Quote of the day

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mercy And Power--- Both In Your Hands

Have you ever had to be merciful to someone that you probably don't feel is deserving of your time or help.
We live in a world that believes if we are not treated well we should not treat the person who has hurt us well either.
Being a Christian means trying to get passed this idea of an eye for an eye and allow for the helping of another person in need.
Now that doesn't mean we need to be abused or used,but it does mean we need to resolve that,as St.Peter was told by Jesus,not to forgive 7 times but 70 x 70 times.
No where in the Bible does Jesus talk about hating your brother in times of need,instead he talks about being a physician to the sick because the ill need a doctor not the healthy.
Imagine if you will,that for the past several years,you have been having some sort of affliction.When ever it flares up you go to the doctor but today when your illness is at it's worse he tells you "I have treated you seven times now don't come back to see me again until your well."
I think this doctor would have very few patients.
I remember the movie Schindler's List when the commander in charge of the concentration camp is told by Schindler how wonderful it is to take mercy on another person,just how much power you hold in your hands,like a Cesar in the old days,in charge of life and death.
Now this commander takes mercy as a way to be physically not spiritually powerful,but you know there is some truth in this idea of mercy associated with power.
How low must a person be in life when they come to you and ask for forgiveness and mercy and how much power do you hold in your hands to grant such a request,for this person,who has now made themselves emotionally naked in front of you,asking this request then awaiting one word from your lips "forgiven or "not".
We may not,at first, feel like helping this person in need for the 100Th time but you know what you just have to resolve to do it and put your personal feelings aside.
Jesus doesn't say,anywhere that when we forgive or show mercy we must first "feel like it".Most times when we listen to our feeling we chose to do what we should not anyways.
And the whole kicker with this mercy and forgiveness thing is that "we" must be humble so has not to embarrass the person asking for help.
When we show mercy to others then we are given our own mercy from God because how we judge is measured and God in turn will use this same ruler to deal with our issues.
If you think your time for mercy will not come then you are very wrong,be it in this world or the next,we all fall and we all need to be given another chance.
Several years ago a man drove up to an Amish school house lined 10 little girls against the wall and shot them,then himself.Five of the girls died but with in 2 hours of the tragedy the Amish elders went to the house of the man who killed their children and showed forgiveness and mercy. They understood that to not do so would infect their own community with hatred.
After the event the Amish community went out of their way to invite this man's family to events they had and help them get passed their grief and become a part of their Amish community.
Now that is true humble mercy of which I doubt I could show.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jesus Went Into The Mountains

I have the type of job that can be very physically and emotionally draining and tonight was no exception.
Has I got home, did the dishes and made supper I decided to go upstairs and look at the emails and face book section,to see what friends and acquaintances were doing with their time.
Sometimes when I go on this sight I feel very alone,Like even the thought of spending a few minutes with my quotes can be to over powering just to sit and write about.
Sometimes I feel the world is spinning around me with all this modern technology and I can't seem to even being to understand or get excited about what its real value is all about.
Tonight is one of those feeling of depression nights or what I call my black moods.When I get like this I understand that over stimulation of my emotions is at play and I must stop and decompress from all I have seen and done or not done.
I am not a perfect person and to expect perfection from my self is a situation of futile worthlessness.
Many time I think about Jesus and even he had days where he needed to go up into the mountains or out into the desert to once again meet himself and God.
Everyone in this world needs many things and everyone thinks their needs are the most important but really our own needs at times must play in and we must face ourselves through meditation and prayer and hopefully come out a better person on the other side.
There are times when I feel not of this world,like being on some ride and everything is swirling around but in the end I understand that the most important things are not money or worldly things but simple things.
The problem with being a christian is it can be a very lonely life because we live against the current of the worlds idea of values and importance.
To be nothing is what we hope to be but the world does not understand such simpleness only God does and this can be very lonely indeed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Would Jesus Look Like

Tonight while at Prayer Study Fr.Peter talked about what Jesus looked like.
If your from my neck of the woods you probably have pictures of Jesus with Caucasian type features and blondish brown hair with blue eyes.
Well I guess this idea is alright,since we try to conform Jesus to our looks, but this vision of him is very wrong.
Jesus was a Jewish man who probably had brown eyes,tan skin and black curly hair and was short in stature compared to today standards.
How we perceive Jesus depends on our upbringing and personal features.
I came from a white family in an all white neighborhood so to me this light haired,blue eyed man fit into my understanding of the world around me.
The other morning while driving to work I stopped at a stop sign.
Directly in front of me was a man,his back turned toward me,who looked rather dirty and unkept.
Not being accustomed to having transients in our town I began to wondered if he were a bum or some one just waiting for a ride.
At that point he turned and faced me and our eyes locked.
He had an old jacket on with no shirt underneath,dirty pants and looked unbathed with greasy hair.
Most times in my life when met by such a sight,I would turn my gaze away and continue driving trying to ignore him,but this time was different.For some reason a thought came to my mind "Did Jesus look like this man?"
Was he dirty and unshaven? Were his clothes in need of a washing? was his hair greasy and uncombed?
I recalled reading,several times in the bible,when the Pharisees questioned Jesus about why he and his apostles did not always follow the codes of purification and cleanliness.
Could it be Jesus put himself in such a position just so he would be rebuked and disqualified by the priest and higher ups of the temples?
What did it take to be a person in those days who chose to even listen to this man?
Were they at first repelled by his looks and smell but later attracted by his personality?
Simple yet compelling.
I must admit that the thirty seconds that this man and I gazed at each other, gave me some points to ponder,which had slipped my mind until tonight's class.
I think the more you get into real prayer and study the more you begin to understand that has your heart softens so to do your views.
When you least expect it something happens to make you ponder what your preconceived notions were and what they have become.
Growth takes time to slowly be revealed in sutle ways.
God whispers to us and like a parable it is revealed when the time is right and we are ready to understand.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fear Of The Unkown

