Two Sides of the Same: Spirit and Intellect

Intellect - cold, unemotional, rational, logical
Spirit - emotional, non-rational, warm, illogical

Rather than being an 'either/or' the elements of intellect and spirit should be viewed as being totally coexisting within humans.  Similar to the use of foot and hand; these are not 'either/or' but two separate parts of the human body with different purposes.

In similar way the discussions of intellect and spirit ignore the fact that both are part of the package.  They are in essence two sides of the same coin.


Spiritual Gluttony

I happened across the 14th century classic, The Dark Night of the Soul, an a section called 'spiritual gluttony' caught my eye.   Gluttony, one of those seven deadly sins, is well known as eating to obsessive excess.  So how, I wondered, could there be spiritual gluttony?

Too much of anything is a path to problems.  When we lose balance we are prone to errors and consumption of things which are bad for us. 

Spiritual gluttony hordes experience.  The self-indulgent praise and worship of many churches comes to mind. The exclusionary decor or elitist attitudes of others also springs to mind.  In error, some pull up their chair to the feast of God's presence and begin to focus on how it makes them feel, what it does for them, and what they get out of it.   Purpose and meaning can become confused, and as Saint John of the Cross wrote so wisely, "These persons think that their own satisfaction and pleasure are the satisfaction and service of God."

Spiritual gluttony robs the body of Christ.  The self-centered focus on personal experience takes away from the communal, sharing, building of the whole aspect of Christian life.  How many times are we urged to pray for one another, take up one another's burdens, and share with one another? Spiritual gluttony was the sin of Corinth, an expression of an 'every man for himself and I don't care about you' spirit that is anti-Christ.  It is the spirit which says let others starve, grow cold, be lost or suffer - I have mine and that is all that matters!

Spiritual gluttony leads to weakness.  Just as consumption of too much food leads to a comprised physical body, spiritual overindulgence leads to a weakened spirit.  Self-denial and sacrifice, so well known to Biblical prophets and Christ, are foreign terms of alien meaning.  The sacrifice of prayer is set aside unless it is prayer about our own needs and wants.  " These persons who are thus inclined to such pleasures have another very great imperfection, which is that they are very weak and remiss in journeying upon the hard road of the Cross; for the soul that is given to sweetness naturally has its face set against all self-denial, which is devoid of sweetness ."

In reading these words, written to another religious time with its own unique customs and practices, I was struck by how unchanging basic concepts are. We often explain away problems as being reflective of our culture, our time, or a stage of life.   Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and as such remains unchanged by cultural passing modes.

Spiritual people, then and now, in their ignorance and enthusiasm, can focus in on only the sweet blessed presence of God and like children over indulge to the exclusion of other spiritual disciplines designed to help grow a balanced and healthy Christian life. The sacrifice of service, the commitment of prayer for others, the work to become a worthy worker in whatever field, and the suffering of life.


The Pain in Healing

I remember as a child some hurt that as it began to heal began also to hurt and worry me with constant irritation.   My mother repeated sage advice: “You know it's healing when it begins to (itch, bother use, twitch, sting).”

So, as I recently broke my ankle and had some wonderful people pray for its speedy healing, I found myself remembering those wise words.  Especially, when the fracture occasionally stung just a bit.

Then I found myself wondering why in the process of healing is there pain?  In the natural and normal process this “pain” is considered just that and has been for centuries.

There are some who would claim a promised immediate and total free-from-pain type of healing as the result of some perceived blessing of God to those who enough faith. Yet, it is clear, some pain is not supposed to be masked or made invisible.

Pain has a purpose in life to remind us of several important truths.

1)          Pain is everywhere. We are not alone. We share and can empathize with others because we know pain. Let those suffering in accordance with God's will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good. (1 Peter 4:19)
2)          Pain is a reminder to us that we have frailties and are not super human. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. (2 Timothy 4:18) My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9a)
3)          Pain is a reminder that we cannot have things our way all the time but we can know a God who will bring comfort. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12a,13)

So often we ask for signs for assurances as big as a battleship in the sky!  Yet, often the sign is in the small things, the tiny things, like a twinge in a wound knitting itself whole or a sting in a bone weaving itself together.

