In the Stillness

stillness

I love the stillness
how it holds me
and caresses me
with its gentle silence
and a cocoon of presence

I feel alive and aware in stillness
as if there are mysteries
that will be revealed little by little
and as if there is a oneness to it and in me

All of a sudden
I am a part of everything
And yet separate as well

In my every movement
I sense the disturbance
the flow
that follows and guards me

It is fun to imagine
a sphere of stillness around me

Oh how I love the stillness

St. Francis

It had been too many years
Since your little flowers beckoned to me
With tantalizing views of God’s love
Lived in the life of the littlest friar.

I could not hear you then
Your voice too pure for filthy ears
Your heart too humble for haughty reflection
And a love too strong for indecision.

Lady Poverty set you free to live in this world
Nursing lepers as they healed you
Reminding the birds of the love of our Creator
Piecing together the broken puzzle of the church.

Familiar wounds appeared five times
On hands that softened life’s blows on the sick
On feet that left bloody footprints on the path to Christ
And in the side of a body slim enough for the narrow gate.

Shall I listen, Saint Francis, as you speak to my heart,
With haunting words demanding response,
“I have done what was mine to do;
May Christ teach you what you are to do.”

~ Kathy Brown

Again

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Once

You found me

Seeing through the words

Voiced to hide my essence

Even from myself

I wasn’t expecting it

I felt delicious

I felt treasured

I felt known

It has been awhile now

I don’t remember what you found

Or how you found it

I long to be found

Again

 

 

I Wept Today

I wept today.

I wept today for a little girl

     with her little knapsack on her back

     standing outside her little locked home

     her world thrown into turmoil

     her parents thrown behind bars

     leaving her alone with her confusion

     and tears.

I wept today for little boys

     trying to hold their emotions at bay

     as they gathered together in a shelter

     after a normal day at school

     ending in an anything but normal evening

     and the fear is visible in their glistening eyes.

I wept today for parents

     who have been working hard at jobs

     in a foreign land

     known for its opportunities

     and in the past for its compassion and humanitarianism

     who now wonder what indignities

     their children are suffering.

I wept today for a nation

     that was once my homeland

     of which I was so proud

     having etched in my memory pictures of our people

     breaking imprisoned, suffering people out of their prisons

     yet today imprisoning suffering people.

I wept today for me

     who feels helpless in this moment

     who wants to act but cannot find the action

     who has no outlet for this outrage seething inside

     who wishes we could rise together and declare “enough”

     who never thought she would see this day

     but has seen and now is implicated.

I wept today.

Sleep Aids & Vitamin JC

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“Sorry, Karen, gotta go take my sleep aid now.”

My sister and I laughed as we hung up the phone after a good long conversation of catching up on jobs, friends, hobbies, recipes, and . . . ailments. Even as I write this, I have to laugh. I never thought it would be me! Sleep aid? Ailments? Really? Even just a few years ago, I’m pretty sure I held a privately derogatory view of anyone who had to use a sleep aid. “Just go swim or do some exercise,” I would critically and silently think.

Still chuckling to myself, I took my sleep aid and began my home physiotherapy regime for the frozen shoulder I’d been experiencing for the past seven months. As I worked through the 20 or so stretches and exercises followed by 15 minutes of icing and heating contrast therapy, I had flashbacks of my dad doing home physical therapy after his double knee replacement. “Oh no,” I thought, “is this just the beginning of a long road of ailments?” And I remembered how it was kind of annoying that he talked about it so much. Just like I was starting to talk about my shoulder. Sigh.

After the hour of physiotherapy, I still was not tired, so I decided to get a jump start on the week. First order of business: restock the weekly pillbox. Medicine for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Vitamin D3, Calcium, Glucosamine, Magnesium, and two extra strength Advil for every morning; more Advil each night. More flashbacks. Mom and Dad had different approaches to daily self-care. Mom’s approach was aspirin, chocolate and coffee. Dad had a drawer full of every imaginable vitamin per the recommendation of Adele Davis – famous health author in the 1970s.

