Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Advent ...

What might Advent look like to the world if the church settled into a season of "expectant waiting" rather than a season of "frenzied running?"

 

Giving thanks in the mess ...

… here comes Thanksgiving!

I don’t know what you and yours are doing for the holiday, but me and mine are gathering in one big, loud, festive, dysfunctional fest! We do it every year.

And every year I find myself disappointed in some aspect of our gathering … usually in myself.

I don’t respond like I want to. I get upset by little comments. I have an agenda I try to push. People hurt me. I hurt others. Old patterns show up that I thought I’d outgrown decades ago …

Can you relate in any way?

So, this year I have a plan.

Every time things go south, either within me or without, I am going to find something to be grateful for in the midst of that mess -- Right in that ugly or hurtful moment.

Even if the only thing I find I can be grateful for is God’s mercy to me, then that will be enough.

I believe it will change the moment; perhaps for no one else but me.

St. John of Avila said it best:

One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.

No one eats my wild rice pilaf? Gratitude … (I can eat more!)

My Thanksgiving outfit feels frumpy and old? Gratitude … (At least I have clothes!)

Someone says something that stings a bit? Gratitude … (Mostly they love me!)

I amaze myself with my own ability to sin? Gratitude … (Grace, grace and more grace)

You get the picture …

I feel a tinge more grateful already!

The details of life ...

My husband and I have been having conversation lately about the power of distraction and getting bogged down in the details and minutiae of life.

I think it was Thoreau who said that life often is frittered away by details.

For instance, we have been frittering our lives away with the details of getting a new post light out near our driveway ever since a huge branch fell off a tree and crushed our old one.

Oh, the details!! Picking a new one. Buying it. Returning it because it is broken. Buying a new one. Putting it on. Looking at it. Deciding it is too small and looks stupid. Taking it off. Packing it up. Returning it.

And, now we need to find another new one.

I came across this quote from Epictetus, a Greek Philosopher, who lived a long, long time ago.

He describes our thoughts perfectly:

There is a time and place for diversion and amusements, but you should never allow them to override your true purposes. If you were on a voyage and the ship anchored in a harbor, you might go ashore for water. Along the way, you might happen to pick up a shellfish or a plant. But be careful; listen for the call of the captain. Keep your attention directed at the ship. Getting distracted by trifles is the easiest thing in the world.

What are your trifles?

What details cause you to fritter your life away?

How can you better stay attuned to the call of the captain?