“For everything there is a time” says the Bible and sometimes it is simply time to sit, think, and experience the miracle of the healing forces God gifted each of His creation with and as those forces work there will be pain, discomfort, and frustration.  These all can be used to work in you the processing, the refining, and the spiritual development that can make us stronger in our faith.

Only if we let it and only if we embrace and understand in the healing there is sometimes pain.


Reflections on Love

If we love we put our feelings into practical expression. Someone once said that love is the doorway through which the human soul passes from selfishness to service, and from solitude to kinship. Everywhere we go there are people and circumstances in need of that practical application of love. The simple act of friendship, a smile, a word of encouragement, a bit of bread, a drop of water, and human support allows us to bless others. Thomas Aquinas said , “If you truly love God, you will love your neighbor. It does not matter if he loves you or not.” A million small acts create a blazing light of grace in a world shadowed by loneliness. Today, help turn the lights on in your world.


Miracles Comes While You Are Living Life. M. Hudson

The story of the wedding of Cana with guest Mary and her son Jesus provides us with a heady lesson about how the miracles in life occur. The focus of the day was the happy celebration of the commitment and future of two people. The guests were there to witness the solemn vows and then joyfully partake of the feast that would cement the relationship in the eyes of family and community. The event was the diversion that faces each of us in life. We are busy living life. We are involved in survival. We are involved...occupied...distracted....

So, what does God do? While we are busy looking over there....he is quietly at work over here. The miracle occurs while we are not looking because the miracle itself if not the object but rather the gift the miracle brings. The wine produced in this miracle story is finer, better, and more tasty than the best wine produced earlier in the event when the high priced wine would be served. Guests marvel that the tradition has been flipped on its head and the best was saved for the last.

God chose this moment of simple human celebration, when two become one, to remind people that miracles come while we are living life and not while we are waiting for life to provide miracles.

[Image:Picture: Fresco of the Wedding at Cana at the Monastery of Descani, Serbia, ca. 14th Century. Source.http://www.wegm.com/coins/frescoes/images/cana.jpg]

The Windows. M. Hudson

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote "All the windows of my heart I open to the day." What an image! The heart like a house closed up by heavy drapes and closed windows, shadowed, and cold. Do we have the courage to throw back the curtains, throw wide the windows, and allow the light and warmth of God to stream in bathing us with His divine presence. Wrapping us in arms of illuminating grace that provides us both strength and direction?

The Shore. M.Hudson

The great British scientist Issac Newton once said, “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

Standing by the seashore can be exciting and frightening. Exciting in seeing the vista displayed across the horizon. The long expanse of sand washed smooth with each rushing wave. The roar and boom of the surf as millons of gallons of water splash against the shoreline. The beauty of the sky reflected on the water's upturned face. Frightening in the gently rising bosom of the sea as it moves inward and then sweeps back out to the dark and mysterious depths. As light and foamy the encounter of the sea with the sandy shore it is that deep and secret part that frightens us even as it calls out to us.

So we distract ourselves picking up water tumbled rocks or glossy shells left as gifts by the departing sea's moist fingers. We are often like children exploring the shore line, running from the waves, and finding our little treasures. God is often like that tendril of water splashing onto the sand leaving little messages, little tokens, and little invitations for us to venture out into the deeper places. To walk boldly into the buffeting surf or dive deep into the indigo depths of discovery and encounter with God.

The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.(Ps 93.4).

Diving Deeper. M. Hudson

Our tendency as humans is to take the safe route, the easy way, and often the path of least resistance to our own plans. We stroll the safe security of the sidelines as we live life. We ask others to not 'rock the boat', we cherish the calm and call it the expected standard and ideal.

Yet, every process and activity of life is one fraught with struggle and change. The caterpillar does not morph into the butterfly without first fighting its way out of the quiet cocoon. The child is born amid pain and blood. The great and small things of life grow by movement away toward something greater than themselves.

The deep places are the destination of the life being called by the divine to grow and become more than they were. To struggle out of the quiet shell of their self protection and safety. To dive deep into the mystery and wonder of true encounter and true transformation.

