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Archive for the category “Ecumenically Speaking”

Old People and Getting Into Heaven?

More and more you see them, Bill Cosby(I know he is somewhat taboo these days but he is a point-of-reference..look up the routine) joked about them in a stand-up routine decades ago. He said,” That is NOT the person I grew up with!” Faces fixed with a seemingly genuine smile, talking to random strangers, and adoring the babies..all babies.  These kindly elderly folk will be given all the sweet consideration you have within.  Then there are the OTHERS, the ones who seemingly DEMAND respect but are ugly and disrespectful. The very same ones who at one time told a young person how “they” must respect their elders. Do you ever wonder who these people are and who they were in their past/earlier lives?

ALL of these folks were once smooth skinned, silken haired, athletic and energized. They were the “go-getters”. Now they are captured by the worn, broken and damaged vessels; some flicker in and out of rational consciousness, but all are left to navigate the remainder of their lives in a condition they certainly did not select.

Funny, we never think about people’s condition beyond what is set directly before us. That is until we are faced with circumstances that force our hands. The elderly gentleman who appears to be homeless in our neighborhood asking for food..we never think he has a home of his own and people who love him waiting there. Yet, if we knew this we would likely wonder why he is doing what we perceive as begging. However, one must be careful there is likely an explanation that reaches far beyond what we have time to examine as we rush to work.

What do you say when the well dressed older lady approaches you, as you sit in the park, and proceeds to curse you for no apparent reason. How can you know she has been a widow for 30 years, today is the anniversary of her husband’s death, and you look quite a bit like the doctor who told her her beloved mate was gone.

You may think the solution is to spend more time with them, or their loved ones should keep them under control. Do you realize these people still have some control and wills of their own? Do you realize that none of us can help anyone who does not want or will not accept that same help? I think these same folks feel “themselves slipping away”, away to a place where they do not know what to expect, and they are afraid. A feeling that they probably have not had, in an overt sense, for many years.

Faith is challenged each and every day; where is their faith now, where will yours be when YOU are faced with this from someone you love. They look and sound like your loved one, but many times the one YOU knew is not consciously in the present with you. Now YOU must pray, not only for them but yourself as well.

As our time continues to move forward, as we forget names and dates I wonder how we will react. I suggest you be kind and understanding when you meet these people, any of them. Perhaps the ones trying to gain entrance into Heaven may actually be us;  by what we do we are determining our fate and we may be occupying a similar “place” in the near future. How do you want to be dealt with?

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I Need God To Fix This

Having one of those mornings? Well how about”having one of those years”? Waking to the unknown of the day, feeling like throwing the covers over your head and asking the Heavens for a “do-over” long before you know what lies ahead.

Well you have been on this Earth for some 50+ years now so I imagine there have been one or two days like this during your lifespan. This middle-age thing we are experiencing daily is a trip all by-its-lonesome. I applaud those of you who proclaim you have remained steadfast and true to God. This is faith in it’s truest form; do not deceive yourself, for if it is not true your very beliefs will come back to haunt you. Having more than what I deem to be enough or my share of the challenges that make getting out of bed a task, I pondered about this place that I now occupy physically and mentally.

The realization of how every-little-thing was interconnected seemed to daunt me.  My problem solving skills were placed on screen before me. I saw the optimist, I saw conniver, I saw the escapist and I pretty-much saw them in that order. Life is cyclic and I knew that the individuals that I charged with solving my problems appeared in that order, not by chance but by choice. Choices I was making when I told myself, I had no choice.  Then the debate began between conscious and sub-conscious,  is the medication real or is it a placebo.

As the world crumbles around me, I see myself standing in the middle of the road dodging debris falling around me. Lots of near-misses. In an out-of-body way, I wonder why do I bother moving. Surely one quick hit and all of my problems will be no more. The answer is so very simple and basic. I WANT TO LIVE! I am NOT unique that is what human beings are about.

