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We, an Easter People

Indeed, we are Easter people and our song is alleluia! The joy of Easter is not only that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus triumphed over death, but that His resurrection floods us with hope that we, who put our faith in Him, will ultimately experience triumph over death. As disciples, the power of the resurrection is at work as the small deaths we experience transform us.

 

 

Small Death

“Oohhh, the red screen of death,” the cellphone repairman’s resigned pronouncement came down like a guillotine for our teen-age daughter.  I observed that day how she had to go through a small death, not so much a threat to her life, but to life as she knew it.  Sadness, disorientation, anger inevitably resulted from her loss.   

 

Recognizing that she is a teen, when the developmental phase is marked by active social participation, and that she belongs to Generation Z, those born into and living with the reality of smartphones, the small death was real for her and no less painful.  I was tempted to challenge her on her attachment to the device but thought it would be as unfair as if someone were to challenge me on my attachment to refrigeration.  This is life as we know it and sudden change is not welcome.

 

Small deaths usually accompany change, especially the involuntary kind, and no small suffering usually accompanies these lesser deaths.  Change, whether they are unplanned or self-determined, demands an eradication of the “familiar” to make room for something “different”.  A young mom with children was just diagnosed with cancer and is going through agonizing dread for herself and her family.  Another mom is overwhelmed by the arrival of a new baby and the demands of her growing family.  Graduating from college, a student anxiously faces uncertain next steps and unknown territories. 

 

In the midst of a dilemma, we ask our children, “Which one of you is willing to make a sacrifice?”  Even a small death is a harrowing and bitter pill to swallow.  Our minds revolt and our stomachs lurch with repulsion.  Disciples of Jesus are not immune to change, in fact, discipleship denotes precisely a life of transformation.

 

 

Small Resurrections

We are Easter people who believe that death is not the final ending.  Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, this is the mystery of our Faith.  This too is the mystery of our lives as followers of Jesus.  The small deaths we suffer can be occasions for small resurrections.  The mystery of mysteries that took place inside the tomb on the first Easter happens in our hearts when Jesus reigns on its throne. 

 

He is the silent and hidden power that conquers death in us.  Suffering decreases us to the point of extinction of our selves.  Grace, on the other hand, raises us to new life and Jesus increases in us even as we continue to bear the wounds of our small deaths.  As Easter people, the series of lesser deaths we undergo are no small deaths, and the series of lesser resurrections are indeed, no small resurrections.  They mark our transformation from glory to glory that we may be wrought more and more to be like Jesus.

 

 

Easter People

The much anticipated package arrived.  As our daughter was opening it, I reminded her how sad she felt when her phone died.  She quickly retorted, “It’s ok, I got a newer one!”  Immediately plugging in her new phone to charge its battery, I asked her if she was happy with this one.  She replied, “- ish!”

 

The joy of Easter overshadowed Jesus’ suffering and pain that came before it. The light overcame darkness. Life triumphed over death. We, an Easter people experience within us both death and resurrection, and with Jesus we too will triumph over death.   

(This blog also appears in The Well.)

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Easter – The Great Rescue

All our guests were involved in this unlikely Easter drama.  International graduate students and visiting scientists, several of whom have not heard about Jesus, joined our family Easter celebration.  As my husband drove into our driveway with some guests in the van, they noticed two cats jump out from our egress window well, obviously startled by the approaching motor.  Investigating why those cats were in the window well, they saw a baby bunny in one corner with its head burrowed and its white tail up in the air.  There are bushes on either side of the well; we guessed that the hunters and the hunted must have all fallen into the window well while in the midst of a frantic chase. 

 

 

Trapped

It was obvious that the van scared the cats in the nick of time or the baby bunny would have been lunch for the domesticated hunters.  The rest of the drama unfolded as the guests and everyone in the house came out to watch my husband go down into the window well, which was about 4 feet deep, catch the panicked baby bunny and set it free.  The spontaneous cheers and clapping probably scared the bunny even more as it instantly scurried away as soon as its legs hit the ground above the well.  

 

 

To Live in Freedom

At the heart of Easter is the greatest rescue of all.  Trapped in sin, there is no way out for each of us – no matter what we say, think or do – we all face the wages of sin, which is sure death.   Dante’s, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” is an accurate label over our lives and destiny as sinners.  But in God’s infinite love for us His children, in His absolute mercy for us in our predicament, in His utter compassion for us in our helplessness, He came down – not only to save us from total destruction,  but also to restore us to freedom to live as His sons and daughters.

