Tag Archives: prayer

Walking the Labyrinth With Mosquitos


Before I get to the actual story today I think some back-story is necessary. There are two things you need to know about me to truly appreciate this. First, I hate flies! Second, I am a fly magnet! When I was in my early teens I was camping with my parents at Kedji National park in nova Scotia. Almost every day we went for hikes. One early evening we were out for a hike and I saw my first deer fly ever. In fact, I saw many, many deer flies! I have to say I was totally freaking out about the flies; swatting and jumping and begging to go back to the car. My father, in his wisdom, told me to stop complaining and that I was making a big deal out of just a few flies. I did survive the evening and we finally turned around and went back to the car and home to tent-sweet-tent. Years later Dad told me that it was a good thing I couldn’t see my back, as I was totally covered!

After supper tonight I walked the Labyrinth at the Tatamagouche Center. As I began the walk I was greeted by a few late season mosquitos. The idea of the walk is as meditation so I took a moment, while brushing off the flies, to decide if I would go ahead even knowing that where there are a few mosquitos there will soon be many more. I persevered. Hands in the pockets of my hooded sweater and the hood up to protect the back of my neck I set out.

I am happy to say that, other than not spending any time sitting on the bench at the center, I completed the walk at a good leisurely pace with my mind focused on questions of wanting things I don’t need. What I noticed was that the structure of labyrinth freed my mind from thinking about where I was going. The focus was on that next step God had laid out for me without looking longingly at the goal ahead. This is something I have not done enough in my life, and I suspect this is the case for many of you as well. If we can ignore the buzzing and biting flies and keep our focus on God’s path as it lights up ahead of us imagine the barriers we won’t even notice.

Waiting For The Light To Change


http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan/4747872021I am sitting in the library at my school waiting for the machine to warm up so that I may laminate some posters,  and it has me thinking about all the time in our lives we spend waiting for lights to change.

 

The most obvious is waiting for traffic lights. The red light interrupts our journey and sometimes seems to go on for ever. I expect we would find a direct correlation between how much of a hurry we are in and the slow change. Of course there are people who don’t wait, they just rush heedlessly through that red, or speed up for the yellow. Many times, more due to the alertness of the other drivers, this works out for them, but it can often lead to crashes which, in the end, make them far later than they would have been.

 

We wait for the light on coffee makers to let us know that our caffeine is ready. Again, when in a hurry, people often sneak their cups in the flow. This is so common that many manufacturers have designed pots that sense when the pot is removed and pause in the brew cycle. Those sneaked cups have two effects; they are much stronger than a regular cup from the pot, and they make the rest of the pot weaker for everyone else.

 

When picking up my daughter at closing time at her work, I wait for the lights to turn off. When I want to go to a store I wait for the open sign to light up. On New Year’s Eve people wait for the lights to come on in the Big Apple to announce that the new year has begun. At the end of a long sleepless night we may watch for the sunrise. And we Christians watch for the Son-rise on a whole new earth and heaven.

 

And so we wait. Given how often we have to wait for things, you might think that we would have gotten really good at it! Infants and young children, in Freud’s Id stage, don’t yet understand that they may have to wait for gratification. As adults we are much better at waiting than when we were young, and yet…

 

I guess the way we handle waiting depends on what we do in the meantime. Drumming fingers, constantly checking the clock, or pacing will do nothing but build stress and waste time. If we take the time to do something els the time may pass without us really noticing. We could use the time for a prayer for those people in our lives who need God’s special help.

 

There is really no way to cheat on waiting for Christ to return. We aren’t supposed to just stand still looking up at the sky, we are meant to make use of the time to make the present earth as much like the kingdom of heaven as possible. As we wait for this light to change, let us pray as Jesus taught us.

 

Our father in heaven
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done
On earth as in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
Forever!

Amen

Ready Or Not: Here It Comes


Weather Forecast

As most people on the Eastern seaboard know, hurricane Irene has been developing and then moving northward for several days now.  In her wake she has been leaving destruction, cancellations, power outages and deaths.  They have been broadcasting warnings to prepare for emergency survival for days now.  In areas used to hurricanes and tornadoes I imagine everyone takes the warnings very seriously.  In New Brunswick, where the storms are almost always downgraded and getting tired before they reach us, I think a lot of people talk about the upcoming bad weather but then don’t really do anything much to prepare.  Boaters take precautions to ensure their boats are neither smashed against the docks, nor set loose from moorings.  One of my friends on Face Book said we are supposed to be making 72 hour survival kits and practicing escape routes,  but I only heard of one person actually stocking up on water and groceries.

