Forgive

Friday previously would typically mark the end of week in schools and workplaces.

In schools where I would substitute teach, Friday offered many opportunities because staff longed for and arranged for three way weekends.

In workplaces staff would countdown the time until…

However in our current situation Friday has the sense of being “just another day.”

YET, in some traditions Friday was a fast day.

In other traditions, Forgiveness Friday offered an opportunity to either give forgiveness or ask for forgiveness.

All of us have either hurt others and/or been hurt.

When something is said often, it is important. How about when it is said 161 times —the number of times forgive and forgiveness is in Judaeo Christian literature — the Bible, and other religious traditions?

Please do not wait for in our current situation let’s ask for forgiveness and/or forgive before it is too late, until the other person dies.

As a sage wrote centuries ago “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates…” Proverbs 17:9 NLT

Ahead

Next week, next month, next year I would want to…

Let’s complete that phrase.

By this time let’s admit that we want, and even need to…

Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, vacations, baseball games, barbecues — to mention just a few.

Boundaries and borders now form these decisions, more than previously — six feet apart — HUM — HOW.

YET!

Focus, fidelity, and follow through resonate in my mind and memory while I was training for and participating in marathons.

A sage phrase from Proverbs 4:25-27 provides a plan “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left.”

Let’s look ahead to that safe and secure time when…

Let’s take level plans.

Let’s move on firm surfaces.

Let’s not swerve.

Next month, next year we will…

Being Prepared

While getting the Walmart grocery order earlier today, Carol and I talked about getting various items which we would need in the coming days and weeks.

We were “preparing.”

In my youth the Boy Scouts prepared and trained us to be prepared, to be alert!

In 1907, Baden-Powell, an English soldier, devised the Scout motto: Be Prepared; which later published in Scouting for Boys in 1908. “Be Prepared” means “you are always in a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty,” he later wrote.

In Judaeo Christian literature (the Bible) there are 371 verses relative to this to this theme.

Greek literature and even Aesop fables counsel and promote “being prepared.”

Paul wrote to the community in Corinth (1 Cor. 16:13) “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith…”

How are we prepared and alert in our current pandemic? I wear a mask and googles while on my daily walk.

Be prepared and alert!

Always Ready

Always ready!

Being prepared sets up for success.

Growing up in the Midwest, my dad taught us to have a bag of either sand and/or cat litter in the trunk to get ready for ice and snow. Also, a blanket and some food!

I would submit and suggest that this applies to our current situation — food, supplies, face mask, and whatever deemed necessary.

Also, spiritual and emotional preparedness forms the foundation of being ready!

Semper Paratus is a Latin phrase, meaning “Always Ready”.

It is used as the official motto of some organizations, such as the United States Coast Guard, whichis the world’s oldest life-saving service and “Semper Paratus” (“Always Ready”) is its theme song.

“We’re always ready for the call,
We place our trust in Thee…”

How appropriate!

Our readiness could also be a sign to others!

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

The Land Between

Our church is using a book “The Land Between” as the format for a sermon series and small discussions.

“Being between” both expresses and challenges us to go “from” the past and go “to” the future.

For a real and scary connection is seen in the “flyer” or “trapeze artist” who must let go of one bar while flying through the air, trusting that the “catcher” will indeed “catch.”

Here are a few direct quotes from the introduction.

I firmly believe that the Land Between—that space where we feel lost or lonely or deeply hurt—is fertile ground for our spiritual transformation and for God’s grace to be revealed in magnificent ways.

But in addition to being the bearer of mercy, I also have the privilege of challenging God’s people to holiness, and while the Land Between is prime real estate for faith transformation, it is also the space where we can grow resentful, bitter, and caustic if our responses are unguarded.

The wilderness where faith can thrive is the very desert where it can dry up and die if we are not watchful.

God intends for us to emerge from this land radically reshaped.

But the process of transformational growth will not occur automatically.

Our response to God while in the Land Between is what will determine whether our journey through this desert will result in deep, positive growth or spiritual decline.

