How Will You Lay Down Your Garments?

Jesus…laid aside his garments…and began to wash the disciples feet.  – John 13:3-5

Today marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, or the three days that mark the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord.  These mark the end of the Lenten season and are the summit of the Liturgical Year.  In the eyes of the Church, these three days are the climax of the year that mark a  “new age of Resurrection” and launches us into the 50 Day Season of Easter that then climaxes with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Sounds like a big deal, right?

Yet, in America, (at least in all the places I’ve lived), the world doesn’t seem to take much notice.  Especially in stark contrast to Christmas where store shelves start getting stocked for the season (largely secular décor, of course, but nonetheless they are getting ready) in early October.  And many people decorate inside and out to prepare for the celebration of the coming of our Lord (or for the coming of Santa, but again, at least the secular, too, is getting ready for something).  But what about Easter?  Maybe an aisle or two dedicated to cute bunny or egg décor, and an overload of candy-stocked aisles, but those are quickly whisked away once Easter Sunday has ended.  While most stores are closed on Christmas, many remain open on Easter.  Yet, this is the single-event in history from which we have established our calendar (A.D. and B.C., which are also quickly becoming out of vogue), and it is through the Christian Tradition that even our secular holidays originated (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day).

So, it struck me today, as I read the Scriptures of our Lord preparing to wash the feet of his disciples, the line that reads, “Jesus…laid aside his garments…” that I needed to “lay aside” something, too.  Jesus’ action and  these garments, are symbolic of his human life.  In other words, Jesus “laid aside” his life  to serve those closest to him, and only when finished serving the others does he “take” his life up again.

And I wondered what will I do differently to mark this day? 

Of course, one thing will be to attend the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.  But how else might I “lay aside” some of the other aspects of my every day life today and in the days to come?

One of my friends who does much of her business on Facebook posted beautifully today that, “For Holy Week, I will refrain from business posts through Sunday, when we celebrate a big ole spectacular Easter morning!!!”

She is certainly “laying down her garments” to mark this sacred event.

Then another thought came to me. An image shared by a pastor who serves at a nearby convent.  This convent is cloistered, so the sisters inside it have little to no communication with the outside world.  (I asked him once, “Is it like ‘The Sound of Music?’ and he smiled and said, “Pretty close,” if that helps you imagine it, too.)  Anyway, this pastor is one of the few people who has the privilege of seeing the routine day-to-day life of these nuns.  Yet, he said that each day, when the bells ring indicating it is time for prayer, no matter what they are doing (washing the floor, raking leaves, etc.) they drop everything about their ordinary lives and run to prayer.

They drop everything and run to spend undivided time with Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but to me, when it comes to “laying down the garments” of my ordinary life, stopping in the middle of what I’m doing throughout my day today and giving my undivided time to Jesus seems like a pretty good start.

Whether I do that by abstaining from parts of my work life like my friend, or by dropping everything and running to prayer hardly matters.

What matters is that these next three days  look different, and my ordinary life gets “laid aside”…

Ding! Dong! Ding!

Reflect:  How can you “lay down” your garments and spend undivided time with Jesus over these sacred three days?  What “garments” in your life are getting in the way of spending time with Jesus? Or spending time serving those you love?  Looking ahead to next year, what is one thing you could do differently about your home to “elevate” the significance of the Lenten season and these sacred days?

Pray:  Lord, thank you laying aside your life every moment of every day to serve even my smallest needs and desires.  Help me to remember that the least I can do is take some time in the days ahead to spend solely with you.  Help me to hear what you want me most to hear.  Help me to see what you want me to see.  Help me to love those who are hardest to love.  Transform me so that when I do “take up” my life after spending time with you, I have become more like you.  Amen.

 

 

 

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The Heart of the Eleven

And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”   – Matthew 26:21-22

Swimming.  Cross-country running.  Track. Tennis.  Volleyball.  Softball.  These are the team activities the members of my family have participated in over the years.  We are not natural athletes, most of us.  We have to work really hard if we want to do more than cheer from the sidelines.  And most of the time, to be honest, the majority of our kids haven’t been interested in working that hard.  But we still strongly encourage them to join a sport. Why?  Because, when coached well, (or at least when kept in proper perspective by us as parents) it teaches them that there is more to life than “me.”  It teaches them that when the team wins, they win, even if  they did poorly, or didn’t play.  And when the team suffers, they suffer, even if it was their best performance.

