Reflecting on Embrace….

Open Embrace by Karen PalmerThis week we are called to pray for Christian unity, to pray for Holy Spirit to mend the divisions in God’s community of believers. Such healing is only possible through the Divine, for alone we seem to find differences much more easily than common ground. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo of my friend Karen’s grandchild Mateo. I love the bright colors of sidewalk chalk, the simple drawing on the pavement. We see Mateo reaching out to this two dimensional chalk figure that the next rain will surely wash away. I don’t know about you, but what I see is an embrace. He is reaching out in love to hug the chalk child, regardless of how that child looks to the world. When do we lose this simplicity of heart? When do we begin to retrench into what we know and who we are, surrounding ourselves with others that look and think the same? When do we begin to lead with the head instead of the heart? I recall discussions about unity in my teenage years when we were taught to ‘tolerate’ those different from ourselves. It seems to me that tolerance is the first brick in the wall of hate, teaching us to keep our distance and mind our tongues. Then in the military I hear the word ‘respect’. I was offer the same respect on the views of others that I would expect my views to receive. Respect is better but still a matter of the head, not the heart. The healing the world needs begins with each of us, opening our hearts to one another. Make time today to reach out to others who differ from you. Look past outer appearances, past opinions, past beliefs. Look and listen with the eyes and ears of your heart. Pray for words and gestures that will communicate and create common ground. And always remember, when we embrace the other, the dissimilar, we can always count on finding God. Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where love and caring are, there is God. Text by Connie Chintall ©2014, photo entitled ‘Open Embrace’ by Karen Palmer ©2013, all rights reserved.

Reflecting on Epiphany….

What is Hidden Behind this Door by RabiriusEpiphany Sunday has come and gone. The wise men have long since paid homage, left their precious gifts with the Christ child, and headed back to the East. I am just now arriving, just now approaching the manger, just how beginning to comprehend the Lord made flesh. So I was drawn to this amazing image by my friend Rabirius. I am uncertain if his work is photography, or art, or both. There is a mysterious, multilayered quality that draws me in, fires my imagination, makes me dig deeper for meaning and insight. I don’t know about you, but my ‘aha’ moments are more lie ‘aha’ seasons. There may be a sharp flash of light, an opening, a new direction. But the meaning is not something I come to quickly, or at least not as quickly as others. Like Mary, I must ‘ponder these things in my heart’. I must pray over them. I must look from more than one angle, in more than one light, with more than one perspective. What catches your eye first in this image? For me, it was the wall. How often do we walk away or take another path because we are sure the way ahead appears to be a dead end, blocked off and impenetrable? We simply dismiss the possibility, and go off on another tangent. What if we allowed ourselves to look further, to mull over the scene, to be sure we haven’t missed anything? Perhaps we might encounter the brightly colored door of this scene, illuminated by mysterious light. Or an eye meeting our steady gaze, beckoning us to a new and better place that what we leave behind. So what if it takes more time, or if we arrive after the others have departed? Such soul work is worth the time and the effort and the healing we find along the way. Make time today to ponder the walls in your life. Consider how long it took to build those walls, and what it might take to tear them down. Allow the Holy Spirit to show you the path ahead, a path that may wind and turn, but path you can be assured will get you there. Open your heart and mind and soul to the gift of grace, whether an epiphany or a gloaming, whether in an instant or over a lifetime. And always remember, our ‘work’ is simply to be present to transforming grace and mercy of our Lord, the same Lord that was born as a baby and walked among us in the flesh. Text by Connie Chintall ©2014, photo entitled ‘What is Hidden Behind This Door?’ by Rabirius ©2013, all rights reserved. To see more of his work, go to http://rabirius.wordpress.com/

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