 

 

Jesus Saves

After enjoying a selection of main entrees (some guests do not eat pork, some do not eat beef, some only eat plants) and lots of pies and Easter eggs for the children, we shared with the guests the significance of the Greatest Event of the Church, Easter –  Jesus is risen from the dead, is alive today and invites each one to live with Him.  Jesus, whose name means “God saves,” invites all people, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”  (John 11:26)

 

 

Easter Life

The drama of the Easter bunny that everyone witnessed when the guests arrived portrayed more clearly and more powerfully for all of us what our human condition was before the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus.  We all understood the imminent danger the bunny was in with the ravenous cats poised with their deadly claws and powerful pounce.  We were all relieved to see the bunny unscathed and overjoyed that it ran away free to live its bunny life.  After we bid our guests farewell and while walking to cars in the driveway, the children and some guests went by the egress window well to peer into it once more.  It was empty.

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seeds

Seeds of Kindness

Kindness reflects a tenderness of heart that is touched by the plight or suffering of others that moves one towards generosity and graciousness.

 

A Little Kindness

There’s a half-dead bird on the driveway,” my daughter came in to tell me.
“What do you mean half-dead?” I asked. 
“It is on its back with its legs up but one leg is broken.  Its eyes open and  close,” she described.
“What shall we do about it?” I asked her.  (I was going to tell her that it happens that birds get hurt and it is nature’s way and that we should let nature take its course.)
“Let’s put it on the grass,” she replied.
(At that moment, a choice was before me: either tell her there is not much we can do about it and leave it alone, or recognize her kindness for this bird which can die on the grass instead of on the concrete.)  “Let’s go.”

 

Goes a Long Way

Kindness often is a small act for the person doing it but for the one receiving it, kindness makes all the difference.  We can imagine the plight of the dying destitute in a gutter of Calcutta, not only physically suffering but alone and abandoned, already half-dead.  The simple act of someone, like Mother Teresa, cleaning their wounds and being present to them changes their remaining days from misery to dignity.

 

How easy it is to give a loving kiss to a spouse who had a rough day or an understanding hug to our child who is struggling, yet their burden is immeasurably lightened.  How effortless it is to hold an elderly person’s hand or offer a kind word to one who feels hopeless, yet to them it is like water on the parched land.  Kindness is like the tiny seed that bursts forth in its recipient and unfolds life.

 

Unexpected Blessings

We have been recipients of kindness and we’ve experienced how it strengthens our hearts and re-ignites our hope.  My mother used to say of those who did kind deeds to us, “That person is a child of God.”  She was a widow with six children and she knew when kindness was extended to us, acts that made a significant effect on the situations we were in.  Small and simple acts became unexpected blessings for us that often were answers to her prayers.    

 

It was not a pretty sight – the bird’s leg was broken where it’s ankle would be and its foot was waving like a flag on a pole in the autumn breeze.  My daughter came out with a box and announced that she had looked online for instructions on what to do with an injured bird.


(“Oh, no, this will just delay the inevitable,” I thought.  But I didn’t have the heart to squelch the care she showed for this wounded creature.)  We brought the bird in the box into the house and my daughter put water and seeds in the box like she read online.

 

After a few hours, she went to look into the box and I was expecting her to find a lifeless bird.  Instead, somehow the bird had turned over and had eaten and drank and was “sitting.”  
“Mom, it’s still alive and it looks better.  What should we do?”  She was as surprised as I was.
“Take the box outside and let’s see what it will do.” I replied.  
She put the box under a tree in the backyard.  The unexpected blessing happened for the bird.

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Ordinary Time

Ordinary time in the liturgical calendar is the time outside of the major seasons.  Catholics are tempted to take ordinary time for granted, but there is nothing ‘blah’ about it.

 

“May I go to Mass with you tomorrow?” – an unexpected request from our next door neighbor who attends the largest evangelical church in town and in which her husband is an elder.   “Sure,” I replied, “May I ask why you want to come?  She mentioned that she and her husband and a group of couples were reading a book about worship and she was curious about the Catholic worship service, the Mass.  She included, “The author mentions that some churches even have water at the entrance of their church to remind people of their baptism.”  I said, “That’s us.”

