“I Am Free”

by Sister Victoria

Yesterday was All Saints but also the first Tuesday of the month, which is when the Emmanuel sisters gather regularly for an evening of prayer and praise in their chapel. Often families in the surrounding area attend with their young children.

We began with a meditation and discussion on a passage of scripture, followed by a time of intercessory prayer, voicing our individual concerns, and then a good hour or so of PRAISE!

At this point, the young kids are alert (they had been dozing)…this is what they came for!
We all began to dance to the drums and move about the sanctuary, some with such energy they were almost winded! There is never a trace of self-consciousness.
One of the last songs we sang is, “I am free, my debt is settled.” Yes, we are!

From Sr. Victoria and the Emmanuel Sisters; a service of prayer and praise in Cameroon

A word from Enzo Bianchi

This word was printed on the cover of Sunday’s bulletin for Holy Eucharist at the Church of the Transfiguration. In case you weren’t there, we wanted to share it with you!

Morning sunlight in the sanctuary, Church of the TransfigurationOur human freedom depends on knowing ourselves! Those who know themselves are truly free because they are able to maintain well-balanced relationships with others and with reality, and because they are able to discover reasons to hope and trust in the future.

We need to take a step back from our daily life that threatens to numb us with its repetitiveness or overwhelm us with its frantic pace…. Knowing ourselves requires attention and inner vigilance, which is the ability to concentrate and to listen to silence that, with the help of solitude, helps us rediscover what is essential. Self-knowledge also means recognizing our limitations and what is negative and incomplete in us—in other words, the aspects of ourselves we usually tend to repress so that we will not have to confront them. Our knowledge of our poverty, together with our knowledge of God, can then become an experience of God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. What we previously knew because we had been told about it now becomes a personal experience. For this to happen, we need to remember never to separate these two aspects of the spiritual itinerary: knowing ourselves and knowing God. Knowing ourselves without knowing God leads to desperation, and knowing God without knowing ourselves produces arrogance. —Enzo Bianchi, Echoes of the Word

 

To be light

Lord Christ,
Help us to have the courage and humility to name our burdens
and lay them down
so that we are light to walk across the water
to where you beckon us. . . .
The memory of hurts and insults,
driving us to last out,
to strike back
We name it
and we lay it down. . . .

Our antagonism against those
whose actions, differences, presence,
threaten our comfort or security
We name it
and we lay it down. . . .

We do not need these burdens,
but we have grown used to carrying them,
have forgotten what it is like to be light.
Beckon us to lightness of being,
for you show us it is not unbearable.
Only so we can close the distance.
Only so we can walk upon the water.
Blessed are you, Lord Christ, who makes heavy burdens light.

Kathy Galloway, Iona Community

walkonwater

Keep the Change

By Sr. Nun Other

Someone wants to trade a handful of change for a dollar bill. You say yes and he hands you 100 pennies. Or 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels. Doesn’t really matter. Although the value is equal, it’s not the same and never will be. Maybe you loved that dollar bill. It was the first you ever made or a gift from your grandmother. You know it’s too late but you want it back. Now.

How do we reconcile the feelings that come with change? Especially when it’s an uninvited addition to our journey. I humbly offer some still-working-on thoughts: Step 1, admit you’ve lost something comfortable and familiar; Step 2, face that the present is now the past; Step 3, don’t pretend to like it; Step 4, accept its necessity and inevitability; Step 5, acknowledge God loves you and pray for an infusion of hope. Whatever your change is, it needs time to unfold and define itself. Be patient, be kind to yourself and others, and grateful to God for forward motion.

change

Never Out of Sight

By Hummingbird

While traveling with my four-pawed brown-eyed friend I learned an important lesson about my relationship with Jesus. His favorite place to be was curled up on my lap like a cat, if I was seated. If was standing, he desperately wanted to be carried but would stand close by my feet with his eye pinned on me.If we separated, he would come, nose to the ground and eyes searching all the feet, to find my feet. If tending to his “own business” outdoors were to take him any distance from me, the corners of white-rimmed eyes would always be curled around to see where I was, no matter what!

