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Happiness runs in a circular motion

by davesandel on October 30th, 2021

Saturday, October 30, 2021                            (today’s lectionary)

Happiness runs in a circular motion

Bright fall sunshine pours through the bright blue sky, shaping harder shadows as the afternoon lengthens. I turned and said, “Why don’t I want to be happy today?”

God said something like, Your body is twisted and sore. Your mind is restless and your spirit feels ignored. But happy? What is that?

I thought God asked a good question. I had no real answer, except words that felt shallow at the time. “There might be something more  to happiness than a healthy relaxed body and a quiet mind. Maybe I would like to get my know my spirit better today. But I don’t even know how to start.”

I asked then, has God rejected his people? Of course not! Do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? Do they stumble so as to fall? No, through their falling others have been lifted up.

Great spiritual teachers always say things like this. When I stop looking at my own sad self and look for how I can bless others with words, with deeds, with prayers and intentions, in their presence or in their absence, then I will feel that felt fear and failure fade away.

You are getting to know spirit, David. In this moment I will call you my son. Don’t you feel the noontime demon falling from your shoulders, even now?

I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers and sisters. You need not become wise in your own estimation, but only watch as Israel hardens its heart until all the Gentiles are saved. After that all Israel will also be saved, for the deliverer will come from Zion and take away their sins. Even as they now reject the Gospel, they are chosen and beloved, for the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.

My sometimes friend Ron Rolheiser talks about this in Holy Longing. He says “It sounds too good to be true, because it IS too good to be true.” When those of us in the family of man pray for others, God hears our prayers and lifts them up. When others pray for us, God hears their prayers, and lifts us up. We are all one people, one child of our Father, riding the river of Her grace to the sea.

What you hear from your heart is true, my son. While your grandchildren sleep to the sound of their afternoon lullabies, while your wife waits for you to love her and scratch her back, while your children bask in an afternoon and long blessed night in Blanco, free for a day from the responsibilities of parenthood, their prayers for you lift you up. Your prayers for them lift them up. See? Your spirit rises.

Blessed is the man whom you instruct, O Lord, you give him rest from evil days. You will never abandon your people, nor cast us off. Let us be upright of heart and follow your path. “My foot is slipping, Father!” But then your mercy, O Lord, catches me and sustains my step.

It’s nearly November, birthday month for me and Miles and Aki, and this is America’s month to celebrate Thankfulness. The sun rises and rises again, the harvest is full and rich, we have food to eat and a place to sleep. But some of us do not.

This afternoon blustery gusts blow big green branches nearly to the ground. The green leaves will turn yellow and brown soon enough, and fall down on their own, blanketing the black earth. They will just fall, with no need then for even whispers of wind.

Jesus spoke to his friends and others while he sat eating with them. When you are invited to a wedding banquet, never choose the place of honor. A more distinguished guest might also have been invited, and your host may say, “Give your place to this man.” How then, embarrassed with a red face, you would proceed to take the lowest place. Instead, go and take the lowest place when you arrive, so the host might come to you and say, “My friend, move up to a higher position.” Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions and be happy.

(Romans 11, Psalm 94, Matthew 11, Luke 14)

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