So, as you stand on that wet beach, the sand tickling your toes, and hear that soul deep stirring or hear that song calling to you from those deep purple depths....be not afraid... because it is God calling to you to grow and become His more fully. As you wade carefully in the shallows and then dive more intentionally into those strange and mysterious places remember ...."In his hand are the deep places of the earth..."(Ps.95.4)

So...take the plunge into the heart of God and dive deeper....

Tending A Garden No One Ever Sees. M. Hudson

So often we can feel as if we are unappreciated, devalued, and overlooked. We can then begin to complain and harden our hearts and souls to the spirit of God working all around us. Consider, however, the great gardener who works behind the scenes creating, caring and adding touches of beauty few may ever see. Like this flower in a hidden meadow difficult to reach, God did not say, " I won't put a flower here - no one can see it!" Instead, he brought the same care, concern, and attention to detail to that garden spot as to any one by a busy path. Something to remember when we feel like we labor in vain or without appreciation. We too sometimes tend gardens none will ever see.

Lessons from the Geese. M. Hudson

The legend of the Geese shares an important lesson of the interdependence of each being with another. Sometimes we like to imagine ourselves as independent eagles soaring the high lonely places with no need of others. The Geese, however, tell us the benefit of community - especially when the community is mutually supportive. For in the legend the geese fly in a v formation with one in the lead. All around him other geese honk urging the leader forward, encouraging the lead bird, and cheering the bird on. When the leader weakens, another bird will fly into his place allowing the leader to slow and to be the follower. On and on this will go with each bird taking a turn in both leading and following. What a marvelous lesson and example. How much it illustrates the words of the Bible to "bear one another's burdens." The legend of the geese....a lesson for each of us. 

Wiki Creative CommonsCreative Commons 

Lessons from Seashells. M. Hudson

The seashore is the long curving front porch of the soul. As we wonder along the edges of self-discovery and spiritual rebirth we find tiny messages in shells sprinkled in the sand. As an anonymous poet wrote "Finding Seashells": Come walk with me/Along the sea/Where dusk sits on the land/And search with me/For shells are free,/And treasures hide in sand.

The shells found include tiny ones almost hidden by the grains of sand, common ones with beauty that escapes the hurried or causal glance, rough textured or worn glossy smooth, and some so strange that their rare presence draws a soft sigh of awe.

One shell was found tumbled up across the warm sands. It was dull, rough, pitted by the action of impact with underwater obstacles, bleached by the sun and worn down by its long journey across the world. Picking it up,shaking out the dirty sand and grass, out fell a glimmering small shell. Turning it the light caught the unworn shell bringing out a myriad of tones and rich color. 

What accident of nature had swept the smaller shell into the crumbling skeleton of another creature? Had the smaller creature been some random hitchhiker stealing a ride on a strange journey? Or, had the larger shell willingly, sacrificially carried it, like a careful mother, on its long and hazardous trip?

Are we like that smaller shell protected on our journey by the arms of another who takes the buffeting, tumbling, and hard knocks for us? The older shell grew worn and pitted, rough and harshly worn became its surface, all to allow the shell within to emerge glowing and lovely.

Sometimes we take hard knocks in life, but thanks to the grace and love of God, sometimes we emerge smooth and glowing because their was ONE who willingly, sacrificially, carried us like a nurturing parent on the long and hazardous journey we call life.

