Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hoping in the Ache

Yesterday was hard.
Really hard.
The kind of hard that takes hold of your soul in a vice grip and squeezes.
The kind of hard that makes your teeth ache.

The day started normal enough.
Same ole, same ole...those stressors that exist every day.
You know, the ones you get so used to that you barely glance up from your grindstone to take notice?
Work to do on the app, wondering when it will fly.
Plotting staging and rehearsal for a current directing project.
Figuring percentages on tasks and assignments to calculate final grades for my college courses.
And in the back of mind...
The vague knowledge that we had a visit to the vet that may change our world a bit.
Nothing too much more than usual, though.
Among it all, I wrote about hope, and I felt better about my normal.

But as of last night, sitting on my chaise lounge, staring straight ahead at the wall as I wept, things didn't seem very normal and hope had somehow fallen by the wayside.
What fickle creatures we are.
One difficult thing transpires...or a series of events crop up...and that piece on hope is forgotten.

A family is fractured.
Someone is sick.
The dog you've loved for 13 years is beyond help.
So then is your heart.
"A fractured, sick heart beyond help" choked me last night.

I thought back through the day's events and wondered how things had changed so quickly.
I thought back on petting that beautiful pup until she rested easy at last.
I thought back on growing up on a farm with sisters I loved fiercely.
I thought back on my Daddy's final breath.
I thought amid the rain and the dark and the hurt.

Then I grasped the reason my grief had reached this magnitude in such a short span of time.
I thought.
I didn't pray.

What had I just written about and had forgotten already in my turmoil?
The first week of Advent, a single violet candle lighting the way to hope.
What had I committed to finding each day this week and yet, hours later, had overlooked?
"Hope in the Lord, hope in our lives, hope for Jesus' birth, hope for what we want to birth in His name."
I started 2014 with this chosen Word.
I prayed to end 2014 the same way.
With HOPE.

Hope in Him.
Hope for healing.
Hope for peace in grief.
Hope in the strong, binding ties of family.
Hope in forgiveness and grace.

And I was reminded in that moment what I've come to know so fully these years.
That when life is offered up in prayer, nothing...
No fracture...
No grief...
No illness...
No circumstance whatsoever can choke you.
When life is offered up in prayer, there is only - and ever - HOPE.

{Hoping for each of you today.
Hoping you see Him in every circumstance.
Thanks for reading.}

Photo credit:  Randomsoleil on Flickr

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Week of Hope

We had a beautiful service at church yesterday.  
December...how did it get  here so quickly? 
During Mass, the sermon encompassed an explanation of the Advent wreath that we light the first Advent Sunday and throughout the Christmas season.  I love when I learn new things at church.  (Or maybe I learned this once and promptly forgot it?  Either way, the candle meanings were new to me.)  Here's how Deacon Luis described it.

Candle #1, a purple candle, represents hope.
Hope in the Lord, hope in our lives, hope for Jesus' birth, hope for what we want to birth in His name.

Candle #2, also purple, represents faith.
Faith in God, faith to sustain us, faith in Jesus' coming, faith for the every day mundane.

Candle #3, a pink candle, represents joy.
Does this need an explanation?  I think not.
The only distinction I like to make is that happiness is of this world, but joy is of the Lord.

Candle #4, back to purple, represents peace.
Peace that surpasses all understanding.
Peace in our path.
Peace in our homes.
Peace in our hearts.

The white candle in the center represents Christ.
As it says in the Lorica of St. Patrick, this beautiful Irish prayer I hold so dear...
"I arise today through the strength of Heaven...
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, 
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, 
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, 
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, 
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me, 
Christ in the eye that sees me, 
Christ in the ear that hears me."

Every day of the year, not just in December, I know these four gifts of the Holy Spirit are gifts I need to embrace more fully.
My project doesn't flourish, and I lose hope.
My family experiences turmoil, and I lose faith.
I experience sickness, and I lose joy.
My checking account wanes, and I lose peace.
DAILY I need these reminders...
the ones that tell me He is not only holding me up, but holding me together.
Reminders that He is in charge even and especially when I think I'm losing control.
Reminders that, if I only let these gifts grow in my spirit, they will take root, multiply and flower all around me.

But in the glorious season of Advent, a time of beautiful, patient waiting...
We are given the gift of a change of season.
A season of Hope.
Of Faith.
Of Joy.
Of Peace.
A season where, if we keep constant our hope and faith, our joy and peace will grow exponentially greater.
A season that exists to keep our eyes focused ever upward.
A season that exists to encourage our restless hearts.

This week, week #1 of the 1st purple candle, I shall focus on hope.
I shall pray for hope.
I shall hope for His coming and His hand in all I do.
I hope you'll join me?

{Can't believe we've reached this season of grace and giving.
What are you hoping for today?
Please comment here on on my FB page.
Thanks for reading.}