Reflecting on Off….

OFF by Michael EbbrechtIt’s been a rough week or two. I’m sure you have all had weeks like this, weeks where you feel a little off, as if life is simply overwhelming. So I was draw to this deceptively simple photo by my friend Michael Ebbrecht. I love the old brick and the rusted switch. It seems this switch and its three leads have survived all sorts of bad weather. The switch might even be stuck, rusted in one position. That’s how life feels to me right now, as if I’m stuck. Perhaps each individual problem doesn’t seem like much, but things just seem to multiply. It started with a trip to the emergency room in an ambulance while my husband was out of town. My daughter and good friend stayed with me, as they ruled out my heart and sent me home. This week meant more medical tests, each ruling out another possibility. So the mystery remains, while the prospect of another round of severe pain still looms over me. At the same time, my daughter and dog both had health issues, and an accident totaled my car. I don’t know about you, but at times like these, it’s difficult not to turtle in, to simply crawl into the corner and lick my wounds. The temptation to feel like a victim, to ask ‘Why me?’, to simply give up, can be hard to resist. It’s easy to cancel a party, or convince yourself that you just don’t have the energy to deal with a visit from a friend or your family. Most of all, I am tempted to skip prayer. I just can’t spare any time at all, simply can’t be bothered, and frankly, would rather not talk to God. Yet if I yield to that temptation, I’m the one severing the connection. I cut myself off from the Source of All Life, the Compassionate Creator, the Architect of the Universe. Make time today to peel away the rust, to reconnect the power, to turn the switch back on. Begin to pray again, even if it’s only an uplifted eye, a heartfelt sigh, a frustrated groan. Picture yourself leaving your burdens at the foot of the cross, as the Holy of Holies cradles you in his arms. Pray for the strength of the Almighty, rather than relying on your own. Most of all pray for patience and discernment, to be present to each situation as it arises. And remember, this too shall pass, and all shall be well, in God’s time, not our own. Text by Connie Chintall ©2012, Photo by Michael Ebbrecht ©2012, used with his permission

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 Discipline…..

It’s another grey day, and I am so tempted to stay in bed. Even our dog isn’t sure about getting up and going out. So I was drawn to this photo taken by my sister Lana of my niece Natalie playing water polo. She looks so strong, with her upper torso above the water, intently aiming the ball before releasing it. Her opponent is rushing toward her, to foil the play. I don’t know how good of a swimmer you are, or if you have ever tread water for an extended period of time. It’s harder than it looks, and these students are playing a game while managing to remain afloat. Yet they didn’t simply show up at the pool the day of the game. They practiced and built up skills over time, learning ways to conserve energy and maintain balance, working together toward a common goal. At the same time, they are learning the value of discipline, commitment, persistence. It seems to me that prayer is a lot like water polo. There is a strength and sense of balance that comes with daily practice. The commitment to prayer, day in, day out, prepares us to pray in times when life seems impossible. As we pray for others, we become part of a team, an impenetrable fortress filled with prayer warriors. We see how God answers the prayers of others, and our faith is renewed and strengthened by others that pray for us. When difficult times descend upon us, we not only remain afloat, we rise above temptation and persevere. Take time today to offer a simple prayer for those you know and love, and for those you encounter. Let go of your idea of what prayer should be, and allow your prayers to take their own form. Take on the discipline of prayer today, and every day, and you’ll be amazed at how it will strengthen your heart and soul. Photo by Lana Sarchiapone

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