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Jun 10 21

Long-stemmed red rose

by davesandel

Thursday, June 10, 2021                     (today’s lectionary)

Long-stemmed red rose

Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Yesterday morning in room 350, before breakfast, Margaret said, “Let’s go for a walk. Will you take my arm?”

So I did, and we did, and I thought of the Sunday strolls through Italian villages on balmy summer evenings, the whole town trailing along, couple by couple, family by family, up and down the gentle hills of Tuscany, or Umbria, or Sicily, walking on uneven brick streets, or unpaved roads, or modern sidewalks, hand in hand.

Sure, that tradition may have lost its traction back in Italy, but not in my mind. Not as we trickled our way through Ascension Seton’s nurse computer stations, and the aides’ rolling blood pressure carts, and the food trays, and the maintenance wagon. And perhaps not in our new nurse Nicole’s mind, either. Her grandparents are all Italian: the Bertoluccis and the Valencias. “There aren’t many of us left, but we sure have a good time,” she said.

God said, LET LIGHT SHINE OUT OF DARKNESS, and he has shone in our hearts and brings to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

Margaret’s cardiac rehab nurse also teaches dance, and she’s taking today off to supervise her students’ (age 5 to 18) recital. After she left, Margaret asked Nicole if she might exit the room with a little soft shoe, so she did. Looked Scottish, we thought.

We walked around the nearby corner to the bank of windows, into the atrium full of sunshine. What a wonderful destination for our strolls. We sat out there for an hour or so, facetiming a friend in Champaign for awhile. A couple we’ve seen a few times came and then were leaving, and we asked them when their baby was due. In a couple of days, they said, because the 42 year- old mom’s body has stopped feeding their baby. So much energy she had, though, and later in the afternoon, when Margaret went for a walk by herself, she gave Margaret a long-stemmed red rose from a bouquet her husband had gotten for her.

We cut a hole in the top of a water bottle, and that rose looks pretty nice, sitting beside the art display that Miles and Jasper add to every day. Now the big balloons and purple teddy bear have some competition for Most Beautiful Corner of our new home.

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory. And we are not discouraged.

Yesterday we had no new bad news. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord. Margaret isn’t going anywhere till her surgery has been completed, which will be early next week, but things have leveled off for now. No new surgeries needed, no new infections. She met her infectious disease doc, Dr. Bisset, on Tuesday night at 10 pm. He apologized for coming so late. He must have been exhausted. He thinks her surgery can go ahead early next week.

Kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring up right out of the earth.

So for now, here we are enjoying our time together. Andi is making a list of the good things coming out of all this, and she taped it on the wall. Already we need to add page two. Tops on the list is our togetherness, and also the mini-parties we keep having in our room with one new nurse or aide or patient ambassador or doctor after another. I guess we don’t want to overdo it … or do we?

So I give you a new commandment: love one another, just as I have loved you.

Andi showed us a couple minutes of video of Miles and Jasper screaming HELLO WE LOVE YOU GRANDMA! WE LOVE YOU WE LOVE YOU WE LOVE YOU! They lit up the room. Maybe overdoing it is exactly what we want to do. God’s right-now right-here presence sparks all kinds of joy.

The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

(2 Corinthians 3, Psalm 85, John 13, Matthew 5)

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Jun 9 21

Getting married all over again

by davesandel

Wednesday, June 9, 2021                   (today’s lectionary)

Getting married all over again

I guess it feels a little like courting. When Margaret and I suddenly got serious in 1979 or so, we were together every day and every night, as often as possible. She complained that I wanted to get so close that I stepped on her toes, and I’m sure I did. And that happened some yesterday, as I maneuvered the IV tower and she struggled out of bed, so we could walk together arm in arm, to and fro, through the breezeway to the beautiful, quiet atrium, where each time we step in, four high walls of windows lift our eyes up to the blue Texas sky.

Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.

Like during our honeymoon, we talk and even whisper together, waiting for whatever comes next. And we really don’t have much idea what that will be. Forty-two years later, what we know is that we are still together, and God is in the middle of us.

