Wednesday – October 16, 2019
“I sought the Lord, and God answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to God are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” Psalm 34.4-5
A Word of Hope
Lately, I have been faced with thinking about my biggest regrets and why; the regret I experienced and what brings me to feelings of regret. I’ve pondered this for a long time and I’ve come to realize for myself that there is a cycle that I can undo, or begin to unlearn at least in part if not in full.
People often say “Hey, that’s OK…. no regrets!“ But the reality is we all do something every day that we might later regret, if we’re honest and presuming we have been lucky enough to find compassion and empathy for ourselves. And that is sometimes about the fantasy about believing a lie that clouds our better selves. I started digging deeper within myself, not so that I can live a life without regret, but rather live my life with less regret. The key to this is honesty and authenticity. That’s tough, right? What would it take for me to fall in love with myself, so much so that I may attract more of the same? I would add to that, having integrity is good too but isn’t that the byproduct of living one day at a time do that one day becomes a week, which becomes a month, then years and so on? Integrity doesn’t last for a few seconds; integrity is the value accumulated over a length of time. It’s earned and expressed only by being honest.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of dear friends who are going through one kind of recovery or another, just like me. Let’s face it, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are all constantly recovering from one thing or another. You can name your own.
And that takes me back to the key word; honesty- and doing the things that I regret, at some point I had to believe a fantasy about myself; it could be any shortcomings, unrealized goals, lack of love, lack of status, lack of anything; you name it. But I realized in the regret I feel, I had not been completely honest with myself at the start. Add to that believing something that may have been the perfect devilish mixture to fill the void of whatever I was lacking in order bake my latest regret casserole.
What did I do? I began taking long walks a few times a week and analyzing what has gone wrong. It’s funny how often I found I wasn’t alone in creating where I landed. I often found a teammate who was baking their own casserole. It’s never just one thing that creates what could become the regret of a lifelong derailment or a temporary setback.
Mr. Rogers is famous for reminding us that he, like our Creator, loves us just the way we are. No facade. No fantasy. Just the whole you; faults and all. That relationship is not just an outsider looking in to me, it’s ME being honest about loving myself just the way I am and making goals about who I may want to be; goals about change and growth, yet becoming authentic with my struggles so I don’t have to believe Superman will save me, but that I can be my own hero… to look within myself for the Savior within. I don’t want to be loved for a fantasy of something I’m not.
O God, there are things that I say and do with absolutely no regret, but may my next few steps take me toward honesty and authenticity so that I will attract the same, because that is a lot easier than tracing back the path that brought me to regret.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – October 15, 2019
Live in harmony with one another. Romans 12.16
A Word of Hope
You don’t hear the word “Harmony” used very often. If someone is asked to add some harmony and peace to their busy life, it’s very possible that that person might first seek a Chinese restaurant for fortune cookie advice or maybe a cheap spa! But…Harmony – that peaceful, accepting, caring co-existence among living ones – is the basis of a life “well-lived”…a human life in obedience to the will of God. For God’s plan for the creation is not one of domination, greed and discord, but rather one of peaceful and loving interactions.
Harmony can’t exist without a relationship which is more than the superficial acknowledgment of co-existence. The source of harmony cannot be an external code of “good behavior” – careful language and smile. The true root of harmony lies within the inner-self… the intention of our soul. It is our desire to live the full human experience in a manner which honors the Creator.
One of the vows (promises) made by Cathedral of Hope Order of St. Francis and St. Clare is: “Recognizing that God created everyone a part of the “web of life”, we vow to live in harmony and to be peacemakers with all of creation.”
When St. Francis lovingly spoke of Brother Sun and Sister Water, he acknowledged a spirit of harmony with these elements of creation. And with his fellow villagers and the Muslim Sultan, Francis always related in a manner of peace, harmony and good-will. In each of our relationships, we have the opportunity to find harmony…deep “alive harmony” rather than “fortune cookie superficial” harmony. But, to accomplish this goal, we have to keep our soul’s intention directed to that “place of peace” in every relationship and trust that God’s Spirit will guide and help us.
Before I wrote these thoughts, I sat on my balcony, quiet and ready to say evening prayers. My vision fell on the top of a juicy stem of young basil where a fat little grasshopper sat – very quiet. But, I too sat quietly…watching. And then my little – new – friend’s head started bobbing among those tender leaves. “Go ahead, Brother Grasshopper, eat all you want. There are plenty of leaves on this plant – enough to satisfy both you and me. May both of us live together in joy.” This is a small way of living in harmony with the world around us.
May I always live my life in harmony with the Creator’s plan.
Br. Donald Luke
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – October 14, 2019
“God saw everything that God had made and it was very good.” Genesis 1.31
A Word of Hope
On Saturday, the Order of St. Francis and St. Clare celebrated our treasured animal friends as we enjoyed a huge turnout once again for our annual Blessing of the Animals. This time of year, I become preoccupied more than usual with thoughts of all those embodiments of joy; those animal companions who have consistently blessed my life. Two of my most valued friends today are the cockatoo and cat who share my house. I lived on a farm as a child, so by sheer numbers, the majority of my friends in those days were animals. There were more cats than I can remember. The cats and I always found time to go on adventures, usually involving tracking down glistening green and yellow grass snakes, which we never harmed, (my choice, not theirs). My parents had educated me early in life about the value of the grass snakes’ good works in nature. I doubt the cats cared about the balance of the ecology as much as I did, but the snakes were not their first choice as entrees, anyway.
