Vulnerable

Sébastien Dusart
L’Enfant prodigue, de Félix Desruelles, Valenciennes (1899)

There is so much unsaid in the story of the father and his two sons. Why was the younger son so eager to get away from home, but expecting his father’s wealth to support him? Why did the father let him go without any lessons in money management? Was the younger son repentant or an opportunist? Would the warm and forgiving welcome of his father change him for the better?

Why did the older son let resentment about how his father treated him build ? Was it loyalty and custom that made him stay working for someone he resented? What was the real core of the anger he felt towards his brother?

Why hadn’t the father told the older son that everything of his belonged to him? Was the father generous or withholding?

Human relationships thrive on respectful, compassionate communication. We can never know the motives or thoughts of others unless we ask. We can never know our own motives until we take the time to examine our thoughts, behaviors, and actions in humility.

Today I will pray for enlightenment about how I relate with others. I will risk being vulnerable by communicating my thoughts and feelings with someone trustworthy.

The cross of grief

Ion Chibzii
“Grief” (70th years)
12 June 2011, 20:50

In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge. Psalm 90:1

We carry a cross of grief throughout our lives. To live with our grief requires courage and compassion. When we accept the moments of anger, resentment, finger-pointing, forcing solutions, and depression as symptoms, we dare to identify the source of our grief: the death of loved ones, disillusionment with government, church, and community leaders, being the target of prejudice, racism, violence, and injustice, illness, loss of employment and income, the frailties that come with aging, unfulfilled dreams. Grief challenges us every day, individually and collectively.

Lord, help me identify the source of the grief in my life. Grace me with the courage to be honest about my emotions and accountable for them. Shelter me with your love and compassion as I grieve. Bless me with great compassion for all who grieve.

 

Through the gate

Evelyn Simak
A narrow gate on the Weavers Way to Halvergate
9 September 2009

[Jesus] answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” Luke 13:24

In every moment I am in the presence of God.

Sometimes I enter through the gate of humility, respect, gratitude, courtesy, generosity, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

Sometimes I gatecrash with indifference, selfishness, crankiness, resentment, and arrogance.

Today I will enter the presence of God with reverence, and let God’s holy Spirit think, speak, live, and love through me.

Heart of fire

Steffen Papenbroock
“Heart of Fire”

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” Luke 12:49-50

Like the Lord, we know we are waiting for things to change. We feel the stress, the sorrow, the depression, the wish to push time so that solutions emerge and are finalized.

Like the Lord, we do our best to make it through the agony of uncertainty. We wait for the graced moment when God sets our hearts on fire with love and joy, when we finally let ourselves be absorbed into God’s heart of compassion.

Fear disarmed

Flock of sheep grazing on stubble at O’Halloran Hill near Adelaide, SA. 1992.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

What were the disciples afraid of, that Jesus offered these words of comfort and reassurance? No doubt the same things I am afraid of: surviving on a small income; meeting responsibilities; aging; illness; the anger permeating our world; the unjust treatment of the poor, the homeless, refugees and immigrants; the reality of human trafficking; indifference towards the vulnerable, the ill, the elderly…

Jesus disarms all these fears with the unconditional, all-inclusive love of God, the “kingdom” that is already around us, among us, within us.

When I choose love over fear, I embody the kingdom. I am empowered to bring respect, reassurance, encouragement, generosity, justice, kindness, and compassion to my home, workplace, and community.

 

All shall be well

The Wasp, September 31, 1882
political cartoon, San Francisco, California,
depicting San Francisco landlords as vampire bats squeezing the rent out of tenants,
enjoying a fine meal, then being taken by death
and thrown into hell.

Then [Jesus] said to the crowd,  “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Luke 12:15

When I consider my modest take-home pay and the food, rent, utilities, medical, and car expenses I have, it’s hard not to make money and things the center of my attention. Idols, in fact.

But God’s Holy Spirit — not money or things — is my source for life. Today I choose to put my trust in and my attention on God. All shall be well, however it looks right now.