Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Archive for August, 2011

Created for Relationship – Daily Meditation

In the midst of one of the creation stories in the book of Genesis in the Bible, the one that tells the story about how human beings, when they were still in the Garden of Eden and all was good, broke the rules and began a spiral into one lie after another (Genesis 2), we discover that God was in the habit of walking in the garden with Adam and Eve, friends, hanging out together in the garden.  One of my favorite sermons was published in 1927 by James Weldon Johnson, an early civil rights activist, diplomat, and educator, called “The Creation.”  In it, God says “I’m lonely.  I’ll make me a world.”  And the creation proceeds… light, darkness, sun, moon, land, oceans, trees, flowers, birds and beasts, until finally God walked around and looked at all God had made, and said, “I’m lonely still.”

Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where He could think;
By a deep, wide river He sat down;
With His head in His hands,
God thought and thought,
Till He thought, “I’ll make me a man!”

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled Him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till He shaped it in His own image;

Then into it He blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.

I love this story, because it takes all the stories of God in the Bible, and pulls them together into one simple truth:  God created us to be in relationship with God, and God loves us, and longs for us.

I know not all of us grew up with that image of God, but this is a God that I know at the core of my being, and I long to be so enveloped in that relationship that it permeates every breath I take.  I know that at times when God walks in the garden of my life, God calls and I am not there, because I have gotten so caught up in my own life that I have forgotten about God.  But I long to be so attentive to God that I never miss the voice of the one who loves me and longs for me, and will watch over me always.

  • What was your picture or image of God when you were growing up?  Was it a positive one, or a negative one?
  • I imagine the way I WANT to always be with my pet to somewhat mirror the kind of relationship I long for with God.   As you consider your relationship with your pet, what do you learn, either about your relationship with God, or about what you long for your relationship with God to be?
  • Read again the story from The Creation about God making human beings.  Imagine what it might be like to be held by the hands of God, as God lovingly molds you and forms you into a living being.
  • If you are able, give thanks for the love God folds into you.  If you are not able to go there yet, perhaps you may wish to ask for help in knowing the love that James Weldon Johnson knew when he preached that sermon.

Dogs and God – Daily Meditation

One day a brother brought a rabbit who had been caught in a trap to St. Francis. Francis advised the rabbit to be more alert in the future, then released the rabbit from the trap and set it on the ground to go its way. But the rabbit hopped back up onto Francis’ lap, desiring to be close to the saint.

Francis took the rabbit a few steps into the woods and set it down. But it followed Francis back to his seat and hopped on his lap again! Finally Francis asked one of his fellow friars to take the rabbit far into the woods and let it go. That worked. This type of thing happened repeatedly to Francis—which he saw as an opportunity to praise the glory of God.

I was working with my dog, Jas, in the backyard the other day, and we had such a good time.  She thought we were playing games – I thought we were training.  (A very nice arrangement!)  When we were done, I released her to have free run of the yard, while I went back in the house.  Only thing was, Jas never left my side!  Every time I took a step, there she was, by my side, looking up at me with the most adoring eyes.  It could have been the treats I still had in my bag, but more than that, I know she loves being with me.  She looks to me to care for her, to love her, and to protect her.

I think of this often when I am away.  She is always so excited to greet me when I come home, no matter how long or short a time I have been gone.  Her joy is genuine, and her desire to be with me is complete.  She counts on me, and to the best of my ability, I am there for her.

  • Think about your relationship with your animal companion. 
  • What are the gifts your animal companion gives you?
  • What are the gifts you give your animal companion?
  • How is your relationship with your animal companion similar or different from your relationship with God?
  • How is it similar or different from what you would like your relationship with God to be?

 Take a moment and look at your pet.  Picture holding your pet in your hands and surround your pet with love.  Give thanks for this animal in your life.


Celebrating the Holy – Daily Meditation

In a Speaking of Faith interview in December, 2007, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen tells the story of creation from the Jewish mystical tradition.

In the beginning there was only the holy darkness, the “en sof,” the source of life, and in the course of history, at a moment in time, this world emerged from the heart of the holy darkness as a great ray of light. Then, in the course of time, there was an accident, and the vessels containing the light of the world and the wholeness of the world broke, and the light and wholeness of the world was scattered into an infinite number of fragments of life, and they fell into all events and all people, where the remain deeply hidden until this day. According to her grandfather, the creation of the human race was a response to this accident, for we are born with the capacity to find this holy light in all events and all people, to lift it up and make it visible once again, and thereby to restore the innate wholeness of the world. The human task is the restoration of the world. It is about the healing the world.

In the book of Genesis we are told that we are made in the image of God, and as such, the holiness, and goodness, and beauty of God is inherent in all of us, but it is often hidden by the circumstance of our lives and the world in which we live. But it is there, for those who will take the time to look and celebrate that goodness – in ourselves, in our pets, in all those lives cross our path.

• Take a moment to breathe, to still your mind and set aside the worries and cares and stresses of the day. As they come to mind, acknowledge them, and then set them aside, knowing that what is important will still be there when you come back to them later.

• Where have you seen goodness today, or hints of something holy?

• What makes it hard to see the goodness in others?

• What makes it hard to see the goodness in yourself?

• Ask for new eyes to see the goodness in those around you and in yourself.

• Take a moment and give thanks for the signs and hints of goodness you did see today.

Time with God

I often tell people who want a deeper relationship with God to treat God like a friend.  If I have a friend, and want to grow closer to that friend, there is one thing above all else that will deepen that friendship:  time.  As I think of all my close friendships, the one thing they all have in common is that we spend time together.  Some of my friends are close, and we get together for lunch, we go to the science museum, we watch movies, we laugh together, we talk about what is important, we talk about what isn’t important.  Many of my friends live far away, but we still talk, email, and get together for the occasional visit.  Above all else, we spend time with each other, in one way or another.  When I don’t make that effort to spend time with a friend, I do not find that “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” as the saying goes.  I find that absence makes the heart forgetful.  (more…)