Tag Archives: God’s presence

Prayer. Even in Dreams.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, May 31, 2018

dream not interpreted, letter not read

Prayer. Even in Dreams.

Often, when Father Nouwen suggests something, I strongly consider it. Except—in this particular situation. He was talking about silence, and noise, and especially about sleep. Then, he mentioned dreams. Oh, no!

It’s not that I never dream. From what I understand about dreams, I must dream with some regularity. I just never remember my dreams. Other people remember their dreams with great detail. Alas, not me. I am even uncomfortable talking about the fact that I don’t remember my dreams. (Well, hardly ever. Two, maybe three dreams a year, at most. And those, only vague impressions.)

Nouwen is talking about God being a Master Gardener; “Under this gentle regime, we can once again become masters over our own house. Not only during the day, but at night as well….Sleep is no longer a strange darkness, but a friendly curtain behind which dreams continue to live and to send out messages which can be gratefully received.” [1]

I am terribly sorry, Father Nouwen. I can’t make use of this friendly curtain, or the dream-space behind it. I feel my lack of dreams strongly. Periodically, I hear others discussing their dreams. An older friend encounters God on a fairly regular basis in dreams. (That’s how God communicates with my friend…not me!)

Realizing God communicates with me through the written word was (and is) a comfort to me. Gosh, I am so word-based! I know lectio divina and Ignatian prayer are great ways for me to pray. However, I have tried other ways of praying and meditation.  I really have tried, and tried hard. But, I just can’t allow myself, turn myself over to dream, because thereby leads to frustration and sorrow and disgruntlement.

Dear Lord, I do not think You want me to be disgruntled when I’m coming before You in prayers! I think that much be the furthest things from Your mind. Thank You for letting me find out that lectio divina and Ignatian prayer are two ways of praying that can lead me into Your presence, on a reliable basis. Gracious God, help me to be able to come before You on a regular basis. However, if I should be some change remember my dreams, help me to find some meaning in them. Just another in the dozens of ways You find to communicate with us. In the loving name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 1972), 21.

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Psa 62 my soul in silence

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on Psalm 62 early in his ministry, when he served as assistant pastor to a German congregation in Barcelona. He took as his text verse 1: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”

“To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey.” [1] When we are silent before God, what happens? I realize that some people—mistakenly—think that means to become completely blank and without thought. While I understand some forms of meditation involve some sort of emptying one’s mind of thoughts, I don’t think this is the kind of directed meditation and prayer that God wants us to do.

Bonhoeffer rightly goes on to say that some people grumble that only few become aware of those deep, loving, profound things that God wishes to say. God does, indeed, speak winning words to us: “I love you.” Yet, why is it that relatively few people fully realize the enormity of God’s personal love, caring and guidance in each person’s life?

“…We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror.” [2] Oh, how perceptive of Herr Pastor Dietrich! As Bonhoeffer mentions, these times are comfortless, even fruitless.

I know so well that merry-go-round of the urgent, of the necessary, of the endless to-do list. And, what about the demands of work? The voices and cries of the children, the aging parents, and the extended family? The rounds of the visits, the events, and religious obligations. I don’t have any quick fix, sadly. The extremes of becoming a martyr to all of the busy-ness or trying to set up walls of obliviousness both confront me.

Dear Lord, preserve me from all such clutter in my head and heart. Lead me to come before You in spirit and in truth, seeking after Your presence, Your silence. And then, may I seek after Your will in my thoughts, words and life. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 49.

[2] Ibid, 50.

Praying Through Several Encounters

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 1, 2016

definition of prayer

Praying Through Several Encounters

Today was a different kind of a day. A day of encounters, a day of prayers. A day out of the ordinary. Or—was it?

First, I arranged a test for a friend. Assisting him was a bit roundabout. I helped cut through some of the red tape, and got things taken care of. To finally take care of that situation was gratifying, to be sure.

Next up, helping another acquaintance with some paperwork. This was certainly easier. Tracking down some older files, and that was another item off my list of things to do.

Third, and perhaps most significant, I needed to drop off a file. Simple, indeed. However, I also took the opportunity to pray with someone at that house. (That was the significant part.) I talked with the family, prayed, and prayed some more.

In each situation today, I prayed. Three varied situations, and three very different people. However, I felt the need to take them all before God. All were heavy, and I needed God to help me to bear them. I could especially feel God’s presence on the last visit. (Not that God wasn’t in the first two. Of course God was! Don’t be silly—I keep telling myself.)

Today was indeed a day of encounters. A day I encountered three people, in separate situations. However, today was a day that I encountered God. God was with me on my errands and trips around the area today. God heard the words I said out loud, as well as those words I thought to myself, and those cries I couldn’t even put into words. Yes, God still heard me. And, God heard the friends I was with today

Thank You, God, for encouraging us to come to You in prayer. Thank You for the encouragement and support. I appreciate it. I depend on it, sometimes. Thank You. Thank You.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE: Experiencing God’s Presence

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 8, 2016

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PEACE: Experiencing God’s Presence

This is the last day (for a while) I’m going to be visiting St. Viator’s High School in Arlington Heights. As I’ve mentioned before, I am grateful I had the opportunity to engage with anyone who came up to the table I had set up on one side of the large lunchroom.

I set up a small sign on one side of the lunch room, and stood by the table. Waiting. I didn’t have to wait long. I had young people come up to the table pretty consistently, all the time I was there. I made up two small hand-held signs, as well. One read “Personal definition of PEACE” and the other “What is PEACE to you?”

