Loving One Another

Archive for April, 2013

La Dolce Far Niente


I have a new internet friend! I discovered her blog today… and fell in love with her and Italy in one reading! You can find her and travel  with her through the magical land of “La Dolce Far Niente” at  http://afriendoftheking.blogspot.com     Her name is Leslie Suzanne.  Her subtitle is Unlocking barriers and opening doors…  She and her daughter are living for a few months on a horse farm in Italy – immersed in the language and the culture. As bloggers you will appreciate the way she began her entry last Sunday:

“Language is a key that unlocks barriers…
such simple, yet powerful things…
words…”
As a second generation American whose paternal grandparents immigrated from Italy, and as a retired educator who spent many years jumping up at the crack of dawn and running from one deadline to the next, I appreciate her love of the Italian culture. She wrote, “The Italians have a saying:  La dolce far niente… The sweetness of doing nothing.” Then she challenged us to try it. She postured, ” It is almost impossible.  At least at first. For an American.”
My guess is that it’s not IMPOSSIBLE – not even at first – to “do nothing” – but the hard part is to “enJOY the sweetness” of it. We learn that BUSY is BETTER. Productivity is what life is all about. “What did you DO today?” my husband asks when he comes back from a day of fishing (that’s where he is with three of his buddies today). Even if it is recreational, it is DOING. And, by the looks of it, and the words that come out of his mouth when he is trying to tie flies or clean and prepare his fishing lines, it certainly is not relaxing! It’s all “catch and release” around here, so he never brings fish home. But, he certainly finds sweetness in the catching, the fight, the beauty, the release so he can come back and hook that same fish tomorrow – or leave him for the next fisherman to marvel!
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Leslie, my new Friend of the King wrote, “Living here in Italy, I have been practicing.  I mean really Practicing.  It’s an art… To stop being preoccupied. To not be driven by the tyranny of the next thing.  To actually be in the moment…..”
My fisherman husband knows about the moment. You only have a moment to enjoy that beautiful fish – and then you better get him back in the water! Be in the moment! Snap a picture, kiss the fish good-bye, and slip him back into the water. The moment is gone. Now, live in the next one! Yes, be present.
Moments in time. Precious presents! Don’t crowd them.  La Dolce Far Niente!!

What’s in Gray?


So much is being written and spoken about the Boston bombings and the brothers – some say they are sick and disturbed; others say kind and compassionate. Some say cruel, out-of-their-minds, while others attest to their normalcy, their friendliness. Their uncle called them “losers” but went on to define them as simply “lost” young men – who never really learned to “fit in”  after they immigrated to the USA. He saw something objectionable years ago… and distanced himself and his family from them. Whatever adjectives we use to describe them, we know this for sure: they committed those heinous crimes. So much hate is emitted from them – toward them – so much evil.

Our Writers’ Group met last Friday. We meet every first and third Friday each month. We begin our time together with a “Free Write” – fifteen minutes of writing – on a random topic, a subject pulled out of a hat. Then we share with one another what we have written.

Last Friday the random topic was a strange one: “What’s in Gray?”  I thought about it a long time. Then, this is what I wrote:

“What’s in Gray?”

Gray is black and white –
But gray is neither.
Gray is right or wrong.
Can it be either?

Gray is “Not Been Tested,”
– like stretchin’ out the law.
Gray is on the tip
Of a red tail hawk’s claw.

Gray is often in
The color of the hair
On an older person’s head –
Wise enough to leave it there.

Gray is in the tolerance
Of seeing the multiple views
On NBC, FOX, and CNN,
When watching ugly news.

Some only see the black;
Others screen in simply white.
But life is seldom pure,
So in the gray may be some light.

Lighten up the darkness
With the white of joy and peace.
Entertain some gray, friends.
In it, you’ll find release.

– Jan Beekman
– April 19, 2013

I’ve given a lot of thought to the “captivity of extremes.” That’s where the word “release” comes from. For me, all terrorists are victims of EXTREME. They are captured by extreme thinking. They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed or they have become mentally ill. They cannot let the white of joy or peace into their lives. Life is bleak and black for them. Bombings, killings, suicides, wars of all nature are the result of people whose thinking has become so skewed to the extreme that they have failed to see humanity, to feel love in its pure form, to allow any movement away from the corner they’ve painted for themselves. Gray is not a part of their mental capacity and logic is lost. There is no point in trying to REASON why they act as they do. Reason is gone – buried in the extreme – lost is the black bleakness of their terror. For these Captives of Extreme, death and destruction is the only option. They have become incapable of letting the light – the enlightenment – find a way into their miserable world. Can this be changed? Is there hope for the hopeless? Only God knows.

What a bleak week this has been!

A Bleak Week


I wrote this and it sat in my “draft folder.” I don’t know why. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be posted in the midst of the turmoil, but as a reminder now – to keep on praying. It’s not over for those caught in the middle of it! It’s only begun for some.

A Bleak Week unfolded.
Depressing and dreary to be sure.
Horrifying, frighteningly hair-raising.
Heart-breaking and sobering,
Defying explanation.
Beyond comprehension.
Bombings in Boston,


Explosions in Texas,


Senseless killings,


Needless deaths,


Water overflowing banks – Flooding,


Earthquake in China,
More than a million people affected.


A bleak week indeed
– and the misery continues.
Tragedy upon tragedy.

My heart weeps.
God is crying with us all.
He gave us free will; He didn’t want puppets.
But, oh my, how it must break God’s heart
To see the devastation.
Innocent bystanders mowed down.
Innocent bystanders stepped up.
The air was electric.
The energy, enthusiasm, and love
Were palpable as desperate victims
Gratefully accepted whatever help
Good Samaritans could offer.
Life-saving operations,
Belts and shirts torn off – used as tourniquets,
Bravery only God knows.


