Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (Fix in your heart that the Lord is God above, and there is no other)
Psalm 33:4-9, 18-22 (May your kindness, O Lord, be upon us who have put our hope in you)
Romans 8: 14-17 (Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God)
Matthew 28:16-20 (The Great Commission: "Baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit...I am with you always, until the end of time")
And: Philippians 4:1-23 (Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God)
I wasn't going to start with this...but three deer appeared on the lawn in our apartment complex this morning.
Deer mingling with humans are not all that uncommon anymore - development has cut into much of their habitat. There are enough "greenways" in our area that would provide relatively safe passage for them. But our complex is bounded by two rather busy highways, so the deer take rather large risks in getting here. Sunday is perhaps the only morning of the week when I can't hear the noise of moving vehicles out my window; at least that worked in favor of the deer. I hope they find what they're looking for.
God loves you so much that he gave you life.
These words came transliterated from the pastor of the Catholic parish at which I sing. He used them in his homily last night, borrowing them from the Bishop of Joliet, who was using similar words at the ordination of three new priests for the diocese. Hearing them was likened to being nudged awake from a restless sleep; the kind where you wake up foggier than the sky outside.
Among the other things that I noted yesterday was that the readings wove their way around themes of trust and hope.
I have to admit that, as much as I wonder if my writing has had any impact on anyone, it has had a positive impact on me. I was a bit upset with myself that I had run out of steam in the last couple of weeks. I feared I had more than overstayed my welcome with those who had asked me to share this with them in real time.
Yet those words got me to thinking about the life God gave my family and me, and the challenges that are part of them, challenges that seem to multiply exponentially. Discovering that the causes of many of the challenges came about because I matter-of-factly placed trust in things of the world. But just as I would look for the lowest-cost answer, the one which would require the least amount of personal change or sacrifice, why would I put my trust in that larger, impotent part of the world's consciousness that acts and thinks as I do?
That's what I did. In order to live a 'healthy' lifestyle, I chose to eat things that were less healthy for my body than things I ate before. I gave up sugar for artificially sweetened foods that have enough chemical modification in them that prolonged consumption will adversely effect all sorts of things. Sure, I lost 40 pounds. But the wall I hit after that and some of the physical effects I now feel are making me rethink how much I can trust global consciousness - or, as the prophet Isaiah said,
We had all gone astray like sheep...(or deer?)...each following his own way... (53:6a).
We are learning that there is a link between the chemical additives and preservatives found in what we eat and neurological diseases such as Autism and AD(H)D on one end of life to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's on the other. There are many signs that were and are definitely misread. I have to admit I was still feeling overwhelmed by all of this as late as yesterday afternoon. There is the notion of throwing in the towel, as it were. I mean, we're all going to die eventually - but this is the temptation!!! What kind of response is this to "God loves you so much that he gave you life"??
I have always held out hope that God in his infinite goodness would provide the answers; and sure enough, they're there. They're not found without struggle and they don't come without trial and error. Know thyself. To thine own self be true...yet also, Be still and know that I am God.
The Trinitarian aspect of God is a necessary part of the way of life to the Christian. Jesus may well be in the center, but this is not complete without the Holy Spirit working in the world through each of us - and this is also incomplete without acknowledging the Creator which is above all and yet in all things. Our relationship takes on a linear yet three-dimensional, internal as well as external, character. Putting it all in balance is not easy. But if there's one place our trust and our hope truly belongs, it is in this relationship, that we might be guided to the best decisions and life choices and the toil and labor that come with them.
The return to 'ordinary' time should not mean a return to the ways things were before. In my corner of creation, many such ways cannot be allowed to return, physically or spiritually. Like the trio of deer who wandered by my window this morning, we must continue our journey; searching for the things we need, things that God has placed in our path if we but search for them with sincerity, diligence, perserverence, and with the hope and trust that all our choices be made in love for each other.
I also learned last night of the passing on May 28 of the Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet, Roger Kaffer. I had seen him several times as he celebrated Confirmation over the years. He had a very practical way of relating Christ to young people, even at 80 years old. As is customary among Catholics, memorial cards were printed after his death. The text that follows was printed on the back of his memorial card. I don't know if it's something he wrote or is attributed to him, but I hope so; as a priest and bishop he might have had the inspiration vocalize these words and/or put them to paper.
O my Jesus,
I do not wish to surrender myself to You as a rebel,
subdued in body but not in spirit;
Nor to submit to your divine will with the quiet despair
of one who has no alternative;
Nor to accept it with the cold indifference of a stoic;
Nor to resign myself as a self-pitying martyr;
Nor to have to conform as one who has great difficulty
in bringing himself around to seeing things
from Your divine point of view;
Nor only lovingly to abandon myself.
No, my Jesus. Rather, I hope, with the help of your grace,
always and in all ways enthusiasticallyto embrace your divine will,
with the fervent prayer that the union
between my will and Your divine will
may be the most perfect imitation possible for me
of that union which existed and exists
between your human and divine wills.
And thus will make me one with the Father's will,
as is Your only concern - and mine:
Not just the most important thing,
but the one thing I really care about!
--Roger L. Kaffer (1927-2009)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Joliet