The First Walk of the Season

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

The months passed, situations arose, life continued.  Yet  no walks.  Restorative, beautiful walks waited.  Then the day.  Carefully bundled, cautiously stepping as boots navigated the ice-covered path. Oh, so beautiful!  Good to be back.  Fresh air filled grateful lungs.  My eyes beheld the transformed lake.  Ice covered.  So different from the warm waters of early Fall.  The first walk of the season.  What season?

Then stillness–followed by an unfamiliar sound.  A trickle?  Water streaming below frozen water!  Water rising from the deep freeze!   The sound so beautiful I could not leave.  The beautiful sound of emergence–change–newness of life amid the frozen waters!  What a beautiful sound.

Can it be that we too rise from the deep freeze of life, from sadness amid life transitions, from uncertainty, misunderstanding and doubt?  In each epoch of our lives there is a first walk of the season.  The divine source of life trickles through our questioning hearts bringing new life, understanding and hope.  Oh, what a beautiful sound.

It all begins with the first walk of the season.

Blessings and peace

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Embracing Light

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Perhaps it wasn’t completely wise to be outside by the water on an early,  blustery early fall morning, yet the dawning day beckoned me.    The wind whirled around me, my hiking boots griping the rocks.   I clutched my camera while situating myself before the roaring waves.  The panorama of beauty  surrounding me was breath-taking.  The contrast of clouds and early morning sun rising persistently was like none I had experienced.  The rain amid the early rays of morning reminded me of the contrasts of life.  While all around life’s questions emerge, the divine invites inner stillness.  The contrast in many ways is incomprehensible to the mind yet stunningly enfolding to the soul.  The Gospel of Luke (21:5-19) in the Christian Scriptures tells a story of such contrast.

Jesus, surrounded by the curious, responds to a question about signs and wonders.  Getting right to the heart of the matter, Jesus reminds them that even though everything around them may fall apart with uncertainty and emerging self-doubt, they will not be harmed.  They may be hated and persecuted but not destroyed.  I will give you the wisdom you need, Jesus said.    And the key,  perseverance: “by your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Perseverance–trusting, hoping, staying the course, believing, taking the time and trusting the divine and embracing light in the midst of clouds.

Our invitation is to embrace the light.

Blessings and peace

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Embracing Delight

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

In a recent “Family Circus” comic by Bill Keane, a scene unfolds on what looks like a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the family living room.  The children are sitting/laying on the floor playing a board game and their father bends down from the chair where he is sitting to watch the action.  The frame is frozen in time when the daughter looks up at him and asks, “Who do you hope wins, Daddy?”  The look on the father’s face says, it is not about winning or losing, all of you are precious to me.   I delight in the fun you are having together, I could never choose.

A similar scene presents itself in a parable portraying Jesus telling a story.   (Christian scriptures Luke 18:9-14).  Two people present themselves at prayer, one judging others, the other recognizing the truth about self and God,  imperfections, gifts, joys, sadness and all.   In the parable Jesus invites those convinced of their own righteousness and who are despising  everyone else to look deep within themselves to know who they are–imperfections, gifts, sadness, joys–and in that way, there is no need to judge others as they know the truth about themselves and God.    Jesus invites them to delight in one another.

As in the “Family Circus” comic, the invitation is to delight in all of humanity without need to be better than anyone else.  “It isn’t whether you win or lose, it’s  how you play the game.”  And so it is with life!

Our invitation is to embrace delight.

Blessings and peace.

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Embracing Imperfection

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

In the book, Prayer Our Deepest Longing, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser talks about various ways to look at what it means to be holy or perfect.  He says, “There are two classical concepts of perfection, one Greek and the other Hebrew.  In the Greek idea, to be perfect is to have no deficiencies, no faults, no flaws.  Perfection, to the Greek mind, means to measure up to some ideal standard, to be whole, true, good, and beautiful.  To be perfect is never to sin.”

Rohlheiser continues, “The Hebrew ideal of perfection is quite different.  In this mindset, to be perfect simply means to walk with God, despite our flaws.  Perfection here means being in the divine presence, in spite of the fact that we are not perfectly whole, good, true, and beautiful…….to be perfect means walking with God, despite imperfection.”

In the Christian scriptures (Luke 18:1-8)  Jesus told his disciples that it is important to pray always without becoming weary.”   In many ways Jesus encourages us to, “just show up.”

