It has been a summer touched by St. Francis, St. Joseph, and St. Ignatius. Their lives still live in God’s people today including in me. A stray puppy became a part of my husband and I’s life one week in August before finding the perfect family to adopt him. After several weeks of packing, donating, moving, repairing, scrubbing, and just plain hard work, we finally put my mother’s villa on the market with the St. Joseph statue buried in the yard. Several willing buyers offered contracts more than what we asked for within 24 hours of being on the market. The closing is in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, Dean and I have some major household upgrades. We replaced a furnace well over 20 years old, a roof maybe as old, and gutters failing their job even when removing leaves and debris on several occasions this spring and summer. We have had plenty of rain even over the summer. One wall was showing some leakage during a storm prior to the roof and gutters being replaced, so some plaster work will be next. St. Joseph intercedes while God oversees the details.
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.” ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola
I awoke one day singing from my heart the spiritual song, Take, Lord, Receive. I sang all day long, beginning with my shower and while I worked around the house that day. This song is based on the quote above from St. Ignatius, co-founder of the Jesuit teachings and Spiritual Exercises. I knew I was singing this for someone else besides me. A phone call from one of the kids revealed who. But the words welled up in my heart for myself, too. A yielding I need right now. A yielding of my own heart matters. Worry about things I cannot control, anxiety about the future of those I love, and my lack of understanding for some of God’s people placed in my life. Take, Lord, receive. My liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will. All I have and call my own … To You, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours. Do with it what You will. Please Lord, give me only Your love and Your grace, that is enough for me. Amen.”
Messages are uttered in so many ways. Bold statements blurted out from the too familiar, boisterous co-worker, stranger on the street, billboard, or TV commercial. The grandchild that pops a question of “aha” magnitude. The Sunday sermon from the pastor or the simple architecture of a chapel set in the woods. The faithful spouse who knows your every fault, but loves you all heart and soul anyway. The quiet utterance of a sunset or springtime walk into fresh sprouts of greens and purples in the woods. The songbird singing his lovely tune to the world. Oh, the shout of that big Texas moon on a spring night! The stone structure or tree still standing despite time and weather. Messages are all around us everyday. Are you listening?
I prepare myself this Advent season, Christ’s coming. I quiet my soul this morning. Reading in my daily inspirational book which I neglected a couple of days this past week, “All of man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone,” written by 17th- century philosopher Blaise Pascal. I don’t want to be miserable. Do you? “Silence is God’s first language,” the 16th-century mystic John of the Cross wrote.
“Adventus” is the Latin word that the more modern word “advent” comes from, which means “arrival”. When someone arrives at your house or the office, you usually straighten things up and prepare some details like a meal or documents for your guest to partake or take with them. So we try to be accommodating, showing hospitality to our guests. The Latin meaning for hospitality is “host”. Most essentially, it refers to the relationship between the host and guest.
What can I, the host give Jesus, my guest this Advent season? My heart. Jesus just simply wants my heart. And yours. He wants to take residence in my heart and yours. Jesus wants a relationship with you. Open your heart to Jesus, our Messiah, the Lamb of God, the King of Glory. Welcome Him. Silence first. Pray to Him, tell Him your heart. Your sins, worries, fears, tears, sorrows, praises, joys, and dreams. “Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:7. He is listening, He cares, He comforts, and He answers with His love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you.” ~ Jeremiah 31:3
Do you wonder where God is in all the fear and destruction that one virus has brought to this world, and why? I cannot answer the question “why”. But I can look around and count God’s blessings in every moment of my day and night. God is among us. The rocky wall is covered with moss overflowing. This green velvet foliage is not bound by a rock’s edge. This reminds me of our Father who gives in overflowing measure. The egg carton is filled with farm fresh eggs, and more to come. My empty egg cartons supply an urban chicken farmer with much needed containers, who supplies me and a few more families with a dozen fresh farm eggs this spring morning. Give, and you shall receive. The sky is on fire flaming its gold and amber into pink and purple haze. This can only be God’s handiwork, His masterpiece. Commune with Him. This is an opportunity worth taking. Believe me. “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him, and He will respond to us as surely as the coming of dawn or the rain of early spring.” ~ Hosea 6:3.
What kind of fabric clothes you? Is it rich with color? A neutral tone? Plush with softness or textured? Paisley print, plaid, floral print, solid pastel, or solitary bold? Does the fabric have a fresh, clean smell of spring, or of warmth like winter wool? Sometimes the fabrics of our lives pick up the stench of offensive stuff, like the burnt smell of overcooked popcorn or a dog rolling on a dead animal. BTW: why do dogs do that? Life brings rotten circumstances that cause us to stop in our tracks and ask “why me?”. Your emotions and anger seem out-of-control. Or life leaves us depressed enough not to know what to ask or say. Just a lump of dry meat stuck in your throat that won’t go down or you cannot throw it up.
