Waiting

God guides us

on the

long way round.

And sometimes that

means

winding

through a dark wood.

It doesn’t mean

we’re lost,

however.

The darkness

is part

of the trip.

Too many of us

panic

in the dark.

We don’t understand

that it is

a holy dark

and that the

idea is

to surrender to it

and journey through

to real light.

When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Directions for Life’s Sacred Questions

Sue Monk Kidd

Bucket List

Do you have a

Bucket List?

Or do people

tell you what

is on theirs?

Places to go,

people to meet,

relationships

with family and friends.

For me,

my real answer is

I no longer

make a plan

for myself,

but respond to

the things and people

in my life

that are

part of

a plan

I cannot see.

That response

is not

passive

but

is more about

life

unfolding,

some

sense of

adventure,

being open

to surprise

and

a longing

for fullness.

Some describe

longing

as the underlying

desire

for the divine.

There are times

when I am aware

of a longing;

other times,

not.

I do begin

most days

with a prayer

to take me

where

You want me to be,

Meet who You

want me to see,

Say what You

want me to say

Help me stay out of

Your way.

So,

as I close my eyes

at the end of each day,

I smile,

realizing

that what

was in my bucket

for the day

had

some unexpected

experiences

encounters.

Some might have

been painful

yet

each day

has a spark

of light

for my dreams

to process

into the

longing

for the next day.

Milestones

Tomorrow

is

my birthday.

Decades declare milestones.

At certain ages

there can be

the realization

that there are fewer

years ahead

than

already lived.

Mid-life

it is called.

Demographers

and cultural observers

 now offer

more gradations than

young,

middle aged

and old.

Early middle age,

middle age

late middle age.

At what point

does your category

become early old age?

Are you in

middle old age

and when

really old age?

For some,

lifespans

extend into the ninth and

even tenth decade.

When Social Security

was made available

at 65,

people weren’t

expected to live

much beyond that.

For some,

there can be

many decades

beyond

that mark.

How to live

these years,

whatever they are called?

Wisdom

offers

the suggestion

to shed

as we age.

Things,

images of ourself,

expectations,

hopes,

dreams,

disappointments.

Shedding

seems to say

that

growth stops

at some point.

Adults

we are.

Approaching

this birthday,

I am beginning

to understand

that letting go

is a better perspective

of what no longer

serves me.

Traveling

lighter,

I

hope

I

am

Growing

Into

Older

Age.

Learning,

growing.

Shifting gears,

slows me

to follow

the Inner Light

to savor

each moment,

each friend,

loved one

and stranger.

Sometimes the

Light

offers

a clear path.

Sometimes

intuition

brings

me on the path

I cannot

see

in this moment.

Praying Together

Of all the gatherings,

prayers spoken,

during Pope Francis’s visit to Cuba and the United States,

the 9//1 Interfaith Service

lingers

as the most memorable.

Pope Francis

asked God to

“look on us,

people of all faiths and religious traditions,

who gather today

on this hallowed ground,

the scene of unspeakable

violence and pain.”

During the

interfaith service,

Iman Khalid Latif

Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove

alternated words of peace.

More pairs followed

two Hindu women,

two Buddhists,

two Muslims,

a Sikh father and daughter

and a Protestant

and Orthodox Christian.

The Pope sat in the middle.

and followed in the program.

“God judges us according

to our deeds,

not the coat we wear”

were the words

in Punjabi and English

by daughter and father Sikhs.

Cantor Azi Schwartz chanted in Hebrew

a prayer to honor

the 9/11 dead.

The Eight Beatitudes

were read in the the

ancient Greek

and then in English.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,for theirs is

the kingdom of heaven.

The service was

finished with the Pope

offering a gesture of peace-

a handshake,

an embrace

or a bow.

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City

more than 60 teenage

boys and girls

wearing different colored scarves-

sang

“Let There Be Peace on Earth”.

Glancing around the room,

several members of the

interfaith audience

suggested the faith leaders

stay in the room.

“Lock the doors”, said one, “until the

group

figures out how

to achieve world peace.”

THOUGHT LEADER

Thought Leaders

are especially

important

during times of

Disruptive Innovation,

a concept

used in

this time

when things

aren’t working

and ways of thinking and doing

must be changed.

Since Pope Francis was chosen,

he has become a

powerful

THOUGHT LEADER.

From his first moments

Pope Francis

showed his

humility

asking for us

to pray for him.

He chose

simple garments,

comfortable black shoes,

paid his own hotel bill,

moved into a

simple apartment.

During Holy Week,

he washed the feet of the poor,

not all Catholics.

He told priests

to be merciful and compassionate

 towards those who are divorced

women who have had

abortions.

When asked about homosexuals,

he replied,

“Who am I to judge?”

Smiling,

he loves everyone

and in return,

he is loved.

The rules have not necessarily changed,

but the

TONE

has completely.

This change in tone is

Francis’

greatest achievement,

and it is HUGE!

In this

political season,

candidates

could learn

because Pope Francis

is an astute politician

in the best sense of the word.

As a South American

he sees the entrenched Vatican

as needing to be cleaned up,

finances and favoritism,

swept out.

