LIFE IN UNEXPECTED PLACES

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

This morning as I stepped outside our backdoor to share some seeds with the birds, I was surprised by what I saw! Colorful life in an unexpected place.

Last fall, Cathy Arnold, OP had planted countless jonquil and tulip bulbs in our front garden, and we were anticipating a colorful outlay of yellows, reds, whites, etc. come spring. But when the tree fell on our house in early March, the clean-up and repair necessitated the entire garden and sidewalks be dug up to replace broken pipes.

Cathy had asked if the men could save any bulbs they came across in their digging if it wasn’t too much trouble. They pleasantly obliged, and placed what they found in a white bucket for later replanting.

So this morning, the sight of two bright jonquils and an unopened yellow bud rising out of the bucket of tossed together bulbs, caught my eye and took my breath away! A precious moment to simply pause, savor, and feel praise, joy, and gratitude well up in me, as I contemplated colorful life in this unexpected place.

Last Friday in the Akron Beacon Journal, a commentary Congress achieves something big caught my eye–much like seeing life in an unexpected place. I guess I had pretty much given up on anything good or life-giving for the common good coming from our deadlocked bipartisan congress, so I read on and was happily surprised.

Marc A. Thiessen wrote:

Many Americans despair that Republicans and Democrats seem incapable of coming together to do anything important.

Take heart–the two parties just did do something big together. Wednesday, (4.11) President Trump signed into law the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. A bill designed to crack down on websites that knowingly facilitate the online sex trafficking of vulnerable persons, including underage boys and girls.

And the FBI, informed by evidence collected during a nearly two-year bipartisan investigation by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, just seized the website Backpage.com—which the Center for Missing and Exploited Children says is responsible for 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives each year—and arrested seven of its top executives.

Hurray! Life continues to show up in unexpected places!

This Easter Season is especially dedicated to celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus. And the many stories of Mary Magdalene and the apostles meeting or discovering Christ and New Life among and within them—prepare our hearts to seek and find God in unexpected ways and places.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” How and where have you discovered LIFE in ways/places you didn’t expect?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Love is Worth Emulating

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Fifty years ago today, one of the most influential figures of the 20th century – the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — was memorialized and buried.

During a private funeral service (at the request of his widow, Coretta Scott King) his “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon — a prescient reflection on his own funeral — was played on a tape recorder.

The sermon had been delivered two months earlier by Rev. King at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (where the private service was held) .In it, Rev. King verbalized the fact that many people want to be important and aspire for recognition and to be first.

He called the aspiration “the drum major instinct” and proposed a different way to channel that ambition – through a life of service.

Rev. King (perhaps prophetically) concluded his sermon by sharing what he would like to be said about him at his own funeral:

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long. And every now and then I wonder what I want them to say. Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize— that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards—that’s not important. Tell them not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.

I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question.

I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.

And I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.

I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison.

I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.”

Amen!

As we commemorate and celebrate the legacy of Rev. King, fifty years after his death, may we never forget to honor him daily by practicing the same radical love that he embraced and shared with others.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

THE PROMISE AND THE FULFILLMENT

Blog by Associate Carol Lemelin, OPA

I love Gospel Music.  The songs are so down to earth and so joyously in love with God that they lift your heart and your spirit.  My favorite is one called Can He, Could He, Would He?  This is the first line:

Can he save me, Could he love me, Would he take me, Did he really?

On Easter Sunday Jesus saved us, He showed his love for us, He took us to his heart. He really, really did.

It’s difficult to find the words that express what Easter really means to us believing Christians. What it doesn’t mean is the Easter Bunny. Sorry.

The life of Jesus has been called The Greatest Story Ever Told and it surely is that. At the moment he set foot on the banks of the Jordan to be baptized, the drama began to unfold.

He wrestled with the temptation to use the power he had to fix everything in one fell swoop, but he couldn’t. That was not the plan.

He chose his disciples the way Samuel chose David; he trusted that God would reveal them to him. Just like we do when trying to make a big decision.

The healing miracles took a lot out of him. They required total, absolute trust in God, no hesitation and no fear. He must have known disappointment when so many came for that and only that, caring nothing for his message.

The anger and resentment of the official leaders of the people resulted in one confrontation after another, each one adding to the pile of so-called evidence against him. He was fully aware of the dangers, but he persevered.

