Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
I’m not sure I can even describe how happy I was to go back to mass this weekend. It was so good to see students I’ve missed and friends I’ve only seen from a distance. It was a sunny, chilly morning and sitting in my lawn chair with my family made my heart so happy! I don’t think I fully realized how much I missed it, until mass began and so did the tears. As I sat there soaking it all in, I asked the Holy Spirit to give me a direction for the blog because it was so overwhelming I didn’t even know where to begin. There was so much to see and feel and take in I got a little distracted. Father Eric was about mid way through his homily and two words popped out like the were yelled straight into my ear and I just giggled. The Holy Spirit was making extra sure I was paying attention to the direction he was pointing out.
I am very aware of the division, fear, sadness, anger and disruption that seems to be woven into everything these days. A simple scrap of fabric or a distance of seventy-two inches can drive a wedge between us. Common ground is tough to establish right about now and opinions are more plentiful than the spring dandelions that pop up overnight. I wish there was an answer or a cure or a solution but we are smack dab in the middle of a very uncomfortable time. Maybe thats not all bad though. Uncomfortable is what causes us to change; everything from uncomfortable clothes and shoes to uncomfortable attitudes and relationships. I think it’s time to realize change has to begin personally…in each of us. We can’t keep blaming people and groups and organizations. We can’t control a darn one of them…but ourselves…that we can do something about. But how? That’s where Fr. Eric’s two words come into play. If we want to change, to heal, to move from this place of fear and discomfort we need two things. We need leaven and light.
Each week I bake bread so the word leaven was a very powerful image to me. Every week I plop that blob of dough in the bottom of the silver bowl and set it to rest. An hour later I return to see the magic and the mystery of leaven because that same blob is now light, airy and peeking over the rim of the bowl. I don’t know really know how it works but I know that leavening or lifting up is powerful and transformative. I had to pause and ask myself who I was lifting up or leavening these days. As I check my newsfeed or see the latest red ticker news scroll across the TV, are my thoughts of lifting others up or squashing something down. It also occurred to me that God will be the one doing all the heavy lifting, I just need to focus on his children that need a little leaven. If I spent as much time thinking about, writing, texting, calling or mailing a card to someone who needed a little lift as I did complaining, fussing, worrying and pontificating about everyone who is wrong and out of control, not only would I be lifted up but so would others. How many times have I stopped and said, God, this is nuts, I trust you to do something there while I find someone in my own neighborhood or community who needs a visit, a bouquet of lilacs or a plate of fresh cookies? And speaking of lifting or leavening, I had to ask myself about my prayers. I think I’m guilty of leaving my worries, fears and disappointments in the bottom of that bowl to sit. Sometimes I roll them around in my head like I roll that dough on the counter. I have to remind myself that I can’t just sit with them, wallowing in them and letting them sit heavy on my heart. I have to lift them up to the One who has the power to lift, transform and bring new life.
The thing about fear is that it brings darkness. The destruction is happening in our cities in the darkness. The anger and rage is coming from the darkest parts of fear and rebellion. In the darkness you can’t find peace or joy or hope. Those are the things that come in the light and the light of Christ dispels all darkness. The light Christ came to bring was meant for all humanity and it conquers all fear. The thing about light, is that one little lamp can spread and pierce darkness all around. I walked into our new house that is under construction one evening last week and it was getting a little dark outside. Instinctively, the first thing I did as I opened the door was reach to hit the light switch. I giggled at the habit because there are no switches yet. I remembered that while Father Eric was talking about light and wondered what would happen if our response to bad news and crisis was to simply pray “Jesus, shine your light of peace.” as quickly as I reached to hit that light switch. What if we used our smile, our thoughtfulness, our generosity and our prayer to shine the Light of Christ into the darkness we hear about. Again, God does the heavy work, we just have to ask him to turn on the switch. The second prayer for us should be, “Lord, make me a light to shine your love.”
As we try to be the leaven and the light, the Holy Spirit will clearly direct us. If we simply say, “Lord show me where to lift and be light.” He will give you very clear directions. The amazing side blessing to that is we become so tuned in to the direction of the Holy Spirit and the people he’s asking us to share the leaven and the light with, we forget about the mess around us because we’re focused on HIM and on OTHERS. That my friends, is how we begin to bring good out of ugly.
