GRATITUDE

Lent 9 ~ Good Things

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          The vine of words from today’s daily Readings and the Gospel give me so much strength because they take me to a place of hope.

God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, blessed are You.
Help me, who am alone and have no help but You… (Esther C: 14)

          In praying these words, I am praying the words of another woman who has gone before me, one who was also alone and at the edge of the cliff. Yet, she had left one arrow and it was recourse to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

…turn our mourning into gladness
and our sorrows into wholeness.   (Esther C: 25)

          The words give me the liberty to pray for joy and healing, even if it is Lent. It tells me yet again that that God wants me to understand Lent differently this year – to seek the penance of true hope and heavenly joy after years of suffering.

When I called, You answered me;
            You built up strength within me.  ~  Psalm 138: 3

           And knowing my faith will waver in the sea of unanswered prayers, the angels come early to lay within my mind the memories of times past when God has hastened to my side, feeding me and nourishing me for the journey ahead. Again, knowing of my present anxiousness, knowing that my days are spent scanning the skies for an answer, they gently tip before me the dew of Promise,

The LORD will complete what He has done for me…   ~  Psalm 138: 8

          As I pray, Someone watches me quietly. Just before I rise from my prayer, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob presses His word into my wearied waiting.

If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your heavenly Father give good things
to those who ask Him.   Matthew 7: 11

          And so against the Heart of my God, I lean my own heart’s prayer,

Heavenly Father,

Give us good things

Lent 7 ~ Because You Loved Me

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          In all your needs, trustfully have recourse to the divine Heart, and I am confident that our Lord will provide for your wants; but above all be very grateful for the many benefits He has bestowed on you.   ~  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

          Yesterday’s court case was postponed. On another front, a very important meeting is to be held today to discuss a similar issue. I am not sure how that will go. But along comes my beloved St. Margaret Mary to give me the hope I need. And to gently cup my face and turn it towards the sun.

Be very grateful

          Since last year, this has come to me over and over. Be grateful, be grateful, be grateful. When others suffer, pray for them but above all, pray the prayer of lived gratefulness. For every loss you come to know, go beyond words, go home and embrace what you have been blessed with. Touch the wounds of others through your own gratitude.

Be very grateful

          What else have I not been grateful for? Today, I look over my life, seeking areas gratitude has not touched. Immediately it comes. The trials and tribulations. The sorrows and pain. The grief, the tears. Those terrible valleys where streams of wounding-s flow undeterred.

Be very grateful

          Where do I find the words for this gratitude, I wonder. How do I embrace in truth and sincerity this pain I never want again?

          Once more, barely have the thoughts formed when I see an image flash before me.

          Lean against the Heart of God.

          And I do. And immediately come the words for the gratitude,

You blessed me with those wounds

Because You loved me.

Lent 22 ~ Apples from My heart

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Last night I went out, as always to say good night. The night air had a slight touch of coolness. In the sky, I saw the Milky Way. This is rarely visible, so of course I went out to the field to get the best view. There were more than a million stars out and I made a lot of wishes. The familiar scent of apples in various stages filled the air. I stood amongst the fallen apples and under a trail of stars for a good while. . . . and when I was able – I said good night with a grateful heart.   ~ Michele Warren, The Rabbitpatch Diary

 

          In one of her latest comments, Linda Raha mentioned about going over the blessings of the day when we go to bed. If it didn’t stick with me as it should have then, it certainly did now.

          It is a terrible thing to not be grateful. In my life, some of the most trying people have always been the ones who are incredibly ungrateful. They bite and snark more at life than life deserves simply due to diminished gratitude. In an ungrateful heart, there’s little softness to absorb the hard knocks of life, to soften the blows that must fall upon us in its seasons. So, not only is pain felt in all its depth, I suspect it is also exaggerated because it has too much space to grow. Life with an ingrate can be beyond tolerable. You can be worn to the bone of soul trying to make the ingrate happy and keep it that way for some hours of sanity. Life in a home shared with one is to live in perpetual darkness; to be in the light you have to be away from that person.

          But that only makes coming home that much harder. There’s nothing worse than having light touch your soul but then later having to return to a darkness that abhors the light. Some forms of ingratitude is exactly that: a dark that cannot tolerate the light of thankfulness.

          Today is Friday and it is my day of atonement and reparation. Today, I atone for all the times I have been anything less than grateful for every little sweetness God has pressed into the fold and creases of my life – and sadly, there have been too many of those instances. It is always the easier option to call someone out for a failing; looking inside and facing up to the same fault is never pleasant.

          But that is the special grace of Lent.

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
for I am gracious and merciful.   ~  Joel 2: 12 – 13

          Tonight, Michele Warren’s memories of apple~days stir to life one of my own, of a child long ago, nourished by the sweetness of apples gifted from the heart.

          So, to my God I return with a gift I haven’t offered my Lord enough, apples from my own heart.

 

 

Lent 21 ~ Conqueror

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          I saw this heading to a post yesterday, Gratitude Conquers Envy, and understanding lit my mind.

