Mystery

Lent is now over. Each lent I enter into the spirit and look within about what I should do. I know some people give up chocolate or alcohol and I’ve done those as well, but each year is different. One year I ate Vegan during lent, giving up my favorite cheeses and Big Macs. I learned to focus on the huge variety of foods that I could eat rather than what I couldn’t. It was a great lesson.

Another year I read the Liturgy of Hours like priests and religious are called to do. It brought in a new respect for all the prayers they are immersed in and the time commitment it takes.

Another year I gave up the Internet. It was like giving up an addiction and I felt the withdrawal symptoms and experienced all the mind chatter about why it wasn’t a good idea to do this particular thing. I learned I could unplug, get rid of the anxious jitters, and enjoy nature more.

Another year I gave up buying things. No new purchases during lent. No eating out for fast food or in restaurants either. Every day I was tempted in various ways to break lent but I learned to make do with what I had.

Another year I gave up using credit cards. Only cash purchases. Even at the gas pump. That  felt so weird and seemed like it took so much extra time to pay for gas inside the store. But it brought back a human component to every purchase because there was more interaction. I loved the bonus of not having to pay any credit card statement that month.

This year I wasn’t asked to give anything up. The Spirit called me to read the bible every morning at the beginning of each day. I thought that would be a cinch but almost everyday I caught myself getting ready to check Facebook or email and I had to set the computer aside and pick the bible up.

I’m not unfamiliar with the bible. I’ve listened to it on tape, I’ve read it through, and I listen to it every day at Mass. But this would be different, I’d go where ever my heart felt led. I’ve heard a joke about randomly picking bible passages for inspiration – one time a man wanted a message from God and picked up the Bible – the first passage he turned to said “Judas hung himself” – that frustrated the man so he turned to another passage and it said, “go and do likewise” – pulling his hair out, the man turned the page one more time and the passage read, “quickly, go and do what you must do.”

I wasn’t sure what to expect but each morning was like a mystery, with the bible teaching me:

Day 1 I turned to Mt. 4:18, a passage calling the disciples to Jesus. That gave me goosebumps.

Day 2 1Tim 6:1, a passage that masters are worthy of full respect.

Day 13 was the feast of the chair of St. Peter and it’s the only time I opened to 2Peter 2:10-14 where Peter denounces false teachers. More goosebumps.

Holy Thursday and the last supper and I turned to Psalm 89:20-38 “you spoke in vision to your faithful ones.”

The last day of lent, Saturday, the day before Easter, Luke 4:1-15 … Jesus was led into the desert for 40 days, at the end the devil tempted him, Jesus overcame and came out of the desert in the power of the Spirit. More goosebumps.

Easter Sunday Esther 4:Chapter D 1-16 … Esther took off her penitential garments and was arrayed in royal attire and went to the King. What an amazing passage for Easter Sunday.

It feels like I entered a mystery of communion and sweetness with God this lent. How grateful I am for the discipline on lent and the lessons it teaches. How did you spend the past 40 days?

 

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Signs of the Times

Today is St. Patrick’s Day and while many people will be enjoying green beer, my mind ponders the spiritual …

How did God help His people in the Old Testament? War and Peace. If God’s chosen people were following His commandments, they prospered. If they weren’t, an invader came in and enslaved them. The pattern repeats throughout the various bible stories but is it relatable today? I think it might be.

You see, christians and christian views on family and life are being judged as extreme by those who embrace the culture of today. At least in America. This culture views abortion and homosexuality as mainstream.

What if God is sending us a realignment through Islam? On one hand we have abortion, the killing of a child (mainstream culture law) and on the other hand we have aggressive punishments that include beheadings (sharia law). Between those we have christianity that promotes respect for life. Christianity now looks pretty reasonable and moderate in light of those other two extremes.

Another example, on one hand we homosexual unions (mainstream culture law) and on the other hand we have all women owned by men (sharia law). Between those we have christianity that promotes respect for a traditional loving family life with different roles for men and women but equal dignity. Christianity now looks pretty reasonable and moderate in light of the extremes of mainstream culture and sharia law.

Or maybe it makes more sense to have abortion and all women owned by men on a continuum. Where killing your own baby is the extreme of expressing a woman’s freedom to the opposite where no woman has any freedom and every woman is owned by a man. On the one side women sacrifice their own child and on the other side women are sacrificed to men. The moderate christian view is for women to choose to practice their own level of self-sacrafice. And not just women, every single christian person is called to some sort of self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

And if we compare homosexual acts on the continuum with beheadings, then we have the extremes of “do whatever you want, what feels good to you” vs. a strict law of right and wrong that results in a judgement of physical torture by another man. The moderate christian view is to choose to follow Jesus teachings because we love him and trust that his laws are for our best interests as well as for the best interests of others.

When christians point out the extreme views and concerns about both what mainstream culture is pushing on us and what Islamic law is teaching, we are slammed as being bigoted, unloving and prejudiced. But is that really a just accusation? Why is respect for life and the traditional family, with equality of the spouses, so despised when it is so ideal?

It may go back to Solomon’s 666, the trinity of the allure of pleasure, power, and possessions. All of those are good in moderation but are evil in their extremes. That’s why God gave us his revelations about the proper use of those 3. License to practice whatever form of sex you want on one extreme, to all women owned and used as sex slaves could fall in the extreme edges of the pleasure category. Abortion and beheadings may follow in the extreme use of power category.