Surprises in Desert Places. M. Hudson

The hike had taken longer than I had expected on a clear June morning in northern New Mexico. Across a flat plain covered in shrub brush and sand, a clear fifty miles from anyone. The canyon was out here but scanning the horizon revealed what appeared to be only mile after mile of the same terrain. Had the instructions been wrong or had we made a wrong turn somewhere on those miles of dirt track? Another half hour and then - there it was. A crevice opened up rimmed by sturdy ancient rocks and a small path downward into a narrow canyon. The walls covered by wind twisted pines and at the base a small cluster of old buildings. Walking across the canyon floor and the mini ghost town was amazing, a surprise from another time, and something that caused voices to lower as if fearful of disturbing the long gown residents. Fluttering calendars with decades old dates. Remnants of curtains clung tenaciously to paint peeled windows. Across the open ground covered ankle high with wildflowers, slanted wooden crosses drew our attention. A small graveyard, names no longer readable on weathered headstones made us pause in respectful honor. Heads bowed, listening to the desert wind whispering down the canyon walls, the rumble of small bees dancing through the flowers, and a faint sound of water falling and dripping. Looking around we discovered a small, almost minuscule, flow of water down the rock face of the canyon into an old shallow well. Fresh, clear, and so refreshing the water flowed in the middle of a desert. Just enough to cool a face and refresh the body. Like the canyon itself, the water was a surprise springing up where least expected. Climbing out of the canyon after our day of exploration, we stood for a moment as the wind whipped by us in its hurried journey. It was five miles back to the vehicle, across a desert floor in the late afternoon heat. Yet in our canteens we carried fresh cool, clear water found by surprise in a desert canyon. We could make it.

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you be unaware? I will make a clear path in the wilderness, Rivers shall flow in the desert

Learning from the Sunflower. M. Hudson

A tall,sturdy stalk climbed out of the ditch, unfurling thick leaves, and revealing a brown face surrounding by brilliant yellow petals.

A classic sunflower of great beauty this flower in its infancy will watch the sunrise in the dew kissed dawn and then turn its head tracking the progress of the sun across the heavens. Then at the next dawn it will begin anew. The flower will do this until its head is too heavy and massive to easily turn and then it will keep its focus on the east to wait for the new dawn. You see, by the time the flower has matured the head is so heavy, it could burn the precious seeds it holds if it looked to the south or the west. The fierce sunlight would no longer nourish but instead detroy. So, it watches in great delight each morning as a new day dawns and then simply allows the harsh light and the heat go about its business. The flower can only stop the sun from burning if she chooses to ignore its demand for attention. You see, the sunflower has its mind on the really important things, the lovely enduring things, and bright promise of the new dawn.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward (Is. 58.8)

Ode to a Candle.

I can wax eloquent over the simple candle because we were without power for a time one Sunday night. Several hours in a dark community while ice pelted down and we looked longingly at the glow from the community to the north... We gathered the candles and enjoyed them flickering in the dark. We prayed for those who might be suffering in the cold more than we. We shared stories and remembered outages when we were children. They were more fun then, I must admit. You could just snuggle up to Mom or Dad and get sleepy while they took care of things.

All of our "new fangled" telephones were dead. The only phone that worked was a restored 1930's pedestal phone....hmm what does that say about the state of our technology? Have we really improved things that much or merely obscured the efficient with the gadget? A house filled with sconces and lamps and switches....but it was a match and candles that gave us light. Yes, I can wax rather wordy on the simple candle... 

It made me wonder though, in the big scheme of things, this thing we call life, am a steady positive force that easily and simply adds light and warmth to life or a bit of frail technology subject to the whims of falling ice and grid failures?

Wading in the Shallows. M. Hudson

The sun was hot and the wind whipped the water into tiny little frothy waves. The surf did not lap as much it seemed to just languidly lean against the beach as if it just could not be bothered to be too energetic.

The water, however, was wonderfully cool. It was a delightful counterpoint to the warmth of the day. Kicking off my sandals I began easing myself into the water. Ah! The wet sand pushing up between my toes! I stood there a moment and then slowly walked out toward the horizon. The cool water rose up my legs and I noticed the walking was a little slower now. The pressure of the water was making it slow going. The bottom was a murky glow and I stepped on a tiny shell with a sharp edge. The sun was hot, the wading was getting harder and I could no longer see where I was going....time to go back to the beach.

As I waded back to the dry sand and left the water behind, I halted in sudden awareness. How often in life had I done that very thing? Things got a little hard. The going was more work. I got a little hurt. Turning around I looked back to the horizon and the deep swelling ocean hiding the mysterious depths I had turned back before exploring or enjoying. Lord, I prayed, help me overcome the shallows and the beach. Let me learn to fight the current, overcome the swells, and take on the occean of discovery you have awaiting me in life.

