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Posts tagged ‘Faith’

Harvest

“We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” – Orison Swett Marden

I’ve just started to wear my “gifts of the spirit” bracelet the past few weeks to remind me to be open to receive those gifts given freely without effort or merit. This week, I was then prompted to buy a “fruits of the spirit” bracelet to remind me of how gifts and fruits are inseparable.

When we are given gifts, we are called to give them away, to plant and cultivate them in order to produce fruit.

We must go beyond our one dimensional understanding and seek a higher understanding, a deeper meaning to live this life well.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

When we are given gifts, they expand and multiply when we give them away, producing fruits. They move us from “me” living to “we” living.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, modesty, kindness, self-control, goodness, chastity.

Seven gifts creating twelve fruits. Pretty good odds to bet on.

Be open to gifts. Plant seeds. Harvest fruit. Gifts to fruit every time.

An Appointed Time

Our deep losses are always interwoven with blessings and gifts. Mixed in with our joy, threads of sorrow and loss. Life is a woven fabric of brilliant hues and worn strands of a single fiber.

As tears have taken their turn with laughter this week, I recall two simple words of John 11:35 when Jesus found out Lazarus died, “Jesus wept.” An invitation and permission to be real, to grieve, to be emptied and lost. At the same time, a promise of hope, grace and light. And while it will never be the same again, it will be alright.

In the dichotomy of daily living, Ecclesiastes seemed like a solid first reading for the funeral mass for my Aunt this Friday. It also turned out to be the foundation for a pretty good Byrd’s song too – Turn, Turn Turn.

“There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens.
A time to give birth, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace,
and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit have workers from their toil?
I have seen the business
that God has given to mortals to be busied about.
God has made everything appropriate to its time,
but has put the timeless into their hearts
so they cannot find out,
from beginning to end,
the work which God has done.
I recognized that there is nothing better
than to rejoice and to do well during life.
Moreover, that all can eat and drink
and enjoy the good of all their toil,
this is a gift of God.
I recognized that
whatever God does will endure forever;
there is no adding to it, or taking from it.
Thus has God done that he may be revered.
What now is
has already been;
what is to be,
already is:
God retrieves what has gone by.” – Ecclesiastes 3.1-15

Aunt Terry

This day is one of those days you would run from in the morning if you knew where it would lead to 12 hours later. One of those “you never know what’s going to happen” days. In a split second, it twists and turns in directions never imagined.

There are no ordinary days, so do not treat one more as if it is. I don’t want to write this but I need to mark this day. To honor my Aunt Terry who passed away at 10:41 am this morning. Our last earthly tie to Dad. We never really grieve for the dead, but for those left behind.

87 years old young. Up until last Thursday, driving, booking three appointments each day, swimming at the community center, playing cards, picking up friends for lunch, making soup or ham salad and dropping it off. Always ready to go out and grab a beer or her favorite – a brandy manhattan. One tough, outspoken, soft-hearted friend and soul. That is what is worth celebrating. Her spirit, spunk and energy up until the very end.

She fell last Thursday walking into the eye clinic to have her glasses adjusted. 9 hours later in St. Joseph’s Hospital, with a broken bone in her neck and several facial fractures, still fiery as ever. Her cane was safely tucked away in her car. Second guessing and “what ifs” always catch us up in useless pondering.

After a weekend checking in and out, meeting the outstanding compassionate nurses and doctors, today was the day she was actually going to make it out with a broken-damn neck to transitional care. After we left yesterday afternoon, she called and said she was getting out today to go home. I told her she would be making a pit stop at transitional care first. And rather than calling her nurse, I was prompted to go down in person (thank God) to talk to her nurse in person and check in on Terry.

She never swore and didn’t like it at all. But she called the pureed food, “shit on a shingle.” She told me last night that the phrase came from the soldiers in World War II. She was a soldier for sure. She sang in the choir up until a week ago, sang at hundreds of funerals, checked on friends and all of us.

