Words for the Soul

Spiritual Reflections & Insights

WORDLE: SOME THINGS ARE WORTH WAITING FOR

Recognizing that I am dating myself in saying this, but there was a time when I had to wait a whole week for the next episode of my favorite television show. And unless I recorded it on my VCR (look it up Gen Z and Alpha), I had to scan the 7×10″ TV Guide (look that up too), hoping for a second chance with a rerun.

These days, we can watch a whole series in a matter of hours, available with the simple pressing of a button or the sound of our voice.

Many of those who share my lived experience of this not so recent history would also recall tape recording songs off the radio on our cassette players before CD’s and eventually MP3s made life a whole lot easier. I wonder what young Jimmy would think about playing songs and streaming videos on his portable phone (I did have a beeper in high school that scrolled sports scores which made me feel like a real hot shot).

Fast forward to 2022, and all of a sudden I, along with millions of others, are waiting a whole day to play the next version of a word game with a silly title and intriguing colored tiles.

And isn’t it refreshing?

We don’t have to wait for much when it comes to  available entertainment on our devices. It sure can feel like we hold the world in our hand, accompanied by a small dose of false sense of control, as we navigate our apps, calendars, and messages.

Yet, with Wordle- advertised as a daily word game- we take our turn and wait for the sun to set and rise again.

Waiting requires patience, teaching us to appreciate the present while trusting we can face any future challenge (much like an unexpected  Wordle answer with the letter X).  We learn that when life’s situations are a whole lot more serious than a word game, perhaps waiting has something to teach us- ponder that when you wish there was another puzzle to solve.

A daily dose of patience is not a bad thing- especially knowing we do not wait in bated breath alone.

As I pour my second cup of coffee each morning, my ritual now expands with a few minutes of guessing letters and pressing my luck as I hide in the kitchen from my young children who at any moment will request a snack, drink, or out of reach toy. 

I look forward to reporting my success (or failures) with my friend  network and while I imagine this too shall past, I am resting in this carved out time of virtual communion.

I find myself grateful for the connections to long lost and familiar friends, despite their “other” social media posts on vaccinations or allegiance to sports teams.

For example, I appreciated how there was a collective “really?” when “SHIRE” solved the puzzle this past Monday. I am excited when soon-to-be-“friends” comment on another’s puzzle, asking “what is this?”  and I am equally excited when I direct  others to the Wordle website (not yet an app and free of any cost or personal information), knowing they are about to find a few minutes of daily joy.

Another difficult year concluded, but this new year has granted us a  gift- a virtual game that hooked us, not with instant gratification and division, but with the right amount of patience and a re-energized virtual friendship. Wordle is truly worth waiting for!

 

Time to Push: This Year’s Christmas Miracle

Artist: Mary DuCharme

Four days of labor finally led to two hours of pushing. Suzie, my heroic wife, painfully pushed, 

And pushed,

And pushed.

 

 

She pushed,

And pushed

And all along, rhythmically breathed until the doctor convinced her an emergency cesarian section was necessary to deliver her first born into the world.

 

 

This was the closest I came to know the pain of childbirth-and it was galaxies away from the reality that Suzie, and all the generations of mothers before and after, experience.

 

 

As she pushed,

And pushed,

And pushed,

All I could do was stand by her side.

 

 

Like St. Joseph,

he saw Mary, his beloved and God’s favored one, push

And push

And push,

Until Jesus, Emmanuel, God, was born.

 

 

As many celebrate Christmas this week, an invitation is planted in your heart.

What is ready to be born?

What unfulfilled dream-planted on your heart by God-is ready to emerge.

Are you ready to push?

And push?

And push?

 

 

Mary was favored, as are you.

God designed a plan for you, as God did for Mary, Joseph, and all the generations before us and after.

How will you bring God into this world- this time, not found in an unexpected newborn, but in dreams not yet fulfilled.

 

Are you ready to push?

And push?

And push?

 

 

Mary didn’t push under perfect circumstances.

Rather, quite the opposite.

A misunderstood refugee.

Born into an unjust world, struck by division and corruption, fear and hatred, war and hurt.

Yet, she pushed,

And pushed,

And pushed.

 

 

Now, in this chapter in human history, it is your turn to push.

A wounded world, not so different that of the Holy Family.

As tired eyes weep, and exhausted hearts seek, will you push?

 

Through your yes, your trust, and your push- let this be this year’s Christmas miracle.

 

 

Push through the self-doubt, the excuses, the fear.

Push through the pain, the hurt, the confusion.

