"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heaven—In a Cup

By Micky Wolf

No, contrary to belief among those who know me, this post is not about that delicious, first mug of freshly brewed, steaming coffee as the day begins to unfold.

No, fellow traveler, this is about a little bit of heaven delivered in a round, colorful paper cup with a spoon. Savoring a serving of this ice cream is a thrill to the taste buds. Each bite stirs deep gratitude for the creation of such a blissful fusion of flavors. Then again, if you don’t fancy dark chocolate chips and dark chocolate covered raspberries enveloped in a pure, creamy bath of vanilla, this may not be high on your list.

Upon returning home from vacation several weeks ago, I decided to see if this treat was available in our area. After all, hopping in the car for the fifteen hour drive to Maine does present a variety of challenges. Sadly, not a spoonful to be had, however, I did discover a couple of things in the process of trying to find a more local supplier.

Interestingly enough, the general definition of Heaven means very pleasant or good.

Heaven is for real, and nearer than we think…

It can be too easy, especially with all that is going on in the world, to believe Heaven is for those who have lived mostly saintly lives and passed over—or, at the very least, exist in a state of being associated with some kind of cloud level, day-to-day, mature spiritual life.

On the other hand, my sense is Heaven much more likely to be found in the midst of our daily experiences—particularly when we are open and receptive through our five senses, our thoughts and our emotions.

If a big scoop of ice cream meets those criteria, who’s to say God isn’t part of it? After all, the ingredients are His idea, His work, His choosing to create that which “is good”.

By any definition…

The creativity of God is beyond our comprehension. From the variety and extent of the tiniest cells to the depths of an unfathomable sky, His creation can dazzle and inspire our hearts and spirits beyond words. If. We. Will. Open ourselves and notice.

My beloved is not nearly as keen on dark chocolate and raspberries as I am, yet hand him a cup of caramel laced vanilla stuffed with cashew pieces and he will be silenced into a munching state of reverie.

If savoring the flavors of a sweet treat seems a bit trivial in the bigger picture of being Christ-like, adult, and responsible, then maybe it is time we step back and reconsider Jesus’ admonition to “be as little children.”

Now is later…

One of the things I would have told my younger self—had there been such an opportunity—would be to appreciate each moment, especially those which bring delight and joy. (Which is not say we are not to be thankful for the other kind, but that is for another post.) Now, for the irony: in this moment, I am my younger self. Yes, for in the next one moment, I will be ‘older’.

Confusing? I hope not. Because if God desires anything for each of us, it is that we learn how to more fully live in the moment. Which is why I lingered over every spoonful of that special ice cream. You see, joy can be sustained within the depths of our spirit long after the experience itself—if we choose to appreciate it as it unfolds.

Keeping it simple is more than an acronym…

If Heaven—or heavenly—is what is good and pleasant, then maybe it comes down to a state of being, whether we are here, or dwelling in the hereafter. Why? Because what is good and pleasant for you may be very different for me, but what unites us and keeps us on the Christ-like path is remembering that all that is good and pleasurable comes from our Creator God.

If He created it, it is good. If we disallow or abuse it, not so much.

So, dig in. Enjoy. With every sense, thought, and feeling. And always, always, remember to be grateful. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Let There Be Light

By Micky Wolf

With great anticipation, we plugged in the new lamps and turned on the lights. The soft, gold glow enveloped our family room. Smiling, we sat down, grateful and thankful we had been able to replace the old, worn furniture, end tables, and carpet with new. Glancing around the room, the memories of my struggles with applying a fresh coat of paint to the walls were now but faded recollections.

My beloved and I are not professional interior designers by a long shot. Nonetheless, we knew we had to proceed with some sense of organization. Things had to match or complement, and certainly the painting had to be done before putting down the new carpet.

All of which has led to me reflect on the ways God may choose to remodel—restore—you and me.

Divine Order…

Each step of our project was the result of studying and researching products, costs, and installation. From the very beginning, everything was considered in light of the end result. Time and energy spent on preparation far exceeded the real time it took to decide on the various items. Additionally, much of this work went on behind the scenes, so to speak.

The same is true of God.  While God’s ways are not our ways, He still maintains order throughout a healing and restoration process. It may not feel that way to us—faster, less uncomfortable?—nonetheless, He knows what is best.

When we try to make things happen our way, in our time, we usually end up with a mess on our hands. And while it may be true He can sort out most anything, wouldn’t it be more loving—and often less painful for others and ourselves—if we let Him be God?

Piece by piece…

Or, how about peace by peace?

We weren’t the only ones involved with bringing this project to completion, which meant we needed to be flexible with other people and schedules. Given the economy in recent years, many manufacturers do not carry large inventories. As a result, it is important to be patient. In our youth (chronologically as well as spiritually) we likely would not have done so well with this part of the process.

Trusting God and being patient with the work He is doing within our hearts may seem to be mysterious at best, ineffective or inconsequential at worse. Not so. The more we can let go and let Him stretch, tweak, polish and nudge, the greater the likelihood we will awake in a moment of revelation, deeply aware a transformation has occurred. Somehow, in some way, we have become more whole and holy—in our thoughts, feelings, Christ-like choices and actions.

Finishing touches…

The lamps in our room were the finishing touch. Why? With textures, styles and colors in place, these items (decorators refer to them as accessories) would not only be a lovely accent, but more importantly, would serve to light the surroundings. Whether we are in the room to read or relax, alone or with others, they do far more than sit there as pretty things to look at.

And so the essence of God’s presence within you and me. The Divine has not placed us among the families, communities, or workplaces we inhabit just for the fun of it, or because we are to be something nice to look at while sitting on the shelf or occupying space.

God goes about His work of restoration moment by moment, day in and day out, so that you and I might bring the Light of His Truth and Love into a world of darkness and shadows. By allowing Him to transform us, He can shine, offering hope to those who are disenfranchised, discouraged, or disillusioned. 

Regardless of where we are on our unfolding journey, here’s the good news: God knows exactly what is broken, faded, tattered or worn—or, for that matter, the person who has yet to be plugged in. 

All of which means He will never ignore or turn away anyone with the tiniest desire for refreshment or restoration.

So, where are you at this hour?

In the dark? 

Sitting, looking pretty?

Light shining, helping others along the way?