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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

 

 

 

 

There is a story of a young woman who believes that God lives on top of a mountain at the ends of the earth.  She journeys to the mountain and begins the long climb to the top.  At the time she is beginning, God thinks “What can I do to show people on earth that I love them?”  God says, “I know, I will journey down the mountain and go to live among them.” Thus, when the young woman reaches the top of the mountain, God is not there.  She thinks, “God doesn’t live here!  Maybe God doesn’t even exist.”

Sometimes, we look for God in the wrong places.  We forget that God came down to live among us.  Jesus, God-made-man, shows us how to live in relationship with his Father.  An ancient Jewish saying tells us, “God dwells wherever we let him in.”  Where do I let God in?  Where do I look for God?  Where do I find God?

All of us have so much to be thankful for each day.  When we awake to a new day, when a friend is in touch with us, for the food we eat, for the water that flows into our homes,

for flowers, birds, trees, our health, for doctors close by who care for us: the list can go on and on.  Thanking God should be part of our daily lives.  It is also good to tell God about worries and concerns: about jobs, relationships, family, health, whatever comes to mind.  Sharing those thoughts with God will often help to lessen the burdens we carry.

Take time — lots of it — each day to talk to God in prayer. If you spend time with family members or friends, engage them in prayer with you, and listen to how they share their joys/concerns/thanks with God.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

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Half empty? Half full? What do you see when you look at the sky…? At a stranger on the street?  At your children? At your elderly parent? At your backyard? What do you see?  Do you see what is wrong or what is right? Do you see what needs “fixin’”? or what has potential…?

A friend of mine shared a picture taken by her granddaughter….a picture of wispy clouds…where some of us may see only clouds….she saw angels…and so did I!  Did her vision plant the idea in my head?  I really don’t know, and it doesn’t matter because I did see the angels! It is much like other things in life.  If we have the Spirit’s guidance planting ideas in our heads, we do see things differently. Are we able somehow to look at a friend and not be conscious of his/her faults but to see through them to the innermost heart? Will we be able to look at our child (even if he/she is in a naughty mood) and see the beautiful gift from God who lightens our life? Will we look at a weed-laden yard and see the possibilities? Can we walk with an elderly friend and experience the wisdom — and forget the slow steps?

So many things make a lasting impression on us….what we see, what we hear, what we hear about…opinions shape our thinking, our prejudices (yes, we all have them!), our ways of responding to people, situations, uncertainties. We are bombarded from all sides….and we seem to never be able to “get away.” We get emails, phone calls, text messages, snail mail. To whom are we most open? Who influences us most? Are we guided by the bold headlines in the newspaper, the news flashes we receive as text messages, the consumerism of advertising? Sometimes we are just not sure where we are going, in which direction we find our real peace. What role does our God play in our personal and family decision-making? Do I pray in a spirit of openness to whatever God’s answer may be? Do I believe that God always answers prayer…even when the answer is NO or NOT YET? Who is my compass….?  Where is my true north?

During these “lazy,  hazy days” of summer, may I be open to the Spirit so that I may be open to the good things God has in store for me!

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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At this time of the year, I am sure many of us can identify with this writer’s thoughts on winter and can appreciate how God fits into everything!

“IN THE PART OF THE WORLD where I live, at this time of year the daylight hours are very short. In fact, when I’m not traveling and find myself working from my office, the sun has set when I pull into my garage. Frankly, this isn’t my favorite time of year. I really enjoy being outdoors in the sunlight. … And yet I know that this time of year is a part of God’s intended purpose. These days are necessary to create balance in my life, a rhythm that moves beyond the frenetic activity of long daylight hours into a hibernating time of darkness. “Then God said, ‘Let there be light.’ … And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

When God speaks, God’s voice balances the rhythm of our lives. Yes, the light is good. Times of activity and productivity form a vital part of making a life and a living. … However, the light is separate from the darkness. Just as music is a series of sounds and silence in rhythm, so our lives must be a series of light and darkness, activity and rest, work and sabbath.

