Peace for your Path...

"peace. it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." (unknown)

Friday, March 2, 2012

a little devotion

Thanks so much to First Presbyterian Church in North Palm Beach for including two of my writings in their Lenten Devotional for 2012

My contributions were a little bit unconventional this year (i.e. one regarding Facebook and the other about Turkey Buzzards), so I especially appreciate the loving kindness (and good-hearted humor) of my treasured friend, Sara M., for including them.

Here they are: 

(photo above courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

“You must first understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” – James 1: 19-20 (NRSV)

            Facebook – do you love it or hate it? Maybe, like me, you simultaneously feel both emotions about the popular social media outlet. At times, my visit to the site uplifts me. I delight to read an inspirational article or quote shared by a friend. Other times, I am plunged into utter despair when I read hateful and judgmental statements which - more often than not - are sadly made by fellow Christians.

            I was in just such a frustrated state the other morning when an online friend complimented me about my good listening skills. Suddenly, I was rendered speechless. I realized with utter clarity that I had completely lost my spiritual gift for Sacred Listening when it came to Facebook. I was guilty of an intense, ego-driven need to constantly share my own thoughts, interests, and opinions. I began to consider that if everyone else was as consumed as I was with what they were personally saying, then could anyone really be listening to anyone else? And if no one was actually listening, then why in the world did we all continue to keep talking, talking, and TALKING?

            Five minutes later I posted a statement declaring my profile page a “Sacred Listening Space.” For the past week, I have (mostly) only permitted myself to listen intently to the conversations of my friends. I comment just when I have something positive to say. In fairness, I also force myself to read the postings of viewpoints with which I do not personally agree. I then try to use the period after my Facebook time for prayer and reflection rather than give into the sinful emotions of anger like I used to do.

            The wisdom I am learning through this ongoing exercise of discipline continues to bless me daily. With Christ’s help, I am learning ways to better love the people I dare to call my “Friends.”

“Holy Father, please zip my lips whenever I am tempted to speak on my own accord. Keep me silent until you directly place into my throat the words you wish me to share aloud. Grant me the courage to then speak those words with Love in Christ’s holy name - Amen.”
Robin Bradley Hansel

(photo above courtesy of Dr. Ron Hilliard) 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

“For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.” – Psalm 91: 3-4 (NRSV)

The Turkey Buzzards are back. They are staring straight at me from atop my neighbor’s roof. In the past, I’ve counted up to ten of their dark, shadowy figures. Today, there are only three.

For me, the vultures’ presence used to elicit an ominous feeling of trouble on the horizon. This morning, I observe them with a peaceful soul for I know they merely symbolize the shedding of an old, decayed sin from my heart. Today, I am a witness to the beauty and grace of each awkward bird. They stretch their giant wings and shine brilliantly in the late morning light.

Interestingly, I’d found a Turkey Buzzard feather earlier in the week while walking our dog. Not realizing its origin at the time, I lovingly placed it on my writing desk dreaming of great majestic cranes, eagles, hawks and osprey. During dinner, I brought it proudly to the table to show my family. They burst into laughter recognizing immediately what it was. I angrily rushed to grab my laptop to properly identify it but found, unfortunately, that they were absolutely correct. I promptly threw the feather in the garbage and set about disinfecting my hands and every household surface that it had touched.

But today, on this quiet morning of reflection, I can laugh aloud for it suddenly makes perfect sense. First, I believe I needed to really take a long, hard look at my own brokenness. It was important for me to pick it up, hold it in my hand and turn it over for awhile. Eventually, I had to stop trying to justify the ugly significance of my sin and see it as death and destruction. I had to ask God to help me cast it out of my life. Only then would the Holy Spirit arrive with winged wisdom and reveal to me that through Christ’s love and sacrifice I was already washed clean.

“Loving Father, thank you for all the quiet ways you speak to me through your Creation.  – Amen”
Robin Bradley Hansel

P.S. Thanks, God, for this inspiration:

1 comment:

deborah said...

I can completely see why these two unconventionally wonderful pieces of yours were included. Making me think of things I hadn't considered, my friend. Love that....and you:)