Winters

“Wisdom comes with winters” 

Oscar Wilde

Aging is an interesting thing. I’m beginning to see this getting older stuff provides me with challenges and opportunities which may or may not help me gain some wisdom along the way. Some of my lessons are definitely easier to accept than others.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve observed over the past few years is how I’ve become invisible. I’m not sure exactly when that happened. I began to notice it took much longer for people to notice me–whether I’m at the store waiting for someone to ring up my items or walking down the street–the steady stream of people around me seemed to simply glide right by me.  A less pleasant awareness occurred last week when my femininity took a reality check square on the nose. As I sat in a lecture I began to notice the person presenting the talk scanned the room very nicely and had great audience connection EXCEPT he never once made eye contact with me. I have to tell you this took some time to accept and I had to mentally brush off my pride. As I thought about the last few lectures I’d attended, I realized this was not the first time I’d been “looked over” both literally and figuratively. I was not at all impressed with this latest bit of aging insights.

I may be less visible but my new awareness has helped me see others who are in need. At the store this past weekend I noticed a little man with a cane trying to push his grocery cart, a woman with a walking cast struggling to open a heavy door, and a man in an electric cart struggling to make it around all the aisle displays. These proud souls are the true invisible ones.

It only took a minute of my time to help them. It’s something we can all do and it certainly made me feel better afterwards. After all, believe it or not, in the not so distant future, that may be one of us in need of a helping hand. What a nice way to continue to observe Lent–helping our fellow invisible people.

Oh, yes, I’ve reached those golden days

You hear so much about;

I don’t feel any older yet, 

But will one day, no doubt.

The sky is still a lovely blue, 

The rose is just as sweet. 

Each day is like another chance

To make my life complete.

Sure, there is hardship, sorrow, and pain,

Who thought there wouldn’t be? 

But now I know it’s just a test

To find the worth in me. 

~Betty Irean Loeb

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Worry

“..when someone says “please pray for me,” they are not just saying “let’s have lunch sometime.” They are issuing an invitation into the depths of their lives and their humanity- and often with some urgency. And worry is not a substitute for prayer. Worry is a starting place, but not a staying place. Worry invites me into prayer. As a staying place, worry can be self-indulgent, paralyzing, draining, and controlling. When I take worry into prayer, it doesn’t disappear, but it becomes smaller.” 

Sybil MacBeth, Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God

I am a champion worrier. I doubt that surprises anyone.

I worry about every single thing.

Michael does what he can to lighten my mood and lessen my worries. Today he brought me in the cutest little bouquet from whatever was blooming in our yard. I have no idea what these little gems are–doesn’t matter to me–to me it helped me see someone I love was thinking about me.

As suggested yesterday when I talked about what to do for Lent, I’m working on myself. There is no better place to start than with worry habits.

So–I did another little experiment. Not to worry all of you who are not science people–this is the Barbara Burton method of testing which has extremely broad, non-specific perimeters.

Right now there are several people who have me very worried for various reasons. So I took a few moments this morning to think about them, said a little prayer, and released my angst to God/the Universe–poof–gone—done.

As the morning went on I realized I hadn’t thought about that particular situation at all. I had gone about my day efficiently, easily accomplishing all I needed to get done before my morning appointment.

Okay–it was only one “experiment” with many other concerns sitting on the worry shelves. That’s okay in my data analysis book. It’s a strong start and one powerful enough to get my attention and keep the trial running.

“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

– Matthew 6:25-34” 

The Holy Bible: King James Version

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

 

Ashes

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19” 

― The Holy Bible

I had trouble putting my story together yesterday so today it’s all coming together with the help of my friends, Judi and Glynis. They may be just as surprised as I was!

For the first time in many years, I went to a Catholic Ash Wednesday service. I, like many of my fellow Catholics, am very frustrated and unhappy with many of the things The Church has ignored. Every time I start to lean into the thought of going back, some new bit of dirt is uncovered. I mentioned this to Judi–a Catholic who regularly attends church services. After a few moments of thought, she shared her thoughts–

She, too, had and has issues with The Church. BUT, she told me, she attends church not for the church, but for herself. She goes for the feeling of peace it gives her.

Interesting…

I believe that God, Spirit, The Universe–whatever terminology you want use–is everywhere. A Church is simply a building–do I really need that?

Today Michael and I decided to check out St. Paul the Apostle, our local Catholic Church. The noon service was a short service for the distribution of ashes only. It was the perfect opportunity for us to visit. Situated at the top of a high hill in the hill country of Texas, the building and setting were spectacular. We sat in the back row, taking in the unobstructed view of Lake LBJ and surrounding waterfront.

As I sat and prayed, an overwhelming feeling of connection passed through me. From my hilltop seat I felt incredibly close to my departed family members. It was difficult for me to listen as the Priest read the passages and shared his Lenten messages. Is there more power in prayer when two or more are gathered in His name? Maybe Judi has a valid point–maybe I DO need to go back to church–for ME. Was this the feeling of peace she talked about–was this the “grace” I’d learned about as a child?

Glynis attends New Hope Baptist Church and shared her pastor’s Lenten message with me earlier today. I was impressed with the words her pastor chose in this teaching. The advice seemed so much healthier–mentally and physically–in ways to observe the Lenten season. Let me share some of the highlights:

  • …”What is Lent? Lent is the 40 day period in which many believers in Jesus reflect, repent and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter.
  • …The choice to observe Lent is a personal one–the whole point is to focus your heart and mind on Jesus during the journey to Easter.
  • If you are planning to participate in Lent this year, we encourage you to begin your journey not with the question of ‘what should I give up for Jesus?’ but instead ‘what is Jesus’ invitation to me right now?’ How does He want to renovate my character, my marriage, my work, my life? If you can answer that question, Lent will take on a deeper meaning for you.”

Thanks to Judi and Glynis, my Lenten season has taken a much different course than it has at any other time in my life. May the following prayer serve to guide as well.

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on trust.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence, so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work. Amen.

– Attributed to William Arthur

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~