Here it is again! A slideshow of Fra Angelico’s frescoes in the monks’ cells in the Convent of San Marco. At 8:15 I was the first visitor of the day, and for a while I had the place to myself. I have a set of these same pictures stored on my computer, so why take them again? Because these are of the moment, this moment of prayer.
It is said that Jesus was both human and divine--a concept I easily resonated with on my walk this morning. I set out with the intention of walking with God—to meditate and be in God’s presence by letting go of all my everyday thoughts—the monkey mind, as it is called. At varying intervals I was able to do this, to be with the divine Jesus.
However, I was also present to the human Jesus. How could I not, with sweat dripping down the back of my neck, with my legs letting me know they were working hard, and with thoughts of thirst?
I’m glad my faith celebrates both the human and the divine, not just in Jesus but in each one of us humans. Without thought or commitment we all participate in the human. But although the divine is there, we have to chose it and practice bringing it into our consciousness and actions.
So did Jesus. He was out and about in Galilee walking and talking with people, but he there were times when went off to walk and talk with God. And then there was the cross, where he was fully human, and then in some mysterious, unfathomable way, showed us how also to be fully divine.
As an older person I spend time thinking about my purpose in life. When younger, purpose wasn’t an issue. I always had plenty to do, plenty of purpose—family and job—that kind of thing. Now, even though I have less to do, I have a satisfying balance—family and church—that kind of thing.
But there is something else going with me about purpose. My satisfying balance has to do with a new underlying purpose, which is to do for God. I pretty much do the same kinds of things that I always did, but now I do them, not because I was brought up to be a ‘good’ person, but as a disciple of Jesus who calls is to be stewards of the earth and ‘fishers of men.’
Yesterday on my cottagebythesea blog I wrote about the child abuse our government is carrying out on children and mothers seeking asylum as they courageously dare to enter the United States through Mexico. I’ve posted it below.
Here on this prayerdiary I want to talk about all the praying that’s going on for the situation. People are praying and I trust you who read this blog are doing so as well.
That’s the first thing I want to say. The second is that as Christians we are called to feed the poor… what you do to one of these, you do unto me. That’s what Jesus tells, and whenever I need a refresher, which I do, I read Matthew 25. It’s all there.
Finally, what about the law? Jesus told the man who asked him which law to follow in order to gain eternal life, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27). You can find a similar response in Matthew 22:37.
That sums up Jesus’ entire message. Just a few phrases, with a chapter or two thrown in for amplification and clarification.
Here are this morning’s gratitudes:
I’m grateful I had the freedom to nurse my two children.
I’m grateful that I am sooooo angry that nursing children are being taken (grabbed) from their mother’s breast at our Mexican border.
I can’t believe that my gratitude has to do with anger. As I’ve written before, every morning my husband and I start the day saying what we’re grateful for. Those ought to be positive, right? And they usually are because isn’t that the nature of gratitude? Isn’t that how we want to live?
But this is a totally new concept for me (and I’m sure I’m not alone), this separating nursing mothers and children. Separating is bad enough, but taking a baby from the breast? Child abuse is hardly a strong enough term. Is there any argument that says it’s not child abuse? I’m not saying abusive in some general, vague term. I’m using the full term: CHILD ABUSE.
Who are these people who physically carry out this child abuse? Border guards, men and women. I assume that more of them are men, because that’s the kind of job men have. A few may be women, but I can’t imagine any woman would grab a child from a mother’s breast. More likely the women border guards are probably in the detention centers comforting children and mothers.
I assume that these border guards are citizens of this democracy called the United States of America. How can these men and women stand by and be complicit in this child abuse? They need the job to support their families and they are powerless—the two go together; I get that. I also get that that is what German citizens said as they unwittingly participated in Hitler’s cult, which let to the Nazi state. And now, our the United States government, via the president, is requiring its citizens to participate in immoral and unethical acts against fellow human beings.
I’m angry but refuse to admit I’m powerless. I have to believe that I am a citizen of a democracy. I can speak out against this child abuse, but is there something more to do?
In the Week 6 Day 1 post of the Society of St. John the Evangelist Lenten post, Br. Curtis suggests that there is a fifth Gospel, the Gospel according to you. What an intriguing idea, one that challenges me to give it a try. As Br. Curtis suggests, it will tell what my life is about. As I begin, the one thing I know for certain is that my Gospel will tell that God has called me to pray for people-- that is definitely a God call because never in a million years could I have thought that up myself. Prayer will be the special message of my Gospel.
