Embracing Stillness

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

I did not notice at first.  I was thinking about the envelope in my hand ready to mail.  I needed to have it weighed.  I was in line at the post office –about 10 minutes to spare before they closed.  The line was not long.  I was grateful.   I had a 5:30PM commitment a ways away.

All of a sudden I noticed the woman in front of me in line–she was next to go to the counter.  She was tapping her foot and chewing hard on her gum.  She sighed a lot.  She mumbled.  She was stylishly dressed and seemed to have a lot going for her, yet seemed troubled.   I wondered what was wrong.  Her turn came to approach the count.  She charged up to the counter with a small package.  The postal clerk began to ask the usual and necessary questions about anything liquid, fragile or potentially hazardous.  She interrupted him.  No, no, no, I just want to mail it.  I saw the man’s countenance change.  He looked hurt and surprised at her behavior.  He took the package and went in the back room.  She remained at the counter  He came out and politely asked her if he could help her with anything else.  I need a receipt, she said.  I then realized it was a return, pre-paid package.  Then she say, I’m sorry.  She said, “I’m sorry” about four times.  She left.

How many times I asked myself am I so preoccupied with my own concerns that I lose the sense of stillness inside and become impatient or not understanding another.  In the gospel of Luke (16: 1-13) from the Christian scriptures we hear a story of treasure, the inner resources we have to be in tune with what is most important in our lives:  love of God, love of self and love of others.  In the midst of the everyday challenges of life it is sometimes difficult to carry stillness within. Yet the invitation is there.  Even though everything around us may be falling apart, the divine spirit within calls us to stillness and to know what is most important in our lives.

Our invitation is to embrace stillness.

Blessings and peace

Posted in divine spirit, God, Nun, Spirituality, stillness, Treasure | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Embracing the Source

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

In some parts of the world, people talk about “stuff”.    Books abound on the topic of simplicity, down-sizing, and less is more.   Yet, most agree it is difficult to get rid of accumulations. Why?  Various reasons, different for each person.  We hold on to “things” as they may provide security.  We are hesitant to give something away as we “may need it someday.”  Stuff.  Possessions. Security.  Control.   Holding on to.  Keeping.  Yet it is not only tangible “stuff” that we often grasp.   Possessions include:   needing to be right,  needing to be best, needing to be honored, holding on to our pain, hurts, disillusionments, disappointments, etc.  when really it is time to let go and be transformed.  What are my “possessions?”  What do I hold on to that I think makes me happy but if I am honest does not?  Jesus talks about possessions in the Christian scriptures, Luke 14:25-33:   “anyone of you who does not renounce all their possessions cannot be my disciple.

“Do our “possessions” whether tangible or ways of being  lead to peace, equality, sharing, understanding, contentment, centeredness, being grounded?    If they do not, they may be affecting our sense of peace and well-being,  our relationship with the divine life within and others.  Jesus’ invitation echoes that of many great spiritual leaders.  Less is more.  Embrace love.  Cherish your gifts.      Put aside all that takes you away from the center of your being, your God, your source of life, the Sacred.  All that we need.  Always our God.

And perhaps in the midst of embracing the Source of our lives, we contribute to non-violent solutions in our  lives and the world.

Our invitation is to embrace the Source.

To Share With You:  I will be on retreat and will not post a reflection next week.  I look forward to sharing with you the following week.

Blessings and peace

Posted in Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Embracing Last Place

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

They thought we didn’t know.  We did.  Ok, all of you who are blue birds can sit over here. Red birds, go to the back of the room.  They thought we didn’t know.  We did.  Second grade, one group could “read better” than the other group.  They though we didn’t know.  We did.

I want to be first!  I want to be best.   Good, better best.  What does it mean?  Corporate America.  CEO’s make millions of dollars when the everyday worker struggles to make ends meet.  Who will be the first CEO to say this isn’t just?   They think we don’t know.  We do.  Leadership or abuse of power?    The scared child in the adult body.  I want to be first.  I want to be best.  They think we don’t know.  We do. The pain in the midst of the bravado.   Jesus knew, too.  Actually, Jesus and other spiritual leaders knew too.

