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My Spirituality – for the Birds!

[caption id="attachment_1850" align="alignright" width="200"]Blog by Associate Lucy Strohl, OPA Blog by Associate Lucy Strohl, OPA[/caption] You might as well know it -  my spirituality is for the birds! Actually, it's about what the birds and other creatures of God teach me. Since I'm a Kansas farmer's daughter, fields, trees, birds, and seasons speak loudly to me. God's Spirit breathes in the wind, with storm or calm. God's messengers are many. Who might join me in my backyard sacred space? The other day many doves, a couple squirrels, and lots of sparrows congregated. In the background the chorus of crickets was providing the prelude to my prayer. In reality, it's more like they let me join them. Every day is different! The sparrow reminds me to be myself - to sing my soul's own song and not worry about being fancier or better. The sparrows and doves often bicker among themselves. It's a relief to know their melodies aren't perfect, either. The cricket's tune seems to never end. It's my cue to stay grounded in the here and now. At other times it's like all the birds hear the same request from among the branches: Be still! There's no fluttering or chatter, just quiet. Then I remember that it's good and necessary for me and them to just sit and rest in God. The squirrels are too much in a hurry, like me sometimes. And then I recall it's important to prepare for what's ahead like them. I want to gather wisdom, a deeper trust for today and hope for the future. It doesn't take long, and a little rabbit joins me from his pampas grass hideout. The gift of the rabbit is to not be afraid. I need to hear that, too. The squirrels and rabbit are so playful. If I listen more, I know they are inviting me to lighten up, to not take myself so seriously. I'm especially grateful for the lament of the mourning doves. They help me to grieve and let go, to honor the people and happenings that have shaped me, along with my own inner sacred grounds. The dove evokes the Spirit within, calling me to care for myself and others gently and wisely. Because of her maternal qualities, the dove is also known as a symbol for our Blessed Mother, Mary, whose name we honor today. I certainly need her intercession through the changing seasons of my heart. When I'm with my friends in nature I recall the stories of scripture and those I meet there. Today we encounter Jewish elders, friends of the centurion and his slave. I sit with them for a while and questions arise. The centurion is an outsider. How accepting am I of those different from me? What corner of my heart do I still think is outside God's mercy? The elders strongly urge Jesus to come. Have I spoken up for someone, when it would have been easier to be silent? The centurion is a person of deep humility and faith. Am I able to be humble and admit I don't need to be in control today? The slave was valuable to the centurion. It's important to note here that valuable means "precious," not needed just because of what he could accomplish. Do I see myself as precious, beloved in God's eyes, no matter what jobs I can do or am no longer able to do? And I also ask myself, how have I experienced the healing mercy of God? No matter where the gospel figures lead me in my prayer, the doves bring me home again. It almost looks like they weave ribbons in the air, as they come and go. The trees and flowers seem to bow in gratitude. How I need the old tree's rootedness in God and in God's good earth! Then an oriole swoops in front of me, orange and full of joy, like the sun. My feathered preacher friends continue to chime in. Today is another day I can't help but say "Thank You" to God, to Mother Earth, and to my many prayer companions! No wonder our Dominican brother Meister Eckhart says "every creature is a book about God!"

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