This is an important lesson for each of us.  And it’s one we don’t just learn once, but one we must continue to challenge ourselves to remember in each of the “teams” we join later in life.  The “team” of co-workers at work, the “team” of our fellow parishioners, the “team” of our family, the “team” of our fellow citizens, the “team” of humanity (the world).

But it’s easy to get side-tracked.  It’s easy to get so focused on building our retirement portfolios that we forget to carve out a portion of it to help our fellow citizens.  It’s easy to get so focused on building a name for ourselves in our business that we forget to raise others up when they’ve done well, too.  It’s easy to get so focused on what we want, that we forget to give thanks for all we’ve been given.

We see this again and again in the lives of the twelve disciples…James and John ask to be the two chosen to sit on either side of Jesus in his glory. (Mark 10:35-37).  Peter  may have been trying to gain favor over the disciples with Jesus when he proclaims, “Master, then not only my feet, but my head and hands as well!”  (John 13:1-6)

We come by it honestly to think of ourselves, it seems.

However, by the grace of God, we can discipline ourselves to grow beyond that.  To be able to put others first, or to cheer others on, even when we ourselves aren’t doing so well.  This, it seems to me, was the mature self-discipline that eleven of the twelve disciples show us today.  For when Jesus foretells that one of the twelve will betray him, they all grow “deeply distressed.”  Why?  Because if Jesus is going to be betrayed, then they are already hurting for him!  Asking “Surely, it isn’t I?” doesn’t seem to be a question with hidden motives of self-interest, because as of yet,  there is no foretelling of what fate will befall the betrayer, there is only mention that Jesus will be hurt by a betrayal.  And for the eleven, when one hurts, they all hurt.

We get to see what self-interest looks like, however, when Jesus goes on to say that as for  his betrayer it would be “better for that man if he had never been born.”  In saying this, he cleverly draws out his betrayer by mentioning the  single subject of the most import to him:  himself.  And it is only then we see Judas alone ask, “Surely, it is not I?”

Now, please understand I’m not saying team sports are the answer to self-sacrifice.  There are certainly lots of stories about how, when coached poorly, or when parents are unrealistic about their kids’ abilities, requiring their kids to be a part of team sports can create a self-focused, self-absorbed individual, or cause more damage to their self-esteem than good.  I’m saying that it’s important to use whatever opportunities we have in this life to help our kids (and remind ourselves) that God desires us to have hearts like those of the eleven.  Hearts that empathize and sympathize and break for others when they suffer.  Hearts that celebrate others’ joys even in the midst of our own sorrows.  Hearts that “lay down their life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

This is the heart of Jesus, and the heart of his disciples.

Reflect:  What are the “teams” in my life right now?  What is one way I can help raise others up on each of these “teams” rather than focus on my own successes or failures?  How can I encourage others to have a “Jesus heart” into the teams and groups I’m involved in?

Pray:  Lord, we thank you for opportunity to remember there is so much more to the world then our own sufferings, our own failures and successes, and our own interests.  Please help me see those around me who could use some encouragement today, and help me to provide the encouragement they need.  Thank you for always being the source of encouragement for us.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s New Wine in Me Yet

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.  – John 4:46

I love the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana.  It resonates with me on many levels.  it’s a beautiful exchange between mother and son, where Mary, the Blessed One, looks to the Chosen One, her son and Savior, to help the wedding hosts who have –quite embarrassingly–run out of wine.  So Jesus intervenes, turns water into wine and effectively saves the day.  This is Jesus’ first miraculous act in public ministry, and yet only John records it.  Why?

I’m not sure.  What I do know from experience is that weddings are private events.  They are celebrated with only those closest to us either by blood or by friendship.  It seems reasonable that since John is the “beloved disciple” –and the one to whom Jesus later charges with the care of his Mother at the time of his death– that more than the other disciples, he would have likely also been close to the friends or relatives of Jesus’ mother, (who many scripture scholars speculate this wedding couple to be), and therefore would have been one of the few, or perhaps the only disciple of Jesus, to have witnessed this miracle.

Regardless, I’m particularly grateful for it, because the above quoted line from scripture harkened back to that miracle for me today.  And in this mid-point of Lent, it reminded me that as I feel the weight of the Lenten season upon me now, Jesus is not done with me yet!  Like the turning of water into wine, a transformation has to occur.  And though we can read about the many public miracles of healing Jesus performs during his ministry, like the water into wine, the miraculous transformations he performs in each of us are private, deeply intimate, and personal to us.  They are transformations we need, in order to become the holy people God wants us to be.  And while the outcome is really nothing short of miraculous, the process for us is usually less of an instant “water into wine” transformational event, and more like grapes fermenting into wine through a slow and difficult process.

