Not Just Coin – Good News for November 22

22 11 2010

Luke 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

The Daily Path: We can give from our wallet or we can give of ourselves. Certainly both types of giving are needed. Jesus points to monetary giving in this example but I think the message is broader than just coin. I’ve found that “being there” for someone in a time of great need can provide incalculable value. I’ve been on the receiving side and can tell you from my own experience that when things seem darkest receiving a note from a friend, an invitation for coffee, or a friendly call, can dig you out of the depths like nothing else. This type of genuine outreach keeps you going when the weight of the world feels squarely on your shoulders.

This week, as we prepare to gather as family and give thanks, perhaps it’s time to think about making one of those calls. Who can we share our spiritual wealth with? Who’s feeling alone or bearing the great weight of worry? Who could benefit from a little joy? Friends, I think our horn of plenty comes in all shapes and sizes. See what can be shared from your pantry of love.

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Dreaming – Good News for March 19

19 03 2010

Matthew 1:16, 18-21

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

The Daily Path: When Joseph went to sleep on the night he was visited by the angel in a dream, I suspect his mind was full of anxiety over the discovery that his new wife was pregnant. Have you ever put your head to the pillow while worried or angry about something? I’m sure we all even. On a more positive note, have you ever framed a question clearly in your mind just before falling asleep? The latter is a technique I have often used to successfully come up with an answer or a creative solution.

I’m not a neurophysiologist, so I can’t tell you why my brain develops answers during sleep mode. In fact, I don’t care to know why for fear it will disable my little secret method. All I care about is the fact that answers often come in my sleep. The same is true for relief of anxiety. Have you ever had the experience of waking up worry free in a very peaceful state, only to have awareness of your troubles creep back into your conscious? “Damn, I was only dreaming.” Obviously some spiritual nurturing is going on before my human doubt returns. Dr. Wayne Dyer and others have suggested that the moments following sleep are when we are closest to our source (God). I would not disagree based on my own experience.

Are sleep and dreams a mechanism through which the Spirit engages with us? I don’t doubt it. In some ways that goes along with another concept I’ve read that suggests grace already exists within us and is activated at certain times. Again, I don’t want to fall into rationalizing, but I find it interesting how sleep and dreams can return me to a more peaceful state in which “true” answers become accessible. Hmm… perhaps the angels of the Lord are neurons! Oops, there I go again.





Drowsy – Good News for November 28

28 11 2009

Luke 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

The Daily Path: Have you ever dealt with something so daunting in your life that sleep provides the only relief? Then you wake up… and the heavy heart returns.

In my own life I have experienced a “drowsy” heart brought on by carousing, drunkenness, and most recently, anxiety. I’m not sure what ultimately drove me to the first two, but I’m grateful that through an awakening of inner grace, I was able to emerge from those depths.

Anxiety in some ways seems to be the greater battle. Left unchecked, it’s a killer. The burden of anxiety wears you down physically, mentally and spiritually. I can understand why it could also lead you back to the other lapses that Jesus warns of. My life teachers speak of surrendering the anxiety and constant worry to the only one who can lift the burden from your heart. The Son of Man. In my heart I know He is indeed the only source of strength to deal with the tribulations of this life.

Room to Chat: Father, show me the path of surrender in these days of Advent. Awaken the grace within me so that my heart may be lifted up to You.





Be Still – Good News for October 6

6 10 2009

Luke 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

The Daily Path: This is one of my favorite passages because it’s a snapshot of our busy lives. We are a busy people. Like ants going about their relentless duty, we often become mindless androids so entrenched in the tasks that we forget about our purpose. We concern ourselves with accomplishments. We strive to achieve status.

I’m no different. For every sixty ticks of the clock, how many do I dedicate to living a life that will be pleasing to the Father? How many minutes will I stop and appreciate His hand in the world that surrounds me? Very few in the scheme of things.

I need to be still and listen at His feet.

Room to Chat: Lord, help me to slow down, be still, and choose the better part of living a life that is pleasing to You.

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Row Your Boat – Good News for February 7

7 02 2009

Mark 6:30-34

The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” 

People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.

People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.

When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

The Daily Path: When we read that Jesus and the Apostles got into their boat and headed to a deserted place, it wasn’t as though they climbed onboard a motorized yacht and zipped away out of sight. “Row faster James and John. They’re still following us on shore! Row away! Row away!” They couldn’t hide from those who needed them. And to make matters worse, the boss decided that important work still had to be done. The fisherman’s  holiday could wait.

