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Posts Tagged ‘the journey of life’


Numbers 21Worn Out

Monday, February 25, 2019

Several years ago we focused on verses 4 through 9 of this chapter in a Noontime reflection about The Bronze Serpent and at that time we noted that this story is often read during the Lenten season when we are called to repent and make reparations.  We reflected on the thought that God in great wisdom and mystery sends a cure to the people that is similar to their disease; and we saw the Hebrews succumb to the temptation to complain when their patience is worn out by the journey.  Just as we travel toward Easter during Lent, and move Advent waiting for the light.  When we have so much invested in our waiting it is easy to give in to the kind of impatience we see today; and we know the feeling of despair that replaces hope when the expected outcome is so long in coming.  We zero in on our disappointment and forget to look at the many victories in our lives.

The episode of the bronze serpent is sandwiched between stories of victory over Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.  God has accompanied the Hebrews and seen to their welfare; yet the travail of the journey has worn their patience thin and they turn against God.  Although they experience a series of triumphs, they complain about their food and drink.  They want to control the smallest details of their lives and rather than rest in the triumphs they have lived they obsess about the minutiae.  This is a story in which we can place ourselves.

Whether we find ourselves in Advent or Lent, or find ourselves in an ordinary time of extraordinary waiting, we can look at the Hebrews to see ourselves in their impatience; and we can make our own journey through the lands of Arad, Moab, Sihon and Og.   We can examine what motivates us, what leads us, what stops us.  And we can pray . . .

Do I too often steer clear from something when the cure lies in my willingness to enter God’s plan?

Am I too stiff-necked or too impatient?

Do I fear too much and trust too little?

Am I too controlling or too impatient?

Do I complain too much and give thanks too little?

Am I too unwilling or too impatient?

Do I take the victories for granted and throw temper tantrums when my own plans come up short?

Am I focused on self and not on God?

In the hardship of the journey it is easy to concentrate on our fears and wishes; it is difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  So when we feel this impatience welling up, let us look to God for strength; let us ask God for the stamina we need to see the journey through.  Let us look at the many victories that line the pathways of our lives; and let us remember that when we rely on God rather than self . . . our patience will never wear through.


A re-post from December 3, 2011.

For more reflections on traveling the road of life, see the Journeys of Transformation page on this blog.

Images from: http://jewlistic.com/2010/06/ive-had-it-with-these-snakes-in-this-portion/ and http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx303.htm

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Michelangelo: Creation

Michelangelo: Creation

Psalms 7 to 18

Life, Death, Divinity, Humanity

This reflection was written upon the death of a friend’s father and is shared today as a Favorite. 

Much of life is lived in a confusion of fear and thanksgiving and we find a jumble of these emotions in Psalms 7 though 18.  Looking at just the New American Bible titles of these poems gives us a series of jubilant prayers mixed with sorrow-filled ones.  It is in this way that these poems bring us a faultless reflection of life.

The fusion of worlds present in the human made in the image of God is a dichotomy which we can either unite our id, ego and superego . . . or it can split us into child and adult separated by a chasm of fear.  Fear of what?  Fear of suffering.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of loss.  Fear of abandonment.  Fear of loneliness.  Fear of knowing that we err.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of death.  And when I think of this litany of pain, I realize that each of these woes is accompanied by a restorative.  Joy in celebration.  Joy in exaltation.  Joy in gain.  Joy in companionship.  Joy in intimacy.  Joy in knowing that we are doing the right thing.  Joy in perfect, trust-filled union with another.  Joy in life.  Our fear-filled humanity struggles with our covenant-honoring divinity.

Psalm 8 brings us dichotomous images announced in the title: Divine Majesty and Human Dignity.  We find more in the psalm: earth and heaven, babes and foes, enemy and avenger.  The verses that tell all that we really need to know:  What are humans that you [God] are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.  You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet . . . O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!

What a wonderful God we have who loves us to the extent that he creates us, visits with us, loves and comforts us, feeds, houses and clothes us, heals and tends to us, listens to us, blesses us . . . always . . . with constancy . . . with fidelity . . . with dignity . . . with patience . . . through eternity.

We often feel closer in death to the ones we love than we did when these dear ones were yet in this life.  These loved ones speak to us constantly now that the physical distances of this world no longer separate us.  They bring us the very real presence of the next world with their constant visitation.  We cannot see them because of the limiting time and space of this globe but still their existence is real.

Teilhard de Chardin 2We are human.  We are divine.  And we feel the constant struggle of reconciling these two worlds of self.  A human death brings us up short because we are forced to consider if we believe that we are created as gift.  We pause to think again about the Resurrection, the forgiveness of sin, life everlasting.  We cannot help but reflect on how we have treated this departed one: with the dignity deserved no matter the situation?  With the witness of divine majesty?  Did we salute the gift of this person while they were still in this life?  Did we honor this person while still with us as well as we will honor them in death?

The ones we love who have died linger among us.  We love that much.  They still laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry.  We cannot see them with the eyes of this world, or hear them with these ears.  But they are here with us nonetheless.  As we are with them.  They hold us close.  They have not disappeared.  Their presence is still felt . . . and it will be . . . forever and ever.  Amen.

Adapted from the May 31, 2008 Noontime.

For more information about Teilhard de Chardin, click on his image above or go to: http://teilharddechardin.org/

Follow this link for another Noontime reflection on God’s eternal love and our own human vulnerability.  (Posted on December 10, 2012.)

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