Category: Tangible Love

Quiet – Five Minute Friday

O GOD of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer)

Pray For A Quiet MindNearly 18 years ago, I stopped looking for my family. I was banging my head against a brick wall trying to find a relative who wanted me in his or her life. My head ached from the stress of finding just one cousin, one aunt, one uncle, anyone. I heard His Voice ask, ‘Can you be happy without knowing any more?’ And I responded, ‘Yes.’ He is my very best Friend. He condescended to befriend me had remained with me and brought me through hell. I knew I could be happy as long as He is with me. And my head did ache so badly. So I worked to quiet myself and develop confidence. Over and over I prayed the collect for a quiet mind. Years later, occasional chatter appears in my heart but attention to my Friend quiets me.

Fast forward to yesterday when I was reading the biography of the new Bishop for the Personal Ordinariate in the USA of which I’ve been a parishioner for some times. I had heard his name pronounced “Lopes” as in “hopes” but for some reason, that didn’t seem right. He doesn’t seem Brazilian. Yesterday, I learned Bishop Lopes is half Portuguese. His name is pronounced, “Law-pez.” I read more eagerly only to discover a few sentences later that Bishop Lopes’ father had emigrated from Portugal to the “vibrant Portuguese community” in northern California. <Timer Rings>

All at once it struck me. Whenever I’ve been asked, “Why northern California?” I had no response, was left confused — it didn’t seem a reasonable choice. Perhaps my parents had spun a globe and randomly chosen a haven for me. But in one paragraph, their choice suddenly made sense. They sent me to my mother’s people. They may not have known me and when my parents were killed, I wasn’t raised by them. In fact, I didn’t know there was a Portuguese community all around me, our paths didn’t cross. And I’ll probably not know this side of heaven, if they had emergency plans to have me cared for by someone in that community, plans that were thwarted. But I do know that my parents chose a place where there were people like me. I know their choice was an act of love and care.

That knowledge brings a new quiet and a new happiness to my heart. My dearest, dearest Friend has provided me an opportunity to know my parents and myself a bit better. How fortunate I am that when I was lost, He never let me go.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: https://www.pinterest.com/source/overcomeroutreach.com

Five Minute Friday: Gather

Once He gave me a lightening bolt.

Mt Saviour MonasteryAs I walked up the mountain to the women’s guesthouse from the chapel at Mount Saviour Monastery just outside Elmira, New York, I happily chatted with God. The week of silence and exquisite beauty had left me giddy with delight. Silence clears the heart and mind. And at Mount Saviour, silence is respected so much, those on silent retreat take meals separately from visitors who want company with their rest.

Walking up that mountain on the late-spring day when the rain came and went, my senses were filled with “what God hath wrought.” Each chipmunk, each deer, each bunny, each terrifying wasp spoke to me of the immense glory of God. At that moment, after evening prayer, I had only the inane chatter of an overwhelmed child who longed for the right words to say, “I love You.” I knew myself to be an infant in His presence, without words to express the depths of love my heart longed to sing.

Christ holding up childThen, in the misty evening, a lightening bolt creased the air and struck the path just in front of me as if God had gathered me up and swung high. The experience reminded me of times when Papa had caught me up when I was a little child. Back on the ground, back in this world, my feet were a little unsteady; my joy… In this world, how can I ever express my joy?

My breath caught in my chest: “You can do it again,” I asked/offered.

He declined.

Internal as well as external silence filled the remainder of my journey to the guesthouse. What could I say to the One who gave me a lightening bolt that didn’t terrify me when I am so terrified of being hit by lightening? I read eight languages and know, we just don’t have the words to respond when God gathers us up — at least not on this side of heaven.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung’s, at  Heading Home, provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Resurrection In This World

Yesterday, my post, “What Resurrection Looks Like,” omitted three important words: “In This World.” There is a huge difference between resurrection in heaven and on earth. The healing that comes on earth will always be shadowed, haunted — we can’t escape the broken, shattered reality of our fallenness. Even after we’ve been given the grace to rise up like a phoenix, eventually, we burn to ashes again. Christians who follow the liturgical calendar repeat the cycle of Christ’s birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection each year. We’re constantly reminded, as long as we’re on earth, we participate in a cycle that includes enormous suffering.

Before I moved to Houston, I ascertained that people in my field were in demand. That has changed over the past four years. Yesterday I learned that Houston has little work in my field. Over the past four months, I’ve interviewed with several staffing agencies and no one told me the truth about the market. It makes no sense. But that’s the way things work here on earth. I’d already begun to apply for other positions. But I know how good I am and was certain, some firm would be impressed by my resume and… There is little chance that will happen now so I search for many more alternatives, four months on when I needed to be working two months ago. This is what resurrection looks like here on earth. Sometimes it’s not pretty or fun and it may not look significantly better than it did ten years ago, fifteen years ago, in the days when I lived in abject terror.

But it is different even though it’s still so hard to ask for help. Even though I feel very much alone. Even though I can be at church on Sunday and realize I am surrounded by people who don’t know me, don’t really care to know me, and don’t really care if I know them. It’s different because I’ve experienced the healing power of Christian community. It’s different because now I know, it’s not just me. I have been loved as if I’m an ordinary family member though I have no claims to such love by blood or marriage. I no longer live in abject terror. God may have brought me into the desert now, life may be a crushing tidal wave, but love has touched me and buoyed me up and will continue to do so. Real love. Palpable love. Love that has eyes and ears and hands has filled my life. It has changed me and continues to change me. Raising others has always been a given for me. Being raised up… Let’s just say I always felt I’d had my experience of family and that was that. Then, thanks be to God, I learned I was wrong.

Five Minute Fridays: Hands

In my life, hands have been terrifying and grand. Mr. E’s hands made hot cocoa for me when I was five and four twelve year old boys beat me up. The school nurse’s hands took my temperature, placed cool cloths on my head, held the paper as I pasted my kite in her girl’s club. But the man’s hands hit me. The dull thud of his hand against my cheek still surprises me. In films. on TV, slaps are a loud smacking sound. The woman’s hands hit me, cleaned my ears with sharp bobby pins, held me when I tried to get away. The hands of the other children hurt me, touched me in places they ought not have gone. But always, God’s hand has comforted me and held me up when I knew I would fall. Hands always respond to the intent of the heart.

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Five Minute Friday is an ever-growing group of bloggers who write for five minutes flat each Friday on the same prompt that Lisa Jo Baker posts each Thursday evening. It’s five minutes to see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing. Those without a blog can post their five minute piece as a comment on Lisa Jo Baker’s blog. For more details, visit Five Minute Friday.

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