“Peter, why did we sign up for this cruise again?” I’m sure the hearts of these weary men must have sank to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee… or did they?

Last night I caught up with a friend who shared that he had been experiencing some pain in his chest. After about a week of this his wife was finally able to “convince” him to see a doctor. Wives are good at that. Turns out my friend was suffering from stress. His work and the worry of job security had him on the brink. I can certainly relate. In some ways it was like looking in the mirror and seeing myself as I was not that long ago. I know there are legions of men and women who are also in that boat. Work! Work! Work! 

I’ve found there are a few ways to handle this: medicate, abdicate, gravitate or levitate.

Sometimes medicate will help calm the pressure and save your life in the short term. This helped my friend. (WARNING:  Medicate can have some very serious downside.)

You can abdicate and just walk away from the source of career related stress. (WARNING: In this economy abdicate is not the same option it was just a year ago.) You can also abdicate the Throne of Worry over to God, as I did.

The next two are perhaps what the Apostles used…

You can gravitate towards work that you love. It’s been my experience that when engaged in something that enables my passion to flow, it never feels like work. It’s as though I had a reserve tank that kicks in when ordinary tasks would have tired me out.Perhaps the Apostles didn’t view their mission as task labor. (WARNING: You can still overdue it and put pressure on the body that it can’t sustain indefinitely. Moderation!) 

Finally there is levitate. For me, levitate is perhaps the best and certainly the easiest of all things I can do to keep me going and stay ABOVE the noise and chaos that cause stress. I “levitate” by finding ways to God throughout the day. It’s as simple as calling Him to mind. I quietly say “Hello God. I’m here.” (WARNING: I don’t suggest you do so overtly in the middle of a board meeting unless fully  prepared to abdicate or gravitate.) Quiet your mind for an instant. Replace the madness with something of beauty. Smile. Ask for God’s help in the matter at hand. It doesn’t take much.

Even in the moment of exhaustion, with more work looming, the Apostles must have found renewed energy in the company and example of Jesus. The work may always follow us, just as the crowds followed Jesus and the weary Apostles. When it does, take an instant and ask God to row your boat to that deserted place where you can find a moment’s peace. 

Room to Chat: Lord, keep me in orbit above the chaos today.





Lifeboat – Good News for January 31

31 01 2009

Mark 4:35-31

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him.

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” 

They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

The Daily Path: Today’s Gospel from St. Mark is not only timely for many of us, but it also mirrors recent events in my life. Very few remain untouched by the stormy global economy. Deep cost cuts are the focus of every business. Consumer confidence is dropping and jobs are vanishing. The bottomline is this: like the Apostles in today’s Gospel, people are afraid. 

I was afraid, too. I would lay awake at night wondering how to feed my family and keep a roof over their head. I prayed and prayed. Many other people were praying for me. And as I prayed I kept trying to work out a way to regain control over the situation and emerge from the serious financial trouble I was in. But the downward spiral continued. My boat was sinking fast.

As the months progressed I was encouraged to “turn these worries over to God.” This theme began to appear in more and more places in my life. God was actively using His marketing team to get through to me. Some of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met provided great counsel. Each in their own way put some of the weight I was carrying onto their own shoulders. Each of them told me that no matter how smart I was or how hard I threw myself at the problem, I was not in control and never would be. Like Jesus in the boat, each of them pointed to the only thing that could help… absolute faith that “God will take care of me and my family.” I had to hand my worry over to God with complete faith that He would provide.

Guess what? The message sunk in. Old Mr. Stubborn finally gave up. One Sunday at Mass I said to God: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m putting my burden up there on the altar. I’m leaving it behind. When I walk out the door… it’s yours.”

That’s when things began to change. A sense of peace replaced the  growing despair. I finally got some sleep at night. Other things began to happen. Encouraging signs here and there. Little positives that began to build into greater things. Friends and strangers rallying behind me. I was suddenly finding abundance where before I could only see an empty hole. Removed from the outcome I was growing strong again. God was taking control. 

I’m not completely out of the squall, but I’m no longer afraid. I now know that God is at the helm of my little boat. Not only is He steering a safe course home, He’s given me a blanket to keep out the cold. 

My friends, give your worries to God. Have complete faith that He will wrap you up and keep you safe. No matter how violent your own storm may be at the moment… turn it over and God will provide. I know this to be true.

Room to Chat: God, Thank you sending your advance marketing team my way. You really know how to get superior message retention, don’t you?