Wednesday’s Word

Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.


 

Millions of Small Things

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Jesus describes the kingdom of God in a number of ways. It is: like a mustard seed that grows into a tree, like seeds scattered in a field, like children playing in the square, like yeast in dough, like fine pearls, like a treasure hidden in a field, like a fishing net. All small things.

It struck me that the ways of God are made visible in these and so many other small things. Small stories about people who see, in the circumstances of life, that God is an active player.  Small symbols of God’s generous and compassionate heart are revealed. Small things, a million small things, in which the Divine breaks through our earthly plane. Kindness happens because someone was thoughtful enough to see the needs of another person. Healing comes, sorrows end, new life appears. The poor are fed and the humble are raised up.

Thanksgiving Day is like the kingdom of God too. It is a national feast of small things. A table setting, a few hours with family and friends, favorite foods like turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, cole slaw, stuffing, cranberries, corn, and peas, and lots of pie. Getting out the good dishes. Fine wine, conversation, and football. What small things would you include?  Yes, Thanksgiving Day is like the kingdom of God, a feast of small things.

Our world is full of really big things…war, poverty, strife and division, fear and hostility. Millions of small things make visible the kingdom of God. Thanksgiving Day is like a thousand points of light, a million acts of kindness, and countless moments of grace. This Thanksgiving Day, let the big things go for a day, have a healing conversation about the small things that make God visible to you, talk with one another about what brings you joy, what gives you pleasure. Appreciate one another and enjoy the kingdom of God.

Hope is found in small things, a million small things can pierce the darkness. A million small things bring about the Kingdom of God.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, everyone.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Autumn Leaves, the Rich Mash, Layering Grace, and the Paschal Mystery

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Fall is late this year in Northern Ohio. From my reading chair I look out on three layers of color. The closest tree is still mostly green, and through its branches trees in golds and yellows, and beyond them, the visual prize, that glorious orange-pink-flame that even on this wet day, glows from the maples, and below them the long wine hedge of burning bush. I’m grateful, and praise the Creator for the color that stays and plays late against the inevitable gray November sky.  I remember a little rhyme I made up as a child: “Fall is here/ I cannot cheer,” knowing then, as now, that soon all the trees would be bare except the sullen oaks, who would hold stubbornly to their brown leaves well into the winter. What was there to do but grab these brief bursts of joy, and collect our favorites and noisily shuffle through them on the sidewalks and jump in the mounds someone recently raked?

By our porch, the tomato plants won’t quit, vines still sprouting little green orbs that will not have time to redden into those wonderful pops of sweetness, and I’m loathe to disabuse them of their hopes—or mine—by tearing them down. But someday soon I will, and also uproot the zinnias and cosmos that soldier raggedly on as the chill increases, consoling myself with the wisdom that returning to the earth enriches next year’s blooming.

Mary Oliver in Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness* puts it so well: “the world descends into a rich mash…” and her poem continues with the yearly lesson: “knowing as we must, how the vivacity of what was is married/ to the vitality of what will be?”  What a strikingly succinct way to describe the layers of the earthly-heavenly-human-divine ever-cycling mystery of dying and rising.

I sense an invitation to stir reflectively my own “rich mash” of living, those seasons  of joy and pain, certainty and doubt, loss and gain, sin and forgiveness, a sort of archeology of life’s mystery. I’m led beyond the layers of my own life in this time, and pulled to the deeper, vaster, layers of God’s creation opened for us by scientists, peering outward and backward to picture the processes of space-time far beyond us; peering inward to trace the almost invisible workings of a  universe within us, a billion particles that work wonders within to make me “Me” and that form us and all of creation.

All that Rich Mash, marinating and vivifying in the love of the Creator–all of this living and dying and giving back again we share with the cosmos and our mothering earth and ancestors in family and faith, and our particular Dominican life down the centuries. O Layering Grace.

Now, watching the bright trees shouting praise, even as their leaves fall, I wonder. What will our lives tell of the presence of God and the Word made flesh and the ever-erupting Paschal Mystery? What will be our Holy Preaching? How will we, tomorrow’s Rich Mash, witness today to the mystery of the vivacity and vitality of the Gospel life?

*From the collection A Thousand Mornings

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

TAKE OFF YOUR MASK!

Blog by Sr. Barbara Kane, OP

Trick or treat!!!  Do you remember getting dressed up so no one would recognize you and going from house to house, ringing doorbells and yelling, “Trick or Treat?”  We had such fun being someone or something else.  If you attended Catholic school, the day after Halloween was all Saints Day and you dressed up as your favorite saint.