If what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious?

We hear more every day about what the doctors expect. We hope today to talk with the infectious disease team. Yesterday we met Dr. Neely, the cardiac surgeon, and he told us there are two infected heart valves, mitral and aortic, that need to be replaced, along with, possibly, a small piece of cardiac tissue between the two. Our prayer continues. God, reach in and hold Margaret’s heart in your hand, make it soft and clean, heal it altogether.

None of the surgery can happen yet, because her infection isn’t quite under control. She feels a lot better, she isn’t constantly sleeping, her temperature is normal, but there is still work going on inside. And she must stay in the hospital until her surgery early next week, or so they think, which will be for us … what? At least 10 days. The hospital room Margaret did not want to set up housekeeping in, is feeling more and more like home.

Miles sat for an hour coloring pictures for his grandma in the morning, and Andi brought them to Margaret in the afternoon. Friends at church sent her some balloons and a plum-colored teddy bear. Andi and Margaret worked on some posters for the walls, and taped them up. While I was counseling, they walked down to the atrium. I saw them from my distant corner and waved. There they were. And I reeled at the emotions surging through me when I saw them, so much love, and wistfulness, and prayer.

Holy is the Lord our God. Worship at his holy mountain.

Dr. Nulu, the cardiologist who is also Dr. Neely’s wife, said “It seems like a long time. This will take weeks, but we hope it will give you back years.” Margaret said, “Years with our grandchildren.” Dr. Nulu smiled behind her mask and nodded. She and Dr. Neely have two kids, and another is coming in August.

When she was six years old, Margaret had open heart surgery in Louisville to repair a mitral valve birth defect. Eight doctors got involved. The surgery changed her life, because she had a kid’s high energy for the first time. Dr. Neely looked at her when she told him about that.

“When was this again?” 1956.

His eyes sparkled. “My dad might have performed that operation on you!”

His dad is 94 now, and in 1956 he was the chief resident surgeon at the Louisville Children’s Hospital. How do you like that? The room swam with the sweet joy of remembrance and reunion.

Whoever obeys and teaches the commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Oh, the stories we can tell! Soon after that Dr. Neely walked out of the room with the student who was shadowing him. We stayed of course, feeling more at home than ever. God, you are so good.

(2 Corinthians 3, Psalm 99, Psalm 25, Matthew 5)

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Jun 8 21

Going slow in room 350

by davesandel

Tuesday, June 8, 2021            (today’s lectionary)

Going slow in room 350

The one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us IS GOD; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.

On my Firefox home page a woman sits on an old wooden bench under a much older pine tree, looking out and far away across a beach, across a sea, to a far off shore. She is asking herself three questions, 1) what can I do? 2) what problems do I want to solve? and 3) how do I want to be known? She appears to be in the middle of her life.

Steady my footsteps according to your promise. Lord, let your face shine on me.

Next to our computer on our Echo Show, a picture displays, probably a museum photograph, of a white-haired couple sitting before the fire, rocking in their chairs, reading and knitting. He has on bib overalls. She has on a long cotton shift. They are resting after a long day of work solving problems of one kind or another. They solve the problems, as best they can, that God places in front of them, that he puts on their plate. No one except their family and the photographer will ever know their names.

Let your countenance shine upon your servant. Lord, your face shine on me.

Margaret spent 24 hours, and I spent half of that with her, in Room 350 of the hospital yesterday. She had her trans-esophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and a GI x-ray. No blockages showed on the x-ray, but plenty of vegetation showed up on her mitral valve, and within a week or so she’ll have surgery to replace it. Perhaps it sounds easier than it will be. But for now, it’s hard enough just to avoid that corner of the room where fear and sadness sit, waiting. The Holy Spirit holds Margaret’s hands, holds her around the waist, pushes back in Her own still way … don’t go there, the Spirit says. Stay here with me. I am good, I am eternal, I am God. I will never betray you. I will never leave you. I outlast it all.

