“Progress,” it may take a very long time

Saw this today during my time of prayer and meditation. Traveling with my own griefs, and walking with those willing to share their grieving, the words of Chardin affirm what we are all learning:

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

This was posted on Facebook by “God in All Things

On grieving: thoughts from Amy

 It is not only the most difficult thing to know oneself,
but the most inconvenient one, too.

–H.W. Shaw via Amy (in China)

Grieving, as many of you know well, is very personal. We grieve losses in unique ways. On top of that, each loss—itself unique across a spectrum of not-so-important to how-can-I-go-on important—calls forth a very different (and personal) response. Amy (an American living in China) begins an April 2013 post about pre- and post- grieving (and why it matters) this way:

The two-sided coin for relationships when you live overseas is that you get to meet a lot of wonderful people but you find that they rotate in and out of your life more so than the average person living in America.  For the most part I have been the one staying with others going. Years ago, I was preparing to return to the States for a three year stint. Coincidentally, my dear friends were doing the exact same thing, departing for three years.  Having someone going down such a parallel path was a rarity and provided an interesting and unintended “emotional” laboratory as my friend Anne and I reacted so differently to the upcoming return to the US.

As the months went by and the move became more eminent I cried during some of our conversations while Anne never shed a tear (I’m not just being dramatic in my retelling, she literally never cried, in stark contrast to the Tissue Queen, aka me, so I noticed). Anne and her family were leaving a few days before I would and had invited a Chinese friend and me over for dinner the last night in their home. Xiao Wu, a guy in his mid-20’s, and I couldn’t stop the tears. I’m sure you’re getting the picture that this was a really fun meal, she commented sarcastically.

What struck me is that again, Anne didn’t cry. I knew she’d miss me. Well, I thought she’d miss me. I certainly hoped she’d missed me and that our friendship had impacted her in some way that would lead her to grieve that we wouldn’t be a part of one another’s daily lives for a while. Was it too much to ask for one, small tear? Just one?

Intrigued? Want to know how she and her friend, Anne, did? Want a little clue into your own (very personal) way of grieving and how it may intersect and interact with other (very personal) ways of grieving? Read Amy’s post: How to know if you are pre- or post-griever (and why it matters)

When you check out her blog, The Messy Middle: Where Grace and Truth Reside, be sure to read the back story about the blog header: The back story

Do you know this grief?

You are not alone. We honor you, too.

In the midst of all the (well deserved) cheer and hype for mothers on Mother’s Day there is another truth too often hidden because it is painful and pain makes us uncomfortable (so we pretend it isn’t there and keep mostly silent). This post is a small attempt to say “Open your eyes. Open your hearts. Share your love.”

Open your eyes and hearts to women like “…your cousin in Houston whose fertility treatments are failing, your next-door neighbor who had a stillbirth three years ago, or your grandmother who lost a child but could never bring herself to tell anyone about it. For all these women, their hoped-for child comes regularly to mind, and each one will cry on [Mother’s Day] in a way that surprises her.” —Serena Jones, a woman who remembers a longed-for child on every Mother’s Day. She begins her remarks this way:

This Sunday morning, my daughter will make her annual bedside delivery of a “For Mom” greeting card. What fun to guess what sort of handwritten promises she might include: an always-clean bedroom, perhaps, or 365 kisses? Whatever she says or does, I know I’ll give her a big hug, and get misty-eyed.

Fifteen years ago, however, my tears were bitter. In fact, I woke up on Mother’s Day of 1995 and couldn’t get out of bed. I hated the thought of motherhood. In fact, I probably hated all mothers.

My wretched state back then had nothing to do with my own mother. Rather, it was caused by a feeling of personal failure, and a sense that my own body had betrayed me. Only four days earlier I had miscarried a much-wanted, seventeen-week pregnancy. Just as I’d begun to grasp and even revel in the reality of new life, this thrilling possibility ended. Suddenly, I wasn’t “expecting” anymore. The grief felt unbearable.

Worst Expectations by Serena Jones

If you, or someone you love, someone you know, someone you work with, play with, or worship with are touched by this unique loss, this ‘unbearable grief,’ please read the rest of Serena’s (2010) post,Worst Expectations. Her’s is the compelling voice of experience … and hope.

An Additional Online Resource

Saying Goodbye (SG): “Saying Goodbye is a charity offering Support & Services, for anyone who has lost a baby in pregnancy, at birth or in early years.” It’s Mission is “To offer support to all those who need it – whether they have personally lost a baby or are supporting someone who has lost.”

Finally: A Saying Goodbye Film | Every Baby Matters | Spoken Word —

Let us pray for, and love, ALL Mother’s, especially those who are grieving, on Mother’s Day.

But what about my dog?

Or my cat? Or my name your pet and companion?

Is “Buster” in heaven?

At St. Margaret’s we are anticipating the Blessing of the Animals (Oct 1) as we remember St. Francis of Assisi (Oct 4th) and his love of all of creation—the sun was his brother and the moon his sister, he famously delivered a town from the ravages of “brother wolf.”

As a pastor I am frequently asked if the paradise of God is extended to animals—especially animals who have become “like family” to those asking the question. The question is usually blunt: “Is my dog in heaven?” The question is often followed by a description of the unconditional love expressed by the animal and experienced by the human questioner.

Much can be learned (and has) about God’s unconditional love when a strong bond occurs between a human and a beloved pet (animal). When this relationship is ended in the death of the animal much can be learned about our understanding of God and God’s unconditional love of us.

An animal lover, a fellow pilgrim on a spiritual journey, passed along this wisdom to me and I share it with you … especially you who may be grieving the loss of a pet and its love. Don’t press this too hard with your mind, let it rest gently in your heart. Is your dog in heaven? For the love of God (who is love), why not?

Someone told me animals don’t go to heaven.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because Jesus died for the sins of people, not animals,” he answered.
“Of course,” I responded.
And then I understood what this man could not and I said, “Animals never committed sin. Their connection with God was never broken. They never required redemption, which is why they’ve been able to redeem so many of us.”

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“…It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye,” The Little Prince


Set loose the artist within you

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Do you subscribe to a daily word of inspiration? Do you subscribe to several? “Yes” to both questions for me. One of my daily subscriptions is “Word for the Day” from Gratefulness.org. From time to time I copy the word into my daily calendar and set it to repeat annually. So what?

On September 23, 2010 Greta Crosby’s word about artistry was the Word for the Day. I needed to hear it. I was ready to hear it.

I was home less than a year after my long (13 month) hospital stay. I had suffered many losses (death is the most profound, but not the only loss we will encounter in our lives). I was determined (still am) to recover as much as possible from my illness. Some days this effort was easier than others.

To see myself as an artist—not as a broken and weakened body using a walker to get around, lamenting how easily I tired—was an exhilarating transformation. “I’m an artist! I’m weaving something new with materials I didn’t request, and would like to replace, but this is what I have to work with. So what will I weave today?”

May you be blessed to find the artist within you. I invite you to set loose that artist; you can do this—you are the only one who can do this. If you are a companion to one who is grieving (any kind of) a loss, invite the artist to emerge from your friend, your loved one, your bereaved one. Be gentle in your invitation, artistry blossoms with gentleness.

Here is why I like Word for the Day: there is a marvelous timeliness to the word. At just the right moment (the moment I’m ready to hear) the “right word” appears in the inbox.

Having determined to make this post based on the word of Sep 23, 2011 I received this today: “No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night.” (Elie Wiesel)

Let us be grateful together as we weave something new today.