Not a great big number of people came up to my table. However quite a number sat still (even stopped eating and talking) when they read my signs, from a distance. I was glad I could have a thoughtful, positive effect, causing them to think. And, maybe talk about PEACE.

Today I have the opportunity to present Fr. Corey’s personal definition of PEACE. Fr. Corey Brost is the principal of St. Viator’s, and a wonderful person. I asked him, initially, if there were a group of young people at the high school who I could ask about their views on PEACE. He was kind enough to invite me to all three lunch periods.

Fr. Corey’s personal definition: “PEACE is experiencing God’s presence in the midst of personal and societal upheaval.”

He did not have much time at all to talk after writing out the definition, but he reminded me, “Peace is in the midst. Never replacing God’s presence.”

It’s true that a lot of things can try to rob us of peace. Or, replace peace with something else, something far inferior. Thank you, Fr. Corey, for reminding all of us that God offers us the peace that passes understanding. Peace that will guard our hearts and minds, no matter what. In the midst of the storm as well as on sunny days. God is always present, by my side, even when I can’t see or feel. (Thanks, God!)

(Tomorrow, I am excited to begin a series of personal definitions of PEACE from people who attend the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove! Stay tuned.)

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE is Forgiveness

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, March 5, 2016

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PEACE is Forgiveness

Several days ago, I visited the senior group at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Morton Grove to speak to them about PEACE. I talked briefly about how much division there was in our world today. Our country seems filled with animosity, anger, fighting—and in need of PEACE.

I gave a small presentation about the lack of PEACE and what we can do about it. Several ideas about how to lessen the animosity between people and between groups of people.

I also gave them some background on my Pursuing PEACE Project, and asked if any of the seniors would be willing to give me their personal definition of PEACE. Today’s definition comes from a dear senior named Diane Urban, who said “Peace is forgiveness.”

According to Diane, “Peace is one thing you can’t find in a family, sometimes. Peace in relationships, in a family, is very important. Especially when people are sick.”

How right she is! I served as a chaplain in hospitals and care centers for almost ten years. I would see some families having difficulties with one another. When one family member was a patient in the hospital, it would happen that the other family members would bicker and argue. I could understand! Having a significant member of one’s family in the hospital for some time can be particularly stressful. Not only for the patient, but for the other family members, too.

Diane, God’s blessings on you and your family. And, may God bless all families going through difficult, unforgiving times. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE: God’s Presence in My Heart

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, March 3, 2016

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PEACE: God’s Presence in My Heart

Earlier this week, I visited the senior group at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Morton Grove to speak to them about PEACE. Isn’t the country more and more divided now? Divided in terms of race, politics, sexual preference. And, then some!

I gave a small presentation about the lack of PEACE and what we can do about it. Several ideas about how to lessen the animosity between people and between groups of people.

I also gave them some background on my Pursuing PEACE Project, and asked if any of the seniors would be willing to give me their personal definition of PEACE. Several of them were eager to give me their points of view.

Today’s definition comes from a sweet woman circulating around the room. I went up to her and asked my question: “What is your personal definition of PEACE?” Carol DiSimone reflected for several moments, and then said, “Peace is God’s presence in my heart.”

I asked her for a little more explanation. She responded: “I thank God when I pray. I thank God every night that I have God in my heart. I am very grateful.” That was the most important thing in her heart. Yes, there was some additional stuff going on in her life. However, stripping all that other stuff away, putting it in its place—as Carol had—the presence of God is what is important to her.

These seniors have a good deal of wisdom and insight. Would that we all have such a straight-forward view on life, and God in our lives. God, may it be so!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

PEACE – Feeling God’s Presence in the Garden

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, March 1, 2016

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PEACE – Feeling God’s Presence in the Garden

A snowy, icy, sleet-filled day today. A day quite the opposite of the personal definition of PEACE I’d like to highlight.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. As I continue my listening tour, in my efforts to pursue PEACE, I come to another point of view. Another opinion of PEACE. This one comes from Jane McInnis, who says “PEACE is feeling God’s presence in the garden.”

I appreciate Rev. Joe McInnis’s invitation to attend the church he pastors, in Wilmette, Illinois. I was glad I had the chance to worship with the congregation, too. After the service on Saturday, Pastor Joe’s wife Jane gave me her view.

I asked her to elaborate on her definition. “Being out in a garden, either working with the soil or arranging things to bring about a beautiful result. These things bring such a feeling of peace. There are lots of parallels. You have to dig a little deeper to get good results. When you plant, sometimes you have to dig to set the plants properly. Dig deep so the plants can take. Sometimes you even dig to reach that peaceful place.”

I’ve seen the skill Jane has with growing things and gardens. She can bring wonderful things out of very little, indeed. And, getting down to basics? Green things, growing in the rich soil. Such a metaphor for us and our lives before God. I am afraid I’m a beginner (at most, an advanced beginner) at this garden stuff.

Yes, I used to help my mom dig up the garden and plant young plants at the house where I grew up, in Chicago. However, it’s been more than ten years since Mom died and the house was sold. Quite some time since I dug in the soil.

Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for this deep and touching analogy. All kinds of emotions are tied up with my memories, remembering how I used to help in the garden. I also appreciate Your multi-faceted bounty of differing kinds of plants. Growing things. Help me to stay green and growing. Help me to be nurturing, kind and loving to all who come within my reach. Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er