Deep Peace Anglican Rosary

This is what I woke up to today–this song playing over and over again in my head.  What a wonderful way to wake up!  While making this rosary today, I knew it needed a special name.

gaelicblessingAnglican Rosary

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Ashes and Clay

kazuri-bead-factory-nairobiOrthodox Chotki with Kazuri BeadsOrthodox 33 Bead Chotki Jesus Prayer Beads

The other day I read that ashes (like we receive on Ash Wednesday) are synonymous with clay.  At our church, the words “Turn away from sin, and be faithful to the Gospel” are said when we receive ashes.  “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” are other words that are sometimes said.  The connection with clay is that clay begins as dust.

Maybe some do not like the second version because it seems to say that we are dust–nothing.  In our world where self-esteem has become so important, those words words might seem harmful.

However, I have found a certain paradox when saying the Jesus Prayer–Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  By acknowledging that I am a sinner–dust, nothing and unworthy–I am somehow freed to let go of my need to be perfect.  The need to be perfect is always a big blow to my self esteem, because I never am and know I never will be.  If I base my worth on being perfect, I will never feel good about myself.

By praying the Jesus Prayer, I give myself to God and ask for mercy.  It is in God’s mercy that I am worthy of God’s love.

As I think about being dust and clay, I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 64:8 “But as for you, O LORD, you are our Father; and we are clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hands.”

I chose the Kazuri clay beads for this Chotki to be symbolic of our need to be like clay in the Lord’s hands.  To be like clay, we need to be soft and pliable.  We need to let go of all that has hardened our hearts in order to receive God.  Part of doing that is repenting of our sins.  Another way is to let go.  We need to let go of our resistance and let Our Father’s hands form us.

Click on picture of the woman above for more information on Fair Trade Kazuri beads from Kenya.

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Mother Daughter or Grandmother Granddaughter Rosary Set

Mother Daughter Rosary Set

A wonderful gift from a mom to a daughter or a daughter to a mom!  They would also be a unique and meaningful gift for grandmothers and granddaughters.

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Irish Celtic Rosary with Shamrocks and St. Patrick Center

I have always bee fascinated with the legend of how St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the ancient Irish about the Trinity–Three in One.  Lately, I have felt drawn to learn more about Celtic Christianity.  There is even something about the pictures of green pastures and blue seas of Ireland that seem to be calling me.  The beads I chose to use on this rosary reflect that calling.

As St. Patrick wrote in The deers Cry, also known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate, I am reminded see Christ within me, behind me, before me, beside me, beneath me, above me…in the mouth of friend and stranger.

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Quote from Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue

Graphics by prayer beads – share freely

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What is Beauty?

I have started reading a wonderful book called Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O’Donohue.  If you struggle with the purpose of beauty like I often do, I highly recommend this book.

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St. Birgitta of Sweden – Motivated by Trust

As I have been doing some research on St. Birgitta of Sweden (St. Bridget of Sweden,) one of the chapters in the book I recently read, Open the Door, came back to me.

St. Brigitta of Sweden is known as the Patron Saint of Widows.  But, she is also known as the Patron Saint of Failures.  This later title is said to have been granted because she never accomplished her vision to establish a new monastic order in Sweden–The Order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as the Brigittines.  

One of the chapters in the book, Open the Door, talks about detaching from the results of what I do.  It was an idea that I had trouble grasping.  I think this is because I am such a goal oriented person.  The idea that that might not be a good thing has caused a bit of a struggle in me.

All I am asked to do is “make the deepest commitment with a total detachment of were it will take [me].”

Open the Door by Joyce Rupp p. 164

The saying to “Let Go and Let God” is one I have heard many times, and I try to apply it to my worries.  Yet, the idea of applying it to my actions and what I do was something new.  Consequently, I have been thinking often about what it means to let go of the results of my actions.  It really requires a lot of faith to do this!

I know that God’s way of answering prayer can be very different than what my answers might be.  I can deal with that.  I can pray that God’s will be done.  However, not being able to see the outcome of what I try so hard to do is something else.  I like to have a goal, a vision.

