25 February 2013

Lent -- God is in Massage

“If you then, imperfect as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

Today I went got a massage from a chain salon where I purchased membership last Summer. What I committed to was a monthly massage and other perks at a discount to enhance the experience, aromatherapy, and to share a guest discount pass.

In this season of Lent where emphasis is put on our giving up so much, I call us to give in to God’s will for our body, mind and spirit.  Getting these monthly massages feel good, are sometimes painful, are exceptionally relaxing, and clears my chakras / releases endorphins / regulates my attitude.

Nine months into this commitment to self-care I took the time for the first time to add aromatherapy to my massage session. Access to this more full experience had always been available to me, yet, until this month I had not taken advantage of it. Why? Because even though I knew it was available, I balked at indulging in this experience as if doing so was reserved for other patrons but not me.  I somehow convinced myself that I was not worthy to receive this decadent pleasure which was equally, fully, and totally available for me the past nine months.

And so this Lent, I confess how often I talk myself out of receiving God’s abundant life for me. It has been mine since the womb, yet, I am only now opening myself up to God’s gift of self-care, abundantly. Besides, what good is a gift unopened? I am sure that insults the giver.

Repenting, I look forward to the aromatherapy add-on; and to sharing the guest pass for a massage for someone who needs it.  Receiving God’s gifts allows for sharing God’s gifts, too!

Lent - God is in Sleep

It’s Lent and all around folk are lamenting about and promising to give up something, or several things to observe this holy season in the Christian and Catholic church.  

Among the most popular being sweets, carbs, meat; cussing, cursing, swearing; television, social media, internet overuse; and you may add yours here:  ________________.

Like New Year Resolutions, I never seem to keep these promises to be a better Christian (tongue-in-cheek) consistently, even during the scant 40 days, and off on Sundays, of the 365 days of the year.  Within just a week, I have eaten a peanut butter cookie, cussed about gun violence, and am thoroughly enjoying getting to know my new toy -- Kindle Fire HD 8.9”.  

However, I have become most innately and effortlessly mindful of the gift of God of sleep:  I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

As one who has always enjoyed reading, writing, studying and creating until the wee hours of the morning, I have long been staying up way past Midnight, even when I had to rise early.  As much as I found myself to be highly productive during those hours, I was also feeling the breakdown in my body -- malaise until mid-morning, anxious about getting off work so I get a short nap before staying up all night, weight-gain, and depression.

Underlying my creative surge between 9pm and 3am was my false responsibility for the security and satisfaction that the people I cared most for were home, usually in the house with me, sound and secure.  Once they fell asleep I could stop worrying about them and release all of my desires to create.  I am convicted now, that I was not trusting God’s gift of safe-keeping nor treasuring God’s gift of sleep.  

This Lenten season, I commit to regulating my faith by praying for my loved ones and believing in the “Amen”  anytime I feel anxiety rising about matters that concern them.  I also commit to going to bed before Midnight regardless of what more I have been known to do that was good, but not good for me.

Sleep is God’s gift, I pray you join me in getting more of it, better of it, and strength from it.

Lent - God Is In Chocolates...

Some may have found themselves in a spiritual quandary of foregoing chocolate (and all sweets) for Lent while being drawn to the decadence of its aromatic elixer all around -- co-workers’ desks, drugstores’ shelves, and perhaps even your own nightstand.  This year the first day of Lent is also Valentine’s Day.  

For others, this Valentine’s Day is just another Thursday.  No chocolates, no roses, no sappy cards. Just another day of longing for reciprocal acknowledgement of loving and being loved. Just the first day of giving up, fasting from, struggling through the next 40 days of Lent.

I am grateful to be among the ones giving and receiving chocolates, flowers, and cards.  What  struck me oddly was that I gave chocolates (and wine and flowering plant and really expensive card) to one who did not give me either. I received roses (three beautiful pink ones now drying in the window) from another one to whom I gave nothing. And I received cards from geographically and socially distant acquaintances.  

During Lent, might we consider that reciprocity is not the equal exchange of gifts from one to another simultaneously.  Rather, consider reciprocity in relationships happen often unexpectedly and surprisingly.  Like when: God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). Standing before God empty-handed, we received no greater gift, no Greater Love.

And so it is that for this season of Lent let us practice mindfulness to give and to receive gifts depending only on Divine dispensation of opportunities for us to give and overtures of others to give to us. That’s where reciprocity happens best in relationships -- by surprise and without presumption.

If you are one who regards Valentine’s Day as just another Thursday, I encourage you to buy a morsel of the best chocolate you can afford, a single fragrant rose, and a beautiful blank card in which you can publish your heart’s desire.  In doing so, savor each moment as God the Universe reminds you that you are loved, deeply and indeed.

For others, I bless you to eat that chocolate, guiltless, while observing Lent with like mindedness. Lent, being as much as about giving up, it is also about giving in to gifts from God.  Sometimes, those gifts are chocolate, roses and sentimental cards exchanged between hearts, and not necessarily from the ones to whom we give or from whom we recieve.

Happy Valentine’s Day while commencing your Lenten Journey of God’s Gifts.

13 February 2013

Ash Wednesday: Our Presence, God's Gift

Ash Wednesday beckons us to that scary place of personal failings. Go there. God is already there to welcome, forgive, love and restore you. Be slow about making great and grand fasting gestures for Lent. Giving up stuff is not the sacrifice God desires. Being present with God and others in this season, apart from trappings and distractions, is God's gift TO us! 

Praying mindfulness and courage, peace and contentment this season. --RevSisRaedorah

Psalm 51:1-17 (NIV)

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.