Its a funny old world isn’t it. Since I was a child I have had the ability to step back and just look at the overall picture. The consequences of human actions are horribly predictable, and cyclic. And the human world is in a tumultuous state at the moment.
So I was just meditating and ruminating on life the other day and began to laugh out loud at the way we live our lives. I bet most of us have plans for what we will do this weekend. We have kind of thought about what we will have to eat this evening and how we plan to buy that new…whatever we next ‘want’ in our lives, car, house, holiday, new camera, computer…stuff, the stuff that seems to pervade our lives.
In less affluent and privileged places of the world than the tiny Western mindset reality, people are thinking how and where they can sleep tonight safely, how they can get water and food today, how they can make that illegal crossing to Europe risking all, including their life to chase their desire for a better life. We all do it. We all plan, scheme, worry, mull over and are busy actively designing our lives one way or another wherever we live and whatever culture we find ourselves inhabiting.
But then I got to the reality of life. We are not really in control of anything material or physical. Zilch. We are not even in control of whether we take our very next breath. We behave and live as though we were Masters of the Universe and ourselves. We sign contracts, take out huge or small mortgages/loans and kid ourselves that we can stretch time and be in control of life for a number of months or years, we plan infinitum, and make plans to do this that and the other.
When something occurs that disrupts our carefully scheduled plans we are almost indignant at the interruption. A volcanic eruption means we cant fly? Too much snow means the trains cant run? A hurricane has wrecked our home? The local store has run out of x,y,z? How dare they? We control nothing of the material and physical. We cannot extend our life even by a single breath. We have no control over the Sun or the planet. They abide in their own ever present moment. It would serve us to remember that.
And so, I have come to a conclusion. There is only one thing we can take charge of and call our own. The ever present moment and how much Love we both extend and accept in it. Thats it. But its enough to enjoy every moment we have. That ever present moment if well lived, with grace and mindfulness, will enable a well lived lifespan however long or short that may be. None of us know.
Fascinating exploration by Oden, well worth a read by the looks of it.
A valuable resource and important research centre: The Center for Early African Christianity – http://www.earlyafricanchristianity.com/
Three books coming out of the Center are of particular interest:
Thomas C. Oden “How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind: Rediscovering the African Seedbed of Western Christianity” [IVP Academic, 2010]
“Africa has played a decisive role in the formation of Christian culture from its infancy. Some of the most decisive intellectual achievements of Christianity were explored and understood in Africa before they were in Europe. If this is so, why is Christianity so often perceived in Africa as a Western colonial import? How can Christians in Northern and sub-Saharan Africa, indeed how can Christians throughout the world, rediscover and learn from this ancient heritage? Theologian Thomas C. Oden offers a portrait that challenges prevailing notions of the intellectual development of Christianity from its early roots to its modern expressions. The pattern, he suggests, is not…
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I offer this to gently lift our hearts and minds, on the feather light wings of the Holy Spirit. May we mindfully join with our Soul in its eternal song of Joy and Praise. May we find peace in these troubled times, may our gentleness act as a grace within our world and our compassion heal wounds of the human experience. Let us rest in the grace of God and know each other as family no matter how different we may appear on the surface. And may we have the courage to Love.
One commentator on this said the following: ‘Come Holy Spirit and inflame the hearts of nations. Forgive our differences, enlighten our hearts and minds that we may see our common brotherhood as children of the one true God.’
Veni Sancte Spiritus
- Latin Text.
- Veni, Sancte Spiritus, et emitte caelitus lucis tuae radium. Veni, pater pauperum, veni, dator munerum, veni, lumen cordium. Consolator optime, dulcis hospes animae, dulce refrigerium. In labore requies, in aestu temperies, in fletu solatium. O lux beatissima, reple cordis intima tuorum fidelium. Sine tuo numine, nihil est in homine, nihil est innoxium. Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium. Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium. Da tuis fidelibus, in te confidentibus, sacrum septenarium. Da virtutis meritum, da salutis exitum, da perenne gaudium.
- Come, Holy Spirit, send forth the heavenly radiance of your light. Come, father of the poor, come, giver of gifts, come, light of the heart. Greatest comforter, sweet guest of the soul, sweet consolation. In labor, rest, in heat, temperance, in tears, solace. O most blessed light, fill the inmost heart of your faithful. Without your grace, there is nothing in us, nothing that is not harmful. Cleanse that which is unclean, water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded. Bend that which is inflexible, fire that which is chilled, correct what goes stray. Give to your faithful, those who trust in you, the sevenfold gifts. Grant the reward of virtue, grant the deliverance of salvation, grant eternal joy.
Today is Mother’s Day here in the United Kingdom. Mine are all grown up now with children of their own. I was busy for a while, with 3 daughters under 3 and then twin boys arrived…so I ended up with 5 children under 7, our farm to help run and a hectic schedule leaving me little time to ponder anything much other than groceries, playgroups, school schedules and nappies.
Today all those years on is very different. We had a sharp frost overnight and the sky is blue with not a cloud in the sky. At 8 am my own mother now aged 89 rang to thank me for her card and present, and tell me what a wonderful daughter I am, how blessed she is to have me and my sister and how much she loves us. My father aged 93 made her breakfast.
I opened my cards leisurely with a cup of coffee. The house is quiet. My choices as to what to do today are largely my own other than a lunch out with my husband, a lovely treat. So I went for a walk in the woods on the hill nearby, smelling the fresh earth and scent of the Spruce, the Scots Pine. To my delight I heard first one woodpecker, then his mates reply…one either side of the track, hidden in trees but still well aware of each other. And I thought of how that remains the truth for us “grand”mothers; no longer frantically paddling just to keep our heads above water, with the noise of youngsters fretting, arguing and playing; we now walk at a slower pace, yet remain attached to our children, no matter how old they are or how far away they live from us.
When we gave birth to them, we did not have our children to hang onto them or keep them forever by our sides. We offered them the opportunity of life, to live as they choose, as they must, making the most of the potential within themselves each and every day. We fretted and worried over them, we sat by their beds soothing their brows, we commiserated over errant boyfriends and girlfriends, we chewed our nails to the quick as they went out on motorbikes and then cars, never really sleeping until we heard that door click safely, telling us they were back. We defended them and tried to guide them, ignored the hurts and accusations they hurl at us of “not understanding” them. We ignored the “you love them more than me” accusations, gently reiterating that we love them all the same. And I thought how Godlike that all is. God gave us all the opportunity to live, and to do what we will how we will, hoping we come home safely and negotiate all the dangers and pitfalls that freedom involves. We rant and rail at God, sulk in corners trying to ignore or hide, we think we know best, take a tumble in life and then wail loudly at how unfair it all is. And God just stays calm and constant, soothes our brow, mends the hurts and then pushes us gently in the direction of the door again. Like the woodpeckers, we are always connected, the call, the answer and the safety of knowing we are never lost.