Steady my footsteps according to your promise. Let no iniquity rule over me. Lord, let your face shine on me.

Andi called midway through our quiet, kind-of interminable afternoon and talked with us awhile while she watched Miles and Jasper play outside in their backyard wading pool. She cut Jasper’s hair, and he looks like a different guy. Actually, he looks a lot like Chris at age 2 or 3. Then Jasper came up to her, probably getting her phone wet, crying a little because he fell on the concrete patio. Where do you hurt? He doesn’t talk much, but he pointed to his head and his knee. She comforted him for a minute. Then Andi told him, “We gotta go slow when we’re walking on water.”

I hope Miles heard her too. I’m glad we did. True for us, that’s for sure. We gotta go slow when we’re walking on water. One day at a time? One hour at a time? Sometimes even one minute at a time?

You are the salt of the earth. And you are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hid. Let your life shine.

For what do we want to be known? In the long run, fame and riches don’t do much for either of us; moments of loving others mean much more, besides being much more available. Our friend texted us, “More prayers from me. More time for Margaret to be a bright witness of Jesus.” That is difficult. The dark corner beckons. There is nothing much to do most of the day. Just sit there in the morning sun. Sit there on the bumpy bed. Try to get to the bathroom on time. Eat food, or don’t eat it. Drink water. Sleep, sort of. And befriend the servants, the heroes on floor 3 of Austin’s Ascension Seton Medical Center.

Lord, let your face shine on me.

I say over and over, “There’s no hurry.” Margaret says over and over, “I have more than enough.” We both pray under our breath, over our breath, together and alone, “Thank you Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 12, Psalm 34, 2 Corinthians 8, Matthew 6)

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Jun 7 21

Reach inside and heal her heart

by davesandel

Monday of the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time, June 7, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Reach inside and heal her heart

Kyle and Mike, dressed up as EMTs, helped Margaret get herself onto the gurney, headed down for the ambulance to take her to Ascension Seton’s downtown hospital, where she would get ready for an esophageal echocardiogram today. I took videos of them for Miles and Jasper, who are fascinated by everything emergency. Margaret made jokes with them, as she has with everyone. Bless the heroes who help us, hope they can smile along with her.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement.

Kyle said, “Oh, by the way, it’s my first day.” Mike looked at him oddly and said, “Wait a minute, it’s my first day too.”

“I guess we’re the first day twins,” Kyle said. Margaret didn’t crack a smile, but they did. “We’re just joking,” she got them to say.

The new hospital for us is actually the old hospital, with rooms half the size and a relatively small window facing an atrium … picture the Congress Hotel in Chicago, but with crowded hallways full of rolling carts. On the other hand the nurses were amazing, the doctors were helpful and friendly, and the food … well, it was the same not-so-great as the first hospital.

If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement as well, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Margaret keeps making jokes with everybody on the staff. (I think President Reagan did that too.) She shows them “The Chosen” app and pictures of our grandkids eating watermelon, sorting bananas, blowing bubbles. A friend texted, “I’m glad Margaret is in a bigger hospital. More people to entertain!”

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Her mitral heart valve is malfunctioning because of some so-called “vegetation” growing on it, which means it’s narrowing, as well as opening and closing too slowly. Her aortic valve was replaced in 2017, but they left the mitral valve alone. Picture a squeaky door in the Congress Hotel in Chicago. Along with a few other problems, this presents several possibilities to her doctors. Maybe today we will get more clarity about her future treatment.

I think she talked with three nurses and four doctors today. Tomorrow there will be more. Her willingness to listen, consider, understand, hope, be patient, be still … is fueled entirely by the prayer she prays pretty much all the time under her breath, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.” She’s exhausted, but you can feel her determination to keep praying, and to stay with the Holy Spirit as she watches the fear and sadness, just sitting there, waiting for her.

As The Remedy’s Psalm 23 says so well, I will not give into fear or choose selfishness, for you are right there with me. Your rod of truth and staff of love, they comfort me. You provide a feast to nurture me in plain view of my enemies.

