Joy

1a joy

Our pursuit of happiness is based on shallow premises. We think that there is something we must do or must have to be happy. If we look at what makes us truly happy, we find that it is our family, our friends, things we cannot buy. The joy that truly makes us happy is given by God; there is no requirement; there is nothing we have to do to gain it. It is ours with no preconditions. If we open our hearts, we gain the riches of God’s grace, receiving the fruits of love, joy, and peace.

God’s Love for us in infinite and eternal. This love is with us whatever we do, wherever we go, whoever we are. In every state of our being, God’s love remains unwavering. When we accept this and allow it to grow within us, the benefits to us are eternal and bring great joy.

When a loved one is facing struggles, remember to include God in your prayers and life. The rewarding grace is truly a calming aura that invades your very being. At times of stress, when I include God in my prayers, this calm comes over me. The physical situation may not change immediately, but the internal stress is relieved, knowing that God is holding me close to his heart.

We find it difficult to remember that in our everyday life, the material things that we covet are not the important things, which are Love of God, Love of family, love of our neighbors, wherever they are, and love of the bodies given to us by God.

Lord our God, although we feel that we not always worthy of the mercy and faithfulness you show to us, we thank you for your love and ask you to keep our hearts open for the joy of receiving Your Love and the love of all humankind.

 

Thy Will Be Done . . .

1-thy will

Thy will, not mine.

What does this really mean? Our lives on Earth are surrounded by everything and every thought but this one. We’re not to blame ourselves for this. The societies we are born into regulate everything and every step we take. We are born; we become educated; we earn a living; we marry; we give birth to children; we die; and the cycle repeats itself from generation to generation.

My only question is: to what purpose? If we are fortunate, we can make a difference and create something beneficial to humanity, and our name will be remembered. This difference we create may make it easier for others, healthier for others, or not. But our new creation only perpetuates the inevitable cycle, changing nothing.

Looking back on the history of man on Earth, this inane cycle has been repeated since man began measuring time, and, probably earlier. There have been very few humans who have truly made a difference to us. They are the great religious philosophers and prophets, the mystics, those who transcended mankind’s rules to bring the word of God to us. Being a Christian, Jesus is the man, the prophet, the Son of God, who is most influential to me.

But how influential? I have not walked His walk. I haven’t sacrificed my bodily comforts, given up a life with family, travelled from community to community, passing the word of God. I have done what we all do; I have been an active and willing participant in the deadly, inane cycle of life. It is only now that I am retired from active work, that I can take the time to meditate on what life really means. What Jesus truly meant when he said, “thy will, not mine.”

In my daily prayer, I repeat “Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.” However, Jesus told us many times that heaven is not a place; heaven is God’s presence in our lives. God within us, individually and as a community. When we pray thy will be done, we mean God’s will. In our everyday lives, we may not be doing this; we are probably doing our will, not God’s.

Does this mean we are not faithful to God? No! We are faithful to His will. Being human, we lack the inner strength to drop what we are doing, lay down our nets, and follow Jesus, passing the word of God. Only twelve men did, twelve very special men. If Jesus called us, would we answer? It took me over fifty years to reply; that was twenty-six years ago. I am happier now than I ever was. I listened. I prayed. I meditated. I answered. I taught.

God gifted me with a wonderful, loving wife and two terrific children. Being the recipient of God’s grace, I know that somehow, I have done His will. Maybe this was unconsciously done; yet, maybe His will was for me to learn a more challenging way that His will surpasses my will. Perhaps, this made me a better teacher.

This is not an easy road; at least, not the way our society plans things for us. God opened so many doors for me to become a teacher at the age of fifty, that I know that I then began doing His will. And what a terrific pilgrimage it has been.

Thy will be done.

Thy will be done.

 

Moving On

1-moving on

All of us have to eventually learn to let go of something smaller so something bigger can happen. But that’s not a religion—it’s highly visible truth. It is the Way Reality Works. This is not a religion to be either fervently joined or angrily rejected. It is a train ride already in motion. The tracks are visible everywhere. You can be a willing and happy traveler. Or not.

We tend to hold on to what we have as if to lose it is to lose our reason to live. It is only in the present moment that we ever really know: the running in the dark, the stone out of place, the broken seal, the open door, a warmth in the breast, a gush of tears, a peal of light-headed laughter, a dumb-struck, or slack-jawed stammer. We are only comfortable with what we have in the present moment.

We are called to enter into one another’s life, anoint the relationship as holy, and stay with it no matter the outcome. This gives us a strength which is not our own and is freely given to us whenever we need it. This is one of the blessings we have, when we recognize it. This was asked of us by Jesus when he said the second greatest commandment is to love one another.

Jesus did not finish his work here on earth; he left this for us to continue. Look back. Draw on your memory. Re-read Matthew 25. His wishes are clear. When we fill weak and feel we cannot do this, all we have to do is stretch out our hands to God; we will gain the answer and the strength. The kingdom of God is within us, and it is within us that we find the strength to let go of our old ideas and move on to new pastures.

We are a survivors. In the face of many odds, our lives have extended into this new day. Past events may have hurt us, but look, we always come back to a stronger life. It’s not just Jesus who is a walking miracle; He has given us the strength to be his walking miracles.

