13 June 2010

Wisdom: 13 June 2010

"I give you a heart so wise"
1Kings 3:12

As I watch the movements of the birds, I muse about the decisions they make. Oh yes, animals function on instinct rather than rational decision making as we humans are capable of doing. But it's intriguing to think of the birds actually making decisions: Whether or not to migrate; where to nest; how many eggs to lay; how to teach their young to fly and survive the elements; where to find shelter in a storm; when, where, and what to eat; who and what to stay away from to keep them safe. It's also amazing this year the different species that have been regularly visiting the hummingbird feeder. There have been not only a multitude of hummingbirds and the usual Baltimore and Orchard orioles but also the yellow finches and just yesterday even a Downy woodpecker! All this to say these birds hold within their beings a great deal of wisdom - even if it is pure instinct.

When God told King Solomon to ask for anything and it would be granted, the king asked God for only two intertwined things: for an understanding heart to judge (rule) well and for the ability to distinguish from right and wrong. In other words, Solomon asked for wisdom and that is just what God granted him - "a heart so wise".

Wisdom...What does that mean to us? What does it mean to be wise? Some say wisdom comes with age, and in part that is true. We grow into wisdom and for a good many of us any wisdom we may gain is the result of trial and error - making mistakes and learning from them (the key point is learning from our mistakes). When we make poor choices that hurt us or others, it serves no purpose to place blame on someone else - we make our own choices just as everyone else makes their own choices. A phrase that gets attention in our house from time to time is this: We are all in the place we are right now because of the choices we made. Now this is not necessarily true in all cases - such as being afflicted with a hereditary disease or ailment, but for the most part as adults we make choices that, good or not so good, impact our lives (and many times the lives of others) either positively or negatively. Again the point of wisdom is to be able to choose well, to distinguish right from wrong, and to learn positive lessons from our poor choices or mistakes so as not to repeat them or pass them on to younger generations. Easy? Nope. Doable? Yes; perhaps not alone but with the wise counsel of others. AND doable when we put our trust and faith in God, who loves us so deeply and unconditionally, walks with us through the good times and our troubled times and who, if we ask and listen closely, is forever willing to forgive and grace us with wisdom.

Peace on the Journey

31 May 2010

Memorial Day: 31 May 2010

Just the other night we were looking through some old U.S. coins - some dating from 1903 and the 1920's - and I could not help but notice the familiar words on each and every coin: "In God We Trust". And I wondered just how often we stop to think of those words as we hand over our money to various cashiers while shopping. Probably not often, maybe not ever.
This nation was founded in part on that trust in God. A great many of the people who immigrated to this country at its beginning did so because their religious faith and/or beliefs were being suppressed or condemned in their country of origin. These ancestors of ours were not only seeking a new life for themselves in a new land, but also for the freedom to openly practice their faith.

Memorial Day - this is the day dedicated to the remembrance of all who served to defend and protect the very freedom all of us in this country are fortunate enough to have. We remember those who died in service during WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan... We remember those who served in foreign lands, Europe, Guam, Philippines, Korea and other countries during times of peace and died in later years. We remember all the men and women who are currently serving both here at home and abroad. And we should be grateful for all our veterans and current service people's dedication to protect our freedom not only on this national holiday but each and every day.

Yes, we owe a debt of gratitude to all those brave women and men. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who were the first to proudly and rightly imprint on our coins the words "In God We Trust". Yes, the same God who surrounds us every moment of every day.

Peace on the Journey

22 May 2010

Sustenance: 23 May 2010

And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age
Matthew 28:20

The bird activity has been abundant over the past weeks. As soon as the little Eastern bluebirds left the nest in the little white birdhouse, the tree swallows claimed it, laid their eggs which hatched a few days ago. The hummingbirds and the orchard and Baltimore orioles are hot and heavy into what I refer as the feeding frenzy wars. Ah, let the games begin! The hummingbirds chase the orioles from the feeder; the orioles chase the hummingbirds from the feeder. It's quite an amusing sight to behold several times a day but particularly for our suppertime entertainment. And yet, with all this chasing each other about, each species does get the sustenance they seek (and need) from the feeder in abundance.

Sustenance...nourishment, necessities, requirements, provisions, getting or receiving what we need. Lately I've been pondering yet again the difference between what we need and what we want. There IS a huge difference. Wants are all those things we sometimes think we need but in fact really are the frills - those things or possessions we think we can't live without; those things we think (falsely) that will bring us happiness and joy but that happiness and joy we come to find out is quite fleeting. What good are all those things going to be to us after we no longer walk on this earth in this life?

True needs do vary somewhat from person to person and in pondering true needs, there are the obvious basics of food, water, air, shelter, clothing. But we people are social in nature and need others as well - to love and love us back, to respect, to trust, to seek counsel from. We need people, particularly those we are in a relationship with, to treat us with dignity and, when difficulties arise (as they will and do) we need understanding particularly that there are two sides to every story and "blame" or hurtful words/actions are rarely if ever one-sided. I have learned through experience that some torn relationships can be repaired but some cannot particularly if the effort to repair the relationship is one-sided and rejected by the other. I have learned through experience that some relationships become toxic - detrimental to one's well-being because of things like anger, lying, placing blame, one person thinking they can control the other by laying guilt trips or being emotionally, verbally, and/or physically abusive.

I wonder if at times we rely too heavily on only ourselves or others to provide us with what we truly need. I wonder if at times we are all too willing to neglect thinking about, or remembering, that we all have a God who loves us so very deeply, is so ready and willing to help us carry our burdens if only we believe and trust and ask for Sacred Guidance and Companionship, and who has promised to be and is with us deep inside and all around us every moment of every day and every step along the path of our life.

Peace on the Journey

09 May 2010

Quiet Prayer: 9 May 2010

...when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you."
Matthew 6:6

A Prayer Meditation:

Tranquil. Calm. Pleasant. Serene. Contented. Restful. Soothing. Peace and quiet. Alone yet, not alone.

Contemplation. Visualization. Meditation. Prayer.

Sitting alone in the still of the evening, eyes closed, breathing deeply at first then quietly and evenly, a picture comes to mind: a favorite place, a fantasy place. Thoughts of a busy day slowly fade into complete tranquility. Gone are the telephones, pagers, and cell phones. Gone are the computers and the paperwork. Gone are the traffic and the noise.

The minds’ eye slowly wanders over every detail of the landscape. Behold the shades of blues, oranges, pinks, purples in the sky, the ball of orange fire on the horizon, the stillness of the waters, the gentle swaying of the reeds in the cool and mild breeze. The ears hear nothing but the sound of silence. All of creation is quiet. It is as if time has stopped, if only for a little while. At peace at last.

The mind and the heart and the soul and every fiber of the being stretch, reaching out in hope, in love, in belief, with trust. The layers of humanness slowly dissolving until all that remains is the core, the essence of the being, and God. Naked. Vulnerable. Comfortable.

It is in this place where the soul lays bare. It is in this place where the Spirit dwells. It is in this place where God speaks. Inspiration. Revelation.

It is here where the words, “I will be with you always” are heard over and over again. No talking required. Listening is the only rule. Gentle. Loving. Consoling.

Touched. So deeply touched.

Peace on the Journey