A Reflection Moment

By Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH

This morning I am once again being entertained by my hummingbirds. This is the first time in my life I ever had a summer off (if one imagines recovery from surgery as a summer off) to spend quality time in the mornings or evenings during prayer observing hummingbirds dive between the feeders.

I discovered the opportunity has been a kind of inner healing experience for me.  I have heard that simply surrendering time to observe hummingbirds is a healing opportunity but now I understand and embrace it.

Several years ago while in Trinidad a friend invited me to a hummingbird sanctuary. I had never imagined how many kinds of hummingbirds there are or how many could be in one location each morning and evening at the feeders. I mean hundreds and hundreds. I felt I was in the middle of a hummingbird circus which was amazingly delightful. Thus, my love for hummingbirds grew.

Last week I even purchased (via Amazon) another Shepherd’s Hook and feeder since so many hummingbirds are fighting over the two feeders I have.  I know that soon the hummingbirds will be headed south. Thus, offering me another glance at the meaning, value, and preciousness of time. Or, how and where do we focus our time and energy along life’s journey? How many major initiatives or activities have I allowed myself to be absorbed in, worthy as they were, yet to miss perhaps the ‘little moments’ that may offer the greatest insights in life. Or, render the richest and deepest meaning and impact on life and the life of those around me.

As the early fall days draw upon us, there is now a rush of hummingbirds on the balcony each morning. They are delightful as they scatter, chase and swiftly zoom to and fro guarding their Shepherd’s Hook domain.  (Click on link below to see video). Their numbers are increasing each day simply indicating the arrival of those who are migrating from the north headed south. There, I understand, they spend our winter and prepare for their migration north once again in early summer. The hummingbirds have become a daily reminder for me of all humans who are migrating around the world today. I hold them all in prayer.  I wonder and ponder who is willing to care for them during their migration or exile? (Text continues below video).

So, during these few short weeks, my balcony is one of their ‘resting & feeding’ stopovers.  I really have found these meditative moments not only healing but bringing inner comfort peace and joy into my life.  This is what we need today in our lives. There is too much hecticness.  I hope I can bring my new inner harmony and peace into the lives of those I will encounter when I return to campus September 4th when my medical leave is over.

 

(Sr. Angela Ann is the Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton).

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 7

2015_WPCU_Poster_inner_240x349Day 7, Give me to drink (John 4:7-15)

SCRIPTURE:

  • Numbers 20:1-11, The Israelites at Meribah
  • Psalm 119:10-20. I will not forget your word
  • Romans 15.2-7, May God … grant you to live in harmony with one another
  • John 4:7-15, Give me to drink

MEDITATION:

Christians should be confident that encountering and exchanging experiences with other religious traditions, can change us and help us to reach into the depths of the well. Approaching those who are strangers to us with the desire to drink from their well, opens to us the “wonders of God” that we proclaim.

In the wilderness God’s people were without water and God sent Moses and Aaron to bring water forth from the rock. In the same way God often meets our needs through others and so we need to turn also to them, and ask, “Give me to drink.”

Sometimes the answer to our need is already in the life and goodwill of the people around us. The Guarany people of Brazil have no equivalent word for the term “religion” as separate from the rest of life. The expression literally means “our good way of being” (“ñande reko katu”) It refers to the whole cultural system, which includes religion. Religion, therefore, is part of the Guarany cultural system, as well as their way of thinking and being (teko). It relates to all that improves and develops the community and leads to its “good way of being” (teko katu). These people remind us that Christianity was first called “The Way” (Acts 9:2). “The Way,” or “our good way of being” is God’s way of bringing harmony to all parts of our lives

PRAYER:

God of life, who cares for all creation, and calls us to justice and peace, may our security not come from arms, but from respect. May our force not be of violence, but of love. May our wealth not be in money, but in sharing. May our path not be of ambition, but of justice. May our victory not be from vengeance, but in forgiveness. May our unity not be in the quest of power, but in vulnerable witness to do your will. Open and confident, may we defend the dignity of all creation, sharing, today and forever, the bread of solidarity, justice  and peace. This we ask in the name of Jesus, your holy Son, our brother, who, as victim of our violence, even from the heights of the cross, gave forgiveness to us all.  Amen.

Source: Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

ARE NOT OUR HEARTS ON FIRE? Pentecost 2012

By Sister Barbara Baker, MHSH

Once again we approach a significant moment in the life of our church—a moment when that special gift of the Holy Spirit fills all with new life and an invitation for a new beginning.  Jesus’ appearance, once again, from out of nowhere, in the midst of a scared group of followers takes them up short.  Jesus stood among them and said “Peace be with you.”  He tried to reassure them that indeed it was HE who had recently ascended to the Father.  Once they realized the truth, they rejoiced.  Jesus addresses them again and says “Peace be with you.”  He has returned to them to send them forth as commissioned ambassadors to spread the Good News.

