Sunday, August 9, 2020
   
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Wisdom Wednesdays

This poem by Mary Oliver is perfect for a hot summer day and the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions. Like the newborn salamander, we are more than ready to swim away into the almost post-COVID-19 world.
 
Swim Away, by Mary Oliver
 
Who can say,
is it a snowy egret
or a white flower
standing
at the glossy edge
of the lily and frog-filled pond?
 
Hours ago the orange sun
opened the cups of the lilies
and the leopard frogs
began kicking
their long muscles,
breast-stroking
like little green dwarves
under the roof of the rich,
iron-colored water.   
 
Now the soft
eggs of the salamander
in their wrappings of jelly
begin to shiver.
 
They're tired of sleep.
They have a new idea.
 
They want to swim away
into the world.

 

July 29, 2020

 
Where is the ocean, where is God?
 
 
Anthony De Mello has a story about a curious little fish who one day swims alongside a much more senior fish and asks him how to find the ocean.
 
The senior fish looks at him quizzically and says “but you are swimming in it!”
 
Teilhard de Chardin is telling us much the same thing when he says, “We imagine the Divine as distant and inaccessible, whereas in fact we lived steeped in its burning layers.”
 
Does the fish believe this? Do we?
 

 

July 22, 2020

 
This moment, our moment in history, is a time to listen to nature and let it teach us about staying in the present moment with “grace” and let it lead us into a “Limitless” future.
 
 
Limitless, by Danna Faulds
 
Sun says, “Be your own illumination.” 
 
Wren says, “Sing your heart out, all day long.” 
 
Stream says, “Do not stop for any obstacle.” 
 
Oak says, “When the wind blows, bend easily, and trust your roots to hold.” 
 
Stars say, “What you see is one small slice of a single modest galaxy. Remember that vastness cannot be grasped by mind.” 
 
Ant says, “Small does not mean powerless.” 
 
Silence says nothing. In the quiet, everything comes clear. 
 
I say, “Limitless.” I say, “Yes.”
 

 

July 8, 2020

 
Where is your love-based church? 
 
 
In speaking of the Apostle Thomas, the Jesuit, Father Greg Boyle is quoted as saying: 
 
"Normally, he's the brunt of the 'Oh ye of little faith' message. But Thomas is my hero, because when everyone else was locked in that room — because they were terrified — Thomas was not there ... but outside ... in the streets ... where people of faith are supposed to be. There's the 'fear-based' church — locked in the room — then there is the 'love-based' church: in the streets, trying not to circle the wagons, but rather to widen the circle."
 
Where is your "outside…in the streets… today"?
 
In what "locked room" do you need to spring out of today?
 

 

July 1, 2020

 
Here is a prayer for these days as we yearn for this time of COVID lockdown to be over.
 
 
For our churches to be reopened so that our hearts again experience the consolations of community, of Eucharist, of oneness concretely celebrated in a liturgy shared with others.
 
For our hearts to be purified so that we embrace each individual other and all of creation as known and infinitely loved by the Creator.
Patient Trust
 
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
 
—Adapted from Patient Trust, by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ,
excerpted from Hearts on Fire
 

 

June 24, 2020

 
Lately, this staying at home and not visiting with my friends has made me think wistfully about the future and then, last night, I had a dream.
 
 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and I were sitting on his front steps behind where he gives his press conferences. Looking into his big brown eyes I said: 
 
"You know, I think we should respond to this COVID-19 meltdown by helping people, not all these big corporations. Most of them still have a pretty good bottom line and their executives and board members are really well paid. We need a recovery that includes every one of us, not one that supports wealthy corporate interests, cuts social services, lifts environmental regulations and relaxes labour regulations."
 
Trudeau's big brown eyes were beginning to look a bit glassy. (I wondered if I had lost him and he was dreaming about a seat on the United Nations Security Council or winning the next election.) I hadn't finished all I wanted to say yet!
 
I nudged his foot with mine and he glanced over. He looked as if he wondered where he was…
 
Before I lost him again I said:
 
"Look here: we need a recovery that creates decent jobs where people will be manufacturing what we need here in Canada. Green jobs that meet community needs and tackle the climate crisis. You know very well that we cannot go back to the way we were before COVID-19. We need to transform ourselves and our world. We need a change that works for everyone in our world and the whole of creation."
 
Then, light was filtering through the window. As I woke, I knew it was a dream. I had not been chatting with Trudeau on his front steps. I would still have to buckle down and write him that letter!
 

 

June 17, 2020: The Armful

 
This lesser-known poem by Robert Frost about choices always causes me to smile when I read it.
 
 
 
For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns,
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best.
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.
 
The whole scenario is only too easy to imagine. 
 
First, I substitute life choices for packages in the verse. How often have I experienced 'fear of missing out' during these days and watched too many webinars until I suffered from an extreme case of 'screenitis.' I would not put even one package down to make my load easier.
 
Another time it is memories that I substitute. I can spend hours rearranging these packages of memories, keeping them balanced at my breast, cherishing all even those tinged with sadness or grief. Sometimes I will not put even one down for my own peace of mind -- not even the bad or angry ones. Alas!
 
Then there are the times I am struggling for a name or telephone number and realize I must have dropped a memory back there on the sidewalk and the forgot to go back and pick it up! When you get older it gets even harder to juggle all those packages.
 
What are the packages that you carry?
 
What do you choose to hold onto and cherish?
 
What do you need to let go of on your journey?
 
Do you need to feel some consolation today?
 

 

June 10, 2020

 

 

Within Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si': On the Care of our Common Earth, in which he covers some good things and some really sad things about our world today, he tells each of us near the end:
 
"God, who calls us to generous commitment and to give him our all, offers us the light and the strength needed to continue on our way. In the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!"
 
Let’s go forward today praising God and caring for our earth!
 

 

June 3: Be Attentive to What is Emerging

 
On my desk where I can see it, out of the corner of my eye, sits a note card from the Leadership Conference of Religious Women. On a green and yellow background, bringing outside beauty indoors, is the saying: "Surrender to what is dying and be attentive to what is emerging."
 
 
 
Do we not have to do this in our own lives each and every day? 
 
Do we not need to do this for our world?
 
Pope Francis invites us to a just and equitable recovery from COVID-19.
 
As we move into the future, how can each of us contribute?
 

 

May 27: God in the Smallest of Creatures

 
This past week, there was an online celebration of the fact that it is five years since Pope Francis issued his encyclical, Laudato Si, On the Care for Our Common Home. 
 
 
This and our beautiful weather the last few days have led me to admire many aspects of nature outside my window. The delicate green of the new leaves on the trees and antics of the squirrels have definitely lifted my spirits as I gaze out to our Common Home during these day of pandemic. 
 
I am reminded of the words of Pope Francis in one of the prayers at the end of the encyclical: "All powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures." Really! In that squirrel? 

Where Do We Find God

 
Mary Oliver, one of my favourite poets, often uses animals to reflect on aspects of  life and make important points about the way we live in this world we have been given to live in and care for. 
 
In her poem Straight Talk from Fox, she uses the voice of a fox to make us aware of how shallow values can be in our consumer society. 
 
 
The fox, as he lists all the delights of his world and how he lives in it, comments:
 
 Don't think I haven't
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
  making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
  instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
  home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
  give my life for a thousand of yours.
 
O fox! What are you challenging us to look at in our lives?
 
By Sister Rosemary Fry

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