We medical people are good at physically preparing people for medical test and procedures but not so good at explaining why these test are being done or listening to the fears of the patient about whom these things are being done to.
When students go to medical or nursing school they never are given any courses on how it feels to be a patient at the mercy of a medical person hands.
Maybe we all need to spend a few days in a hospital to understand what its like to be in the bed instead of standing over it.
In a one day period we nurses spend most of our time dealing with multiple people and their needs.
Doctors,other nurses,pharmacy,van drivers,x ray people,lab people,multiple phone calls in search of information,hospice employees and nurses,housekeepers,maintenance and the list goes on and on.
I probably touch bases with each and everyone from the above list through out my day.
We forget that what we deal with every working day is all new and very scary to the patient we are working with.
I try through out my day to remind myself that no question or fear is a small matter to those who are in my care.
I know how to do all the hands on things from my school days but must remember that just because I know how and why I'm doing something the person laying in the bed does not understand what is being done to them and they are frightened.
To entrust your body to another human being is a tribute to the person on the other end whom you are about to trust with what could be your life.
Do no harm is a pledge we all take on the day we graduate but ease peoples fears should also be a part those vows.
Just because I know what I am doing doesn't mean the people allowing me to do my job know that I know and are trusting that I do.
How much faith one must have is incredible and how we treat our patients requires us to also allow them to trust that we will do whatever we can to make the process has least traumatic as possible.
No patient should ever feel to afraid to vent to a medical professional and no medical person should ever allow a patient to feel like they are a burden or a nuisance.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Point Of View

I'm a firm believer that there are two ways to look at things in your life.negatively or positively.
For as long as I can remember I have always tried to look at things from an angle of positiveness,much to the annoyance of many of my friends.
I guess its because so many odd things seem to happen to me that I can see how many things can be misunderstood.
I always say I can get myself into more trouble by trying to do the right things then most people can when doing the wrong.
Today while getting ready to leave work my sister came to tell me I had a flat tire but she had a compressor and would leave it under my car to re inflate my tire.
Now I could have gotten very upset about the fact that my tire was flat but instead was very happy that my sister saw it and had her compressor with her.
Problem avoided and life moves on.
Simple things do not seem to bother me that much.I tend to use it has a way of trying to figure out how to be creative and make the best of things.
I do what I can and leave the rest in God hands cause lets face it he's large and in charge and I know things will work out one way or the other and worrying is not going to make it any better or worse.
Now that does not mean we should not plan for the future and try to avoid the unnecessary problems but only a fool knows he alone controls all the actions of the future.
Besides how tiring and uneventful life must be when you have to plan out everything to the smallest letter.
I must tell you sometimes if I know I should check things out or find out answers to something I purposely put things off just to feel that "what if" sensation.
What if I don't do this or that what will happen.Sounds ridiculous I know but to much control can take all the fun out of something and life then becomes to straight laced and boring.
A little breathless worry never hurt anything except our need to control and from what I understand God doesn't want us to worry about tomorrow according to him it wont add any time to our lives to worry about what will happen in the future,can't argue with that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Is Humility ?

What does humility mean to you?
Does it mean someone who is weak,easily pushed around by others,fearful,frightened,meek or indecisive?
A cowering mouse in the corner,so to speak.
We tend to think of a person who is humble has someone,who for what ever reason,is not strong in character.
I know of some religious people who feel in order to be humble they must speak so softly hardly anyone can hear them or be unable to accept thanks for what they are complimented on.
Is this humility?
No its not,to be humble means to think more of others then yourself.
When you are troubled do you have enough humility to take it to God before you try to handle the situation your self or do you turn to him as a last ditch effort to get you out of a jam,when all else has failed and your going down for the third time.
Humility means being able to understand its not "All about you" its about God.
We are unable to solve our own problems when we are centered on our selves.
Being with God is a partnership,like a marriage.
Would you want to be in a relationship with someone who never valued your opinion or talked to you except when things were really bad, And then wanted you to solve their problems now?
How long would this coupling last? would you see it growing stronger or would you feel unloved and used?
Well God is the same way,he did not put you here to go it alone he wants to be not only your partner,but also your father,a helping loving Abba,wanting to assist his child.
Humility requires you to allow God to run the show,be open to his plans and understand that what this world sees has foolish and weak is almost always in God plan.
Archbishop Bloom talks about we being as humble as the ground allowing the planter to do what he must with us in order to make our soil fertile to bring forth grow.
We can not tell the planter what he can and can not grow or how to prepare the soil.
This sort of earthly and spiritual abandonment is considered humility and has nothing to do with weakness but everything to do with strength through Christ.
It really takes a person of great character to have this sort of humility.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prayers That Move You

