Marcus Borg & Gratitude for our Mentors—Prayerful Tuesday

Marcus Borg 1931-2015
Marcus Borg
1931-2015

This last week I heard of the passing of Marcus Borg. I was sadden not just at his passing but because I have learned so much from his writings. I will miss reading his words and having them open up my understanding of Jesus as both human and Divine.  Marcus Borg’s writings were instrumental in changing how I came to look at Jesus, the apostles, and the first century Christians.  He made me think and doubt what I have always believed to be true and to take that doubt and turn it on its head by searching for answers and being comfortable with finding only more questions.

Because of Marcus Borg I began to read scripture, questioning the standard interpretations, searching for what the words printed in the Bible meant to those they were written to, the first century believers in Jesus.  Borg’s books were my first window into the church of the 21st century and why, and how, it is so different from the community of believers in the 1st century.  Reading Borg’s books were instrumental in giving me an interest in pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree and looking at the carefully at the path leading to ordination.  Yes I will miss this Master of Theology who opened doors and, through his writings, fostered a love of scripture, sacred texts, theology, and history.  Whose writing led me on a search for the divine and human Jesus that I wanted in my life.

We do not go through this life alone. There are many people, our mentors, who have walked and are walking with us.  Some mentors we know, some mentors we request or go looking for, some we have not known they were mentors but were our companions for a while, showing us us how to live by living their own quiet, faithful lives.  Some mentors never know they mentored us at all. Marcus Borg was one of my mentors who never knew he walked with me. I am grateful for his life and his words.  I never met him, only read his books, but I felt ‘close’ to this incredible theologian who made Jesus and God accessible to me.

I will never be able to thank him, so, instead I will thank all of my other mentors while I still have time.  My parents, my first grade teacher Miss Wooster, they taught me courage and determination. I am grateful for Pastors from childhood to adulthood that listened to my ravings and didn’t belittle me.  I am grateful for my current pastor, and friend, Laurie, who has been the most gracious and gentle of mentors as I have grown in my faith. I am grateful for friends who let me be me, inspiring me to be the best friend I could be.  I am grateful for my beloved John who has supported me through thick and thin as we have traveled this crazy new journey God has led us both on in the last 15 years.

I am grateful for the love, comfort, and companionship of dogs, cats and birds who have taught me the value of unconditional love. I am grateful for being able to live and work, and play in a world of great beauty, and sorrow.  I am grateful for my life as it is and as it will be and I know that whatever life hands me I know I am not alone, there is always someone standing beside me to offer encouragement.

On this Prayerful Tuesday who are you grateful for?  Who has walked with you on a difficult path or a path of exploration and great joy?  Who walked with you, gave you insights, taught you a lesson of life that you didn’t recognize at the time?  We all have people who have brought meaning to our lives, today offer your gratitude, your thanks for your life’s mentors.

Gracious Presence, I am grateful for all who walk, and have walked, with me on my very bumpy life’s journey. I am grateful for your presence as you have been with me always, even though I don’t recognize you. My spirit is grateful for all I have been given, and thankful for all that is yet to come.  Amen.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 27, 2015

Un-Birthday Surprises – Prayerful Tuesday

Sunset 14.6.20 a

 

“I have come to believe that God, Truth, Beauty, Love—all those concepts I associate with the Divine—are not things that are “found” at the end of the path, like the post of gold at the end of the rainbow, but rather are what I experience on the journey as I travel through life—or perhaps, more explicitly, they are the journey itself.”   Jan Phillips, No Ordinary Time[1]

 

The above quote by Jan Phillips states beautifully one of the revelations of my own life.  Searching and hoping to ‘find’ love and truth is an exercise in futility.  Beauty, truth, love, and G-d come to me in those moments when I least expect them to arrive on my doorstep.  They often ‘find’ me when I am in the darkest and most terrifying moments of my life and they pull me from the depths back into the light. Or they show up unexpectedly, like a un-birthday present, while I am in the midst of something totally unrelated.

In your time of prayer this week reflect on when and where the Divine has surprised you with love, a new truth, and beauty.  Give thanks for those moments of joy and vow to be more open to the un‑birthday moments in your life.