Luke 14:1,7-14 from the Christian scriptures.  Jesus attended a dinner party.  He noticed the guests choosing places of honor at the table.   He told a story of others scrabbling for places of honor at a wedding banquet.  Who really is better or best?   Choosing seats?  Know yourself, Jesus invites them.  Know the truth about yourself and God and there is no need to wonder about first, best, or last.    For it is not what a person can do that makes them great, it is who a person is that allows for ease to be self–without rank, without exerting power, without needing to put others down.

They think we don’t know.  We do.  Last place is really first place. Coming to grips with the truth, is the greatest wealth of all.  Sharing gifts, encouraging others,working together for the common good this is the heart of happiness and contentment.

Embracing last place?  In a circle of love, there is no last place.  Just sharing from the heart, from the well-spring of the divine, from gratitude, from thankfulness while embracing goodness.

Our invitation is to embrace the last place of goodness.

Blessing and peace.

Posted in goodness, Jesus, last place, Nun, Spirituality, wedding feast | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Embracing Improvisation

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

My ears perked up. The commentator on the radio mentioned Marian McPartland who died this past week at the age of 95. Marian McPartland hosted a show on NPR called “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz.” She was well-known for jazz improvisation. A day or so before I heard this radio segment I was part of a conversation about music improvisation.  Since the conversation and the radio program I have thinking about improvisation and how music improvisation relates to other aspects of life.

What is improvisation? What does it mean to improvise?Improvisation: “The art or act of improvising” To improvise: “to compose, recite, play or sing extemporaneously, or to make, invent, or arrange offhand, or to make up out of what is on hand.”

How many times have our own life circumstances invited us to improvise? How often have life circumstances invited us to change course, to find a different rhythm, to step to a different beat, to imagine something different?   And how many times has improvising taken us deeper within to tap a source greater than ourselves?

Where does the inner energy come from to improvise and to make the changes needed in life: adjusting to the death of a loved one, dealing with the illness of a loved one, living with the uncertainly about a loved one, channeling changing life circumstances with a spouse, perhaps illness or memory loss, adjusting to the birth of a baby, facing the loss of a job, navigating changes in friendship.  The examples are endless just as our life circumstances are endless.  Where does our energy come from to improvise in the midst of life?

Jesus invites us to improvise in the midst of life circumstances when he says “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. (Luke 13:22-30) We are often not strong enough to navigate changes in our lives alone.   Just as physically going through a narrow gate is difficult so going through the narrow-gates of life are challenging.

In music improvisation the artist opens herself or himself to the spirit and rhythm coming from within to create beautiful music. So it is with life’s improvisation as the divine spirit within taps the deepest recesses of our beings bringing forth the changing music of our lives.

Our invitation is to embrace improvisation.

Blessing and peace

Posted in changing course, improvisation, narrow-gate, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Embracing the Fire

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

There is something soothing about sitting around a campfire or a pit fire on a cool summer evening or in the midst of fresh fall days.  Fire in this context is so radically different from the suffering fire causes from natural disaster or arson.  All over our world there are times people set the world ablaze out of protest or anger.  Suffering, hardship, anguish, sadness, death results.

In the Christian scriptures (Luke 12:49-52) Jesus says, I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing.  I have not come to establish peace on the earth but rather division.  Is Jesus talking about something like camp fires, natural disaster fires or protest fires?  Perhaps none of them, really.  Jesus is talking about divine life.  Jesus is talking about divine life and wisdom.  When we are in tune with the divine life within something changes within resulting in an outward response.  Our hearts are ablaze.  Perhaps we no longer go along to just go along, rather our hearts are ablaze and we speak the truth in love which may result in division for a while but leads ultimately to a more lasting peace.