This reminds me of the story of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9).  God had warned people that they needed to make changes, repent and live according to His laws.  They didn’t.  He warned of consequences.  They ignored Him.  Only Noah listened and took the directions God gave to prepare for surviving the storm.  Everyone else went about their everyday lives, taking time out to gossip and laugh about Noah and the huge boat he was building in the middle of dry land.  As you know, however, Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the flood of which everyone had been warned!  Why didn’t the others listen?  Why do most of us still not listen when we are given advance warning?

Clearly Irene is not a storm of the magnitude of the one which caused the Great Flood!  It is not going to rain for forty days, and forty nights.  If we are ignoring the warnings about this storm, though, what greater warnings may we likewise be ignoring?  Are we so comfortable and complacent that we don’t realize the dangers our souls face in the midst of our modern societies?  If you have been hit by hurricane Irene (or tropical storm) I pray that you are safe and unharmed and surrounded by your family.  For those still in the path, take reasonable precautions and then maybe take some time to watch the rain and the trees swaying in the wind, remember that we have been warned, and pray that we are ready to hear and heed your warnings about upcoming storms in our lives so that we may, like Noah, be prepared and, with God’s help, survive! 

Unrequited Love: When What We Love Isn’t Good For Us


It is August, and in New Brunswick that means it is corn season.  I love corn season!  There is nothing to equal the taste of a freshly boiled corn-on-the-cob rolled liberally in butter and salted to perfection!  Let’s pause and give thanks to God for creating such an amazing food!

OK, so my problem is that some years ago I began to have problems digesting corn.  I love corn, but corn doesn’t love me.  I won’t gross you out with details, suffice to say that I am now at the point where I know for a fact that I will suffer significantly if I even eat a tiny serving of niblet corn and a fresh cob is really out of the question.  But then I start to think or say, “it is sooo good !”…”maybe this time it will be ok”…”what is a little pain anyway?”  The end of this story is probably quite clear to you already.  Of course, I end up eating the corn and I enjoy it so much at the time.

My village has an annual corn boil at the community hall around the corner from our home.  What I should do is not even drive by the hall on corn boil night.  Most of the year I don’t have any real problem avoiding eating corn.  The only other challenge is the corn chowder at the fall bazaar.

We all have our issues like this.  Things that we enjoy so much even though they’re not good for us.  Of course many of those issues are a fair bit more important, dangerous, unethical or even illegal.  That is why in the Lord’s prayer it is so important that we have the line, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” 

Out of the Loop


I have discovered something about myself in the past two days, well I actually knew before but it was reinforced.  I do not function well when I don’t know what is going on.  This has, over the years, been a cause of stress when organizations or activities are first getting started, during that bedlam period before people settle into their roles.  It is even more of an issue when, as in the current situation, there is a health issue with family members who are a long way away and I am not there with them.  It isn’t as if my presence on the scene would be of any help to anyone else other than moral support, but I would still rather be there.  I know that things are being well looked after, and if there is anything important happening the news will get to me quickly.

 

From this remote location (remote from the situation, not from civilization) all I can really do is pray that God will be there for all of my family members, for the health care workers, etc.  Why is it, that when God is such a great power and comfort, that it feels like nothing to pray?  I wrote it at the beginning of this paragraph, and you hear people say it all the time, “Well, all we can do is pray!”  It is almost as if we are saying that all the actually useful things have been done already and as some kind of futile last resort we might try prayer.

 

Social media has been much maligned for taking people away from real contact with people.  I would like to add another perspective.  Prayer is far more powerful than most of us, even those who pray regularly, realize.  For years my grandmother used to have a prayer list delivered to her by her church, long after she was able to get out to services.  Every day she would sit down and purposefully spend some time in prayer for the people on the list, whether she knew them or not.  Face Book has in some ways become a global prayer list.  Depending on one’s privacy settings, if you post that a loved one is ill all of your friends will know about it, many of them will add your relative to their prayer lists, and their friends may do so as well.

 

However you come upon the information that someone is in trouble; in person, through word of mouth, or through social media, take a quiet moment and send a prayer or just positive thoughts to God on behalf of that person, it isn’t “just a prayer,” it is powerful because it is love!

Moving, Moving, and Moving


Today was an interesting day on which I ended up thinking about three types of moving.

First, we got moving, as opposed to sitting on the couch.  Probably the most important thing we can all be doing for our health.  Some of us need to move more in order to lose weight, some to avoid osteoporosis, and all of us to keep our hearts and lungs in good shape.  The last few days I’ve been doing some Wii Zumba and taking the dog for a walk, and today we spent four hours walking around King’s Landing which is a historical settlement in the area.  I’m pretty good at starting with getting moving, my problem is keeping it up and in order to have any effect the work must go on.