The habits of the heart that we foster in this space—our responses and reactions—will determine whether the Land Between results in spiritual life or spiritual death.

We choose.

How are we doing today?

I am getting “cabin fever” and wanting to do something else.

The following from James Lee Burke in Creole Belle provide both context and wisdom.

“My experience has been that when people are frightened and do not understand the historical changes taking place around them, they seek magic and power to solve their problems.”

“Every sunrise of your life will become a candle that you carry with you until sunset.”

I am taking “one at a time,” moment, minutes, and days.

The mornings punctuate this — I look east out of the garage and seeing the sunrise. While taking a walk, this morning sun and fresh air breathes air into my soul and light into the same soul.

As the day moves on, savoring each mouthful bring more delight to the soul.

Spending more time with Carol at home increases this joy.

I am not certain of the author of the following; however it certainly applies.

Like morning dew upon the grass
Is your sweet voice on my ear!

Like still waters, smooth as glass
Is my heart when you’re near.

Springtime flowers bud and bloom,
And your eyes follow their lead;

Birdsongs in the air do loom,
Singing your name to me.

Love unending fills my heart,
Fresh and pure as spring;

Joy abounding is what thou art,
And what thou dost bring!

One Pair Of Hands

In this current time of “staying in place, there is the joy of holding hands with those with whom we are “in place,’ such is the case of Carol and me.

Then there is pain of not touching others such as hugging grand kids.

Yet, now I find my hands also reaching out to others via texting, writing (as I am doing now), calling and listening to others.

The power of hands.

Here is an old song about the power of one pair of hands — from an unlikely source — Elvis Presley.

The Women In Our Life

We have women our life.

The first woman in our life gave us life!

The next woman in our life now, our spouse, gives us love and so much more!

Thanks to that woman in my life,Carol, I have started reading The Women of Easter.

The author, Liz Curtis Higgs, writes elegantly, powerfully, and poignantly about the women in the life of Jesus.

As I have benefitted from her wisdom, I will share portions of this book as I graze through it.

The author describes on page147, Mary Magadlene as “a woman to be reckoned with.”

Thankfully, we all have such women in our life!

Another Day — One More Day

These words can either presage more pain or prophesy helpful hope!

In my experience a switch was triggered which turned on the light and dispelled the darkness.

A tipping point overcame the gravity and gravitas of the past and rolled the ball forward.

However each person envisions or names the “More” in life, the “More” beckons, entices, and draws us out of the past and into the joy of “one more day!”

Augustine experienced and hence wrote about the “restless heart.”

He also wrote about being “quickened by hidden grace within.”

In this current time when I am staying, I am experiencing and enjoying the “hidden grace within.”

This “within” can be “in our hearts” and/or “in our homes,” coming from those with whom we are “in place.”

Whether in our hearts or in our homes, we have the opportunity to be “quickened.”

Like Snoopy in the graphic, we can jump with joy.

A Lady For Our Time

Grief

I feel you.

I fear you.

When if I feel you

Will I ever wake up?

Will I be free from

fearing of forgetting

those that I miss.

Embrace you, I fear

While you are so near?

Like a thundering, cloudy storm cloud

You cover me

like a shroud and a shawl.

And yet

I must not forget

that in such strife

there will come life.

Senora Dolorosa

Via Dolosora

Tu Es Amorosa

Grief

you are a beautiful woman

whose embrace warms my frightened heart.

You are a gentle woman

whose eyes beckon me

Beyond my pain now

Beyond my sorrow now

To the life you carry within you.

You live now in many nations

You hear now many languages

You soothe now many a breaking heart.

Thousands have died

You live now in the hearts of untold numbers.

Long ago, a great poet wrote Mama Forgets Her Birds

Mama never forgets her birds,

Though in another tree –

She looks down just as often

And just as tenderly

As when her little mortal nest

With cunning care she wove –

If either of her sparrows fall,

She notices, above.

– Emily Dickinson