Just The Way You Are

May you be content with yourself just the way your are.

No one is perfect – it’s one of the larger truths of life. No one gets the right answer every single time, perfectly executes a new skill on the first try, or embodies physical perfection. Some sing off key, others can’t draw a recognizable figure. Some can’t cook, some can’t organize their schedules or living spaces. Some show up too early, some show up late for everything. Imperfection is everywhere – physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. No one is perfect.

But perfection isn’t the point, and seeking perfection is an exercise in frustration if not futility. None of us are expected to be perfect by God, and none of us should expect perfection from ourselves or others.

To remember that perfection isn’t the point, I ask myself a single question: Today, am I someone who tries to love God, myself, and my neighbor? If I my answer is yes, I am content.

There’s only one person in the whole world like you, and people can like you exactly as you are. Mr. Rogers

Pass It On

May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

 

Everyone is born with unique gifts and deserving of deep love. Everyone has something to offer their small part of the world that no one else can, bringing new realities into being. But it takes encouragement and courage to offer your gifts to the world. Often, they seem so small, so limited.

That’s where the second part of this benediction comes in…

Pass on the love that has been given to you. If you haven’t been loved as deeply and broadly as you deserve (and you do deserve such love!), let God’s infinite love fill your heart and pass that on. Gifts alone aren’t enough; gifts offered in love are. 

It’s one of the great mysteries of life, and one of the most obvious. It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook.

Infinite Possibilities

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others.

If I have faith in myself but not in others, I doubt I’ll see anything beyond what my own short-comings and capabilities can offer. If I have faith in others but not myself, I’ll refuse to use gifts I have, and the world will be the poorer for it. With a little faith in self and other, I trust that:

When two or more are gathered, the Spirit is present. 

Where the Spirit is present, so is Love.

Where love is present, there are no limits to what might be born. 

With an infinite, infinitely loving God, how could it be any different?

Where Am I?

May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

Why am I here, at this particular place in this particular time? Why this family, these friends, this fragile and ephemeral life?

 You and I are exactly where we are meant to be, not because these particular circumstances are just rewards or punishments. We are exactly where we are meant to be because we are always and eternally in the embrace of God.

Life could have been different, but it isn’t. We are exactly where we are supposed to be because it’s only from this exact spot that we take up our lives. It’s only in this exact here, this exact now, that you and I can love God, ourselves, and each other.

Peace Within

May today there be peace within.

When I’m not happy, I look for more reasons to be upset. I read insult in a casual remark or change in tone. I notice every red light, every turn without a signal, and everyone driving way too slow or way too fast. Nothing I need is in the cupboard, the mailbox is full of bills and junk mail, and no one is around when I need help. And God forbid someone tell me to cheer up.

My own internal frustration and turmoil colors how I see everything and everyone. I give no one the benefit of the doubt, and I assume ill intention in the words and actions of others. It’s unfair to everyone, helpful to no one, and exhausting.

But if I calm the inner storm, I’m not looking for reasons to be antagonistic or confrontational. I don’t mistake inconvenience for catastrophe or someone else’s behavior for intentional insult. I can overlook or be amused by rude behavior – even intentionally rude behavior.

Peace within myself isn’t just a nice extra: it’s a necessary state if I’m to offer true love and care to the world in a consistent and dependable way.

Peace be with you and peace be with me are words of power just as sure as they are words of blessing. Today, may you and I both have peace within.

Jeanne’s Journal

It’s a birthday gift from my friend, Jeanne – a journal for writing things just for fun rather than for work. I’m slowly filling its pages with ideas and scraps of stories. I thought it might be worth taking a look at the sentences on the cover…

 

May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where your are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

 

 

In the Fullness of Time

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his son, born of a woman…(Galatians 4:4a, NRSV)

It’s a beautiful expression pointing to a holy reality. In the fullness of time…

…Moses saw a burning bush and recognized it as God’s presence.

…Jacob sees angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven, and knew the presence of God was in that place.

…Abraham and Sarah host three strangers who are God’s own messengers (or the Old Testament Trinity, if you are an icon buff).

…Mary is visited by an angel.

…God With Us is born in Bethlehem.

That’s what the fullness of time is – the awareness that all of time leads to God entering our world, and seeking us out.

If God appears in the fullness of time, then it’s not much of a stretch to imagine God seeking you or me out. After all, it’s already happened. So what is the fullness of time for you? How do you finish the sentence: In the fullness of time….

 

Marking Time

Until March, 2020, I got up every weekday morning to feed cats, prepare lunches, and get my high school son fed and out the door. Mondays were days off. On Sundays and Thursdays, I was in Plymouth for work and worship; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I spent time at the library as a volunteer; Wednesday and Saturday mornings were at-home work days spent in front of my computer. Then two things happened: Covid-19 shut down in-person activities and my younger son graduated from high school.

For many months, only four things are scheduled for a particular day and time – things that I do every week: Morning Prayer, Thursday study, Sunday school Zoom, and worship via YouTube. It’s harder to tell one day from another, and the calendar on the wall seems to have little to do with any of it. Pandemic time just has a different feel.

At the end of the month, I’ll be two weeks past my second vaccine. When enough people are vaccinated, post-pandemic time will begin. Many things will resume their former shape and significance, but many things will not. But I won’t mark my days in the same way:

  1. I am now the mother of adult sons, and my time won’t depend on a school calendar.
  2. I can set when I rise and when I go to sleep.
  3. My husband and I are looking at a new way of being together.

 

A new life pattern is emerging, not a return to pre-children reality and not the full-on parenting of the past two decades. I’m not sure what will mark my time, what will fill my days and nights. It’s strange, and a bit disorienting, but I trust that God’s grace will make of this new time something beautiful.

I can’t wait to see what happens next in adventure of life.

How about you?

Enduring Time

 

This week, my brother Scott’s home was damaged by fire, smoke, and water; it’s uncertain when he will be able to move back in – it depends on a number of things: assessing damage, repairing the structure, cleaning and drying floors, ceilings, and walls damaged by smoke and water. All these things depend on permits and inspections, the speed of repair crews and construction teams, and whether wet weather slows things down. Clocks and calendars may mark how long Scott will have to wait before moving back home, but Scott’s moving back home cannot be determined by those very clocks and calendars. Time is duration in such a circumstance much more that it is something divisible by hours, days, and weeks.

Yesterday, I sat in Saint Patrick’s church, praying alongside the family and friends of Marguerite Barrett as they gave her back to God. The funeral began at the time set by church and family, but there’s no particular schedule to the grief that comes when a beloved dies. Time seems to stop, then rush by, with no particular regard for the minutes and hours that the clock measures. Time is determined by love and loss so much more than it is by day, date, and time.

Children don’t experience time as adults do; it’s measured in duration – the time at the playground is much shorter than the time spent in the car getting there, even if the clock says otherwise.

In the larger sense, time and space are intertwined, bound together as the space-time continuum rather than separate entities. Time bends with space, influenced by creation. It’s true nature is much closer to a child’s experience of duration than to an adult’s measured-by-the-clock reality.

Scientists like Einstein and Hawking shared this truth in numerical form, complete with mind-bending verbal explanations. Perhaps it was their way of offering the truth of time without the usual earth-shattering event. But seeing its truth on paper, understanding it as an intellectual fact, doesn’t mean we’ll grasp it in our hearts and souls. For that, perhaps, we must become like little children.