Thursday, March 27, 2008

finding meaning in music

I have this song in my head, from last week with the Sisters. It must have some meaning if it's still stuck in my head...

While I was with the Sisters, I felt the need to "escape" from my fears and doubts... but that never happens quite as planned. I decided to spend some time in my room with my mp3 player, and this song came up, which just seemed to speak to everything I was feeling. I'm amazed at how often songs can do that. The song is Wild Horses by Natasha Bedingfield, audio found here.

All I want is the wind in my hair
To face the fear but not feel scared

Wild horses I wanna be like you
Throwing caution to the wind, I'll run free too
Wish I could recklessly love like I'm longing to

Jumping head-first, head-long
Without a thought
To act and damn the consequence
How I wish it could be that easy
But fear surrounds me like a fence
I wanna break free

Recklessly abandoning myself before you

I wish it was easier, sometimes, to leave behind my fears and just do the things that I know my heart desires. To "recklessly love" without fear. The more I reflect on choosing to live as a religious, the more I realize that it is about "reckless abandonment" of myself to God - to love God with every fiber of my being because by loving God so completely I am more completely fulfilled, more completely myself.

The challenge for me right now is holding that knowledge close while the world around me says that happiness is found in all sorts of other ways, ways that are definitely not part of religious life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Blessings!

This (slightly blurry) image was taken at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

I am back home after a lovely Holy Week and Easter spent with the Sisters! I have to admit that the week was fantastic, more peaceful and happy than I expected.

It was simply... comfortable. I wouldn't say it was exciting, really, not the way a big vacation to a resort or to Disney World might be exciting. It was more like finding a comfortable place to spend some time, finding a community in which I could belong.

I learned a lot. I saw how four very strong women of different personalities and with different needs can live together in a community. We worked and prayed together, and talked. There was lots of laughter, giggling, and some tears! I am thankful for these women and the lives they live in service to the world. I am thankful (and humbled!) to have spend so much time with them.

There is more to say, but I cannot find the words. I pray for strength and courage to do what God has laid out ahead of me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Holy Week

Just a quick update, as the sisters hold their weekly staff meeting...

This week has been wonderful so far--very peaceful and comfortable. I am enjoying my time with the sisters and learning more and more about their ministries and how they live . They offer housing for student groups who come to work with Habitat for Humanity or other house-building organizations. In the evenings, they offer guest speakers or reflections for the students as well. It is really a great program.

So a few of the things I have learned this week:
1. Liturgical dance is lovely when done well. (Who knew??)
2. The world is very small. (I keep meeting people that I have known in other places at different times!)
3. Community living is great but not without its challenges.

That's all for now. More to come when I get a chance!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lent is ending and Holy Week approaches!

I leave town tomorrow and will be gone until after Easter, to "live in" with a community of sisters for Holy Week. So, I may not have the opportunity to blog for a while.

As I go into this week, I'm a little nervous, but also excited. I'm nervous because I just don't know what to expect--I have to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide my heart into a deeper relationship with the community. I have all those "what if" questions going through my head--and I just have to ignore them! (What if they don't like me?) None of them are rational at all, but they still nag and pull me away from the more important thoughts.

But I'm excited too. I hope this weekend is a taste of the life that I seek. I hope to keep my heart open to the present moment. I hope to learn more about the community and about myself.

I also love Holy Week and Easter--this is my favorite season. This is the reason for our faith--without the Resurrection, everything else is pretty meaningless. But it is the pain and emotion leading to Easter that is so beautiful.

Isn't it a commentary on life in general? We cannot understand the beauty of our lives if we never experience the sadness that comes with it. How much sweeter is beauty, happiness, when it comes at great cost?

Please keep me in your prayers these weeks, as I will keep you in mine.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sacred Heart of Jesus Icon

I've been looking for an image of the Sacred Heart that I liked, and I think I finally found one. This comes from Bridge Building Images Religious Cards and Gifts, and is from an artist named Nancy Oliphant.

There is just something about the traditional images of the Sacred Heart that turn me away--I think it is the overly emotive Jesus, with his pale face and light eyes. I know too much to expect Jesus to look like he's from Sweden. (Although I have Swedish in my heritage, I would rather an image of Jesus that is a little darker in complexion--more appropriate to his heritage.)

I like this image because of the dark-complexioned Jesus and because he looks strong. I want to say that his eyes are piercing also--like they look into me, and see me for who I am, with both good and bad traits. He looks a little sad, but not completely. He looks steady, like someone who is calm even in calamity.

Another aspect of this image that I like is the fire -- the tongues of flame that constitute his heart and the background of red, orange, and yellow. The heart like an explosion--flames that cannot be contained but most move outward. The fiery colors make me think of the fire of the holy Spirit, the fire which breathes life and love into each of us as we live in this world. Fire is a powerful image: it can light our path, warm our coldest hours, and cook our food. But it can also consume what lies in its path and cause great destruction and death. It's the power of all-consuming fire that is reigned in and used to fuel our love for God and compassion for others. So many of the mystics talk of the "fire of love" in their hearts--love that compels Christians to love God in return, and to love those around them.

I also like the mountains beneath Jesus. I grew up with mountains, and haven't lived in a mountainous place for many years. But they always make me think of the grandeur of creation, the greatness and beauty that God emanated into the created world

Sunday, March 2, 2008

God Sees

from today's first reading:

"Yahweh does not see as mortals see;
they look on the outward appearance,
but Yahweh looks on the heart."

1 Sam 16:7

What does God see in your heart?

I can't even begin to express what I hope God sees in mine.

(image "borrowed" from