Embrace this season of your life and God’s created daily work-and-rest rhythm. Such percussive movement is a part of our purpose and God’s plan. “

By Joey Faucette  -From The Upper Room Disciplines 2012: A Book of Daily Devotions.

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An old bumper sticker reads:  “Stop the world, I want to get off!”

It echoes the feelings of many people when faced with all the anxieties, troubles, bad news, and exploitation of the poor and vulnerable.  In our life of faith, however, we know that our God is still in control.  In a spirit of hope, we trust that God will take care of us.  In our commitment to love one another, we know that we are God’s voice, and hands, and heart in our sometimes frightening world.  While there are many needs in our global society, there are also many in my neighborhood, in my parish, among my friends and acquaintances.

During these days of November, as we prepare for Thanksgiving, how can I show that I am really grateful for the many gifts God has given me?  How can I try to alleviate the pain and worry that another person in my little world experiences?  Thanksgiving is a time for us to say thank you to those I may not really “see”—my co-worker, the person who bags my groceries, the salesperson, the people who cross my path in a hundred ways each week!  What am I doing to share my appreciation for them?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech

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photo by Zoe Pollock

“A little girl sat on her grandmother’s lap to listen to the creation account from the book of Genesis.  As the creation story unfolded, the kind woman, noticing that the child was unusually attentive, asked, ‘What do you think of it, dear?’  ‘Oh, I think it’s great,’ replied the child, ‘You never know what God is going to do next!’”  Like the child in the story, we can never imagine what God might do next, but we know that, when we live in a spirit of faith and confidence in our God who loves us so much, God will always take care of us!  If we look at life with the wonder of a child, we see so much that is wonder-ful:  God creates anew each day—are we seeing and appreciating his wonders?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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What does it mean to be a community of thankfulness! An African proverb tells us: “If we want to walk fast, walk alone; if you want to walk far, walk with others.” Bottom line, we can do so much more when we do it in community! Joys are multiplied, sorrows divided—when we share them with those we love! Think of all the ways we “divide and conquer” with many people helping! From the simple things like a potluck dinner, to the fun-raising and fundraising efforts of a school carnival, to rescue efforts at a time of major tragedy…we know that the cliché, “many hands make light work” is true. If we carry that concept over to our efforts to share our faith, to take care of each other, to meet the needs of our local Church and community, we know that if we each did our part, the result would be unimaginable!

St. Julie Billiart, the spiritual mother of my community, the Sisters of Notre Dame, once said, “You cannot do all the good in the world, but just the bit that lies within your power.” Can each of us do our “bit”? Do we even know what that “bit” might be? Everyday we should each spend some time reflecting on what God is calling us to do to be of service within our local and parish community. Thomas Merton tells an interesting story from his childhood: “It was Sunday…the sound of church bells came across the bright fields…Suddenly all the birds began to sing in the trees above my head, and the sound of the birds singing and of the church bells ringing lifted my heart with joy. I cried out to my father, ‘all the birds are in their church –why don’t we go to church?’  My father looked up and said: ’We will…some other Sunday.’”—so what am I going to commit myself to– today, not tomorrow, not next year, not when I am feeling good or things are going better for me? How will I answer God’s call to share something of myself…so that I am contributing to the “potluck” of love and service in my community?

– Sr. Marie Paul Grech, SND

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The last week here in Southern California we have been able to see the Perseid meteor shower in all its glory. However, my sense is that most folks were content to read about it in the newspaper or see it on the Internet, foregoing the 2:00 a.m. opportunity for the best show. It reminded me how much of life is spent reading, observing, studying; one could easily move into a “spectator mode” of life…physical life and spiritual life. Like a sports fan in the stands, one is always watching, sometimes cheering and sometimes booing, but never playing the game.