Tonight while reading the book "Beginning to pray"
I came across something very interesting the writer Archbishop Anthony Bloom talks about.He says use prayers that mean and move you and they will be special to God.
Funny he should say this because he and I are on the same tract and that is probably why I have so much difficulty with allot of formal prayer because I'm not at the point in my spiritual life that all these heavy worded prayers mean much to me.
They don't move me so how can they move God inside me.
My favorite prayer is the St. Francis prayer "Lord make me an instrument of your peace."
The reason I like this prayer so much is because doing the type of work I do this plea is very much in my work,my mind and my heart.
You can not be a good nurse if you are not willing to fully abandon your self for the needs of those around you.
I always tease my aides at work,when every I have to keep asking them to do things for me I tell them "just remember its really all about me and the sooner you get that the happier we are all going to be."
They know I'm kidding and we all just work harder has a crew because we really know it is all about everyone else and very little about us.
This work in order to be done properly requires abandonment of ones self.
"Lord make me an instrument of your peace where there is hatred let me sow love,where there is injury,pardon,where there is doubt faith,where there is despair,hope,where there is darkness,light,where there is sadness,joy."
"Oh Devinne master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to to console,to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love."
"For it is in giving that we receiver,it is pardoning that we are pardoned,and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life."
I can think of no other prayer with deeper meaning to me then this,because this is my life has a nurse and care giver.
And at many points through out my day I probably hit on most of them hoping that God will grant me patience,love and care because I want to treat my patients and their family members as I would want to be treated myself.
This type of work in an 8 or more hour day can be very draining but very wonderful.
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life..Amen...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Calling

Most people when they think of a religious calling think it means to be a priest or minister.
I have always been in favor of women being priest but have come to the understanding that a calling does not just limit women to not being priest.
A calling can be in many areas of work and not just Sunday Services.
There are woman in the world who preach but not from the pulpit.
A calling can and should be everyday of the week from where ever we are in the world to whom ever is around us at the time.
We are only limited by our selves and not by God because he is limitless.
Jesus was a teacher,a Rabbi,he did not stand at an alter every Sabbath but influenced many people through his preaching,teaching and loving examples.
His apostles,none of then Rabbis,went into the world and used the gifts of words and actions,none of them were acclaimed speakers in the Temple.
What does this all mean? Stop complaining about what you can not do and start doing what you can do.
You can not find your gifts and use them if you are more worried about what you did not receive then what you did.
We are not all meant to stand on the platform and do masses and services must of us are given gifts and we are to take pride in what we are groomed at in our daily lives.
To desire what we by God calling are not meant to be or do,is a slap in the face to God who made us to fulfill what he called us to accomplish.
God is no fool and we are by his design, who we are,he knew what he wanted when he created us and to desire to be what we are not is to tell God he is wrong.
The potter creates the pot as he desires,we the pots have no say in the pattern of our designs.
Our job is to shine and bring brilliance to the vessel we are entrusted with.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Work Day Prayer. Maybe?

For many months now I have tried to incorporate afternoon prayer time while at work but for some reason it just does not seem to be very effective.
Fr. Peter had mentioned trying to put a rubber band around my wrist and after I say my prayer,moving the band onto my opposite wrist.
By doing this for 30 days it will become a habit.
Well this idea only seems to work for a few days then I get busy and forget about the rubber band.
Usually ending up with no prayers but a damp,soapy band around my wrist from multiple times of hand washings.
Last Tuesday at our class on prayer Fr.Peter mentioned that if you say the Our Father while washing your hands it amounts to the right amount of scrubbing and rinsing time needed to correctly clean ones hands.
At that time I laughed and thought how silly and pushed the idea aside,But today it dawned on me that if I could start getting into the habit of saying the Our Father,at least several times through out my day while washing my hands,this could be the break I've been looking for.
God knows,with 21 residents to take care of I wash my hands more times then I can even begin to count.
This whole thing may work out,at least when I hear the water run I may start to associate it with praying the Our Father and possibly get a few prayers in here and there through out my 8 to 10 hour work day.
Who knows I may end up like Pavlov's dogs but instead of drooling when I hear a bell ring I may start praying when I hear water running.
Hey you never know..Right?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Parables

Most people know that Jesus brought forth many of his teachings by the use of parables,or stories with hidden meanings.
I have always been taught that the reason he did this was because it was easier for the uneducated common people of the day to understand what he was trying to teach by listening to stories they could relate to.
This is probably one of the answers but just the other day I heard a Rabbi speaking and he claims that the reason Jesus taught in parable form was because once a truth is brought to you,you are no longer able to ignore it or avoid it because you now have knowledge of it.
Going against what you have just learned is wrong and sinful.
So in order for a people,who were not quite mature enough in their faith,to be given a sort of break,the parables was used.
When the person was spiritually ready the truth in the parable was revealed to them,then they would be able to not only follow what they were taught but also understand and accept the consequences for not following.
To tell a person out right,who is spiritually not ready for such enlightenment,puts them in the position of committing an act of sin but not fully understanding why they have sinned,or having enough spiritual control to stop themselves.
This is probably why Jesus always ended his parables with "let those who have ears hear."
Have you ever had a time where you are either reading the Bible,saying a prayer or listening to a religious story and all of a sudden,like lightening,it becomes crystal clear,like it all makes sense.This is your parable moment and suddenly you have ears to hear and eyes to see with.
This enlightenment brings with it great responsibility it requires you to now change your thought and action process deciding if you will or will not follow what you know you should.
You now face free will with knowledge,acceptance and obedience or worldliness and sin.
Either way your eyes are wide open and your choice is made through free will.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tripped Up Again

