Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
“Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26
I was sitting in the basement making new curtains for my classroom and I was visited by a very strange guest. I was just stitching away minding my own business when I heard a whoosh sound followed by the crashing of the roaster oven lid. The roaster is kept on a high shelf near the sewing machine and when I looked up to see what made the racket I was dive bombed by a bird. After my screech I’m not sure who was more startled, me or the bird. There has never been a bird inside…let alone in the basement. I was puzzled not only about how he got in, but by how I was going to get him out!
It took me a minute to come up with a plan, which included making sure he didn’t get upstairs. He dive bombed me a couple more times and then seemed to vanish. I’m not sure what was more unsettling; seeing him or not seeing him! I went out of the sewing room, around the corner and across the basement and took the screen off the egress window and pulled back the curtain in hopes that if I could get him pointed in that direction he’d see the open window and fly out. After I’d prepared his exit, I began searching for him and startled him off his nesting perch and he crashed right into the basement door. I was not excited about the prospect of scooping up a dead bird but as I crept toward my new feathered friend trying to see if he was still alive he whizzed over my head and around the corner and in one quick zoom flew clear across the length of the basement and right out the window. Success!
When I sat back down to the sewing machine I realized that little incident was a lessons. I was thinking about all the times I’d made my own silly decisions without consulting my Father the master planner. Like that bird, I have wound up in some crazy situations that were not meant for me. Thankfully like the open window I provided for the bird, God always seems to provide a way out for me too. I can think of plenty of times I’ve flapped around and banged my head trying to go somewhere I wasn’t supposed to go. I’ve traveled down the wrong path and searched and searched to find my way only to discover I was simply on the wrong path to begin with. That little bird wanted nothing to do with me. It would have been easier and much less stressful if he would have gently perched on my finger so I could take him outside peacefully but we weren’t meant to have a relationship. I don’t know about you, but I have been a part of friendships or relationships that were not meant for me, God even arranges those to our benefit if we invite him into the center of them.
When I finished the project and went upstairs, I walked past the hallway mirror and noticed what I thought was white thread on my hair and forehead. As I moved in closer for inspection, I realized that it wasn’t thread, it was bird poop. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor! I got a couple great lessons plus a little humility training to boot. All in all…it was a very good day!
A Seed To Plant: Have you ever been in the wrong place or the wrong relationship? Ask God to guide you to the nearest planned exit and put you back on the path he has chosen.
Blessings on your day!
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
I’m sure we’ve all heard the line, “if you aren’t part of the solution; you must be part of the problem.” They are wise words but perhaps a bit misunderstood. I think being part of the solution doesn’t necessarily mean solving the problem single handedly but rather making an honest attempt at working toward something better. There are some mighty problems in this world to be solved and I sure shootin didn’t cause them, plus I know for a fact that I am not in the position to solve them. So should I throw in the towel and go cry in the closet? Nope! I was reading an article about an amazing woman named Dorothy Day and she had one little idea that put it all in perspective for me.
Dorothy Day was a saving grace to so many who were left physically, spiritually and emotionally crippled by the devastation of the Great Depression. Her motives and actions were genuine, compassionate and life changing. She provided a beacon of hope during a time when there wasn’t much. She didn’t solve the financial problems of the day but she worked in her own way to be part of the solution one person and one family at a time. She didn’t offer money, but rather provided the most basic needs of the suffering. She offered dignity, shelter, hope and joy…so much joy. She didn’t give a lot ,but what she gave mattered greatly. She said, “We contribute to the misery of the world if we ignore beauty and joy in life. If we seek the will of the One who sent Jesus, we need to open our hearts to joy.”
It’s not hard to find the problems, but we get in a big pickle when we have an even harder time finding the beauty around us. It isn’t often we see a smiling baby or a gorgeous harvest moon on the front page of the paper or newsfeed but when we do see them they give us a lift. Who doesn’t love a good giggling baby video shared on social media? They just let us escape for a few minutes. After reading the article I realized my role in the solution was easier than I thought. It’s my job to connect with beauty and joy. John Ruskin was a famous art critic from England who used to say “We have the duty of delight.” That line made me realize we sometimes see joy and beauty and peaceful things as frivolous and non-productive. We think we have to work and take things to task and ponder serious matters in order to be responsible, informed citizens. Did you hear that, I think God just belly laughed!” We’ve got it so twisted up it isn’t even funny.
God is the maker of joy and beauty not the creator of evil, cynical, corrupt or absurd so why not focus on the things he made and leave the rest of the mess alone? Dorothy Day didn’t solve the problem of the Great Depression, but she sure was a solution to those she was able to bring delight to. Sounds like a much better way to spend my day, what do you think?
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to sit and make a list of things in your world that are beautiful and joyful and then go about the duty of delighting in them instead of stewing over problems you can’t solve. It is perhaps the most important work we can do!
Blessings on your day!
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!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com