He suffered thousands of feet, strange places, uncomfortable beds, food at any hour, being stuffed in a bag at my feet on a plane; not understanding and yet following any place, any time, into any circumstance.

He convinced me that I was his master and the only master in the world he wanted. His constant work and joy was to be with me, wherever I sent him, his face told me I would be in the center  of his thoughts ‘til he was by my side or in my lap again. He moved and strangely warmed my heart, and I longed to tend to his needs and have him always by my side. His love blessed me. My greeting became always a caress and a special personal word.

Suddenly, I understood—Oh, Jesus. It is so easy to have You with me if only I would take You to my heart as I am in his.

Yorkshire-Terrier

 

Free and Clear

By Sr. Nun Other

There’s a once popular song called On a Clear Day, whose words read in part:

On a clear day, rise and look around you
And you’ll see who you are.
You can hear from far and near
A word you’ve never heard before.
And on a clear day, on a clear day
You can see forever, and ever (etc.)

We’ve all experienced such days, when the sun defines and illumines all within its touch.The beauty and simplicity encourage, renew energy, and lift me from a negative fascination with problems.

I was thinking about this and a correlating scripture, 1 Corinthians 13:12,  Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. 

To view life clear of judgments, opinions, fluctuating emotions, and past misfortunes is a freedom well worth pursuing.

The Community of Jesus

 

Three Lenten Threads

By Sr. Nun Other

I was listening at our Lauds service today. (I don’t always and am easily lured into thinking and re-thinking my own agenda.) But today, three phrases begged me to listen. From Luke 1, the Benedictus: to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins; the Lenten Reading for Wednesday: Is not our Lord just now ready to bless you? To increase your faith, and love, and patience, and gentleness? (Charles Wesley); and finally, the Collect for the Day: You crown the merits of the saints and pardon sinners when they repent. Lent is power-packed with hope. Salvation, forgiveness, and the freedom to repent, open a corridor to Easter’s joy.

The Community of Jesus

In All Circumstances

by Sr. Nun Other

I was thinking about praising the Lord. Obviously, it’s not something I do on a regular basis, or I wouldn’t be considering it! I find it curious that it’s so much easier for me to complain and express negativity than to praise. Psalm 118 instructs us to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” Its writer found himself in an unthinkable situation: enemies swarmed around like bees; he was pushed to the brink and beyond. Not to worry. He cried to the Lord and was rescued from his enemies. Perhaps a more accurate phrase would be freed from his enemies, especially the inner ones of fear, doubt, and mistrust.  I want to make the distinction that we praise because He loves. It isn’t always love as I wish it to be, but it’s a thorough love that addresses my deepest needs.

The Community of Jesus

 

Discipline of Gratitude

By Melodious Monk

One November many years ago, our first president proclaimed: 

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country…” 

Following in Washington’s footsteps during a difficult time for our nation, Abraham Lincoln said this:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.” 

Fast forwarding to our generation, the late Henri Nouwen, a man who seemed to know and cherish man’s universal purpose to glorify and give thanks to God, left us this advice. “In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint…the choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious.”

Each day, and especially today, we can continue the generations-old tradition of choosing to place our thanks and trust in the loving “great disposer of events” as president Lincoln affectionately worded our creator.  I hope that in some way, my small offering of thanks today, together with yours, can join myriad legions of angels to help guide all of us to taste some inestimable blessings.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit:  Artist’s depiction of George Washington praying at Valley Forge. (Public Domain)

Assume The Best

By Sr. Nun Other

It’s so easy to assume the worst, at least if you’re anxious by nature. I think of the Pilgrims, who, for the sake of their children and love of God, surrendered their fear of the unknown. They embarked on a rigorous journey of sacrifice, to establish one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  Facing fast and furious seas, starvation, disease, and desolate wilderness, they pressed on. Then, in thanksgiving, joined hands in a symbolic feast of community. May we all be thankful, assume the best, and rest in God’s love this Thanksgiving!

THe Community of Jesus