I’ve always had a strong respect for those marginalized citizens of the dominion of animals, not just snakes, but also bats, praying mantises, piranhas; the list has no end. It is ironic that the very creatures we humans despise and fear the most are among the greatest survival blessings the planet has to offer. Consider the services bats perform each evening while we sleep. A typical bat colony consumes approximately 200 tons of insects a night, and 150 big brown bats can relieve farmers of 33 million rootworms a summer. These creatures are invaluable to the world, perfect in their place in Creation’s balance, yet many of us still classify them as “bad” animals in opposition to “good” animals like cuddly kittens and joyful songbirds. In the Genesis creation story, however, God made no such distinction. Both cuddly kittens and Great White Sharks fall under one classification of: “Very good.”
Perfect Creator, help us to see the goodness of all animals from a Genesis perspective. May we celebrate our own animal companions who daily give us unconditional love. But, may we also keep in mind their wild, and often endangered, cousins, recognizing the intricate aspects of your divine plan in each of them.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis ad St. Clare
Friday – October 11, 2019
In God I take refuge. Psalm 11:1
A Word of Hope
Today is the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a day we celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally of the LGBTQ community. In honor of that day, I’m writing a love letter to LGBTQ people and allies who have not come out. And I’m writing to the parts of everyone else that have yet to come out. That may be a feeling, a problem, a concern or perhaps a development that you are not making known in part or in whole. This is a love letter to all of you and to those yet-to-come-out parts of you.
In Psalm 11, David responds to voices that are telling him to hide, to run away to the mountains. It is not clear what these voices are. They may be inside him or from other people, they may be real or imagined, they may be individuals or institutions. At any rate, these voices told David that he should be afraid. There was imminent danger and it was about to explode all over the place. It’s going to get real messy, they warned, and people including David were going to get hurt. Run away!
The Message translation of this Psalm has David tell the voices: I’m going to be ok. I’m counting on a God that loves me, that knows what’s really going on and on a God who will put things right. I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of that God. So, I’m going to be ok, David says.
Today I invite you to consider voices that tell you to be afraid, to hide some or all of you, to distrust people’s reactions to every part of you. These may be voices – real or imagined – coming from others or welling up inside of you. They may even be the institutional voice of the church. I invite you to know again or perhaps for the first time that God loves you. God loves every part of you, even the troubling, ugly, inconvenient and fearsome parts of you. Run for dear life to the arms of God. God promises to put things right.
We think the phrase “coming out” means coming out of a closet of fear. But the phrase was originally borrowed from the practice of young ladies “coming out” to society. These debutantes would attend balls and parties, announcing their ‘eligibility.” Before the 1960’s, when gay men would start attending drag balls or told other gay men that they were gay, they were said to have “come out.” They were not coming from fear, they were coming to a party, to joy, to a community of support and love. There’s a party waiting for you (or the remaining parts of you) on the other side of coming out. There’s a community to join, a community that can be God’s love to you. You can count on God’s loving arms to put things right.
Spirit, lead us to people who love us for who we really are, all of us. Give us courage to give everyone we love the chance to be those kinds of people. We’re counting on You to make it right. Amen
Thursday – October 10, 2019
Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:10-11
Word of Hope
Today is World Homeless Day. The first World Homeless day was October 10, 2010. Its purpose is to draw attention to the needs of homeless people and to provide opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness. I am always a little uncomfortable when approached by homeless people who are asking for money. There are so many people who suggest that you should never give money to a homeless person, because they might use it to buy alcohol or other drugs. In the past, I tried to avoid making eye contact with them. I do give money to programs that provide assistance to homeless people. But that doesn’t necessarily do anything for the people who I might run into on the street. How should I interact with them?
Well, I have learned that, just like with anyone else, when you are approached by a homeless person, you should make eye contact and smile. Homeless people tend to become more and more socially isolated. You need to treat them just like you treat anyone else. Say “Hi.” If you have the time, stop and talk with them. Use your best judgment. Maybe stop and talk when you are with someone else if you don’t feel safe doing it when you are alone. But social connection can mean a lot to a homeless person, especially one who has gradually lost contact with family and friends.
You can give something tangible, such as a blessing bag. This is a gallon zip-lock bag filled with various items such as a pair of socks, lip balm, a comb, soap, hand sanitizer, a wash cloth, sunscreen, insect repellant, and food items, such as granola bars, individual servings of applesauce or canned fruit (include a spoon), pouches of tuna, Vienna sausages, peanut butter or cheese crackers, and bottled water. Some people keep these blessing bags in their cars so that they have them at hand when they meet someone asking for a handout. These items are appreciated by anyone who does not have access to grooming items or food.
You can also visit various shelters and get some cards or brochures to give to people who may be interested in those services. You can offer to pay for a bus or train ticket, so that the person can make their way to the shelter. If you are uncomfortable handing them cash for this purpose, you can accompany them to the nearest mass transit ticket sales kiosk and purchase the ticket for them. Again, use your best judgment. But make a plan.
How are you going to reach out to homeless people? How will you show your generosity? For me, I have decided on this World Homeless Day to make more regular donations to a homeless shelter I like; one with a job training program, to have some $5 bills in my car for when I feel moved to offer money, and to make eye contact and smile at the homeless people that I encounter on a daily basis.
Gracious and loving God, help me to always be aware of my blessings and abundance. I want to become more comfortable responding to homeless people, offering them human connection, as well as basic assistance. I want to be Your hands and feet.
Cathedral of Hope Member
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)