Today I decided to head to Marshals. I am in need of a dress to go to a formal wedding in Pennsylvania in October and they usually have some nice things there.
While driving toward Sturbridge I began to feel very hungry and realized it was 1:30 pm and I had not had lunch yet.
Where to go I thought as the Wendy's sign flashed before me.
Now of all the hamburger places Wendy's is my favorite but today being Friday and me having promised myself I would try to be good and follow the Wednesday and Friday fast I decided not to place myself in temptations way and went to Apple bees instead.
As I sat in my comfy seat and the menu came I decided on tomato basil soup with spinach/shrimp salad with citrus dressing,very safe,fasting wise and healthy too.
The time seemed endless and my hunger began to become unbearable then suddenly my plates were before me.
The sight and smell were wonderful,a thing of real beauty.
With great pride in myself for being such a good Orthodox Christian and following the no meat rule I took a giant bite into my very leafy spinach salad only to discover crumbled bacon all over it.
As I tried to pick out the bacon,an almost impossible task since they were very tiny pieces,I laughed and thought well there you go lady that's what you get for being so smug,rats tripped up again.
With disappointment at myself for not reading the menu better I began to think about what Father Peter always tells us,that if its offered or given to you,you are allowed to eat it.
What a day not only did I not remain true to the fast I also didn't find a dress.
Oh well such is life...
Better luck next time.

Christine O'Donnell

I don't know about you but I'm not sure why the media thinks it so important that I be concerned about a person running for senate in Delaware.
Since this woman,Christine O'Donnell,won her primary in her state,the media feels that they have not only the right to tell me about her but also how much they seem to dislike her.
They attack that she is stupid and another Sarah Palin.They even tell me that Carl Rove doesn't like her,like all of a sudden the media feels Carl Rove is a intellect,funny they didn't think he was when he was with George W. Bush.
Now I can tell you I really don't know that much about Ms. O'Donnell and to tell you the truth I have my own state with my own people running for senate and I tend to want to stay focused on them.
Delaware can make up its own mind over who they choose to take Joe Biden's old senate seat.
Lets face it Joe was no great intellectual either.
The problem with politics is who wants to run after you have listened to the media rip these people apart.I know I wouldn't.
You do something back when you were 16 then when you turn forty and run for an office they try to tear you apart like your some criminal.Come on how pure are the rest of us?
I especially do not like the way some people feel that if your a woman you deserved to be attacked not just on your political stance but also on your dress,your beauty and your intelligence or lack there of.
Like being a woman gives people the right to treat you shamefully.Now why would that be?
If Christine wins she will be one of 104 other senators from all over the country.
She will be entitled to one vote during committees like everyone else and she will not make or break the senate no matter how she votes or what she does.
I don't like this bias stuff.
She ran her primary,won it fair and should be entitled to be voted for or against by the people in her state,and if elected,then so be it Delaware made their decision its their representative not mine.
After all Charlie Wrangle has been given this opportunity to run and be elected in his primary and I don't hear the media going out of their way to bash and insinuate his issues.
And from what I can see he has a few much more serious issues then Ms. O'Donnell does.

Wearing White

Several days ago,while getting ready to dress for work,I pulled out what was my last pair of pants and of course they were my white ones.
Having nothing else to wear I decided to wear them and try not to get them to dirty while doing my med pass and working with my patients.
When I went to nursing school my uniform consisted of white pants,a blue and white pin striped short sleeve shirt with insignia on the sleeve and a white vest.
We wore these every clinical day at hospitals and special occasions.
The day I graduated from nursing school I wore an all white dress,white nylons,white shoes and a nursing cap.
My husband,being Mr.comedian,said "you look like Nurse Ratchet."
The guest speaker at the event said "from this day forward you will forever be know as and called a nurse,wear your colors proudly."
When I first started to work has a floor nurse I tried never to wear white,for some reason its a magnet color, and everyone who comes to you expects you to know everything,silly people.Being new I was having none of that.
So it was a very long time,probably a year,before I decided to buy my first pair of white pants.
Two days ago I donned my white clothes and went to work.
Once there I had to go down to unit 1 to type up some things,since my computer was being difficult.
Has I sat at the desk one of the other nurse's said "wow you look good sitting there,you should come to our floor more often."
To which I said "thanks but no thanks I got enough work on my own floor,find another poster girl."
There is just something about the color white that people are drawn to.
It does look good, when your the one not wearing it,and for most people a health care person in white seems much more like a calm port in a tempest of pain or sorrow.They feel they can put their trust and body in your hands and you will not wrong them,kind of like a priest in his black garment,there is a trust factor at play.
The problem with this color,when your the wearer,is you spend a good part of your time trying to keep it clean constantly wiping things off of it so it doesn't set in permanently.
It can also be costly.Once you've stained or discolored a uniform it's pretty much ruined.Trust me there is nothing worse looking then off colored whites,just ask any sailor.
But you know,between you and me, I must admit sometimes I wish we had certain days when we did dress in full uniform,including our caps.
It would be rather nice to see the reactions of patients and families when they walked in and saw us,they would be pleasantly shocked to see us as real nurses.
Every now and then it would be nice to be reminded that we are professionals and have a long impressive history behind us belonging to a person hood of loving,feeling healers and care takers.
Lets face it Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton left some pretty big footprints for the rest of us to fill.
But everyday we work hard and do the best we can wheather we're dressed in white or not.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Prayer and Mornings

