Desert Beauty

By Sunset Septuagint

Last week, we had a funeral for one of our earliest religious Sisters.  At the burial site, someone mentioned her love for the desert. That struck a chord with me, because I have had a love for the desert ever since I traveled one day over the desert from Amman, Jordan to Cairo, Egypt, and then another time from the North to the South of Israel. I felt the power of the desert, the force of shifting sands, the strength to survive that only God can give, I also saw the beauty in the desert, often in small and hidden plants dependent on God for their blooming. I was reminded of several scriptures from Isaiah: the wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom. . . . they shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. . . I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

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Choosing Beauty

By Sister Spero

God created flowers. Each species, fully developed, is beautiful. A flower cannot choose its own beauty. It begins with the seed, containing the nature of the parent plant. If the seed drops, or is placed, in soil with the right nutrients, it will grow. Development depends on water, good soil, and protection from predators. A plant cannot arrange this on its own. It cannot make itself produce flowers.

We are the same, but, unlike flowers, we can choose our own beauty. (I’m not thinking of make-up and exercise). We can cultivate spiritual beauty. We can ask for living water (John 4:14), avoid rocks and thorns (Matthew 13), and protect ourselves from predators. For me, the predators are stray thoughts that I can choose to embrace or ignore.

I cannot choose what type of flower I am to become, but I can be a co-worker with God in his garden—to blossom into the person God originally created me to be.

Rose - Choosing Beauty

Resting (Un)Comfortably

By Hummingbird

As I sit at my desk to write to you, a small dog is peacefully resting in my lap hemmed in by the arms of the desk chair and the top of the desk. I am heart warmed by the small weight of his warm little body and relaxed by the soft sound of his breathing.

I gently realize that God is speaking again through my four footed friend. Resting is the foundation for action; and who we rest on, the secret source of our actions.

I am touched that he has chosen my uncomfortable lap and the confines of arm chair and desk top when he has a warm bed available or a soft piece of rug warmed by the sun. But he has chosen my lap as safe and secure, telling me he prefers being in touch with me to comfortable spaces where he is his own boss. He sleeps, telling me he trusts me. Rather than be out of touch he has chosen the confines of my lap so he will know instantly if I move. My decisions in life will be the source of his action. He will be touching so he will be ready. Because he rests on me, I will see to him.

Oh, Lord Jesus, help me to rest on your lap. Help me to want you over more comfortable circumstances that I may be alert to your every move. I want you to be the well-spring of all my actions.

 

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A Gift is Coming

By Melodious Monk

Even a brief watching of the nightly news shows a world in need, and inwardly, we are never far from a spiritual battle between our human natures and God’s divine purposes.  Here we are at Ascension, a time when Jesus tried to explain to his closest followers why he had to leave them.  He said, “If I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.”  The word Advocate can be derived from the Greek word Parakletos, also phrased as “one called alongside.” Or, as the NIV translates the word, “one who speaks in our defense.”  I forget regularly that Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, our advocate, to help, to comfort, and to defend us.  As the season of Easter is fading away, we have a great gift coming from Jesus. A gift I want to learn more about. In moments of need, I want to learn to gain strength and trust by following this Advocate’s counsel.

The Community of Jesus

On Thick Ice

By Sr. Nun Other

Last Sunday, I chose the path less traveled. That is to say, I refused to walk around, behind and through a building to get to my destination. Instead I followed a shorter path. Shorter, but ice-covered. With turtle-like steps, I wobbled atop a good three inches of frozen water. I sometimes wonder where memories come from. Not scientifically, but, why-and why now? My twenty-five yard journey from one door to the other stirred “the memory pot.” As a child, I lived in awe of my older sister and her best friend. We grew up country in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. They often took their younger siblings on adventures, and in the winter dare devil sledding and ice skating on Hettenbaugh Creek topped the list. One very cold night, we built a small fire on the bank of that creek, and skated beneath a star-laden sky. It was magic created, not digitally or by a list of gifted people whose names are read at the end of a movie. It was melded creation and courage, grounded in trust that we were loved and watched over. No foolishness, mind you, but neither was there doubt we would return home frozen but victorious.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

When the road takes a sharp turn

By Renaissance Girl

I recently embarked on an adventure. I was starting something new that, actually, made me quite afraid.  It was outside of what seemed logical, and it forced me to ask God at every turn “what do I do?” It took some preparation, and each decision I made felt like I could be making a huge mistake — but it seemed like it was what God was asking, so I tried to do it. I wish I could say that I am familiar with living like this — abandoned to God — but I am not and that made it all the scarier, and yet at the same time, hopeful.

