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

One Day — though 38 years ago, still lives in my mind and heart.

Father’s Day 1982 was and is memorable.

I was working in Virginia and called my dad to wish him a happy Father’ day.

We had an extended phone conversation and laughed at a number of things which a father and son share.

He thanked me for the gift I sent.

We had a custom of sending each the most outrageously ugly shirt we could find. Usually is ‘was a bowling shirt. He said that the one this year was probably the best and worst.

We continued to chat and said that mom was sleeping.

The call ended with me telling him “I love you dad.”

The next evening I was working in my office and received a phone call from home.

When I answered a voice I did not recognize introduced himself as Lieutenant Ryan of the Chicago Fire Department.

He then told me that my dad had died at home earlier in the day.

My father and I had a very full relationship with the things joyful and painful that a son and father experience.

I was far from a perfect son and he was as good as a dad he could be.

He always provided for our family, often working two jobs.

Many memories flood my memory and warm my heart — outrageous humor, telling a good story, saying “hello” to everyone you meet, dancing, giving others the shirt off your back, and a good beer now and then.

I was happy that the last thing he heard from me on our last phone call was that “Dad, I love you!

Thirty Eight Years later this memory lives in my mind and heart!

The Gift Of Listening

“How is your day going,” brings a smile on ZOOM when one participant asks that question and then listens, without interruption.

Poet John Albert Holmes said, ‘It’s well to remember that the entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.’

True compassion connects us to the grief of others.

A patient in a hospital who cannot receive visitors, an individual sequestered in their room in an assisted living facility, a senior citizen quarantined, in their home — these and many others need a listening ear!

A Beautiful Day

Back in November 2019 while, according to some data, the Corona Virus was developing; another part of our life was already literally showing “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.”

According to some reviewers Tom Hanks portrayed Mr. Rogers.

Persons of diverse decades and even generations made sure that the original show punctuated and enflamed their lives.

Mr. Rogers incarnated the “good man.”

In this current setting, while we are not commuting but staying home in our neighborhood, inspiring stories proliferate and punctuate the reality of “being a good neighbor!”

One man, Andrew, makes it a point to provide groceries for others.

Chalk art on sidewalks and in driveways colorfully proclaim “have a good day,” “stay safe,” and other needed and beneficial messages.

The neighborhood for me was a safe environment of 18 families and homes on St. Tripp in Chicago where neighbors cared for others, closed down the street for a “block party.”

Any parent on the block cared for each kid on the block, and even corrected every kid on the block!

Now, we are getting back to the neighborhood being such a place rather than a spot where we park our cars to commute.

Watch the movie.

Be a good neighbor.