Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Thank you, Miss Gladd

When I was in 1st grade, I had Scarlet Fever...this back in the day when it was deadly serious.  First a stay in hospital in isolation, them home but still quarantined for some time. 
By the time I was permitted to return to school, I was still frail and was not able to play at recess.  Instead, I was benched.  Each day I sat, my back to the wall, and watched the children play, feeling blue that I could not join them.
My teacher was a wonderful woman, Miss Gladd, who lived up to her name.  After a couple days sitting there, feeling forgotten with nothing but my disappointment keeping my company, she came and sat beside me.  She'd brought a small piece of string.  She asked for my hand, and tied the piece of string to my finger, as she told me it's purpose.  She said to me, "This is to remind you that God has you on this bench for a reason"  and explained it was up to me to figure out what that reason was. 
I was stumped as I daily sat there pondering her words.  Then, and I remember this so well, my friend Susan came over and sat with me.  We were both just sitting there with our backs against the stucco wall, eyes on the playground, and she began to tell me about a sorrowful thing that was happening in her family.  She talked and I listened.  I don't remember saying anything to her at all.  And I don't recall what she shared specifically (God has gifted me in that way).  What I do remember is Miss Gladd coming to sit by me second recess, and telling me she'd seen that I'd maybe figured out a bit of why I am here.  I felt the grace of God, before I ever could have named it as such.  I do know in that moment there aroused in me a longing that stirs in me still, my first memorable inclination toward God.
On Fat Tuesday I came across a thin ring, made to look like a knot around your finger.  With that ring, this experience, long forgotten, came back to me in a rush as clear as the blue sky above.  I am wearing it for Lent, a reminder to remember that God has me 'on this bench' for a reason. 
I have learned since my childhood the wisdom of that first principle shared earlier for Ash Wednesday...everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.


I ask for the grace of an intimate knowledge of God's presence in my life and an awareness of my own response.

While not typically thought of as a prayer, the first principle and foundation of the spiritual exercises contains much that is worth reflecting on as I enter my Lenten retreat 'in the midst of the world'.

God, who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life
to flow into us without limit.

All the things in this world are gifts from God,
Presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God
Insofar as they help us to develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
They displace God
And so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
Before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
And are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
Wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
A deeper response to our life in God.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
To God's deepening his life in me.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lent's Invitation

You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.

John O'Donohue