Flaunting all the rules that bound his people and gathering to himself those who had felt worthless, were the paving stones on the road to his death.

Still, he kept on.

Finally, he told people that unless they ate his body and drank his blood they could not have life. That was the last straw. Then at the Last Supper he explained what he meant when he raised the bread and wine. That is our legacy.

Then came the arrest, the beatings, the hypocrisy and betrayal of the crowd, which probably was the worst part. His death was as if the sun itself was dying. All the reason for hope was bleeding to death on a cross.

Those feelings are not unfamiliar to most of us. That is what makes Easter Sunday what it is: the resurrection of Hope and Faith and unceasing Love.

This story is so powerful it overshadows everything else and for many it is frightening. It seems to demand something from us, something we aren’t  willing to give. That is too much.

But celebrating Christ in the Easter mystery transforms all who will not diminish or limit Easter to the Easter Bunny and colored eggs.

As the second line of the song says: Yes, He can, He could, He would and He did!

[Click here to listen to this song on YouTube.]

Happy Easter

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Purpose, Passion and Moving Forward

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose lately.

Here’s the thing: I am at a place in my life where I believe my ministry is allowing me to follow my passions while living out my purpose – to make a positive difference in the world by impacting others through service. But I still find myself wondering if there is a way to live out a deeper expression of my purpose.

My contemplation has reminded me that I have spent years going through a process of discovery to find and understand my purpose – the deep reason for my existence.

It has reminded me that my purpose has been expressed differently over the years — sometimes depending on what I was doing to at the time; sometimes depending on whom I was serving at the time; sometimes depending on what was needed at the time, etc.

It has reminded me that some of my passions have evolved, shifted or changed over the years.

It has reminded me that I have one purpose, but many passions.

It has reminded me not to confuse my passions with my purpose.

I believe that passion and purpose go hand-in-hand and that the ideal is to follow my passions while living out my purpose. I also believe that it is important to understand that passion fuels and energizes, while purpose is the meaning behind it all.

During the process of my reflection, I began to discover that my pondering was triggered by the need to know that I am fulfilling my purpose and, perhaps more importantly, the need to know that the expression of my purpose is not lessening.

In my estimation, it is not enough to find your purpose. You must be committed to growing it and sharing it with the world.

Our lives truly become more meaningful through the impact we make on others.

As we grow our purpose, it is important not to lose sight of the need to inspire the passions of others and the need to encourage others to discover and live out their life’s purpose.

We each have a purpose to fulfill in life. Living purposefully inevitably generates happiness.

Even when we are in a place where purpose and passion connect, it is important to embrace the ongoing process of self-clarity and purpose. It is through the process that we discover what pushes us forward.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

The Coming of New Life

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Amazing! The March 1 storm had sent two heavy branches crashing down on our house causing extensive damage. Already the next day, when Sr. Barbara and I returned home after supper, we were surprised to see the place cleaned up—the fallen branches and a close-by live pine tree were reduced to a pile of sawdust, the pierced window boarded up, and protective plastic covered broken places where persistent rain might leak into the house.

The insurance adjusters along with our maintenance men thoroughly assessed the damage both exterior and interior. A few days later they presented us with a plan to repair and restore the house to its former glory or make it even better. Several improvements are planned: better drainage to prevent basement water seepage, new landscaping including adding some colorful trees, a redesigned front porch, the removal of old wiring or hiding them in encasing before re-siding and painting both interior and exterior as needed. It will be like a ‘resurrection’ and new life! But that won’t happen overnight…

Life, death, resurrection. It is a recurring pattern in nature. We can see it everywhere—after every destructive storm, in the coming of Spring, in live seeds and bulbs dying to burst forth in colorful new life, plus countless other ways.

As we have witnessed after the many wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquake disasters in the US, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other places, we know the “resurrection” does not always happen within a week!  Restoration to a former state may not come at all, but new life does surely come; and often its only when looking back that we can see it best.

Next week is Hoy Week, when Christians around the world will be focusing on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ and Savior. We reverence the retelling of how the Son of God willingly let himself and his precious life be ‘handed over’ into the hands of others. He accepted death by crucifixion, and as he promised, rose to new life.  His going before us through this living mystery encourages us not to lose faith as we each undergo our own daily dyings and risings to new life. May we take heart when our ‘resurrections’ are long in coming.

Posted in Associate Blog, News