Shiny Blue Portapotties on a Flatbed Trailer

I was recently driving to the local post office and found myself behind a large truck that was transporting two portapotties on a large trailer.  They were probably on their way to a weekend graduation event or an outdoor venue of some type but as soon as I saw them, I knew I had to reflect on this image just a little bit more.

You see, when I saw those portapotties, I was reminded that even the most wonderful life events must allow for a little bit of a mess.  Just think about the arrival of a newborn infant and the number of diapers used in those early days or the process of housebreaking a furry canine family member.  In a roundabout way, I am talking about hospitality here, friends.  Planning for a houseguest or planning a party for a large group entails carefully anticipating what the other person(s) will need to be comfortable.  Every little detail matters, not just the ones that we find easy or pleasing or exciting.

Am I going out on a limb if I say that the same can be true of practicing my faith?  It’s easy for me to fall into that “same old, same old” routine of praying or even to put aside my morning Scripture reading now that summer is here and the living is easy.  Maybe I find myself in a prayer “rut” or becoming increasingly negative, even “judgy” at times.  Those subtle changes inside prompt me to delve a little deeper, and, above all, face the mess.  Just like securing enough portapotties for an outdoor event, it’s up to me to keep being present to God and others in prayer and relationships.

In a general audience on May 15, 2013, Pope Francis shared the following words: “This is a prayer we must pray every day: ‘Holy Spirit, make my heart open to the word of God, make my heart open to goodness, make my heart open to the beauty of God every day.’”

I’m waiting for a daily devotional that I ordered from our local bookstore to come in today and once it does, I’m back into the routine.  You see, part of my “mess” is that what I was reading daily to accompany the daily readings just wasn’t touching my heart or reaching me anymore.  I needed something more and turned to prayer, and re-committed to “showing up” for God and the people in my lives this summer, to truly be PRESENT.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Graduations, Celebrations and Good-byes

Our June calendar historically is the time for dance recitals, high school graduations and other end-of-the-year celebrations.  At such occasions as these, we often see people we possibly have not seen in a while and it is wonderful to re-connect, even for a few short hours.  We reminisce about favorite times in the past, comment on how things have changed, and often promise to “get together…soon.”  Eventually, though, we must part again, and let’s face it, good-byes aren’t always easy.  It may sound simple and too sentimental, but I just don’t think there’s ever enough time.

 

I am thankful that we have happy occasions to celebrate, but sometimes I’m at a loss for words when saying good-bye to someone I won’t see for possibly a very long time.  Do you ever feel this way?  Some people have a way with words, but I tend to get tongue-tied in the moment, or am moved to tears at that moment of good-bye.  Tears of both gratitude and sadness, tears of love and friendship.

In Scripture, we see some good-byes including those from Paul in Acts 20, in Ephesians 6, and in 2 Thessalonians 3.   The following words from Numbers, though, are both a blessing and a good-bye:    The Lord said to Moses:  Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them:  The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them. (Numbers: 6 22-27)

 

So, when faced with good-byes, if words fail you, remember you are not alone and that good-byes are only poignant because the moments shared have been so wonderful together!

 

Lake Thoughts

There’s a line in a Lee Ann Womack song that says I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean.  I don’t live anywhere near an ocean, but am fortunate enough to live in a small city by a very large lake.  I’m not a boat person and I’ve never even been on a jet ski, but I often go to the water and just sit.  It doesn’t matter what time of year or what kind of weather because in all seasons, I find the lake to be beautiful and peaceful and so much bigger than me or any of my individual cares or concerns.  The lake has existed long before I arrived in this city and the lake will be around long after I am gone.  And that, for some reason, is extremely comforting.

Last evening my daughter and I watched the sun set on the lake while a few little children were throwing rocks into the water.  Twelve hours later, I can still hear their excited laughter at the waves washing ashore.  Those giggles sounded like pure joy mixed with a little wonder and awe at this very large body of water and all its power. I thought of our own three children, especially as our nest at home begins to feel emptier and emptier.  I silently thanked God for the memories of laughter and summer ice cream cones and sunsets on that same lake.

Going to the water is like a re-set button for me.  The lake does not require me to do anything but just sit and watch and listen.  I don’t have to come up with solutions or defend my positions or solve problems that seem unsolvable.  The water keeps my ego in check.  Sitting and looking at the lake fills me up again with wonder and awe of our gracious God.  I need the water just as I need my family, my prayer community and my friends.

I hope, dear friends, that you find some refreshment and peace this summer in whatever quiet moments you hold dear.  Just like water, life is precious.  Make each sunrise and sunset count.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bumper Sticker Reflection

This morning on a rainy drive to drop off our daughter at school, we were behind a vehicle with a bumper sticker that read Purr More, Hiss Less.  Not knowing the driver, I made a hasty assumption that the vehicle owner most likely is a cat person, but I really don’t even know that for sure.  That simple sticker, though, has given me something to ponder as I sip the second cup of coffee and look out the window at a rather grey day.

One of the daily readings this week is from Mark 12:  28-34.  In it, Jesus tells us about the two greatest commandments:

 The first is this:  Hear, O Israel!   The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  The second is this:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.   There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Each day, each hour, each minute of our lives we are given the opportunity to either “purr” or “hiss.”  When we choose to love one another, when we respond in compassion to others’ actions instead of reacting in anger or mistrust or neglect, we work to bring about God’s kingdom here on earth.

I have learned over the years to consciously turn each day over to God and ask for strength and guidance so that I may fully love my family, my neighbors, my co-workers and friends.  This also means loving those I don’t know yet.  I often miss the mark and end up hissing, growling, sulking or retreating to have a pity party.  These moments don’t last long but are a reminder that I’m still a work in progress and have a long way to go!  But I find strength in these words from Mark and I am strengthened by the love of those who accept me in all my brokenness.  I am made whole in God’s love and will continue to look for God in everyone I meet today.  I want others to know that I am a woman of peace and love without having to read the back of my car for validation…but then again, I wonder if I can just find a sticker that says that just in case?