What in my life needs to be “set ablaze” to waken something deep within?   How am I in tune with the divine in my life?  How does the divine life within kindle the fire of my heart?

Blessings and peace

Posted in ablaze, fire, Jesus, Nun, peace, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Embracing the Treasure

Photo by:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF  Courtyard garden at Clare's Monastery in Assisi, Italy

Photo by: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF Courtyard garden at Clare’s Monastery in Assisi, Italy

Clare of Assisi died on August 11, 1253 at 60 years of age.  We celebrate her life this week-end.  She is an intriguing person.  Born into the noble class she chose a different course of life than her birthright.  Clare wanted to be poor.  She greatly desired to have nothing so that she could rely entirely on the divine in her life.  She left her home at a very young age against anguished opposition and entered a monastery.  Her focus was to live in imitation of Jesus Christ.  Perhaps to our 21st  century sensibilities something seems off with this course of life.  Yet in the middle ages in the midst of war and violence Clare realized that wealth did not bring her greatest desire:  deeper union with God.

There isn’t anything wrong with money or even wealth.  The question is the place it has in our life.  Is it our God?  Does it bring security or fear?  Do we hold on to it or share?   For many in our world poverty is a given because of circumstances, war, greed, inequality, prejudice, etc.  There isn’t anything romantic about physical poverty.  Everyone needs care for their basic needs.  Yet, for many in our world the question persists:   What really is our treasure?  For what or whom do we give our lives?

In the Christian scriptures (Luke 12:32-48) Jesus says, “Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an exhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

There are times we forget what is most important in our lives–pressure, fatigue, stress, concerns–are contributing factors.  When we are able to step back and reflect,  we open ourselves for rearranged energy to see our treasure more clearly– and where that treasure is so also will be our heart.

What do you treasure most in life?  Where is your heart?

Our invitation is to embrace the treasure.

Please note:  A Women’s Spirituality Morning of Reflection will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at St. Joseph Center in Milwaukee (Motherhouse of the School Sisters of St. Francis) The title of the day is Clare of Assisi:  A Woman for All Ages.  I will have the privilege of sharing on Clare’s life and suggest connections for us today.  For a brochure containing further information and registration, visit:  http://www.sssf.org/SSSF-File-Pile/morning_of_reflection13.pdf  or ask for a brochure through this blog’s comment section to receive a brochure through e-mail.  Registrations required by October 8, 2013.

Blessings and peace

Posted in Clare of Assisi, divine life, so also your heart, Spirituality, St. Clare, Treasure | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Embracing Generosity

Photo:  Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

Photo: Sister Nancy A. Sell, OSF

St. Francis of Assisi lived with open hands.  For Francis, open hands symbolized openness to the divine presence in his life and openness to others.  Francis lived in difficult times.  He struggled personally and in the midst of a war-torn world.  Francis’ conversion resulted from living with open-hands.  He was open to what he felt God was initiating through him.  Open hands are the opposite of closed fists:  holding on tenacious to what we have whether it be money, gifts, ideas, time, understanding, happiness, joy, etc.  Greed is the same thing as closed fists.  Greed results from insecurity and a scarcity mentality:    if I share with others, I will not have enough for myself.

In the Christian scriptures (Luke 12:14-21) Jesus talks about greed.  “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”    Share what you have, Jesus says.  Even though Jesus’ words remind of us of the expression, “You can’t take it with you”,  Jesus is saying more than that.  Happiness and contentment is found through generosity.  Happiness is not just found in the next life, but is found here, too.  Happiness is found in the midst of generosity and open-handedness rather than through greed and closed fists.

Where in my life am I greedy?  Am I aware where my tendency to be greedy originates?  Do I believe there is enough for me?  How am I generous?  How do I open my hands to receive courage and patience to live in the present moment?

Our invitation is to be generous.

Blessings and peace.

Posted in Francis of Assisi, generosity, greed | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment