Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Every now and again I run across something that just doesn’t seem to belong or have relevance anymore. I was cleaning closets recently and found an old rotary dial phone with a long spiral cord. I also have a potato slicer and French fry cutter that belonged to my Grandma Thelma. She used it in her kitchen when I was little girl. Both of those items have been replaced with more modern, convenient, efficient updated models so the old ones are cast aside as if they are no longer useful. There is a key word in this scripture passage from St. Matthew’s gospel that might seem as irrelevant as those old treasures hiding in my closet. That word is meek.
We strive to be strong and successful. We pray for the grace of patience, perseverance and wisdom. We admire people who are confident, powerful leaders with vision. To tell others our goal is to grow in meekness would be a little like seeing a rotary dial phone in a Verizon store! To be honest, when I came across the word meek the other day I decided to give it a look and some prayer. I think I need to change my opinion about that word. I think it’s a word we might all be able to relate to better than we thought and I’m certain it’s something we could use more of.
Long ago in biblical times the quality of meekness was highly respected and aspired to. We tend to view it as weak, timid or passive but that was not the message Jesus was teaching when he shared the Sermon on the Mount. Meekness in its true meaning is the opposite of those things. Being meek doesn’t mean you are weak and have to take everything like a door mat, it means an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are part of a bigger picture we can’t see. Being meek doesn’t mean throwing in the towel, it means giving God authority to do what he wills with our life. True meekness can be measured by how closely related we are to the will of the Father. When we make that relationship first, we are content in his love and his control of our life. If we let him be in charge we realize everything happens for a purpose and we trust in his plan. If we are more centered on ourselves and our comforts and our pride we tend to fuss and complain and point out all the things that don’t go our way. If we are low on meekness we tend to see the world through the lens of poor me instead of God’s got it all figured out!
If someone rich in meekness is treated unfairly or wrongly it doesn’t mean that doesn’t sting, but vengeance or revenge isn’t part of their reaction. Their first reaction is to pray for the person who has wronged them and give the rest to God. A meek soul realizes that God is the source of justice and that all situations contain lessons. Sometimes the lesson is for us and sometimes the lesson is for somebody else and taught through us. In order to grow in meekness, we have to admit regularly that we are not equal with God. Through our great dependence on Him we grow and we trust and we think WAY more about him than about ourselves. I suppose meekness is a bit like realizing we truly need to settle into second place and stop trying so hard to be in charge, on top and number one. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of meekness building to do!
A Seed To Plant: What are some of the areas in your life that could use a little more meekness? Spend some prayer time this week with this old word with a great and misunderstood meaning.
Blessings on your day!
For I know well the plans I have for you declares the Lord…Jeremiah 29:11
I think we’ve all been exposed to the logic that if we’re trying to get better at something, we have to hang out and practice, or “do it” with someone who’s better at it than we are. That goes for anything from studying, playing a sport, music and growing in discipleship. If we don’t put ourselves in the company of someone who will challenge us to grow, we run the risk of becoming complacent or even stagnant.
This past week I was put in the middle of the story of a spiritual giant. I ask God every morning to put things in my path that will help me grow in holiness and he did just that, through a beautiful soul named Barb. I’d like to tell Barb’s story; it’s about a woman who is smack dab in the middle of a lousy situation that would have many of us in misery thinking God had forgotten about us. This beautiful woman's advice is heartwarming, life changing and life giving. I want to share her story because she’s the ultimate example of how to get better at discipleship by hanging out with someone who’s really good at it.
Her story begins with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis just weeks ago. The first pictures I saw of her days after the news were at her daughters wedding, and by the twinkle in her eye and the smile on her face you would have guessed the doctors were nuts and the stories were a lie. Sadly, the doctors weren’t mistaken and the story was true, so Barb’s journey began. I suppose in an attempt to comfort her family and friends she put the whole thing in perspective with her suitcase analogy. I was so touched and inspired by her story I asked permission to share because I think hanging out with Barb, her faithfulness and her suitcase story, we will all learn from her example, be inspired by her attitude and grow in holiness.
After Barb found out she was so sick, the first thing she did was to thank Jesus for giving her part of his cross to carry. All she asked in return was the courage to help her carry it to completion. The next step was to look at her cancer like packing her suitcase to go on a trip. The first thing to pack is the most important, and for Barb, that was obviously Jesus. He has to be the most important and the top priority. She makes sure she packs in a lot of Jesus through her daily prayers; especially Daily Mass, praying the Divine Office, the Rosary and Novenas. Novenas are very important because they are harder and require commitment and dedication. Next to go in are her sorrows and pain. The sorrows aren’t packed for pity or attention; quite the opposite. The sorrows are an important thing to pack because they are offered for others. Barb is keenly aware that offering our personal suffering for others is a powerful and loving gift. Suffering and pain are especially helpful for the suffering souls in purgatory. Up next are the blessings. I can just see her standing over that suitcase lovingly and gratefully calling each blessing by name and tucking it into her suitcase with tender, sincere thankfulness to God. Each day she does a little more packing; more prayers, more thankfulness, more suffering and she tucks it all in getting ready to go. Her mission as she wakes up each day is to fill that suitcase as full as she can so she’s ready for her trip. She doesn’t know what Jesus has in store for her but she is prayerfully and faithfully getting ready.
This weekend as I helped my daughter pack her suitcases to head back to college, I couldn’t help but think about Barb’s suitcase. It’s such an ordinary object but yet Barb turned it into such an incredible lesson in trusting in God the Father. I want to be a better packer…starting today! I hope you will all join me in praying for Barb and her packing; may she be fully prepared for her journey!
A Seed To Plant: What’s in your suitcase? If you wait until the last minute to pack, you might rush and miss something so take some prayerful time this week to think about what needs to come out of your suitcase and what needs to go in.
Blessings on your day!
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: Ecclesiastes 3:1
One of my big projects this summer was to decorate my front porch. It was the first project and the favorite project of the summer. That porch is where I spent time almost every day of summer break. I did a lot of praying, reading, writing and planning on that porch. At times it felt like an outdoor living room or office. I remember the first morning I sipped coffee and said morning prayers out there; I let out a sigh that morning thinking the new school year seemed so far away. This morning, one of the last few mornings I have left for morning coffee and prayers on my porch, I realized how fast the days had ticked by. I started to feel a little pouty about the end of slow peaceful mornings when all of the sudden the flys started to pester me. The little ones were nipping at my legs and ankles and the big ones were landing on my book and dive bombing my head. They irritated the snot out of me and I was a little steamed that they would barge in and ruin one of my last porch mornings.
After a few minutes of being annoyed by these pesky little creatures I rushed into the house and in a moment of brilliance, I came back out with a fly swatter. I was going to show them! I smushed a few and sat in my chair feeling rather accomplished…I showed them who was boss! I picked up my book and began reading again and read less than a paragraph before they came back with an army of their friends. It was as if they flew off to find friends and invite them back to look at the nut swatting flys outside! I did have to stop and laugh at myself. Why on earth did I think that would actually work!
After surrendering to the winged party wreckers, I went inside and gave some thought to what had happened. As I was pouting about the rude interruption to my peaceful porch dwelling I had failed to realize they hadn’t bothered me all summer long. I had had weeks and weeks of perfect, so how dare I get all in a yank about one bad morning. As I drove to school to prepare for next week, I realized those flys were sort of a message and subtle kick me off my porch to move on to the next thing kind of deal. Swatting at them had been as senseless as expecting summer to last forever. My peace and quiet came as a season but all season change. The great parts of our live don’t last forever but neither do the bad ones. They all come and go. Thats how God gives us joy, rest and peace to prepare us for the trials and tricky stuff that draws us closer to him. Trying to throw a hissy fit when those seasons change is as pointless as swatting flys outside. As I puddled about my classroom getting excited about the new school year beginning on Monday, I stopped to thank him for a prayerful, wonderful, restful, peaceful summer on my pretty porch. He and I had some great talks there this summer and I thanked him for that too. After I finished with my thank you prayer, I went to my desk to type the class schedule and a giant fly landed on my computer screen and followed my cursor across the screen. I laughed and realized once again, God has a great sense of humor!
A Seed To Plant: Give some thought to the highs and the lows he’s walked you through this year. Thank him for both.
Blessings on your day!
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