Psalm 129 is one of those psalms that I usually don’t care much for – asking God to smite those who oppose us. But somehow this morning the imagery in that psalm caught my imagination: “Those who plough ploughed on my back; they made their furrows long.” It sometimes does feel like people are ploughing on my back – irritating, aggravating, spiteful, unnecessarily difficult or recalcitrant. But maybe, after they have ploughed their long furrows, something good or fruitful can grow from those furrows. Maybe their oppositional or acrimonious actions can, in some way, bear some fruit. That will have to be God’s doing. “Let them be like the grass on housetops that withers before it grows up” Well, if you don’t clean out your gutters, pretty soon grass (and plants and trees) are thriving there – but I don’t suppose gutters were an issue for the psalmist. May evil wither before it grows up. May our lives be inhospitable to evil and injustice. May we create a world of rooftops, where evil can establish no roots.
My thoughts bounce around these days without landing longing enough to focus, it seems. Some random thoughts: I’m praying for the 13 provisional members who will be coming to the Board of Ordained Ministry this week to be examined for full membership. I pray that they will speak as the Spirit leads them. And I pray for us on the Board, for ears of discernment to hear the murmuring of the Spirit. I’m also praying for the leadership at Church Hill. There is so much to celebrate here, and so much more that we could be doing in ministry and mission. May we embrace the possibilities. I am so thankful for our three daughters. Georgia was home for part of Columbus Day weekend – we had lovely walk in Arnold Arboretum. Emily made the drive from Worcester on Saturday afternoon to have supper with us. This past weekend, Helen was home from Bennington, VT. We cooked and shopped at the Salvation Army and, between rainstorms, hiked at Thayer Woods. I think it’s hilarious to have a kitten! Tony is sleeping, and she is sniffing his head. When he makes a little move, she jumps straight up in the air!
As I look at my calendar for the next few weeks, I can feel my chest get a little tight and shoulders a little higher and forehead a bit more wrinkled. How will I ever have time to do all the things I’ve written in those little daily squares? How will I be able to do them well? I feel the beginnings of panic. This is the opposite of mindfulness. I am so worried about whether I’ll be able to accomplish the next task that I can’t focus on the present task. I become less attentive, less creative, it starts to feel like the places within me where the Spirit resides are crowded with anxiety. Breathe. Let me take time to breathe in the Spirit and breathe out the anxiety. Here’s the prayer:
God, may I be at peace. May my heart always be open. May I awaken to your light deep within. May I be healed. May I become a source of healing to others. Amen.
It's a lot of fun having a kitten. Pearl and Tony the Wonderdog have become great friends - sometimes with disastrous results. They had some sort of chase through the dining room, resulting in smashed plants, a pumpkin and tablecloth on the floor, and dirt tracked into the living room. Sigh. But Pearl does all the goofy kitten things that make us laugh - going ballistic with a piece of wire, jumping out from under the sofa, sideways, like a ninja. She cuddles and purrs, and is very social. I'm sure we'll clean up some more messes, but it's great to have her here.
The spiritual discipline of mindfulness: being truly present in each moment. Letting God's spirit speak in each moment, each event, each person, each activity. For me, it's such a hard practice. While washing the dishes, to be focused on washing the dishes, the warm water, the bubbles, the feel of the plates - rather than thinking about what I'm going to do next. I'm pretty good at multi-tasking, which is the opposite of mindfulness, I think. So I am trying to cultivate this practice. For instance, when I am working in my office, and there is a knock on the door, to truly set aside whatever I am doing and to see the interruption as a God moment. And to treat each moment, however small, each activity, no matter how seemingly insignificant, as worthy of attention. "I stand at the door and knock." In whatever way God knocks at the door, I hope that I can be mindful - pay attention - and be present in the moment.
Holy One, go with us, wherever you may lead us. Guide us through the wilderness, protect us through the storm. Bring us home, rejoicing at the wonders you have shown us. Bring us home, rejoicing, once again, unto our door.
A perfect rainy fall day. Yellow leaves covering the grass. All the colors seem more intense in the wetness. A few birds come to the thistle feeder. It seems quieter in the rain. The fall is a beautiful season, and yet I often don’t appreciate the beauty because of what it represents – the ebbing of sunlight, shorter days, colder weather. I remember years when the seasonal depression has set in like a thick, heavy almost choking fog. So a season of beauty turns into a time of dread. So, this year, I make plans to greet the long winter as a time of possibility and challenge. Stay in better physical shape. Get outside as much as possible while the sun is shining Schedule some time away. A place for painting and plans to rework a couple of pieces of furniture. I’ve already begun, a few weeks ago, to use the light box every morning. Working on my DMin project proposal, which I’m excited about. Cook and eat healthy meals. Enjoy playing with the animals who live in my house. Above all, enter this season with mindfulness. Focus on what is, and expect the Spirit of God to be present in life giving ways.