Maybe the problem with having a goal is that my goal is not necessarily God’s goal.  It is easy to get so caught up in my vision, that my desire to please God gets left behind.   My pursuit can easily turn into my own ego trip.

It ended up being St. Birgitta’s daughter, who carried on after her death and fulfilled her dream to established the new order.

Lord, help me walk humbly with You at my side.  Help my trust in You to be the only motivation I need.

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Dreams – Making Ideas Reality

This is a paragraph from the cover of our church bulletin today.  I thought it was such a great analogy, that I had to cut it out and save it.

Martin Luther King was a dreamer.  So are we all.  But for some people dreams stay just that…just dreams.  Putting them into reality requires focus.  I deas can toss around in your head like a clothes dryer.  You have to stop the machine of life’s busy-ness, let things settle, and pull out what you are looking for.”

~Fr. Denny Dempsy,
Church of St. Dominic bulletin January 15, 2012

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Is God Using Me?

Last Friday, our priest, Fr. Denny, gave a homily and used the example of a trip he once took to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) to make a point.

He told the story that he and a group from his former parish had set out into the BWCA wilderness and were well on their way when he realized they were missing the backpack with necessary equipment–like tents.  So, he and another person decided to go back to base and retrieve the pack.

As they made the portages carrying the canoe from lake to lake, they realized that they would not make it back before nightfall, so they turned around.  Making their way back to the group, they ended up in the middle of a large lake after the sun had set.  The lake was so big and it was so dark that they could not find their portage, which would reunite them with their group.  Then, they saw a little light far on the other side of the lake.  It was a campfire.

Fr. Denny asked everyone at Mass if they thought that God had lit that campfire for them.  Many of us replied “yes!”  But, Fr. Denny surprised us when he said that he did not think so.  (I believe that got the attention of many people in attendance.)

Rather than believing that God had started the campfire to guide them, he chose to believe that God simply used the campfire that another group of campers had lit.  The campers did not know that they were guiding a lost canoe to shore.  That was not their motive to light the fire.  Their intention was to simply stay warm and probably cook dinner, just like campers would ordinarily do.

The point of the story was that many times God uses us in ways we do not even realize.

Well, I have had heard a message like that quite a few times in the last couple weeks, but I still was having trouble making sense of it.

The message/question started when I was reading the chapter Bringing Hope from Joyce Rupp’s book, Open the Door.  She talks about how we are not to focus on the results of our actions.  We are to be committed to our actions with passion and take responsibility for what we do, but we are not meant to worry about the results.  That part is not in our hands.  That part is in God’s hands.

Is having a reason for doing something–having a goal or vision–not what God wants us to do?  I was having trouble grasping that idea.

When I read the status of a friend last night on facebook, I could not help but smile.  This is the quote she posted, which Desmond Tutu said to another spiritual leader:

We are only the light bulbs, and our job is just to remain screwed in.

Do you think there is a message here I am supposed to learn?

I am also doing some research on St. Birgitta (Bridget, Brigida) of Sweden right now.  (Not to be confused with St. Bridget of Ireland.)  St. Brigitta is the founder of the Brigettine Order, also known as the Order of the Most Holy Savior.

She is the Patroness of Widows; however, she is also referred to as the Patroness of Failures.  This last reference is part of what makes her so interesting to me.  Though she wrote the Rule for the Brigettine Order, she never realized her dream of it becoming an established monastic order.  This did not happen until after her death.

I will tell you more about what I have read about her in another post, but I am hearing God saying to me in more ways that one, that more times than not, he uses ordinary people doing ordinary things to carry out his plan.  In other words, God uses simply who we are.  We do not need to be anyone else.  God can even use ordinary things we do, like lighting a campfire when we are camping.

Enter, the Book of Esther–a Beth Moore bible study I just started last night with a group of women from our parish.

Another smile came upon me as I began this study.  Okay, God.  I think I am beginning to get it.  =)

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Is God in the Walls, the Ceiling, the Floor, the Furniture? Is God Even in the Messy Room?