A New Day

A NEW DAY (Neh.3:22)

I remember just before I met my husband my parents moved into a small house of their own. My father planted morning glories in the heat of the summer and carefully tied the string to the roof, and watered them every day.

My father was not a gardening man. He was not one to work for hours on the yard. For some reason, though, he did this one thing. As late summer and early fall came we enjoyed the vines twisting and growing and reaching out to shade the porch.

Each morning, in that fragile pause before the day begins, the vines opened blooms of every color, and turned their faces to the sky.

I never knew why he planted those flowers. I only know that he did and they brought joy, beauty, and grace to each day.

Each new day brings many things :Opportunities –we have the chance to contribute, to achieve, to try again, to do it better, to ….Compassions – those mercies that come to us each day, unfailing, steady, sure; “love, pity, merciful” (Young’s). We do not deserve them. But God’s love is so full and rich he gifts us with His pity…mercy….and love. Hope – because God has been gracious to us, because each new day gives us new purpose, and because God’s compassions do not fail and ‘great is God’s faithfulness’ to his people.

That is what God gives to us; a new day and seasons of new beginning: Each new beginning waits, in that fragile pause before the next phase of life begins, the vines are preparing to open blooms of every color;We, the blooms of every hue, thankfully turn our faces to the sky…

Because Great is thy faithfulness….

The Still Small Voice. M. Hudson

The world screams around us, tugging at our sleeves, shouting in our ears, consuming all available space.

Enjoying the moment, finding the beauty, breathing in deeply of peace, loving family, doing good, and finding grace.

They are brass rings as the merry-go-round of life rushes by in a blur.

Shut the door, take the phone off the hook, and retreat to a silent place in the heart of the home , a forest or garden, or sompleace deep in the soul. Seek communion with the Divine. Seek to  connect to the heart of God.  

Focus on the Spirit's balm and presence.  Reduce the roar of life to a faint and distant hum.  Listen....listen....for the still small voice of God. Be renewed in the silence, find the music in the stillness, and rise encouraged, restored, and refreshed.

The still small voice is the invitation of God to dance with joy and purpose amid days of pain and pointlessness.   To wander through barren deserts to find the solace of the eternal waterfall of grace, goodness, and compassion that is relationship with a loving God.

1 Kings 19:22

Investing in Beauty

"The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect of the Arts and Crafts Movement and designer of'Falling Water', the house designed in the late thirties over a waterfall. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, Wright believed that a house should not simply be a place to live but should be a source of life and renewal of the spirit making life richer. The movement and Wright firmly believed a house should be enmeshed into its environment, blending harmoniously, and working withs surroundings instead of forcefully changed to fit some contrived and artificial form. His Prairie style desert dwelling is another example of this philosophy.

His words are a challenge to each of us to not simply allow our lives to be controlled by the necessary things but to add the special things that bring beauty to the eye, the ear, the hand, or the soul. We enhance our own lives, we contribute to the world around us, and we leave a legacy of beauty for others to seek to emulate in their own lives. Make some beauty in your world today and invest in the future.

Broken for a Time. M. Hudson

Into every life come moments when the isolated fragility of our existence is broken.  Like the summer roses that finally bend over under the heat of the harsh August sun, we slump our shoulders and bow our heads.

Like the flower, we may shed petals and watch them curl into shadowed dry fingers carried away by the wind. Like the tree lashed by the winds and the rain our branches may occasionally crack and break away. We may stare devoid of hope as we inspect that jagged and raw edge left to us by the caprices of life.

Yet spring returns and new blooms emerge, new branches srout, and new energy returns.  We can be broken for a time but it is not necessarily an eternal affliction for the soul.  Limitations of mind and body need not bruise or hamper the strong sure flight of the soul as it soars the heights.  Hymn writer Fannie Crosby, blind yet with piercing sight in her soul, noted: "Chords that were broken will vibrate once more."

The Peacock and the Box. M. Hudson

The peacock was lonely. It would spread its lovely feathers and none but the sun would see. Loneliness drove the bird to find others and soon it was amid the crows and the sparrows.