While Andi visited yesterday afternoon, we talked about God reaching inside her chest and holding her heart in his hands, brushing off the detritus on her mitral valve, and healing her from the inside out. And when Andi left for home, that’s just what she prayed.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord. Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.

Today is the day that the Lord has made. When I got home last night, before anything else, I fed the birds.

(2 Corinthians 1, Psalm 34, Matthew 5)

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Jun 6 21

Hospital

by davesandel

Sunday, June 6, 2021                          (today’s lectionary)

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Hospital

Margaret is in the hospital today, has been since Friday night. She’s recovering from an infection and fluid in her lungs. Most of the last week she’s slept nearly every moment that she could. She’s better now, slowly getting back to the old normal, it looks like.

And Jesus said, Take and eat, this is my body.

On the wall near her room is a crucifix with a resurrecting Jesus, clad in sunlit robes, reaching to the sky. His hands and feet are no longer nailed to the cross, nailed to the ground, nailed to the earth. He is headed UP. No doubt that crucifix has witnessed births, healings, and deaths over many years.

And they also all drank from the cup. Jesus said, This is my blood, which will be shed for many. And I shall drink again of the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Austin’s Ascension Seton Northwest Hospital once thronged with Catholic nurses, many of them nuns from the Daughters of Charity, who dedicated their lives to the ideals of Elizabeth Ann Seton, a New York socialite who gave up the silver spoon early in her life and spent her life with the poor, with children, with invalids. Mother Seaton, alongside the nuns who followed in her footsteps and the nurses now caring for Margaret, are helping us, too, to “drink it new.” Jesus is alive!

The blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanses our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

I sit with Margaret in her room on the fourth floor and think of those who came before. We eat our lunch together, we eat our dinner together, but I can go home to take my naps, while Margaret is stuck there in her hospital bed. Both of us long to simply sit still in God’s presence, patient and grateful, sweetening the cup of the doctors and nurses and helpers who care for her.. Can’t we be, here, now, and be lovers, rather than just waiting impatiently for release and recovery? It’s difficult. But easier in the lee of that crucifix, shadowed by the resurrecting Christ.

I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord. How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?

After Margaret was invited to spend a few nights at the hospital, she received in the mail two copies of the Psalms in a new “Remedy” translation by Timothy Jennings, MD. When Andi came to see Mom, she read Psalm 23 to her from the new book.

The Lord is my friend, I have everything I need. He provides rest where I can gather strength.

… When I go through the dark times, when I feel like I am going to die, I will not give into fear or choose selfishness, for you are right there with me. Your rod of truth and staff of love, they comfort me. You provide a feast to nurture me in plain view of my enemies.

You cleanse my mind with the oil of your Spirit, and my cup of joy overflows.

This is the joy that the Lord has made. Let us hold fast, and be glad in it.

(Exodus 24, Psalm 116, Hebrews 9, Lauda Sion, John 6, Mark 14)  Lauda   Sion

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Jun 5 21

Write down all these things

by davesandel

Saturday, June 5, 2021                       (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Write down all these things

Raphael said to Tobit and Tobiah, “I will now tell you the whole truth, I will conceal nothing at all from you. For the works of God are to be made known with due honor.”

To preserve his anonymity, Raphael had changed his name to Azariah. But now, as Tobit’s family is reunited, their troubles have abated and Tobit wants to fill Azariah’s arms with material goods in gratitude. Something has to give, because Raphael can’t take these things to heaven any more than we can. So he tells his friends the whole truth.

When you prayed, when Tobiah and Sarah prayed, it was I who read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord. God commissioned me to heal you, Tobit, and your daughter-in-law Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.

I suppose their mouths dropped open. Mine would have! The heavens have opened for them, and in this instant they see what before they had just imagined. What they only dreamed of seeing was right there before their eyes.

So now, get up from the ground and praise God.  Behold, I am about to ascend to him who sent me. Write down all these things that have happened to you.