I told her last night that I would swing by this morning on the way to work for 30 minutes to verify what transitional care she was getting into, make sure it was a private room and hopefully in the new part of the building.

When I arrived at 8:03 to get my badge, they said she changed rooms. As I went up on the elevator, I thought “what the hell for?” I high-stepped it down the hall, turned the corner to a blue light blinking (code blue – one step before the final lights – code red) and medical personnel rushing into the room. Praying it wasn’t her room, but I knew. They quickly escorted me down the hall to the “waiting room” – that familiar room we spend many years of our life in. Not before I asked “what the hell is going on?” Cardiac arrest. Frantic phone calls and more waiting. A total of three cardiac arrests later, it was time to let go and say good-bye until we meet again.

There actually is real comfort in imagining the family reunion and pure peace that comes with passing. The only comfort actually.

So to Aunt Theresa Valarie Pugaczewski. Thank you for your dedication, opinions, sass, vigor, generosity, unconditional love, complaining about the right cottage cheese – Land O’Lake 2% over Kemps every damn day of the week and peach Activia yogurt. I told her speech therapist and nurse who cried with us today that they could keep the unopened cottage cheese and yogurt we picked up yesterday and that they should recommend Land O’Lakes to the hospital.

As I left last night, Terry did inform me that I didn’t bring the right things in the bag I packed last Thursday and that she would make a list. Last night, I told her I would get whatever she needed tomorrow if I missed something (internally a little pissy – again, thank God). When I opened her address book today at her house to begin preparations for her funeral with the family, she had that damn list written out. Oh, how I wish I could be irritated and fulfill my orders right now.

Long detailed story for a reason. Please value each day as if it may never come again with those you love, because one day, you will be right. No regrets for me at all. God gave me the gift and others in my family to be irritated one more time this weekend and to be present in tough times. To hold her hand and walk in on a code blue and wait is something I didn’t get with Dad three years ago. Being there when it happened was a gift too.

As Laura Story so brilliantly says in her song Blessings,

“What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise”

So, this day will be marked like a birthday, celebrating loved ones being born. Today, we honor a life of 87 years well lived, generously, honestly, abundantly, gratefully, imperfectly, faithfully, humanly and lovingly. Aunt Terry, give Dad one long hug for me and thank you for a life well lived. Well done, good and faithful servant!

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”– Matthew 25:23

Grace and Humor

“Pay attention to the beauty surrounding you.” – Anne Lamott

“Pay attention to the beauty surrounding you.” – Anne Lamott

“Everyone is flailing through this life without an owner’s manual, with whatever modicum of grace and good humor we can manage.” – Anne Lamott

There’s a depth and complexity to life that walks in tandem with simplicity and beauty. A mix of mystery, joy, light, loss and abundance.

Remain in each moment, fully immersed. It is part of the fabric, the story and the journey that we are all on and share. No manuals, no 10 quick steps to instant success. Starts and stops. Left and right. Up and down.

Pay attention. Beauty and light. Grace and humor.

And Then Comes Pink

“Pink looks good on everyone.” – Jeffree Star

“Pink looks good on everyone.” – Jeffree Star

“Dream, struggle, create, prevail. Be daring. Be brave. Be loving. Be compassionate. Be strong. Be brilliant. Be beautiful.” – Caterina Fake

When we awaken to partake in the joy of a late, unexpected bloom, entering abundance and enough, God surprises us yet again with pink hue sprinkles. Humble show off.

The original Creator calls us to notice, pay attention, be in awe, wake up and rest in His creation. And then He calls us to the action of creating with the colors He has generously given.

When we stop hitting the snooze button and finally wake up, being surprised again and again by beauty abound, it is our duty to show pink to others.

Look for the pink all around today and never let delight and awe waiver. Joy ticks off the devil and praises God and His creation. Never let your joy be stolen and satisfy the darkness. Throw in some hope, grace, faith and love and you have a full house. Tough to beat that hand.

Look for and cast light.