What is it about Saints that attract us?  Certainly they are holy.  In fact, the definition of Saint is a person of remarkable holiness who lived a life of heroic virtue. But, there is another quality that is appealing – authenticity.  We are drawn to people who live authentic lives.  They are what they seem… what we see is what we get.  What does authentic look like?  It looks like trees.  They are totally authentic.  Bursting with leaves in the spring, letting them go in the fall.  A tree would never think “I’m going to keep these leave in the winter.  I look so much better covered!”  All of nature is authentic.

Only people are guilty of being unauthentic.  On Halloween, we celebrate a day of being someone else – a witch or superhero, a bumble bee or black cat.  We become someone else just for a minute to get something usually yummy candy. Isn’t that how we live much of our lives? We put on a mask to be someone we’re not, to get ahead, to impress others.  But, that makes us someone we’re not.  We lose our authenticity.

We don’t need a mask to get God’s attention.  God loves us exactly how we were created – created in God’s own image.  Your authentic, much loved, image of God self is so much greater than your masked self. Why not take off our masks and lift our faces up to the SON and be renewed.  So often, we focus on externals forgetting what makes us beautiful to the only one that really counts – God.  That brings us full circle to those Saints that we celebrate today… men and women who have taken off their masks.  Why don’t we join them?

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

A Bridge Over Troubled Water

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

It is harder than I thought to work with the poor and disenfranchised. They have very little confidence in any system or institution and we, in our ministry with them, have to get things done through those very same systems and institutions.

When we have to report back to the folks and say that we have not found the right person to help us or were on hold for an hour before being told that some form or other still had to be filled out, and the person knows he/she completed it and mailed it in, the person just smiles and says, no problem; they pretty much figured that would happen. They just accept that the system hardly ever works for them.

Sometimes we pull out the “Sister” card when we have to deal with the system, and sometimes that merits a somewhat different response, but in the long run, a day of waiting in line, online or on the phone is the usual plan.

Being poor and voiceless usually leads to more anger, more sadness, more depression, more anxiety  and less hope, less health, less peace.

But you know what these folks do say they have? Faith. Faith in all things human, not so much; but faith in the one who made them, ALL THE TIME!  In response to “How are you today?” the answer might be “I am blessed” or “Every day above the ground is a good day.”. Most of us, would answer, “ I’m OK” or  “Not so bad”. Faith is their bridge over the troubled waters they may experience. Go visit a Baptist church service some Sunday morning and see if you do not leave feeling like a very blessed sinner who has the immense power to change every day.

I know we have all experienced hard times on some level, but to live that way every day is hard to imagine. To work with the poor is to learn a lot about  Faith and to grow stronger because of it.

 

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word

Thank God for Guardian Angels

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

On October 2, the Church celebrates the feast of Guardian Angels.  In almost every faith tradition, people seek inspiration from the legions of unnamed, unknown Guardian Angels.

We all need angels, guardians, guides, protectors, messengers of good news, angels who bring us words of compassion and solace. I think of all the first responders, emergency room personnel, disaster relief workers, who showed up in Las Vegas on October 1st to attend to the massive assassination of innocent people. Those who are still responding to needs in Houston, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.

Too often these days, people need this kind of angel. Think of all the angels who show up when we really need them. In the midst of the horror in Las Vegas, the feast of the Guardian Angels brought back wonderful memories for me of childhood and the prayer:

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. Amen.

Angel of God, my guardian dear  Who are the angels of God for you?  Who guards you?
Who protects you from over-reacting, from over-work? Who keeps you from taking yourself too seriously?  Who invites you into your own center and who returns you to the source of God within you?   Angels of God, your friends, who (thank God) do not see you as the leader of the free world.  A guardian angel is someone who shares a meal with you, enjoys a walk on the beach with you, and goes to the movies with you.

Guardian Angels send you secret messages of encouragement, share a private joke, offer a pat on the back, give a quick massage, recall a special memory, recommend the perfect book, share a secret dream, and know your favorite food.  Guardian angels leave the light on for you when you come home at night, they look at you knowing you do not have the answers and it’s alright.

Angel of God my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here…
Commits me HERE to live in this time and this place.  Commits me HERE to see all of my sisters and brothers as children of God.  Commits me to live in the knowledge that it does not all depend on me.  Commits me to get up every morning and see the day as blessing, to see the work ahead as privilege and gift.

Ever this day BE at my side…  Be at my side when I need to say the hard thing. Be at my side when I have no idea what to say. Be at my side as anxiety grips the soul of a person in trouble and I have no words to calm her heart. Ever this day, be at my side when I realize that the person who just interrupted me is the reason why I am here and he or she is the source of God’s grace for me today.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here. Ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard… To light the path that has been set before me, to guard me from the fear of diminishing resources. To lighten my heart and drink the wine of music and beauty and awe at the wonder of the stars. To guard me from myself.

To rule and guide… to rule and guide my desire for quick solutions and impatience with processes beyond my control.

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide. AMEN.

Today we thank God for the angels among us.

Posted in News, Wednesday's Word