Summer is coming to an end. With some sadness do we count our losses? No more picnics, no more swimming, no more trips to the beach. Or do we look back over June, July, and August and count our gains? What have the bits of extra leisure gained for us or for others? Did we have more opportunity to put service to others over our own personal desires? Could we afford the time to prepare some delightful surprises for children? Did we include in our vacation space for God? The coming short winter days may make us greedy with our daylight time. The cold may keep us sitting by a fire or in front of a TV. But for now El Nino promises a pleasant autumn, a couple more months to focus on our gains. What will we do with the hours of daylight savings time?
Author Archives: Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider
The Irish speak of thin places where heaven and earth are very close, places where God can seep through the cracks. Autumn is a time when God seems to seep through the cracks rather easily. Stars are brighter, air crisper, colors more brilliant. Thoughts are turned nostalgically to the “last chances”—last garden pickings of tomatoes and sweet corn, last smells of mown grass, whole days of open windows. Our souls are constantly tugged, our minds more attentive, our thoughts more reflective, our bodies sensing the incremental differences. We’re more aware, and God sees his chance to seep through.
God’s gift of self began with the creation of the universe. Another dramatic giving of the Godself occurred on the cross. Giving his life is who God is. If God is Self-Gift, then to be more like God we must become self-gift. As children we may have climbed into a box or put ribbon on our head and pretended to be a present. That wasn’t just a childish idea. A spiritually mature person realizes that there is only one thing we can give: ourselves.
I wish we could calculate the number of hours of service people give in a 24-hour period. It is edifying to hear of schools and parishes and organizations involved in mission trips, fundraisers for the needy, and projects that protect Planet Earth. It is equally edifying to see spouses, family and friends act as care-givers day in and day out. Their self-sacrifice and generosity can be as admirable as service projects requiring a passport. Regardless of whether the service takes us to another country or is just a walk down the block, those who serve are being Jesus. And by being Jesus they can see Jesus. It’s that simple and that challenging.
During a wedding rehearsal I entertained a two-year-old whose father was playing the guitar and whose mother was attending a three-month-old. The conversation with the little girl went something like this:
Me: I believe you’re right. I totally agree.
Me: Yes, that was a lovely party. I really enjoyed myself.
I could have been reciting multiplication tables or the Gettysburg Address with the same effect, because the sole source of communication was my facial expression and tone of voice. Both conveyed (I think) my interest in the little girl and my pleasure in conversing with her. Communication is only ten percent words.
If Jesus Christ wants us to be like children, then prayer doesn’t have to be styled or logical or unified with topic sentences. God understands and gets the point. And God is not passive to our prattle. God is very involved. God is Word expressing and Spirit animating. The Word of God is speaking, and the Spirit of God breathing. And we participate in this. We are part of God’s conversation, and we become expressions of God’s speech.
Tiny purple spears stood erect, their heads strained in one direction, as if intently listening. The Mother of Thyme had called a convocation. The sight reminded me of the Church, an assembly called into being on the cross and the primary place where we meet Christ. It is in the assembly that we know who Christ is.
Where did you get your concept of God? Wasn’t it parents, teachers, friends, nature? And how do I reflect who God is? When I love others unconditionally, they have a better chance of knowing God’s unconditional life for them. When I sacrifice for a friend or relatives, that person understands a bit more of Christ’s sacrifice. When I share on a deep level, another sees more clearly how God in Christ is engaged with the world.
O God, as assembly, may we strain toward the completion of what we have been called to be: people upon whom the Spirit has been poured, people waiting for “the coming of that great and glorious day of the Lord.”
Does a day go by when we don’t feel a tinge of chagrin caused by the persons around us? I mean, after all, why can’t people be like me perfect in every way? The ideas of Julian of Norwich and those of Teilhard de Chardin remind me that we’re all in this together, so let’s make it work!
Lady Julian of Norwich wrote: “By myself I am nothing at all, but in general, I AM in the oneing of love. For it is in this oneing that the life of all people exists.” Julian is speaking, first of all, of the oneing in the Trinity, that Mystery of Relationship in love, three persons in One God unified in total outpouring of love and creativity. She is also writing of the union, the oneing, of all created things centuries before Teilhard de Chardin wrote The Divine Milieu. Julian continues: “The love of God creates in us such a oneing that when it is truly seen, no person can separate themselves from another person. In the sight of God all humans are oned, and one person is all people and all people are in one person.”
Recently I read an article about the millions of microbes in and around me—how in some way they’ve been around since the Big Bang and will continue in existence, how they are all necessary in the plan of creation. I’ve been making myself more conscious of the interdependence of all things. Maybe I achieved a bit more consciousness when I found myself apologizing to the microbes as I cleaned the sinks with disinfectant.
Today give an apology to Planet Earth and think of ways to preserve her.
It’s jubilee time in the convent, and there’s so much to celebrate! We have jubilarians of joy professed 75 years ago. They have been a joy to us and to those to whom they ministered. We have iron jubilarians professed 65 years ago. They are still giving their firstfruits, while anticipating the final harvest already reaped through Christ’s dying and rising. We have diamond jubilarians professed 60 years ago. God has been fashioning them all these years into radiant jewels. We have golden jubilarians professed 50 years ago. Their lives have been the golden chords that echo the mighty song of all God’s People. They still have miles to go, as they are continually being refined into purest gold. We have ruby jubilarians professed 40 years ago. Their apostolic spirit shines with enthusiasm and glowing love. We have silver jubilarians professed 25 years ago. They have given their lives in total dedication, just as every Sister has. So raise your glass—er, prayer–in praise and thanksgiving to God and to our jubilarians.
The challenge of the Christian life is to become steeped in God. The method: I the water and God the tea bag. That sounds odd, for Jesus spoke of himself as living water. But I would have no power to change clear water into green tea. God is the One who can transform me. I simply need to receive the tea bag, allowing it to work its transformation. As I let myself become steeped in God, the union of tea and water becomes tea. Because God wanted to be steeped in the human condition, God became one of us. God became human. Fully one with humanity, God steeps the Godself in each of us, allowing us to become divine. Enjoy the brew, and drink its responsibility.