Thursday, July 21, 2016

empathy goes a long way....

 a journey begins with but a single step.....whose journey are you walking today?

The news regarding racial tensions has not been good with very sad, very serious outcomes. My heart grieves for the pain, the loss and the uncertainty of the times we live in. The black community cries out how the Caucasian community doesn't care. Of how white people supposedly have it so much better.

What I need to ask you is, "how do you see others who do not share your skin color? Your religion? Your economic status? If you could walk in the shoes of another, who would you choose...and why?"

I see it this way: remember that school yard bully? The one who picked on you or stole your lunch or took your lunch money or any of a number of sad incidents? Do you remember the fear? The anxiety? The sleepless nights worrying about what tomorrow would bring?

That must be something of what those in the minority feel also on a much larger scale.

I hear reports of what terrorist rebels do in other parts of the world. Even the US waits for yet another attack such as what befell Orlando...or New York City. We wait...we pray, "not again!" we are on guard. "Why do THEY pick on US?" we ask. "What have WE done to generate so much hate from them?"

OK, now, take away those terrorists...and substitute what is happening in the black community. Or you can substitute any ethnic group, any religious group, any gender group, anything that you feel is less superior to you. Even the often have you groaned when an older person in front of you takes up so much time at the cashier's line? Or in traffic? Or anywhere?

Back in the late 1800's to early 1900's when the Irish emigrated to the USA, they were treated as outcasts. They were given the lowest paid jobs, slum housing and nothing more than that. The Irish were able to climb up from those ranks. Today on St. Patrick's Day, celebrations are held across our country as the Irish are embraced with love and good cheer.

Yet other groups still cry out for recognition as well.

We all need to walk in the shoes of another. The next time you turn your nose up at someone who is different from you, stop and ask yourself why you feel that way? What has that person done to YOU to merit your disdain? Then...what can YOU do to put yourself out there to help them feel recognized in a positive way?

Our world is growing so quickly, yet shrinking even faster. As the population grows, as the methods of keeping in touch with others also grows, we are consumed night and day in a quicksilver moment of knowing exactly what is going on and where. We are also quick to make judgments before all of the facts are in and cast judgments online. How is that fair to anyone?

Remember what I said of how Americans fear terrorists on our soil? Being quick to judge makes you a terrorist also, albeit on a  much smaller scale. Why would you want anyone to fear who you are? Why should they fear others?

We are all made in God's image and likeness. We are all His children. We all have 206 bones, bleed red and our hearts beat...though not always as one.

Today...look out for your fellow human being. Be an inspiration in a world filled with bullies. Show others that you are the example Jesus know you can!
Let's do this together...shall we?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

don't believe everything you see on TV

In the beginning, according to the book of Genesis, God created the world, and it was good. Then, like a baker, He added more ingredients: plants, trees, the sun, the rain, the animals. It was all good. Then He stood back, rubbed His chin for a moment and knew He needed to add yet one more thing. Man. Created in His own likeness and image. And so, Man came to be. And it was good.
or was it?

Gee....judging by the news lately, creating Man also created a whole new set of problems and actually, those problems surfaced almost immediately! Man was tempted by his beautiful but naive wife, and then their son! Oh my! Jealousy raised its ugly head and their son killed his own brother!
Paradise was a short lived idea. All of the love and simplicity that God had imbued them with came to a crashing halt. Man was put into a virtual time out. For many years Man wandered the earth seeking solace, until Jesus came to redeem us. But wait! He said, "I will come back! I will tame Evil once and for all but until then, your mission is to spread that news all over the earth!"

And so there were believers and non-believers. And evil laughed and to this day, has increased peoples' hate towards one another. Judgment, racial hatred, religious hatred, it's all the same. Some days it seems as if hate will win out. At least....that's what the news media would have you believe. It's almost as if they spin anger, discord and violence into a whirlwind that would cause even more grief through protests, more violence and killings.

I am here to tell you now, just as Jesus told us two thousand years ago, that although it would appear that evil is winning, it isn't. It can't! Why? How do I know this? It's simple: Jesus redeemed the world by His Cross and Resurrection. We already have been saved. All one needs to do is to accept a life full of goodness, mercy and kindness. Love God as much as you love yourself and love your neighbor as much as you love God. Who is your neighbor? It is anyone, from any walk of life, that you encounter each day. Treat them with love, with compassion. Reserve any judgment for God. We are to forgive our enemies, love those who hate us, be like little children. These are all admonishments that Christ taught us while here.

So why is that so impossible? Simple again. Evil WANTS us to feel despair. Evil wants us to feel hate, to create and cause pain. Evil wants to re-create that moment in the Garden of Eden of doubt: the doubt that God is perfect and wants only goodness. "Why should God have all the power?" Evil told Eve. "All you have to do is to partake in this act and you too will have eyes of God!"