But the outcome– the “new life” that we become as a result of it– is still nothing short of miraculous.

I’m reminded today that just as Jesus returned to Cana in today’s reading, he is eager to return to you and I in this Lenten season and do more transformational work.  The question is, are we willing to let him?  Just as she did in Cana, we can certainly ask for our Blessed Mother to intercede on our behalf to help us!

Here’s a bonus link for you today that dovetails nicely, I think, with today’s message.   I’m grateful to have stumbled across this song last week and have been prayerfully singing it ever since:  New Wine by Hillsong

Reflect:  What are some ways you’ve seen yourself change in the past several months?  Are you more joyful, more positive?  Or are you growing discouraged, tired, and distraught?  Whether you answer yes to the first question or the latter, take a moment today to see one positive change in your life over the last few months and really thank God for it!  Give him total credit for making that happen in your life and then reflect a little on how, like the vessels at the wedding feast at Cana,  God may have chosen to use you to make that happen, or like John, he may have chosen you–and perhaps ONLY you–to witness it!

Pray:  Lord Jesus, thank you for always wanting to make me a better person!  While I sometimes find the process difficult, and I don’t always participate willingly into your plan, I trust you to lead me only to what is good for me.  I surrender my will to yours and ask you to create in me all you desire me to be, so that I can become more like you.  Amen.

 

 

What Do You Wish?

[Jesus] said to her, “What do you wish?”  – Matthew 20:21

Yesterday’s Gospel reading was the story of James and John, “the sons of thunder,” whose mother dares to go before Jesus on their behalf, (right after Jesus has announced for the third time that he is going to suffer and die, mind you), and ask if her sons can sit at his right and left hands in his kingdom.  I’ve long been embarrassed for this mother whenever I read this passage.  Because don’t we mothers (and fathers) sometimes lose sight of the larger picture and go to extremes to try to get the best for our kids over other people’s kids?  In her defense, by asking such a thing she is indirectly implying that Jesus is the best because why else would she want her sons to have such a prominent share in his kingdom?  Still, her understanding of Jesus while well-intentioned, is a narrow view.

What struck me as I read it this time, however, was not what the mother dares to ask, but that Jesus invites her to tell him!  Surely Jesus knew what was on her mind, and yet he wants her to ask it anyway.  And I wonder why?

But then I think of all the times I’ve told Jesus what I want without his even asking.  And to this day, I can’t think of a time he’s not answered. As the old saying goes, however, sometimes his answer has been “no”, sometimes it’s been “yes”, and sometimes it has been “not yet”.  But the “no’s” I’ve received are about things I no longer desire, and it is he that I credit for taking the desire away.  The “yes’s” are those many things among which I try to count my blessings or remember when I rehearse my victories.  These are, for the most part, the “easy” answers in my life.

It’s the “not yet’s” I find most difficult.    The things I still desire to accomplish or attain, but have not yet been given. These are a struggle.  But these are also where I can give meaning to these small struggles by uniting them with Christ’s own struggle.  It assures me I am on the road of discipleship (Matthew 16:24), and reminds me that his grace will see me through.

The mother of the sons of Zebedee reminds us that we are free to tell Jesus exactly how we feel, and exactly what we want without apology.  We have no need for pretense or false humility simply because he is Lord of Lords…because he is also our friend.  And any good friend wants to give us the chance to say what we want, even when it may sound ridiculous, rude or short-sighted.  Our Lord loves us that much! But, also like the mother of the sons of James and John, we are often short-sighted in our requests.  And it is precisely because he loves us so much, that we can trust him to spare us from granting our wishes when it is not in our own best interest.

Reflect:  Sometimes we hold too tightly to dreams and desire. What are the things you’ve desired for a long time that still haven’t happened in your life?   Do you trust Jesus enough to let him lead you to your desires?  Do you trust him enough to ease your suffering by removing your desire  if what you want isn’t in your best interest?  If not, be honest!  Tell Jesus exactly how you feel.  He loves you so much and he wants to hear from you!

