Wednesday – October 28, 2020
“If you look at the world, you’ll become distressed.” Corrie Ten Boom
A Word of Hope
Wisdom from a Dutch Watch Shop
I have been engaged lately in reflective readings derived from quotations of the Christian writer, Corrie Ten Boom. She grew up in her father’s Amsterdam watch shop/home. During Nazi control of the city, her family provided shelter and care for many Jewish families until her family was betrayed and sent to a concentration camp. She was able to survive (her family died), and in adult life she became a Christian author and world-wide lecturer.
Today, I’m considering her quote: “If you look at the world, you’ll become distressed.” This has never been more relavant than in our current time when 24/7 news and opinion comes raining down on us via television and social media. Will this downpour never slow to a trickle? “If you look within yourself to solve problems, you’ll become depressed.” What can one person, like me, do in order to set things right? You can do your small part, but the whole of the problem is so great. How do you start? It’s depressing that all you can do is only a tiny, and maybe inconsequential, effort to correct things.
“If you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.” In the midst of this dust storm of conflict, don’t seek to find the world’s answer to the mess; rather, seek Christ’s desire for living your life within the confusion. Jesus understands better your potential and will guide and empower you to live a lifestyle which is beneficial to others. And you’ll realize that your contribution to the peaceful solution will be exactly right; whether it be small or great. Her words are worth repeating: “If you look at the world, you’ll become distressed. If you look within yourself to solve the problems, you’ll become depressed. If you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
Corrie Ten Boom also tells us, “Happiness is not dependent on certain events happening; rather, on relationships in those happenings.” In her book, Tramp for the Lord, she told of her experience traveling through the countryside of South Korea in the 1960s. Her car passed by a very poor shack made of cardboard, pieces of assorted tin and scrap wood. But a lovely voice could be heard singing from it. It was such a beautiful voice, pure like the melody of a skylark. She asked her travel guide if he recognized the song. “Yes”, he responded, “it says, Where Jesus is, tis heaven there.”
A close and abiding relationship with Christ will bring true happiness into even the darkest situation, because his relationship offers us the uplifting melody of deep, soul peace. And that’s quite a beautiful melody!
My Lord Jesus, as I walk through this day’s multiplicity of activities and distractions, focus my heart to be ever present to you; for the one thing in which my heart can rest is you. Soften my heart and open my eyes to behold your loving presence all around me today. Strengthen my resolve to do your will so that the world may rejoice and give praise to you. Amen.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – October 27, 2020
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
A Word of Hope
Going the Distance
Right now, is a very important time in my life because I am learning what it means to persevere. In September of 2020 and I found myself spending time with my Grandmother Lena as she was passing from this life on to the next. On one of those days, I was singing to her Amazing Grace, and as I was singing, I was looking at her face. I would see a very tired woman, but I saw something more. What I saw, was a woman who has conquered this life, surrounded by her children, and a legacy of what it means to be someone who tries and sacrifices. More importantly, I recognized the treasures that she has given us.
My grandmother’s love created a family with unbreakable bonds. She has given each of us an appreciation for each other. Grandmother Lena was a mother, matriarch, teacher, friend, and more. If she would have given up early in life, then none of us would be here today. By living her life, she gave us ours. As her grandson, I am filled with gratitude because she has shown me something that I can admire. Namely, the reason to why we try so hard in this life to live. I’ve learned, through her, that we do not live this life only for ourselves, but for each other as well.
I am less than half her age and already there have been many times in life when I wanted to quit, give up, and stop living. At the time, I did not realize that I would not only be cutting my life short, but so too the lives of everyone I never got to give the gift of my life. Our lives are gifts, especially when we can share them with others. There is so much life has to offer.
My grandmother gave us so much. In honor of her I can offer this fundamental lesson: if life makes you tired, then you are doing something very, very right.
Giver of life,
Bless you for our lives, for the many gifts life brings, and for what we get to leave behind. Thank you for my grandmother’s life and for the lessons she has given me. Help me to pass them on to others who are thinking about giving up. May she continue to remind us that life can make you tired, and that that is ok. Thank You Lord, for Your boundless love. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – October 26, 2020
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (NRSV)
A Word of Hope
Sometimes it is easy to see that our blessings outweigh our challenges. Other times, Troubles seem to multiply too rapidly to cope well with any one of them. Just this week, I learned that a friend has lost her husband to Covid. Two others were diagnosed with cancer.
Others were dealing with depression. How to respond to all this pain? I can offer support and some comfort, but I cannot take away the loss, nor heal their cancers nor give hope to the despairing. Thankfully, we have God who can be there for them in all the ways I can’t.
The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” 1Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you.”
Whatever is being thrown at us, however beyond help we may think we are, our God is there for us, to do for us whatever we cannot do for ourselves; to give us peace and comfort beyond what we think is possible. This is hope.
