Where’s your church?

November 21, 2021

Early this Sunday morning, after I let the cat out, I went back to sleep for a while. I dreamed I was in a church. It was a large, crowded church and I couldn’t find a seat. The choir was singing, the preacher preaching and everyone was swaying and raising their hands. I went to the back of the church and visited with the others left out in the lobby.

I am a firm believer that church can be anywhere. It’s not a building, although most denominations seem to have buildings. Church doesn’t belong to one certain denomination. It’s more like that faith lives inside you. You can abide faith as well.

When our kids were elementary school age, we took them hiking every Sunday to a trail on what was then the outskirts of town. We’d stop at the very top, sit on bench in the small covered shelter with all the Daddy Longlegs spiders. Looking out at the trees, birds, and sky, we proclaimed to now be in church. This picture of Colorado looks like church to me as well.

As many, many peoples do, I have a ‘little altar’ in my room. It helps me focus and quiet my mind. I think, give thanks for my life and my parents. I pray for all those who are sick or having troubles. I pray for peace.

According to 1st Thessalonians 5, Jesus said to pray without ceasing. Questions: Do you believe prayer works? To whom do you pray? Is it just a universal plea or to God? What or who do you pray for? When do you pray? Let me know

Also read my previous post “Going to church in my mind


Going to Church in my Mind

May 4, 2018

One of my favorite and very early posts–slightly updated.

Last night I dreamed I went to church–an all African American church.  I was dressed in a red coat and sang with the choir.  Now, I have been to a church with a predominantly African American congregation, but it is only in Dreamville that I would be singing in the choir.

I don’t physically attend church anymore.  No excuses.  But, I do go to church in my mind as the spirit calls.

This is how it works for me.

I said a prayer of concern for the homeless person sleeping in a downtown doorway.

I prayed to keep a civil tongue and not complain at work this week. (This probably requires some human effort as well)

I expressed appreciation for my wonderful, little house as the sun streamed in the living room and the birds were singing in the courtyard.

I sat still in my car for a few minutes, my heart bursting with joy for the ministries of Sister Odilia and her staff at Blessed Sacrament Academy and Por Vida high school.

This week, I’m making preemptive prayers for a safe trip to Minnesota to visit our daughter and her family–which includes two precious grandsons.

In my opinion, going to church in your mind is no less church, or mosque, or synagogue, or…  I try to be more thankful than whining. And, I try to live my life like church is right there with me all the time.


Ah sweet, and not so sweet, mystery of life

April 7, 2017

What exactly is life anyway?

“We don’t have a very good definition of life,” said researcher Christopher Voigt of the University of California, San Francisco, who works on synthetic biology. “It’s a very abstract thing, what we call life, and at what point we say something doesn’t have the necessary components versus it does, it just becomes way too murky.”

The other day a friend and I were talking about life, including a dear friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. “But, she’s only 33, and a beautiful, generous person, an elementary school teacher, and breast cancer doesn’t even run in her family,” my friend exclaimed. I’m sitting there shaking my head. What do we say? Shit happens? What is God thinking when he lets bad things happen–like to our young friend with cancer; to the children gassed to death two days ago in Syria; to the 13 people from New Braunfels church killed in a bus crash, 12 of them older women, grandmas like me?

I think life is one big fat mystery. We hate the bad stuff, but love the synergy when good things happen. Like another friend who found the right alternative school for her son, recently expelled for what we all think is a bum rap. Perhaps, this is opening another door. Or the wonderfulness of all the new babies showing up in my Facebook feed. One new parent asked if she was posting too many baby pics, and I said “never.” Of course, someone else might have thought differently. Good things happen every day, even amid the chaos of our current government.

Trying really hard, Lord, to remember that in this mysterious life you have given us, we are all your children and you love us unconditionally. We don’t have to earn your love and you don’t reward our devotion to you with ‘prosperity’ like some faux pastors preach. Do all Christians act like Christians? Another pithy question (don’t get me started on that).


Remembering the Sabbath

March 1, 2015

Several years ago I read this wonderful book “Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest” by Wayne Muller, ordained minister, graduate of Harvard School of Divinity and therapist.

