My hairdresser and I were chatting, becoming emotional, and we wondered aloud what could we really do. How could we contribute?
I can actively pray. My prayer is this: “Dear God, almighty, help me find voice and action to contribute. Fill me with your love to guide my children through these mobs of wall supporters. Empower me to have both voice and action toward a solution embraced with tolerance, love, and acceptance. I pray in your name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Gentle readers, please light my path to contribution with suggestions in the comments as to how I can help.
Contribute, from Latin contributus, past participle of contribuere “to bring together, add, unite, collect.”
Audacious, adjective, extremely bold or daring, recklessly brave; fearless: an audacious explorer. Also meaning, extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive.
I used to own a pair of shoes. I called them my intrepid reporting shoes. They were navy blue, knock off, canvas sneakers. I wore them with everything. On the beat doing small town journalism. On the town, checking out the trendy wine bar in the early 2000s. Walking the dog. At the coffee shop. Meeting my would be husband.
Sin, from Hebrew, to miss the mark. As a verb, sin is an action. It results from succumbing to temptation or enticement. Sometimes, though, it occurs with lack of intention.
Sin is to commit a transgression of divine law, to offend against a principle or standard. As a noun, it is thought to be willful or deliberate violation of moral principle.
How does one recover from sin? On her knees? In a confessional booth? With vows to not repeat?
I first learned of sin at a conscious level in the fifth grade while preparing for receiving the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation. I spent month’s preparing by drumming up memories of all sin and wrong doing I had committed. I was reminding of missing church, telling little white lies, coveting my neighbor — I wanted Carrie’s frosted jeans, not honoring my parents, and using the Lord’s name in vain — how many times had I said “Oh my God?” Of course, I hadn’t stolen or murdered or broken any marriage vows.
So, my limited understanding was that I was to write down my sins. Later years, I would sit in a confessional booth, but this first sacrament was different, special. We folded up our letters, placed them in a fire at the front of church in front of Mary, the Father, God, our teachers, our families, and everyone. Then, I was forgiven. I was given a penance, which I forgot — Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s I imagine. I vowed to never sin again silently, frightened.
At a Presbyterian sermon, I relearned the word sin with a Hebrew meaning of missing the mark. This sounds of an act worth forgiving. An event one can recover from rather than be stained by.
Sin, from Old English synn is a “moral wrongdoing, injury, mischief, enmity, feud, guilt, crime, offense against God, or misdeed.” This sounds more damaging. Almost, unforgivable static way of life, sinful.
I choose to believe sinning is a temporary stray from a life of hitting the mark. One needs to find acknowledgment of the falling short and accept responsibility for the damage the sinning has caused. From there, one can tell oneself they just missed the mark and it’s okay to draw back and aim again at a just and right path.
Sin doesn’t magically get erased from a magician in the sky, like my 10-year-old self believed. Sin happens, deliberately and not. I chose to correct the course, adjust the coordinates, and carry on.
*Note: I do not believe my elementary understanding of the Catholic sacrament is complete and I do not intend this post to poke fun or insult the faith traditions of the Catholic Church. I acknowledge the ritual has a place and in fact it was a sacrament I received many times before converting to a protestant faith at age 29.
Libation, a noun, a pouring out of wine or other liquid in honor of a deity; the liquid poured out.
This delightful word comes from Latin libationem (nominative libatio) “a drink offering,” noun of action from past participle stem of libare “pour out (an offering).”
This word has lost its originally, intended sophistication. It has been used offhandedly to refer to any drinking occasion. It is often facetious such as an intoxicating beverage, as wine, especially when drunk in ceremonial or celebratory situations.
Regardless if you are honoring a deity or celebrating an occasion, the “spirit” of libation is indeed joy. Definitely not to mean over imbibing.
This is a month of joy for me. Last weekend, Mother’s Day, an acknowledgement of my mother and three sons, which needed no libations.
Next weekend, my birthday, which shall include cheers and spirits with my girlfriends. Libations in celebration of sisterhood is perfectly appropriate. I believe in the magic of women circles and honor my book club ladies, writing sisters, and way back gal pals.
Defined as ecclesiastical. A religious observance or worship; a form of prayer or worship for special use.
I use my devotion time as reflection. Is it God, a higher power, a creator, or a deeper call to self that I am trying to reach when I devote this time? I can’t say, but the day goes better when I spend a few moment in the morning reading bible passages and other’s thoughts on interpretation of meaning.
My first introduction to devotions was a book of psalms I received as a gift in 2000, almost twenty years ago. I was working as a case manager at a home for unwed mothers. Coincidentally, I was a unwed mother myself. Unlike the people I helped, I was not homeless. The ministry, managed by the Salvation Army, was to provide shelter, support, education, and hope to women to break out of poverty and grow into good parents. The home these young women and their children lived in was called “The House of Hope.”
I was given a beautiful copy of “Psalms for Women: God’s Gift of Inner Beauty, Peace, and Happiness” published by Honor Books. This book is inscribed with lovely intention: “Blessings on you as you work at the House of Hope. We are glad you are a part of the beginning of this special ministry. We hope this book gives you fresh blessings from God.”
I received the book, thanked the giver of the verses bound in soft pink. Then, I promptly set it on my book shelf where it was forgotten for a decade or more. I did move it from house to house with my other books. When packing it, I gently felt the soft cover and reread the inscription.
