but the Lord was not in the violent wind

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

but the Lord was not in the violent wind
1 Kings 19:11

whisper to me, gentle breeze
breath divine, speak love
heart me now, creative word
paint me strokes of wild color
float me high above fluffy clouds
wandering, wispy, wondering
where you hide
play me strings of harmony
lull me into grace,
oh, gentle breeze

 

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Oh, Chosen One

Russian Icon of the Prophet Isaiah--Wikipedia Labeled for noncommercial reuse.

Russian Icon of the Prophet Isaiah–Wikipedia, labeled for noncommercial reuse.

This morning, my reading took me to the second book of Isaiah, known as The Book of Consolation in my translation. I never tire of reading this, the voice of God through his prophet reminding me over and over again that, in spite of myself, God continues to choose me.

I’m revisiting a book that I read years ago,

Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types by Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey

that helps us explore avenues of prayer suited to one’s personality type as defined by the Myers-Briggs. For people like me who can’t exist without time for prayer and quiet (Intuitive, Feeling) one prayer form that the authors recommend is Lectio Divino (Divine Reading), that is reading and entering into dialogue with God about what one has read. They suggest when reading Second Isaiah, to insert your own name whenever God is addressing Israel.

Check out these verses, for example. I will leave a blank, for you to substitute your name:

“But now, thus says the Lord,
who created you, ________, and formed you, _______:
do not fear for I have called you by name.
You are mine.” Is. 43: 1

“Hear then, ________, my servant,
_________, whom I have chosen.
Thus says the Lord, who made you,
your help, who formed you from the womb:
Do not fear, __________, my servant,
____________, whom I have chosen.” Is. 44: 1-2

This is what it is all about, isn’t it? Bringing home scripture, making it alive today in our own experience. Remembering that we are God’s chosen and he is speaking to us. Divine reading, indeed!

If you have never taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment, may I suggest this book, a simple test and analysis of all 16 temperaments…helpful not only for prayer, but also in understanding personal relationships. My husband and I are the exact opposites on one another–complementary and challenging! (Click on the book titles to access these books on Amazon).

Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types Paperback by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates

By the way, for the fiction writers among you, this is the book I use to help me to develop characters who are consistent, but who will also throw in an occasional surprise by acting out of character.

The Gospel According to John

Zagreb Gospel Book: John Wikipedia Commons Labeled for Reuse

Zagreb Gospel Book: John
Wikipedia Commons
Labeled for Reuse

The Gospel According to John

Time passed slowly that afternoon.
Blood flowed like lava into my cupped hand.

The man who hung upon a rough-hewn tree
should have reigned over lush gardens of creation.

The night before I’d struggled to remain awake,
but now I stood by the mother until he passed

into the boiler room of hell. We remained there
to receive his body, returned it to the earth,

sealed the tomb with the clunk of a massive boulder.
After the Sabbath, the Phoenix resurfaced from the ash-pit.

Now I write his story, dipping the nib of my pen
in the sanguine ink of eternal mysteries.

Copyright 2012 Victoria Slotto

Touch the Dawn

Photo: yala-lala via Deviant Art Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Photo: yala-lala via Deviant Art
Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

In the tender compassion of our God,
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
and to guide our feet into the day of peace.

Luke 1, 78-79

Photo: touch the flame Deviant Art Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

Photo: touch the flame
Deviant Art
Labeled for Non-Commercial Reuse

May the light and peace we need so much be with you, your loved ones and our troubled world. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Victoria

Playful God

I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God.Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign. Mt. 18, 3-4 (NAB)

Photo: Crayola Crayons

Photo: Crayola Crayons

I remember a couple of lines from a poem I read a long time ago from a book published in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. It was written and published by a teacher from St. Mary’s of the Lake, a sister college back then of Notre Dame University–the college my grandmother attended. I tried to recall the exact phrasing, but the book is not available to me right now, so I will just give you the gist, in my own words:

I have a very little song to sing,
I have a very little game to play,
I play alone, except for One who is with me always.
And they are beautiful.