I say pick up a pen, pencil, paint brush, chalk, glue stick, or vase. And get at least one word written on a journal page. Or that one paint color of choice brushed on the canvas. Or that one embellishment glued on your choice of media for a collage. Or that solitary flower added to the vessel of choice. You do not have to have the whole story together, just one word. You do not have to have a landscape or portrait finished. That collage comes together bit by bit as you find another medium to add for expression of your feelings. The flower vase may be a simply perfect vignette for the eyes with just that one flower you put in it. Create from your gut. I suppose they call this art therapy. I call it survival with color. Allow the mind to be freed and body feel it down to the bone as you empty yourself. You may not know all the answers, but your feelings come out in a healthy way and adds color and texture to the fabrics of your life. Art is another God-given tool as a woman warrior.
I have been making “liquid gold” for many years. Nowadays they call it “bone broth”. According to online resources “bone broth” was used in ancient Chinese medicine to improve connective tissues, kidney function, and immunity. I simply roast a whole chicken, turkey breast, or a bone-in beef or pork roast in the slow-cooker on low heat for 10 – 12 hours. Adding a fermented liquid such as wine, beer, kombucha, or vinegar in water helps bring out the bone marrow and collagen from the bones into the simmering liquid in the slow-cooker. Liquid gold. Good for my physical health. That liquid gold is the base for delicious soups and sauces.
My oldest daughter, Rachel received another type of liquid gold this week. After many years of prayers, tears, and seeking answers from the conventional medical field. Her name came up finally after a couple of years on the wait list for a California clinic that uses alternative medical treatments for her disabling conditions. Rachel is challenged with degenerative disc disease and adhesive arachnoiditis. She lives in pain constantly. This past year, Rachel has had physicians tell her “there is nothing I can do for you”. Faith and hope has been her strength . Those moments when she lost hope she had friends and family still believing. Faith has sustained her. Our God sustains Rachel. An out-of-state trip orchestrated by God Himself unfolded before our eyes, giving hearts melted, funds gathered, plane tickets ordered, and an appointed physician who prays for each of her patients. Today the neighborhood church bells ring at this noon hour, an angelic sound reminds me of our God’s faithfulness. Angels continue to watch over my Rachel.
Introverts contemplate, in quietness and solitude they create and conclude. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking gives an eloquent Ted Talk on this subject. Go to https://www.quietrev.com/ted-talk/. She ends this speech for both the introvert and extrovert with “I wish you the courage to speak softly”. For myself, and many of my loved ones who are introverts, this is for you, too. The photo is my oldest granddaughter in quiet thought near the river a couple of years back. Now in her junior year with home schooling (not a senior like I wrote a few days ago). Hannah makes time for solitude, reads, writes, draws, and is creative. Introvert as it is, she or I do not need a group to follow or hang with.
As an introvert do you ever wonder whether speaking up is worth it? Arguing never gets far, but even saying a word or two seems to cause trouble. “Silence is an answer too” has some truth. But silence for too long can be misunderstood, leaves too much room for incorrect conclusions. “I will watch my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth. Mute and silent before the wicked, I refrain from good things. But my sorrow increases; my heart smolders within me. In my sighing a fire blazes up, and I break into speech,” David, the psalmist writes in Psalms 39: 2 – 4. Silence is broken, passion rises up to spoken words. For others it is the written word or an art piece.
SI’LENCE, n. L. silentium, from sileo, to be still.
1. In a general sense, stillness, or entire absence of sound or noise; as the silence of midnight.
2. In animals, the state of holding the peace; forbearance of speech in man, or of noise in other animals. I was dumb with silence; I held my peace, even from good. Ps 39.
3. Habitual taciturnity; opposed to loquacity.
4. Secrecy. These things were transacted in silence.
5. Stillness; calmness; quiet; cessation of rage, agitation or tumult; as the elements reduced to silence.
6. Absence of mention; oblivion, Eternal silence be their doom. And what most merits fame, in silence hid.
7. Silence, in used elliptically for let there be silence, an injunction to keep silence.
SI’LENCE, v. t.
1. To oblige to hold the peace; to restrain from noise or speaking.
2. To still; to quiet; to restrain; to appease. This would silence all further opposition. These would have silenced their scruples.
3. To stop; as, to silence complaints or clamor.
4. To still; to cause to cease firing; as, to silence guns or a battery.
5. To restrain from preaching by revoking a license to preach; as, to silence a minister of the gospel. The Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Chelmsford in Essex, was silenced for non-conformity.
6. To put an end to; to cause to cease. The question between agriculture and commerce has received a decision which has silenced the rivalships between them.
What words need to go unsaid? When does the silence need to be broken? Will I take up the courage to say it softly? Will you take up the courage to say it softly? What words do you need to share with your world in 2019?