Reflecting

compassion.

the tone,

the message

is that God is a God

of LOVE,

not JUDGMENT.

The Church’s role

is to make God

accessible.

Coming to the United States,

his first trip to North America,

he will speak

at the United Nations,

address Congress,

say Mass in Madison Square Garden.

Popular entertainers will

engage people,

using their words and music

to

open up people’s senses

to the music of their hearts.

Disruptive Innovation.

Bring it on!

Synchroncity and Opportunity

I see

synchronicity

In

the shocking murder of

nine people

in a Bible class

at the AME Emmanuel Church

in Atlanta

by a young white supremacist ,

many retailers no longer

selling Confederate flags,

the decision in Georgia

and other states

to remove the

Confederate flag

from public display.

President Obama’s

moving eulogy,

words moving into

singing

Amazing Grace with

all joining in.

Conjecture, publicity

To Kill a Mockingbird

 Harper Lee’s beloved book and movie

told by young Scout

seeing her father Atticus

through a child’s eyes.

The much anticipated

release of the

old, discovered

first book

taking place twenty years later.

Go Set A Watchman,

portraying Atticus

in a segregated  town,

challenged by a

climate, calling, demanding

equal rights for blacks and white.

An Off Broadway show

Hamilton

moves to Broadway

full of hip hop

historical characters played by

multi-racial cast.

Another play

Amazing Grace 

opens on

Broadway,

its writer, leaving his job

compelled to write this story

and produce it.

Publisher of Between the World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates

moves up release date

so we can read

his words written to

his fifteen year old son.

Growing up in Baltimore,

he feels the same

fear for his son

as week by week

there are

unnecessary murders

by police of young black men

barely adults.

Whatever events, words, books, musicals

might stir you,

move me,

the convergence

is an opportunity.

In the words of Amazing Grace

that forgiveness and redemption

are possible

regardless of sins committed,

“Amazing grace!

How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost,

but now am found,

Was blind,

but now I see.”

What can I see now

that I did not see before?

What do you see

that you did not see before?

“‘Twas grace that taught

my heart to fear,

And grace my fears

reliev’d;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!”

An Unexpected Rainbow

June has been quite dry,

little rain.

While eating dinner

last night,

the sky opened with a loud roar

and heavy rain fell down

refreshing the greenery,

washing the pollens

and dust, leaving everything

looking shiny and refreshed.

The view out the back

is wooded and buildings.

As the pelting rain

eased up,

the remnants of

the sun pierced through

and a rainbow appeared.

Rainbows don’t usually

show up

with the blocked view.

An unexpected rainbow.

We stood and paused,

in the moment

in wonder.

I cannot tell you

how long we stood there

as the rainbow’s edges

faded into the sky

or wherever

rainbows go

after astonishing us.

An unexpected rainbow

can be the bridge

to the surprise

and mystery of life.

Where do they

begin

and where do they end?

Perhaps the rainbow

takes a leap from

one place to another and begins again.

Discovering

as a young child does,

experiencing things

in the moment

never the same,

as we bridge our own lives to another’s.

Foundations

7.9

The earth convulses

Ancient temples

 modern buildings

not built to withstand the fury

Crumble.

Brick by stone

disintegrate

beyond imagination.

Mt. Everest

the world’s tallest mountain

rumbles

releasing avalanches.

Chaos

confusion

who is

buried?

The next day

Sitting at Evensong

in the beautiful seven decades old monastery

Near home,

I remember when the building was closed

for two years to clean and refurbish

Empty of chants and monks,

the first discovery

the foundation, the concrete floor

Built over peat, once riverbed earth

Breaking through

Roots, trunk size

Eight oak trees

Unseen, unknown.

The foundation compromised,

Leaking,

Poised to break through.

Just in time

A new foundation

Dug deep

Roots cut out

Trees cut down.

Everywhere we trust

buildings, the ground under our feet,

mountains

to be a foundation

To live.

Thoughts of my inner foundation

Become a litany.

How strong my inner foundation?

How can I

Strengthen

my own boards, bricks, stones,

My scaffolding?

My resilience?

To roll on the rollers that some buildings are

Built on

Where earthquakes Might come.

My inner core

Can I depend on

My stability,

Ability

To withstand the shakes and tumbles

Of life?

To be strong, not rigid

Flexible.

Roll with life

As it comes.

Healing From the Inside Out

Wounds that heal superficially need deeper healing.

Sometimes the wound needs to be reopened to heal completely.

A friend, a nurse, helped a patient with a compound-fracture wound

that had become infected after the scar had formed.

She described how she cleaned the reopened wound daily.

Gradually, the festering cleared up and

the new healthy layers grew and sealed the wound.

My friend’s ministries are a good metaphor for treating

psychological pain and emotional wounds.

These wounds develop

a scab, then a scar, but may not heal deeply.

Some time later, sometimes more than once,

these wounds need to be reopened.

This reopening is very painful, but creates an

environment for deeper healing.

I have thought of this metaphor many times and experienced the reopening of emotional wounds that needed to heal more deeply. At transition times in our lives, body and spirit call out for a more intense exposure of our pain. Once the pain has been faced, we can grow and thrive again.

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