Haven’t you had times of visitation yourself? God’s presence suddenly clear, suddenly there is no doubt? But then what about the remembrance … have you written it down? Most of us have not.

We live with doubt. We need the reassurance our memories of God’s clear and present love for us provide ­– those miracle moments, sudden certainties that God is here. Those memories are where that reassurance comes from, especially in the bleaker days. I know how true it is that God loves me, not because of what I believe or even what I do, but because of who He is.

In fact, even doubt “can be the birth of a new kind of faith, beyond beliefs, faith that expresses itself in love, a deepening and expanding faith that can save your life and save the world.” Brian McLaren, who wrote those words, surely has had his own moments full of the joyful presence of God. He’s a writer, so I’ll bet he wrote at least some of them down.

Blessed be God, who lives forever. Consider what he has done for you and praise him. Celebrate your days of gladness.

Writers write, but so can the rest of us when God touches us with a miracle or moment of clarity we think we’ll never forget. Write it down. Margaret was on her way home from church on a winter night, snow falling, icy road. Her car spun wildly, she cried, “Oh, Jesus!” and the car slid to a stop in the middle of the road. She felt just how close God was, at that very moment. She has never forgotten the attendance of that angel. And she wrote it down.

Look at this poor widow. From her poverty she has contributed all she had.

And I can do that too. I have nothing but a pearl of great price in my pocket. Those few moments of complete clarity in my foggy world and doubt-filled mind are really all I have to give. Write them down. Pray them again and again. Give them back to God, and share them at times with someone else. Blessed be God who lives forever.

(Tobit 12-13, Matthew 5, Mark 12

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Jun 4 21

Traveling with angels

by davesandel

Friday, June 4, 2021                            (today’s lectionary)

Traveling with angels

Anna sat watching the road by which her son would come.

Our son Marc is on his way home to Illinois from Florida. Using Apple’s “Find My” feature (in this case, “Find My Son”), we can follow his car along the highway. Lately he’s been on I 57, nearing Mt. Vernon. Soon he’ll be parking his car in front of his house in Urbana, and we’ll know he made it.

When she saw him coming, she exclaimed to his father, “Tobit, your son is coming, he is alive!”

Their son Tobiah was traveling with, unbeknownst to him, an angel of God named Raphael. Is an angel traveling with Marc? I think so. Our “guardian” angels never rest. We ignore them at our peril, and should welcome them as we might welcome a beautiful sunrise.

But there are angels, and then there are angels. Raphael is one of the Three Musketeer angels: Gabriel, Michael and Raphael. (And don’t think the teenage mutant ninja names are random!)

As yesterday’s lectionary reading describes, Tobiah wanted to marry Sarah, and her father wanted nothing more himself. But, as he told Tobiah:

I will explain the situation to you very frankly. I have given her in marriage to seven men, all kinsmen of yours, and all died on the very night they approached her. But now, son, eat and drink, I am sure the Lord will look after you both.

Right. What does Raguel, her father, really think? He drew up their marriage contract and made a bedroom for their honeymoon. But then?

Raguel called his servants and together they went out to dig a grave, because he thought, “Tobias will probably die too, and people will laugh and make fun of us.”

But tiny Tobit did not die! Raguel became a second father to him, just as Scrooge did for Tiny Tim. He gave him half his fortune and sent him with his daughter Sarah off to live with his father Tobit.

Anna ran up to her son, threw her arms around him, and said to him, “Now that I have seen you again, my son, I am ready to die!” She sobbed aloud. Tobit got up and stumbled through the courtyard gate.

Tobit has been blind for years, ever since he fell asleep outside and passing birds pooped on his eyes. But now Raphael advised Tobiah to take the same fish gall he had used for incense in the bedroom with Anna (thereby exorcising Asmodeus, the legendary demon of lust who had inhabited Sarah and killed her seven suitors) and now to rub it on his father’s eyes.

