Reflecting on Grace….

Frosty View by Kira Skala Dec 18
Grace is a struggle for me. I am not talking about being clumsy, although I am that. I am talking about making room for something I rarely comprehend let alone allow in. Some folks talk about feeling unworthy. Others are uncomfortable giving up control. I probably fall into the second group, but honestly, the real issue is I am simply too caught up in my own little world to make room for God’s grace. I am content in my own little bubble, and it is quite lovely there if I do say so myself. I think I can see clearly, but then I begin to miss things. Like this lovely photo by my friend Kira, my view has frosted over. I can’t really see beyond the glass. At times like these, the world seems cold, even dangerous, and God feels far away. Without room for God’s grace, hope is illusive and fleeting.

Things began to shift for me during a two-year spiritual direction program at Richmond Hill. I spent a weekend a month in retreat with a group of twenty fellow seekers. We learned about all sorts of things, but the most enduring lesson I learned was about holding open a space for God’s grace. So wait – I not only had to make room, I had to hold the space open? At first it seemed silly and frustrating. I was going to end up at the same place anyway so why bother? Then with practice I found things fell into place in a way I never thought possible, as if divinely ordered. Rather than insisting and arguing, I simply asked and waited, often much longer than I felt comfortable waiting. Instead of one of us losing so the other could win, options presented themselves where we both won. I still cannot say I am comfortable – I like to have an answer now if not sooner. Yet with practice I am finding my answer falls far short of the answer God has waiting for me. In engineering terms, my best is a local maximum; God’s best is a global maximum. Make time to let go of a struggle that is wearing you down. Refrain from judging the actions of others or yourself. Climb out of that safe little bubble and open your eyes and ears to the vastness of creation. Let go of what you thought the answer would be or what it would look like and let God pour down His grace to create an answer for all of us. Text by Connie Chintall ©2018, photo entitled ‘Winter Glass’ by Kira Skala©2018, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.

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Reflecting on Frost….

Sometimes life floats along, and all seems well with the world. We chase our dreams, get married, have babies, buy our first home. We feel as if life will last forever, that nothing can touch us, let alone hurt us. We win because it never occurs to us we could lose. Then one day, the phone rings, or a doctor calls us into the office, and cold grips our hearts. We find there is a mountain we can’t climb, an obstacle we can’t avoid. Frost clings to us and we learn we are no more resilient than a delicate flower. Leaves lose their shape and drape over our petals, rather than reaching for the sun. In this amazing photo, my friend Gailen caught the first frost, when the leaves fold but the blossoms remain steadfast. Yet there is a double meaning here. Asters are also known as frost flowers, and have long been considered enchanted. English myths tell us fairies slept under their petals after they closed at sunset. Asters are traditionally placed upon the graves of French soldiers as a symbol to represent a reversal of the outcome of their battles. In Victorian times, the aster became a symbol of patience or anticipation. This delicate, wild looking flower is a symbol of persistence. True strength is born out of tribulation, when we pick ourselves up and continue to believe when all else tells us to despair. We learn to truly enjoy each messy, frustrating moment, understanding all we can count on is our next breath. We accept the gift of abundant life, not perfect or neat, but messy, heartbreaking, amazing, hilarious, all at the same time. We allow ourselves to grief, to rejoice, to let go, to begin again. We trust that the sun will chase away the cold, and that this too shall pass. Make time today to enjoy what life brings your way. Stop to consider the miracles of creation that surround us all, the flowers, the birds, even the clouds in the sky. Thank God for these amazing bodies we walk around in, for the health that we so often take for granted. And remember to remain patient like the asters, even when the leaves around you droop. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Good Morning Asters’ by Gailen Mapes ©2012, used with his permission

Reflecting on Frost….

Today is one of those cold, clear days. Even when I left for the gym, there was still frost on the ground. So I was drawn to this amazing photo of ice on a wild grape vine taken by my friend Cecilia. I love how the ice crystals look like tiny snowflakes, delicately poised on the twisted vines. Water in all its forms is one of the most miraculous and beautiful parts of life. As liquid, water finds its own way, flowing here and there, following the path of least resistance. As steam, water creates the electricity that allows my computer and yours to operate. Yet frozen water remains the most amazing and mysterious. Snow has ten times the volume of rain, and ice is even more perplexing. I never cease to be amazed by how ponds and creeks freeze over, or the way light glistens on icicles, or how dew can form early morning frost. I love to hear the ground crunch beneath my feet as I walk the dog. I love to see frost illuminated by the slanting winter sun as I enjoy my second cup of coffee. And I miss how frost formed on the windows of my childhood home, reminding us Christmas was right around the corner. Take time today to look closely at what you often take for granted. Stop to consider how something simple is just a miracle we see every day. Look for vibrant life where others might only see the cold and frozen. And remember we receive the gift of life, one drop, one breath, at a time. Photo by Cecilia Carr

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