Sunday, December 22, 2013

What Star Are You Following?

They started out long before they had any idea of where they were going or what they would find. They were astrologers, most likely -- scientists of the day who studied the stars and in this particular stellar alignment, they saw something new being foretold that had to do with a royal birth in the constellation specific to the House of Judah.  

So they set out to attend the birth of this new king, supposing (erroneously) that any royal birth would surely take place in the Judean palace of royalty…that of King Herod. It was not to be and their visit only provoked Herod’s own paranoia and anxiety. 

The Magi didn’t give up and return home, however. They had come much too far to give up now. They trusted that something was happening. Now they just had to figure out what that was because it clearly was something outside their normal expectations.

What they finally found, however, was God “on the loose” in a manger --- an animal food trough. Born just like any other baby to a young woman and the older man who accompanied her. God made manifest…plainly visible and achingly vulnerable.

Who knows what went through their minds as they arrived at this most unlikely venue for royalty. Perhaps they were more adept than most of us at recognizing the ways in which God will choose to be at work in the world through sometimes very strange and unexpected circumstances.

Perhaps in this season of Epiphany, we might consider the lessons these ancient astrologers offer us: faithful and persistent searching for the “Aha!” moments where God is at work. Trusting that God is showing up even if it is outside of our expectations. Bearing the gift of ourselves to the most unlikely places where we find the most unexpected need.

How many times, do we pass by God at work in our world just because it doesn’t look like we expect it to look? Doesn’t sound like we expect God to sound? Doesn’t behave the way we expect a Deity to behave. Of course, it is not a big stretch to realize that it is our own ideas of God that shape what we see, hear and expect. 
What if we, like these Magi of so long ago, were to suspend our own limited expectations and look, instead, for the unimaginable mystery, astonishing wonder and unpredicted surprise? What would we find?

So, as we enter this new year, can you try on a new way of being in the world yourself? What star are you following with all its mystery and unknowns? Where is it leading you and can you open your heart to trust that spiritual mystery is sometimes swaddled in unfamiliar and unaccustomed wrappings?

God leaves no fingerprints nor provides any map. But his star leads us always as he waits for us to find him since he is always looking for us.

1. Stars. by Phantom-Seraph
2. Star of Wonder Star of Night by betsyillustration
3. The nativity scene Oil Painting  by rainwalker007
4. Epiphany by ex-astris1701
5. Sentinels of the Stars by FramedByNature

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Power of a Dime

 I have a dime sitting here on my desk right in front of me. 

It was given to me by my (almost) five year old granddaughter, Ava, with a solemnly sworn oath:

Ava: “Nonnie – here is a dime for you. I have one too. See.  Now whenever you see that dime, you think of me and whenever I see my dime, I’ll think of you. Okay? Put it in your pocket so you don’t lose it and I will put mine in my pocket.”

Me: “That is a wonderful idea.  I will put it in a special place and whenever I look at it, I will think of you and how much I love you.”

Ava:  “Yes. And whenever I look at my dime, I will think of you.”

I was so touched. Where did she come up with that wonderful way of remembering a loved one when far apart?

What an astonishingly delightful gift to the world a five year old can be. Young children see the world with such wonder and view so much as That is my favorite thing!” It is a gentle invitation to step outside of myself and let a bit of wonder and awe crawl into my own dimmer and tired spaces.

Interesting that this little unexpected encounter of love comes at such an intriguing time when my family is trying to make sense of the death of one of our own – my older sister, Joyce, who passed from this life to the next from acute leukemia on June 10. Life with Joyce has always been a bit of a challenge for all of us in one form or another and I have been pondering how I want to remember her.

I have been considering making a list of her blessings – for she did have them – they were just hard to appreciate consistently due to “other stuff” that always seemed to get in the way. 

But perhaps my little granddaughter has given me an idea. Whenever I see something that has a connection to Joyce – a calico pillow she made – an afghan that I use every day – a picture – a story – my longed-for relationship with her own children (my niece and two nephews and their own families)...whenever I encounter something like that, perhaps I can consider it Joyce’s “dime” and remember the blessings that were there somewhere but always a bit of a mystery to find and trust.

So, thank you, Ava, for thinking to pledge a relationship with me with this cherished wealth: my dime and yours. Who knew twenty cents could foster such riches. I will not forget.

By the way, dear Reader – as Ava & her family were leaving in their car, I was telling her Mom – my daughter, Jody, about this little encounter. Ava piped up from the backseat: “Don’t lose it, Nonnie.  I need it back so I can give it to my Daddy.”  

I asked her if she would like to take it back with her right then and give it to her Daddy. She replied: “No! WHEN I COME BAAAACCCKKK I’ll get it from you and give it to my Daddy. When I come back! 

So – that’s good news that she clearly wants to come back and can think that far ahead to know I will honor her trust and not forget. And if she actually does remember to collect the dime back, I will replace it with another of my own. Some icons are too important to be forgotten or misplaced.

In the meantime, I have a little dime on my desk that is the treasure of my heart and shines a light about investments in the future from which we can all learn.

 Photo credits:
1. I have money... by ~Mephiles99
2. money tree   by ~xXceinwenXx
3. Money  by ~LAStillLife
4. Money.  by ~heartpolkadotts