Devotions based on Rupp and Wiederkehr’s book, The Circle of Life
Children are the best teachers to help us enjoy life. They do not own calendars or work in offices. They are not obsessed with making a living but rather having a life. They don’t get preoccupied with having a reason for doing whatever they do. Life is the reason. Children can live from the center, from the heart. It is a purer kind of living. It is living in the moment. They do not notice the discomfort of the heat or cold as life is a celebration. Children live life fully because they live by the heart, not the calendar. We have much to learn from them. May we ask the child within us how to live by our hearts.
Devotions based on Joyce Rupp & Marcrina Wiederkehr’s book, The Circle of Life
The four seasons are full of diversity and can also bring fierce storms. No matter where we live on this planet, we can’t avoid a weather disturbance now and then. Storms are unpredictable and to be respected. They don’t always come at and acceptable time. In our personal lives we experience storms too, and some are quick where we can start up again the next day and forget they ever happened. Other stormy situations stay with us for years and can leave scars on our hearts. The storms can bash and batter our self- confidence and flood us with anxiety. Some storms like cancer, divorce, financial failure etc can take much longer to pick up the pieces. Yet within the storms may still lies some hidden beauty: care and concern, power of faithful love, generous help, compassionate understanding etc. We may discover what truly counts in our lives and learn to let others enter into our heart. Some storms catch us off guard and we may need time to recover emotionally as we slowly put our lives back together again. But even the most severe weather doesn’t last forever and eventually there is a return to light and peace. Let us remember when the damage of our storms seems severe that peace will come again.
Devotions based on Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederhehr’s book, The Circle of Life
These two authors wrote about the heart’s journey through the seasons which we experience both internally and externally. Each season is a stepping stone in a great circle of life and is an ongoing spiral of growth, bringing deeper wisdom into our life experiences. Each season is a teacher and has its own truth, challenge and gift. It can be a mentor and guide for us if we live with open hearts. It is important to recognize these inner seasons and move through them with the willingness to receive the valuable teachings they give us. If we listen closely we can receive new insights and find encouragement. Life does not stand still and flows like a river. Change is a constant and all things are transitory. So we need to accept change as it comes.
Devotions based on Macrina Wiederkehr’s book, Gold in Your Memories
We need a time of quiet and solitude in order for us to make life-giving connections from our past memories that will bring us awareness and wisdom. One good way to get in touch with these memories may be through writing. What stories from our family history need to be written down? Do we need a counselor to walk with us through some painful memories? What memories in our lives need to be saved? As we give voice to our present memories it will help awaken other memories. We need to be willing to be hospitable to all memories, the past, present, and future, and do it with awe. The stories that have made us who we are have a way of slipping away from us so we have to practice remembering. At the end of the day we may ask ourselves, “What new memories have I made this day?” That means we must learn to live in the present moment and really be there. Did we truly see the person you had lunch with today? Did we really taste that first cup of morning coffee? May we live well and remember well! Out of the soil of the past, green shoots reach up toward the future.
Devotions based on Macrina’s Wiederkehr’s book, Gold in Your Memories
Sometimes we need a way to honor and name the sacred longings within us and seek new ways to ritualize our relationship with God and one another. A ritual is a way of celebrating who we are and to touch who we’ve been and who we’re becoming. On some of our ritual journeys we may discover pieces of forgiveness we didn’t know we possessed, or love and faith waiting to make their presence known. A ritual doesn’t have to be complex but may be something as simple as a poem, a song, or dance in which we express our feelings. It could be returning to the grave of a loved one, but even memories of pain can show us how far we have come on our journey. As John O’Donohue says, “Nothing is ever lost or forgotten. Everything is stored within your soul in the temple of memory. Therefore, as an old person, you can happily go back and attend your past time; you can return through the rooms of that temple, visit the days that you enjoyed and the times of difficulty where you grew and refined yourself.” We need to make use of the opportunities we have for ritual celebrations. The author herself celebrates her birthday once a month on the 28th by spending time in prayer, time with beauty, time to reflect gratefully on her birth etc. She has written poems of important people in her life and gone to their graves and let her feelings flow. Every event in life can be ritualized. Times of ritual celebration can become moments of integration and healing, helping us to connect with both joy and sorrow. Rituals have a way of living on in our memories.
Devotions based on Macrina Wiederkehr’s book, Gold in Your Memories
Books are important in our lives and help us understand who we are and how to live and die. Through books we meet people that struggle with the same things we do. We may receive insight into our own lives and they may help us open the door of our hearts wider to the gold in our memories. As we walk through the pages, the authors may call us to prayer, inspire us, challenge us, console us and encourage us. They can be a healing force in our lives. Sometimes we find a special book just at the right time in our lives and it is like finding water in a desert. Sometimes a book may waken dreams in our lives that need our attention. Sometimes we may feel invaded by an enemy and then unexpectedly a book comes along that is almost as good as a therapist. A book can help teach us how to be in relationship with the wounds of our past in such a way that they become our teachers. Books can have a powerful affect on us and we need to listen to the wisdom they offer.
