#Cathy

Simple Gifts

When I travel on trips or vacations and especially pilgrimages, I sometimes bring home a rock or shell to close friends to symbolize that they were carried along with me on my journey through my daily thoughts and prayers. It is a simple way to bring back a piece of God’s earth that I trod along for weeks. I choose each piece carefully. It is similar to one bringing back souvenirs. I may have left physically but not emotionally. We are always connected through the heart. A friend recently brought me this shell from her trip to Orcas Island in Washington. Tucked inside of the shell was this beautiful heart. When she gave it to me I felt the hand of God. “See I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.” Isaiah 49:16

by Cathy

Travel As Pilgrimage

I read this wonderful book before my pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland last summer. It challenges you to look at every travel experience as a pilgrimage. The definition of pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place, to be constantly looking for the hand of God and those traces of grace that are everywhere if you have eyes to see. When we look at travel as a pilgrimage, we look through the lens of the sacred, the transcendent, the holy. In the end, our trips can become a pilgrimage of the heart as well. “In other words, if the journey you have chosen is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren’t trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn’t the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion.” ― Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage: A Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred.

by Cathy

Anything Can Happen

We all know we’ll that when we take a trip anything can happen – delayed flights, missed trains, car trouble, etc. What about the journey we call life? Many times something unexpected happens and it causes us to stop and listen. Listen to the movements of grace both seen and unseen in those situations. There is always plenty to go around but do we recognize that transparent gift? If we take in that grace it becomes strength for our journeys. We don’t just see then with our eyes but we see with our heart and that requires faith. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (Antoine de Saint Exupery – The Little Prince)

by Cathy

Ordinary Altars

Altars can represent a place where we have a personal encounter with God. There are over four hundred references to altars in the bible and those altars were places of consecration. After reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World, I realized that each day I have the ability to make an altar in my life and place any problem, fear, challenge or joy there knowing that the Holy One will bless and transform it with unending grace. Each day I can look around and see where God chooses to have a personal encounter with me and it is there where I will build and keep building this altar in my heart believing it is enough. “Day by day we are given not what we want but what we need. Sometimes it is a feast and sometimes. . .swept crumbs, but by faith we believe it is enough.” (Barbara Brown Taylor)

by Cathy

The Seed Cracked Open

On a recent retreat after a brief morning teaching, we were asked to take a long contemplative walk anywhere on the 600 beautiful acres of the retreat center. The retreat leader gave us this poem from Hafiz called “The Seed Cracked Open.” It caused me to think that God is always inviting us to new spiritual horizons and that dance can be lively and fun as we serve the world together. “It used to be that when I would wake in the morning I could with confidence say, “What am ‘I’ going to do?” That was before the seed was cracked open. Now Hafiz is certain: There are two of us housed in this body, doing the shopping together in the market and tickling each other while fixing the evening’s food. Now when I awake all the instruments play the same music: “God, what love-mischief can ‘We’ do for the world today?” What love-mischief have you and God been doing for the world? Let me know.

by Cathy

Cathedral of Nature

“The aspect of nature is devout. Like the figure of Jesus, she stands with bended head, and hands folded upon the breast. The happiest man (or woman) is he or she who learns from nature the lesson of worship.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (paraphrased)

I have long believed that for me nature is my cathedral. When I am enveloped in the majesty of creation, it’s as if the sky is the dome and the trees form the foundation. The sun streams through the branches as if they were the stained glass windows softly allowing the rays to land where they will. A tree trunk is my pew seat as I sit and wait for the homily of the singing birds that speak to me of simplicity and trust and the assurance that I will have all that I need. It feels like home. In a recent TED talk Anne Lamott said, “Everything will work again if you unplug it-even you. Go “unplug” this summer in the cathedral called nature, there’s some important homily waiting for you!

by Cathy

Trail Blessing

Lord, I hike the trail this morning as I have done a thousand mornings. The clouds have poured forth their tears this season and your beauty is pulsing through creation. It is where I find you. I think of it as a metaphor for you my friend, walking beside me on the trail of life. You are my walking stick, securing my footing on the rocky road of life or when the hills become too steep to climb.. You are my guide, as we meander together on the path because your faithfulness never allows me to walk alone. Help me to walk with intention and purpose. If someone asked me this day, ”What is this God of yours like?” I would answer beauty, pure beauty. Letting the beauty seep in, I praise you this morning because I am fearfully and wonderfully made in your image. May I be that image to others.   Amen. “Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Psalm 96:12

by Cathy

Serving the Brokenhearted

Bereavement is a process one never signs up for or rarely prepares for. A loved one passes and you find yourself now having to face life with a new normal but this new normal sets you into this liminal space, which is not always comfortable. It is a process of letting go to embrace the unknown. Grief can happen on many levels, losses in one’s life, a job, ill health or the end of a relationship. One promise Jesus tells us is that he will never leave us or forsake us in our loss. We are thankful for others that minister to us in our loss, they enflesh the love and healing of our faithful God. We start walking the sometimes long journey to find joy again and to find ourselves again. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

by Cathy