Second, moving from one home to another.  A friend of mine was moving into a new home today.  A big moving van was sitting on the street in front of the house and movers were going back and forth carrying boxes and furniture into the home.  This is just the beginning, of course, as she now needs to put together bed frames, empty boxes, organize cupboards, and hang pictures. 

The last type of moving is emotionally moving.  All sorts of things can be moving.  We may see things that remind us of an event or place in our past and feel moved.  We may read a book or watch a movie which moves us.  We may be moved to tears, moved with joy, moved with anger, moved by injustice, and hopefully we will frequently be moved to action.  It is not enough to feel badly for people who are suffering injustice, for people who are struggling with illness or loss, we are only truly moved if it leads to actions.  Action may be concrete in terms of donations, volunteering, or lobbying for change; it may involve offering our support through our presence, listening, or prayer.

So, let’s get moving, moving and moving!

Regardless of the Type of Pillow, God Can Speak in our Dreams


One of the things that happens when you travel is that you end up sleeping in strange, that is to say unfamiliar, beds.  They may have firmer or softer mattresses, different sheets and blankets, and perhaps more of an issue, different pillows.  Pillows come in all levels of firmness, some are stuffed with feathers or down, some with synthetic filling, and ours are filled with buckwheat hulls.  In some hotels they realize the importance of choice of pillow to the extent that they provide a variety of pillows and even label them as to firmness. No matter how nice the bed may be, when you get home to your own bed, and settle your head down onto your own pillow for the first time there is such a feeling of comfort.

Today one of the lectionary readings was the story of Jacob in Bethel.  Jacob is on the run after cheating his brother out of his father’s blessing.  He is out in the middle of nowhere and overcome with exhaustion he settles down on the ground with a rock for a pillow.  He falls into a deep sleep and dreams of a ladder to heaven.   I have slept on some pretty uncomfortable pillows in my travels, even down to a little pile of clothes under the end of the sleeping bag, nothing came close to a rock!  What was he thinking?  Did he not have any other options?

Hard and uncomfortable as that pillow was, Jacob slept well and God spoke to him through his dream.  Do we need a rock pillow, hardship, or fear for our lives in order for us to hear God’s message?   I don’t think so.  Sometimes it is easier to remember to pray when things are going badly or we are in pain, but God is there for us regardless.  When we are curled up in our own beds with our own familiar pillows under our heads we will still be able to hear the voice of God if we listen carefully.

Photo by Daehyun Park find on flickr

Prophet or Voice of Doom?


I think it is safe to say that there are still prophetic voices out there in the world today, probably not being paid much attention.  I think it is also clear that there are many people who get their five minutes of fame by predicting doom over one issue or another and they seem to be paid a great deal of attention.

 

I got the idea for this post a while ago while watching When Harry Met Sally with my daughters.  As he states himself, Harry has a dark side.  Particularly in the early part of the movie Harry makes many pronouncements which, while not necessarily without basis in reality, would suck the enjoyment out of almost any moment!  For instance;

 

Harry Burns: You take someone to the airport, it’s clearly the beginning of the relationship. That’s why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship.
Sally Albright: Why?
Harry Burns: Because eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, How come you never take me to the airport anymore?
Sally Albright: Its amazing. You look like a normal person but actually you are the angel of death.

 

Later he and Sally actually discuss this tendency to the dark side;

 

Sally Albright: I have just as much of a dark side as the next person.
Harry Burns: Oh, really? When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.

A doomsayer is “one given to forebodings and predictions of impending calamity”  (http://www.merriam-webster.com) Harry, is a doomsayer!  Another good candidate for the title of doomsayer would be Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh;

 

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.”Why, what’s the matter?””Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.””Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose.”Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

 

If predicting calamity is what it takes to be a doomsayer, then why do we not have a section in the Bible after the Pentateuch and Psalms and Wisdom Literature called Doomsayings?  If you read the beginning of many of the stories in the books of the prophets, they begin with warnings of catastrophe about to befall the people of Israel who have strayed from the ways of the Lord in one way or another.  Predictions of pandemics, military defeat, destruction of the Temple, and being taken into captivity abound!  I’m not sure I’d be in a hurry to invite a prophet to dinner at my house for fear they may have just such a message for me.