Devotions based on Macrina Wiederkehr’s book, The Gold in Your Memories
The author had an impact on a woman who was dying and the family flew Macrina to be with this woman in her last days. She wrote a poem as she was touched about death being a gift. A few words of her poem are: “ Every day is a good day for living and every day is a good day for dying. I want my life to be a gift so that my death can be a gift.” She quotes Anne Lammott, “ My deepest belief is that to live as if we’re dying can set us free. Dying people teach you to pay attention and to forgive and not to sweat the small stuff.” The challenge for us is to live each day as though we are dying. Marcina, herself, had a malignant tumor by her ovary and the experience helped her to know how to live. She saw everything from a new perspective and gave her a new outlook on life. Let us also behold rather than merely look at one another and see others as a work of art. In our beholding we will begin to understand the shadows, the rough places and the many experiences that are all part of the beauty of the mosaic of our lives.
I read this phrase on the front of one of the clothing stores in the Mall of America during the last Christmas Season. I copied it down and put in my wallet and then forgot about it, till I discovered it last week as I was going through some stuff I wanted to get rid of. I took note of the phrase because it seems to be so contradictory to the way of Jesus. The love of God in Jesus does not kill love, but rather place love in our hearts. We read in Romans 5:5, “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Image your heart, not so much your head, as a container that can receive love. Paul prayed that we might be “rooted and established in love” and that we might have power, “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” and that we might “know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18-19). The result is that we “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).
If the love of God has already been poured into our hearts, our prayer should be that we become rooted and established in this love. For me this means that I become more assured that this is the truest reality in my life as a follower of Jesus. As I focus on God love for me, just as I am, not as I should be or even hope to be, I become more rooted and established in his love. Then I will have power to grasp more fully how great the love of God is for me. To know that I am loved in such a profound way has truly surpassed any knowledge I might have of myself and that of God. But as I come to rest in that love, I find that I am experiencing a greater awareness of God in my life. It has nothing to do with what I accomplish, but rather has everything to do with how I perceive myself as being loved by God.
So love does not kill slowly, but rather allows me to know who I am so that I might become fully alive. David Benner reminds us that prayer as our life with God can be thought of as “being in love.” This implies that in prayer we are able to know “our being-in-love.” Listen to what Benner has to say about this being in love. “Prayer is not simply what we do. It is a way of being…it is resting in the reality of our being-in-God. This is our fundamental identity. It is the hidden but deepest truth of our existence. Our being has no meaning apart from its relationship to God’s being. The only possibility of being who I most deeply am rests in the eternal I Am. Because of the I Am, I can be. Because the eternal I Am is love, I can experience communion with God in love. This is what makes it possible for me to become truly and fully human, for me to become truly and fully who I am in Christ.”
The only possible way that love might kill slowly in my walk with Jesus is the death that occurs to my old nature. As I experience more of the reality of God’s love in our hearts, the more we will be willing to let go of the patterns and practices of our old nature. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). I guess I would say as I come to know God’s love for me, there is a sense in which this love kills slowly in that I am less dominated by my old nature. It is not by my will power that this death takes place, but rather it is God’s work in me as I surrender to love.
Devotions from Macrina Wiederkehr’s book, Gold in Your Memories
As we open the book of our lives we will discover layers and layers of stories, and we need to listen to them with a depth. Even the painful memories can become gold. Some pleasant memories may come to us as a surprise and bring us a unexpected source of renewal. We can think of our memories as a mosaic, as it is suggestive of a work of art. And every person’s’ life is a work of art. As we learn to be present to our experiences, each piece of the life that is ours eventually finds a home in our hearts. Sometimes there are pieces we would rather leave out as they are dark and we think they will ruin our mosaic. But to deny any of those pieces is to deny who we are. As we replace denial with acceptance we will begin to see our whole life as a beautiful painting of many colors. In the end the shadow and dark places of our mosaic may add beauty to the work of art that we are becoming.
What has happened in our past is not unimportant but is worthy of space in our present life.
Devotions based on the book, Gold in Your Memories by Macrina Wiederkehr
Each season of life contains unique memories. Sometimes painful memories can take center stage and force the golden ones to retreat. If our heart was torn open by memories of things that should never have been, there will come a time when we will have strength and courage to lean into our painful story and allow it to be integrated into our lives and become one of our teachers. Occasionally we need a time of hibernation, which is not the same as hiding. We may hibernate until we grow strong and wise enough to let our painful memories harmonize with our lives and embrace them. Then we can begin remembering the flowers ( people, experiences, and moments that are beautiful) that have brought healing and joy to us. As we return to these moments they are like a sacred place in our spirit and bring us comfort and strength. Let us discover the gold in our lives, that which is able to soften our hearts and restore our hope. It can be the memory of loving people in our lives who have stood with us, or moments that have brought comfort, or a thing of beauty etc etc. But let us claim all of life as our teacher even if we have to travel through a dark forest to reach the place of light and healing.
I did begin writing about my childhood experiences and must get back to writing about the rest of my life. When we began packing for our move to the Lake I put my diaries etc away so will have to get them out again. Two friends have written of their life experiences and it was enlightening to read. Each life is so different and even how we write about it.