Spring has sprung today, at least according to the calendar. It sure feels like spring too giving me a bad case of spring fever. Having just returned from a two-week vacation, I am feeling a bit of the let down, getting back, catching up on laundry, grocery shopping and other errands. But as I went about this busy day, I savored the luxury of soaking up the sun’s warmth and savoring the gentle breeze.
I realize as I look back on our wonderful vacation, that I needed that to spring clean my mind and heart from the cares and routines of my every day life. Without the break from my normal routines and tasks, my brain would remain cluttered with cobwebs and not leave room for creativity, deepening spirituality and pursuing things God may have for me to do. Spring cleaning isn’t just for our homes, cleaning closets and drawers, and throwing open windows to air out the staleness of winter. It is for our minds, hearts and souls as well, to remove the brain and heart clutter to invite God in to work on us with spiritual spring cleaning, especially during this season of Lent.
This first Sunday of Lent I am reminded of the words to a simple prayer, one of my favorites I hadn’t prayed in a while, as I looked at circumstances beyond my control. I wasn’t sure just what to do and my husband reminded me to keep the words to this prayer in my mind and take them to heart as I face a difficult time, learning to accept things I cannot change or control.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
– Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
I believe that this prayer is one we all could benefit from as we face challenges in the world around us. Maybe it could be a Lenten prayer for starters and one we cling to when our Lenten journey is through and we come to the joy of Easter.
How did we become a divided nation? When did our society become “all about me”? My interests, my desires, my goals and aspirations, etc. Even the television commercials reek of mine, mine, mine. Especially a newer one featuring a toddler wandering about the house declaring ownership of everything he touches, with the word,”mine” . But its climax is particularly disturbing. The little guy sees his mother’s cookies on a plate by where she is sitting and makes a mad dash to get them. But, his mother realizing what he is about to do, stuffs all of them into her mouth, declaring “mine” to her little son. I get that this is a commercial about a brand of cookies and it is pretty creative, but really sets a poor example, teaching poor behavior to all the little impressionable viewers watching.
What lessons are we teaching the most impressionable among us, our children? What do they see and hear from us? It used to be that one of the most important lessons we could teach our little children was that they are the center of our world but not the center of the universe. They share that spotlight with many others like their siblings, classmates and friends to name a few. We used to spend countless hours training up our children to realize that life is not just “all about me” or getting my own way all of the time. They learned to respect others that way. What are they learning now?
Words to Live By
“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart. Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen, do not incur sin because of him. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Lev. 19:17-18
We could all get along with one another if we just take a moment to breathe and ponder what we hear and see, especially in the political arena, media and in our families in light of the word of God, our Father, Lover and Creator. How we could change the world, let alone, make America great again, one family at a time.
To love is a decision. Every day when we wake, we must decide to love our spouse, our children, our loved ones. We can choose between obedient love or self-seeking death. To choose to love is to choose life. Love is life-giving to us and everyone around us. Self-seeking does the opposite for us and there is too much of that in our world today, just look around, or turn on the TV.
Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we are faced with a choice to make each day. What will it be? Obedient love or self-seeking death?
I am pretty disheartened to turn on the television only to see yet another protest, yet one more unhappy person reacting to decisions made by our new president. Or over a speaker visiting a university to deliver a speech. I have to really wonder how people have so much time on their hands to go and protest something rather than go about their daily business of work, school and family life, the things that really matter.
If only people could realize that all of the protesting in the world isn’t truly accomplishing anything but getting noticed for feeling disgruntled, and displaying a temper tantrum for not getting their way. I believe that it is time that we should take heed to the words of St. James, “Know this my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God.” It is one thing to get angry and another to act out on that anger in protest, rioting and destroying others’ property. Maybe it is time to exercise something really old school, like simply writing letters to our representatives to voice our concerns in a civilized way after taking the time to think about things rather than react. We are all gifted with God-given minds and hearts with His Word written upon them and should respond in kind.
On Saturday many women’s marches across the country were televised, the day following the swearing-in of our forty-fifth president, Donald John Trump. Women claimed they wanted to get his attention so that he can focus on the issues most important to them. The sad part is that the media often chose women to interview who didn’t have a goal or strong enough reason to come together to march as women united. United in support of what? Or united against what? There was no real substance to these gatherings because there was something missing. Something really important was noticeably absent from the marches. The fight for one great cause. The greatest cause of all is not for women’s rights but for human rights, the right to be born, to have life, and to live that life. The right to life which is what we reflect on today as a day of prayer for the unborn. Without the right to life, those other so-called rights don’t matter and will never have substance.
Last Monday we had all the makings of a hurricane minus the rain. It was horrendous with the winds leaving a lot of destruction of property and trees. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt in spite of flipped vehicles and semis along the highways. With our wild winds, I was reminded of the winds of change upon us. The holidays have passed and we have packed away the Christmas decorations and taken down the lights. A new president is now coming into office with a new administration. Thinking that this would end all of the negativity of our election season, many of us seemed to try to move on, only to find that the negativity has worsened. God help us to move on and to heal the rifts that separate parties and people. We should pray to unite as a people, to make America great again. Only as one nation under God can we come together again and find hope and healing.
Wise Men Still Seek Him. In this new year, rather than make resolutions that are hard to stick to, maybe it is time to adopt a mantra for the year. With a new year, a new president and administration, shouldn’t we be like the wise men of old and seek Him, our Lord of Lords and King of Kings? There is a lot of unknown before us, but nothing to fear. Seek Him in all things. Happy New Year!
As the saying goes, charity begins at home. It is modeled to us by our parents showing us how to reach out and think of others rather than only of ourselves. They show us that it is better to give than to receive and encourage us to become more other centered and less self-centered, or selfish. It feels good to give or to share with others and to see how people respond to a simple act of kindness. It makes us want to continue to reach out beyond ourselves, finding fulfillment in being charitable, maybe even finding our calling in charity work or through simple acts of kindness.
Charity should be our way of life, a life of service to others. Charity is our expression of love for others, recognizing Jesus in them and simply answering his call to each of us. Charity is active duty. It really is simply our duty to care for and support one another. Tooting our own horns about an act of charity or a gift to charitable organizations is simply boasting and not really charitable, even when we tell someone we gave a gift in their name. The only real boast any of us truly has is to boast in the cross of Christ as St. Paul tells us.