It is NOT in our nature to give up, that is why we fight so hard, for so long, for so many different things. If we had it our way the easy way would, chances are, be the only way. We have been raised in a society that strives to have it quick and simple and why is that so appealing to us? Well that is easy, so we can go on to do more things with the time we already do not have enough of/for. Yet when things don’t go our way, we revert to the childish behavior we were constantly told we have to abandon when we became adults. Sometimes our brains don’t get the memo and the blanket goes over our head, again.

However, we were born to accomplish one great thing and given plenty of time and resources to complete our task. By-the-way YOU don’t get to be the judge of what is determined great. Now beaten, now lost, now confused, where are your tools?  God has given us all we need but he has also allowed time for the distraction; the distraction to teach us the importance beauty, patience, and rest. In the midst of the storm don’t look away, look toward.

Channeling Negative Energy

I felt like I was going to explode! Pressure coming up my esophagus, my chest slightly tight, the awful grimace in my face. I tell myself I want to be happy, but it seems there is a dark cloud hovering. How do you make yourself feel good when you are feeling bad? My thoughts were of all the things that were not going right. I need my little ray of sunshine, but I will not see her for a couple more days. Then the feeling I often return to..escape. I think of how would it be to just walk away. When you find yourself beyond the half century mark, your mental state is so controlling of your physical state. In youth heart palpitations were exciting and generally directed toward an “object of affection”, now you may really be having a heart attack.

Here come the challenges again. They are in my small intimate world and the big pubic one. My “golden years” are set to begin in 11 short months( I can say 9 because I get to start the ball rolling next August). Am I expecting and anticipating too much? What if it is a disappointment, what if I cannot survive on the monthly pension, what if I have to work… I ask these questions and then I give myself a psychological shaking. There is good here, there is something/plenty to look forward to.

No matter what happens each day you are afforded another opportunity to make changes, because you have by the grace of God awakened.That should be viewed as the gift it is. I won’t allow myself to be captured and controlled by this negativity. That means somehow I have to be able to interject some positive. I have to channel that negative energy and put it to work for me. As bad as it makes me/you feel demonstrates it is strong and can therefore be utilized.  Prayer, meditation…helps clear that wonderful organ and allows it to work on what it was designed to do; think, figure out problems, or just calm our systems down and return them to the intended settings, in order for us to function properly. You have to sometimes walk yourself away from the things that are going on, even if it is just in your mind, and let your soul feel better.

God Is Answering Your Prayers

Maybe the times are trying for you. You have no where to turn.” Look up”, I say and you will find peace. The answers may not come like you want or expect, but the answers are there.

Have you ever strayed away from your faith? Maybe nothing overt; it starts by missing church because something “urgent” came up, then you over slept, finally “you just aren’t feeling it” besides it’s 3rd Sunday nothing new goes on 3rd Sunday.  Pretty soon 3rd Sunday turns into a year and you wonder where the time went. You reflect, “Well it has been a hectic year, things have been going wrong..” you just haven’t had the time. How about you have a disappointment or major hurt in your life, then you blame God. You figure if He truly was there for you “this” would not have happened, so you turn your back on Him.

Faith the size of a mustard seed comes to mind, well I certainly have that much faith I can proclaim with absolute confidence. While you may say,” well that is not very much”,  remember God can move mountains with that amount of faith. I offer this perhaps I underestimated the amount of faith I truly have, maybe I thought if I set my standards low then the expectation would be low and disappointment not so severe.  How about you, have you been in this place? Once again taking care of things for God. Once again placing human/limited guideline on the One who created humans. The Creator needs my help. I prayed, I put a problem in His hands and because He didn’t move like I thought He should I said, “You are probably too busy with the UNIVERSE, or let me take care of this cause it needs to be done now…. Really??

We hear other peoples stories of their experiences and we say, “See that is what I need something astounding, something great in order for me to… ” In order for you to what; believe, trust, have faith? Do you realize you do actually have faith, do you really know what faith is. God is not on our clock, He does not travel the same way that we do and He is privy to information that we cannot begin to fathom.

Faith is not simply a word, it is a journey. Let’s be honest and real here; sometimes journeys can take unexpected turns, routes changed, arrivals can be delayed. Journeys can start off rocky and rough, smooth out to the extent that you don’t even remember the start or they can be the exact reverse, but if you really want to get somewhere you keep moving, go forward, and always Look Up.

