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When my son was younger, one of the kids from the neighborhood came over just as my son and his friends were getting ready to ride their bikes. Landon (not his real name) didn’t have a bike, so I told him he could borrow mine.

When Landon came back he looked guilt-ridden. One of the other kids was saying to him, “You’re in big trouble, man. She’s gonna get real mad at you. She’ll tell your mom, and you’ll be on punishment forever. Nothing you can do about it.”

When Landon finally came up to me on the porch, he apologized. “For what, honey?” I asked. “I broke the bike,” he said. “My mom gets paid on Friday, so I’ll ask her to pay for the bike, and I’ll do chores to pay her back. Might take me a year, but I’ll make it right.”

This was both touching and heartbreaking. What a long ride back it must have been for that young man. Especially with the other kid bending his ear, piling guilt upon fear.

“No need for that, son. That bike was already hinky. One of Cole’s other friends messed it up, and didn’t even apologize. Don’t worry about it for a minute. Come on. We’re having Jiffy Pop.”

I wanted to say to the other child who’d appointed himself chief guilt-inducer, You should be ashamed! But it was too late for that. He already was. Misery loves company, and that’s the only language he knew. Someone had said these things to him, too, in his lifetime. I decided to extend hospitality to him instead. “Popcorn for you?” I asked.

Shame can be contagious, but luckily, there’s an antidote: grace.

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Started out the day with cereal, a cup of coffee and a knot in my stomach.

My feet hurt. The fence needs fixing. How will I….? What do I do if….?

Paused.

Had to take a moment just to be in the blessings I already have.

You can’t come at troubles with a troubled mind and make them better.

Not to be redundant, or repetitive, or say the same thing in different ways, 🙂 but, looking at a problem through a problematic mindset won’t solve the problem.

If your mind is churning, unsettled, anxious, that’s problem number one to address. Calm your mind. Leave the room where you sat, wringing your hands. Go into a room you designate as your peace room. For me it’s my sunroom, but it can be any room you choose. Breathe deeply. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

Be where you are right now. Not in the fearful future yet to happen. Get to the place inside where you know all is well. That’s not to minimize the issues you need to address. But you can only do that when you’re in the state of knowing the world hasn’t ended. Gravity still works. So does grace. Your feet are still on the ground. The sun is still shining.

In that peaceful place, an idea may come to you. If not a solution, a stopgap measure. Be still in your blessings and listen for an answer. Some way will find its way to you.

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.

 

 

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.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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