Namaste

Ruth Jewell, ©July 15, 2014

 

[1] Phillips, Jan, No Ordinary Time, Copyright ©2011 Jan Phillips, Published by Livingkindness Foundation, San Diego, CA

Desert

Color_card_dove_pix

 

As I sit a robin sings his morning song,
tea in hand, dog in my lap
I wait expectantly,
I listen . . .
all I hear are crows, and wrens.

Where are you?
It has been so long since
I felt your presence.
I long to feel your touch on my cheek,
to hear your whispers in my ear.
I want to be enfolded in your Holy embrace

I search my heart for you.
I seek you in the eyes of those I meet.
I cannot find you, and
without you I am lost.

There is so much to tell you, but . . .
you are not there to hear.
Patience I tell myself, you will come.
So like a Desert Mother I sit day after day and wait,
listening, longing,
silent I sit.

Ruth Jewell, ©June 25, 2014

The Hardest Task

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier
Morning Scripture Psalm 33:12-22

G-d fashioned me from the heart of the SPIRIT,
and all creation with me.
I cannot see the immensity around me,
only the little shelf I stand on do my eyes perceive.

I think my knowledge is so great,
that I no longer need G-d.
Yet all that I am is because of G-d.
All the strength in my arms
is worthless; all the knowledge
of my mind takes me nowhere.
I stand like a child on the side of a mountain
but see only trees, not knowing
much more lies beyond the next bend

I say “I see the mountain,”
I say “I understand,” yet much lays hidden
in caves so deep I cannot imagine.
I think I am so smart,
yet G-d knows how much is still to learn.

My hope for success has no future
without the G- d of creation.
Only the LORD of all
can grace me with life and vision.
Only when I open the ears of my heart
to the SPIRIT within and around me
will I find what my heart seeks.

I hear the voice of the Ancient of Days calling:
“Trust in the LORD, and rest in the SPIRIT.
Only then will your door to life and hope
open wide and your path made smooth.
Our hearts together will beat as one
and they will sing with joy.
The sound of lute and harp
will resound in our ears
and the taste of sweet celestial honey
will delight our mouths.”

All I have to do is trust, to rest, to give to G-d.
Why or why is that so hard?

Let your steadfast love, O LORD,
be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Ruth Jewell ©August 9, 2013

Not Alone

Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Not Alone . . .

You are not alone
Surrounding you is
A cloud of witnesses
Cheering you on
Sending you
Strength and courage, so . . .

Let your burdens go
Drop them from your shoulders
Slide them off your back
Free yourself for . . .

The race Jesus calls
You to run,
Just as Jesus ran
So too you are called to run

Let your feet fly
Pump your arms high
Forget yourself
Carry the burdens
Of the weak and hurting
Let Jesus lead your on
As you let yourself be free to . . .

Give yourself away

Ruth Jewell, ©August 3, 2013

COME . . .

Morning Light
Morning Light

Light of Christ surround me
Ignite within
the flame of love,

Breath of the Holy Spirit
Flow through me,
Fan the flames of passion

Arms of the blessed Creator
Enfold me,
reminding me of your presence,

Giver of life provide a safe place
this day to rest
when I am weary

Shalem
Ruth Jewell, ©August 1, 2013

a bit of gardening

ROSEMARYThis past week John and I did a bit of gardening.  We had a rosemary bush being shaded by another bush and I wanted to move it.  So we prepared the new spot where it was to go, dug the new hole and went over to our lovely rosemary bush.  Now you should know I planted this bush 6 or 7 years ago and I haven’t touched it to really prune it in 5 years.  That means it wasn’t a small bush.  For the last 5 years it has been doing a wonderful job of growing as it now stood nearly 5 feet tall and had a spread of closer to 6 feet.  But, we started pruning and pruning, and pruning.  Some of the branches were more than an inch thick and really woody (great in our fireplace though).  After being prickled and rosemary scented by our bush we got down to digging the roots up.  I never knew this about rosemary but it puts down ROOTS, not little roots, big ones and deep.  Also, they extended farther than the drip line of the bush which made finding the ends of the plant actually very difficult.  We ended up cutting a lot of roots because we couldn’t find where they stopped.  But we moved our tenacious plant and got it planted in its new home and it is doing well enjoying all the sun it wants and lots of water.