 

With New Eyes

Bringing someone to the liturgy who has not been to Mass before becomes a privilege for wonder because you get to see things anew through the eyes of someone who sees it for the first time.  On the one hand, you discern their disorientation and perception of objects, words, actions and people at the surface level.  You sense their feeling of alienation despite their attentiveness and you try to view how the “newness” of the details around may seem to them.  At the same time, you know the significance and meaning of the objects, words and actions but they have become all too common to you and you have taken them for granted.  You become alerted once more to comprehend with all the saints, the breadth and length, height and depth of Christ’s love (Eph. 3:18) that is made present at Mass.  

 

Human Nature

Our Catholic faith is experienced with our senses, understood by our reason and leads our souls to enter into the mysteries of revelation that are beyond our limited capacity to understand.  The human person, created in the image of God, is a being at once corporeal and spiritual. (CCC 362).   Because we are corporeal (having a body), we touch, smell, taste, sit, stand, speak, sing – we use our whole body to worship God in the liturgy.  Because we are spiritual (having a spirit), we can know, love and adore God – “we can worship in spirit and in truth.”  (John 4:24)

 

Things Unseen

The practice of our Catholic Faith comes with signs, symbols, gestures and sacraments because Jesus was incarnated, He became a man and lived amongst us.  The liturgy uses ordinary things like water, oil, bread, wine and candles, words and actions.  These simple elements, however, are not ends in themselves but they bridge the physical to the spiritual, the exterior to the interior, the concrete to the abstract because Jesus is divine.  The Holy Spirit present in our worship, transforms these ordinary things  and makes them efficacious to effect a real encounter with the Living God.  They not only signify but they usher spiritual realities in which God acts and we participate, where grace transforms us, where our salvation is being worked by Jesus Christ.  

 

Who is the neighbor?

On the way home from Mass, I asked our neighbor, “What do you think?”  She said, “What is this?” trying to mimic the gesture we do before the Gospel reading – touching her forehead and lips and chest.  I told her it is a gesture of small crosses to let Jesus lay claim on our minds, lips and heart.  It is a gesture that comes with a prayer right before we hear the Gospel proclaimed, “Lord, may Your words always be on my mind, on my lips, and in my heart.”  She was astounded.  “That is beautiful!”  I said, “Yes, it is beautiful.”

 

 

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Family Life

We were incredulous that our guest gave us a most unusual gift on Thanksgiving Day.  Hosting  international students to join our family in celebrating this American holiday, we usually receive  gifts such as foreign candy, trinkets, scarves, and even a stuffed camel with actual camel hair.

 

We were surprised to receive from one of them a shower head with a hose!  We politely thanked our guest and wondered how he came up with the choice of this gift – who does that?  We shared many laughs with family members at receiving a piece of household hardware.  It was one of those things that make for interesting conversation and filed in the funny family memories.  However, two days before Christmas, our shower head cracked – causing water to spray in numerous crazy directions all over the bathroom! 

 

 

Open to the Holy Spirit

Many times, we turn to God when the heat of the noon day sun beats on our hearts or the raging waters sweep us away.  We silently pray and earnestly ask for the gifts that we already received but have left on a shelf un-used.  The Holy Spirit who is our Teacher, Comforter, and Helper not only dwells in us but the gifts of the Holy Spirit have been bestowed on us, particularly when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

 

For most of us, these gifts of the Holy Spirit remain as noble words but play no active role in our daily lives: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of God.  These gifts of the Holy Spirit, known as sanctifying gifts, are characteristics of Jesus that He manifests in their perfection and that He freely shares with His body, the Church.

 

If we are open to the work of the Holy Spirit within us, these gifts come to bear not only in having the “power” to live the demands of a holy Christian life but they also equip us in our relationships, especially in our marriage and family.  In effect, they are given to us so we can become like Jesus and love like He loves.  Let us waken to the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and use the gifts which are lavished on us. 

 

 

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Let us ask the Holy Spirit everyday to stir up in us His gifts to be active in our relationships.  How many times are we called to respond to our spouse and be at a loss as to what to do?  “Lord, give me the wisdom. I ask for the ability to judge this situation rightly and act according to Your truth.”  How many times do we face an immediate situation and not know the possible consequences of our decision?  “Lord, give me the understanding to penetrate beyond the surface and see what is at the heart of this situation.” 