God, who is good even when we are not; God who is powerful even when we are helpless, hear our prayer. Give help to those in need, healing to those who are sick and suffering. Give comfort to those who are grieving, and please God, help us to know how we may serve others in your name. Know that we are grateful for the many blessings. Amen
Carole Anne Sarah
Friday – October 23, 2020
2 Corinthians 13:14 The Message (MSG)
The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
A Word of Hope
Last week I had one of those days when my soul felt a bit sluggish. And as I was driving – or attempting to with all the construction projects blocking my progress – I knew that to hear something uplifting and encouraging would jump start me; sort of an espresso shot for my spirit. And for the first time in about twenty years, I decided to tiptoe into some Christian radio on the off chance I’d hear something I needed.
Twenty minutes and four stations later, I can tell you that seldom was heard an encouraging word. One station seemed like Breitbart with a thin religious veneer. Station two gave me a veritable checklist to determine who was going to hell and why. For a combo of the first two, station three railed against abortion, homosexuality, and the liberal media because…Jesus? I don’t know.
The only saving graces in an otherwise futile venture were listening to Lauren Daigle, whose Adele-ish voice and Jesus-y hippie vibe work for me, and a great song by another artist with a refrain that grabbed me: “Love is the language, love is your native tongue.”*
Love is our nativie tongue. We are fluent in Love.
But we rarely use it in our everyday conversations. As we move through life, we inevitably master the predominant language in our culture, Fear. We communicate in Fear so regularly that we speak a number of its different dialects: control, greed, opportunism, shame, jealousy, anger, and retribution. We use it so often that Fear becomes the default language in which we speak to ourselves, use in our prayers, and hear in our dreams.
Like all languages, Love and Fear have words and phrases which are not found in the other, and they are difficult to translate. The language of Love contains words and concepts for contentment, dignity, enough, unconditional, complete. Fear: scarcity, superiority, derision, competition, manipulation, and all of the -isms (classism, ageism, heterosexism, racism, to name a few).
Jesus spoke only Love. God is Love. And as children of God and followers of Christ, returning to our native language puts us in tune with Christ and aligns our Souls with the Spirit of God.
We do not need another language for our faith or to be the people we wish to be in this world. That language already exists within us and is the one that feels most authentic.
We use it, but for most of us, only periodically.
Let us consistently reintroduce truth, mercy, gratitude, kindness, patience, and justice into the cultural conversation.
May we choose to communicate in Love with such fluency and frequency that it becomes the only language we speak.
To others. To God. And to ourselves.
“So sing it out, get loud, get
Louder than the darkness and the doubts,
Louder than the curses and the shouts,
Your lips, your lungs, your native tongue.”*
And so it is. Amen.
[Switchfoot, Native Tongue]
Thursday – October 22, 2020
Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2
Cast your burdens upon the Lord and God will sustain you. Ps. 55:22
A Word of Hope
A companion poses a seemingly simple question: How are you doing? In the pre-covid era, most often we’d smile and flip off a “fine” and let it go. But now replying to that question is more of a challenge. “Doing OK, given all that we’re dealing with” is sometimes the quickest reply. And truly it can be exhausting to go too far down the road with a political rant or an injustice exhortation or a litany of losses.
A former colleague comes to mind. She would encounter you in the faculty lounge and ask how you were, her empathetic gaze inviting you to speak. If you were struggling at the time and started to share your problems, at the first pause, she’d interrupt and launch into a tale of her own woes—which, of course, were always worse than yours.
I don’t want to be that person who just waits for an opening to pour out my troubles on others—especially now when everyone has so much to bear. My closest companions are weighted down with serious illnesses or carrying the sorrow of multiple losses. I want to be there for them—with love and compassion, the time to listen, and when possible to offer something which might lift their heart, sustain their hope.
I know I am not alone. So sometimes I have stuffed feelings or just gone along telling myself: “It’s not that bad, given….” And perspective IS important. But keeping things inside for too long is unhealthy. So I remind myself (always) of gratitude. And nature’s healing beauty. And the love of a precious dog. And music. And exercise. And the honest intimacy of prayer as we cast our burdens upon the Lord—trusting that God will sustain us. And keeping covenant with monthly meetings with my spiritual “sister” where we help carry one another’s load.
Another aid, which you might not have encountered, is the daily practice called Morning Pages. Conceived by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, they are” three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.” Cameron calls it a “bedrock tool of creative recovery.” And how rich are the connotations for the word “recovery” here! https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
I think that during the long haul of the pandemic we’d be wise to follow the Benedictines and “begin again”– and again and again– building practices for resilience so that we can refill our reservoirs and hold one another’s burdens.
Grandmother God, Sometimes you are our beloved Burden Basket, carrying the weight too heavy for us to bear—and allowing us to “leave it outside” so that we do not mar the harmony of another’s household. For this and so much more, we thank you. We thank you. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)