Thursday, November 22, 2007

In the Quiet...

In the quiet of this still time of night when all is settled from a day of thanks and feasting, I now focus on the needs of those far-flung friends in the blogosphere who are in need of heartfelt prayers...

I think of Eileen at EpiscopaliaFem for one. She has had a terrible time with sick children, trying to fulfill a job promotion and deal with domestic issues, and through it all, maintains her faith with a steadfastness in spite of it all that baffles my mind. Please keep our Eileen in your prayers so she can get through this maelstrom...

I remember also Elizabeth+ at Irreverent Musings. She lost her dad to a terminal illness this last week and she has blogged about it some on her site. If I may be so bold as to ask for prayer for my friend, Elizabeth+, I would appreciate it, even from the Mad One. Prayers are ascending, E+...

Breath of Heaven, hold me together...

be forever near me, Breath of Heaven...

And for my friend Lynne in Newport News, VA I ask your prayers as well...such unselfish giving to the poor and the homeless, working tirelessly through the holiday at a shelter whilst doing hospice work at home and in the community, displaying humbly Christ's compassion and living His mission...I bid your prayers...

I give thanks to God for blessing a friend in Tacoma with a job after a long time of unemployment that has sent her into frequent spirals of depression and hopelessness. Now she knows not only future financial relief but also peace of mind. She had returned to church after a spell of that same hopelessness due to my relentless and loving prodding. She's not an Episcopalian yet but I can hope! And no, T, that's definitely not why I wanted you to go!

I'm thankful too for Lisa's story of faith at My Manner of Life. Need to be inspired to love your neighbor and share the Gospel without causing physical harm? You know, no Bible marks from being thumped....Go and read her story...

As Advent approaches and our long green season comes near to its conclusion, I am reminded of the lore surrounding this time of transition. In and of themselves, transitions are not always easy; in fact they rarely are simple or straightforward. It's like the weather here in southern Oregon. One day it can be sunny, in the 70's and a warm, spring-like breeze blows, and then the next day the temperature drops 15 to 20 degrees and the wind is chilled, the sky battleship gray and you know a new season has arrived. Transitions can be abrupt like that, like day and night by the flick of a switch. And so Advent draws near and with it, the promise of new life: a spiritual spring of the soul as we prepare for His coming as flesh of our flesh, and blood of our blood; in the likeness of flawed humanity, His creation from the beginning.

O Desire of Nations, come...

It's not about giving gifts or putting up decorations, trees or stars, or dressing festively...or is it?
It's about a simple thing: Love. Loving us enough to become one of us, the Divine diminished to the dust of the earth and yet exalted to the place of such value that God comes to us, instead of us to Them. And in the voices of others we hear the basic teaching of that Love. And those others don't have to know God for the Voice of the Trinity to speak through their words or music, their art or engineering, or any of the other myriad of gifts we are given. After all, we are all loved and the Cross was for all of us too, without exclusion.

I close this entry with another poem by Mary Oliver from "Why I Wake Early"*. The mystery of creation and of God are so clear. I hope you sense its gentle message for what it is, in the quiet...

Night after night
enters the face
of the lily

which, lightly,
closes its five walls
around itself,
and its purse

of honey,
and its fragrance,
and is content
to stand there

in the garden,
not quite sleeping,
and, maybe,
saying in lily language

some small words
we can't hear
even when there is no wind

its lips
are so secret
its tongue
is so hidden --

or, maybe,
it says nothing at all
but just stands there
with the patience

of vegetables
and saints
until the whole earth has turned around
and the silver moon

becomes the golden sun --
as the lily absolutely knew it would,
which is itself, isn't it,
the perfect prayer?

*Mary Oliver, "Why I Wake Early", page 24, 2004 edition.


Lisa said...

Thanks for this, Catherine -- especially your reflections about the approach of Advent. I really, really hate this time of year when the whole earth seems to be dying. Naked trees. Brown grass. No flowers. But your words about Advent are a help.

I'll join my prayers with yours.

Jan said...

Catherine, I've missed you. Thank you for this beautiful letter about friends to pray for, simple living, and Mary Oliver's poem. Much to ponder, pray over, and love. Thank you.

eileen said...

Thanks Catherine - I can feel the prayers now! And I'm already blessed in having you "out there" looking after my back for them.

Hope all is well with you.

Catherine + said...

Lisa, you are most welcome. I love talking up blogs that truly have merit. Thank you for praying alongside me for our sisters in Christ.

Blessings, Catherine+

Catherine + said...

Jan, thank you for missing me. I've been fairly busy in my health care field and so when I get home I am beat but this holiday I have found the time and energy to really concentrate on tangible and important things: praying for others and waiting for the Baby Jesus to come once again.

There will be more of Mary in the future...I can't seem to get enough of her inspiration and simple words.

Thank you again for your kind words.

Blessings, Catherine+

Catherine + said...

Eileen, I just want you well and the kids, and for work to go just the way you want and need for it to be, and for things at home to know peace and grace in all things. I just want you to be happy, that's all.

I'm doing well, thank you. I am more at peace with myself these days, and a bit less introspective. And now that Advent is almost here, I may just decorate my home inside this year...

Chin up, my dear, and keep your heart full of joy,


gartenfische said...

Prayers for you and your friends.

Thank you for this beautiful post. And, of course, for the transcendent poem.