 

Everyday, we parent our children of varying personalities in different stages of development, “Lord, I ask for counsel, direct me in this particular matter so that it moves my child towards You.”  As Christian spouses and parents, we know what is the will of God in many situations, but we feel weak to follow through because of our own frailty or the influence of others.  “Lord, give me the fortitude, the firmness to do good and to avoid evil.”

 

Many conflicting and confusing messages assail us and our family to obscure the Christian message.  “Lord, help me, my spouse and our children to know the right path and not wander from it.”  When the world teaches us and our children to elevate ourselves and our own choices, we pray, “Lord, give us the gifts of piety and fear of the Lord that we may worship you above all else, honor you with our lives and obey your teachings that bring life.”

 

 

Use the Gifts

“. . .  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”  (Romans 5:5) 

When we are docile to the Holy Spirit and use the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially in our relationships, they do not remain on the shelf as spiritual gifts, but they become incarnated in our words and actions and bear fruit in our relationships.  A gift is activated when it is used for what it was designed.  Although we enjoyed the shower head as a conversation piece, our family appreciates it more for showers.

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Teaching Children Boundaries

Boundaries and Decisions

Helping to make good decisions for themselves begins with teaching children boundaries.  In the domestic church this can be achieved by identifying non-negotiables.

 

Entitled, “My Parents Should Let Me Get Guinea Pigs,” one of our daughters handed us a paper she wrote.  She proceeded to give three reasons why: first, she had enough money to buy a pair; second, she has proven herself responsible as she had pet hamsters when she was younger; third, she spent a year exploring the types of guinea pigs, the characteristics of each type, and the necessary daily care regimen for the type she wanted to get.  She wrote this paper because we asked her to write one before we would consider the idea of guinea pigs as pets for her.

 

Decision-Making 

Many decisions we make are driven by emotion, desire or passion which may blind us to the responsibilities or consequences that those decisions bring to our lives.  Some of these choices may be trivial and may have small effects in our lives.  Some of these decisions, however, may be grave and may impact our lives and our family in a big and lasting way.  

 

Big or small, taking the time to consider decisions to be made is part of being a responsible person.  Teaching our children responsibility includes teaching them the process of making decisions.  Having clear boundaries steer us and our children to make good decisions even before engaging in a process.

 

 

Non-Negotiables

Clear boundaries for choices and behavior act like fences that keep decision-making focused on what is moral, safe and responsible while keeping out those that are immoral, dangerous and irresponsible.  There are three boundaries that we have taught our children when they were young, which we called non-negotiables.  This means that no negotiation or compromise or discussion was allowed in these areas.  They represented the basic boundaries within which their choices were to be made.  “Think before you make a choice and use these guidelines:”

      1.  If the choice is between right or wrong (morally):  Choose to do the right thing.
   2.  If the choice is safe or unsafe (physically):  You must act only if it is safe and will not endanger or harm yourself  or others.  
      3.  Chores:  You must always do your chores.

 

Giving children firm boundaries help them to practice self-discipline because boundaries provide clear guidelines for choices by which they can abide.  Within the boundaries, most everything can be negotiable with other factors considered.  That means choices can be open to discussion, compromise, flexibility and personal preferences. 

 

There are few exceptions to the non-negotiables – like not being able to do chores when they are sick.  As they get older, fine-tuning of the decision-making process develops as their understanding, maturity and ability to direct themselves grow.  They also learn the rare exceptions to the non-negotiables, which must always be based on love.  For the most part, the non-negotiables remain.

 

 

Secure Within

Clear boundaries not only act as guidelines to the decision-making of our children, but they also provide them with a sense of security, responsibility and the practice of virtue.  Virtues are good habits of doing what is right and loving.  Making decisions for good and love becomes easier for  our children as the habit to choose them is continually supported and practiced. 

 

Enjoying the fruit of well-thought out decisions and choosing virtue foster within them a confidence in their ability to make good decisions.  Our daughter is in the third year of daily caring for her guinea pig pets and they give her much joy.  Although she does all the care and maintenance for them, they have become pets for the whole family.

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Servants Together

Our son, a college student, is home for the holidays.  As he is wont to do when at home, he goes out with old high school friends and he goes to the homeless shelter on Saturday mornings with his Dad. Every Saturday morning since he was three years old, my husband has brought him along to the local men’s emergency housing to meet the men there, have a devotional time with them and take them to breakfast.  