There are tensions and divisions within the community.  Each received a special gift from the Holy Spirit and could not rejoice in this because of jealousy and comparisons with the gifts others received.  They didn’t realize that the gifts were to be shared with others for the good of the community.

Paul reminds us that our bodies are the same—each part has a role to play and no one is more important than another if it wants to be whole, healthy and in harmony.  So, as we approach this great feast of new birth perhaps we could look at our hearts to discover the fire or lack of fire within us for life and service to one another.

For Reflection:

What is the “special gift” that God has bestowed on me, and how do I share the gift with the community no matter what my age?

In this time of uncertainty about our future, how and where do I see the Holy Spirit guiding and leading us to a new place with new fire and energy?

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Day 5 Prayer and Reflection

Day 5: Changed by the peace of the Risen Lord.
Scripture

Malachi 4:5-6, He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.
Psalm 133, How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
Ephesians 2:14-20, To reconcile both groups to God in one body, putting to death hostility.
John 20:19-23, Jesus stood among them and said: Peace be with you!
Meditation
Malachi’s words convey God’s promise of sending God’s chosen one to establish harmony and respect in all households. He draws attention to one of the most difficult conflicts — the heartbreak in relations between parents and their offspring. This restoration of unity is not possible without God’s help. It is God’s emissary who performs the miracle of transformation in people’s hearts and relationships.
The psalm shows what great joy such unity among people can bring. Happiness consists in living in a human community in harmony, peace, trust and understanding. Living together in unity is not restricted to family members only – this is rather a declaration of the closeness between people who accept the peace of God.
The epistle tells us of Him whom the prophet Malachi announced. Jesus brings unity, because in His own body He has demolished the “wall of hostility” between people. Jesus puts an end to alienation. He transforms, heals and unites all that they may become “members of God’s household.”
“Peace be with you” is Christ’s greeting and also his gift. It is an invitation to seek peace with God and establish new, lasting relationships within the human family and all of creation. Jesus has trampled down death and sin. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord invites his disciples into his mission of bringing peace, healing and forgiveness. As long as Christians remain divided, the world will not be convinced of the full truth of the Gospel. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of this transformation. The Churches need to appropriate and witness to these gifts as members of the one household of God built upon the sure foundation of Jesus as the cornerstone.

For Your Reflection

Today we celebrate the peace of the Risen Lord. The Risen One is the great Victor over death and the world of darkness. He unites His disciples, who were paralysed with fear. He opens up before us new prospects of life and of acting for His coming kingdom. The Risen Lord unites and strengthens all believers. Peace and unity are the hallmarks of our transformation in the resurrection.

  1. What forms of violence in our community can we as Christians confront together?
  2. How do we experience hidden hostilities that affect our relationship to each other as Christian communities?
  3. How can we learn to welcome each other as Christ welcomes us?

Prayer
Loving and merciful God, teach us the joy of sharing in your peace. Fill us with your Holy Spirit so that we may tear down the walls of hostility separating us. May the risen Christ, who is our peace, help us to overcome all division and unite us as members of his household. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Source: Greymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute

The Lesson of the Recycle Bucket

By Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH

When I first began to work with clay, the instructor explained that we do not control the clay but we unite with it.  The clay will teach us how to shape it.

Well, in my pottery experience I have had many conversations with clay.  Sometimes we get along very well and other times the piece is off center, misshapen and destined for the recycle bucket.  Not very satisfying.  What did I have to learn?

In clay work as in life, there is a journey and a process and each stage is important and serves its purpose in getting to the desired end.  I tend to be impatient and want to get the job done and see immediate results.  But it is not like that with clay or in our life experience.  I learned this the hard way.  Clay too moist collapses; pieces not dried out explode in the kiln; improper glazing results in bubbling and crawling; and an interrupted cooling process causes (of all things) cracked pots!

Working with clay teaches many lessons, and I had to learn them all as I followed the process from kneading, throwing, drying, firing, glazing—each with its own discipline and all calling for patience, humility, perseverance, as well as a spirit of creativity and imagination.

There will always be days for the recycle bucket, but for me, as I learn to respect the journey and the process, I find working with clay my way of keeping centered and focused.
There is harmony between me and the clay; there is accommodation to my life and the stresses that come.  But more than that is the excitement and sense that God is working with me in my own creation story.  I take the clay of the earth and knead it and shape it to say what God wants me to say.  God is at work!  God is at play!  Clay is fun!  Clay is sacred!

Sister Jane’s creations are on  display at Mission Helper Center. They make great gifts!