‘You don’t fit in the box.”

The other birds scorned each fanning of the glittering feathers, turned away and ignored the newcomer.

Perplexed, the peacock continued to be lonely in this crowd.

One day a plump little sparrow took pity and decided to explain the actions of the other birds.
"It's your feathers, you see," said the brown bird. "They other birds they think you are showing off."
"My feathers...?" The peacock asked. "I am just being who I am."
"Yeah, but who you are ain't like us." The sparrow explained.
"I can only be who I am."
"Well, if you want to fit in...if you want friends and to be accepted you got to fit the box..."
"I do! I want to fit in and have friends."
"Well, just one thing to do then."

The sparrow took the peacock to see the old crow who lived behind the woods. He had a workshop of sorts and in the corner of his work area was a box. The sparrow explained the situation and the crow nodded his head as he listened.

"Can you fit in this box over here?" asked the old crow as the sparrow finished his tale.

The peacock went to the box and climbed in. The peacock stepped in but the bird’s tail just would not fit. The tried folding it but it kept fanning open.

“Stop showing off!”

“Put those away!”

“I’m not! It just does that,” replied the peacock.

“You want to fit in, or not?” demanded the old crow. “You’ll never fit in the box with those things.”

“What’ll we do then?” asked the sparrow.

“Only one thing to do.” The crow dug around until he found a rusty pair of shears and in seconds the lovely tail feathers were scattered around the ground. Only a stump remained.

“Now, give a shot.”

Stunned, the peacock climbed into the box again and this time, it was a perfect fit! The sparrow and the crow nodded and smiled a welcome.

The peacock looked at the lovely feathers on the ground, felt the lightness of his tail, and saw the narrow confines of the box.

What had he done?

He had been so lonely, though.

Being himself was not good enough, not to be accepted and appreciated among the sparrows and the crows.

“Let’s go get some dinner!” The old crow picked up his hat and motioned to sparrow and the peacock. “We’ll introduce our new friend around.”

Friends! Yes. The wind caught a lovely feather and blew it into the blue sky.

Loneliness. The feather swirled around and caught the light to glitter like a jewel.

Friends. What if the colorful things were gone? If they made the sparrows and the crows feel bad about themselves they must be wrong. They were an embarrassment. He was ashamed he had made them suffer like that.

What had he been thinking?

The box stood in the corner and he gave it a thankful look as he went off with his two new friends. What was an old tail when he had such friends?

Pressures, Problems, Pits. M. Hudson

here are some times in life when there is a great urge to throw hands heavenward and scream, "Enough!" 

The small irksome issues, the increasing pressures of life, the mounting problems all seem to be a mountain sliding determinedly towards the "x' on your back. Images of the tortures of by-gone days flicker through the mind; it is easy to picture yourself in the scene as stone after stone was piled on the tormented chest...another one....groan...another one....gasp.... because you too feel each new problem weighing heavy on the heart.

The Bible, however, gives assurance that God does not allow those who have committed to him to face anything beyond their abilities to cope.  Notice, there is no promise of escape from those pressures, problems, or issues.  There is only the promise that the person will be able to handle them.  

While it can appear sometimes that life is one huge pit of despair, there is one insurmountable truth.  It is in the pit where the pressure is put to purpose to produce product; the lump of coal is placed  under tremendous pressure for long and repeated ages in order to see the diamond emerge.  Even then, however, it is not the glossy, faceted marvel gazed at in awe on a satin bed in a jewelry store.  That state is the result of additional pressure, cutting, and shaping.

The reality is to be a person of faith is not to escape the pressures but to see beyond the pressures to the reality of the diamond being formed, polished, or shaped in our soul.  

No 'pass card' to problems is ours but rather a Presence through the process.

The Lights Went Out

The lights went out and the night was full and heavy all around. The sky was deep and ink colored; frightening to town dwellers used to the ever present glow that robbed the deep color from the black of the night sky. Suddenly, we had a view of sparkling stars, a spilling pathway across the heavens, and an awareness of how small we were in the vast scheme of the universe.

