Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

Posts tagged ‘Noticing Goodness’

Guidance – Daily Meditation

“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take.

Nehemiah 9:19

Seeing-eye dogs are amazing animals.  They have a huge responsibility to be the eyes of a blind or visually-impaired person.  They guide their human through mazes of city streets or grocery store aisles, watching out for traffic and other hazards that can injure their special person.  Their person literally entrusts their lives to their guide dog.  They are amazing animals, but they aren’t born knowing how to be the eyes for someone.  They have to be taught.  They rely on us to guide them, to give them structure and boundaries so they have a safe place to learn how lead, to learn how to watch for obstacles, and to learn how to problem-solve, so that they can be the eyes for their human.

Guidance is important for us, as well.  Good guidance helps us learn how to make good choices, it gives us direction, it helps us develop and grow into the best we can be.  I can look back on my life and see many times when I have been guided.  Sometimes that guidance has helped me decide what job to take, or what decision to make.  Other times guidance has come after the fact, when I have taken the time to learn from my mistakes, or when the awareness has hit that I have not been the person I most want to be.  God has used a variety of people and circumstances to help me find my way and learn my lessons.  Each moment of guidance (when I listened!) has been a moment of growth.  It has made me a better person, a more giving person, a more compassionate person, and a more faithful person.  In other words, listening to God’s guidance has made me more the person I want to be, and that I believe I was created to be.

  • What was your closest moment to God today?
  • Have you ever experienced a moment when you felt guided, even if you were only aware if it after the fact?
  • Did you experience a moment of growth today?  If so, what was it?
  • Give thanks for those times when you have been guided.
  • Ask for open eyes, heart and mind to recognize when you are in a growth moment.

Awareness – Daily Meditation

Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-10

God is everywhere.  That just about says it all.  No matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, no matter how alone we feel, God is present.  I know that some people grew up with the idea that God is something like “Big Brother” watching them, waiting for them to mess up and knock them down.  But the reality is so much different – and better.  The Bible tells stories of God loving the people, watching over them, and guiding them.  Many of the Old Testament psalms remind us that in our darkest times, God is present, guiding, strengthening, sometimes chastising, always loving.

Sometimes when I work with people and their dogs, I ask them to notice when your dog was doing something right, such as sit or down, or playing with their own toys, and giving their dogs attention when they are doing something right.  Usually we notice when our dogs do something we don’t like, like jumping on people or chewing our good shoes.  We often miss when they are doing something right.  We are simply not observant of those things.  Our meditation is also about noticing – noticing God.  If God is always present, always with us, most of us often miss those signs.  One of the questions I am in the habit of asking is “what was my closest moment to God today?”  The question is about noticing God.  Sometime the answer reflects when I saw God in the actions of another, sometimes it reflects a time when I felt convicted by something I had done, sometimes it reflects a time when I felt I was especially faithful in the way I have treated another person.  The answer varies, but the question keeps me aware and looking for signs of God’s presence in my day.  When I use this with groups, often the first several times I ask the question people struggle a bit to think of something.  They were not in the habit of going about the day looking for signs of God.  But after a while, they would come to our meetings excited about the stories they had to share.  They had learned to look, and the more the looked, the more they saw.

The following meditations will build on this theme of noticing God by focusing on characteristics of God, but for today, if you are doing this meditation at the beginning of the day, enter this day with an intent to look for signs of God’s presence around you, in you, and in the people you encounter.  If you are doing this meditation at the end of the day, look back over the events of the day.  What were the signs of God’s presence throughout the day?

  • What was your closest moment to God today?

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.