Pray:  Lord Jesus, just as you listened to the mother of James and John, listen to me today!  Let me pour out my wants and desires to you.  Help me to hold loosely to all of them, so that you may work in my life for your greatest good.  Open my ears to hear and my eyes to see how you unite me with my desires or relieve me of them in the days ahead.  Amen.

 

A Map of Faith

It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith.  – Romans 4:13

How can we have faith?  This is a question that is asked and discussed in the small groups during the Alpha course we run at our parish. “Faith isn’t a blind leap. It’s a reasonable step based on good evidence.  In some ways faith is more like a journey,” they say as the Alpha video begins.

But what is the evidence for putting our faith in God?  The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy:  by having a personal relationship with God.  Jesus is our perfect example of how to live a life of faith.  Through his example we see the person of God himself become fully human to take on the burdens of all our sins and suffer to the point of death, not to save himself, but to save us.  He gives everything of himself for us.  And out of his great love for us, God gives us a share in this life of suffering, too.  Not because he doesn’t love us, but because none of us could ever repay our debts from the wrongs we have committed against himself and others.  And because of Jesus we don’t need to.  We need only carry the share of the suffering that is given us.   And from a human perspective this can sometimes seem grossly unfair.  We see that some very good and wholesome people experience a great deal of sufferings, while others skate through life seemingly unscathed.  The question is, how do we handle the unfairness we see?  Do we turn away from God?  Or do we follow Jesus’ example and lean more deeply into him?

The Scriptures tell us that “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)  So which is it? you may be wondering. Is faith, as Alpha says, “a reasonable step based on good evidence,” or is it as the Scriptures say “evidence of things not seen?”  When we look to the life of Jesus, we can see it’s clearly both.  Jesus did not go through life minding his own business until one day God put it on his heart to die for all our sins and Jesus did it and so now he’s a hero.  No!  Jesus was born into and shared a deep and personal relationship with God the Father from the very beginning.  And today’s second reading from Romans reminds us that years before Jesus became incarnate, Abraham, too, had a deep personal relationship with God the Father.  Without it, the whole story of the sacrifice of his son Isaac (also a young man of great faith and a prefiguring of Jesus) Abraham would appear insane!  But today we are told it was Abraham’s faith that God rewarded, not his adherence to any laws. (In fact, it wasn’t until centuries later that the Law was given to Israel, and that was only because of their many transgressions.)

Today’s readings are in celebration of the Solemnity of St. Joseph.  Joseph, another man of great faith, chose not to follow his legal right for a divorce from Mary when he discovered she was pregnant (though they had not been together), but rather to follow the commands of the angel of God who appeared to him in a dream and bring her into his home and marry her, though he stood to face much shame and rejection for doing so.

Abraham had great faith.  St. Joseph had great faith.  Jesus is our perfect example of faith.  All had a personal relationship with God.  By their examples, we can begin to connect the dots for how faith may look in our own lives:

  1. Open our hearts to God.  Alpha suggests we say a simple prayer like, “God, if you are real, show me in a way that I will understand and can come to believe in you.”  You could say this step is a “realization of what is hoped for” (Hebrews 11:1)
  2.  Watch/listen for God to respond to us.  This is the step I think that confuses many of us, as we tend to have at least two unrealistic expectations of God: 1) that God will answer us immediately, and 2) that it will be something very supernatural and obvious.  While these two things are certainly well within God’s capabilities to do, people who walk with God will generally attest to something quite different.  They see God working through the people around them, and through things that are already meaningful to them.  We, on the other hand, often mislabel these things as “coincidences.”  However, with open hearts, through the eyes of faith, we can begin to see these “coincidences” as our own personal “evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
  3.  Repeat step 1.  Once we’ve received this “evidence” in our hearts, though we can’t see it, we act on it if it calls us to act. Sometimes, the “evidence” is simply an affirmation of God’s love for us, or a reassurance of his presence with us that calls for no action on our part at all. And in many cases, we can rest assured that any calls to action will be reasonable, or at least consistent with the nature of God.  They are seldom “blind leaps”, but rather “reasonable steps based on good (but unseen) evidence.”

To us, Abraham’s sacrificial offering of his son, Joseph’s willingness to marry a woman pregnant with a child who was not his own, and Jesus’ willingness to take on death on the Cross can all seem like extreme “blind leaps” from where we sit.  But for them?  For them, these acts were their next most reasonable steps based on the lifetime of evidence they had from their personal relationship with the God of the Universe.

The same God who wants to have a personal relationship with you and with me.