Several evenings ago,at our church, we had our first class on prayer.
There are two different types of prayer: formal and informal.
Formal is more the memorized or book read prayers that basically are considered worship of God.
Informal prayers are like conversations where you talk to God and he in turn talks back to you.
I fall more into the second group then the first.I have never really been a formal prayer person,although I do spend some time everyday in formal prayer,I tend to find my self sliding into informal prayer rather quickly.
We also talked about prayer times and how we need to make time to not only ask for things but wait for God to answer us.
Up until today I had thought of how little prayer time I spend in the morning on days I work,but I learned something very interesting about myself and that is that I really spend more time in prayer then I realize.
This morning I awoke at 5 am and spent time saying the Jesus prayer until I dozed off.Then when my alarm sounded I pressed the snooze button and actually prayed for about 10 minutes,remembering those in need,my day ahead and my fears.
When I got up I spent another 5 minutes sitting on the sofa thanking God for all he has done for me by just allowing me to be alive and the beauty of the world around me,how lucky I was to be here to enjoy such loveliness.
After spending time in the bathroom preparing my self for the day ahead I then sat on the sofa for another 10 minutes and went over some issues between God and myself and has I was driving to work caught myself,on and off, in thoughts and prayers.
So I guess I spend more time with God on my work days then I thought I did.
Now weather or not its quality time I'm not sure,but I do know it certainly surprised me as I added up all the minutes.
Maybe I'm not as off the mark has I thought I was and now I just need to work on the receiving part of the conversation.
Being an out going person I tend to feel like I have to do all the talking and not so much listening.
I think this is a need,on my part,to be in control and listening requires more submission and less control.
something to work on.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spiritual Commonality

There are times when I have to admit,I get the odd feeling that we Jesus believers tend to circle around the world until we bump into each other.
It's funny how you can meet up with a fellow Christian,not even from your own faith and hit it off like lost souls linking up to each other in what feels like a friendship you have had in common for a lifetime,but really just started.
Saturday,while I was at work, one of the lab techs came in to the nurses station and for some odd reason we started to talk about religion and it just felt as if we had a wave or vibration between us.
We gained in 20 minutes great insight from each other and our spiritual travels,so to speak.
Today my cousin,whom I have not spoken with in almost a year,sent me a very sweet and loving email for no reason at all except to say she loved and prayed for me today,it seems she had a need to tell me this and I gratefully replied,with a thank you.
We think we spend our lives alone and has Christians can sometimes feel like its a long and lonely battle with the world.
We fear ridicule in a very secular environment and do not take the time to speak has freely about God and love has we should.
Maybe has we get older we become more sentimental,but I feel has Christians we need to unite and let go of our difference. To find our true spiritual commonality which is to love each other.
We need to break free from our fears and uplift each other.
How can we find other Christians if we are to afraid to open our mouths and talk about God and how important he is in our lives?
How do we learn if we do not share with each other the wonders of our faith? How can we bring our faith to non believers when were afraid to talk with other believers.
For some reason we feel religion should be a personal quite thing,kept under wraps like a perversion,hoping no one will find out about us and how deeply we are involved in our beliefs.
We keep the greatest thing we have to share with others to our selves and wonder why the world is in such pain and depravity.
We hide our light under a bushel basket and wonder why the battle seems so solitary in our every day lives.
Like a soldier wandering aimlessly on a battle field never lifting their helmet up to see who else is fighting along side them.
How sad we are.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Two Types of Beliefs

I have always wondered about people who say they believe in God but seem to want to live in remorse and sorrow.
It almost seems that there are two types of religious believers,those who live by the Crucifixion and those by the Resurrection.
Some people see religion and God as a joyful wonderful thing they see and feel the Resurrection.
Like the sun is ever around them embracing them with love and kindness. Always ready to help others,understanding that the bible talks of peace and love and knowing Jesus and all his glory is alive and everywhere.
People who feel Christianity is a happy thing and want to share this love with the rest of the world around them.
The other sect seems to feel that the most important thing about Jesus was not just the Resurrection but the death and suffering on the cross.
They feel that Gods' power can be very frightening, that deep worship and clouded skies is for us here on earth until we can be in the glory of God when we are raised up on the last day.
These people tend to be more drawn to the pain and suffering choosing to feel prayer should be a dark and heavy thing,more like the suffering of Christ,in intensity .
I tend to believe the first more then the second.
I feel being a believer in Christ has lightened my load,given me some one to turn to in times of need and praying light heartily for the joy of prayer and connection.
Now this does not mean that those who choose a life of fervent prayer in darkened rooms are wrong it just means they are different then my own beliefs and maybe its good to see both sides of religion.dark and heavy but light an freeing.
It seems Orthodoxy is allot like this.
Some people are very into the darkroom,drawn curtains,heavy incense,small candles,very reverent and deep.
While others are into the bright sunlight,gifts of nature,prayer with music and joy in the word and in the heart.
Has I have come to see in order to be one united Christian Orthodox Church we need to understand that both deep and dark and light and uplifting are like opposite ends of a prayer rope which meets in the middle at the cross.
Seems we both get to the same point we just take different roads to get there.

