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A friend of mine likes to repeat something that her father said, and in all truth it is something we should repeat and often.  I know I won’t get it entirely right but it goes something like this:

No matter where you end up, heaven or hell, you are going to be surprised by who you see along side you.  And, really, many of them will be just as surprised to see you.

Think about it for a minute.  Many of the people we’ve labeled bad or irredeemable, they are among the saved.  In spite of the very worst thing that they did, they are among the chosen.

And, in spite of our church going and sermonizing, we don’t get a vote.  Not a one of us.  All that time you spent pointing out your brother’s sins, marching around carrying that sign? Pfft.  You get no say.  I get no say.  God?  Salvation and grace come through Him alone.

And in all truth, that’s a comforting thought.

 

 

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I just read a biography of Buddha, who’d been born a prince and lived a life of luxury, then gave it up. He came to believe Nirvana would be achieved by eliminating all desire.

I think the key to enlightenment is to stay in the Heaven in your head all the time instead of expecting some event, thing or person to complete you so you’ll feel worthy. Waiting for some momentous change may make us forget that there are blessings all around us, every day.

In a previous post, I wrote of how I was reminded during a power outage of all the daily gifts God sends to me. Love letters such as lights that turn on with the flick of a switch. Hot and cold running water. Toilets, faucets, gas burners. A little laundromat in my own basement.

Right there, in the dark, in the cold, I got into a warm fuzzy space in my own soul and I find that I can get there again, every time I read this line:  This was a gift to me today. A reminder to appreciate the power, all the way up to the power source.

The light-bulb moment comes when you accept that you’re blessed. You remember you’re remembered. You’re not forgotten. God loves you enough to send countless provisions your way every single day.

My moment of enlightenment came when the lights went out. I didn’t need the heat to work at that moment. I literally felt warmed up. I hadn’t felt like that when all of the systems in my life were percolating on as usual. It took a moment in which God blinked to remind me he’s always got his eye on me. That interruption in my life’s regular programming reminded me never to take grace for granted.

Writing time for me is only official when I listen to the songs my mother used to play on the piano. That audible cue says to my brain, it’s time to create. As I said in a previous post, she gave me an abiding love for Bach. When I was a child, I’d ask her to play what we called the “clockwork” song (BWV 847a – C Minor – Prelude at 5:19 in this YouTube video.)

She’d oblige me, sitting in front of the piano, stretching her hands and squaring her shoulders before tackling the song. It was so densely packed with notes, my eyes got tired trying to follow her fingers as she played. How did she do that? And how did Bach create all of these majestic movements? I noticed that this masterful song is called a “prelude.” Interesting. It’s not even considered a “fugue,” yet so much energy and effort has gone into it.

At the end of this prelude, there are three notes that foreshadow what the fugue that follows it will sound like. I remember her nodding as she played, saying to me, “there it is,” to remind me to listen for those notes that told you what was coming up in the fugue (BWV 847b – C Minor – Fugue at 7:05.)

Instead of trying to overhaul your life all at once, why not try a “pre-vamp” instead?

Whatever it is that you feel you don’t have and are hoping to achieve or acquire that would lead to a “re-vamp,” there are already grace notes of your future’s fugue in your present’s prelude.

So if your blessing arrived tomorrow, wouldn’t you like to be prepared to receive it? Make space in your heart for it. Listen: the music’s already playing. It’s just a matter of the whole orchestra joining in. Later, you’ll look back and realize the preludes of life are often just as lovely as the fugues.

Mother’s Day started with a power outage this morning around 9 AM.

Hm. Looked at my phone. Only half charged.

Can’t use the internet.

I’ll read my books on Kindle. But… no service. My books are in the cloud.

Well. I’ll go start my coffee.

But. No water.

Hm. Oh wait! I saved my coffee from last night. It’s in the fridge! Yay.

But. No microwave.

Getting chilly in here. Let me turn up the heat.

But. No heat.

So I went back to bed to bundle up. Just then, I heard a car pulling into my neighbor’s driveway, music blaring. Man, that’s loud. What an idiot. Had to catch myself there. No need to be unkind.

It reminded me of the time my father was teaching me to drive. “Watch the idiot,” he said, as another driver encroached on my lane. I had to laugh at the memory. He was always glad to see me when I would visit the house. And my mother would greet me by saying, “You’re the greatest!”

It’s fitting that this happened on Mother’s Day, as we all have a mother (here or in Heaven) and we often take for granted how much she means to us.

In today’s climate, just reminding yourself not to be unkind is an act of kindness. Usually, people aren’t blasting their music to annoy you, but to enjoy their own life. The power goes out sometimes. It’s nothing personal.

This was a gift to me today. A reminder to appreciate the power, all the way up to the power source.

Do something today to show appreciation for all that God provides.

Or at least, don’t be an idiot.🙂You’re lucky, and you know it. This is a good day to remind yourself of the blessings you take for granted.

“Inartful” is such an inartful word, isn’t it? It sounds as if somebody was just sitting around, chewing the fat with a bud, and asked, What’s the word for something that doesn’t have any aesthetics to it? No artistic merit at all?

His pal – let’s call him Art – replies, Inartlike? Unartley? Then they both land on: inartful.

Same thing with “impactful.” I’ve seen it an awful lot lately, and every time I do, my mind says, That’s not a word! Somebody just tacked “-ful” onto the end of “impact” one day in a meeting when they were grasping for the right word.

But that’s the beauty of the language. It really does change with the times. Mind you, I’ve had issues with some invented lingo on the web, such as “life hacks.”

Still, that’s what should happen. Our way of speaking should reflect our way of living.