And then, suddenly, just when things were wrapped up, the road took a sharp turn. What I thought I was going to be starting didn’t work out. I find myself asking God what he intended in all of this, and what I should do now. What was the point of the preparation if only to run into a road-block?

I will tell you I don’t have answers yet. What I do know is that every day, every moment, is a choice. A choice to ask the question again and not retreat into anger and disappointment and accusation. A choice to trust, even when “logic” says to be skeptical, because if this didn’t work out, maybe the next thing won’t either. My pride desperately wants to save me from getting excited about something only to see it pass by.

I opened a card yesterday that someone had given me when I was preparing for this adventure. They included a prayer about trust — and in that moment I saw God. He knew I’d need this prayer even more in this moment — when I was most tempted to distrust:

Trust, you say, and so I will.  But at times its thread wears thin, and rubs raw the palms of my hands.  Yet I cling to it, for you have shown that in every circumstance, trust leads to Love eventually. Take the pieces of my life and make them one. Smooth the edges, mold the shapes until, with perfect symmetry, they interlock and become the “me” you long for. I can’t make this “me” puzzle fit, though I often try. Master Craftsman of body, mind, and spirit — let it be so, for I trust in you.”

The Community of Jesus

 

 

Risking Advent-ure

By Renaissance Girl 

I was talking with a friend last night, just in passing.  Talking about life, and change, and being afraid of new things. She said that someone had recently pointed out to her that the word adventure has the word advent in it.  I know Advent is still two weeks away, but actually, it really caught my attention. I love words, and I love exploring where they come from and what they mean. Both the root of advent and adventure can be traced back to the Latin advenire — “to come to, reach for, arrive at.” Later uses introduced a sense of risk or danger. One definition that struck me was, “a risky undertaking of unknown outcome.”

Look at the story of Christ, who arrived on earth as a vulnerable baby, forced to flee shortly after his birth, challenged in the desert by the devil himself, betrayed by a friend, nailed to a cross, and raised from the dead…  Talk about risk and unknown outcome!

But here’s what really got my attention — the suffix -ure indicates “act, process or result.”  Start putting these parts together and you get things like — “the act of reaching for, the process of arriving at, the result of coming to.” So of course adventure requires risk, and unknown outcome — but can’t we hang on to the outcome that we do know? That Christ’s “risky undertaking of unknown outcome” resulted in our redemption. And so we reach for the adventure of Advent.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

An Ecounter With Joy

By Sr. Nun Other

If I were to write a musical, I would juxtapose two hymns that are beautifully simple, and simply beautiful. Our Communion hymn for last week was the 18th. century Shaker hymn, Simple Gifts.  I stood near the altar during the singing of it, surrounded by delightful mosaic tile flowers, insects, butterflies, mammals, and sea creatures. They swirled and flourished beneath my feet with enviable freedom and energy, content to be as God created them. Mind and imagination took over, and I added my own (non auditory!) touch as we sang: ‘Tis the gift to be simple,’tis the gift to be free…all things bright and beautiful…’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be…all creatures great and small…in the place just right….all things wise and wonderful…in the valley of love and delight… the Lord God made us all!  Creation interrupts our busy, sometimes chaotic lives, to teach simplicity of heart, humbleness of spirit, and unfailing trust in God.

The Community of Jesus

 

Rely On, Relied Upon

I consider it my right to demand that God earn my trust. I certainly have enough unrequited hurts to justify skepticism…or so I believed. Then along came a single Bible verse that turned me upside down and led to considerable inward debate. Psalm 25:7: The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. The Hebrew word yare – to fear – also means to respect or reverence. To paraphrase, The Lord confides in those who respect him and shares with them the desires of his heart. The Lord searches for those he can trust with his love for another, patience and kindness in adversity, or joy in a time of sorrow. Will I respond unselfishly or demand for myself?

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Not Just a Routine Christian

By Sr. Nun Other

Recent events revealed two important things to me: I rely heavily on routine, and I’m people dependent. I spent the early days of a recent Tuscany tour (pilgrimage, actually) re-defining my faith. I’m strong in my home environment, but when surrounded by the unfamiliar, not so much. While grateful for progress on my Christian walk, I realize I have miles of journey ahead to become fully grounded in Christ. As autumn transitions to winter, I trust and rely on His love, that spring waits on the other side.

The Community of Jesus