Posts Tagged With: spirituality

Friday Festival: Desires

February is the month of longing.

In a long winter, we long for sunshine.  In unusual political times, we long for clarity.  Valentine’s Day can leave us longing for love, companionship, or just a really fantastic cupcake.  If we raced straight from Advent to preparations for Lent, we long for quiet, and a moment to breathe.  If surgery has been on the schedule, we long to move without pain, and to feel energetic again.

Our wise bloggers write about different desires this week.

New mom Traci Smith is longing for us all to have some sense when we talk to pregnant women.  We’ve all learned not to pat pregnant women on the belly (we have, haven’t we?) but we haven’t learned what to say.  Smith says that people still say things like “Wow, you’re enormous!”  Or, perhaps, “Wow, I hope you don’t have the baby right here!” “Are you sure there’s only one baby in there?” “You’re gigantic!” “You look like you’re about to pop!”  Smith adds, “Unsolicited comments about the size of one’s belly are never welcome, but for some reason, people feel like pregnancy is an exception to this rule. Few people would walk up to an overweight person and say “Wow, you’re ENORMOUS!” Yet to pregnant women, it happens all the time. Baffling.”

Spoiler alert:  Smith advises that the proper comment, for all situations, even when something else pops into our minds, is: “How are you feeling?” or “You look beautiful/healthy/happy/wonderful/radiant” or “How is everything?”

Valentine’s Day can be blissful – or hard.  Tara Ulrich longs for a wider understanding of the day, and for us all to see our worth outside of traditional romantic pairs.  She reminds us, “today especially I need each of you to continually remind me that I am one of God’s beloved. I need to know that my life isn’t wrapped up in my singleness. I need to be reminded continually that I’m not past my prime. I also need to be reminded that there is even beauty in the uncertainty of it all. (So much easier said than done)…I’m single. Not sick, not a problem and not past my prime. So please don’t pity me on Valentine’s Day, because today of all days, I need your help to remember that my value doesn’t rest in a relationship status, in a box of chocolates or in a red rose. It rests in the fact that no matter what lies ahead of me, I am God’s beloved and His plans for me far exceed the feelings of a day.”

A longing for certainty leads us to interpret some scriptures as fixed, set as guidance for all times and places.  Professor Wil Gafney sets that aside and begins with the provocative title “Jesus Rewrites Scripture and So Can We.”  Looking at the scriptures from Matthew 5 where Jesus says things like, “You have heard it said…but I say…” Gafney reminds us that Rabbi Jesus is interpreting the scriptures as he teaches.

She adds: “Jesus is our example in all things. He is out teacher, our rabbi. We are to do what he did to the best of our ability. In this case, that means we are to wrestle with scripture, wrestle with the meaning, and when necessary, wrestle a blessing out of it, which means wrestling with those bruising passages that have been used to hurt us and so many others. That includes some of today’s lesson, verses of which have been used to keep folk in unsafe marriages, or ostracize other marriages, even in church.”

A longing for perfection leads Rachael Keefe to reflect on her lack of singing ability, and then to realize that the desire to sing is part of a deeper issue.  She shares with us that “It was the desire to be perfect that was my personal demon. If I’m honest, it still is on occasion. During my teen years, I was so enamored with the idea of perfection that I nearly traded my life for it. I was driven by the idea that if I were perfect, then I would not feel pain and I would be loved.”

In a stable job, we long for room to be creative.  As freelancers, we long for stability.  MaryAnn McKibben Dana explores the different joys of being, as she calls it, “a free-range pastor.”  For anyone pondering a change of vocation, she says, “I love my quirky unofficial parish. I’ve been called upon to pastor people in a whole range of settings: walking the kids home from school with a gaggle of parents, via Facebook message, and even while running—trying to explain the Reformation while running a hilly eleven-miler was a special challenge.”

What are you longing for in these February days?  Let us know, and share your hopes, in the comments section below.

 

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Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church.  Her greatest spiritual lessons come from being the parent of a teenager.  She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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Friday Festival: Buh-Bye 2016, Hello 2017

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For some, the end of 2016 means stocking up on champagne and chips.  For others, this is the time to reflect on the old year, and make plans for the coming year.  Some of us are letting out a sigh of relief at the end of a tough year, and others are dreading the year to come.

What plans, dreams, worries or intentions are leading you into the brand new year ahead of us?  Our blogging friends have wisdom to share.

Ruth Everhart shares her practice of choosing a personally meaningful phrase to guide her through each new year.  Past choices have included “Be Lighthearted and Gracious,” while doing the difficult work of writing her memoir, Ruined.  Other years have been guided by “Do the Work,” and “Love the Work.”  She’s pondering the right phrase for 2017.  What would yours be, if you chose one?

At The Wisdom Years, Mary Elyn Bahlert reminds us of the beauty of looking back at our lives, turning our memories over to see them from different angles.  She writes, “The longest night of darkness has passed, and we begin again the cycle of new light that begins at winter solstice.  The seasons pass quickly…Now that I have entered the wisdom years, I remember other times of my life…Sometimes I choose to look into those events and times again, looking more carefully, from a distance, a distance in time.  I can see my life as seasons, also.”

At Creo in Dios, Susan Stabile leads us away from thinking about accomplishment toward the practice of contentment.  She notes that “Hygge” is a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment and well-being.”  It has also been described as “a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments beautiful or special,” and “the art of creating intimacy, either with yourself, friends and your home.”  Perhaps that’s what we should cultivate in 2017.

If you’re pondering a New Year’s resolution related to your health, at The Thoughtful Pastor, Christy Thomas reveals that walking changed her life this year.  She walked thousands of miles, using the walks as prayer time.  Along the way, she came to understand many things, including the truth that “Losing weight and keeping it off is the privilege of the well-to-do.”

While juggling the demanding work of parenting small children, Messy Jesus Business also claims our attention, and reveals the presence of the holy.  Amy Nee-Walker reflects on the fact that Jesus was nursed by his mother, which prompts a thought about how “Jesus, in his earthly lifetime, lived both sides of the coin of giving and receiving.  This is something we all share with him and each other.”  The coming year invites us all to nurse the presence of Christ – to feed and nurture the divine presence in the world, in our work as parents or friends or pastors, or all of the above.

At the year’s close, April Yamasaki invites us toward gratitude to God with a prayer that will work for a gathering of friends, worship or private reading.

New Year blessings to all!  Let us know your own reflections on 2016, and plans, intentions and prayers for 2017 in the comments section below.

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Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church.  Her greatest spiritual lessons come from being the parent of a teenager.  She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.

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RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

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