Author Caryll Houselander reminds us that EXPERIENCING God through love is the core of our genuine reality, the core of a living faith. She reminds us:

“The being of God, then presses upon man. It is his (her) environment. It sings to him in the winds. When he touches grass or water, he touches it with his fingers; he smells the hay or clover and in newly cut wood; he listens to it in the falling of the rain or the murmur of the sea. He tastes it in the food that he eats; he sees it in the flowers beneath his feet; he is clothed in it in silk and wool. Its measured beat in his own blood rocks him to sleep with the coming darkness and wakens him with the light. He receives it in the sunlight like a sacrament that gives life”.

From “The Reed of God” Sheed & Ward, publishers, New York 1944

Perhaps it’s time for all of us to make sure we have not become “once-removed” from God, absorbed by reading about him, reflecting, talking, etc. The small child who sits in the dock while others swim will never drown, but will not have genuine happiness of joy in the experience, either. Experiencing God is sometimes risky, but I think we will be pleasantly surprised by the joy that it brings.

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I read this weekend a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver about the gift of listening. It is something we almost never think about, for we usually equate hearing with listening, something altogether different. For to truly listen to something is to lay aside your own thoughts for a time and become open to whatever it is you’re focusing on. In a sense, you open your heart to accept without judgement, or the need to categorize and label, that which is asking to be heard. Two examples from my own life bring this concept into clarity for me, and I’d like to share them and see if it helps with seeing the difference between the attitude or stance of truly listening and that of hearing.

Once as I was listening to the birds singing during my morning meditation, I began to focus more intently on the singing. To my astonishment I realized they were not just singing in my own little backyard, but throughout the entire neighborhood! I could clearly hear flocks of all types of birds singing in joyous concert welcoming the morning from all the corners of my little patch of the city. It’s as if I had never heard them sing like that before, the vast area they sang from, and the multitude of voices. I heard God that day, reveling in His Creation. My heart was open to receive this blessing because I was listening, putting my own ruminations aside, being present and in the moment.

Another example of the difference of a listening stance or attitude is the way it is noticed by the one in need of hearing. There have been times I’ve been quietly listening to a friend or co-worker sharing some particular trouble they were experiencing in their lives; when they would stop and look at me and say “what is it?” . I would respond “nothing, I’m just listening to you”. So unfamiliar were they with someone actually allowing them to speak while remaining focused on what they were saying, that they just assumed something must be wrong! It seems that for many people, the experience of actually being listened to is something that never happens, and that is a tragedy.

So, we need to ask ourselves, am I listening right now or am I only hearing, filling my mind instead with to-do lists, labeling, and stereotyping? Am I only waiting for the pause so as to jump in and state my important assessment of the situation, or am I allowing my friend’s story to touch my heart, sharing with her the burden of her sadness? Finally, do I only hear the noise of the birds who cut into my sleep on a Sunday morning, or the Divine Chorus of God, bursting with joy in praise of the glory of His Creation?

To find Mary Oliver’s poem “Mockingbirds” follow this link.

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The Sisters of Notre Dame invite single women ages 18-40 to their summer volunteer program July 12-16. Stretch Your Heart volunteers will serve the homeless at the St. Vincent de Paul Center in Bakersfield and share in the community life of the sisters at their lodge near Frazier Park. For details, call 805-452-9699, connect by e-mail Sr. Val at sistervalsnd@gmail.com or visit http://www. sndca.org by June 30, 2010.


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Mysteries, Yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous 
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the  
mouths of the lambs.

How rivers and stones are forever 
in allegiance with gravity 
while we ourselves dream of rising.

How two hands touch and the bonds will never be broken.

How people come, from delight or the scars of damage, to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say “Look!” and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver

In reading Mary Oliver’s poem in Terry Hershey’s Sabbath Moments daily email I received this morning, I reflected on how important it is to live our lives in the “awe of God.” It is so easy to get caught up in the frantic pace of trying to accomplish our daily “To Do List” that we do not recognize the sacredness of each day. I enjoyed Oliver’s statement about avoiding those who think they have all the answers. I have always loved to laugh, but I have learned to live in the “awe of God” since I entered the Sisters of Notre Dame and to see the sacred in each day.

Blessings,

Sr. Valerie Marie

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