Courage, father, he said, and smeared the medicine on his eyes, and then peeled off the cataracts, which was very painful. But when Tobit saw his son, he threw his arms around him and wept. “I can see, you, son, the light of my eyes! Blessed be God, and praised be his great name, and blessed be all his holy angels.”

Blessed be Raphael! (See tomorrow’s lectionary for the exciting conclusion)

Are you loving this story like I am? As Stephen Morris says, we’re used to parables that are a sentence long, maybe occasionally a paragraph or two. This parable goes on for fourteen chapters. We get to really soak in it. It’s wonderful.

I hope Marc has time to read it when he gets home. It’s just his kind of story.

(Tobit 11, Psalm 146, John 14, Mark 12)

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Jun 3 21

A wedding ring

by davesandel

Thursday, June 3, 2021                      (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

A wedding ring

After receiving the gift of her grandmother’s wedding ring, my friend’s daughter wrote a remembrance. Her grandparents were married more than 70 years. Now they lived in the same care facility, but covid had kept them apart. On their 71st wedding anniversary, her grandma’s dementia receded for a day, and she persuaded the nurses to let her spend an hour with her husband.

She died the next day.

Now Lord, you know that we take each other for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on us, and allow us to live together to a happy old age. They said together, “Amen, Amen,” and went to bed for the night.

She cherished her grandmother’s ring, and wrote about what she was thinking, about everything this ring was present for. The day my grandpa proposed to her, the day they were married, the first home they moved into, the children they raised, the grandchildren they helped raise too. How this ring was present when a little frail 92 year old woman said she needed to go see her husband for the last time.

And sitting with her words, I thought about how Margaret and I were married on Sunday morning, in kind of a new way. We responded to our pastor’s invitation as a couple, and then invited the congregation to stay for our wedding. Most of them stayed. Afterward we had a church basement potluck and then left for our honeymoon.

I remember how welcome we felt wherever we went, especially in Kentucky where Margaret’s friends and family poured out the blessings on us. We canoed on Table Rock Lake, slept and dined at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. I remember dancing at a roadside restaurant on the way to Madisonville, as the server did everything he could to make us newlyweds happy.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork, blessed shall you be, and be favored.

We drove home to Lincoln, Illinois after a week or so. Our friends had painted and wallpapered the kitchen in our not-too-fancy farmhouse, up on top of a hill on my dad’s second farm. The next year we planted a Christmas tree dedicated to Chris, who was born on December 17. Marc was born there a couple years later, in August. Our HVAC friend from church in Mt. Pulaski said no mom should have her baby in August without an air conditioner, so he brought us one, and made sure it worked before he left.

Andi too, born just before we left for Waynesville and then Champaign-Urbana. Our kids grew up, … right, like kids do? Into their own lives. We dip our paddles into their worlds from time to time. Pretty often, actually. It’s wonderful. Such amazing men and women they’ve become.

Paddle across the lake, Hiawatha, learn to love in all these different kinds of ways. Jesus shows us how. The story in Mark 12 teaches us so much.

A scribe asked Jesus “Which is the first of all the commandments?” And Jesus told him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and all your strength. But there is another. And that is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

So … not offerings or sacrifices, not financial prosperity or even generosity, but giving ourselves to each other, and to our kiddos and their sons and daughters, that’s the thing. Love God and love your neighbor. Love your family.

Under our forty plus years of joy and pain, peace, wonder and confusion, this story provides us bedrock, on which we can stand today. Whatever happens next, we will keep learning how to love.

(Tobit 6-8, Psalm 128, 2 Timothy 1, Mark 12)

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Jun 2 21

Just sit there in the morning sun

by davesandel

Wednesday, June 2, 2021                   (today’s lectionary)

Just sit there in the morning sun

In Austin’s quiet summer morning, a cardinal sits and eats sunflower seeds. A black squirrel hops along, chewing on discarded popcorn. Inside our Austin apartment we have yet to entertain Sadducees. The conversations that privilege us don’t involve tedious questions and answers so much as honest pondering, praying, and mostly simple, still waiting.