I Surrender…..All?

Arms raised in the air, a white flag being waved; you turn your very life over to the someone you don’t know, you face uncertainty and perceived bad results. After all surrender is an act that usually happens in the face of war, and warring people are generally enemies.

Surrender an act of submission and associated with, an individual who most likely means to do you harm. “I give up, I throw myself on the mercy of the court, do with me what you will.” You give power over you away, because you are tired, weary or see no way out.  Yet to the One who loves and cares for you, it is often a difficult task to do this very same thing. Why?

God wants our unconditional love and trust. Part of us want to comply but there is that other part that says, you cannot give up or give in. You are independent, you must be self-sustaining; then when trouble comes you call to God or you blame Him for not helping you like YOU think He should. What do we want? The answer is simple; WE WANT PERFECTION. However, the road to perfection is still one many of us are not willing to take. This is elementary; one road to the destination you desire, but you won’t travel that way/direction. Here’s a “spoiler” you aren’t gonna get there!

The wiser we are the more difficult it is for us to believe things WE cannot explain. As a child, I remember being taught Jesus is LOVE/God is LOVE. To a little one reciting this and really grasping a hold of what it means, isn’t nearly as important as the fact you are able to memorize the words. As you grow up in stature and experience, you learn of LOVE in an academic sense.  You LOVE your family, you LOVE your spouse or mate, you LOVE chocolate, you LOVE to draw.. is it all the same thing. No, of course not. We know LOVE is a strong feeling so we confuse what it means and give into it being an expression of intensity, ONLY. After it is all said and done LOVE is just a word or is it?

Sunday morning in class (my eldest son is teaching, unique experience a topic for later) we went back to the basics, the beginnings to Genesis “God created man in his own image.”  In God’s Own image so what does God look like? Is God short or tall, is He black or white or brown or multi-racial, is He so gorgeous you cannot take your eyes off Him, or is He just a plain looking fellow that you’d never even notice.  I know that was a question I had as a child. Then as I got older and I heard individual groups trying to justify why they He was depicted with certain characteristics,  it let me know my query was not one I alone had. Some of the fog lifted on my journey as our teacher simply stated the image of God is the image of LOVE. In so few words the clarity hit. With God LOVE becomes so much more than simply a word or feeling.

Being good is a simple enough concept, it is just a hard thing to practice. If we are not good then how can we have God’s LOVE and God’s approval. Well God is different from us, and His LOVE is not the same as ours.  We are capable of this kind of LOVE, though. We say unconditional and we may be able to pull that of for a period of time, but when the trouble comes we pull the LOVE back so we don’t get hurt. Maybe we never put the LOVE out there like we say. God does not pull the LOVE back and He does put it out there for us, all we have to do is give in, trust, allow Him to give us His LOVE. All we have to do is surrender.

My Soul To Take

On days when you cannot put your finger on what exactly is wrong, there is a sensation inside of your body that allows you to feel. Is it your mind playing tricks on you? Is that pounding really just your heart?

I remember “A Child’s Prayer”; it was on a wooden plaque, the writing was royal blue set on a white china background, with the picture of a young baby sleeping. It was my grandmothers and she gave it to me. When my boys were young I taught the prayer to them and the same plaque resided on their bedroom wall until adulthood. I thought I had lost track of it but was happily informed it is still safe with my younger son.

I would, at times, make myself think of what it would feel like to lose a child. I know I could never comprehend this nor do/did I want to. The mere words in the prayer “if I should die..” made me shudder. My granddaughter and I say this age old prayer, and she smiles when we say it together because at 3 years of age she certainly has no idea what this means. To her it is just another attempt of her Abuela to do something that is remotely like singing.

Over a year ago a young man/teenager/child was killed in Florida. There were so many questions, so many perceived miscarriages of justice, and more media coverage than you could digest. I was angry, I was hurt, I wanted answers and I wasn’t even related to this child. We have to characterize Trayvon Martin as a child because he was in fact a minor. When I saw a graphic photo of this child lying in the grass after being fatally shot, I began crying again. I was gasping for air and unable to conceive of or comprehend what the people who knew and loved this child felt.