I remembered the daily routine of having to take a spoonful of cod liver oil and then burping it up all morning and experiencing the disgusting taste all over again. I remembered my parents poking holes in Vitamin E pills and squeezing the liquid out onto my sun-poisoned skin. I remembered hearing ad nauseam about the benefits of Vitamin C and how many ailments it cured. I remembered the horrible smell and taste of the many vitamins we had to take to earn our allowance. I looked forward to growing older and moving out so I would not have to deal with vitamins ever again. Now I wish someone would pay for my vitamins.

Since the beginning of time, humankind has strived for eternal life. Often our striving involves a lot of time, resources and attention to techniques to extend our days minimally (both my parents passed away at an average age in their family). As a follower of Jesus Christ, who lived to the ripe old age of 33, I think that perhaps if we learned to number our days as he did, the wisdom gained would lead us to focus on how we live; not how long.

A hard pill to swallow.

Retreat

Day 2 on the Advent Calendar, but Advent Eve in terms of the Church Calendar.  Today there was a lovely retreat at First Baptist Church at Jasper Avenue and 109 Street in downtown Edmonton.

This is my second year attending this retreat and we read the Story of the Birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-20.  Every time I read that story, something different pops out.  Today it seemed to me that it was a very disruptive scene.  First of all, I wonder what everyone was doing when the census was called.  How many people had to get up and travel how far to get to their home towns so they could be counted?  What does that look like?  Do they have livelihoods they have to leave?  If this happened today, I would have to get up and make my way to Rome……Rome, New York, that is. If I had the funds, it would only take a few hours.  Otherwise, it would take a LONG time to walk there.

But go to his hometown, Joseph does. And he takes his pregnant girlfriend / fiancee – Mary.  Great timing, eh?  Because it is loads of fun taking a road walking trip while pregnant.  (I doubt Mary complained as much as I would have….but there must have been a time or two.  Oh wait, maybe not seeing as how she was 14 or 15 years old, and you know how mature we are at that age.)

Now, if I had to go to Rome, NY, I’d get on the phone and call my relatives – long-lost or not – to find a place to stay for free.  It would be reunion time as well.  But I guess Joseph’s family must have all moved on to various areas?  Or everyone but him had died somehow?  Because no other family is mentioned at all and yet this is Joseph’s hometown.  I wonder how family stuff worked back then or what the story of his family was?  Or was it because he had a pregnant girlfriend he couldn’t really go to family?

So, they had to check into a motel.  But they arrived just a little bit later than most people, and everything was booked.  There was no room for Joseph in his hometown.  And no room for Mary, who is bursting at the seams with a baby.  I wonder if that was still due to stigma?  Although not everyone is friendly here, I imagine if a woman was in labor, someone (including me) would let her come in and have her baby.  Was there no mercy in the area at all?

Most importantly, there was no room for a Saviour.  I wonder if we, in our busy, harried lives, have room for Him now?

Advent

December 1, 2017.  For . . . ahem . . . many years now, I have experienced this as the first day of Advent.  At least, that is according to the various advent calendars that have made their way into my life.

Every year on this day, my mind wends its way back to childhood days, when two or three of us would fight every day over who would open the little window on the one advent calendar we shared in our house.  And that was all before chocolate advent calendars entered the picture!  By the way, we never, ever had a chocolate advent calendar, and as of yet, I still do not desire one.  I desire to open a little window and see a candle, or a cross, or a gift box, or a goose, or any number of little figures we would see each day.

In retrospect, it was the anticipation that was the best part – it made the surprise much more satisfying each day..  And today, as I reflect upon what advent now means to me – the longing of this now much older body, mind and soul, to experience Christ incarnate within in a new and fresh way – though the longing is great, I am determined to savour the anticipation of his coming once again.