Blue Sky turned gray
With ash too thick for tears
To wash it away.
Tears mingle with Texas fertilizer.
Tears increase rains in Illinois and Iowa.
Gray water, gray skies, gray days.


Gray tombstones.
A Bleak Week.

Bravery continues.

Continue to pray.
There is so much hurting out there!

Begin Anew


It is finished, the finale, the end –
The point of it all is through.
When all is said and done,
We’ll see clearly – when we begin anew.

The end will arrive at last,
But life is not finished there.
God’s purpose is not a finality here.
He sent His Son for life everywhere.

He brought life to an empty world.
He brought love to a world of hate.
He promised us love for eternity.
The point of this world is in debate.

Some think this world is all there is.
We are born, we live, and we die.
When all is said and done,
We are buried and there we lie.

We live on this earth – a botched creation.
God didn’t intend all this hate and crime.
Injustice, cruelty and pain aren’t  God’s plan.
He sent Jesus to show us a loving time.

Easter is a prelude to God’s Kingdom promise.
We celebrate the Victory of God’s Lamb.
When my life is finished – at the finale, the end,
May the Lamb carry me on the promise of who I am.

I am not a top-of-the-class Christian.
I’m a sinner forgiven by grace.
There is no hope for this botched life,
Except by God’s Plan – I’ll see God face-to-face.

When all is said and done,
We’ll see clearly when we begin anew.
Plan for that Grand Finale, my friends.
When all’s said and done, I’ll see you!

Amen?

 

Beautiful Listening


My devotional time this morning focused on Psalm 16:8 “I will keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him on my right hand, I will not be shaken.” It was an appropriate scripture for the day after I kept my eyes closed for what was actually only a little more than a half an hour, but in some ways seemed like triple that time. I was squished inside an MRI machine. Have you ever had to go inside one of those tubes and bear the clings and clangs and knocks and noises of whistles and whines? No fun! Some MRI machines come with a musical experience… headphones and your favorite CD or radio station. This one didn’t, so I provided my own! With my eyes closed (who needs to see the inside of a claustrophobic tube?), I kept my eyes on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I was not shaken. I sang my favorite hymns, cowboy songs, old R & B favorites. I hummed and smiled, and the tiny space I occupied didn’t seem confining at all.

Where do you focus your attention when you are in a difficult situation? When you’re in a tight spot, do you pay attention to the walls that are closing in on you, or can you tune in to your inner music and allow what is important in your life to be your focus? Widen the walls of worry and woe. Call on the Lord and be a beautiful listener. Be attentive to God at your right hand, and (as the Psalmist reminds us) you will not be shaken.

Practice that same kind of focused, attentive listening when you are in the company of friends and loved ones, too. Instead of listening to your inner music, and tuning them out, take your clue from the One at your right hand, and tune in fully to the conversation with your companion. That’s what Jesus did. He looked directly into the eyes, into the soul of His companions. He heard with His heart. God does that when we pray to Him. As if you were in an MRI tube, with no visual images to distract you, focus on what is before you. Let your mind center on the moment. Be attentive! Be a beautiful listener.

Beautiful listening is
Empathetic listening. It’s an
Acquired skill – It
Takes practice;  It
Takes caring; it
Especially takes knowing that
Nothing is more important
Than the one speaking
In this moment. Listen
Vividly. Be fully present.
Enjoy the moment.

As Ashley Kappel prayed in this morning’s Daily Guidepost 2013, let us pray also, “Lord, remind me today who is important in my life and allow me to focus wholly on them, if only for a moment.”

Love One Another. Amen?

Link

Sharing Your Faith Journey


Sharing Your Faith Journey with

Yesterday I met Lois Olmstead. She shared her faith journey with me and a group of my friends who are Senior Companions in my part of Montana. I was so inspired by her and her message that I checked out her website today and ordered a couple more copies of her book, EnJOYing the Journey. She is a humorous, genuine, authentic, inspiring Christian lady who has survived breast cancer and has lived to tell her faith story. The sub-title of this one (of three) of her books is, “90 spirit-lifters for the potholes of life.” Check out this link and fall in love with our Lord all over again as you fall in love with “Time Out With Lois.” She has a gift – – – and she shares it so beautifully!

Two Places at Once


Happy Sunday, my friends. If you have visited my blog before, you may remember that I take sermon notes on Sunday and try to summarize in poetic format the message as I hear it – through my filters. Our pastor is Rev. Jean Johnson. Today’s message was inspired by Revelation 1:4-8. Here is what I heard and recorded with my poetic license this morning. I hope it speaks to you – as it did to me.

Here and There

Wherever we are is here;
Wherever we’ve been is there.
We can’t be both places;
We can’t be everywhere.

It would be convenient
To be in two places at one time,
But it’s not humanly possible.
To testify that you were, would be a crime.

Mentally, though, it seems as if
We can be two places simultaneously.
We can be trapped in prison,
But free as a bird emotionally.

We can be suffering, trapped in pain;
Our place can be miserable indeed –
But dejection doesn’t have to be
The whole story – even in dire need.

Our mind can take us a long way off –
Out of despair into a Spirit of Hope.
Peace doesn’t have to be a state of denial.
Gratitude and faith lift us, so we can cope.

No matter what our circumstances,
No matter where we are –
From grief and desolation we can be
Lifted in The Spirit – transported far.

Wherever we are is here;
Wherever we’ve been is there.
We can be in both places.
In God’s hands, we can be lifted anywhere.

Amen?

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