 

Our son remembers that once there was a man who was just released from jail the night before and had no shoes.  Another man hitch-hiked all the way from Alaska.  Weekly, several of the men engage in the Bible reading and discussion as many of them were raised in Christian homes and a number of them voice heart-felt prayers to God as the Holy Spirit ministers to them. Others ramble on about their lives, while others try to squeeze money from them with a sob story.  

 

Through the years, my husband and son have met a wide spectrum of men: old, young, sane, mentally-challenged, mild, angry, educated, and those with learning disabilities.  They listened to all their stories.   Father and son not only enter the homeless shelter on Saturday mornings, but many times, they are allowed to enter the hearts of men.  On several occasions, the Word of God cuts through the surface, prayer opens their hearts and they remember hope in Christ.

 

 

Compassion and Mercy

When our son was in high school and on days when my husband was out of town, he would get up early on Saturday morning, go to the shelter by himself, lead a devotion, facilitate discussion, open prayer and take these grown men to breakfast as he and his Dad usually do.  It never bothered him that the men responded to him differently than they did when his Dad was there.  Why would a teen give up his only possible morning to sleep-in for these random men?  Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said that welfare is for a purpose, whereas Christian love is for a person. 

 

Service is an integral part of the Christian life because it is a part of a life of love.  A Catholic engages in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as an instrument of God’s love for others.  It is a way of life, following in the way of Jesus.  Compassion and mercy are at work and go beyond in recognizing that everyone is our brother and sister in Christ.  Who else will show God’s love if not us, His children?

 

 

Tasting the Joy

As Christians called to love and serve one another, especially those in need, let us bring our children along as we serve.  Our children not only witness Christian service, learn many skills themselves, encounter various people in the community and recognize each one’s dignity, but they also begin to experience the grace of the Holy Spirit as an instrument of love and come to taste the joy that comes from giving of oneself to others.

 

Last Saturday, father and son came home with more than stories, they had peppermint candy canes from the Christmas  tree at the emergency housing.

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The Lord Has Come

Ordinary Furniture

The Chinese missionary priest unlocked a small windowless room on the second floor, and we all took off our shoes as our family followed him into the room with the floor covered by a nylon mat.  The room was empty except for a low table at one end of the room, and on the table was a small box, and on each side of the box was an electric candle that was lit.  He bowed very low with his forehead almost touching the mat, and we did the same gesture.   

 

On closer look, the table was an ordinary coffee table and the small box was a cheap jewelry box like a miniature armoire with a clock on it that did not have the correct time.  In fact, the clock was not running.  Our children asked, “Where is the tabernacle?”  The priest pointed to the jewelry box as if he understood what our children asked.  The children tried to restrain their giggles.  Their gleeful amusement at an unexpected tabernacle with a clock was muted by a great effort to be reverent in the presence of Jesus.

 

 

Light of the World

“This is just like the first Christmas,” I thought.  It is like the manger where Mary and Joseph laid the Baby Jesus in that stable at Bethlehem.  Here, the Eucharist is placed in a plain jewelry box, probably the only thing this missionary priest could find to serve as a tabernacle when he came to establish the Church only a few years before with only ten Catholic Christians in this ancient small city.  

 

We all knelt there silently together, yet in our hearts, we praised God, “Glory to God in the highest!”  Jesus has come to this place that would qualify as one of “the ends of the earth.”   The people in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.  (Matthew 4:16)

 

 

Tabernacle of  Our Heart

In just a few years, many locals were baptized and the growing church gathered for Mass in a room on the third floor of the small building with no heat in the winter.  Most of our churches here in the USA are not locked and are heated in the winter.  Jesus not only remains with us in our beautiful tabernacles with red sanctuary lamps burning, but He comes to each one of us as we receive Him in Holy Communion.  Anytime of the day, we can turn interiorly and adore Him in the tabernacle that is our heart.  “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”

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Keeping True to Advent

What is there more to do after Gaudete Sunday?  After the rose candle of the Advent wreath is lit,  many of us almost abandon the last purple candle.  The preparations for Christmas start to reach fever pitch as lists, presents, wrappers, home decorations, recipes, guests, and family traditions all vie for our imagination and attention.  But it is still Advent.  There is one more candle waiting to be lit.

 

 

There is One

What if we have properly observed Advent this year, prepared our hearts, and now are busy making ready for the Christmas celebrations and hear, “There is one thing you lack.”  If amidst the bustle we take the time to be still, and hear in the silence of our hearts that familiar hollow sound of something missing. 