Lifted Up

If you have ever read the Gospel of John you will notice that he talks a great deal about up and down,light and dark.
John believed that all good belonged to God and as such resided upwardly and all evil belonged to the other guy,or satan and was earthly,lower and downward.
In John 3:14 he says"And As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,even so must the son of man (Jesus),be lifted up".
Jesus started out in the heavens but came down to earth in a form we could understand,that of a man.Basically he physically lowered himself to our level of understanding.
In the story of Moses in the desert, he lifted the serpent up so the people who were being attacked by burning serpents could see the serpent and be healed,from what I understand the snake represented sin and spiritual death being lifted up toward God for forgiveness.
The serpent started out in a downward position and was raised upward.Jesus on the other hand started out in an upward,holy position and was brought downward to our level.
When Jesus was crucified his cross was lifted upward and Jesus hung between the heavens and the earth,like the holy spirit hung over the water when God created the earth.
Jesus became the embodiment of the snake being lifted up with all our sins attached to him so we could be no longer spiritually dead.
After his Resurrection he Ascended and was lifted up into the heavens to again reign over us.
In our faith we are to look up and be lifted up toward God.
That is why we are called the light of the world because light in nature is found in the skies not in the ground.

The Shema Prayer

Hear O Israel,The Lord is our God,The Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul
and with all your might.
And love your neighbor as your self.
Help us Lord to realize we are as holy as we allow ourselves
to be.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Eye For An Eye

On Sept 11th we will remember those who were killed during the twin tower attacks.
Although its been some time since this happened the wounds are still there and the feelings can be as fresh now as the were the day they happened.I know to this day I can still not watch repeats of the planes hitting the towers,I turn the channel.
With that said new wounds are now starting to open.
First with the announcement of the new Muslim cultural/mosque center near ground zero and a minister who feels burning the Quran on 9/11 would be a good thing.
People still hurt and we all need to step back and breath.
Every one needs to let the pain dissipate and the healing continue.
To hurt another religious group or attack an others holy book is just not right and if you believe in Jesus and his teachings it is also not Christian.
Today I read a face book post from Fr.Peter Preble about his call for all religious people to join together against hatred and denounce the burning of the Quran.
Someone,with a picture of an icon on their posting, answered saying they hoped the fire would consume this person church.
All I can say is not nice.
All an eye for an eye will do is make the whole world blind.
To want harm done to anyone because of your anger is no better then this minister wanting to burn the Quran.
Words like that are not from God they are from the other guy,taking the opportunity to draw us into division and hatred for each other.
Do all things with love.
If what you are doing is causing pain then you have lost your perspective and need to step back,take a breath and ask your self how would Jesus expect me to handle this issue.
I have been told that God takes care of vengeance not us, we are not as clear on everything as the Almighty is.
St.Paul says we are not even able to judge ourselves so how can we judge and condemn others.

The Sheep And The Goats

Monday was a beautiful day and my husband,Vic,and I decided to take a drive out to UCONN in Storrs Conn.
We like to walk there because not only is it a lovely campus but it also has a large duck pond and farm animals.
Has we finished our walk I asked my husband were the Greek Orthodox Church was,since I did not remember seeing it.
We got into the car and drove across the campus to a back road.
There sat a rather cute little white church with orange roof tiles,which looked like something out of a small Greek village.
We then decided it was time to go home and drove by the animal pastures,but none of them were in the front pastures,by the road yet.
My husband,who can be very funny when he wants to said."I asked Fr.Peter why the Bible doesn't like goats?"
I said "what?"
So Vic said "why do you think the bible doesn't like goats?"
I told him I wasn't sure since in the time of Moses they could sacrifice an unblemished goat,maybe they were impure to eat or something."
I said "why are you concerned about goats and sheep?"
He said "according to Sunday mornings Bible reading Jesus talks about separating the goats from the sheep on judgement day,so whats so bad with the goats?"
I told him back when I used to go horseback riding we had a goat that hung out behind the barn,when ever we would open the back door we had to face him to rake the old hay out of the stalls or if we turned our backs he would charge us and try to butt us.
Although he could be very sweet,when he wanted,he could also be very fresh too.
If he got it in his head to not like you,for what ever reason,he would run up to you and hit you in the thigh with his head,because of this no horns were allowed to stay on that guy head.
Today I took the time to look up goats and sheep,on my computer to see why Jesus talks so lovingly about the sheep but not so about the goats.
Here's what I got.