It wasn’t until after I finished forty days with “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren that I read the book of selected psalms and practiced devotion. I would read a chapter each morning and write a reflection. Since then, I have purchased and practiced other devotions compiled by the same publisher and others. I’d like to say this is a daily practice. In season’s of my life it is.
And I sometimes fall out of the habit, but I am drawn to return again and again to the easy practice of fifteen minutes of refection. I continue to be drawn to Psalms. They offer instruction and inspiration for the day and life in general. In Latin origin practicing devotions is an act of consecrating by a vow, also, loyalty and allegiance.
So I practice my devotions, like millions of others. The practice does not yield shocking or immediate results. There is however, a gentle, gradual transformation that deepens my acknowledgement of God. This nod to divinity guides my thoughts and, at times, my actions.
Devotions require regular doses. It begins with one day, one page, one verse, one psalm. The wisdom embedded in the scripture is universal. Some days speak more directly than others. I find comfort in reading the words of the bible, which have been read by more people than any other book. I find connection to self, community, and, yes, even God.
“But all who humble themselves before the Lord shall be given every blessing, and shall have wonderful peace.” Psalm 37:11
As a kid, a great disappointment was the hollow bunny that was part of the bounty of the Easter basket. I delighted in finding the basket under a table or behind a chair. I discovered colorful jelly beans, foil wrapped eggs, a carton of pastel-coated-egg-shaped malted milk balls, and a towering box containing a chocolate bunny.
Each year, I hoped it was solid milk chocolate, but instead found an emptiness after biting off the ear. Nothing. There was nothing inside, just shadowed space of emptiness.
Hollow, an adjective, is defined as having space or a cavity inside; not solid; empty, for example a hollow sphere. Its content lacking.
On Easter Sunday, as an adult, I will rejoice at the empty tomb, the everlasting promise of salvation. The hollow bunny, of course, is unrelated. The hollow bunny is less than joyful. When I feel empty there is a longing, a desire to have more.
Though, I sometimes feel, I can perhaps be okay. Perhaps, I can feel contentment in hollow days as well as my days full of joy.
Hollow origins before 900 from Middle English holw(e), holow. In Old English it derives from holh, a hollow place; akin to hole.
A hole, something to chase down, as Alice did, and she found Wonderland.
Hollow, though, can also mean a place where sheep graze. The hollow days are just a contrasting time and space.
“So encourage each other and build up each other, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
The verb encourage means to to inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence. It is to stimulate by assistance or approval.
I am fortunate to have friends to who show up and build me up. I hope to claim I do the same for the circles of women in my life. My niece, age twelve, introduced me to a saying: “You got this!” I overheard her say it to her younger sister who was trying to complete a craft and was getting frustrated. Those three simple words: You Got This! was all it took for the younger sister to believe in herself.
Encouragement is something we are already doing, as identified in the scripture at the lead of this post. Rooting for one another reinforces there is plenty of room in the winner’s circle for all of us.
If you are finding yourself in need of a little encouragement, try listening to the following friend-praising songs: “I Get by with a Little Help from my Friends” by The Beatles and “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers.
We are given raw tools; I wonder how to use these most prudently. The word vocation comes to mind. Job, career, or occupation don’t seem to imply enough of a fulfillment factor.
When I speak of vocation, I consider a secular definition: a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
However, I cannot ignore the divine call to God’s service. Not literally, as in a clergy, theologian, or philosopher. Yet, I consider my time should be wisely spent in service of a way of life consistent with the teachings of a loving and just creator.
Vocation originates in 1400-50 late from the Latin for a call or summons (vocātiōn). For years, I felt my spiritual vocation was to be a writer, though I rarely write about my chosen faith of Christianity. For the past 25 years, I have been a writer both as an occupation and a hobby. Yet, the point of the written word has escaped me. I chased (and reached) audience, money, and accolades through writing. I achieve an inner piece when I sit in my space with paper and pen or tapping away at a keyboard. Regardless, of how many words pile up in notebooks and Dropbox folders, I most often keep my writing as a pastime, something nice. Writing is a talent I have developed. However, I do not find it tied to a clear vocation at this time in my life.
There is the matter of 9-5. The days, the every-other week paycheck, the value I bring to the community as an employee. I go to work, coincidentally for a Christian hospital, and I leave my pen behind. I do bring my faith, but rarely aloud.
Here I am, decades after declaring myself a writer, still seeking to find vocation. To have my time spent following a path of certain work.
Today is Ash Wednesday. We enter a time of waiting. A journey to deeper faith in our risen Lord Jesus Christ. It is an inward journey. A time to reflect on our barriers to living a fully Christian life. A time to anticipate that joyous news, while humbly remembering the sacrifice Jesus is about to make.
To wait is to be available or in readiness. Wait, as a verb, is ironically an inaction. To remain inactive or in a state of repose. In speech, we wait til or until something expected happens.
In living, there are endless times of waiting: for a plane, for an appointment, for the kid’s bedtime, for the waitress to come, for the school bell to ring. While we wait we can let time slip by slowly, impatiently, or time can pass quickly, preoccupied. How content are we really in waiting?
As a Catholic girl, waiting in lent was a time to spend weeks feeling less than. Less than Holy, less than worthy. I no longer follow this tradition. I do not give up my bad habits. I am instead taught to let go. To let be. To let God into my life.
I wait. I wait and wait. Am I waiting for God to show up, or recognizing that God is already there waiting for me to arrive?