Saturday, 17 November 2018

Time Out

Holy Cross Priory Chapel

Whenever I hear the words "time out" I immediately think that someone is being punished for doing or saying something inappropriate.  The phrase and action is most often associated with young children.  But it does not have to be that way.  So I am in a time out. My time out is utterly pleasant and relaxing.  I am taking a time out of my real life and enjoying a quiet retreat.  The focus that I have given myself is mindfulness.

It is easy to enjoy the time out when you are living with a community.  So for one week, I have retreated to the Holy Cross Priory to be quiet, mindful and prayerful.  It was while I was talking with one of the Brothers that I began to ponder what this community means.  It is more than an escape, more than time out of time, more than prayer.  It is a place of belonging to re-group, re-focus and re-connect, not merely with the community but with ones self.

It is also a reminder of how there are so many who pray for everyone in the world, intentionally!  The rhythm of prayer is a continuous circle, beginning here while finishing elsewhere, finishing here and beginning somewhere else.  The reminder of the rhythm offers comfort and hope.  A fitting reminder that even if we lose focus in life, stumble and struggle on our path, someone somewhere is praying for for us and for new light and hope to shine in us.

I have always found a great comfort in being
with my Holy Cross community and,(after being absent from them for three years (far too long)) to be reminded that the rhythm continues, prayers are offered, and the circle of prayer goes on is a source of strength and comfort.  In my mindfulness exercise I am reminded in this time that there is a continuum.   The circle of prayer goes unbroken.   All of humanity is held in loving prayer.  And whether you are rushing through your day, taking a time out, or involved in other activities...someone, somewhere says a prayer.  Someone, somewhere prays for you.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Lamps, Lifeboats, Ladders

Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder.  
Help someone’s soul heal.  
Walk out of your house like a shepherd.

It is strange the little things, sayings or quotes that give a reminder of another experience or story. Today when I opened my grateful word of the day and read it my mind went to an entirely different story. It was a story that I had once used in a sermon illustration.

A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately.
A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will send a divine miracle to save me.”
The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.”
As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.”
The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!”
The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop.
A helicopter spotted him and dropped a rope ladder. A rescue officer came down the ladder and pleaded with the man, "Grab my hand and I will pull you up!" But the man STILL refused, folding his arms tightly to his body. “No thank you! God will save me!”
Shortly after, the house broke up and the floodwaters swept the man away and he drowned.
When in Heaven, the man stood before God and asked, “I put all of my faith in You. Why didn’t You come and save me?”
And God said, “Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?”

The author of this piece is unknown. The story makes an incredible point. We so often look about for answers, solutions thinking it will be the big expression. The small events that seem insignificant can sometimes pack a bigger punch. And yet too often we ignore all of the little signs around us. We want the big miraculous event and all the while what we need has been constantly available.

More than this is also the quote from Rumi. We just might be the ladder, the lamp or the lifeboat that someone else needs. We might be the one that brings a connection, light and hope to another who is lost and searching. But in order for us to know how to respond, we first need to go out our doors, be present and less self absorbed and truly see what is required of us. God sends all that we and others need; ladders, lamps, lifeboats the key is to recognize that it comes in various forms, interesting ways and different people.

Friday, 2 November 2018

You are what you eat

What do you feed yourself on a daily basis? Oh, I don't mean what's good for you or if you are following a proper nutrition plan; not that it is not important.  But I want to know what you feed your brain.  It seems everytime I listen to the news there is yet another tragedy being reported.  And it seems as if life is of less and less value.  I ask myself regularly why is there so little value placed on life.

You see I still live in a bit of an ideal world.  And in my ideal world people are equal.  Everyone is treated the same and afforded equal opportunities.  I believe when you look at a person you do not see the outer shell but the value of the person, no matter what their abilities.  I did warn you I am an idealist.  And as much as the world intrudes and reminds me of the great levels of hate that exist I refuse to sink to the same level.  I insist on doing my best to treat those that I meet by seeing the person first and the shell that we cart ourselves around in as a happy after thought.

Now I'm  about to date myself! I still remember the scene in Family Matters when Waldo, not known for his intellect said "you guys think you can walk all over me because I'm dumb.  But I have feelings too.  If you cut me, do I not cough?  If you hit me, do I not sneeze?  And if you call me names, do I not eat?"  In a very humorous manner he reminded his friends and television watchers that underneath our skin we are all the same.  We all hurt.  We all bleed. We all feel.

So in a world that focuses too much on our differences,  focus instead on how we are all similar.   In a world that chooses to focus on hate, focus instead on love.  In a world that focuses of the bad be the one who does some good.  In  a world that often fails to value the person let those you encounter know just how valuable they are.  And one small encounter of goodness and hope at a time we will hopefully see a change around us.  Feed hope, love and compassion  to yourself daily and then in turn share the same with others.