We also became so aware of the inability to see in that deep darkness of the night. Without a moon, the starlight did not provide enough light to feel secure in where we walked. We stumbled, shuffled, and carefully moved forward hoping to not fall and scrape a knee or worse. Two bobbing lights appeared and grew brighter and closer. Friends with flashlights coming to the rescue. Laughing now, in bravado, the earlier hesitancy forgotten, we head back to the group, the fires, and the company.

Sometimes we are lost in a the dark of the expanse of the mystery of life. The way is dark and hard to step with confidence. In those moments of caution, of fear, of uncertainty, we can remember that the word of God is a light to guide us, a lamp so our feet can walk in confidence to home and light and companionship.

Is It Raining Yet?

The world can be a dry and dismal place. Hot winds of misfortune can suck the life from you, leaving you feel as if you were nothing but a brittle husk of humanity.  All around you life is colorless, lacking vitality, lacking energy;  our life can be life a winter landscape after months of drought.  Yet, just when it seems nothing can be done, a small cloud appears on the horizon and finally there is rain...finally there is rain.

These Bones May Rise

The way gets hard, the road is rough, the struggles unending.  The soul is parched and body whittled away until all that is left are dry bones. All that has been given has been used, all that was in reserve is gone, and there is nothing but the shadow of them holding body and soul together. The landscape is some weird arid scene with glowing white dusty bones littering the ground. Each step a struggle, each movement an ache, and every dream lost as if it had never been. All around is nothing but emptiness, loneliness, and the husk of what we once were.

Yet, the prophet looked at the scene and shared the message of God, the message of hope and message of promise: these bones WILL live again.  These bones will breathe life once more.

It is in the exhalation of our last breath of effort that we inhale the presence of God. It is in the last slumping step before we crash that we feel the arms of God. It is in that last empty void of self, pride, our own effort that we are filled with the loving grace and mercy of God.

The way may be hard, now. Rest assured, however, these bones of a life of meaning, purpose, and contentment will rise again.


Balancing precariously on crutches as a fractured ankle began to complain, I saw the sign on the wall "There is a reason for everything that happens".  I squinted down at the wad of bandages on  my foot, felt the bruises which I knew would bloom in a few hours, and really wondered what the reason for this particular incident might be.

I know the sentiment is a form of the 'there is a season for everything' of wise Solomon. An idea that there are some times  or seasons which phase in and out of our lives bringing with them some treasure or challenge. A season for falling passionately in love and, apparently, a season for falling down stairs to fracture an ankle.  Hmmm. I like the first better, I think.

From my Calvinist, Wesleyan, and Holiness background my immediate assumption was it was something to teach me, correct me, or punish me.   Despite the words of Jesus telling his followers the rain falls on the just and the unjust with equal abandon - sometimes we rush in and assume blame when we have no need - and I did that too. Dutifully, however, I prayed, I meditated, and I hurt.

Then I thought I was being too self-centered. 

Yes, I had been hurt but perhaps it  was not an expectation in my life but a challenge to others which was the focus of this type of season.  The poor soul helped by the maligned Samaritan had been bypassed by many people of good faith and ignored. It was not until that hated individual stopped and responded in love and kindness that the core of the story emerges.  

Who was the victim? Who knows; all he had to do was lay there and be hurt through no fault of his own as the "rain fell".  We love to assume that all misfortune occurs as punishment, as lessons, and as God forcing his will on a life.  That is not the case in this story and the victim was not the point of the story. He was the not the one challenged. He was not the one who needed to change.

The rainy season of misfortune does fall on all - regardless if they are saint or sinner - but not everyone carries an umbrella of love, compassion, kindness, or service.  

Sometimes the greatest challenge comes disguised as the easiest of acts: a phone call, a letter, an email, a note.  Sometimes the greatest cost is not arranging a room and getting a doctor (like that Samaritan had to do) but to simply widen our vision to see those around us in need and respond.  

Sometimes the most expensive gift we can give to another human being is the gift of awareness; a recognition that someone saw they were not in their place and were missed and a recognition that someone knew they existed.

Yes, everything has a season....and reasons.... but just maybe not the ones you thought.

Marilyn A. Hudson