Advent Teaches Us to Wait

Sister Joanne Cullimore’s watercolor of Mt. Whitney, named Whitney Portal, speaks to our hearts as Isaiah does in today’s reading for the Second Wednesday of Advent. Waiting on God brings us strength . . . the strength of these granite mountains, created by our God.

© Sr. Joanne Cullimore, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
Whitney Portal

 From Isaiah 40

To whom can you liken me as an equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things. . .

. . .Do you not know     or have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God,     creator of the ends of the earth.
God does not faint nor grow weary, and God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny. . .
God gives strength to the fainting; and for the weak makes vigor abound.
Though the young faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.

If you were a shepherd, what would you do?

Today’s Gospel reading in the Second Tuesday of Advent:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.

In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

– Matthew 18:12-14

Who would you attend to?

So . . . if you were a shepherd, what would you do?

Advent . . . Promise of Hope in our Dryness

Even in the Arizona desert . . . even in summer . . . we see the promise of new life . . . we see flowering forth of hope.

saguaro, saguaro national park, arizona
Promise of new life in the desert

From today’s reading from Isaiah:

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.

A Beautiful Advent Morning!

In today’s Responsorial Psalm, we proclaimend:

Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

And today I’ll let this morning’s sunrise in Bolinas do the preaching!

The morning sun give praise to our God!

 

If You Could Ask for Just One Thing . . .

The following is from today’s responsorial psalm, Psalm 27:

One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate God’s temple.

This is the one thing the psalmist asks of God. What would you ask?

Amidst the redwoods it can feel like you are in a cathedral. The trees draw us closer to God. It's a wonderful place to contemplate what is really important.

Monks . . . Walking through Zion

Two summers ago when Sister Patty and I drove through Utah, we stopped at Zion National Park The beauty was breathtaking! Words from Psalm 47 kept coming back to me, ” Walk through Zion, walk all around it . . .” And then I noticed to Buddhist monks on the path walking toward us. They, too, were enjoying the grandeur of the God of Zion.

Buddhist monks, walking through Zion

Walk through Zion, walk all round it; count the number of its towers.
Review all its ramparts, examine its castles,
That you may tell the next generation
That such is our God, our God for ever and always.
It is God who leads us.

What Is My Fishing Practice? Am I Faithful to My Spiritual Practice?

Sisters Pat and Judy hiking back from their fishing trip in the Sierras.

 

This morning (the Feast of St. Andrew) during our morning prayer, Sister Millie reflected on the Gospel reading. She talked about those who fish, and how sensitive they become to the movement of the water – the movement of the fish – the movement of the boat. Perhaps that helps create in them a sensitivity to the Spirit. Could that be why they were able to drop their nets and follow so suddenly (seemingly) and completely. They may have been predisposed by their practice.

What is my practice? Am I as attentive to my “practice” as these fishermen were?

[Jesus] said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.

– Matthew 4:19-20

 

Climbing the Summits – within – to Find God

In the summer of 2003, Sister Abby Newton and I went on a trek with a friend (that I just saw recently), Carolyn Mucelli. Because of timing and other issues, we never made it quite to the tippity-top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the 48 contiguous states. But we did hike the 99 switchbacks that took us to the crest of the Sierras, named Trail Crest, at 13,777 feet above sea level. The picture below shoes Abby and myself at Trail Camp with Mt. Whitney behind us.

I love these Advent readings that we find this First Week of Advent. Today’s reading from Isaiah reminds me that there is something within us that creates a desire to climb the heights – to stretch ourselves. In our imagination, we put God at the top of the mountain, and then try to reach that summit where God lives. We forget, too often, that God lives within . . . within me and within you.

It is great to get into the outdoors . . . into nature . . . and to hike within the beauty of creation. Our spirits soar. But to find God, the only mountains I need to climb are within myself. And, believe me, the switchbacks wind round and round! My prayer and hope this Advent is that we will find the courage and fortitude to continue on the journey of climbing the heights to find our God . . . who lives within. We may finally find ourselves there as well.

And may we be kind to our companions on the journey. We never when they may find themselves in a difficult pass.

Mt. Whitney behind Sisters Pat and Abby.

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come,
The mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That God may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in God’s paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
God shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:1-5

Welcome to the First Sunday of Advent!

Today’s Gospel reading is from Mark 13:33-37.

Jesus said to his disciples:”Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge,  each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

Say Thank You Until You Mean It

I love this piece by Melody Beattie, and read it often, so as to remind me to the wisdom of Gratitude. We used it as part of our morning prayer yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, at St. Margaret Convent before going to the Ultimate Celebration of Gratitude: Eucharist. For the word Eucharist means Gratitude.

Say thank you till you mean it!

Say thank you, until you mean it.

Thank God, life, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude makes things right.

Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude’s power. We can start with who we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

Say thank you, until you mean it. If you say it long enough, you will believe it.

Melody Beattie in The Language of Letting Go