A Seed To Plant: Take a minute to pray and ask the Father to show you 3 people today that need a little lift and a little light.
Blessings on your day!
The One who rules over men in justice is like the morning light at sunrise on a cloudless morning…2 Samuel 23:3-4
The famous line from last Thursday’s blog was you can choose to rise and SHINE or rise and WHINE. I’ve been repeating that in my head for several days and I have a question that I’m wondering if others have too. What if life is particularly tricky and staying in bed on a cold gray morning makes it extra hard to rise and SHINE? In case you might have that same question, here are a few things that might help.
*Rise and SHINE starts before you fall asleep. End your day by jotting down (or at least saying out loud) three things that happened during the day that were good, happy or you are thankful for. If you fall asleep with positive things on your mind, you sleep better and wake up better.
*Before the RISE part, make sure you invite God into the day you are about to rise and greet. Give him permission to be in charge and promise to take the back seat and let him drive.
*Sleep! Getting up when you’re exhausted is tough let alone trying to get up when you haven’t been under the covers long enough makes it extra tough. When we get busy or life gets crazy the first thing to go is sleep and that is a terrible plan. 30 minutes of screen time traded for 30 minutes of sleep makes a giant difference.
*If you want to feel good about doing a great act of service, offer to let a sleep deprived mom of littles take a nap while you watch after her kids.
*End the day with a chat with the Father thanking him for all the grace, mercy and blessings he showered you with throughout the day and then call to mind all the places you fell a little short, asking for his forgiveness. Those simple steps will lead you to so much good.
I read this passage not long ago and it seems the perfect way to end this post. It seems to offer some wisdom that we might need to assist in or RISING and SHINING.
Every morning we arise afresh in Christ our light. Ancient Christian writers warn against “morning demons”: yesterday’s worries and grievances returning to poison the new day.
I suppose recognizing and naming those morning demons is important but the more important thing to do is ask Christ our light to overpower them so we can shine HIS light through our words, attitude and actions.
A Seed To Plant: Choose one or two to these ideas to put in place this week.
Blessings on your day!
Your light must shine before others that they may see the good that you do and give glory to God. Matthew 5:16
Have you ever been in the dark…I mean REALLY dark…the kind of dark where you can’t even see the hand in front of your face? That’s certainly not a place I like to be! My older brother used to think it was hilarious to walk by my room and flip off the lights leaving me in the dark. I always hated that, which is probably why he did it so often! That darkness always caught me by surprise and the instant absence of light made me feel a second of panic.
We were all created in the Image and Likeness of God, which means His light, is a part of each of us. It was a gift given free of charge just for being created by a loving Father. Our end of the deal is to share that light with others. This crazy world we live in has no shortage of dark places, people and situations. I don’t’ think we can wish them or even pray them all away but we sure can let our light shine on them.
What does your light look like? Maybe you’ve never really even given it much thought. Well, there’s no time like the present to tumble that thought around in your head for a while. Maybe your light is the gift of patience, understanding or compassion. Maybe you’re that person who can offer wise counsel, prayer or laughter. You might even be that person who can fix something, cook something or help arrange and organize something. Sometimes our light dispels someone else’s darkness and we don’t even realize it. If you aren’t sure what your gifts are, ask those close to you. God makes no mistakes when He arranges our days and the people that cross our path. We have dozens of chances to share our light every day. It could be through a polite gesture like holding open a door or by listening intently as people speak to us. Even something as simple as a warm smile can shine light into someone’s dark day.
God made each of us to be something wonderful. We are the ones who settle for mediocrity and keep our light hidden from those who might need it. We get one pass through this earthly life and it should be our mission to leave a bright mark! The world needs people who really live this verse from St. Matthew. Everyone reading this blog today can probably think of a few people they know who live or lived their life in a shining, beautiful, inspiring way. Let’s see if we can follow their lead and bring a little more light to our days!
A seed to plant: Make a list of your gifts…ask for help if you need to. Pick one or two things from your list and decide to use that gift to shine your light into someone else’s darkness
Blessings on your day!
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