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.

Advertisements

Reflecting on Lace….

The sun has returned after a few days of overcast skies. Clouds did not bring rain, so the fields remain parched and dry. Yet while the crops wither, one hardy plant seems to thrive along the roadsides, Queen Anne’s Lace. So I was drawn to this beautiful photo by my friend Jeffrey Foltice, showing both open and closed blooms. When closed the bloom looks like a tiny bird’s nest, with thin green leaves that remind me of feathers. Once open, you find a delicate and intricate pattern of tiny flowers, overlapping and crowding one another, yet strong enough to withstand wind and rain. My grandmother loved this flower, frequently commenting that beauty can be found in the most unexpected places. Yet what one person calls a flower another might consider an invasive weed. This ‘flower’ is actually a European transplant, commonly called wild carrot. You can even eat the taproot, since the root is in fact a carrot. Folks even argue about the origin of the name, some saying the delicate bloom is named after an English monarch, others attributing the name to St Anne, the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. St Anne is the patron saint of lace makers and mothers, referred to as the ‘queen of heaven’. All this controversy and diversity of opinions was far from lost on my grandmother, my Nana. She passed on almost forty years ago, yet her legacy lives on. She taught me to think, to question, to dig deeply, especially what others take for shallow and straight forward. Perhaps this blog started then, driving along country roads with my Nana. I learned to take time looking at a matter from all sides, listening and learning, day by day, expecting my understanding to evolve over time, with new experiences and new friends. Take time today to seek the truth, from inside of your heart and from those around you. Soak in the simple beauty of nature, as you drive to work, looking out your office window, or in the corner of your garden. And always remember to listen carefully and thoughtfully to the oldest and youngest among us. You’d be surprised what you might learn. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo entitled ‘Queen Anne’s Lace’ by Jeffrey Foltice ©2012, used with his permission, to see more of his work, go to http://photonatureblog.com/

Reflecting on Contrast….

Rain is relentlessly falling, plastering leaves to the soaking wet ground. These storms may drop our leaves before we get much color. So I was drawn to this photo of the Colorado mountains taken by my friend Adrienne. We lived in Colorado Springs for three years, but I never got used to the sharp contrast between the yellow aspens and the evergreens. Fall leaves are one color in Colorado – a brilliant, eye popping yellow, made all the more impressive against the dark green pines and cloudy grey sky. Contrast helps us focus on what is distinct from the rest of our surroundings. We may become accustomed to a certain way of doing things, or fail to notice subtle changes. A day away to visit a friend or a walk in the woods clears our minds and sharpens our perceptions. We return refreshed, renewed, rested. We see the familiar with a new eye, recognizing the need for change and more importantly, possessing the energy to begin to change. There is a lot of talk about green technology and sustainable initiatives, even sustainable economies. Everyone wants to make a big splash, a dramatic difference. Yet true change, real and permanent good, relies on changes we can sustain. We start small, then build on our successes and learn from our mistakes, stepping back now and again to be sure we stay on track. Take time today to clear your mind and sharpen your senses. Pick up a single leaf, and marvel at the miracle of life. Consider new ways to look at your daily routines, building on your successes and learning from your mistakes. And remember, sometimes it takes contrast to see what needs fixing. Mistakes only become failures when we cease to learn. Photo by Adrienne O’Hara

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

Join 216 other followers