From this perspective, we can begin to appreciate that perhaps the one who takes the biggest “leap of faith” in all of this is not us, but God.

Reflect:  What “evidence” do you have to point to in your life that God exists?  If you don’t have any “evidence” of God, have you considered asking for him to provide you with some? Does asking for God to provide this “evidence” seem like a reasonable step to you?  Imagine if after you die, you were to appear before God and accuse him of never revealing himself to you and his reply were simply, “Well, my child, why did you never ask?”  

Pray:  Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us even when we don’t love you in return.  Thank you for loving us even when we don’t know you, or forget to include you in our lives.  Help us to know you more fully, walk with you more closely, and experience your love and mercy more deeply as we begin, continue or renew our journey of faith with you.  Amen.

 

 

Pray Boldly!

“This is how you are to pray.”   – Matthew 6:9

When I was in college, I did a research project on using directives in the English language.  A directive is like a command, or “an official, authoritative instruction,” as dictionary.com states.  As an example, some simple directives that parents may use frequently are things like shut the door, brush your teeth or go to bed.  These are things we are not merely suggesting our kids to do if they feel so inclined, but are expecting to be done…and quickly!

As I read again the prayer we commonly call the Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father, in Matthew’s gospel today, I’m reminded once again that Jesus not only lived with authority, he prayed to God our Father that way, too!  Viewing his prayer through a directive lens, it’s astounding to see the boldness with which Jesus prays. Give us. Forgive us. Lead us. Deliver us.  

As disciples, we surely are meant to pray this way, too!  However, it’s important to see that our directives, like Jesus’ must be rightly ordered.  Before Jesus begins praying these bold requests of God, he first praises God for their relationship as Father/Son (our Father) and praises God’s holiness (hallowed be Thy name).  Then Jesus aligns his own desires properly behind God’s desires (your kingdom come, your will be done).  Then, and only then does he begin with the directives, but these are also directives that had first come from God:  daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance from evil are all things God has given us first!

In the Catholic Mass, before we recite the Our Father, the priest always prefaces this prayer by calling us to recite together “the words we dare to say.”  When you look at it this way, it does seem daring!  We call the God of the universe our father.  We ask that he cast his will upon us.  Then, we list the things we want from him as though they will happen.   How dare we say and demand these things!?  Yet, this is our faith.

Perhaps the words God speaks to us in today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah can help us understand,

“For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth…so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10-11

If we’ve rightly ordered ourselves to God, the relationship of God’s desires for us and our requests for those desires becomes analogous to the water cycle:

  1. God rains his love upon us.
  2. We absorb that love into our hearts.
  3. We grow in his love and begin to trust him, desiring even more of his love.  (But  we are helpless to give him anything, so we offer the only thing we have: our prayers.)
  4. Our prayers rise to him like water vapor, requesting ever more and more of that life-giving water pouring down upon us.
  5. God’s rain falls upon us even more, etc.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Perhaps with this renewed sense of understanding we can begin to pray even more reverently– and more boldly– to God our Father, just as Jesus did.

Reflect:  Have you ever asked God for something and didn’t get it?  How did that make you feel?  Did you give up on God after that, or did you try to learn more about what a healthy relationship with God really looks like?  Consider one thing you could do today that imitates the example Jesus gave us:  If you are baptized, do you call God your father?  Do you ask for his desires to come before your own? Do the things you request from God reflect things that God would want for you?

Pray:  Heavenly Father, we know you love everything you have created, including each of us.  Thank you for the gift of life and the gift of free will to choose you.  Thank you for the grace of baptism which makes us your children and draws us closer to you.  Thank you for the gift of your Son and your Holy Spirit who dwell among us and teach us how to draw intimately and confidently closer to you.  Amen.

 

How I *Know* Everything

I guess there are at least some benefits to having blogged for over a year now.  One of them being that when your mind is just not able to properly communicate to your fingers what to type, you can just choose to re-post something you’ve written before.  Which is what I’m doing today.  This post was originated on my first ever blog (www.lisachristiansen.blogspot.com) in February of last year.  But I think it’s still one of my favorite posts.  And if I’m lucky, it will inspire me with some new writing for next week.  Until then…enjoy!

Technology is not my friend. 

 

You know how sometimes when you’re writing and you just *know* you’re on to something and you’re typing so fast you’re hardly even thinking about it and you feel electric with energy because you are starting to think you are just Such. A. Flaming. Genius?

