By Sr. Nun Other
This week a word came to mind, a word I’d never spoken. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting what it was. Hours passed, then it would reappear, only to disappear before I could write it down. I did, however, know it was similar to “restoration”. So hoping to spark the proper synapse, I tossed that word around for awhile. In the end, I consulted a list of synonyms and there it was: reclamation. Because of its unfamiliarity (and persistence), I carefully considered its significance. Reclamation is the conversion of wasteland into ground suitable for cultivation. Generally, the return to a former, better state, where more is received than has been lost, and the final product greater than the original.
This is much the same as God works with us. In several Psalms of deliverance, the writer unabashedly admits his own shortcomings and ensuing results. He calls on God, who sorts through the debris with great precision to build and restore, not just equal to, but better than. One such Psalm affirms: I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3
By Melodious Monk
In Eugene Peterson’s Idiomatic translation of the Gospel of Matthew, many of Jesus’ words come alive in a somewhat shocking way. I pause to re-read and re-acknowledge the awesomeness of what Jesus brings us, and the duty that he calls us towards. Near the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus told us:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love you enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves…If you simply love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal?…”In a word, what I’m sayings is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
I’m slow to listen to Jesus’ call to “Grow up.” I’d rather nurse old hurts, take jabs at my enemies and not work to give energies of prayer and peace to others, especially those people or circumstances that I would normally shy away from. God desires so much more fulfilment for my life then I can comprehend. After re-reading this whole chapter from Matthew, I’m shockingly aware of how much possibility there is for an outrageously fulfilling, adventurous, and hope-filled life. God offers such a life to us, if we choose to live inside His kingdom.
By Sr. Nun Other
I believe true forgiveness is a process, and not a single event. I can say the proper words to end an unpleasant and difficult encounter, but I know words are not enough. I’ll rehash the hurt, sense of injustice, and anger many times before the work of genuine forgiveness is complete. I’m not proud of my slowness of heart, nor am I particularly ashamed of it. Forgiveness is a cherished commodity, forged as gold, and worthy of the perseverance it requires. It equally benefits both the forgiver and the forgiven.
By Renaissance Girl
Someone sent me an email on Saturday night that made me angry. On an impulse, I sat down and sent them an angry email right back! I knew I would regret giving in to the temporary relief of lashing back, and I even said as much in my reply. Normally, I pretend I’m not upset, console myself by playing out various venomous responses in my mind, and then store them away for future ammunition. This time, I wanted to do it differently. I hit “send” on the email, and on the way out of the room I ran into a friend. “How are you?” she asked. So I told her about the email I received, and my tort reply, and then I asked, “How do I do it — how can I be honest but not mean?” She said, “Just keep talking to God and asking him what he wants to teach you about yourself.”
So I re-read the email and asked God what he wanted to show me. I tried not to focus on what I thought the other person’s problem was. And I knew for what I needed to take responsibility
I went back to the person on the other end of my email rant and apologized. And here’s something I learned: When I focus on what God thinks of me, and what HE wants to say to me, then I don’t put so much pressure on people to assure me that I’m OK. And when I’m not putting pressure on others, we can just talk like two people doing the best we can to move towards God.
by Sr Nunother
I occasionally cause trouble by rushing to judgment. When I have an unresolved grievance against another, I’m primed to strike and easy prey to gossip and innuendo regarding that person. I wish to believe the worst because it validates my personal sense of rightness. This happened recently and I hurt a friend for whom I have considerable respect. John Henry Newman in Parochial and Plain Sermons wrote, “In truth, the all wise, all-knowing God cannot speak without meaning many things at once.” What an amazing thought! Unlike me, God views the world with perfect understanding and sees multiple possibilities where I see only my own narrow perspective. For example, what feels like love to the neglected, could translate as excessive control to another. Each interpretation would be true and valid. God’s love and mercy are creative and fathomless, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.
by Sr Nunother
I have obsessive compulsive tendencies that make me annoying. I don’t wish to be annoying, but sometimes can’t help myself. On Holy Saturday, I was in a mostly silent battle with another sister about the placement of four primrose plants. I wanted them yellow, red, yellow, purple. She was more concerned that their different colored pots blend together. When I left the room, she moved them. When she left the room, I moved them back. I can only tell you, it mattered, and I stuck with it until she fell asleep. It truly wasn’t about who won but – for whatever reason – my inability to accept yellow next to yellow. In the midst of my thought triviality, this beautiful scripture intervened: Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. I returned the primroses to my friend’s liking and went to bed.
by Artist Eye
I take great pleasure in the gifts of nature that I often encounter when I go walking, so much so that sometimes I go looking for them. Like today, I was really hoping I would see a deer along the path where I have recently seen some. When they weren’t there I was surprised at my own disappointment. I didn’t realize how much I was counting on their being there. I thought to myself, “I’m a little tired today, I guess I was looking for a lift.” It also occurred to me that a little unresolved disagreement needed to be addressed . . . a weight I didn’t need to keep carrying around. That confession made and that resolution made, an entire family of White-tailed deer broke from the cover of a thicket right in front of me and went leaping across the fields with unspeakable beauty and grace.