Whenever I read or think of this poem, I think of the ever-loving presence of our God and the fact that God cares about the littlest things in our life.

Yesterday, I had a delightful morning with a dear friend, someone with whom I share faith-talk. We went Bible shopping, as my sight is not so good anymore (one of the non-perks of getting older). I would like one that is large print. Most of the ones we saw were enormous study Bibles. None was in the translation I am used to. But we saw a shelf of coloring books for kids and started talking about the meditative fad that’s popular now of adult coloring books. Kerry told me they have them at Costco, just across the street from where we were. So we went, and both found one…but no crayons.

Now, in my early years, my mom and I lived with my grandparents on a very meager widow’s pension. Mom was not able to give me most of what I asked for, so I still carry the pure delight of the times she would take me to get a new coloring book (or any kind of book, for that matter) and a box of crayons…eight of them, if I recall correctly. Even now, when I pass crayons in the grocery store, I can taste that joy, the scent and colors of a new box of crayons…and so in the afternoon, I took off to Wal-Mart and bought one with 120 colors! I colored two pictures last night.

Jesus asks us to become like little children and I believe that is an invitation to trust and unquestioned belief in His Word. But I also suspect that God delights in us when we find joy in the simple things of life (and in the beauty of His creation.) Perhaps you would enjoy it too–or maybe you will rediscover one of those little things that gave you happiness as a child.

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest

The Prodigal Father

Yes, you’re reading it correctly: the PRODIGAL Father. Sure, the son was prodigal in his wasting of his inheritance on vanity, but check out this definition of prodigal:

adjective: marked by rash extravagance

And so it is with the Father’s extravagant love that could be judged by some as rash. His loving kindness is poured out on us, no matter how low we go. Isn’t it wonderful? Forgiveness abounds.

Image: Rembrandt The artist represented the abundance of parental love by painting one male hand and one female hand.

Image: Rembrandt
The artist represented the abundance of God’s parental love by painting one male hand and one female hand.

The “Perfect” Son

Image: Rembrandt's Prodigal Son Wikipedia Commons

Image: Rembrandt’s Prodigal Son
Wikipedia Commons

Let’s continue reflecting on the wonderful story Jesus told of the Father’s immense love for us. Trying to share the conferences I heard on the parable of the Prodigal Son became a daunting task that stalled me, so I’ll just take a few moments to share my own thoughts about the elder son–the son who stayed faithful, who stayed home with his father and did all he could to do what he believed  the father expected of him. I suspect that, if you are visiting this blog, you may be among those who still remain (or, like me, who have returned) home.

What Jesus is asking us to do is to stand back and take a look at ourselves…an objective look. The elder son remained with the father and worked hard–but look what happened when the younger brother returned home–that kid who had demanded his inheritance up front only to go and waste it on dissolute living. Big Bro was really ticked off. No, more than that, he allowed resentment to consume him.

Doesn’t this make you wonder why he bothered to hang around. I suspect it was because he wanted to get something from it. He expected a return on his investment and just couldn’t come to understand that the love of the Father is not based on what we do to earn it, but rather is a gratuitous gift, overflowing with love. Dipping into the Old Testament, I’ve encountered how the loving kindness of God shows up, again and again, in spite of the total infidelity of the Hebrew people, the people he chose for himself. So it is with us.

There are other sins, too, that those who are “good” sons, or “good” Christians may be guilty of–gossip, judgmentalism, pettiness, ignoring the needs of others, perfectionism…it’s darn hard to measure up to those demands of the Beatitudes. Yet, they too need the Father’s forgiveness.

Jesus doesn’t really tell us the rest of the story. Did the elder son catch on and come inside and join in the celebration? I wonder. He would surely be missing out on the Father’s abundant love if he stayed outside and moped.

Note: In Rembrandt’s portrayal of the parable, check out the elder son. He’s the one standing way in the back, in the shadows. The artist really had a deep understanding of Jesus’ story, didn’t he.