Are You All In?

Are You All In?

Do live your life with a question mark? Do you hedge your bets and hold back, keeping one eye on the nearest exit, and always making sure you have a way out? On one hand this makes a lot of sense covering all your bases, but on the other hand that is not what God asks of us. Remember when Jesus told us that, “Whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” In this seemingly contradictory statement, God is letting us know that only our best efforts will do. Nothing less than investing everything we’ve got in building up God’s kingdom in us and around us. Living out of fear causing us to hold any part of ourselves back from our life’s work is a recipe for a lifetime failure, sadness, and isolation. Holding on too tightly to what we’ve already got is a sure formula for dying from the inside out. Jesus tells us we have an alternative – losing our lives in order to save them. This strange paradox is even at work in our daily lives. Remember at times when you have been so engrossed or intensely connected with someone you know and trust. You are all ears! As you talk to this person you listen intently as the rest of the world falls away. At this point we forget about ourselves, our image, how we look and what the rest of the day would look like. For a few moments we give our whole attention, we give away our whole self to the other....
One of Those Days?

One of Those Days?

“It’s been ‘one of those days’….3 years in a row.” A couple of years ago I wrote about the old fashioned virtue of perseverance, looking at hardship influencing all aspects of our lives.   We all know that adversity, no matter to what degree, is a part of life with its natural “ups” and “downs”. We ride out the negative emotions as best we know how with what works for us…music, meditation, a walk outside, a talk with a friend or a session with a counselor. But sometimes life can be overwhelming. Hardship makes us feel out of control suffering mental or physical pain. Dragging on and on we sometimes lose hope not seeing light at the end of the tunnel. No one can help. And God seems far removed in silence, not offering any answers. The virtue of perseverance and Winston Churchill would advise: “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Even this great advice to pull up your bootstraps and weather the storm may not put you at peace.  Maybe you’ve tried it.  In certain times, we just have to “give it up”, relying on the adage, “let go” and “let God”. This year especially the flu season lasted so long bringing long and extreme illness. Our depleted physical spirits coupled with the unusually cold conditions can weigh us down mentally, physically and spiritually.  It might be time to just “let it go”, putting all physical, emotional and spiritual pain in God’s hands. Here is a wonderful Prayer of Abandonment by Brother Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916) that Father Robert Rhor shared this last week and I like to...
Where, Oh Where is God?

Where, Oh Where is God?

There once was a king who wanted absolute power over his people. Being threatened by the people’s devotion to God, He called his advisors together in hopes of “hiding” God. Suggestions were made to hide God at the top of the mountain, or at the bottom of the ocean. The wisest advisor offered, “O, mighty king, hide the people’s God somewhere in their everyday lives. There they will never find God!” That advisor truly understood how we are! God is hidden, but not in some remote, faraway spot. God is right here in our everyday lives. Yet we rarely see him and rarely recognize his presence. All too often we fear that we are walking alone and dread that our journey may have no destination, maybe just a walk to nowhere. Too often we are deaf and blind to God. And what is God saying? “I am with you always, walking at your side. And your name is written on the palm of my hand. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear me whispering to you. If you watch closely, you’ll see that I am here. So watch and listen!” It takes time to learn how to listen attentively and respectfully to everyday life. It takes time to learn how to hear what’s really going on around us. It does take time, but if we persist in paying attention to everyday life, very slowly we’ll begin to feel the nearness of God when we look at a rose, feel the cool of an evening breeze, hold a newborn child, or gaze at the sight of a mountain. The road we...
What is Your Life Like?

What is Your Life Like?

I’ve heard that life is like a roller coaster with all the ups and downs. I’ve heard that life is a bowl of cherries with all the sweetness and a few pits! I’ve heard that life is like a river winding its way to a bigger body of water. And of course, life is like a school with all the lessons in life that we have to learn.  No matter what your comparison, all of our lives are comprised of ups and downs, sweetness and the pits. We all are on our way to that “bigger” destination having learned all the lessons in this life. So what can we take from comparisons? I think comparisons can put life in perspective. It shows that we may not be experiencing the same cruise, but we are all at sea. My favorite life comparison is called, “Life is Like a Train Ride.” I’m not sure where this piece originated, but this “unknown author” gives us a bigger picture, a growing appreciation and a deeper understanding of this measured time on earth, called life. Life is Like a Train Ride “At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize...
The “New Lent”

The “New Lent”

We are now in the Lenten season. For the Christian churches it is a time of retreat, renewal and rededication. Looking back at Lent when I was growing up, Lent was easy. Back when, this penitential season of Lent turned its focus from the “lesser material world”, the sins of the flesh, to concentrate on the “more valuable spiritual world” through prayer and fasting. The thinking being, that we had to deny ourselves the material delights to experience the higher calling of the spiritual world. Adults would not eat meat on Fridays, refrain from alcohol or give up cigarettes! Kids would give up candy, watching their favorite television program or refrain from fighting with their siblings. We denied ourselves these pleasures thinking that these deprivations were sure tickets to please our creator. In my Lenten readings and preparation, the intent of the Lenten season seems to be shifting.  We are shifting from deprivation to dedication, from the negative to a more positive approach. This is probably a good move since giving up the “delights” of this human world were not moving us closer to heaven. By the time we got there we would be hungry and grouchy anyway! Pope Francis has built upon the fasting of the past to bring us to the dedication of being the best version of ourselves. Here’s what he wrote: Fast from hurting words and say kind words. Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude. Fast from anger and be filled with patience. Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope. Fast from worries and trust in God. Fast from complaints and contemplate...
Make a Difference

Make a Difference

An old man was walking along the beach, when he noticed a little girl ahead of him picking up starfish that had been cast ashore by the storm the night before. The old man hurried to catch up to her, and asked what she was doing. “Rescuing starfish,” the young lady replied. “They’ll die if I leave them here when the sun comes out.” “But this beach goes on for miles,” argued the man, “ and there are millions of starfish stranded here. How can your effort make any difference?” The girl look intently at the starfish in her hand then threw it back to the safety of the sea and said, “It makes a difference for this one!” We would all like to make a difference. Usually we think that bigger is better but not necessarily. We are all called to make a difference no matter how small.  You are endowed with transformational powers. But using these transformative powers to take on the whole world may seem useless. But your divine love ripples throughout the world making a positive difference. “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. “ – Mother Teresa What do you see when you throw a pebble in the water – waves moving out to make rings, very small at first and then expanding outward and increasing until spreading across the water’s surface. Just consider of how one piece of information can affect the stock market. Or one tweet can send thousands of people in a dizzy! Knowing the power of one incident,...