          Almost 2 years ago, I had a dream. It was of the colleague at work who had hurt me very deeply and continues till this day. In the dream, she was at her desk beside me and all around us were odd, yet perfect boxes, almost the size of shoe boxes, tightly packed with brand new books – except that interiorly, I knew that they weren’t books. They were memories of everything I had done for her in our 20 plus years of knowing one another. Memories packed tight into light, perfectly made mud-coloured boxes. My colleague was at her desk, with a pen in hand, writing on each of those boxes.

In thick, black, fancy classic script, she was writing, Thank you, on the inside of those boxes.

          And I knew immediately, with neither joy nor relief, that it was directed to me.

          Some time after the dream, I went to Confession to a visiting priest to our parish. I confessed about my struggles with anger and my difficulty loving those at work who hurt me. I didn’t provide Father with any details of my work situation; instead, focusing on my sins and weaknesses.

          But the priest had looked deep into my eyes, hearing in his heart words I had not given him. And he understood why I was being attacked.

It is due to jealousy, Father had said that day.

          That illumination had shocked me to the core, that jealousy could wreck such cruelty.

          But today, the memory of that dream lifts another face towards me. That of the Thank you. The power of gratitude to bend a soul to humility. To heal it of every trace of envy and jealousy.

          We often take gratitude for granted, assuming it’s a virtue we either have or do not possess. However, I have had one spiritual experience, in church, of being pierced by an invisible arrow of gratitude and thankfulness, to learn that it is also a grace. Some of us might have been born to be grateful and thankful. Some of us lack it. And some of us barely possess it. So, what if God was now asking me to pray for the oil of gratitude to heal jealous hearts?

          A few days ago, I had written that those ruled by jealousy needed to make the effort to cleanse themselves of this ugliness. While that is certainly true, I think God is now telling me, No, that’s not all. You can do something else too.

          This Lent, He wants me pray a very specific prayer of healing. To pray for the grace of gratitude, that jealous hearts be healed by it.

          Because gratitude conquers jealousy.

A Posy for My God

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          I’m on a 9-day break from today and there are no words for the relief and thankfulness at not having to see my work place for 9 days. But I wished to also put the 9 days to good use, mainly by resting as much as possible to prepare for the tough coming months. I’d have to travel to the city daily for a couple of days but there is home and family and love and duties to return to each day. There’s the beckoning of a garden waiting to be loved, stomachs to be filled and perhaps a head start on the Christmas cleaning of closets too!

          In my head, I had the 9 days pretty filled.

          Then, I realized something. Rather than put myself and my responsibilities at the centre of my break, I could consciously try and live these 9 days for God – making it a special prayer. A perfect novena. 

          I am so grateful for this break, and what could be more beautiful than making a posy of each day for God?

 

 

 

 

JEWEL

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Never before have I felt such a spring of joy and anticipation for the weeks ahead. Many years of my life have been spent yearning to embrace the future, yet wary that for every joy there will be tears. I came from an upbringing where the past was everything, the present a torture, the future muddied with doubt, fear and emptiness. In the life I once led, hope struggled to live; it rarely bloomed.

But not in recent years, not in recent days. I welcome each new day, as it rises from its ebony slumber and comes into its new majesty through a burst of tangerines, golds and blues. I welcome its promise and the hope it gifts me with.

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I revel in love and being loved, hold close to my heart my family, the sacredness of matrimony and motherhood. Every one of it a treasure not to be squandered or gambled away.

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Yet, my abode is not in the clouds of spiritual naïveté. I know the Storm is here and will come. I watch the skies more than I ever did, heeding the caution I have sensed that the first warnings will come in the world above me.

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And lest, in this state of internal alertness, I return to the worry and fear that were the hallmarks of my past, I must remember that resilience in faith and gratitude for simple joys are the real jewels of life, no matter how bitterly the tempests rage.

HARD TIMES

by Jim Fish

When hard times come they sit a spell,
Like kin folk come to stay
A-packin’ troubles, pets an’ kids
That always get ‘n your way.
It’s drought an’ flood, an’ flood an’ drought,
There ain’t much in-between.
You work like hell to make ’em good,
But still they’re sorta lean.

The ranch went under late last year,
The drought got mighty tough.
The boss held-out a long, long time,
But finally said, “enough!”
So here I am dispatchin’ cops
An’ watchin’ felons sleep,
In Junction, at the county jail,
A job I’ll prob’ly keep.

The wife, she works at Leisure Lodge,
Where older people stay,
A-makin’ beds an’ moppin’ floors
To earn some ‘extra’ pay.
Though “extra pay‘s” the term I used,
It goes to payin’ rent,
An’ after all the bills are paid,
We wonder where it went.

We hocked my saddle, guns an’ chaps,
An’ then our weddin’ rings;
Then when we couldn’t pay the loan,
They sold the ‘dad-blamed’ things.
We felt real bad a day or two
But then we let it go,
Cause it got Christmas for the kids
When money got real slow.

When hard times come they sit a spell,
Don’t matter who you are;
They’ll cost ya things you’ve set aside,
An’ clean your cookie jar.
You’ll loose some sleep an’ worry some,
Won’t pay to moan an’ groan;
But hang on to your happiness,
They’ll finally leave ya ‘lone.

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