Posts Tagged With: grace

Wake Up? Do I Have To?


Our new rescue pup, MayBelle, is a delight and a handful. Although she’s supposedly 4 years old, she is in many ways experiencing puppyhood with us. Like a puppy, she goes from wild to zonked out. The pic here caught her sincere question: “Do I really have to wake up now?”

I wonder if that’s a question for all of us, along our way.  Do I really have to wake up now?  Can’t I sleep through this?  Sometimes in our lives, for many reasons, we may deliberately elect to keep sleeping.  Perhaps more often, we may have habits which anesthesize us:  mindless activity, lots of TV or video, looping and repetitive thought patterns, addictions of various types, aggression in word or deed, even relationships where we’ve given over our freedom and simply echo another.

Every major world religion speaks of waking up (in some form) as entry to spiritual practice and fullness, integrity of vision and action.  Most of us who name ourselves disciples don’t wake up just once.  We are going along – really committed to our journey, to deepening faith, to living what we profess – and discover, often to our chagrin, that we have stumbled upon yet another way we resist or zone out or shirk freedom or live less than we truly desire. Whether it is due to fear, pain, lukewarmness, laziness, pride, regret,or listening to voices that lie to us about who we truly are…. We are nodding off – again.

The waking up we are invited to requires our persistence, certainly, but more – a huge helping of grace accepted and leaned upon. And a looking and listening in the right direction.

If we truly want to stay awake (hmmm…didn’t Jesus advise that?), the best way is to take a shortcut.  Look to Jesus. Remember the Creator of all is in relationship with us personally.  Listen to the Spirit, Companion-Dweller, wondrously living and forming us and praying for and with us from within.  And lean on this Trinity to be our alarm clock.  Stop doing it on our own steam.  Let God be our ongoing wake up call, just by confiding always,  leaning heavily, asking for the love and help always available to all of us.

St.  Therese of Lisieux referred to Jesus as her elevator who lifted her, as she was unable. She – like many saints – rejoiced in being small.  It showed God’s tender faithfulness in reaching into their littleness. (“For God has looked with favor on his lowly servant” – Luke, Magnificat.) If we acknowledge our attachment to sleepiness, our fears, our paralysis, our littleness, God will meet us there.  In fact God already does, we just forget and need to be re-minded (metanoia – no worries, also God’s work in us). 

Do I really have to wake up now?  Absolutely not.  But if we do ask this grace to wake and stay awake – and let God’s great love (grace) help us in the middle of our patterns and experiences and thoughts that keep us captive sleepers – our perspective, words, values, decisions may change. We will find the courage directly from the source of our life and love, letting go of our inabilities and leaning in to God’s great sufficiency. Then, a prayer typed up for me by a young student decades ago will not only make sense, but have the wings to carry us.

Lord, I am at the end of all my resources. Child, you are just at the beginning of mine!

What joy and comfort! Believing and KNOWING this to be true, we can be in each moment awake, happily humble, with abundance to share.

These words will not only make sense, but circle us with truth we can live in and from:

The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw – and knew I saw – all things in God and God in all things.
– Mechtild of Magdeburg


And yes, MayBelle loves living “awake” too!

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This is the Irrational Season: Mary’s Story

Sitting before the Child in the Manger, and the infinite made tenderly accessible to us, let us glance up at the young mother whose body held more than the universe itself can hold. (Clare of Assisi gave us that lovely image in her letters to Agnes of Prague).  In the midst of spinning stars on a planet small, in a stable smaller still, a woman young in years, yet full of grace and wonderings, looks at her baby boy with love.  Jesus would reach and feed, grow and play, learn and pray, love and work, cry and laugh  – all within the secure boundaries of her loving gaze.  What is Mary’s story?  For story – we remember – holds truth.  

Young Mary of Nazareth’s Story is marked with angels, journeys, questions, magnificats, leaping babes, kin conversation, serving, sorrows, Spirit, stars and ponderings. From angel annunciation, her life has been like the pause before the GPS speaks after a radical turn, “RECALCULATING”.  She’s gone another way, by intuition and by Yes, a way without her knowing and understanding, a way ungraspable and unexplainable (except by angel dreams, it seems, or so faithful loving Joseph found).  