That may not hold true for religions, I realize, but there should be some consideration given to the fact that times change. You can’t change the tenets of any given faith because you don’t agree with them, but they were founded so long ago that some updating wouldn’t hurt. The role of women should be honored, and everyone should be made to feel welcome, no matter who they love, where they’re from, or how much money is in their pocket.

Forgive me if I’m being inartful, but my faith has been so impactful, it’s more than a life hack. It’s the solace of my soul. Grace. Now that’s a real word.

Grace.  Say this word to me and I generally thing gift.  We are blessed by Christ’s gift of grace.  It isn’t something that we, flawed people that we are, can earn.  Nope.  It is truly a gift.

But it is also a prayer.  And, in all truth, prayer is also a gift.  Through prayer, we can converse with God.  It is one of the ways we have to connect with Him.  But it too is a gift.  When Christ gave people the Lord’s Prayer it was a revolutionary idea.  People going directly to God in prayer?  Not going through the priest after presenting an offering?  Christ gave us this gift, this connection to God.

But grace is also a way to live every day if we so choose.  We can carry God’s grace into the world.  We can help other people understand that they don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love.  They don’t have to be perfect to have a place.  All they have to be is human.

No matter how you define grace at this particular moment it is a remarkable gift.

–SueBE

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

It was love at first sight when I read this poem by Mary Oliver, and I’ve been sending it love-notes in my mind all day. She writes of her desire to be “upright and good,” and thinks, “to what purpose?”

The next passage is just glorious:

“Hope of heaven? Not that. But to enter

the other kingdom: grace, and imagination.”

It’s hard not to relate it to what’s going on in the world right now. Grace and imagination. Conversations online have been coarse and mean-spirited. Authority figures have been pointing fingers and throwing stones.

We’re falling into the trap of thinking that we need to fight fire with fire.

That we cannot let it stand when someone says something we know to be untrue.

Neither side is listening. Both are engaging in alternating monologues. No one will be persuaded with this kind of rhetoric.

Imagination.

That word is so powerful, isn’t it?

What can we build, just using our day-dreaming power? What if? Why not?

Grace.

That’s the word that truly holds the world together.

Just for today, imagine you’re sending that tweet out to someone you find reprehensible and you really unleash and unload. What if…by chance… it ends up in God’s inbox? There’s no witness protection program that can get you out of that jackpot!

Imagine the grace that would explode if we reached out to an enemy the way God held his hand out to us when we were at our lowest point. If we all turned the other cheek at the same time, we’d see the humanity – and the divinity – in each other, perhaps for the first time. That’s where the other kingdom resides.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

God was still right where I left him.

You’re home, he said.

Nice to have you back.

Was it all you thought it would be?

And less! I said.

You were right.

He nodded.

Aren’t you going to say, “I told you so?”

He shook his head.

You had to find out for yourself
So you could find yourself.
That’s how you found your way back to me.

Welcome home.

In the documentary, “Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaii”,  two pastors sat down to pray before translating the Bible into Hawaiian Pidgin.

Much mahalo for puttin your word to da people.” And they ended the prayer in this way: “Cuz we yo guys. Das it.”

They began to translate a passage from the Old Testament into Pidgin: “Yahweh stay huhu as why all kinds stuff happen inside Judea and Jerusalem.” In this text, “huhu” means angry.

Hearing the Bible translated into an idiom that sounds so casual, it took me a moment to digest it all. Then again, when the New International Version of the Bible came out, some people were appalled by its more modern language. Maybe we’re all just naturally resistant to change. A Catholic acquaintance once told me that she missed the days when mass was spoken in Latin.

There’s a version of the Bible in Hawaiian Pidgin on Bible Gateway, so I looked up John 3:16. The King James version reads: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The Hawaiian Pidgin version reads: God wen get so plenny love an aloha fo da peopo inside da world, dat he wen send me, his one an ony Boy, so dat everybody dat trus me no get cut off from God, but get da real kine life dat stay to da max foeva.

No matter how you say it, prayer always gets through.

Sometimes I don’t even know what to ask for when I pray. I just know I need help, right now.

That’s when I whip out my secret weapon. My one-word, all-encompassing prayer that says it all when I really don’t know what to say.

Grace.

It covers everything, it’s free to one and all, and it meets you right where you are.

By the way, the Hawaiian word “aloha” has many meanings: hello, good-bye, alas, farewell, compassion, mercy, charity and also… grace.

Contractors came to install a fan in my bathroom and a handle on my sliding glass door. I was glad to see them and they worked hard, but it was loud and took all day.

While they worked, I looked through bills, which can be a bummer. I made a list of things that still needed to be repaired in the house, and that list was long. Another negative.

Thinking about these things was putting me in a “no” frame of mind, when there were all these “yes” blessings going on around me, being hammered into the ceiling, being drilled into the door. Permeating the house with every thud and clunk. Professionals are sculpting yes into the house. Into the bathroom ceiling. They’re sliding yes with the door closing.

The cat is snoring yes from his indestructible yurt made of a faded blanket covering a rocking chair.

The coffee is steaming yes from its home deep in my striped-tiger-colored coffee mug.

The birds are chirping yes outside from their perch on the cherry blossom tree in front of my bedroom window.

I thought of the no that those birds have built another nest in my front porch light, but re-grouped to get back to the yes. What effort it must have taken to get that nest set, even after I’ve taken out those little branches time and time again. It really is prime real estate. They’re trying to find the right spot for their little winged family, and I have to appreciate that they know how nice this neighborhood is. I’ll take it as a compliment that they want to sub-let my front porch light.

Yes exists inside of every no.

Opportunity is the kernel at the center of every problem.

Talking about troubles is like putting out a restraining order on things you don’t want in your life. It’s just force of habit to focus on the “no” when “yes” abounds all around you.

Grace is just a breath away. All it takes is a fresh set of eyes, a soul ready to receive blessings, and a wide-open heart.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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