Staying Faithful to the Small Picture

Has anyone ever told you to

“Remember the Big Picture?”

It’s great advice!  But I think there needs to be a “subtitle”:

“But Stay Faithful to the Small Picture”.

What’s the small picture?  It’s the present moment.  And remembering the big picture while staying faithful to the small one, is quite the balancing act.

The two- big and small pictures- are played out in the mind.  

First, it’s consoling to remember that “all things work unto good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)

When life brings twists and turns, we can learn to trust that

God has a big plan for our salvation!

But then the mind must come to focus upon the practical work! Each day we get up and move through each hour.  Each moment we have an opportunity to stay faithful to what is right in front of us.

To whom are we speaking?  What do we chose next?

 How can we turn this experience into prayer?

 Each and every moment and encounter:  these are the small picture.  

What picture are you thinking about right now?  Each, big and small, are important to ponder.  See God loving you all the way to salvation.  The big plan has a glorious ending!  Remember the picture is one He’s creating- He’s writing the big story called life!

But also stay faithful to each little “instagram” moments…  to all the ways to say yes to His love.  Each moment God’s inviting us to turn our eyes toward His gaze.  Each moment He’s reminding us He’s with us every step of the way.

Staying faithful to the small picture of every detail in life,

helps us remember that it’s a really big plan:  unending Love in Eternity!

 

When Love Comes…

Have you ever felt swept away?

 Maybe by the crash of a real ocean wave…Or maybe by a tide

of overwhelming obligations.

Maybe by a beautiful sunset that left you literally speechless.

 

sunset st joseph drive

 

 

 Or maybe by someone with whom you’ve fallen madly in love with…

The feeling can lift us or it can wash us away….

depending on what’s causing the “wave”.

Recently, I have felt swept away by a decision to move after over 30 years.  In union with my husband and in union with God in prayer, we boxed up our world, and let the Love of the Holy Spirit move us.

And when Love comes to sweep you away, you don’t ask where He is taking you.

You just go.

And of course these major decisions and movements of the Spirit, come with many lessons to learn.  One must be humble under the guidance of the Spirit, and listen to the whisperings… gently given… in the heart.

“U-Haul.”

 

U Haul

 Of course we must participate, but a crucial lesson has been to let Him haul.

 Yes, YOU haul us Lord!  We can’t do this on our own!

 Whenever I took over, and tried to haul the burden of packing,  cleaning, worrying about outcomes, and saying all the many goodbyes, I broke down.

It was too much for me alone.

Whenever I let the Holy Spirit take over, and “haul” all my concerns for me, each day began with trials, but ended with gratitude in my heart

for all HE had accomplished through me.

Each day, He’d send just the right person, or note, or kindness or inspiration in prayer.  Each day He’s send just enough manpower or financial support

or glimpse of the future full of hope.

A movement of grace has swept over us.  The Sacred Heart of Jesus has opened.  The Holy Spirit has come to sweep us away, and we trust Him to provide all we need.

Don’t ask, just go.  It is Love who has come to sweep you away!

 

The Folds of Mary’s Mantle

 

“Are you not in the folds of my mantle?

Tucked away in the night?”

“No, rather darkness and fear enfold me.

They make me shiver with fright”

“Shhh now- a Mother has been given to you

I stand at the root of the tree,

See the crossing I make with my arms

This is where I want you to be.

Nurse from the constant graces that flow

Find your place close to me

Search the ebb and the flow of the waves

My mantle provides now for thee”

I looked at the waves, the flow, and the veil

I looked for the comfort I sought

And there, amid all my chaos and screams

I saw end to the fears I had fought

There within the curve of her dress

A fold in the mantle made for me

A place to enter, to rest, and be blessed

Where darkness could no longer be.

Don’t wait too long to search the whole tide

For she waits to give you this place

Seek not the foolish things of the world

When the Mantle is where you’ll find grace.

Know that there is a fold just for you

Just for where you are now

Darkness and fear must flee in the fold–

Her Mantle wraps you in His power.

Sentinel Type Waiting

 

“I trust in the Lord

My soul trusts in His word

My soul waits for the Lord

More than sentinels wait for the dawn” (Psalm 130:6)

Docility, St Thomas Aquinas tells us, is one of the integral parts in the discerning task of prudence (deciding the right thing to do).  It means knowing how to listen, so that we can be teachable.

Sentinels needed to be docile and ready- ready to listen. Yes for every stir or sound

’round the place of their guard. 

And night shift sentinels had an added challenge.  Darkness surrounded them.  They needed to be still to hear the slightest sounds.  They had to be prepared to receive the circumstances around them.

And as the night wore on, they tired as they waited.  They longed for those first rays of light on the horizon.  The promise that they might see and might be able to find some rest.

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Are you awaiting the dawn?  Is it hard to be still and to listen with docility?  You want to discern the right thing.  You shiver until the sun brings some warmth.

How to be like the sentinel?  How to stay still in the dark? Do you wait for a reconciliation?  A healing,  or a place to work and to live? Do you wait to know your vocation?  And what God is calling you to do?

Especially when God’s seems to be silent.  You wait for the dawn of answered prayer. You stay awake so you’re ready to hear.

And creation tells us the story.  We’ve listened to it day after day :  

Night time is always over.  

And time moves us into the light.

Tested in long times of suffering, we are born children of the day.

 He makes all things new.

God bless all you sentinels out there waiting.  I join my heart prayers to yours.  

I choose to trust in His promises of day.  My soul will await the dawn.

From Mist to Midst

“Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.

But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then… God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being… God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.” (Genesis 2:5-8)

From a place where mist used to rise, in a garden,

God created the first human person.

Mists are mysterious.  They mystify.  Scripture says that we’re born into a beautiful garden, shrouded in the mysteries of life.

Salvation history began at this moment, and continues on to today.  But today, we celebrate the Easter season, and our Savior is risen and in our midst.

How did we get from mist to midst?

Our walk with God has been a complicated one.  With freedom, we’ve fallen from grace.  We’ve toiled and worked in the gardens of our lives, and struggled through sin, suffering, loss and even death.

Death.  That’s the “d” that splits the word mist.

These things, especially the finality of death, remain mysterious and dreadful realities, unless we truly rejoice in what we’re celebrating these days.

Does Jesus’ death split the mist in your life?  

Can His Presence in your midst make sense of all your suffering?

Mary Magdalene’s in a “mist”- a mist of tears and of confusion.  She’s in the mist of the early morning hours after being up all night weeping.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  (John 20:15)

Here we are back in a garden. It’s not until the “Gardener” calls her name, that all the mist evaporates.

 He’s in our midst.

 And His death has separated all the confusion. His death has breathed life back into the human person.

“Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26)

Notice He doesn’t take the “d” word away.  In fact it seems to be the only way!

If we do not know the necessity of dying with Christ as the mysterious reality of a life of faith, we can never really know the beauty of His Presence, risen and in our midst.

Let His death defy the MIST-ery.

Let His death make all things clear.  Our Savior rises in glory and He lives, so we can too.

The Gardener calls your name in your MIDST.

The Shape of You

It’s such a catchy tune.  He’s in love with your body.  He’s in love with the “shape of you”.

So just what kind of shape is your body in? As we finish this fourth week of Lent?  A lot of people I know are “feeling it”…

…the desert, the discipline, the death to self.  Their bodies are beat.

They’re feeling like their body’s are in the shape of the Cross.  Hanging up there with Christ.  

That’s the shape of HIS BODY.  And it’s given for you.

So the lines can become hard ones to sing: ” Who-a, who-a, who-a , who-a….I’m in love with your Body, Lord.  I ‘m in love with the shape of you….the shape of the cross that we are sharing right now.  Because my pain in yours and yours in mine.  We’re suffering together.

 This passion?  This shape?  It’s intense.” 

What if we sang as we waltzed up the communion aisle….sang that song with all our heart?

“Lord, I’m in love with your Body of Christ in the Eucharist.  I’m just so in love.  I can’t wait to meet you- I’ll be your Bride, and you’ll be my Bridegroom.

You see the shape I’m in, and you love me!   

And, I’m in love with your Body, Lord!”

We pray, we receive, and peace comes even while we still hang in the shape of the cross. Our eyes open and once more we can untwist the lyrics of this song of longing and union in the heart. We look around and let them apply to our brothers and sisters in Christ.  St Paul tell us that we are the Body of Christ.  And each member is united to the rest.  When one suffers, the whole body suffers.  If one is well, the whole body’s well.  

Am I in love with the Body of Christ? In the people in my life each day?

 Will I let my body take the shape of a cross for them?

 Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!  Can I say to the members of the Body of Christ- I’m in love with the shape of you….especially when you are suffering in the shape of a cross.  I’m in love with your body. I will be a gift of self out of love for you.  I want us to hope and to heal.”

Every heart is longing for union and love.  Mysteriously, every heart will find rest in the shape of the Body of Christ.

 This is my love song this Lent.  A song that leads to true love and real life.

  “Lord, everyday discovering something brand new…I’m in love with your Body.”

 

Stone Rejected

Moses struck the rock in the desert

To quench an Israelite thirst

Even though their complaints rise, they grumble

Still He always loves first.

Christ comes to be, the True Rock Redeemer

Cornerstone builders reject

Spear-struck to pour out the Blood and the Water

For thirst He would never neglect

Sing out my soul in praise of this Rock

Draw near to drink and be still

Grumbling is over, desert long past

Now you are one with HIs Will!

 

 

 

 

 

One Powerful Woman

She’s known worldwide.  She is a real person in history.  Even after her death in the first century, she’s been seen all over the world – and with different faces.

Scientifically unexplained phenomenon are attributed to her. It can be hard to refute her successes. Century after century claim miracles affected by her power. December 2015’s National Geographic Magazine named her the world’s most powerful woman.

