Desert Time–ReflectionTwo

Image: reference.com

Desert Time

Read: Mark 1, 12-15

Jesus Speaks

Right after the baptism I received from John, Spirit drove me out into the desert. I remained there for forty days, during which Satan tried his best to tempt me. I lived among wild beasts, but my Father sent angels to care for me.

When I returned, John had been arrested. I then came to Galilee to proclaim the good news of God. “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Change your lives and believe the good news.”

Reflection

Desert times are times of preparation. Think of Israel in the desert on the way to the land my Father promised them, and of my own time when I was alone, reflective—a time in which I prayed, listened to God’s plans for me and had to face up to Satan’s efforts to derail me in my mission.

Beloved, what would happen if, every morning, you set aside some desert time to reflect, pray and listen as I did? If you enter the day with a clear vision of my divine purpose for you, with the intention to call on me throughout the unfolding of the day, wouldn’t you have such a better chance of facing difficulties and temptations? I’m only a word away: “Jesus.” I’m waiting within for you to call on me so that I can help you to be my witness, to help you to reach out to another to show them the love that is my Kingdom.

Be still, and listen to all I have to share with you today. Please.

If you are new to this series of reflections on the Gospel, “As Jesus Would Tell It,” it will be helpful to read the previous posts. Have a blessed, joy-filled week. Please feel free to share your insights in the comments. Thank you.

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Beginning My Work–Reflection One

Photo: sjmcdonough via Flickr–labeled for non-commercial reuse

As Jesus Would Tell It–Reflection One

Beginning My Work

Read: Mark, 1, 1-11

Jesus Speaks

As I was about to begin my public ministry, my cousin, John, known as the baptizer, was already preaching a baptism of repentance, urging his listeners to admit their failings, to seek forgiveness, and to change their behaviors.

Just as Isaiah had predicted, John was the one to prepare for my coming, he foretold that I was near and that I would do even greater things than he had. He said that, while he baptized in water, I would baptize in the Spirit.

A bit later, I left my home in Nazareth and went to him where he was baptizing in the Jordan. Along with others, I entered the water and received baptism from him. When I got out of the water, John saw the heavens open up and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, descend upon me. Then a voice came down and my Father spoke: “You are my beloved son. I am so pleased in you.”

Reflection

Beloved, little-by-little, I came to fully grasp my role as my Father revealed it to me. Once I heard about John, I knew the time had arrived to make my presence known, just as I long to make it known to you. I accepted John’s baptism on behalf of you and for all of humankind. You can imagine my joy when I heard my Abba’s wondrous affirmation.

Ponder how much I love you, how I live in you and how pleasing you are to me. Is it hard for you to see me in others, especially when they are troublesome? If you really understand that each one is my child, just as you are, how would you want to treat them?

Now, renew the promises of your own baptism. Ask for my help and forgiveness. I rejoice when you remember to thank me for the many gifts you receive from me each day.

Stay with me for a while. Please.

Note: if you are new to this series, please review the two previous posts in order to reap more from these reflections.

Have a blessed, joy-filled week. Please feel free to share your insights in the comments. Thank you.

As Jesus Would Tell It–II

Photo: Ariel Waldman via Flickr–Labeled for non-commercial reuse.

A Little “How-To” Before We Begin

My paraphrase of the Gospel, putting the text into Jesus’ own words, is, of course, not a canonically approved translation. For this reason, I will cite each passage, chapter and verses, for you to read from your preferred translation, prior to reading my interpretation of Jesus’ telling. To begin, I suggest you read your version slowly and prayerfully, asking the Holy Spirit to open your mind and heart, asking the Holy Trinity to be present with you during your time of prayer.

Next, read the imaginative interpretation as narrated by Jesus. Realize that this comes from my limited perception, though I call on God’s Spirit to guide me in my writing each day before setting pen to paper.

Then, read the brief reflection, also written in the voice of Jesus. Listen to what he has to say to you. Ponder the questions he offers, especially any of them that seem to have meaning for you, or those that cause you to feel some resistance.

Finally, sit in silence for a while. Reflect, contemplate, resolve. Finish your time of prayer with a moment of thanksgiving for the gift of his presence in your life. Perhaps you will want to journal the insights the Lord has given you.

Note: Here is a very brief explanation of the four steps of Lectio Divina,(sacred reading) an ancient prayer form used in monasticism, but one that remains timely in our day and one that I turned to in writing this book of meditative reflections.

Lectio (Reading): slowly read scripture or other sacred texts, seeking to understand God’s Word.
Meditatio (Meditation): seek to understand and personalize the Word of God in your reading.
Oratio (Prayer, Conversation): what he has said to you. Speak with intimacy as you talk to God, respond to him as you would with your most beloved friend. Express the emotions that the reading has sparked in you: desire, joy, repentance, thanksgiving.
Contemplatio (Contemplation): sit quietly and listen; just be with your Beloved.

In the midst of our active lifestyles, finding time to pray is a challenge. It may require an earlier start to your day. I hope that you can find a minimum of 15 minutes for your prayer time. More is, of course, more useful, but any effort pleases God’s heart.

For me, early morning prayer sets the tone of the day. It is so easy to say “later” and somehow “later” runs away from you. In any case, choosing a set time is one important tool for success. What is most helpful is to set a routine that works for your lifestyle. That, of course, differs for each of us.

