Reflecting on Regrets….

Whistelstop by BuckFor far too long I have been pondering what it means to have regrets. Perhaps I should begin with my regrets over taking so long between posts. That may seem like a silly place to start, until you take a hard look at the definition of the word regret. The word regret originates in the French word ‘regreter’, meaning bewail the dead. Regret focused on our feelings toward the dead, or more likely our actions or words to those now deceased. In more recent times, we tend to talk about our own past when we use the word regret. We bewail the lost opportunities of our youth, the paths not taken, the words we ought to have left unsaid. Yet it seems to me regret is not all that simple. I keep going over the words of the general confession.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

For a very long time, I treated those words like a checklist. Okay, what did I think this week? What did I say? And of course, what did I do? What had I left undone? Each one of these questions was considered separately, in isolation from the others. Each week there are things I said that hurt others, things I thought and didn’t say, things I did or didn’t do. I just never considered them together, especially not the last two. I thought regret was more about what I didn’t do that what I did, but now I am not so sure. The two go together. If there are things I wish I had done, why didn’t I do them? At least for me it ends up I didn’t take the time or make the commitment. I was too busy doing other things that seemed important, but were they really? Too often I allow my hours and days to be filled with soul sucking nonsense, rather than setting aside time for the small joys that make life worth living. I rush past a crying child to answer the phone. I cut off a friend who just needs to talk because I want to speak more than listen. I pass up an opportunity to take a chance because I prefer the comfort of my routine. Then something small reaches out and touches my heart and soul. This photo of the train station in Louisa, VA by my friend David caught me up short. I walk past this station every time I go to the farmer’s market but until this photo, I never really saw it. Make time today to look and listen to what God places in your path. Slow down and soak in the miracle of this life, breath by breath, moment by moment. Create intentional time for the small comforts of this life. Breathe in joy and breathe out busy-ness. Most of all, let the unending mercy of God enfold you and work through you. Let go of your own agenda and let the wisdom of God determine what needs to be done and left undone. Text by Connie Chintall ©2017, photo entitled ‘Whistlestop’ by David Buckwalter©2016, used with his permission, All Rights Reserved. To see more of David’s work, go to http://www.buckphotographyva.com/

Reflecting on Guilt….

The summer is almost over and it seems like I have accomplished little or nothing. When school ends, we plan to do so many things, both chores and fun excursions. Yet somehow by the end of the summer, the heat grinds us to a halt, and we simply slow down or just stop. So I was drawn to this photo taken by my friend Carole of Harkness State Park in Connecticut. Ivy covers the cut stone arch, even the urns are overflowing with ivy. The beautiful patterns on the iron gate echo the curves of the vines. The gate is left open, leading to a lovely garden and we are invited to simply walk through. Yet how often do we just turn away, not even noticing what we are missing? Perhaps guilt is a lot like this gate. We are offered forgiveness, yet do not accept it. We insist on remembering our shortcomings, on clinging to our mistakes. Or we seek to deny anything is wrong, and are doomed to repeat those mistakes again and again. Both paths represent guilt that can paralyze, preventing us from claiming the promise of abundant life. We become prisoners of the past, haunted by regrets of mistakes we cannot take back. Confession is an important part of the Christian tradition, a recognition that we are all human and therefore, all fall short. Yet confession seems out of favor in recent times, requiring us to acknowledge our sins, rather than keeping up a façade of perfection. Turning away from confession is like turning away from this gate, and foregoing the path that lies beyond. We remain in the shadow of guilt on this side of the gate, rather than walking through to the light of forgiveness on the other side. Yet guilt does serve an important purpose. Healthy guilt leads to repentance and growth, to a better and more fulfilling life. Peter, who denied Christ three times, became the rock of the church. Paul, the most zealous persecutor of Christians, became a powerful voice of the faith, spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. Take time today to consider the ways you have fallen short, either by what you have done, or left undone. Leave your sins at the foot of the cross, accepting the forgiveness of Christ. Let go of what you have done, and let God show you what lies ahead. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you to a better life on the other side of the gate. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 697 other followers