Can you see this today? Greed on the part of politicians have us believing they are the savior of the world when in fact they could care less about you and I, so long as they convince you they do. Why fall for that? Greed also from corporations claiming they have your best interests at heart as they poison our food supply, our water and our air. Greed also from business heads who will claim the lions' share of profits all the while giving you a measly 1% raise. How can anyone survive on that? They can't.

Today, be a voice for change. One does not need violence to create a wave of change. Stand up for what you know is wrong by looking out for those who have less than you do. Give of what you have, be it your time, your talents or your treasure. Encourage positive change by living a positive life. You don't need a street corner to toot your own horn, just actions given out of love and concern.
You can be the one who changes the world. As St. Mother Teresa said, "I am a little pencil in the Hand of God."

So simple...yet so profound.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

you will never walk this path alone!

"Be still...and know that I am God!"

From the time that I was a little girl, I always had this "feeling" that I could "hear" God. I was less into the fashion of the day (we were too poor for me to even have "new" clothes, let alone new toys) so I took solace in the books that I read and the nature that was around me. Going on nature hikes, finding agates in the gravel roads near my house and spending time with my collie dog, that pretty summed up my "twixt twelve and twenty" years.

It was in many of those moments of solitude that I would go to God in prayer. It was less a recitation of the known prayers and more of just a young, and many times, scared girl talking with God. I never thought of God as that fearsome Being in robes who kept a log of all of the "bad" things I did, but rather a figure who would just hear me in all of my supplications.

I heard Him in the wind, I saw Him in the face of strangers, and whenever someone was generous enough to give my mother a bag of hand me down clothes for me, well, I knew that God was in the mix there, too.

When I was twelve, I needed a winter coat. It didn't have to be fancy, just warm. The one I had was thin, threadbare and too small for me. "Please, Lord, just a coat!"

Then one cold day, I found one in the Dumpster where I lived. It was too big. In fact, it was a woman's coat, not one for a girl. It needed new buttons. It certainly wasn't the style but it WAS warm. "Thank you, God!" I praised, " for this new coat!" And I sewed on buttons and proudly wore it to school...where I was laughed at. You see, I didn't see that coat as being anything but a gift...until I saw it through the eyes of kids who were mean enough to point out its flaws: too big, too brown, too repaired, too...ugly.

With heavy shoulders, I questioned it. "Lord, why did you give me a coat if You knew I would get laughed at by the other kids at school?"

No answer.

Every day that winter and the winter following it, I wore that coat, until a neighbor gave me not one, but TWO coats that her daughter had outgrown. Oh my! They were beautiful! They were perfect! They were warm! They were...just right!

I learned something, however, by wearing the coat that someone had thrown away. I learned to see beauty in what another saw as damaged goods. I learned to appreciate...that is, to ACCEPT that oftentimes what may be turned down, or mocked, is in fact what makes us stronger as we accept that sometimes in life, you don't always get what you want, but you may just get what you need...and to be thankful for that.

I learned also that God always does hear us. It may not always be what we want--again it may just be what we need to accept, and live with, despite the jeers, the taunts and the pain of feeling that we have been given short shrift.

Oftentimes, though we have dreams that if we do everything right,  life will be fair to us and grant us happiness, life doesn't always work out that way. But what I did learn from being silent and trusting that God knows better than I ever could, is that sometimes He leads us through those dark and scary moments in life not to tear us DOWN, but to build us UP! You can't erect a new building on top of an old one, you need to remove and start over. Same as with life, tear down those old thoughts, start over with fresh thoughts and in everything, know that God does hear you, He is with you and  you never walk this path alone.  How do I know this? Simple. By being still, being in the moment and listening. You can't be in the moment if technology gets in the way, drowning out those thoughts and communications. You need time to just stop...and allow God into those busy moments of your day.

As I was watering my garden today, the church bells in town rang. As they rang, I said a few "Hail, Mary's" and an "Our Father." I felt His presence; I could feel it in the sounds of the birdsongs, in the wind as it whispered through the trees and was there also in the fragrance of those flowers. In short, I felt loved.

Today, take time to listen for God. Yes, go to Him and present your thoughts and your troubles, but also your gratitude. Then just listen. Eventually you will hear will know when He has spoken. It isn't an earth-shattering moment but instead, just a quiet knowledge that soon, all will be OK in your world, if only for a little while. And when or if you are handed an "old coat" moment, don't despair, oh no! Please don't feel as though God hates you or doesn't care! Maybe, just maybe what He IS saying is that He knows what you need and sometimes, you just have to be patient, become strong and soon, all that you could have hoped for will come to fruition. The life of a follower of Jesus is not always the easy path, but in the end it will be the best road you have ever traveled!

I promise.