words that clench our stomachs once again. These are the ‘teachings’ offered in situations when we are faced with memories of  times in our past, memories that rise at the oddest times to re-stir earlier feelings of hurt or deep longing for what is-no-more.
Often we spend hours sitting with counsel in hopes to “work out” these feelings from our past or to practice changing the unhealthy ways of relating to people in our lives today. Those hours spent in reflection are not time ill spent. Awareness is important to health and well-being. Yet if our goal is to have the past be neatly resolved – never to bother us again – we will continue to be disappointed.

As every small finger and button nose of a new-born child remains and is a part of growth into adulthood, ever important to the forming of a whole and healthy person; so must the stories (the celebrations and sorrows) be a part of  us, making us wholly (holy) and unique. The words are wise – shared with us from the great Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron – the things we need to know are waiting to clear our hearts and calm our spirits. Yes, the learning is hard work and sometimes painful but we need not feel alone — the world is filled with ‘students’ on this path. 

When we find one another, may we offer greetings of welcome and compassion.

A (God) Mother’s Day Wish

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.
Robert Browning

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What a joy, to awaken this Mother’s Day celebrating the miracle of life. These two girls are the delight of many. Their parents in awe – too many attempts, too many disappointments – they had tried to have children only to discover yet one more reason why they could not. One more try. It was to be their last. It was to be their miracle.

Mother’s day causes us to stop for a moment to reflect on the miracle of life. Our world’s pace speeds us through days and years of special moments in the life and growth of children among us. This is not time we can re-create. On this one day each year, we are given the opportunity to slow the pace, look closely at the life around us (be they our own children or those we are blessed to know) and give thanks. While mothers are honored through prayer, presents and the gift of time, they have the chance to offer their own thanksgivings. No one said these relationships would be perfect or free of pain-filled moments but time set apart to express gratitude can bring healing in hearts and spirits.

On this Mother’s Day, I give thanks for these two beautiful girls, my god-daughters. Born a little over a year ago and ready to storm the world with their mischief and merry-making. May God continue to bless their mother (and father!) on this day of gratitude and always.