I rarely take time to actually sit down at the computer and read anything through from beginning to end anymore. But today, this article (linked below) captured me and held me captive throughout.
“The more I learn, the more complex it gets,” said author Luanne Armstrong in Life on a Farm, DailyGood.org.
Amen, sister, amen.
That simple statement has been my theme for the last several months. My theme of struggle, Paradox.
It seems, of late, that when I am asked for an answer about my faith, I hesitate. The hesitation to speak of anything, much less my Faith, has never been a struggle for me. But now it has become a great struggle.
I think I hesitate because I am still working on the Answers, and I still have plenty of Questions myself.
Many of us, as Episcopalians (as I am) and as other speakers of Faith, struggle to answer that question. And I think it’s an honest struggle. A normal, human struggle. A struggle that shows intellect and not the lack of it.
Some believe we struggle with that question because we haven’t been to enough Sunday School classes and don’t know the bible. Others think that we’re so wishy-washy that we hesitate to come up with concrete answers in fear of offending someone. And others believe that the foundation of our faith is so weak that even to speak of it will put it at risk of crumbling.
Some or all of those things may be true or partially true for any person of any Faith. But I think the reason many of us hesitate is because we believe Faith isn’t about HAVING all the answers. It is more about knowing that there ARE answers and then being comfortable with the idea that while you will not ever find all (or even most, not even SOME) of the answers in this life, you have faith that you will find them in the next.
I believe that the Answers aren’t important and that, even in the next life, they will not be important to us. And I believe that they are not important because we will be as One with the Answer, we will know the Answer as we know ourselves.
Even now, in our earthly bodies, we do not know ourselves as well as we could. We are full of mystery even to ourselves, how do we expect others to understand us fully when we do not understand ourselves fully? That is the point of deep contemplation, to get to know and understand ourselves more fully AND to realize the true connection we already HAVE with the One and True God.
As John O’Donohue said in the quote above, “When you really look at something, it becomes a part of you.”
The more time I spend looking deeply at this little world in my own backyard — the birds,bugs, and mice; the flowers, trees, and grasses; the soil, sky, and rain — the more connected I become to that world.
I am in the bird and the bird is in me.
I feel compassion for his struggles — for every feather that falls, for every love unrequited, for each hungry moment.
I fall in love with his beauty, I rejoice with him in his song, and I look at him in wonder and awe as he takes flight.
I am in the bird and the bird is in me.
Do I understand him completely? His every tweet, his every flutter? No, I do not. I cannot. But a lack of complete understanding does not bar me from love, compassion, relationship, wonder and awe.
And so it is with God. I am in God and God is in me.
Do I understand God completely? No, I do not. I cannot. But the more I look at God and look to God and be with God, the closer I feel that thing that I already know is True — I am in God and God is in me.
And if that is the only Answer to all of my Questions that I ever receive? Then that Answer is enough to fuel the Fire of my Faith for the rest of my life.
Collect of the Day: Ascension Day
Almighty God, who blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.Read More
So much tragedy. So many tears shed as we watch and listen to the news. As my heart breaks for the suffering — both for those that suffer and those that cause the suffering — my heart is full of love.
I am so in love with this world. I carry a heart full of love and compassion for the people of this world. I am so grateful for my friends, my dogs, my family.
That’s it. That’s all I wanted to tell you. I love you.
We can get through this — all of this, whatever troubles come our way — together.Read More
One phrase that cannot be defined the words alone. You must read the person, the situation — watch the face, read the body language, listen to the intonation, the urgency or lack thereof, sarcasm, rolling eyes, boredom, fear, distrust, anger, happy anticipation, elation, shock or sorrow.
“Are you kidding me? Nooooo!”
“Are you kidding me? Yesssss!”
“Are you kidding me? What was she thinking?”
“Are you kidding me? Why did you DO that?”
“Are you kidding me? What makes you think I give a rat’s fuzzy rump?”
It’s not just the words, it’s how you say them. Do I have a point?
“Are you kidding me??”
“I have great faith in fools — self-confidence my friends will call it.” — Edgar Allan Poe, Marginalia
I seem to be on a rant roll (if one post a month can even be called a “roll”), but it is what it is.
I found this image in a post on my Facebook page this morning.
I take the words of Christ very seriously and I believe he really meant it when he said (to paraphrase), “Love them, feed them, visit them, keep them safe.” And I believe that Christ not only fully realized that we, too, would get some reward for the good that we did, he built it into the plan.
But I don’t think he meant a summer vacation. In fact, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a part of his plan at all. The reward is in our hearts, in the strengthening of our relationship to Him and to our community — the reward arrives in the shape of a full heart, open and ready arms, peace, and joy in the knowledge that you have not just felt God’s love, you have passed it on to others.
Would you put more money in the offering plate on Sundays if there were a drawing for a prize afterwards? I think most of us would — those that wouldn’t, those who have already given what they had to give? They have already grown beyond the need to get something back — other than the spiritual rewards — for what they have given. To stand in that place, in that way of giving without getting, that should be the goal of us all.
To attend a fundraiser cocktail party with a price tag of $1,000 per person, spending $500 per person to get it? Shameful. To raise funds for your child’s school by selling cheap candles at $5 each and taking just half of that back to the school? To pay for something I really didn’t need in the first place in order to give 50% of its value for the organization? Ridiculous.