And in this newly twisting tale, her Story and very being – heart and soul and flesh – will give birth to THE Story, the Word expressed in flesh and told in our world and time.  There will be no recalculated voice to explain the ways the Story will unfold in time.  This Story, this Word, invites and calls for faithfulness only. There is no reasoning, GPS security or googlemaps with landmarks.  Only love.  And Love.  For “it is not a matter of reason, it is a matter of love”.*  

So today I offer Madeleine L’Engle to you once more, for I find her word-entries into Incarnation mystery such apt companions for reflection.  I hope you do too.  These two poems take us months back from the Manger Mystery, to the Annunciation change in path.  Find Luke 1, and these, as food on this Feast of the Holy Family.



After Annunciation

This is the irrational season,
when love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason,
there’d have been no room for the child.

Young Mary

I know not all of that which I contain.
I’m small; I’m young; I fear the pain.
All is surprise: I am to be a mother.
That Holy Thing within me and no other
is Heaven’s King whose lovely Love will reign.
My pain, his gaining my eternal gain
my fragile body holds Creation’s Light;
its smallness shelters God’s unbounded might.
The angel came and gave, did not explain.
I know not all of that which I contain.

* This quote of reason and of love is from the play “A Man for all Seasons” by Robert Bolt


Categories: Christmas, General, Mary of Nazareth, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

BLESSED are You!

Today I read these words in scripture  – “Blessed are you” – and thought – STOP THERE! 

So often, it seems to me, we read this phrase and look for the rest of the sentence.  Blessed are you because….  you did something right.  Blessed are you when….  you are mourning, weak, meek, poor, hungry, thirsty.  Blessed are you because…  you are virtuous, obedient, thankful, successful, faithful, good-hearted, just, merciful, caring, praiseworthy, a person of integrity.  Of course many of these are straight out of scripture, and most of the others hold a little or a lot of truth.  The problem comes when you and I look to the second part of the sentences above as the way we can go about seeking to achieve the first part of the sentence, and make of life our compulsive construction kit in order to be truly named Blessed. 

Okay, roll my sleeves up!  Let me go be really thankful today and I will receive blessings.  Let me accept my weakness or poverty, and God will bless me.  Hey, even some of this is absolutely true.  But how arrogant to think that BLESSING depends on me.  My humanity doesn’t.  My body’s creation doesn’t.  My being here didn’t.  Like all of these, “BLESSED are YOU” is simply who you are and where you are.

I wonder how you and I would live differently if we truly heard this phrase.  BLESSED are YOU!

HARK:  Our Trinitarian God – the Creator of All, the Divine Presence, God who is Father and Mother, Jesus who walked and walks with us in our human experience – companioning and healing and rescuing and mentoring and teaching us, or the Spirit who dwells within and around and reminds us of all we have been taught and prays with and for and in us – this God says to you, BLESSED are YOU. 

BLESSED is our identity, not an occasional descriptor.  Why?  Simply because God chooses in the great love God is, to bless us.  We are the BLESSED ones, the Beloved ones.  What a difference if we sit with this, hear it, taste it, see it, look for evidence of it in our daily lives where God loves to show up with special gifts, if we will only notice.  This does not mean that we are the center of the universe… but that God delights in loving us, and comes in ways and through images and words and symbols and moments to each of us. 

For me, any yellow rose I see yells, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”.  I see robins, and I hear, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”   The connection and love in my mother’s eyes says, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”  The grace of being with another says, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”  The familiar creative tug as images and words play in my heart and head says, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”   Hearing the words of Celtic and Carmelite and Franciscan saints and how they feed me whispers, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”  The wind in the leaves and the way I am captured by the ocean say, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”  The ground my feet touches vibrates with, “Blessed are you, Joanne!”  I am supremely blessed – and I mean to enjoy it!  What better way to live, and to compliment and be thankful to the giver who keeps on giving, the lover who keeps on loving unendingly!  🙂

May you know the BLESSING you are, this day.  May you relax in being just you, just blessed.  May you see all around you God’s myriad messages that assure you that this is your identity.  And as you go about doing the good and resisting what moves away from good, may you know you do that too from the strength of an identity that is already yours.  Whatever joys and failures today may hold, your Blessedness is not at stake.  Lean on it, draw from it, and pass on the word.

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