I  have prayed for him and his loved ones, I pray for justice, I pray for all the parties involved, because this is a tragedy on all levels; all people who hear of it are touched by it, whether they want to be or not. No matter the outcome of this trial the Zimmerman family will never be the same either, and people we cannot be insensitive to them, because George  is their loved one. I stand by my previous comments, that there will be no winners in this case.

People who inhabit our prisons, people who live in the streets, people who commit crimes against and in our society did not just magically appear out of thin air. They are the product of a union; somewhere along the lines of their lives someone loved and cared for them, just as sure as something went wrong and caused them to go wrong.

Pray the Lord takes these souls; soul of people whose lives are cut short or merely end, but also pray to the Lord that His essence takes  hold of the souls of the living. For if He has their souls/our souls, that are so closely interconnected, we will no longer have to cry for ones who have been lost to the Earth, to their loved ones, and to us all.

A Truly Beautiful Soul

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does no matter how subtle, you know it. You encounter a person who has” light” emanating from them.

Today I attended the memorial of one of those oh-so- rare souls. I have wanted to write something about her but avoided doing anything until I thought I was ready.

Something is missing in my life, but it is still deep within my heart. The love of my friend. I know the love is not gone it just isn’t in the easy access form I have grown familiar with. I would not be honest if I said I am okay with this, but I also recognize the fact I have no control here. I sat in the pew today, thinking what a wonderful lady and friend I had in Kay. I watched and listened to her two brave children tell stories, read poems, and give tribute to their darling mother. The tears streamed down my face, I could not stop. The odd thing was usually when I cry like this, there is a lump in my throat and an indescribable pain. This was not the case today. I was able to sit and listen and feel; I knew my friend was okay, and I knew the hurt I felt was simply stemmed from my missing her.

I was a part of a celebration of a life and the dedication of a truly beautiful soul. The words flowed in a manner that you could feel everyone’s, who was in your presence, affirmation that what was said was true.  We all knew her bright cheerful smile and positive outlook. There wasn’t enough time to cover all the things she meant to all those she touched, so instead we had a few moments to sit and reflect quietly. For what is life but a collection of moments. I can say I was touched by an individual who looked at life with fresh and renewed hope each day. Years on this Earth and interactions with people did not make her lose faith in the good that existed, now matter how deeply it may have been buried in some.

God gives us individuals like my friend to remind us that there is a rainbow out there, and just because you cannot see it does not make it any less real. I am a better person because I knew Kathryn L.”Kay” Short and I will forever remember her with a smile.

June Gloom

Southern Californians know this term ever so well. It is a reference to the cloudy gray mornings we experience during the early summer month. This particular June as I sit in my Georgia home I am experiencing the gloom for another reason. I am suffering from a case of change with complications arising from loss.

I often have spoken of change and how we have to embrace it for there is no progress with out it and so-on. I am telling you that I am resisting the changes I have experienced lately with unrelenting determination. I want so much to retreat to that which is familiar, I need my safe haven, and I want to return to that which I know.

Earlier in the week I was told of the passing of a long time friend of my family. A lady who I have know for some 20 plus years. I went to school with her children, watched her grandchildren become adults and parents themselves. She is a part of my history, those of us who grew up on 107th Street have a connection the equivalent of a bloodline. She was a neighbor, she was a friend, she was family and she IS loved.

Not 24 hours earlier I was calling to check on my dear friend, who I haven’t known as many years, but in emotional ties the bond is unquestionable, only to be told she had suffered a fall which hospitalized her and the prognosis is NOT what I would want it to be. Her children a source of pure joy, her seven grandsons jewels in her crown of pride, and of course her best friend/ companion/ love for 65 years; I do not have words to express what it feels like to be in the company of a life fulfilled, after knowing this lady for such a short time. I shared a little prayer I say when I am drawing on my faith with my dear friend’s precious daughter.  “Not my will oh Lord but Yours”.

