Storm warnings

Storm warnings

“Jesus also said to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud rising to the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain;’ and so it happens. ..You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?  And why do you not judge for yourself what is right?’” Luke 12:54-57

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I sit and watch a storm come up the beach in the early morning. The sun is out and there are blue skies to the east, but to the west the sky is grayer. Clouds begin to move overhead. Sometimes this dark overhead carpet seems so close I think I can touch it. Fishing boats come back into port to weather the coming storm. Birds begin to take shelter. The great blue heron moves inland. The pelicans are nowhere to be seen. The mighty osprey is the last to give up looking for one more meal before she moves back to her nest. A violent wind precedes and announces the main event, the driving rain which is almost horizontal.

Jesus reminds us that we see signs in our own life that storms may be coming.  Our children act out or their grades at school begin to drop. We get little hints that a project is not going well, but we are too busy to take care of that matter right now. Later. Too many other things going on. We remember how a certain food affected us in the past, but we eat it anyway.  Our clothes no longer fit but we do not change our eating and exercise habits or lifestyle. We ignore a pain that is a sign that some body part needs attention.

The same is true in our spiritual life. Our prayer life seems dry. We cannot remember our dreams. We can no longer write. All we read seems dull and uninteresting. We think of every excuse not to be at corporate worship. We stop going outdoors. It is too hot. Too cold. Too sunny. Too cloudy. We stop talking with friends. We isolate. 

In medicine, a sign is an outward or objective appearance that suggests what is going on like the red butterfly rash across the nose of Lupus erythematosus. A symptom describes something subjectively experienced by an individual such as the fatigue of Lupus or pain with a urinary tract infection which requires some interpretation.

We constantly are given signs and symptoms from both our outer and inner life to direct us. God never abandons us. We only are called to keep ourselves in tune to see and hear. Spiritual directors, spiritual friends, spiritual practices all are gifts to help us along this journey know we are not alone and that a directional move or change in course may be needed in our outer or inner life.

My own experience, however, is that I am so much like that osprey, waiting until the very last minute before surrendering to something greater than myself.

Joanna  joannaseibert.com

 

Turning it over

Turning it over

“I abandon all that I think I am, all that I hope to be, all that I believe I possess. I let go of the past, I withdraw my grasping hand from the future, and in the great silence of this moment, I alertly rest my soul.”   -Howard Thurman, Deep Is the Hunger, Inwardoutward.org, Daily Quote August 7, 2018. Church of the Saviour

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The first line, “I abandon all that I think I am,” reminds me of the liturgy in the celebration of a marriage when the couple exchange rings. “N, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you, in the Name of God.”  (Book of Common Prayer, p. 317). Of course, Thurman goes even deeper than the vow at the exchange of rings. This prayer now turns over to God all that we think we are, all that we might hope to be, all that we think we possess, our past, and the future. The result, in the silence of the moment, is that we mindfully rest into our soul, the God within us, and find that peace that words cannot describe.

This is freedom. No longer in charge. Doing the next right thing but not worrying about the results. Trying to be the person God created us to be, not the person others may be calling us to be.  Discerning and then doing what we think we are uniquely called to do. Hoping to find direction through spiritual practices and inner work and living in community. Listening. Listening to other people’s story. At the right time, telling our story.  Learning how to forgive and to be forgiven. Being always grateful. Becoming a servant leader.

This is the life of surrender.

Joanna   joannaseibert.com

  

 

 

 

Crafton: Living with Limitations

Crafton: Living with Limitations

“Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you’re not anything else. Have you lost an ability you used to have? Something you loved? Have you had to say good-bye to it? Maybe there’s another way or another place in which you can still do it, or something like it.” Barbara Crafton, eMo from The Geranium Farm, www.geraniumfarm.org August 16, 2018.

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 The Center for Disease Control (CDC) this week reports on its website that 61 million adults or about one fourth of adults in this country have a disability that impacts a major part of their lives.  The most common disability deals with mobility, affecting one in seven adults. It is also more common in women, especially those in the South and of lower income. The most common disability in younger adults is cognitive disability.

Barbara Crafton, who will be at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Little Rock, Saturday September 8th from 9 to 1 writes a daily email eMo from the Geranium Farm www.geraniumfarm.org using a piece of art to lead to her story. This week she had a painting, “Summer Wheat Field With Cypresses,” by Vincent Van Gogh painted in his last year from his window while he was in a mental facility.

My experience is that each of us has what Paul calls, “a thorn in our flesh.” If we think the other person doesn’t, we are very mistaken. We have a choice of how to respond to a disability. More and more I see our experience is to ask in our prayers how that thorn brings new light or new direction to our lives. Those in recovery will say that their addiction brought them to a new life they never dreamed. I see people with cancer changing and bettering the lives of others until the very end. I see parents with handicapped children who know more about patience and kindness and love than so many of us. 

There is a new pathway. It is not necessarily overcoming the disability but seeing the message or new direction for us to continue to become the person God has created us to be in each new experience we are offered.

Joanna joannaseibert.com