In his introduction, Muller explains in a general, not accusatory way, how in the relentless busyness of modern life we have lost the rhythm between work and rest. He tells how we suppose action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something-anything-is better than doing nothing. Because of this, we don’t rest, we miss the quiet refuge that brings us wisdom, and we miss the joy and peace from our moments of rest.

According to Wikipedia, the Sabbath is generally a weekly day of rest or time of worship. It is observed differently in Abrahamic religions and influences similar occasions in several other practices. Although many viewpoints and definitions have arisen over the millennia, most originate in the same textual tradition.

In this book Muller encourages us to remember the Sabbath by living the rhythm of rest and gives meditations and  examples of how to incorporate ‘small’ Sabbaths into our everyday life in a variety of ways—that include setting aside quiet times, taking a walk in the park, lighting a candle and saying a blessing, enjoying a meal with friends.

The following are a few passages that I hope will inspire you, as it did me, to find a quiet place, at any time, to remember the Sabbath as a divine gift of rest.

Readings from the book

In Genesis, a fundamental goodness is presumed throughout the creation story. At every juncture God acts, steps back and rests. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” Genesis 1:31 Sabbath rest invites us to step back and see that it is good.

Mark 2:27, “You are not made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath is made for you.” Muller says, The Sabbath isn’t a responsibility, it’s a gift, and if we don’t take that gift, we all suffer. He tells us the point isn’t to take the Sabbath in order to avoid spiritual trouble with a cranky God who’s going to punish you. The point is to take Sabbath in order to be as nourished, fed and delighted as we’re meant to be. “Your life is not a problem to be solved but a gift to be opened.”

meditation, stones, pond,prayerPrayer is like a portable Sabbath, when we close our eyes for just a moment and let the mind rest. Like the Muslims who stop to pray five time a day, like the Angelus we can be stopped by a sunset, a meal and we can pray. Something close to the heart, and simple.

Sabbaths are filled with prayers. But we can begin slowly with a simple prayer like a pebble dropped into the middle of our day rippling out over the surface of our life. Perhaps a line from the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, a short blessing: “May all beings be happy and may all being be at peace.”

A verse in the 23rd Psalm says “He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” Even Jesus stepped back from his ministry and the crowds to a place of rest. In doing so he is honoring a deep spiritual need for a time dedicated not to accomplishment and growth, but to quiescence and rest.

Better is one hand full of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind” Ecclesiastes 4:6 Traditional Sabbaths are filled with prayers. But we can begin slowly with a simple prayer like a pebble dropped into the middle of our day rippling out over the surface of our life.

Mother Teresa said “Let us remain as empty as possible so that God can full us up.”At our best, we become Sabbath for one another. Not fixing, not harming, not acting, we can become space, that our loved ones, the lost and sorrowful, may find rest in us. ‘Where ever two or more are gathered, there am I in the midst of you.’ 

 The Desert Fathers counseled, “Go into your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Set aside a period of time in nature or at home, at a church or temple, a library or anywhere you will not be disturbed. Sit, meditate, pray, read, whatever pleases you. Pay attention.

 


Give me your hope, so I will never give up

May 19, 2013

This is an open letter to my grandson who just spent his 19th birthday in jail–for writing a misconstrued comment on Facebook. His bond is $500,000 ( yes, that’s 1/2 a million $). I’ve put a picture with the post, but they don’t allow pictures, drawings, books, or many other things to be sent to inmates. Bird_full bloom_smaller_2

Dear Grandson,
I know it must have been a sad 19th birthday. But, know we were all thinking of you and whenever you get out, we will catch up on cakes and candles.

Here’s a prayer we say at school. I think it speaks to all our needs without being denomination specific. That’s called ecumenical–1.  concerning Church unity: relating to, involving, or promoting the unity of different Christian churches and groups
2.  involving friendship between religions: involving or promoting friendly relations between different religions

O Lord
Grant me your strength, so I will have courage in every situation

Grant me your love, so I will never give up on anybody

Grant me your wisdom, so I will show others the path to success

Grant me your mercy, so I will forgive those who have hurt me

Grant me your peace, so I will find the best in everybody

Grant me your hope, so I will never give up

Grant me your joy, so I will be thankful for all my blessings

And, grant me your grace so you will always be at my side
(David Bennett)

It’s definitely summertime now. Mostly 95+ during the days. I put the AC on for the duration.
Love you, praying for you, Richard says stay strong.

Grandma