Trying not to cry, I want to say something about these two ladies I love. I feel so fortunate and blessed to have had them in my life. I don’t question the Lord but I do wonder what did I do to gain such favor to have Him put these special people in my life. Unfortunately, I would be lying if I said I completely understand why He decided to take them from me when He did.  I know there are Christians who would tell me that I am toying with the “Wrath of Hell” saying such things but God is all knowing..  Therefore He is quite aware of my state.

God gives us balance, not everything is one way, although at times we cannot see beyond our circumstances. My younger brother reached his milestone half century mark, thankfully he joined the ranks of us that talk in decades instead of years, and laugh about it. Father’s Day is  less than an hour and a half away on the east coast; a day when we pay homage to the men in our lives that have inspired and supported us like no other. All this midst “June Gloom”.

All of these things are/have been made possible because of God. Tonight when I say my prayers I will thank Him for all he has done for me, blessings He has bestowed, people He has put in my path, and I shall ask Him for strength to endure the things that present themselves to me that I think I would much rather not encounter. Tonight I will ask Him to care for these two beautiful ladies and their loving families in ways only He can. Through all of this I know I will be okay with time, but I know one day someone will be praying for me because it may NOT seem as though I will in fact be alright on that particular occasion.

In closing,”Trust in the Lord”.

Angels All Around Us

Here we go again, it is nearing summer; the temperatures rise and makes things miserable for people who suffer from Sickle Cell Disease.  It is very hard on the SCD patient physically, but for the ones who love them the devastating affects are emotional.  Doctor’s offices and emergency rooms become the havens of a love/hate relationship that has undoubtedly been going on as long as they can remember.

Great they are admitting you, again the feelings of a mixed blessing. You have no idea for how long this time, but that is generally the case. In the midst of the hurt, with the sounds of the machines, and medications which are keeping you going, there she is in the doorway.  She went out of her way, took time from her schedule, from her family to stop by to see you. She didn’t bring anything with her, except maybe SUNSHINE. Laughter returned to you; her presence made you concentrate on something other than your pain, other than what you are going through.

Who is she? A few short months ago you didn’t even know her; today she brings you a gift that a lifetime often does not always offer, a true demonstration of friendship. She says, “That’s what friends are for, that’s what friends do”. To you she is a godsend, the oasis in the desert. I wholeheartedly agree, God sent her. Common everyday people doing uncommon and amazing things.They are confirmation the He is with you and He loves you. Maybe when you are on your feet again, you can return the favor, paying it forward to someone else that needs some sunshine in their room, in their life. For now a simple “Thank you, God bless you”, will do.

A Shoulder Tap And A Whisper

Just so you know there are other posts waiting to be published but this took precedence over them, for anytime I can sing (not literally cause I am tone deaf and “rhythmless”) the praises to God I do. He has been here for me when I did not know what would happen next and did not know where to turn. He has failed me not. I am His child, and flawed as all of us are, yet He loves me just the same. Through my arrogance and stubborn streak, through my recklessness and disregard, He is the rock upon which I can rest and rely.

Throughout my religious ventures, and by this I mean wandering from place to place and denomination after denomination, I have heard many a parable about how God makes His presence known. “He may not come when you want Him, but He’s always right-on-time!” I have experienced it many times personally. Today I want to remind all of you and prompt you to look back if things are alright in your world today, or to look forward and up it things are not.

He is said to be a jealous God, thus(and I am paraphrasing here folks) there is no room for worshiping and/or admiring any other like you do Him. Yet his love is unmistakable.  Defy Him and He will get your attention and it won’t necessarily be with the Earth shaking or a thunder clap, but to you it will impact you with that same power. Suffice to say He will not be ignored.

Next time you are broke and you find  money in the street or someone somewhere sends you a little something out of the blue, next time you are sick or are in so much physical pain you wonder why and how you are conscious  then suddenly the medication starts to work and you have trouble recalling that very same pain; recognize what has taken place, stop what you are doing and say a prayer to give thanks, for God has helped you to make it through. He does all that He does without announcements, without a parade, without lights and/or cameras; it is done with a soft tap on your shoulder, and with a whisper in your ear He says, “I got this”. Believe it, because it is so, and because He does.

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