Uncontrollably Unabashed

By Melodious Monk

This past Sunday, our marching band was part of a parade celebrating the 350th anniversary for a nearby town. Marching down the narrow streets, I noticed a particularly happy group along the side of the road — young kids! It’s fun to see how the rhythm of the drums, or the sparkle of the uniform, or the sound of the instruments, the twirling flags, or just the sheer size of the long marching unit makes kids smile.

You know when a toddler or infant is excited and they just start flailing their arms and body with lots of energy and smiles?  They aren’t controlled enough yet to do much else, but when something inside is sparked to life, they respond with a type of dancing (of sorts!) and there is absolutely no care of what they might look like! Some of us older kids, I’m afraid, are often too embarrassed to follow this impulse to dance. We care what we look like, and perhaps we are afraid we might look like the uncontrolled toddler trying to dance. The young child doesn’t care about pride, or how they look — they’re just excited and want to express that innate joy. Marching in the parade, I wondered if this instinctive response to express, to dance, to let oneself be sparked by joy, is part of what Jesus means when He tells us to live child-like.

So I wonder, what form of control often robs me of this unabashed joy as an adult? Is it simply pride?

The Community of Jesus

 

Speaking of Words

By Sr. Nun Other

I’m privileged this summer to be part of a once-a-week vocal class. Our teacher, to help us better convey the meaning of our song, assigns an interesting exercise. We choose an English translation of a sung Latin phrase and then read the sentence aloud, emphasizing a different word each time. The sound looks like this:

Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.
Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.
Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.
Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.

And so forth. In a world where communication often consists of abbreviated texts such as, “How R U?”  “K. U?”, we risk losing the personal touch of word selection. Having both the capacity to hurt or heal, to cause laughter or tears, words express our humanity. Jesus did this like no other, choosing his words with both compassion and honesty. I need to follow his example.
The Community of Jesus

Hope

By Melodious Monk

“Be Joyful in Hope”  Romans12:12

Springtime is one of God’s many reminders of hope. You can smell it, almost taste the hope in the air, and visually it is everywhere: dried-up grass coming to life, plants you forgot are underground pop up, the air shifts, there’s more sun and people smile more! Hope is so many things. It’s everything positive. It’s the best of spring, the best of our desires. It’s the substance of things not seen. It’s dreams, ambitions, goals and longings all placed at the feet of Love. Being hopeful, especially joyfully hopeful, is another way to pray without ceasing. With God there is always the possibility for change. And in the limitlessness of His hope, no matter how crummy I may feel, there’s always something to be hopeful about.
 
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Spent

By Renaissance Girl

Real satisfaction is brought to the heart of the Son of God only when we are really, as people would think, “wasting” ourselves upon him. It seems as though we are giving too much and getting nothing—and that is the secret of pleasing God.
—Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life
 
I chopped, stacked, and transported wood this weekend. We’ve been clearing some space for a new garden and processing the wood for firewood.  It’s a serious pile of wood and I must confess, I became acutely aware of how out of shape I am. But, that aside, it was great! A morning of teamwork, lifting and passing wood, loading trucks, stacking the piles, laughing and using muscles I had forgotten I had. It’s funny when you’re doing a job like that, you don’t realize until you’re finished how tired you are. When we stopped for lunch, I suddenly felt like I could fall over and go right to sleep. It’s a great feeling when you’ve worked to your limit and beyond without even realizing it, and you have that exhausted feeling of having spent all of yourself. And just as quickly I realized, I don’t have to be stacking wood to feel this way. I could live in a state of being spent — poured out — until I think I can’t stand up anymore — if I choose it. “God, please show me how.” Where are the other wood piles in my life that need ALL of me?
 
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Joys of Lent

By Melodious Monk 

We tend to look at self-denial and Lent very negatively. Often I think I must give up another bad habit or tackle some self-punishment to feel like I’m being more holy and sacrificial. 

I think it is a great tool of the devil to get us Christians to fall into this trap of self abasement.  Are we not made in the image of God?  He is wonderful, full of beauty, majesty, mercy, and things innumerable. This image of God is present and available in us all.  

A friend recently told me about an exercise she had been given once. The exercise was: every day, for one week, to write 10 different positive things about herself.  She said it was helpful, but surprisingly difficult and painful. Self-denial may be painful, but it is only to allow for an increase of this wonderful God inside us. 