In descending order, James Agee thinks God values being, life, consciousness and human consciousness (p. 252 of the link). The more we overthink, the more we second guess ourselves, the more “self”-conscious we are, the more we prove him right. Human consciousness is not always all it’s cracked up to be. If we aren’t paralyzed by our powerlessness, we are enamored with our wisdom and immediately begin to overreach. If we know what’s good for us, we will not settle for either, but instead spend our lifetimes finding the middle ground.

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

In order to be transparent, I tell my friend that I am feeling weak. But as I do so, my weakness fades. By being assertive and using an I message, I’m back in control of myself. Of course that’s a good thing, but what happened to my weakness? Where did it disappear to? Did I plunge it under the water and kill it by naming it? Did I just lose something here? At times like this I feel like I’m living in a house of mirrors.

How can I show God my vulnerability without sabotaging the showing? Can I just be weak and not say so? This looks like passivity and can descend into hopelessness. Why even try? This is even tougher with your friend or your husband or your wife. God might know you better than you know yourself, but they don’t.

Your ways, O Lord, make known to me, please teach me your paths.

On the other hand, what has mistakenly (I think) been called the heresy of quietism “holds that perfection consists in quiet of the soul, in the suppression of human effort so that God can do his work in me” (Britannica.com). Be still and know that I am God.

I begin to see how human consciousness fails me. Its limits aren’t obvious until they’ve been breached, and then I notice how I’m drowning in confusion.

When should I be transparent and say how I feel and when should I be vulnerable and keep it to myself? Discernment, Ignatius says, is always between two GOOD things. Neither is wrong. It’s just that I need to decide WHEN and WITH WHOM to be vulnerable and/or transparent.

There are many reasons to pray, and this is one of the best. I can ask God for clarity and healing. I don’t need to decide whether to be both vulnerable and transparent with him. He will never hurt me or leave me. And he will also clarify my errors with no condemnation.

And the prayers were heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God, so Raphael was sent with God’s healing.

Our friend said as she felt the Holy Spirit, she also felt her permission to do nothing, to be simple, to be weak in action and perhaps, thereby, become strong in obedience. This is not our usual American call to action, but it is often God’s. We clamor for control, we crave strength and prosperity and wellness. Not so fast. Why not just let things go along and learn obedience?

Otherwise, despair and triumph simply beat like two out-of-tune cymbals over and over in my life. I want to hear the quiet notes, it is in them that God brings me life. They are always being played, but I won’t hear them if I just keep beating on the bass drum. I won’t even listen for them after awhile, because my mental orchestra brays and blares, brays and blares.

Once again. Be still, and know that I am God.

Want to go with me to the sea? We can just sit there in the morning sun. Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time? Want to go pretty soon?

(Tobit 3, Psalm 25, John 11, Mark 12)

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Jun 1 21

Complete list of May 2021 Daily devotions with links

by davesandel

Complete list of May 2021 Daily Devotions with links

 

May 1              Among the wildflowers

Sun, May 2     And to him my soul shall live

May 3              Footsteps on the mountain

May 4              Peace in the valley

May 5              Straight into a large tree

May 6              Let’s go fly a kite

May 7              Seek Him out, settle into rest

May 8              Prison to praise

Sun, May 9     Acts of God

May 10            Sabbath

May 11            Haiku for every day of April 2021

May 12            In him we live and move and have our being

May 13            Why not fly

May 14            If you wish to encounter God, touch another person

May 15            Secrets in the hourglass

Sun, May 16   Scrupulosity: Caught up in the mirrors

May 17            Traveling through the interior

May 18            Place between worlds

May 19            Choose community

May 20            Discussions with God

May 21            Enforced solitude     

May 22            The Lord’s searching glance

Sun, May 23   Spring syrup

May 24            Choices that matter

May 25            Where does love go to hide

May 26            Good little Phil

May 27            What do you want me to do for you?

May 28            The glory of all his faithful

May 29            Live like a cicada: enter and exit singing

Sun, May 30   The simple life … now what ?

May 31            Memorial Day

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