Reflecting on Enough….

Tiniest Snowman by Rocky Ridge Refuge2012 was an eventful year for us, like a daring roller coaster ride. There were a few too many ups and downs, with steep climbs and deep drops, unexpected turns and blind corners. Despite the challenges, we trusted all would be well, and took time to celebrate the joys life brought us. So I was drawn to this unusual photo by my friend Janice, of a snowman perched on a pappadom chair. I love the tiny carrot nose, the little stick arms, the eyes and buttons embedded in the snow. On a day when most of us would have given up on the idea of a snowman, Janice chose to make this little guy instead. Where others did not see enough, Janice saw what was sufficient. Like my grandmother, she made due with what was at hand. I recall a worn out sampler that hung is her kitchen ‘Use it up, Wear it up, Make due, Do without’. We may have had a grocery store nearby, but almost all of our ‘big’ shopping meant a train ride into Philadelphia. Her shopping list hung on the cork board until we had the money and time to make the trip. Even then, at least a few items would be crossed off the list because we found a way around what we thought was so necessary to replace a few days or weeks earlier. Yet it was my grandmother who paid for my dance lessons, because grace was as necessary as the air we breathe. When Nana saw what really mattered, what nourished our bodies and souls, she ruthlessly assured we had the resources we needed. I did not grow up with designer clothes, or gourmet meals, or fancy vacations. I was offered something more precious – the knowledge that following a dream may mean sacrifice, that every decision has a cost and consequence, that there is a huge difference between what we want and what we need. Make time today to ponder the blessings of this life, the healings that have been prepared, the love of family and friends, the prayers of others when you have lost the will to pray. Stop doing and begin to just be. Let go of worldly expectations, resist the temptation of scarcity, trust you have what you need. And always remember, when we each live into who we are, there will always be more than enough to nourish our bodies, our hearts, and our souls. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Janice of Rocky Ridge Refuge. To learn more about Janice and her dream, visit http://rockyridgerefuge.com/

Reflecting on Unconditional Love….

It’s another rainy day, a good time to slow down and be lazy. It’s been almost two weeks since we returned from a youth retreat, and I can’t get one of the songs out of my head. So I was drawn to this unusual photo of Parfait and baby bunnies, taken by the folks at Rocky Ridge Refuge. Parfait is often featured in their photos, an example of a gentle dog that most folks misunderstand and often fear. In my experience, dogs aren’t born mean. Dogs learn to be mean because of how their owners treat them. This pitbull mix is about as far as you can imagine from the aggressive, antagonist animal bred to win money in illegal dog fights. Parfait is so gentle she wouldn’t even hurt a baby bunny. The high school students gathered at Shrine Mont for the weekend retreat were a lot like Parfait. Almost 120 students gathered from across the diocese to praise God and learn about unconditional love. The theme of the weekend was 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle Paul’s great epistle on love. Some students headed on retreat rather than attend their high school proms; others gave up concert tickets or sports events. Yet what amazed me most was how these youth embodied unconditional love. Rather than expecting one another to conform to an artificial standard, this group accepted one another for who they were. By the end of the weekend, the whole group was joyously singing this song:

Unconditional Love

We know a place
where God’s people can run free
a new kind of love
and we call it agape

Don’t take too long to find
true love transcends all time
that non-reacting, everlasting love

Give me your unconditional love
the kind of love I deserve
the kind I want to return

Give me your unconditional love
the kind of love I deserve
the kind I want to return

Don’t try to change or tear your
brother down
let him make his mistakes
and he will come around
hasten just to pray and God’s true
Word to obey
in non-reacting, everlasting love

Give me your unconditional love
the kind of love I deserve
the kind I want to return

Give me your unconditional love
my torn heart to discern
this agape love to learn

Take time today to accept those you encounter for who they are, rather than who you expect them to be. Meet one another in peace, aspiring to offer the everlasting love that pours down from God the Father. Pray for the Holy Spirit to drench you, to teach you how to love one another as Christ loved us, to offer one another unconditional love. And remember, we all have days when we’re the pitbull, and days when we’re the baby bunny. Lyrics by Michael Omaritan and Donna Summer; Photo by Rocky Ridge Refuge, to learn more, go to http://rockyridgerefuge.com/; Retreat by Parish Youth Ministries (PYM), to learn more, go to http://diovayouth.wordpress.com/pym-101/

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