After we were finished and cleaning up I remembered something about rosemary.  First of all rosemary, in flower language, means remembrance and that sweet, huge, tough bush reminded me of just how persistent our memories are.  Deep within each of us lives a world that was.  Sometimes it surfaces when we least expect it whether we want it to or not.  But our past makes us who we are and embracing the happy, the sad, the good with the bad memories helps balance our present. Learning from my past mistakes and successes provides me with a road map for my way forward.  All of those memories connect me to something greater than just this single moment in time.  It is also the memories of those who modeled the best of their lives which have led me to being a better person in my own life.

It is the memory of my parents and how they loved and cared for me that has taught me to be a more loving and caring wife, friend, and grandmother.  It was my parent’s determination to model a life that included people of all backgrounds, races, genders, and abilities that has given me a passion for my openness to those who are different from me.  It was my father’s love of creation and prayer and silence that has been my model for my spiritual growth throughout my life.  It was a first grade teacher’s kindness to this wounded child that taught me anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

The memories I have of wandering open fields, lying in new mown grass, making storybook figures out clouds, and reading a book while I sat in the crook of an old apple tree gave me a love of open spaces.  I have precious memories of  being awakened at midnight to watch the Aurora Borealis with my father, or going out to our barn to watch as calves or puppies were born that hold a special place in my heart.  It is remembering thunder storms roll across our fields and listening as the rain pummeled the tin roof of our barn, or rushed through the branches of the huge pine tree that was just outside my bedroom window that draws me into a place of contemplation and peace like nothing else can.

It is the memory of pulling a deep fat fryer full of hot grease down on top of me that reminds me that accidents happen but I am not alone even in the worst of times.  It is the memory of a child in the hospital bed next to me who died during the night that taught me that fresh grief is always inconsolable.  It is the memory of uncaring questions by adults and taunts of other children that taught me that sometimes people can be cruel.  The memory of my father’s death from cancer keeps me asking “why” questions of God and doubting the fairness of life the Scripture tells me is good. It was being laid off for a year that taught me to let go of my fears, face them, then hand them over to the all surrounding presence that has always been in my life.  It is the memory of my discovery of how much I have been surrounded by the Spirit that has changed me from who I was into the person I am today. Memories are the soil of our lives; mine goes deep with plenty of memory leaf compost and with each day. With each new memory made the soil gets deeper and richer.

The best part is that each of us has our own bed of memories to draw upon.  Some are wonderful, insightful memories, some are horrid memories we would rather forget entirely, but by facing them we turn those bad memories into rich memory compost.  Even the memories of death and destruction have a place in our lives, just as the memories of our mother’s arms around us does.  Each memory adds to who we are and allows us to see who we were. Memories are the mirrors of our soul and how our soul has grown into who we are.  For the good and bad memories are who we are.  In learning to live with what we remember gives us the skills we need to live in the world we share with all of creation.

Creation, life, isn’t always fair or beautiful to our eyes. But, we don’t see the big picture; we see only our very small portion. Like an ant on a forest floor the view of our individual world of reality is very small.  What we remember of our past helps us see the greater picture. Memories give us a wider view of the life that lies before us and behind us. Our memories connect us to those we have loved, and hated, giving us a past to live from.

Not having a past cuts us off from our life today.  It is the reason those with Alzheimer’s, dementia or traumatic brain injuries that affects memory feel so cut off from the world around them.  They have nothing to compare today with so how do they know what today means; how do they relate to people and the world around them.  The greatest gift we can give those who cannot remember is to give them a piece of their past to ground them in the now moment of their lives and to do it every moment, every hour, every day we are with them.  The joy of someone who discovers their own past is amazing and life giving.

Memories are the soil we stand on, the ground of our lives that allows us to live better lives today and tomorrow.  Rosemary, the plant of remembrance, is tough, strong, and sweet and I want to remember my yesterdays to make my tomorrows tough, strong, and sweet.

Ruth Jewell ©April 30, 2013