 

For some, it feels like loneliness, for others deep sadness – even pain from a broken heart.  For others it may be guilt, meaninglessness, or despair.  The relative sufficiency that we may enjoy materially or even from good relationships does not fill the emptiness, because we lack the one thing.   

 

“There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  (Luke 10:42) 

 

This Advent, are we preparing our hearts for the “one thing necessary?”  John the Baptist refers to Him as “one among you who you do not know.”  Are we ready to leave everything in order to sit at His feet?  Are we ready to sell all we have, give to the poor and follow Him; or will we leave sad because we have many possessions?  Are our hearts prepared to become undivided for Jesus, to be single-hearted?  This is where our advent waiting and preparation should lead us – to a desire for Jesus, who is our Savior – to desire Him above all else.  He is the ONE.

 

 

Choose the Better Part

To take away the wages of sin – which is death, that Adam and Eve brought to the human race, Jesus did the one thing necessary out of His immense love and unfathomable mercy for us.  He became flesh and dwelt among us, died on a cross and rose again to reconcile us to the Father.


Jesus means in Hebrew: “God saves.” At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 430)  Jesus is the Messiah, who brings glad tidings to us who are poor, company in our loneliness, healing for our broken hearts, and comfort in our sadness.  He brings forgiveness that takes away guilt, hope for meaning and purpose in our lives.  There is  need for only one thing – a relationship with Jesus.

 

 

Waiting No More

In Advent, there is another one who waits.  He has been waiting a long time to come to us.  He waits for the one thing: our invitation for Him to come into our hearts.  One more candle in the Advent wreath – it is the final preparation for Christmas.  This preparation happens at the core of our hearts. 

 

If at the center of our hearts, there are possessions that possess us, or other things that rule us, or even our selves that control its universe – this is the time to dislodge them.  They do not fill the emptiness, they do not heal, or free us.  They do not satisfy our hunger nor slake our thirst.  There is only one Savior.  Come, Lord Jesus, come!  We invite Jesus to take His rightful place in our hearts to reign over us, and we take our rightful place at His feet.  We will then be ready to celebrate Christmas with true joy because we will have that which is the most essential!

 

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty 
    –  Psalm 27:4

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All is Gift

A martial arts instructor teaches his students to guard against tunnel vision wherein one who is in active combat begins to focus on one feature of the fight or on one weakness of the opponent.  He instructs his students to always be keenly aware of the whole arena and to orient himself to all that is happening around him with the opponent at any given time. 

 

Like the athlete, we can focus on our proximate reality and forget that as Christians, we have awakened to an immense reality much more expansive than the immediate world to include the spiritual reality and life beyond physical death.

 

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
                                                                                                                                                  C. S. Lewis

 

Thanks to the Giver

When the veil will finally be lifted and we can see our lives in the eternal plan of God, we will realize that all is gift from the  love of God for us.  We will understand the gravity of sin and the force of God’s love to redeem us.  We will appreciate the purposes of the small and large details of our lives.  Because we will have comprehended the greatness of God’s love and mercy for us, we will live eternity in deep gratitude and thanksgiving and praise of God. 

 

While our eyes are still veiled, our hearts already taste the joy of the Holy Spirit and we can direct our hearts to always be thankful. We celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and take stock of all the blessings, all the relationships and all the people in our lives – and we say Thank You.  For our very lives – Thank You.  After Thanksgiving Day will be a parade of holy days and seasons: Feast of Christ the King, the season of Advent, feasts of several saints and the Christmas season.  These are all joyous occasions when gratitude recognizes that all is gift, and there is a gracious Giver.

 

With Thanksgiving

As we freely receive, let us freely give.  Let us step back a bit before the holidays begin this year, let us give thanks to God, and explicitly express our thanks and appreciation to those who love us.  Let us thank our spouses, family members, friends, co-workers.  As God and others have been lavish to us, let us be generous in kindness, liberal in gentleness, open in affirmation, and ungrudging in care for those around us.

 

Our immediate reality may be filled with worry, disappointment or hurt and we may feel far from being thankful.  Turn to God, “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7) 

 

In the reality within and beyond the walls of our hearts is the reality of God’s tender care for each one of us.  He fixes His eyes on us.   In His gaze is the whole arena of reality, and where for us – all is gift.