A prophet is,“one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as a often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible b capitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God’s will <Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah> 2: one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet 3: one who foretells future events : predictor” (http://www.merriam-webster.com)

 

The fundamental difference is that a prophet is divinely inspired.  The messages prophets share with the people around them are the words of God.   Some prophets in the past were pretty unhappy to be called upon to give the message they were told.  Jonah really didn’t want to help out the people of Nineveh and even ran away, but that didn’t end well for him and he delivered his message in the end.  There are stories of prophets hiding in caves in the wilderness to avoid crowds who were out to get them.  In 1 Kings 19 we read about Elijah, having challenged the prophets of Baal and won, ran away to a cave on Mt. Sinai to hide from Queen Jezebel who had vowed to kill him.

 

Regardless of the message a prophet may carry to us, our problem remains.  How can we tell when we are hearing from a true prophet and not a doomsayer?  Recently there was an individual who “prophesied” the coming of the rapture.  He claimed that the date and time were to be found written in Bible.  Many people were convinced by this prediction, some even selling all they had.  Many took it as a joke and there were many photos posted on Twitter of people’s clothing laid out as if they had just vanished from within them.

 

Our best hope is to look to the Bible to determine validity of such claims.  “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)  This is also stated in Matthew 24:36 and echoed again in Acts.  If our doomsayer of the day had really been speaking words from God, he would have known that the hour and the day would not be written in the Bible.’  Through study and prayer we seek the truth of God.

Mary’s Angels: “I Am Not Alone”


tonight the moon is a mirror-ballA while back I went out for coffee with a good friend.  During the course of the conversation we touched on many subjects.  She was sharing with me that she had been going for Reike treatments (is that the correct term?) for a while and she said she had an amazing experience at her last session.  She shared the following story with me, and asked as well that I share it with you;

My wish is to have peace and taking part in a Reiki experience has given me this sense of peace and serenity.

My last two experiences have been quite different from my earlier sessions. During these session I encountered my angel. Initially, I saw two glowing lights moving around each other as if they were playing joyfully with one another. I  felt happiness and an immense sense of joy, an almost childlike sense that only the present moment mattered. From the lights, a presence developed as an outline.  The outline gradually became more visible until I could see a hooded figure there with me.  I could not see his/her face. During this time I could see part of a wing that was a vibrant white in color. The energy that was present was very strong and real.

I can’t remember much else regarding this encounter but the feeling that I wasn’t alone. It was as if I was at another level compared to the earthly one. The message that came from this was to enjoy life, have fun and laugh. And more importantly, that I am not alone because my angel that is a very strong one at that is with me at all times. This in turn gives me strength during my spiritual journey called life. Is it possible that this other level is the spiritual parallel place of holiness?

Angels, are they real?  I’ll look into this in a future post with help/reference to Calvin’s Institutes.

Photo credit to Miemo Penttinenmiemo.net

Slow Down, I Can’t Keep Up!


This morning at church when the minister was finished with the Trinity Sunday children’s story he said he had one more thing he wanted to share.  He told us that one of our little boys in the congregation had let him know, through his mother I believe, that we say The Lord’s Prayer too fast when we repeat it in worship.  He said he can’t keep up.  As the minister said, “Out of the mouths of babes!”

Not only may we be repeating the Lord’s Prayer too quickly, but I think we try to do most everything too quickly.  Several times lately I’ve been at the microwave at work or a checkout waiting for my card to process a charge and noticed how slowly it seemed to be going.  Two minutes in the microwave seems like such a long time now, and it is even worse if whatever we are heating isn’t done when the two minutes are up and we have to, gasp, put it back in for thirty more seconds.

I was at a meeting the other day as an observer and saw this same sort of scenario.  The goal of the meeting seemed to be to figure out the fastest way of getting the business done.  This led, for the most part, to motions being passed without discussion and the delightful result of being able to finish all the business before lunch by tacking on an extra fifteen minutes to the morning session.  This done everyone went their separate ways rather than gathering for a shared picnic lunch as had been attended.  Everyone seemed so pleased to be finished that the idea of fellowship over a meal was cast aside.

What else are we doing this way?  When we listen to our children do we seem to be in a rush for them to finish so that we can do something more important?  Do we ask people how they are but then walk away so quickly that they don’t even get to answer?  Really, what is the big race for?

The children’s story usually concludes with a prayer with the minister saying short phrases for the children to repeat.  Today, however, he led us in The Lord’s Prayer, which had already been done in its usual spot in the service, at a slower pace.  It was slow enough that there was time to reflect after each phrase on the meaning or ramifications of what we had just said.  What a great message.  Let’s relax    our    speed   this   coming   week   and   reflect   more   on    the   meaning   of   that   which   we   say   and   do.