Who is woman of strength?  Her name is Mary of Nazareth.

 She was chosen as the Mother of Jesus Christ.  The Mother of the Savior of the world.

She always appears to the small and humble, often to little children. The messages are always the same: Pray, and turn back to God.   Simple messages from a mother who loves her children.

Her appearance as an Aztec princess in Mexico in 1531 resulted in her miraculous image being left on a cactus fiber tilma, the cloak of the poor Juan Diego.  This tilma hangs in the basilica in Mexico City where millions have been converted to God upon seeing her. It’s fiber should have long ago deteriorated and studies of the tilma baffle scientists.

At Lourdes, France she appeared to the meek Bernadette, and asked the people to pray and turn to God.  A spring rose up from the ground where they met, and this water has affected thousands of healing miracles.  Some are medical healings of the body and some are emotional and spiritual healing of interior peace and new perspective.

She predicted the 2 world wars at Fatima and also the genocide in Rwanda.  At the time of her last visit in Fatima, a secular newspaper reported the miracle of the sun spinning in the sky.

She has appeared to countless saints, who were commissioned to make her more known.  Many of the bodies of these saints remain incorrupt – more evidence of what must necessarily be called supernatural. Her messages continue today, as she fulfills her task of speaking to her children about God’s mercy and His desire to be one with them.

Some listen and are set free.  Others turn away unwilling to believe.  But still there are the proven facts that even science cannot explain.

What is the source of this woman’s power? 

Contrary to the world’s definition, Mary’s is not derived from self.   Contrary to our nature which demands human praise, Mary’s ultimate power comes from complete openness to God’s love within her.

And because of this, Mary is not only the most powerful woman who ever lived, but also the most free.  Her freedom is completed directed by the love of God that fills her.

Because of her great freedom, which opens her up completely to God’s life and love, she is able to agree to be the very link between divine life and human life.

God in the flesh, comes to dwell within her.

Because of her receptivity she is able to contain Infinity. Because of her humility, she becomes the most powerful.

What of broken humanity?  What of women wounded?  Either by others who have wrongly dominated them, or by their own inward tendency to self?  Is it even possible to look to Mary as our model?

If she is in fact the link, and the surest way to the power, the answer could be to turn to her.  Could we ask her how we might heal?

Could we turn to her to show us the way to true feminine power?

 Can we imitate her openness to God’s love so it can fill us?  Can we forgive those who have so greatly offended us?  Can suffering transform us into something great?

Only if we are convinced of the power of God.  Only if we are convinced Mary can lead us there.

May our souls take a glance at this woman of power, and give pause to the way she can lead us to our own.

Then we rest in the power of love.

Loss of Life in Lent

A Reflection on Luke 9: 23-25

“Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

 

Show me how to lose my life

Let it enter Yours

Invitation- death to self

Your Heart an open door.

Contrary to my first response

To save myself from pain

Grant me the grace to take Your hand

To see this loss as gain

Here it is, my Lord, my God

My daily cross and strife

Within Your Heart I find myself

Loss becomes new life!

The Other Side of Ashes

It will be smeared on my forehead this Wednesday.

 That messy ash. That smudge to mark me.  As a follower of Christ.

Not to mention- it means the start of Lent.  The penance, the pruning, the picking up of crosses.

 All to be a follower of Christ.

Ashes there to remind me.  I’ll return to the dust.  This side of life is short. Better hope the smudge wears off before too many see.

I have to admit to being fooled into thinking that real beauty is only what is pleasing to the senses and  what looks good on the outside right now.  And not that those aren’t wonderful and good things:  The smell of a rose.  The sight of a beautiful face.  The mysterious landscape in a painting.

But sometimes life is messy.  And circumstances repulsive to me.  I don’t move toward them but run away…even from myself.  I don’t see beauty on my face  at all- just smudged on ashes on my face.  Just me returning to dust.

But I’ve also lived through too many Lents now.  I know how this works out.  I’ve seen those black ashes can become beauty….that smudge become my path to glory.

And it’s worth the work to push on through to the other side of ashes.

What’s on the other side of ashes?  Resurrection. Glory. Beauty. And Light. There’s only one way to do the work of black ashes into beauty.  Mostly I don’t “work” at all.  Surrender is the key….surrendering that mess to the One who came to transform it.

 Do I believe He can love me enough this year, to meet me here in ashes?

I do.  That’s what we say at a wedding.  I do believe He loves me.  I do believe He can transform this lowly body into a glorified one. (Phillipians 3:21)  I do believe He can take me to the other side of ashes.

40 Days will bring me there.  I wonder what He has in store for me this year.

 I wonder what the smudge will teach me- about Him, about myself and about others.

But more than anything else, I’ll wonder about the other side of ashes.

 Where I’ll see Him, me, everyone, and everything in radiant beauty and glory.

See you on the other side.