Sheep are:
Gentle,quiet innocent animals.
Defenseless and vulnerable to predators.
They love the Shepard and even a bad Shepard is still someone they will follow.
Trusting animals,easily led.
Sheep are grazers and love lush green pastures and still waters,moving water scares them.
They will lie down which is a sign of submission.
They do not prey on others,demand little and are mostly quite unless hungry or frightened.

Goats are:
Pushy,self sufficient creatures.
Head strong,quarrelsome,with short tempers.
They rear or butt to establish dominance.
Need very little supervision.
They do not graze but browse while eating,nibbling here and there.
They like high places,smell bad and carry their short tail up right.
They are domineering,controlling,can be agitators.
Not always so satisfied with the Shepard and what is given to them.

And although the goats are no danger to the flock they like to get in the middle of them and cause anxiety among the sheep.

So according to Mathew 25:31-46 God will deal with these goat like folks on judgement day when he dividends the sheep from the goats.
Know what? Come to think of it,I might know a few goats myself.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mint

I have always had this thing about herbs.It goes back to the first time I went to visit Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge,Mass.
I remember walking through one of the old houses and came out the back door to find a garden near the kitchen teaming with herbs.
The smell and design started my love of growing herbs.
This year I had a very large pot which once held a palm plant and was now empty.
What to do with my pot.
Off I went to Wal Mart and decided to plant herbs in it.
Basil,Oregano,chives and what I thought was flat leaf dill.
When I got home I planted all my herbs and daily watched them grow.As I looked closely at the dill I thought,that doesn't look right.I picked the label up to discover it was mint.
Oh great I thought that is not what I wanted and decided to just let it grow,after all I spent good money on it and has mint will do, was overly thriving.
With the cool weather today I decided it was time to cut the mint down,clean and freeze it.
For several days now I have been checking out web sites to decide what to do with this unwanted herb and think making some sort of soap might be my fall project.
When I announced my plan to my husband he smiled amusingly and said "good luck with that plan".
Not one to be put off my new search will be to find an easy recipe,something with olive oil and maybe vanilla or lavender,and make this my fun thing to do on one of those cold, rainy November days.
Who knows if it turns out well a few of my relatives may be getting a bar for a Christmas gift.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Different Person

Did you ever have a moment with someone and realize they were not who you thought they were?
Maybe the person may seem always up tight,in control and/or defensive.
Not the kind you would expect to become soft hearted and tearful while revealing a personal concern to you.
People are funny,just when you think you have written them off suddenly you see a side of them you knew was there but were unsure if you would ever see in your life time,let alone theirs.
People who are hurting,hurt other people and the key,when dealing with such people,is to try and find something that can show you they are not a rock but have softness in them some where.
Every person who has an issue,personality wise,probably has a reason for putting up a guard.
If you have been hurt you are unable to receive love with out trying to protect your self.
It must be very tiresome to always be on your guard trying to be strong even when you feel you need someone to care about or listen to you.
Age can bring wisdom and old values can be like chains if they have become incorrect theories in your life.
Has we age we begin to see that nothing last for ever and the people we were closest to can now be sick or worse yet gone.When such things happen one needs to re-evaluate what one thought to be a truth and realize what really is truth.
Nothing last for ever especially in our well sorted minds.
I have always wondered why people feel they can tell me anything or reveal things to me they may not be able to tell others.
Many is the time I ask what my talents are and today I think I found one.
I have always attracted people with issues or problems who feel they can just sit with me and tell me their stories,even people I know very little about.
I guess the ability to listen and communicate is a gift although a rather odd one at that.
Anyways I hope I was able to assist this person who needed a moment to talk with me and shed some tears and maybe,in the end,feel better about the rest of her day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tests

In school when we spent our days learning in class we would look forward,most times with dread,to taking test.
Now test are very important they prove to not only our teacher,but our selves how much we have mastered from what was taught and where we needed to go back and restudy.
I have always been a test worrier.
In Nursing School I would cram so much information into my brain,about multiple subjects,so I could pass my many test.
10 months,7 days a week, my life was spent in constant reading and studying just so I could pass the next mornings up and coming tests.
I can remember some Sundays coming home from work,going out to supper then studying until midnight.Getting up at 5am the next morning to study more until it was time to leave for school.
Just getting by was not going to happen with me.I needed A's and B's to make me feel I had achieved my goal.
We are always tested by God and the thing with him is if we fail we are retested until we get it right.
Have you ever had times in your life where it just seems like everyday brings a new problem?
You just can not believe how truly bad things around you can get then it gets worse?
Day after day,week after week maybe even month after month.
I can remember a song from the show Hee Haw that went "if it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all."
Well believe it or not these are God test and your job is to show him you can pass them by having the right spiritual attitude and turning to him.
When my mother was dying of Colon Cancer I bought a key ring which said "the Lord is my Shepard and I shall not want."
I carried this in my pocket everyday,every where I went and every time I felt I could not go on any more,I would rub this key ring and repeat the words over and over in my mind until I believed them.
This saying helped me through my mothers death,my fathers stroke and his passing,my son being sent to Iraq,multiple family members sicknesses and deaths,and the cleaning and selling of my parents house, and my childhood home.
Stress and pressure that I could not even understand that was being placed on my shoulders until one day at a church in Webster Mass.I happened to look up at an icon of Jesus crucified on the cross and truly understood what it felt like to be alone and abandoned by everyone but the Father.
I think I passed the test.
All the situations I had been placed into showed me that in the end it was just me and God.
Test are given to us all the time but we just don't understand them.
We think its just bad luck,its not.
I always think of the saying the metal tried in the fire becomes the strongest.
God wants people of strength and character.He wants the truest,strongest,purest metal he can get to do his work.
Weak Christians make for a weak world with zero character.
Don't be afraid of trials. They are what make you strong and gives God something he can count on in this world of instability and ever changing emotions.