 

So then you take a moment to review it and you smile and you think, This is SO GOOD!  I’m just gonna cut it and paste it over here where I can edit it a little better without the worry of accidentally hitting ‘send’ before it’s too soon.

And you go and you cut it. 

 

But then for whatever stinking reason under this side of heaven it Just. Won’t. PASTE.

 

 

Yep, you guessed it.  Somewhere out in cyberspace (or hiding in some tiny irretrievable recesses of my computer) is that sheer genius piece of writing.  From Friday.  When I was trying to ‘work ahead’ and tell you what I *knew*.

 

So let’s just agree that Friday’s lost entry was my Pulitzer Prize winner that unfortunately got lost in a galaxy too large for any of us to find.  And when we see who wins the Prize this year we’ll all *know* it was supposed to be me…OK?

 

Instead, I’m going to use today to clarify something.  Because since some of you have been kind enough to let me know you are, in fact, reading what I’m writing here in Blogland and that I’m not just writing it to myself [which, by the way is incredibly kind of you, and also extremely terrifying for me, but I thank you anyway].  Still, since I’m pretty sure I’ll have at least one reader every day (thanks, Mom) it’s important that we  are of the same mind on something.

 

And that something is what I mean when I write the word know with those cute little asterisks around it like this:

*know*

 

You see, when I write that I *know* something, I’m talking about the kind of *knowing* that me and my women friends had when we were young and newly married and we were SO READY to start a family and have our kids spaced out here. And here.  And here.  And we had it all planned out.  And we *knew* that’s how it would go. 

 

You know what I’m talking about?  Remember that kind of *knowing*?

 

I do. 

 

Any guesses how many times I’ve *known* I was pregnant? 

 

At least 12. 

 

Yep.

 

I’d bet at least that many.

 

Which is, of course, different from how many times I’ve actually been pregnant. Which, for the record is three.  (And believe me, I’m OK with that!) So, you see, when I say I *know* something, I think what I really mean is that I’m being intuitive.  But the stink of it is, that sometimes it’s really hard to separate our intuition (our built-in truth-finder, if you will) from what we really, really want.

 

And what we want may not always be the Truth we’re intended to live.

 

SO…

 

sometimes we have to *know* and be wrong, and sniff (and cry) our way back to our Life Path before we *know* and get it right. 

 

And the reward is that when we *know* and then it’s confirmed for us over and over and over again– through the things we see (ultrasound), and the things others see in us (You are GLOWING!) and the way we feel (over-the-moon-euphoric!)– that we have, in fact, found the Truth. 

 

Or we’ve let it find us.

 

Either way, I’m fairly certain that what happens in that moment is that our minds are finally in tune with our hearts.   Which really isn’t that far of a distance.

 

Still…sometimes it’s a looooooong and crooked road there.

 

*Sigh*

 

Anyway.

 

Now we can at least be on the same page and you will know that when I *know* something I just may be Dead. Wrong.

 

And that stinks.

 

But it’ll be OK.

 

You know why?

 

Because I’ve learned that my being wrong is really just an invitation from God… to wait. 

 

I guess it’s the only way He can make sure He is out in front of me before I go blazing ahead.   He’s real protective like that.  And I REALLY like to blaze!

 

Still. 

 

In my heart I know that it really would be a whole lot easier that way. 

 

You’d think we’d have gotten it awhile back when God sent us Jesus who told us

 

                                                            “Follow me.”

-Matthew 9:9

For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

-Matthew 11:30

 

 

But I’ll be honest, I used to think He was lying.   Not about the following, so much.  More about the easy.

 

I really did. 

 

And trust me, I realize it’s probably not nice to say you think God’s a liar, but since it’s my understanding that God created my heart (and my head… and my soul),  I guess there’s no real sense in my hiding the fact that I may think He’s a liar. 

 

Because He’s got a Front Row seat in there, anyway. 

 

Still. 

 

It’s what I thought.  

 

He was lying. 

 

And I thought that because it seemed like my own personal experience told me otherwise.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in thinking this, because how often don’t we say to ourselves and each other that “life isn’t easy”?

 

It seems that way a lot. 

 

But then.

 

I let God weigh in with His two cents (and seriously, that’s about all the more I let Him weigh in because I’m stubborn like that).  And  I realize that it really may not be as hard as I first thought. 

 

I mean, after all…

 

I’m living right now.  And right now.  And right now.  And this isn’t really all that hard. 

 

But you know what’s IS hard? 

