Luke 1: 5-25
You have given sterility its pregnancy! We are, once again, beckoned to believe in the impossible. We have in our readings two stories of women who were sterile, but become pregnant. It’s interesting to note that these stories are fairly common in the Scriptures and always the child to be born is destined to make a great difference for the good of the people. Great things happen from seemingly impossible situations! Can you believe it?? I have difficulty believing it, like Zechariah, and so I remain unable to speak, paralyzed in my journey. We all experience “sterility” in our lives, in one way or another. What is sterile in your life these days? What’s sterile in the life of our world? Can I believe that this sterility can be overcome and new life can emerge? It’s just a matter of believing! AND taking action. What’s some small thing that I can do today to give pregnancy to a part of my life, or that of our world, that is lifeless and sterile? If I am honest, most of the time I am like Zechariah who basically looks at the angel and says “yeah, . . . Right! You have GOT to be kidding!” Most of the time I am like Zechariah and don’t believe that incredible things can happen in my life and the life of the world. And in my lack of belief, I remain like Zechariah, lifeless, speechless and a bit listless and lethargic. We are knocked over the head again today by God who says, “Wake up! Believe it!” We are again beckoned to walk through our days believing that life CAN be different, that the world CAN be different! The past couple of weeks I have felt listless. This morning when I read these readings and pondered them, I felt deep within me “Yeah right, . . . You have GOT to be kidding!” And then I started to change my thinking and believe that maybe, just maybe the impossible can happen. I’m not sure if it will. But you know what? . . . I’m not listless anymore. A little pregnancy has been given to my listless sterility.
Luke 18: 35-43
The blind man had balls!
According to the religious understanding of the time, his blindness was a sign that he was a sinner, cursed by God and to be shunned by the community. With great courage he was able to rise above this great wave of religious belief and cry out to Jesus to receive his sight. And Jesus welcomed him and assured him that his faith had healed him.
My vision gets blurred too. Does yours? Of late I have been praying each morning that God would direct my thinking. And God is doing it! I feel like I’m in one of those moments of waking up again. Remember a time when you began to work on some aspect of your personal growth, be it spiritual, mental or physical and things began to fall into place? But then over time, you got distracted, almost without knowing it. And suddenly one day you woke up and realized you were off the path.
I want to see. I want vision and I want to walk in ways that are healthy and life/love giving. It starts with my thinking. When my thinking is warped, my actions and emotions are warped. So I pray each morning that God would direct my thinking, for left to my own devises, I quickly loose sight.
To live well I must live in such a way that I remain within a flow of good thinking. Various tasks, pressures and bad habits can confuse thinking, and, as a result take me off center.
It’s no accident that 12 Step programs and various spiritual teachers through the centuries recommend daily prayer that our thoughts be guided. The importance of this practice has come back to me of late – asking, . . . just asking that my thoughts be directed by a Power greater than myself. Left to my own devices, I quickly get off course. But left open to a Power greater than myself who can restore me to right thinking (aka “sanity), I feel more grounded and more useful to others. This openess comes from clearing out as much as possible that which gets in the way of clear thinking and bouncing things off of other people. Again, left to my own devices, my own thoughts, in isolation from a Divine Power or other people, I quickly get off course.
God, direct my thinking today!
“If the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming, she would keep a watchful eye.” See Matthew 24: 42-51
If you are the owner of a house, you know the work that goes into maintaining, caring for and protecting your investment. It is a constant process.
Each of us IS a house. Do we take the same consistent care of the house that we are, as we do our own homes? What are the “thieves” that I need to watch out for? It could be negative thinking. It could be unhealthy food. It could be the lethargy imposed by a lack of physical activity. It could be a lack of reading which feeds our minds and spirits. It could be self centeredness. Am I vigilant about keeping away those things which would drain life from me?
I think of Wayne Dyer’s strength test that he mentioned in one of his talks. I believe it is in his book and set of talks entitled Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling. If you haven’t read or listened to these talks, I highly recommend it! Here’s the exercise he describes: Place something next to your heart, hold out your arm and have someone press down on your arm. If it is something that is healthy and life giving you will have the strength to keep your arm straight up. If what you hold to your heart is something unhealthy, you will not have the strength to hold your arm up. Try it. Parents, try it with your kids. See what happens. What is healthy will give us energy. What is not will deplete our energy.
Am I being watchful in maintaining and protecting the house that I am?
John 15: 9-11
“All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete!”
I believe it was Thomas Merton who said that one of the hallmarks of a genuine spirituality is laughter. And any who really knew him would tell you right away that Merton was often to be found telling jokes and rolling about in laughter!
Where did we ever get this notion that God doesn’t want us to be happy? The Source of all that is DOES want us to be happy, and even more than that, God wants us to be joyful! True spirituality will lead to joy! If it doesn’t lead to joy, it’s not authentic. Look around at “spiritual” people. Do they exude a sense of joy or do they walk around with pain or fear written in their faces? Having a spiritual path is about being “redeemed” from pain and that which weighs us down in life, that we might live life to the full. If it isn’t, why bother?
Am I feeling a sense of joy in my living and loving? If I am not, then something in my spiritual practice (i.e. life) needs to be adjusted. The first question I need to ask if I am feeling stagnant is: Am I watching my thoughts and reaching out in love to those in need? Oftentimes I find that I begin to be less joyful when I am mired in negative thinking and when I am only looking to my own needs to the exclusion of the needs of others. Love and positive thinking are keys to joy.
Look around you. Look at yourself. Do you see joy and laughter? Plant some seeds of joy today, then stand back and watch them grow!