Push,

And push,

And push.

 

Push, until your dream-God’s dream-becomes a reality.

 

A Summer Saturday Reflection

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

 

I am holding on to the present- by way of reflection, photographs, and gratitude.

How hard it is to stay focused on the now. Regret from the past and anxiety for the future must be tamed. Insecurities accepted and fear surrendered.

Just when I find a home in right now, I am invited to let go.

As the majestic colors of a sunset fade into darkness, so will the present- only contained in a precious and fragile memory.

I find myself pondering as the night closes the day’s chapter:

My children will never be this age again. Nor will I.

Did my last encounter with a loved one already occur?

Where is God, right now- in this breath, in my surroundings, in my heart?

Finding the divine in this moment is getting easier. Letting go, not so much.

Courage: What If?

My almost 5-year old daughter loves the classic film, Wizard of Oz. A popular choice for our “Friday movie night,” I often find myself smiling as the Cowardly Lion purrs the familiar word, “courage.”

Yesterday, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of Pentecost- marking the experience when the Holy Spirit transformed the disciples of Jesus, sending them forth with a new tool kit of language, skill sets, faith, and yes, courage.

Reflecting on this experience so many years ago, I pondered this question : What if the disciples never left the upper room?

It is no surprise that the friends of Jesus would retreat to a safe place to pray as they mourned his death. Along with Mary, they went to “the upper room,” the place where they would eventually, and most likely unexpectedly, receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The upper room is also believed to be the place where the Last Supper took place.

Of all places they would go, this space makes most sense. When we lose someone we love, it is natural to recall our most recent memory. We cherish it, as if we hold on to them just a little bit longer in that mental and physical space.

That Passover meal was for many the last time they were with Jesus. The intimacy of him washing their feet. The breaking of the bread. The warnings of what was to come. The fellowship, the laughter, and the prayers. 

It was safe here.  This room was home.

What if they never left? 

When Pentecost happens,  they are pushed forward. But what if they still stayed in place? What if they didn’t accept or truly believe in the call and presence of God that was shoving them back into the world?

It is hard to imagine Christianity spreading to different parts of the world without these disciples moving into action. The threat that led to the persecution of countless early believers would have quietly faded like many other social movements after the death of their leader.

What if?

In our own lives, we, too, can find comfort in our own upper room- a place that is familiar and safe as it once served its purpose. This could be a physical space, but it can also be a mental or emotional place, or even a familiar relationship or community.  There comes a time when God calls us to forward- something new as it is frightening. Flames may not fall from the heavens, but the universe finds its ways to point you where God needs you to go- only if you have the courage to listen and to act.

Let’s revisit the “what if” question from a personal perspective. Will you look back at your life when the number of trips around the sun are  winding down and wonder, “what if I had the courage to step out of the safe and familiar to trust the unknown path that God summoned?”

What if?

May this Pentecost remind you of the divine that is already burning within your soul, nudging and shoving you into the next chapter- to chase the dreams that God planted on your heart, to respond with love in places of hate, and to heal where there is hurt. Like the wounded and mourning friends of Christ, ask God for the courage to animate your dreams to bring the “good news” to all in your midst.

 

TRUST

 

It was a beautiful day in the New York area, with temperatures in the low 70s. As I noticed the fullness of the trees, the appealing sounds of chirping birds, and the  welcomed warmth of the sun, I found myself recalling how this landscape was so different just a few months ago.

The trees were bare, the birds were absent, and the chill of the winter dominated the scene. As the world kept spinning, the inevitable occurred as promised new life had its say, and it now dominates the season.

As I reflected on this transition, I realized howI can naturally trust in the darkness of winter that the sun will return. I do not doubt that the leaves will form, the grass will grow, and the temperature will rise. Maybe it is because of its track record, but I never doubted in January that a transformation was going to occur in April.

When I look inward, I try to take this lesson with me. I hope to trust in the same divine hand that makes the world turn is leading me into greener pastures. Perhaps it is the unknown, the risk of future next steps, that limits my ability to fully appreciate my own transformation.

What if I could trust in my own destiny, as I do in the changing of the seasons, the rising of the sun, and the stars at night?

What if I can believe that even in the dark winters, that like the hidden seeds in the ground, new life is slowly preparing for the next chapter?

Albert Einstein once wrote, “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”

As the sun shines stronger during this time of growth, might we, too, allow the external to influence the internal. May we become like our surroundings, basking in the divine love that is always there, just waiting for us to trust and to accept the changing of the seasons and of our lives.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1