The event in the image raises $20,000. Of that total, $5,600 is immediately taken out in prizes, leaving them with $14,600. There is the hotel and food costs to pay for — which, even if both are donated to the event, it still costs, it is still money spent on food and place for those that can afford their own.
Are we so spoiled and needy that we must be given cocktails and appetizers and beautiful decor in order to pry open our pocketbooks? Do we really need the hope of a chance at a Grand Prize to wrestle $10 from our wallets?
I think not. I think we need to rethink how we think about fundraising.Read More
As I scroll through Facebook I am bombarded by the memes of religious and political platitudes, sarcastic snipe, and banal expressions of rebelliousness. Some border on the offensive, some cross that border and sit smack in the middle of it. Others range from the mildly amusing to the downright hilarious (usually because they strike a chord of ironic truth).
Many of these posts I enjoy, some I share. But it is the sheer number of them that has begun to drive me crazy. I have reached the point of Facebook meme saturation.
I joined Facebook to connect with my friends. I wanted to see what they’re up to and what they feel the need to share. I wanted to pray for their hurts and wants and needs, to celebrate their victories, to praise them for their talents, and to listen and learn from the wisdom they had to share.
Since I live and work alone much of the time, I hoped that Facebook would be a lifeline into my community, a lifeline I could hold onto when I felt the need to connect. Some days I need that connection more than others, and on those days I tend to find myself posting more thoughts, proclaiming more deeds, and sharing more memes. Because I share more when I feel needy, I understand when others do the same.
And don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a hardship for me or a cross that I must bear in the name of friendship to listen to and respond to your needs. It is a celebration of our friendship. It is a joy to hold some of your cares in my own hands, to hold you up to the light and tell you “Yes! You are clever (or funny, or creative, or pretty, or kind).” To know what it is that bothers you or brings you joy or breaks your heart or makes your heart sing — that is all part of the connection of friendship and the very reason why I point my Facebook app in your direction and read, comment, and share.
But the memes? The constant streams of snark, political bashing, and religious sap? That’s not real connection.
One year during the Lenten season I went on a news blackout. I didn’t watch or listen to any local or national news whatsoever. As I was telling a friend what I was doing (or NOT doing), she asked me, “Then how in the world will you know what’s going on??” I answered her with a laugh, “Hey, if it’s THAT important, I’ll read about it on Facebook.” And I was joking … sorta … not really.
And now, with running stream of meme after meme, I’m as likely to miss the news of a friend with a broken hand who is (deservedly) looking for prayers and sympathy (which happened yesterday) as I am to miss the news of a tsunami in Japan.
I realize that what I have just said here may make some of you very unhappy, as unhappy as people have been with the post on Candy Crush and FarmVille. I’m willing to take that risk.
No, I won’t “unfriend” you if you flood Facebook with memes. Yes, (confession) I have unfriended someone who flooded Facebook with memes — but that person wasn’t really a friend, she was someone who had added me to her friends list probably through an attempt to inflate her own friend numbers and not through any real wish to connect with me as a person — who also happened to flood the Facebook wall with memes.
I am concerned that the sharing of memes has become a habit, and not a true need to share and connect.
If you think something is funny and you think someone else might need that same giggle, share away!! But if you think that we all need to know everything you think is cute, funny, thoughtful, or horrifying? Think again.
If you feel the need to connect through Facebook conversation, do it!! Share your needs, your joys, your sadness and your victories. We’re here for you and that’s what friends are for.
It’s just my opinion, take it or leave it. Please don’t be mad at me for it. I am not saying this from a lofty height, looking down upon the Facebook sinners. I am saying this as one standing in the crowd, as one that is part of (what I see to be) the problem.
Peace be unto you. ♥kmRead More
I was a slow starter this morning. I had set my alarm so I would have enough time to get up and get to church, but when the alarm went off I hit the snooze button — three times. After each alarm, I could almost hear a voice, “Get up and go. You must go today.” But each time I hit the snooze button anyway. After the third time I turned off the alarm entirely, turned over and closed my eyes.
“Hear I am, Lord.”
“Don’t go back to sleep.”
The breezes of the dawn have secrets to tell you. Don’t go back to sleep.
~Jalaluddin Rumi, Sufi poet and mystic
So, I got up.
Today in his sermon, Fr. Richard told us the story of the eagle and the chickens:
A man found an eagle’s egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat on his strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. “Who’s that?” he asked. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” said his neighbor “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth – we’re chickens.” So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
~Anthony de Mello (1931 – 1987), Jesuit priest and mystic
Fr. Richard talked about the difference between the lesser reality of the barnyard and the deeper, broader, greater reality of the skies — a larger view, an expanded reality.
While my head struggled with the idea of choosing an eagle (they aren’t on the list of my favorite birds for many reasons) and chickens (for whom I have great respect) for the story, my heart said, “Ah ha! THAT’S what is wrong with me lately: I’m an eagle. I’ve seen the view from high in the sky, I know the freedom of flight — but I keep coming back to the hen-house and try to pretend that nothing is different, nothing has changed and I’m just a chicken. I just can’t pretend anymore.
And, really, I think we are ALL eagles who have bought into the story that we are all just chickens.
At this crossroads in my life, I am quite lost as to where my calling is calling me to go and do. I do know one thing, however. I want to spread the word that we are eagles. Now. How to do that and still make enough money to feed myself? Therein lies the problem.
Am I making any sense at all??
So … at the end of my “retreat” I am still unsure of my path, but I trust that if I keep listening for directions, I will find my way.Read More