 

 

WAITING. 

 

 

At least most of the time. 

 

 

At least for me.

 

 

So that’s why God is sending me (and maybe you, too) this here little postcard today. 

 

It’s to remind me why I need to wait:

 footprints_in_sand_wallpaper

 

 

 

So,  I’m making a choice to listen.

Because if God isn’t there yet…well, I guess I really don’t want to go there yet either. 

 

Even if it means letting someone else get that Pulitzer.

 

So that’s why I’m gonna sit another day or two before I rewrite that sheer genius entry I lost last Friday.

 

Because I may not have to rewrite it at all.

 

You see, I’m still trying to sniff out the Truth, even though I *know* what it is.

 

And that sometimes takes awhile. 

Going Deep

241

Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore.  Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.  After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”  (Luke 5:3-4)

So it’s been just over a year and a half since we uprooted ourselves from Packerland USA and settled here in Steelers Country.  And one of the hardest parts of moving is happening again.  Right now as I type:

I’m starting to get to know and care about and really like the people here.

I love them, even.

I know. Cry me a river, right?

I know.

But here’s the thing about moving around every couple of years or so:   it hurts.

It hurts to start over.  It hurts to say goodbye.  It hurts to leave the place where “everybody knows your name” and go to a place where nobody does.  It hurts especially because when I’m making new friends, I know something that most of them don’t (even though I tell them right away).  I know that they’re going to get to know me–really know me–just in time to say goodbye.

So unfortunately, what happens, to me at least, (not to everyone, because I’ve learned it really depends on your personality, and some people really love being nomads.  I’m just not one of those people.), is that I try not to get to know too many people.

Which is just wrong.  Because I really, really like people.

(Most of them, anyway).

(Most of the time).

I love them even.

I’m fascinated by them.

Fascinated by what they think, how they feel, how they act, the things they say, and how they say them.  What makes them mad, or happy, or relaxed or defensive.

I love watching it all, hearing it all, and learning from it.

But it’s safer from a distance.  Because then it doesn’t hurt so much to say goodbye.

But, now,  I’ve been getting signs pointing me into the direction of The Deep.

I’ve found myself getting phone calls or emails to volunteer more.  (I was going to cut back on that “this time around” here in PA.  Though I can’t help but wonder… did I really think I could cut back on getting involved in activities and helping out with school and church functions for two or three years?)  I have more lunch dates with friends, and more GNO’s.   (Sidebar here:  when I first saw someone post on Facebook that they were having a “GNO Tonight!”  I thought they had an appointment with their GyNecOlogist, and wondered why in the world they felt the need to announce it to the rest of us.  Then I learned that GNO stands for Girls’ Night Out which makes more sense.  But I still don’t like the acronym).

Anyway, like I said, it’s happening.  I’m making connections.  I’m getting involved.  I’m making more friends than before.

And it already hurts to think about saying goodbye.

Again.

*sigh*

But.

Here’s the thing.

Getting involved and helping others is still the best way to effectively share your story.  I can write for days and weeks and months and years about how God has changed me, how much I love God, how I believe that we are ALL God’s children.

But those are just words.

And words?  As much as I love them?  All by themselves, they seldom transform people.  Transformed people transform people, says Richard Rohr.   And, hard as I’ve tried to keep my distance, it’s difficult to make a difference in someone’s life if you aren’t involved in it.  And I know he’s right.

Sure, I’ve enjoyed teaching here “from the shore.” And I hope I’ve said some words that have maybe touched some hearts from time to time.  And that is good. In return, many people whose hearts have been touched by my words have turned around and touched mine right back.  So, of course, I will continue this work.  It feeds me!

But it is not enough.

So, now, after a year and a half, I know it’s time to do what I was led here to do.

I’m realizing now that more is being asked of me here in the land that I’m trying so desperately to dwell on, rather than in.  It’s time for me to share myself– all of me– and whatever gifts I have to offer.   In the past those gifts involved creating new ways for others to learn and grow in their faith, and working closely with others… and…making lifelong friends.   It’s time for me to open my heart and do what I can in that capacity here, and share with others who I am.  And Whose I am.

Not with my words, but with…me.

So…even though I still carry the sadness of having done that before… in my last towns… (right before I left), it’s been a year and half now.  And it is time to “cast” again.  Cast out my doubts.  Cast open my heart. Plunge into the Mystery of the new waters around me. And share my gifts.

Because the only way to make a good catch?

Is to go deep.