Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What I'm Praying For...

  This week, I’m praying for:

1. The Olympics
Although I’m not a sports fan, I recognize the skill and determination that have made these men and women the best in what they do. I pray for divine protection for each participant. I work with the following verses: I Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” In Divine Mind, the One and Only Mind, there is no competition, only cooperation.

2. God’s “lost sheep”
Once the seed of truth is planted, once a love of church is established, once a taste of faith has been had, no child of God can be truly lost. I pray with the knowledge that church is the structure of truth and love. Not one of God’s beloved sheep can resist its tender pull.

3. Joy
I return to my prayer for the persistence of joy, for spirit, for peace, for bliss. I pray with Jesus’s promise: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Also with John 10:10, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” All of God’s good gifts are permanent, limitless, and abundant.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Our Capacities

Recently I learned something I really should have known by now. Or maybe I’ve known it for quite some time, but I’m just now able to admit that it’s true.

I was sitting in my pajamas on our back deck one hot morning, eating a nectarine that a wasp was zealously dive-bombing, when it just came out of the blue, so clearly:

You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.

You see, I have several people in my life who seem to be telling me with their actions that I’m in the way. Maybe they feel judged, maybe they feel smothered, maybe they feel I’m not being sincere. Or maybe they feel they can’t be honest around someone who seems to, at least for now (and little do they know), have everything together.

That morning, as my husband and I drove around doing our Saturday errands, I told him about this. And then I asked him, my voice cracking a little, “What am I supposed to do with everything I have to give if no one seems to want it?”

And he said, “Jesus said a prophet is not without honor in his own country. As many people as reject what you offer, think of all who rejected what he offered.”

No one much liked Jesus; no one understood this guy who challenged the Pharisees, disregarded the Sabbath, broke bread with immoral women, and spoke in parables about lost coins and mustard seeds.

And yet, Jesus changed the world. Before he died on a cross, before he gave up the mortal world, he chose just 12 followers (two of whom denied him in his last hours, and one of whom started his church) and what they did and said to those who did and didn’t believe thousands of years ago changed the world.  

It’s hard to not be received. It’s hard to stand by and not do anything as someone you love suffers. It’s hard to hang on your cross, whatever that may be, and not be bitter about it. So Jesus gave us an out. Depart, he said, when you know there’s nothing more you can do, and shake the dust off your feet.

Which is to say, at a certain point you have to just let it go. Because maybe our purpose, as hard as it is to swallow and understand, isn’t to be needed, isn’t to be wanted, isn’t to be helpful, isn’t to be wise and available, isn’t to change other people’s lives. Maybe our purpose is simply to learn to love to another’s capacity, instead of our own.

Poem 9 - Famous

Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets. Like many of my favorite poets, I’ve heard her give a reading, and I’ve stood in line with a pile of her books to have her sign them. She was sweet and gracious. She was also the judge one year for a Wisconsin Poetry Contest, and she chose my poem for Honorable Mention. I'll always remember that.

I have so many favorite Naomi Shihab Nye poems, and it was hard to choose just one, but I like this one for its imagination and approachableness. It makes me want to write a “Famous” poem.

What are you famous to?

Naomi Shihab Nye

The river is famous to the fish.

The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.

The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.

The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.

The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.

The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.

I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.

I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.

Monday, July 23, 2012

What I'm Praying About...

I’d like to begin a new weekly series in which share what I’m praying about and how I’m praying.

1. Drought in the Midwest
Over and over this verse comes to mind: He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. (Psalms 78:16) Nothing is impossible to God who causes and sustains all. We cannot be without that which sustains us. I'm also thinking of water as the purification of our spiritual thought.

2. Colorado movie theatre shooting
We all want answers to the unanswerable. We all want apologies for the unforgiveable. We want remorse for the horrendous.

While the act is unforgivable, the person is not. I’m praying to know that this troubled young man dwells in the same great forgiving heart that I do.

I’m praying with Luke 12:2, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.” Also, “Love is reflected in love.”

3. Class Association
As another class of students goes through the life-altering experience of Christian Science class instruction, and as hundreds of us students prepare to convene for our yearly association day, I pray to know “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20). I am praying to know that we are all Christ in the same way that Jesus was Christ. I am praying for our teacher’s stamina and asking blessings for his loving heart. I am praying for our class of eight members as we reunite and catch up on the past year. I am praying for the members as they travel from around the world. I am praying that I will be personally enriched by this year's address.  

What are you praying about?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Poem 8 - Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem

I have enjoyed this poem for a long, long time. I’ve read it so many times, I’ve memorized parts of it. I love its pacing, its line breaks, and its overall pensive feel. It’s also a love poem, but not a traditional one.

Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem
Bob Hicok

My left hand will live longer than my right. The rivers
     of my palms tell me so.
Never argue with rivers. Never expect your lives to finish
     at the same time. I think

praying, I think clapping is how hands mourn. I think
     staying up and waiting
for paintings to sigh is science. In another dimension this
     is exactly what’s happening,

it’s what they write grants about: the chromodynamics
     of mournful Whistlers,
the audible sorrow and beta decay of “Old Battersea Bridge.”
     I like the idea of different

theres and elsewheres, an Idaho known for bluegrass,
     a Bronx where people talk
like violets smell. Perhaps I am somewhere patient, somehow
     kind, perhaps in the nook

of a cousin universe I’ve never defiled or betrayed
     anyone. Here I have
two hands and they are vanishing, the hollow of your back
     to rest my cheek against,

your voice and little else but my assiduous fear to cherish.
     My hands are webbed
like the wind-torn work of a spider, like they squeezed
     something in the womb

but couldn’t hang on. One of those other worlds
     or a life I felt
passing through mine, or the ocean inside my mother’s belly
     she had to scream out.