The other day my niece sent me this photo of me at age two standing with my mom at the mailbox. Undoubtedly my dad took the picture, but it is my mom and me having this moment of love and tenderness that formed the basis of our intimate relationship that lasted until her death at age 101. This trust that my mom (and dad) offered me continues to open me up to an intimate relationship with Jesus.
My mom once told me that she tried to start each day being grateful for her family and friends, her health, her life, and her faith. I try to do the same. Thank you, Mom. Very Grateful!
“Jesus Christ is my personal savior,” is not something I’ve ever proclaimed, much less said, nor do I hear it from any of my church-going, Christian friends.
With the murders in Las Vegas and the devastation in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, however, I’m beginning to appreciate what that statement means. Without Jesus, I’d be wallowing in the chaos, groping in the dark, seeing no way out. No way to see the light.
Yesterday I realized that I had been walking in the dark, absorbing the negative energy out there. It doesn’t take much—just listen to the news. But negativity was oozing out to all the situations in my life. No one could do it right. I had righteous indignation about everything, everybody.
But then Jesus slipped in, turning on the light of love, his ONLY place of salvation. And that awareness saved me. So, dare I say, “Jesus Christ is my personal savior”?
How much time do we spend praying? Christian tradition reminds us a time when churches were open for services night and day, and when monks and others participated in the Daily Office. But nowadays? We’re on the run, at least those still working. As a retired person I have the luxury of time to pray, and since I have this call to pray for people, I’d better take the time. Intercessory prayer takes time. The preparation is intense in itself. Empty my mind of chatter and judgments so that thy will be done can enter.
“Could you not watch one hour with me?” (Matthew 26:40), Jesus asks his disciples. He is asking me, for I am a disciple. I try to do just that for the first hour of my day. It’s a good practice, and for me it feels like a privilege.
A preface to the Cottage by the Sea post that follows.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21.
Jesus tell me not to worry about my stuff. Living each day believing that I have enough, opens up a vast space for me to concentrate on following God’s call and do God’s work in the world.
In fact, the Gospels tell us nothing of Jesus’ personal possessions. Rather, we are told to give it all way--to feed the poor. Jesus tells us to store up treasures in heaven, not on earth.
Cottage by the Sea blog post:
Throughout the centuries the buildings in Florence have been constructed for eternity. Stone has that lasting quality about it, a sturdiness in the fact that except for churches and public structures, the buildings rise no higher than five floors.
The shops I pass on the ground floor of these old buildings are filled with items that, with luck, might last seven years, not seven centuries. As I sit writing at Caffe Ricchi in Piazza Spirito, I watch vendors setting up kiosks to present home grown provisions, such as bread, cheese, pasta, fruit and vegetables, honey and jams to sell.No waste here. Woodworkers, weavers, potters, and other craft people are sell their heart-felt expressions.
“Buy what you need,” I tell myself, which is easy for me because I don’t want any more stuff. The buying phase of my life is complete. I have more than I need, which is where discontentment sets in. I have begun to get rid of/recycle/donate my extra stuff—books I’ve read, dishes I don’t use, clothing I’ll never wear, ‘sitters’ I don’t appreciate or look at. Contemplation and action.
As I wander around Florence my eyes gaze up at all that stone, rarely in shop windows.
Lately I’ve been thinking about forgiveness, but I must admit nothing new has come to mind; just questions and feelings. Maybe forgiveness has no definitive definition or modus operandi; maybe it is found in the heart.
Whenever I hear of a situation in which someone asks (insists) that someone apologize as a condition for forgiveness, I get confused. Who is to forgive whom? Does it matter who forgive first? Does the other person have to accept the forgiveness to legitimize the transaction? Is transaction the right word to us?Whew, I give up! Too much language, too much in my head.
Here’s today’s simple thought. I can’t make someone else forgive; I’m only in charge of what I can forgive, which is contingent on what is in my heart. A place to start is to explore the likely possibility that I have to forgive myself. It might be something I have specifically done—that’s the easy part. Very likely it includes an attitude of judgment, superiority, pride, jealousy—you know the list. As Jesus tells us: take the log out of your own eye first.
Then, maybe, but maybe not, say, “I forgive you; please forgive me,” and leave it at that!