Pray With Us

Dear All,

I hope it has been a good week for you & that getting into February gives you a sense of Spring being on the way.  The lighter mornings & evenings do suggest we are moving in the right direction!

This weekend we have Racial Justice Day & so today’s reflections in one way or another touch into the Justice theme.  One is quite long & includes the story of the old woman on the mountain planting seeds.  You may have come across it before.  Perhaps it reminds us that small unnoticed acts to promote justice all help the big picture – ie we can play a part in bringing about a more just & peaceful world.

The blessing is a Gaelic one, ‘Deep Peace’ from Libera.  We could pray it for those suffering from injustice currently, perhaps those imprisoned for something they did not do, here or in other parts of the world.  Or maybe amongst us there may be someone who feels they have been treated unjustly.

Have a good week!

With love

 

A Story, a Commentary, Verses from Sirach.

Once upon a time in a very remote unfriendly village that clung to the side of the mountain, there lived an old woman whose habits seemed strange to her neighbours. Since the harsh winters kept people near their families inside their homes, they rarely spoke to anyone outside their immediate families, and did not cultivate the art of hospitality. The mountain side was bleak and barren and uninviting, even in the less harsh seasons of the year. Only the children dared to climb and would only to climb up to a certain part.

They were cautioned not to go near the mountain. But they went anyway and met up with the old woman. They saw that she was bent over, digging small holes into the earth, and dropping something into the holes. The children asked her “What are you doing old woman?” And the woman replied, always the same; I am changing the face of the mountain.

The children grew up and most moved to the city.

It came to pass that one grown child returned to describe to her family the harsh reality she had lived as a child.

But she did not recognize the mountain. It was ablaze with colours, of beautiful flowers gently swaying in the breeze. Clusters of trees provided shade to the many children gathered with their families.

She saw a totally different scene. All were talking with each other. Children playing games. Families picnicking with each other.

The woman asked one of the villagers, “When did all this come about? What happened to the bleak and barren mountainside of my childhood?”

And they told her: “What you see now is because of the old woman who lived on this mountain a long time ago. She went out every day and planted seeds, knowing all the while the seeds would bear fruit.”

She then recalled the words of the woman, the old and bent figure from her childhood. And at last, she understood those words: “I am changing the face of the mountain.”

We can ‘change the face of the mountain’ by encouraging, affirming; by challenging unjust situations. Or perhaps accompanying the sick, providing transport when they could have no other means, or simply sitting with others in their loneliness or illness.

The reading that follows from Sirach is clear. Sirach or Sir is the name of the author. The book attempts to pull together some fundamental truths basic to anyone who wants to live close to the one who loves us all. It is clear in the book of Sirach that the call we receive always takes us first to those most in need. Sometimes they are the ones who give us trouble, make us doubt, even wear us out. But it is for them that we are called to be present to journey with, to affirm when life is not supportive or does not respond to the immediate need.

Following the recommendations of Sirach or following the message of Jesus involves that step by step, day by day stooping down to the earth, to plant seeds. No one notices at first. Some may even laugh and call it a waste of time. One more infirm person recovering from an illness. One more ‘lost’ young person.

Being noticed doesn’t matter.

Today there is a big and barren mountain waiting for its face to be changed. The mountain is covered with war and poverty; hurricanes and tornadoes; racism and exclusion.

We can change the face of the mountain.

I think the lesson goes something like this—whatever you do well, do for others. Whatever you do for others, do it well. And when you can bring others to do it well with you, building community wherever you go, All will be well.

From Sirach:

The LORD is a God of justice,
who knows no favourites.
Though not unduly partial toward the weak,
yet God hears the cry of the oppressed.
The Lord is not deaf to the wail of the orphan,
nor to the widow when she pours out her complaint.
The one who serves God willingly is heard;
their petition reaches the heavens.
The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds;
it does not rest till it reaches its goal,
nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds,
judges justly and affirms the right,
and the Lord will not delay.

 

Sister Sue Scharfenberger, OSU

 


 

Anxiety

From ‘The seven Last Words’ by Timothy Radcliffe

 

We live in an age of profound anxiety.  We are fearful about disease & illness, about our futures, about our children, about our jobs, about failure, about death.  We suffer from a deep insecurity, a collapse of trust.  This is strange because we are far more protected & safe than any previous generation of human history, at least in the west.  We have better medicine, safer transport; we are more protected from climate – at least relatively compared with other parts of our world – have better social security & yet we are afraid.

 

I suspect that this pervasive anxiety derives from the fact that we have a culture of control.  We can control so many things: fertility & birth, so much disease can be cured; we can control at least some of the forces of nature, mine the earth & dam the rivers.  But control is never complete.  We are increasingly aware that our planet may be careering towards disaster.

 

We are afraid, above all of death, which unmasks our ultimate lack of control.  When Jesus dies, the sun & the moon are darkened; the tombs are opened & the dead walk.  This is the end of which the prophets spoke.  The worse that one can ever imagine has already happened.  The world collapsed.  And then there was Easter Sunday.

 


 

Lead us from Death to Life

Lead us from death to life,

from falsehood to truth,

from despair to hope,

from fear to trust,

lead us from hate to love,

from war to peace;

let peace fill our hearts,

let peace fill our world,

let peace fill our universe.

Still all the angry cries,

still all the angry guns,

still now your people die,

earth’s sons & daughters.

Let justice roll,

let mercy pour down,

come & teach us

your way of compassion.

So many lonely hearts,

so many broken lives,

longing for love to break

into their darkness.

Come, teach us to love,

come, teach us peace,

come & teach us

your way of compassion.

Let justice ever roll,

let mercy fill the earth,

let us begin to grow

into your people.

We can be love,

we can bring peace,

we can be your justice,

your way of compassion.

Unknown author

 


 

Your Heart Yearns with Compassion & Justice.

You reach out for the rejected & lost: you touch those who have

been pushed out of sight.  Your heart yearns with compassion & justice.

You utter a word in due season, its truth changes our life for ever.

We are healed by your touch, set free by your word.

By your touch the banished belong once again, their healing goes

deeper than cure. Your heart yearns with compassion & justice.

Your words touch our hearts, puncturing our pride & our pomp. We

are healed by your touch, set free by your word.

You embrace without condition the guests round your table.

Your heart yearns with compassion & justice.

Your word of forgiveness loosens our bonds, setting us free from the traps that ensnare us.

We are healed by your touch, set free by your word.

 

Jim Cotter