Tiger And Diamond

We have a rather elderly grey striped cat named Tiger.He has to be,by estimations,about 14 years old.
If you were to meet him you would think him much younger because he is very healthy and energetic.
Each morning Tiger comes into the house to have his breakfast,and with him is our neighbors cat Diamond,who also thinks he lives here.
Diamond usually prefers to eat his breakfast outside while Tiger is an in house eater.
Yesterday morning for some reason Tiger did not want to come in,deciding that he would rather try for the two tablespoons of dry food I had given to his neighbor.
Tiger seemed very fixed on Diamond food and was very unsure when I called him into the house,whether it was worth the trip to the kitchen.
With great reluctance,it was decided by his majesty,that he would indeed check out his own bowl filled with much more food then Diamond was,at present,consuming.
I laughed to my self and thought now isn't that human nature,we are all so envious and concerned about what little others are being given we forget how much more we have in our own lives.
For some reason a small amount of what is being given to another becomes so much larger and better then what we have.
Instead of being thankful for all we are given we want more of what others have,no matter how tiny the portion.
Greed and envy can be a terrible thing.Both make us lose our perspectives on value and worth.
Instead of being happy for another person and what they have been given we are more worried about why they got something we did not and how can I take it away from them for myself,because,after all, I too am deserving.
We forget that sometimes the things we think we need are the things we are better off not having.
Usually it is better to dismiss the voice in your head and simply be happy for others, knowing that someday,if its meant to be,your day will come.
In this way life will be a more pleasant experience.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doing The Dishes

Today was one of those rare days when I actually had the house to myself.
My son started back to college and my husband was out in Brooklyn Ct.cleaning an apartment of a newly evicted tenant.
I decided it would be a great day to work on cleaning the kitchen,lets face it its tough to really clean when everyone is home getting in and out of things,messing as quickly as your cleaning.
The first thing I needed to do was shut off the tv and put on my ipod.
I played some of my meditative John Michael Talbot music and started with the dishes.
As I listened to the music I decided to try and do what the Asian monks,and for that fact,what spiritual christian people do and that is to pay attention to the task at hand and really be in the moment.
I have an Aunt who would tell me she loved to do the dishes and I must admit as a child, who didn't enjoy playing in warm soapy water.But as I have aged the fun of doing dishes left me about 30 years ago and since then it has become a job not an adventure.
Today would be different,it was time to try the theories of the East,lets face it all those monks couldn't be wrong,Right?
I filled the dish pan with hot lavender smelling soapy water and tried to feel the warmth around me,the bubbles on my hands and wrist.
The firm yet slipperiness of each plate and glass,the cool water used to rinse them and the sight of the soap slowly running down the drain.
I attempted to focus on each item,how it felt,both dirty and clean,and making sure each piece,be it great or small,got my undivided attention,as if it were some expensive,yet fragile,heirloom.Making sure the inside and out side not only sparkled but shined.
With the word clean in my thoughts my mind turned to Jesus scolding the Pharisees for white washing the out side of the tombs but the inside being filled with" rotting dead mens bones".
"You fools" he said,"you wash the outside of the cup but the inside is unclean".
Some where I remember reading that if you do all things right to the smallest detail,not begrudging it, but instead enjoying it and fully become a part of the task you will begin to understand how large the picture is when you are done.
Small things equal greatness.
Before I knew it the task was done,even the parts I dreaded most,like scrubbing the pans where finished.
Everything looked clean and shiny and the thought of moving on to tackle the rest of the kitchen,did not seem so large.
From this experience I have decided,in the next few weeks to daily take a small project and try to put self conscious thought into it,even if it is only a 5 minute task.
I think religous life is like this,the greater spiritual steps are gained when done in smaller more precise amounts.
Those who try to overachieve do not always gain in wisdom.
Last night while reading the bible I came across the story of Martha and Mary.
It seems Jesus came to visit and Martha was very concerned about making things right by cooking and cleaning.She became very annoyed with Mary who sat down at Jesus feet and listened to him.
Martha told Jesus,basically,to tell Mary to help her set things up instead of just listening to him speak.
Jesus replied "Martha,Martha you are worried and troubled about many thing.But one thing is needed,and Mary has chosen that good part,which will not be taken away from her."(Luke 10:41-42)
It struck me that what Jesus was saying was you can do lots of manual things in a hurry for your church,your neighbors or yourself but if you are not listening to God first you are probably not doing them for the right reason so your missing the point.
You can not listen to God if you do not slow down enough to hear his voice.
Do all things with love even the very small things.