On Face Book I follow the Anam Cara Ministries page, which posts daily meditations. I often find one that makes me stop and think and last week the following post drew my attention:
Artistic Afternoons: Look up. (Right now.) What do you see? Write about it. Anam Cara Ministries, November 4, 2015.
I stopped and just looked around me. Looking up I saw the wind chime I made from small bells given to me by a friend and origami peace doves made by another friend, when the window is open and a breeze comes through it rings as I work at my desk. There are books, all of which I’ve read, on a shelf above the window. There is a decorative bird cage which I occasionally use to put in small special items, often my grandchildren. And, hanging on the side of the cage are 2 scarves I was given at an InterPlay session. As I looked at these I realized all of them are part of me, and they connect me to family and friends, present and past, which are part of my life. In each there is the memory of love shared. I am grateful to Anam Cara for giving me a priceless gift of memories.
I was grateful for the being reminded of loving memories I had been too busy to notice. From time to time we all need to be reminded to remember events and people in our past; to remember old hurt and forgive them, or linger on the memories of old friends. Today I offer Anam Cara’s gift to remember, to forgive, and linger over fond memories of gifts past. It is a simple practice of observation and being in the moment. So today “Look up. Maybe look around you. What do you see? Write about it.”
Today my prayer offering is a Celtic poem that reminds us to stop and see the world around us, To see the creator in all that we encounter. The Pearl of Great Price will be found not in your wallet, or fame, rather it is in the a field of flowers bright with sunshine, an elderly person who welcomes your presence, a babe in arms who snuggles into your heart. Let those who have eyes to see and hears to hear.
The Bright Field
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone on my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
Daily Readings from Prayers & Praises in the Celtic Tradition
introduced and edited by A. M. Allchin and Ester de Waal
Templegate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois, 1987
Mark 10:46-52 46They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. 51Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
We are rapidly approaching Holy Week and all of the exciting and heartbreaking moments the weeks brings. In Mark the last story before the Triumphal Entry is of the Healing of Blind Bartimaeus that takes place as Jesus is traveling through Jericho to Jerusalem and his appointed fate. I am offering the above painting by El-Greco for you to contemplate with the prayer practice of Visio Divina. I have always found this story from the Gospel of Mark one of the most moving story of courage and faith in scripture. Bartimaeus doesn’t know how close he is to Jesus; he simply calls out and has faith Jesus will answer him. The questions Jesus asks of Bartimaeus also draw me into a deeper understanding of sight and I hope you will consider those questions and the responses as well.
May your sight be deepened in preparation for the coming week as your contemplate El‑Greco’s painting and the scripture lesson.
Study the picture slowly, taking a first glance and noting the colors, people, places and things. Remain with the image for one to two minutes. If you would like, jot down a few words about the image.
Read the Scripture lesson slowly and in meditation. Return to the painting does the scripture alter your perspective of the painting in anyway? Do the questions and responses open new doors as you gaze at the painting?
Take a second, deeper, look. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the artwork? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?
Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, person or issue for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Place yourself in the place of Bartimaeus, and then in the place of a spectator, or one of the Disciples. Does your perspective Change? What do you feel when you become Bartimaeus or a spectator? Offer your thoughts as prayer to God.
Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.
May the Peace of God be with you as you travel the Holy Week Journey.
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, (NRSV)
To pray always, without ceasing, seems like an impossible task. Seeing God in every thing, every action we do, every moment of our lives opens doors of our hearts, and the Spirit of God moves in. We don’t become Pollyanna’s seeing only the good in people. We see the suffering and trials of those around us and in seeing God in their faces we open our hearts and let God’s compassion move us to be the arms and legs, the body, of the Holy Spirit. We are motivated to give the solace, love, support to those who are in need just as Jesus did on the streets and fields of Judea.
The suffering of our communities, nation and world overwhelms, frightens us and as the troubles increase exponentially we ask does prayer really do any good. Offering a prayer for someone walking in the dark places of life, does let them know they aren’t alone, that someone, somewhere is keeping them in their hearts. But even more important is the prayer that motivates us to be the Christ on the street, to offer food, and help find shelter. To care for the sick and injured in even small ways that often are not seen in the mad rush to send massive aid. In fact many times it is the small things we do that mean the most to the recipients. Each act is an act of prayer, it is an offering, it is remembering to feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit the incarcerated, and give mercy to the stranger, which all God and Jesus asked us to do.
As you listen to song and watch the pictures pass before you. Let your hearts turn to prayer, where ever you are, you don’t even have stop what you are doing and offer a prayer for what lies closest in heart. Listen; listen carefully in a moment of silence, and throughout your day, for words of encouragement from God. Look into the faces of each person you meet and see the face of God. Each of you, all of you, no matter what you do, or have done, is beloved by God. Let your eyes be opened to love that shines in the eyes of each other, and ears be opened to the voice of God in the voice of the next person you meet.
May the peace of God be with you, now and forever more.
13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
I spent last week at Gwinwood Christian Retreat Center, [(Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)] as one of the Chi Rho (Jr. High) counselors. The whole week was a wonderful experience and not just for the kids. Spending time with children and young people is a prayerful time. In the voices and faces of the young G-d is evident in all that they do, even the mischief. Jesus loved children and young people, he tells his disciples they are important to the breaking out of Kingdom of God; time spent with young people is time spent with G-d.
When you are with kids’ prayer comes in many shapes and sizes, in still and playful moments, in laughter and in tears, and in soccer and in worship. The joy of seeing a young person open their eyes to a new experience of G-d, in priceless. Hearing their voices around the campfire singing “Peace Like a River” will make you’re your heart swell.
Being a Camp Counselor is an experience you should not miss and if you are offered that opportunity please consider the prayer that is our Young People.