Saturday, June 28, 2008

2 Desperate Women

A woman and a sick woman at that. A real outcast at that time. She’d gone everywhere to get help. It had been 12 years and that’s an eternity if you’re hemorrhaging. She’s lucky she lived that long. Today she might have been hospitalized, put on IV to replenish her fluids and eventually she’d have a hysterectomy. But then she was avoided and she just continued to get weaker. Every year she deteriorated more. She must have known she could not do this much longer. She’d been to see whoever she could see about it. There was nothing anyone else could do.
Maybe she’d been desperate for months. Maybe she felt herself get physically weaker. She might have begun to give up until she heard about Jesus. She heard how he had raised the widow’s son to life and how he had cured the centurion’s daughter. The widow and the daughter were both females. “Surely someone who could raise a person back to life would help me.” That’s the day she determined to find him. She heard the stories from the town’s people and she kept track of his travels. Large crowds were following him so the tracking was easy. Following was a bit harder in her weakened condition but her need drove her onward. She felt a great excitement on the day when she finally caught a glimpse of him through the crowd. Silently she argued with herself. How would she get through the dense gathering of people clamoring for his attention? What would she say when she finally got to that point where she could address him? This was a determined woman. After all those years of illness all that struggle to finally catch up to him, nothing was going to deter her now. Her desperation was that great and her belief that Jesus would be the one to help her was that strong.
She dug in and nudged her way through. Shoulder to shoulder, one person at a time. She overheard conversations as she went. The widow’s son, a sermon he had given, who his apostles were. “Do you think he’s really a Son of God?” some asked. She could see him now. Her heart rate went up. Just a few more rows of people to go. She knew she was doing the right thing. She knew she’d never get to speak to him but she reasoned it wasn’t even necessary. All she’d have to do is….
And she touched the fringe on his cloak. For a few short seconds she held on to it. He didn’t even see her because she was behind him. That’s OK.

12 years
No help
No where else to go
Her last hope

She felt the fabric of his fringe.
That was all she needed.

For me it’s not been 12 years Jesus- not even 12 months. My stress started on 9-16-07. And I need you, too. My head has been doing a lot of work to reason out the problems. My heart has found a way to protect itself from pain by avoiding stressors. So I manage until my heart is forced to deal with an issue for some reason. I’m weak. I need to depend on you, reach out to you, and feel your presence. I want my heart to feel you nearby. I feel like I’m walking through the crowd to get to touch you. In this case it’s a crowd of thoughts and activities though. I need my heart and my mind to be very still and willing to feel. I avoid that in a self protective kind of way. (I’m actually the opposite of the woman with the hemorrhage. I’m emotionally cold and all closed up.) But Jesus, I am hurting. I’m in emotional pain and need you beside me. I’ll deal with it. I’m OK if this is your plan for me right now. I’m not asking you to take it away. I only want to occasionally feel you beside me. Problem is, if I feel you then I can feel everything and that leads me to depression. I comfort myself in knowing that you know what I’m experiencing and that I am doing your will. It’s a knowledge, not a feeling though. It suffices. I guess I’m looking to you for a comfort connection.
Oddly the woman with the hemorrhage wants to feel too – to touch you so she could be healed. She did reach out and “immediately her bleeding stopped. “ Luke 8:44
Jesus’ response was “Who touched me? I know that power has gone out from me.” Verses 45 and 46.
I’m reaching out too Jesus. Not many people know what I’m going through. I’ve sought help from professionals like the woman did. The situation just keeps evolving. There’s no where else for me to turn for emotional strength. I’m reaching for you through the crowd. Reaching out to you for emotional support and for the strength to endure. Life remains busy all around me. I need to get through it in order to reach you, to touch the fringe of your cloak.
When I reach you emotionally – one day when I can- I want to hear the same sentence, “Who touched me? I know power has gone out from me.”
For now I move toward you and hope that my frozen heart melts one day so I can feel your touch again. Your will be done.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Self Confidence: A Delicate Balance

"St Paul had confidence in the message he preached because it was the message of the person Jesus Christ. 2Tim 1:12 His confidence, like ours, should not be in ourselves but in the person we believe in. This makes us humble but confident servants. If we find ourselves saying, "I" too much, we may be lacking the humility of a servant of Jesus. If we found ourselves doubting His care for us or doubting the truth of His teaching we may be lacking in confidence. It's a delicate balance.
We find our strength in the person of Jesus and our prayer relationship with him. "
Words of Wisdom from Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia PA written in the Catholic Standard and Times June 5, 2008.

my p.s. : a little humility every now and then doesn't hurt

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Is This My Home?

1 Peter 1:17 “Live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” If I live as a stranger on this earth I can expect to feel different from everyone who considers this their home. They’d be comfortable and I would not be. To the degree that I feel welcomed I am not a stranger. My home is not here, but I am on a journey toward it. I should expect to be misunderstood and misjudged. If I, an American female in NJ, suddenly moved to India everything would be different for me. Basics like food and climate would be readily observed. But other things like government processes, cultural norms, status of females, work styles and economy would be vastly different, too.
If in this life I am a stranger, then many accepted customs should seem foreign to me. Drug use, crime, lack of respect for life, competition, definition of success are examples of such. None of these would be easily understood, more or less accepted in my personal life. If I “live my life as a stranger in reverent fear” then I live counter culturally. I don’t incorporate myself into those norms but rebel against them. My rebellion would take the form of life in an opposite style.
Remember the prayer of St. Francis? Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is hatred, love. I wonder about how much of a stranger I am perceived to be. If my life evidences counter cultural practices I am living in reverent fear and I can expect to feel unwelcome.

I am on a journey only.
My Home is not here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Where Is God When You Need Him?

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.
We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. If you liked this story, pass it on. If not, perhaps you took off your blindfold before dawn.
Moral of the Story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On Accepting Myself

Here' what I'm learning these days. It's about letting go. I do my best and let it go. I do what I can and let it go. It actually sounds logical and fairly simple. You can only do what you can do, right? You wouldn't expect a cow to sing. You wouldn't expect a tree to fly. They each have limitations and so do I. Humility is being able to accept my own weaknesses. I must "bear serenely the trial of being displeasing to myself." To St. Therese that's the definition of holiness. To me it's been the definition of failure. With God's grace I'm moving from defining it as a failure to defining it as holiness...or at least humility. I'm learning slowly how to accept my own limitations.