But what I was really pondering was if God is showing us his love and trying to guide us back to him by allowing the growth of Islam and the punishing aggression of the terrorist acts in our country? American culture is misidentifying freedom and choosing freedom to sin. Is it a sign of our times? Is the rise of Islam intended to take away our freedoms and show us how far off center we’ve become when we consider abortion and homosexual unions as mainstream? Will sharia law reveal what a moderate viewpoint really is and show us the extreme to which modern culture has moved off midline?  Those are some heavy thoughts, maybe it’s time to enjoy a mug of green beer?

 

P.S. After a few sips of that green beer, it occurred to me that I want to be fair to Muslims who do not support Sharia (Islamic) law taking over in our country – Muslims may well be a great ally to Christians because we both value traditional family and support life of the unborn. And I also want to be fair to those who are homosexual but are struggling to avoid homosexual acts and to those who have had abortions but are remorseful. I pray for your healing and peace. The extremists I write about above are those who aggressively enforce sharia and for those who actively advocate for abortion and homosexual marriage.

Real or eReal?

Are you Real or eReal?

I’ve always preferred to have a real book in my hand while reading. A friend once offered to give me her extra Kindle. I tried it and returned it a week later.

It’s just not the same. You can’t feel the texture, the thickness, or the weight of the book with an eBook. The same for magazines, the glossy feel, the turning the pages and “seeing” with multiple senses where you’re at in the magazine and how much is left.

There is a sensory connection to attention. We Occupational Therapists have known that for decades and use sensory integration therapy (immersing people in sensations in a particular manner) to help with brain processing, attention, concentration, motor planning and much more.

Now there’s some research that’s come out about reading – your paper brain vs. your kindle brain.

Neuroscience shows you use different parts of the brain for the different types of reading. The more you read on screens, the more your mind darts around and scans, also called “non-linear” and scattered reading.

The more you read a real paper book, the more you use the deep concentrating part of the brain. “Deep reading” is acquired and is required to deeply understand complex or dense text. It’s a thinking and processing skill you want and a skill you don’t want to lose.

Don’t let anyone bully you into using eReading just because it will save a tree, because it may end up dumbing down your brain.

So do you have a preference? Real Book or eBook? Or perhaps both? Heck, why does it have to be either / or ?! Any type of reading is better than not reading at all.

Compromise?

kitty barn

A  few weeks ago we welcomed a new barn kitty. She is curious and super friendly but also cautious. Great qualities to adapt to the world of an active horse barn visited by many cat lovers. I am partial to siamese coloring, I had a siamese for the first 18 years of my life, from cradle to high school graduation. As fortuitous fate would have it, over the years we’ve had a variety of barn strays carrying the siamese genetics – a creamy body, blue eyes and dark ears, feet, and tail. Sherbet was a unique fit with her beautiful flame point coloring.

kitty.jpg

My other barn cats, my two boys, were born at the barn and are about 12 years old. The one above, Bandit, is a snowshoe siamese, the other is a gray tabby siamese color. They team up and usually chase away any strays that try to sneak in. The first few days that Sherbet was here, she followed Bandit around like a shadow. But after a while he seemed irritated with the newbie and began to chase her to the back of the barn. So I set up her kitty bed and food dish in the back. But it wasn’t long before Bandit decided to claim that as his space too and Sherbet began living in the sawdust shed. It broke my heart, she was slowly being pushed further and further away from the barn and her sweet nature was laced with fear now. I had to chance it, she was a sweetheart, so I took her into the house.

kitty close

She was a star, a natural house cat … clean, polite and using the litter box. I haven’t had a house cat for about 15 years, past allergies made it impossible. But about 3 years ago I started on a lemon, lavender, peppermint blend of essential oils and my allergies have disappeared. So much so, that about 6 months ago we brought our dog inside and I have been fine.

But there must be an amount of allergens the body just can’t overcome, because after three days of Sherbet being inside my throat began to swell shut and I started that asthma type of coughing. The same old allergy symptoms I use to have. I was just devastated. I thought I was on top of this, overcame it, conquered it. But my body was doing things I didn’t want it to do. I just hate that. Sherbet was a great house kitty and I already loved her, she was my shadow and followed me everywhere, her eyes full of trust, purring and curling up in my lap.

What do you do when there is a catch 22? Sherbet wasn’t going to be accepted as an outside barn kitty by my other cats and my allergies were not able to handle having an inside cat. She would be compromised if I left her in the barn, I would be compromised if she stayed in the house. Sometimes love means finding the best option for each other. And that’s what I did, I found Sherbet a new inside home. It broke my heart to see Sherbet go but within a day in her new home, she was getting along great. I wish I were as adaptive and resilient as her!

Was this a compromise? It was foregoing my own wants, listening to and respecting my body, and being willing to let go and experience a loss in order to do the best for another. I’m bummed it didn’t work out like I had planned, imagined and wanted. But for some reason, I believe it did work out for the best, the way it was suppose to work out. I believe that God has a grand plan for us and I trust that everything can work out for good in the end, even painful events. Sherbet sure seems happy curled up on her new couch with my dad. And my mom and dad sure seem happy to have her there. And for that, I’m uncompromiseably happy.