Rebirth

1 - rebirth

Ninety-eight percent of our bodies’ atoms are replaced every year. When we think deeply about this, can we accept that each year we are a new person, physically, but are we a new person spiritually, emotionally, culturally? In a word, can we accept that over our lifetime, we evolve?

We begin as babies and grow into childhood. Take a look at a baby, or a child; they look at everything with unbelievable awe and wonder. Unbelievable to us, not to them. Everything is new! As a child, their spirit is changing as fast as their bodies are changing . . . ninety-eight percent each year; maybe even each day. The wonder of childhood need not be lost on us as we age, mature.

Try as I may, I walk through nature, seeing the plants, listening to the rustling of leaves as invisible animals make their way behind me, seeing the birds playfully, to us, searching for their next bit of life-sustaining food; I accept this from my aged point of view; it is no longer a wonder to me. I enjoy the feelings of seeing and hearing these wonders of nature, but I am no longer in awe of their beauty, no matter how much I pretend.

As I write this today, I feel that if I only had retained the wonder and awe of a young child, I would appreciate it more than I do. But this is not nature’s way; I aged and matured, becoming what I pray was and is a necessary cog in the ever-turning wheel of life. I taught the wisdom of the ages to adolescents and young adults. This is the necessary cycle of progress; the old helping the young mature.

I think of how different this could have been, if I were only more in touch with my long-lost childhood. I ask if I could have presented my experience and knowledge in a more childlike, more wonder-filled way, could I have helped my students retain some of the aw and wonder lost after childhood.

I cannot answer this self-imposed question; what I do know is that I was performing on God’s path, laid out especially for me. Yes, I am special; just as you are special. As I child, I thought the world revolved around me; as an adult, I know differently, but I know that my journey was that of God.

As I take another look at the nature around me, I can sit back and smile, knowing that my journey was just God planned. Looking at the birds in my yard sharing the feeders my wife so faithfully fills, I can see them with a muted, but resurgent awe. The wonder that God gives me each day I rise.

Let’s share the rebirth of God’s beauty.

Bridges

1-bridge

The dictionary defines a bridge as a structure spanning and providing passage over . . . (many things).  We are great in building bridges in our lives. We are constantly looking to cross over obstacles, avoiding what these obstacles can do to us. I question what we are missing. Those obstacles we avoid can be great learning experiences that by avoiding, we can never outgrow or overcome.

God does not build bridges; He gives us a direct line to Him, if we recognize and accept it. We  should avoid our bridges, walking on the lighted path that God provides for us. When our feet are not on the ground, we miss God’s message to us. By rising over (bypassing) our difficulties, we often use our egos to avoid problems. Our egos can and will suppress the message of God, which always comes in a whisper.

If the avoidance involves another person, we can sometimes feel good when we cross them off our list of friends, washing our hands of their influence in our lives. Even if these friends try to overlook our voices, ignoring our wishes, they are there for a reason, and not just to strengthen us for argument.

We should face these friends, speak our voice, and settle our differences as the friends that we are, or at least should be. This is the way of God. Often, the face of God is reflected the face of these friends. We can build a stronger relationship with God, when we build a stronger relationship with those we see as bothersome. Listening for the almost silent whispers can open our hearts to great treasures.

Our lives are a gift, gracefully granted to us by God. If we can accept this, then we can also accept that the lives are others are also a gift, gracefully granted by God. If we can all live using these gifts as a start to all relationships, we can truly see the face of God reflected in all those we meet.

 

Where are You?

1 - healing

I feel You! You are all around.

I cannot miss the feeling of your presence

As my life is a joy to live

I saw you in the face of my children

When they were born

 

I know you are with us

When we pray in our prayer corner

Your comfort is warm

Your grace is a blessing

 

Why do I miss your presence

When I am in pain, when I have lost

When I have crossed into an unfamiliar place

When I am depressed

 

Why do I feel alone and abandoned

Why do I think you are not

With me during these bad times

Why do I doubt your presence

 

While on the cross

Jesus asked why you had forsaken him

This was the human side of Jesus

The suffering side

 

It is the human side of me that doubts

It is the human side that loses faith

It is my spiritual side that knows

You are always present in my life.

 

 

Overcoming

sharing a meal

Desmond Tutu was a great leader and civil rights activist; his writings are still an inspiration to us all. He reminds us that we are very capable of hurting each other in many ways, and, we feel justified in doing so. I am very active in my diocesan race and reconciliation commission and read a great deal about how I, as a white man, must face the fact that I benefited from a racist society.

With this in mind, I accept that if we truly want to treat others as ourselves, we must realize that God has given us the ability to heal ourselves and others. Just by looking for God in all, we can create great joy in our lives and in our hearts.

I consider myself to be a person who despises racism and all aspects of it, but I must admit that I have benefited from a racist society. Personally, I try to step outside of my comfort zone, go into the community, learn about how others are coping, suffering, do everything I can to change my little corner of the world, realizing that if I can change one or two wrongs, the ripple effect could broaden what I do.

There is no thing that does not belong to God. If we embrace this truth, then we too will belong to God: everything we have, and everything that we are, and then what’s left over after that. We can do this by seeing God in others and work to overcome our prejudices.

May you Walk with God this Lenten season.