Next week I will offer you our first Reflection.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessing of heaven in Christ.” Ephesians 1,3

Good Friday Dirge

Artist: Lesley Oldaker Labeled for Noncommerical Reuse

Artist: Lesley Oldaker
Labeled for noncommercial reuse

Good Friday Dirge
an Octain Refrain

Upon the pond a cry of loons
begins its mournful, plaintive song.
I think of how it all went wrong.

Darkness still reigns ‘neath this full moon,
this early morn a mood forlorn
recalling loss, a cross rough-hewn.

And now in Belgium, hatred strong
prolongs the tragic cries of loons.

Written and Posted for my prompt at dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar. The form, developed by Luke Prater, is a High Octain, which I explain at dVerse. Tomorrow, Christians observe Good Friday as we deal with yet another tragic, cowardly act of terrorism. I’m also sharing this here. 

Enduring Love

Photo: pexels.com labeled for non-commercial reuse

Photo: pexels.com
labeled for non-commercial reuse

love that endures
a sestina

you sit beside the hearth and dream
of years long past, of youth
those days so filled with dance, with life
that you do not forget
you walked in worlds of swirling greens
gave birth beneath the sky

you revel ‘neath cerulean skies
and catch a glimpse of dreams
and thus the burgeoning of green
as you reclaim your youth
those signs of spring you won’t forget
for you still pulse with life

in aging, still you sing of life
your eyes reflect the sky
you smile at love you can’t forget
those memories of dreams
fulfilled when you were full of youth
midst flowers, in fields green

you stood by him in days of green
he held you throughout life
you gave each other joys of youth
‘neath bound’ry of the sky
he was the answer to your dreams
you never will forget

a love that’s easy to forget
cherishes flowers, the green
of grass and sun, the blissful dream—
can these endure through life
when clouds obscure the blue, blue sky
and aging foils youth

how easy to enjoy one’s youth
and facile to forget
the promise made ‘neath azur skies
delight-filled days of green
yet to endure the stuff of life
we need more than to dream

beyond your youth, those days of green
(lest you forget) the greatest life
soars to the skies, surpasses dreams

Throughout the month in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day, much is written about love–most of which is about younger people, with an erotic twist quite often. Today, I want to write about love that has lasted throughout the ups and downs of a relationship, of the years. Love that the Greeks refer to as agape, love that is about the choices we make for the well-being of another. I have been privileged to witness that sort of love in my life as a nurse, when a caregiver puts aside oneself for the sake of his ill or cognitively impaired loved one.

I wrote this in response to a challenge from a fellow poet, Bjorn, to write a sestina in which the end words of each line follow a specific pattern throughout six stanzas, each of six lines, ending with a tercet that uses the six words in internal rhyme, also following a pattern. If you want to learn more about this complex form, go here

I will post this for OLN on Thursday and on my Christian Blog: Be Still and Know That I Am God. I am also linking this to Sanaa Rizvi’s Prompt Nights.

 

Put Out the Welcome Mat!

Otto Herschel, Wikipedia Commons Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Otto Herschel, Wikipedia Commons
Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse-Rabbi Reading the Torah

 

“I am coming to dwell among you.”
Zechariah 2, 14

Last week we had guests for dinner–good friends we hadn’t seen in a while thanks to those daily life events that sometimes get in the way of what we would like.

The morning of their visit, I took on the tasks of spiffing up the house while David got to work on the special meal he had planned a few days ahead of time. He’d spent an afternoon shopping at a few stores to assure he had just the right ingredients and found recipes even though his culinary genius would kick in and improve upon them. I kept busy, too, most of the day, filling in as sous-chef in between my domestic duties. We wanted everything to be just perfect, especially since our friend, Patty, is also a gourmet cook.

“So what?” you may be thinking. It’s no less than what most folks would do.

That evening, after our friends had left and most of the dishes had been done, we went, as is our practice during Advent, to light the candles on our Advent wreath and to read a short meditation from a little publication, “The Word Among Us,” that is based on the scripture for the following day’s liturgy. And, as you no doubt have guessed by now, that wonderful promise from the prophet Zechariah was the verse the editors chose for us to reflect upon.

The parallel is obvious, isn’t it? If David and I could do so much to welcome these dear friends, to prepare with care for their visit, shouldn’t we do more to welcome Jesus into our lives? One big difference stands out to me. Yes, we are celebrating the coming of God’s Son into our world when we prepare for Christmas but HE’S ALREADY HERE. And He didn’t come just for an evening of good food, some wine and conversations. He has come to STAY. And He has come to offer us the feast of Himself.

So, I have to ask myself, what do I do on a daily basis to welcome Him, to be aware of His dwelling in me? Is my Advent preparation confined to shopping for presents and wrapping them, sending out Christmas cards, and baking goodies? What else can I do? Perhaps, it’s in taking some time each morning to pray that we will find the answer to those questions.

In case you are wondering, our evening was perfect, fun. The dinner was scrumptious and conversation flowed. But it was over so quickly, just like our celebration each year of Christmas.

Blessed Advent!

Photo: Wikipedia Commons--Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Photo: Wikipedia Commons–Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse