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Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

A dear friend of mine texted the following to me this morning:

My morning mediation I decide to play something different in the background – so I dial up the mediation station in Pandora… Settle into my chair… Relax. Ahhhh
So I’m now about 15 minutes into this wonderful relaxing music and the message come through…”are you tired of waxing and shaving?….” Commercial message that is… Note to self. Don’t meditate to Pandora unless you buy the commercial free package.

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Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”

I have had a daily practice of meditation for close to 30 years now. After that much practice, most days this comes naturally. But there are always those times when life has other ideas. My favorite memory of this comes from my early days of pastoring when I started a sermon series on spiritual disciplines with a tutorial on Chritian mediation. I had designed a guided meditation based on Psalm 1 with Pacabel’s Canon playing softly in the background. All was going well until I heard a man running down the aisle towards the organ carrying a fire extinquisher! The organist softly said: “I’m sorry but the organ appears to have caught on fire!”

More recently, a woodpecker was determined to destroy our cedar siding. This loud tatoo greatly interrupted my quiet. I don’t know if that was better or worse than my dear husband shooting at squirrels with his pellet gun. So much for oneness with the All of creation!

Then there is that persistent to-do list that keeps interrupting my enjoyment of God’s loving presence. If that becomes too loud, I write it down and return to the task on hand. Repeating every name for God that I can think of sometimes speaks louder than the to do list. But then there’s the chance that Amy Grant will be singing El Shaddai in my mind. Which come to think of it, isn’t a bad meditation all by itself. I believe God blesses even the intention to quiet one’s heart even if we don’t “feel” that blessing in the moment. Over time, God’s presence becomes a greater reality than even a burning organ or a persistent woodpecker.

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We have a rule in our house: when I am meditating, my dearly beloved husband is not allowed to shoot the squirrels. Now before anyone gets upset at this so-called hunting, I must tell you the story. We live way out in the country, up in the hills and in the midst of the forest. No vegetable garden for us but lots of mushrooms. We have so enjoyed the wildlife – scarlet taningeers, ruby throated grossbeaks, raccoons, porcupines, deer, field mice, red squirrels, gray squirrels and best of all, flying squirrels. We enjoyed them untill they decided to share our house. A month ago, through a series of thwarted attempts, we finally were able to trap 27 flying squirrels that had been living in the lap of luxury eating out of our bird feeders and camping out in our rafters during the day. They were relocated 25 miles south. At the same time, we fished out 24 dead field mice out of a wall in the Family room. So you see, this need to teach these critters to leave our house alone.

All has been well and our house is rodent free. This is good because as I meditate, I experience a blessed sense of oneness with all of creation. I do not want this bliss to be disturbed by either a pellet gun or the scratching sound of rodents in the wall. But tonight, there it was again. I think the flying squirrels may be back. I’m wondering if there is a way to limit this whole oneness thing. I mean can’t they be one with me outside??? Or maybe they like the meditation music I play. Or maybe Oneness wants me to get over myself.

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I have been listening to a sung Sanskrit prayer called the Gayatri for about a decade now as part of my daily spiritual practice. When my parents have visited, they have enjoyed being quiet with me as this most ancient of prayers plays in the background. . My Mom listens and says, “I understand that prayer – it means love” and my Dad would say “it means peace”. They often enjoyed disagreeing about things that didn’t much matter which made for great amusement in our family. We often told them they had high entertainment value.

One day, my father and my husband were working on installing a light near our spiral staircase. Chris was in the tiny knee-wall attic amidst the rafters and insulation, crawling on his knees, flashlight in hand, looking for the wires Dad was feeding through the wall. All of a sudden Dad stopped and the Gayatri started playing. (He had accidentally pushed the button on the nearby CD player). “What happened?” Chris shouted from within the attic. Dad said, “I don’t know but suddenly I feel very peaceful!”

Eventually the light fixture was installed but every night when we turn it on, we smile with the memory of Dad’s sudden peacefulness.

The following Christmas, the one thing Dad wanted was a CD of the Gayatri which I was pleased to give him along with a translation of the word’s meaning. Though the language was foreign and the source of the prayer more ancient than Judaism or Christianity, he recognized the oneness of truth that transcends our paltry attempts to know Divinity.

It is a fine line to walk: discerning what is true and what is human misunderstanding. As our world grows smaller through information overload, and we learn from the variety of experiences of holiness in this vast earthly population, I find that the test of what is true becomes clear to me when the peace of Christ shines brightly within my heart. And that comes with the daily practice of sitting quietly in God’s presence, and through the reading and memorizing scripture. May you know that peace today.

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My Dad would probably tell me I was getting “high falutin’ ” by calling these observations of his life “Spiritual Practices.” These things were just the way he lived the Christian life. One of the delightful things he did was to call everyone in his church and additional friends and family on their birthday and he would sing Happy Birthday to them. Even when he was getting ready to go to the hospital to have knee surgery, he made those calls. The day before he died, at a time we weren’t quite sure of how aware he was, he sang his last Birthday song to his wife of nearly 64 years.
It wasn’t just his singing the song that touched so many people. There was something in the way he did it, and his commitment to each person that exuded joy. He sang in the choir and helped that group bond by his occasional silliness and antics with his best buddy Glen. He sang in the shower, and when he put the dishes in the dishwasher and when he mowed the lawn. I remember him leading the neighborhood men in singing “O Solo Mio” while they put a new roof on the house. You just couldn’t help but feel delighted by him at these times and to share in his joy of being alive.

A few years ago, I was driving my parents home from New York on a Sunday morning. Dad was missing being at church and singing in the choir. So we put on the radio and scanned for Christian stations that were playing music. We’d change the channel when the preaching began or when we were out of range. At one point we were delighted to hear the Hallelujah Chorus and together we sang our parts: Mom attempting to carry the soprano, Dad the bass and myself the alto. We were having a grand old time when suddenly the music stopped. We tried to get the station back on to no avail so just shut the thing off. A few minutes passed and suddenly we heard it again! It turned out to be my Dad’s cell phone. If you can’t laugh at yourself, there’s something wrong with you! Life lesson number one. Happy Birthday Dad.

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Jesus Christ a swear word?

This past Sunday, I preached in the little country church where I am a member. After the worship, a young mother came up to me to tell me how much she enjoyed being in the worship service. It had been awhile since she had gone to church and her little four year old son, had never been. He’s been asking her lots of questions about God lately and she decided it was time to bring him to church. His questions were things like “Why did God make me a boy instead of an octopus? I want to have eight arms.” Good question… but I bet his mother is very glad he only has two arms and two legs. He sounds like a real pistol. She told me that he got very upset at the beginning of my sermon because I said “Jesus Christ.” His eyes got big and round and he looked at his mother in horror and said “She said a swear word!” A few minutes later, the same thing happened and he was visibly disturbed. She tried to explain to him who Jesus was but all he’d ever heard was that it was a bad word. I recommended that she get a children’s New Testament and begin to read it to him. In part, the story is hysterical! It would be very funny on a comedy show, wouldn’t it? But when it’s the truth, it makes me a little sad. “And a little child shall lead them….” I hope this little boy’s early training in the meaning of the words “Jesus Christ” has not immunized him against an authentic encounter with Jesus the Christ. Perhaps the audacity of his horror will lead his mother back to a faith she once glimpsed but didn’t quiet grasp. May it be so. Amen.

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I didn’t ask to be born….

When I was being praticularly bratty as a teenager, I would often respond to my parent’s corrective actions with the exclamation “Well, I didn’t ask to be born you know!” When going through particularly trying times as an adult, I would say the same thing in jest to God in prayer. I’d add to it the fact that Jesus never experienced marriage or raising children or pastoring a church and he got to leave at age 33! I have relied a lot on my deep belief that God has a great sense of humor. I will be very disappointed if I have been mistaken on this score.
With this background, I was very amused and heartened by this prayer I read in Paramahansa Yogananda’s commentary on the Bhagavad Gita: “Heavenly Father, I did not wish to be created, nor did I wish to be placed in proximity to alluring evil temptations. Please, O God, since You created me and put me to the test of life, without consulting me, bless me that I use my power of free choice to strengthen my will and to follow the path of freedom and not the path of delusion.”
I love that prayer! I hope it encourages you as well.

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