Yesterday, I received an email for The Upper Room–a daily devotion I subscribe to.  It talked about going though every room in your home and blessing it as a way to make room for the coming of Christ, which I thought was a wonderful idea.  I did not get around to actually doing it yesterday, but it was on my mind.

As I passed the room of our 20 year-old son (now in Colorado) I thought about blessing that room.  The room is turned upside down with piles and stacks of stuff.  I wondered if there was any reason to bless that ignored messy room.  Then, the saying “bless this mess” came to mind.

“Sure, I could use God’s help with blessing this mess.  Maybe that would get me to spend some time in here trying to put things back together.  Maybe I want to clean it before I bless it.  If I did that it might not get done.  Would God even want to bless this mess?,” were some of the things that came to mind.

My thoughts did not go much further than that yesterday; however, today the idea of blessing each room rose up again.

I have been starting each day with morning pages (I will talk about what that is at the bottom of this post).  I was pondering how I was writing about God as if God were not in the room.  I wanted to start directing my words as prayers directly to God.  Then, I started to think about all the places God could be in the room.  Could God be in the brush that painted the painting on the wall.  Could God be in the paint, the colors, even the paper?  Could God be in the wood of the furniture, the fabric of the upholstery, the carpet, the floor, the walls and the ceiling? I then said a little prayer that God would bless the room and all who would enter it these next few weeks of Advent and Christmas.  I asked God’s love to be here, in this place, and in the hearts of all who visit.

Along with the morning pages, I am also journeying with 2 books, which I read each morning.  One is Open the Door by Joyce Rupp, and the other is The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom by Christine Valters Paintner.  The chapter for today in The Artist’s Rule was titled Sacraments of Daily Life.  At the very top of the page she quotes the Rule of St. Benedict:

“Let him regard all the utensils of the monastery and its whole property as if they were the sacred vessels of the altar.”

I pondered what “..sacred vessels of the altar” meant.  What do we hold in the vessels of the altar?  The body and blood of Jesus Christ, was the answer that came quickly to mind.  So, if we embrace the idea that Christ is everywhere, why can’t he be in the physical wood and walls of our homes?

The book by Joyce Rupp talks about opening the door to our heart and soul–our interior home or as St. Teresa of Avila refers to as our “inner castle.”  Both of these refer to our inner home, a place we cannot physically see with our eyes.  It is the place I think about when I ponder my faith.  Yet, God has given us eyes to physically see as well.  Can I use my physical eyes to ponder God?  I believe God is in my home.  I just need to recognize God more.

Cleaning out our homes and preparing for the coming of Christ can be both physical and metaphoric.  Some rooms are harder to clean that others.  Yet, even if our rooms are messy, we can still make a pathway.

Come, Lord Jesus…Immanuel, God with us.  I welcome you into my heart and home.

Click here for information about the book, The Artist’s Rule.

Click here for more information on the book, Open the Door.

Click here to subscribe to The Upper Room Daily Devotions

Click here for more information on the book, The Artist’s Way

Morning Pages come from a suggestion by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way .  The idea is to write 3 pages of whatever comes to mind.  They are not for anyone else to read but you (if you even want to.)  You are not to be worried about spelling, sentence structure, or punctuation.  You are not supposed to hesitate writing something for any reason.

At first, I found myself writing stuff in the margins that I needed or wanted to do.  For instance, “Wash windows” as I saw how streaky they were with the morning light shining through.  It actually helped me get stuff done that might not get done as quickly otherwise.  I might have passed those streaky windows many times each day, but did not have the time to clean them then, or I did not take the time to write down that I needed to do it.  At first I thought that was why the pages were so useful.

After about a week, I went back and read what the purpose was again.  The purpose is to get rid of the little “censor” that tends to block our creativity– that censor that says…that’s stupid…you can’t do that….  They are the things that squelch our creativity.  By writing and ignoring the censor telling you to spell correctly, write correct sentences, or not to write something down, for instance, you start the day by shoving that sensor out of the way.

It is pretty amazing that you don’t even need to know why you are doing it and it works.  You could say that I was pushing the procrastination censor aside when I wrote down to clean the streaky window.  I did not have to take the time to clean them all, like the censor might say.  I would just do the one.

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