I’m trying to approach this Lent differently. In this season set aside for repentance and changing one’s direction, rather then commiserating over all the terrible parts of myself, why not try to see what I can add to my life this Lent instead of what can I take away?

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Choices

By Melodious Monk 

We are given so many choices everyday–what to wear, what to put in our coffee, what to read out of the newspaper, what to say or not say to others, whether to read the Bible or not. Millions of tiny choices all day long. 

I’ve been reading and re-reading the first chapter of James the last couple of weeks, and am amazed at how many verses feel like they were written just for me today. Perhaps it is an example of God’s limitless ability to not be bound by time or space; that some words written down so long ago can still have the power to infect us. 

James chapter one says, “If any of you is lacking wisdom, (for all those daily choices!) ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”  James further explains his point: “for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” 

So today, like everyday, we have a choice to make, and in many ways a simple clear choice – Need wisdom?  Just ask!  Feeling like you’re in an emotional cyclone you can’t find the way out of?  Stop doubting and ask!  For the same truth still holds true nearly 2000 years after St. James lived: “Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

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True-Self

by Melodius Monk      

This week I’d simply like to share a meditation that touched my heart; for it put into words, far better then I could, something true – something my heart seeks. The title is, “Getting to Yes.”

“Real holiness doesn’t feel like holiness; it just feels like you’re dying. It feels like you’re losing it. And you are! Every time you love someone, you have agreed for a part of you to die. You will soon be asked to let go of some part of your false self, which you foolishly thought was permanent, important, and essential!

You know God is doing this in you and with you, when you can somehow smile, and trust that what you lost was something you did not need anyway. In fact, it got in the way of what was real.

Many of us were taught to say No without the deep joy of Yes. We were trained to put up with all dying and just take it on the chin. Saying No to the self does not necessarily please God or please anybody. There is too much resentment and self-pity involved. When God, by love and freedom, can create a joyous Yes inside of you – so much so that you can absorb the usual noes – then it is God’s full work. The first might be resentful dieting; the second is a spiritual banquet.”

                                                          -Richard Rohr, from Daily Meditations

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Need Faith?


Problems.  We all have them and we all cause them.  Or at least I do.  I wish I could say I’m a great problem solver, but I’m not.  I’ve learned, however, three things that won’t work: shout at them, ignore them, or try to hide them. The Bible (or so it seems to me) is filled with momentous problems and their sometimes practical, sometimes improbable, solutions.  In times of duress or needless magnification of everyday challenges, I need to recall faith’s history.  After all, David conquered Goliath, Daniel outlasted the lions, Jacob eventually married Rachel (staying power in adversity!), and God sent a rainbow.  Faith is positive untamed creativity waiting for us to ask.
 
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Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye

Listening to the rain pattering off the trees reminded me of summer camp in the mountains. Nothing between us and the rain but a cabin screen; bundled up in sweatshirts as the late August air rapidly released the swelter of its heat; happily marooned with fellow cabin mates—our family unit for the summer.

I learned a lot about myself in the casual acceptance of total strangers. Slipped from the moorings of whatever it was that I thought my family expected of me, I tried out new ways of being myself. I saw the world with different eyes. I know I was lucky; I know I was loved; and I don’t take for granted the work that it took to build an environment for kids that was that safe and that sound.

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Baby Steps

 
I have a niece who will turn one in August. She has already learned to walk and barrels around with determined self-confidence. I’m always amazed watching her. She’ll be heading straight towards her destination, and trip on something that knocks her down, or she’ll reach out to something for balance and find that it moves, and down she’ll go. But what I find remarkable isn’t the falling, it’s the getting up. Time and time again she’ll lose her balance and sit down hard or land on her hands and knees, and before I know it….she’s back on her feet — and usually giggling — as if falling is half the fun. I don’t know when that changes for us. I suppose it’s gradual…our first experience with real pain tells us whatever we were doing must not be good — our pride gets hurt, our expectations raise — and suddenly it’s not about the process but about the product. I watched my niece today and felt a little jealous. And I wondered if it would be possible to re-capture some of that childhood sense of total abandon — to throw myself at life with such fervor that even falling down is exciting.
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