Have I told you lately?

 

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Well, Darlin, I’m telling you now.

 

Recently I said goodbye to a longtime friend and co-worker. I’m not sure that we’ll meet again on this earth. The words of an old Willie Nelson standard just came out of my mouth. Kind of corny, right? And yet the words were so right that we nearly wept with the truth of them.

 

The words just came out of my mouth. Because they were true. This friend and I have had a lot of interaction over the years. That’s code for sometimes it’s been rough—still code for the reality that all relationships have their ups and downs, aches and pains, joys and heartaches. Isn’t that the nature of love?

 

In this leave-taking suddenly I was poignantly aware of how much our friendship meant to me. I realized that at the heart of it all was love.

 

So even if you’ve got reasons to be angry or hurt, don’t ignore the love. By all means acknowledge the importance of boundaries. Speak the truth kindly. And in the midst of the messiness of true friendship, tell them how you feel.

 

Have I told you lately that I love you? Well, Darlin’, I am telling you now.

Thus sings my soul: Holy Listening

St. Benedict says to listen with the ear of your heart.

 

Think about your favorite song, anthem or sung liturgy. Is it the melody or the words that shimmer for you? Do you like to participate or listen? Do you have a favorite musical time of year?

The choice of hymns as well as the selection of anthems for the Christ Episcopal Choir (with whom I gratefully sing) changes to fit with the seasons of the church year. Knowing the context and story behind a song makes it all the more meaningful. The combination of sound and poetry of the Psalms express the gamut of human emotion. Hymn tunes can console and challenge.

For example, the sounds of Advent accompany the anticipation of the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The fulfillment of the Incarnation of Emmanuel, God with us, resounds with Glorias.  The Lenten anthems and hymns prepare us for the Passion and Death of Christ followed by the ultimate celebration of the Christian life—the Resurrection. Trumpets and timpani resound. The contrast of sounds echoes our despair and joy at the telling of the centerpiece of our belief.

Music offers gentle comfort through times of grief.

A favorite author, Christine V. Paintner in her book Lectio Divina, Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer writes about how God speaks to us in a slow and careful reading of a sacred text. While many may be familiar with the idea of lectio divina, there is something called audio divina through which God speaks to us in what we hear.

Take some time to allow the beauty of the music to flow over you. Paintner suggests to consider holy listening through answering the following questions:

As you listen to a hymn or anthem, what shimmers?

What do you want to savor?

What summons you to act?

How can you be stilled by the melody and message?

Listen with the ear of your heart.

 

After the holiday joy, it's good to rest for a while.

Okay, I'll admit it. If I were to tell you my life story, you'd learn that somewhere between life as a high school honor student who became a sorority girl and a wise grandmother,  I was a bit counter cultural. I was a natural childbirth advocate and a homeschooler of seven kids. It was whole grain and organic all the way.

Even today, I do not always side with the majority in matters of life and faith. 

As I write by the radiant warmth of the wood stove, the frigid countryside is very still. The sound of logs burning keeps me company. The dog snores at my feet. The rest of the family is off visiting a cousin.  

In response to the onslaught of ads for planners and goal setting that have appeared in my inbox, I recently sent a few friends the following message. May I share these counter cultural thoughts with you friends as well?

Take some time this month to breathe.

Just be yourself.

No resolutions.

No goal setting.

No agenda.

Quiet.

Blessings in the new year, dear ones. 

 

 

Vespers in the morning?

 

 

I have always loved anything to do with vespers. So it isn’t surprising that a poem by that name caught my attention during the early morning quiet.  “Vespers” from John O’Donohue’s To Bless the Space Between Us (New York, Doubleday, 2008, p.183.) enthralled me with phrases like “the basket of twilight brims over with colors.”

 

However, most vivid were the lines:

After the day’s frenzy, may the heart grow still,

Gracious in thought for all the day brought,

Surprises that dawn could never have dreamed.

 

It’s simple really—the beginning of the day leads to end. Throughout the day may I be aware of ways surprises heretofore undreamed of graciously dawned today. And as my heart grows still in rest may I be grateful.

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Just this morning a yellow school bus rumbled by on the country road in front of my house.  The early days of the school year always tug at my heart.  This month is a great time to jump start a beginning of the year tune up.

Here’s a simple no stress way to do that.  Consider four areas of your life as the wheels of a car.  Answer these questions to consider how you want to proceed.

Physical Aspect

Have you had a nudge to take better care of yourself? Do you eat, sleep, and move the way you want to?

Emotional/Social Aspect

Are you taking time for healthy relationships and fun? Do you allow yourself opportunities to be creative and enjoy your interests?

Vocational/Intellectual Aspect

Are you doing the work you feel called to do and keeping your mind (and skills) sharp? Are you learning new things?

Spiritual Aspect

Do you meditate or pray? Are you allowing time for quiet reflection and reading? Are you engaged with others in a like-minded community?

It's all about staying in balance.

Spiritual Direction: Airing things

The other day someone called me an earth mother. As I am the mother of seven
children, that’s fairly common. I have a penchant for things organic—food and
otherwise. I seem to learn a lot of lessons through simple everyday experiences.


Just recently, I decided to celebrate the return of the summer sun by hanging out the
laundry. First, I needed to open the umbrella clothesline. What should have been a
five-minute task stretched into twenty minutes and then an hour. I even watched a
you tube video.


The clothesline was all a tangle. No matter how hard I forced it, the umbrella would
not open. So I prayed. After a few failed attempts, I followed every line until at last I
was able to extend the arms.


In the midst of that I was reminded that sometimes life seems to be all tangled up.
For starters, there are all those unanswerable questions: Why do young parents die
and sick old people linger? Why are some people hungry while others are fed to
overflowing?


How can one person enjoy a glass of wine with dinner when for another addiction
impoverishes? Why are some of the most brilliant people I know devastated by
dementia?


Spiritual direction offers a quiet place to talk about that kind of thing.
We sit one on one in a private space. We begin with a prayer. We eventually follow
one line of questions. While I was able to untangle the clothesline, we may not come
to an immediate logical conclusion. Nonetheless, talking with someone who listens
without judgment or forced answers seems to lessen the twin burdens of doubt and
fear.


Sometimes things just need some airing.