Camouflage

“The key to nature's therapy is feeling like a tiny part of it, not a master over it. There's amazing pride in seeing a bee land on a flower you planted - but that's not your act of creation, it's your act of joining in.” – Victoria Coren Mitchell

“The key to nature’s therapy is feeling like a tiny part of it, not a master over it. There’s amazing pride in seeing a bee land on a flower you planted – but that’s not your act of creation, it’s your act of joining in.” – Victoria Coren Mitchell

Each day, hide in plain sight, under the radar;
Tune out the noise;
Reflect, rejoice and renew;
Take a deep breath and tap into the sweet nectar of ordinary days;
Listen for and to your own song;
Re-enter the world anew;
Join in and find your place.

Slow and Steady

“God is offering an invitation. A call to waiting. A call to the mysteries of the cocoon.” – Sue Monk Kidd

“God is offering an invitation. A call to waiting. A call to the mysteries of the cocoon.” – Sue Monk Kidd

“The fullness of one’s soul evolves slowly.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

As summer winds down and “back to school” awaits just around the corner, another season enters and the pace quickens. Summer invites us to slow down and take in sun, flowers and long weekends.

I’ve yet to experience a slow summer or a fast winter. But all seasons have their purpose. When we gratefully open the gifts each has to offer, we can be fully present in our life right now as it unfolds, often in waiting. Patience, like abs, is a tough muscle to build. It also requires us to keep moving without seeing and knowing. Trust is patience’s best friend.

Slowly and steady, cocoon to butterfly.

“And somehow the transformation you knew would never come, that impossible lumping of fresh life and revelation, does come. It manifests itself in unseen slowness.” – Sue Monk Kidd

August Bloom

“As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley

“As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time.” – Denis Waitley

“Change is a continuous process. You cannot assess it with the static yardstick of a limited time frame. When a seed is sown into the ground, you cannot immediately see the plant. You have to be patient. With time, it grows into a large tree. And then the flowers bloom, and only then can the fruits be plucked.” – Mamata Banerjee

There’s something special about an August bloom. Spring invites bloom, so there’s no surprise with the accompanied delight. A late bloom shows us the capacity we all have to continue to change, grow and bloom into beauty.

Keep planting seeds, cultivating the soil, soaking in the rain and be ready for your burst of brilliance. It happens in all seasons.

Persistence. Time. Fruition.

Stop in Your Tracks

“I take a simple view of life: keep your eyes open and get on with it.” – Laurence Olivier

On a long run last night, this flower stopped me in my tracks.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” – Alice Walker

This beauty was followed by dozens of flitting and playful monarch butterflies swimming through flower patches on the path, floating about in joy and delight. Flowers, butterflies, a sunset pull us out of our spinning thoughts and worries, reminding us of the amazing miracle of life.

God is a creative creator, sustainer and redeemer. He shows us this in nature, in people and in soft whispers in our heart. We are swimming in signs and wonders in seemingly daily “little” things.

Like a flower and butterfly, we go from seed to bloom, from cocoon to butterfly. And in the middle of transformation, we get distracted, confused and discouraged. Keep going. And while you’re on the journey, stop in your tracks and see the depth and brilliance in a purple flower.

Wake up and notice the simple miraculous beauty abound today, tomorrow and the next.

Design Your Life

“Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises.” – Samuel Butler

“The fullness of one’s soul evolves ever slowly. We’re asked only to go within to gestate the newness God is trying to form; we’re asked to collaborate with grace.” – Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

Each day is a blank slate. Shake off yesterday’s marks that serve no purpose in your becoming and transformation. We write our own story or it is written for us. And our story unfolds one day at a time with an abundance of grace.

Seize the pen and fill that blank page with words and lines that shape into art. Design your life as only you can.

“As the memory evaporated into the autumn afternoon, I walked on, hope rising in me. Hope for you and me and the journeys we undertake. Hope that we would trust our waiting hearts enough to risk entering them, that we would listen for the Voice that bids us come to the edge, and that we would welcome the gentle push of God, who is both our wings and the wind that bears them up.” Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits

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