Here when I say “I never want to be without you,”
     somewhere else I am saying
“I never want to be without you again.” And when I touch you
     in each of the places we meet

in all of the lives we are, it’s with hands that are dying
     and resurrected.
When I don’t touch you it’s a mistake in any life,
     in each place and forever.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Truths #19 - Love

19. Love is about the only thing you don’t have to teach or learn.

We teach a child to walk, talk, read, dress himself, tie his shoes, play baseball, sing songs, do math, make a sandwich, comb his hair, do chores, tell time, say please and thank you, but we don’t have to teach him to love.

…God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.I John 4:16

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Truths #18 - Living Things

18. Take care of living things first.

Prioritize the people (and in some cases, animals and plants) in your life, then do the vacuuming, laundry, and bills.

Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.Matthew 10:8

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Truths #17 - Wisdom & Mercy

17. All of your prayers boil down to the desire for wisdom or mercy.

All of our petitionary prayers for things like jobs, finances, relationships, fulfillment, peace, and healing, are nothing more than a yearning for wisdom to take the right steps, make the right choices, and a greater capacity for kindness and forgiveness for ourselves and others. 

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.—James 3:17

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.James 1:5

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Truths #16 - Joy, Gratitude, & Fear

16. Cultivate joyfulness and gratefulness. Abolish fear.

How much better our lives would be if we were more joyful, more grateful, and less fearful. These are all conscious choices.

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.John 15:11

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.—Psalms 26:7

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.—II Timothy 1:7

Poem 7 - Today

Ah, Billy Collins. In my humble opinion, Billy Collins has never written a bad poem; certainly, he’s never published a bad poem. He writes with equal parts humor and seriousness. His poetry is graceful, exuberant, thoughtful, and infinitely approachable. His poems are usually longer than this one, but when I read this again today, I just had to share it with you.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.—Psalms 118:24

Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage
so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Truths #15 - Be Prepared

15. Bring paper, Kleenex, and a sweater.

Everyone will have their own list, but this is mine. These are my useful items that make life more comfortable when I leave the house—I always want to take notes, I always need to blow my nose, and I’m always cold.

…Go ye into all the world…Mark 16:15

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Truths #14 - Precision

14. Be precise.

Precision has the power to eliminate misunderstandings, embarrassments, wasted time, and errors large and small. It’s a honed skill. It takes time and patience. It’s worth it.

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.Matthew 5:48

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Truths #13 - One Minute

13. Don’t put off any task that can be done in one minute or less.

I learned this from the wonderful book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Craft Rubin. And a hint: a minute is a long time when you’re talking little household chores!

Let all things be done decently and in order.I Corinthians 14:40

My Thruths #12 - Patience, Resentment, Judgment, Forgiveness

12. Be patient. Don’t resent. Don’t judge. Forgive yourself.

My father always told me the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do is wait. My husband told me resent is the poison of marriage. Along the way, I’ve learned that all judgment comes from insecurity. And I’ve learned that forgiving yourself is much harder than forgiving others, but it’s much more important because it’s where forgiveness of others begins.

But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.James 1:4

Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?—James 3:11

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven…Luke 6: 37

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Truths #11 - Don't Apologize

11. Don’t apologize for what you love.

We are blessed with unique tastes and quirks that make us who we are. Don’t feel bad about those just because they don’t fit the norm. It feels lonely at times, but if we realize that we are not saddled with these things, we can capitalize on them. Think of all the businesses begun, blogs started, charities established, and friendships fostered because of these differences that found likeness.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!—Psalms 133:1

Friday, July 6, 2012

My Truths #10 - Illegal & Immoral

10. Don’t do anything illegal or immoral.

If there’s one law to live by, one thing to teach our young people, this is it. It encompasses the importance of kindness, consideration, compassion, patience, selflessness, godliness, and order.

Abstain from all appearance of evil.I Thessalonians 5:22

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Truths #9 - Getting Personal

9. Get personal about yourself, not about others.

It’s important to tell your story, to be honest, to be generous, to share what you can share in order to help others. Equally important, is to let others’ stories be their own. Don’t judge, criticize, or condemn. 

…Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.II Corinthians 13:11

Poem 6 - Ask Me

My friend John once had to memorize this poem for a class, and he recited it to me in preparation. I fell in love with it instantly. The sentiment is perfect; the timing is impeccable; the words, true to Stafford’s style, are spare. It’s a quiet, somber, thoughtful poem. The kind of poem I like to refer to as “middle-age” because it’s capable of great introspection.

Ask Me
William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hole the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Truths #8 - Parents

8. Your parents are just people.

When we’re little, our parents are our best examples of what it’s like to be functioning adults. We think they have it all figured out, and as adults, we too, will always know what to say and do. It isn’t until we’re adults ourselves that we realize that if you don’t have the answers at 25 or 31 or 40, they likely didn’t either. And somewhere along the way, we realize we’re more equal than we think.

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.Matt 23:9

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Truths #7 - Noticing

7. People don’t notice you nearly as much as you think.

I’ve always wrestled with self-consciousness. If you’re taller or smarter or wear different clothes, kids pick on you. But I’ve learned that most adults are so busy with their own insecurities that they don’t often see yours. And if they do notice, they’re likely to forgive those faults because they’re keenly aware of their own.

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you…I Thessalonians 4:11

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Truths #6 - Everyone

6. Everyone is dealing with something. Everyone wishes they were someone else. Everyone wishes they were better at something.

So often we get so wrapped up in our own lives and limitations that we forget that we are not alone. No matter the thought, you’re not the first to think it. No matter the feeling, you’re not the first to have it. Your pain is legitimate, but so is everyone else’s.

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.—John 7:24