“Just show up”  has become a rather common saying in spiritual and psychological arenas.  “Just showing up” can mean that all we need to do is to be present.  No need for words, no need to “do”, no need to be anyone other than who we are.  So it is in relationship with God.  God does not ask us to be perfect as in the Greek sense, not making mistakes, etc. rather God, the Divine spirit, asks us to “show up” to be present and to listen, just as we are…

I often wonder if the abuse of alcohol and drugs and other addictions comes from a feeling of being imperfect in the Greek sense and the need to cover that pain.  Whereas the reality is we are beautifully, wonderfully made in the image of the Divine and really there isn’t  anything to cover up.  God loves us as we are, flaws, searching and imperfection …and all.

Our invitation is to embrace our imperfection and receive God’s love…and do not throw stones at ourselves.

Blessings and peace

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Embracing the Magic Words

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

I recently read a letter in an advice column in the newspaper which raised the question, “Are please and thank you’s outdated?”  The  writer wondered in dismay whether people today use what we called in our family the “magic words”–“please and thank-you.”  The response reassured the letter writer that even though some forget to use or were never taught to use “please and thank-you”, the words are as important now as ever.  The question, however, is not a new one.  We see a similar question asked in the Christian scriptures (Luke 17:11-19).

In the story from Luke, ten people who had the disease of leprosy approached Jesus to be healed.  Jesus  helped them.  Jesus healed the ten with leprosy.   One returned to say, “thank you”.  Where are the other nine?   Jesus asked.  Weren’t they too healed?  Where is their gratitude to God?  The nine forgot one of the “magic words”, thank you.

In a world where is there so much sorrow and pain, do we remember to say, “thank you” when our hearts are grateful?

Our invitation is to embrace the magic words.

Blessing and peace,

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Embracing the Gentle Breeze

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

The summer breeze gently blew through the rolling hills.  The “sounds” of silence.  Softly, beautifully, yet hauntingly.  Simply the course of earth’s currents?  Perhaps.  Yet more?  Perhaps.   Nevertheless, a “sound” I always remember from many years ago as I roamed the hills of Assisi, Italy.  Assisi. The home of Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi.  Both open to the power of the spirit within them.  Always easy?  No, life situations were difficult and remaining faithful a challenge.   Faithful to what?  Faithful to the spirit of God within them.  Faithful to the flame of the Spirit of God burning brightly within them.

On October 3rd we remember Francis’ passing from this life to the next and October 4th his feast day. It is difficult to talk about Francis without Clare.   Their lives  intertwined as they lived out their call to be faithful to the journey to keep alive the flame of the Spirit of God within them

The Christian Scriptures (2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14) remind us to stir into flame the gift of God…for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.

There are times that life’s embers need stirring to bring back the flame of life.   The Spirit of God can blow into flame the embers of our lives.

What did I “hear” and “feel” that beautiful summer day in Assisi?  I remember those moments as the spirit of Francis and Clare gently blowing in the breeze, their lives wrapped up into spirit filled moments…everlasting reminders to stir into flame the gift of God within.

Our invitation is to embrace the gentle breeze that stirs into flame the gift of God within.

Blessings and peace

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Embracing Signs

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

The sound of the fog horn. The train’s whistle.  The warning:  this may be hazardous to your health.  Fatigue that won’t go away.  Persistent pain, physically, emotionally or spiritually.  What do these “signs” have in common?  They are warnings of sort.  They bring our attention to the fact that something needs our attention.    Something is out of alignment.  Energy may be blocked.

A  crash. Two boats collide.  A car hits a train.  We do not feel physically well.  What do these possibly have in common?  It may be that we did not heed signs.

In the gospel of Luke (16:19-31) from the Christian scriptures, Jesus tells the story of a poor man, Lazarus and a rich man.  Lazarus was hungry.   He would gladly eat scraps.  The rich man ate sumptuously each day.  The story goes that in eternity the rich man realized that he had not shared his wealth.  He ignored the poor.  The rich man wanted to send a messenger to earth to tell others that happiness lies in sharing, caring, and giving.   Jesus said there are people who try to tell others that happiness, peace, and contentment lie in sharing and caring, in compassion and giving from the heart.  Some do not listen, Jesus says.  The signs are there, they do not heed the warning.

What are the signs in our lives that indicate something is out of balance?  Do we look for love, happiness, peace and contentment in all the wrong places?    What are the riches in our lives?  Do we count the hidden treasures of life as riches:  relationship with the divine, supportive friends and family, the beauty of the earth, a gentle breeze, a stunning sunrise or sunset, a glorious full moon, waves against the shore, etc?  What does it mean to share not only material wealth, but our gifts and talents, time and energy, sensitivity and compassion?

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live simply so others may simply live.”  Perhaps this was the message the rich man in the gospel story wanted his friends and family to hear.

How do I live simply so that others may simply live?

Our invitation is to embrace signs.

Blessings and peace

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