Moment of Autumn Grace

– Br. Michael, ofm

The autumn sun is the perfect hue of yellow masked gently by a whisp of clouds. I slide into my long-time favorite handmade shades of brown and taupe sweater and my pull on a simple grey toque. I step out into the autumn morning.

The air is cool but not cold. It has that perfect tinge of alertness and that freshness that reminds me of hanging the quilt out to be refreshed. The air has no movement yet it envelopes me like a gentle hug. As I take my first steps for a morning walk, I notice the deepness of the browns of the leaves and the roughness of the bare branches of the trees which have shed their summer beauty. This only seems to highlight the boldness of the mighty evergreens. I also notice the faint sounds of a busy town already a hum with the day. This is not a distraction from the beauty of this moment rather it serves as a reminder of the fullness of life.

I continue on my walk across the grass, noticing it’s varying shades of still summer green to dull winter yellow.  I notice the gentle blue of the sky and the whisp of a few more clouds. I come back to noticing the air around me – it is gentle, present and holding me. As I look up from my steps, I notice a deer on the path ahead gazing at me. Our eyes meet. Her bright eyes alive with wonder, her brown coat almost hidden amongst the trees and grass. Quickly she dashes off into the safety of these trees. I continue on my walk making my way back to the house aware of my steps upon the earth and this moment. My heart filled with gratitude whispers “this is a “perfect” moment.” I realize for these moments that I am present; this is what it must mean to simply be. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” crosses my lips, I look up to the heavens and smile.

As I settle back inside and enjoy a warm cup of spiced tea; sipping from my favorite mug, I realize my breathing is even and relaxed, my energy restored as I step into the calls of this day knowing that the “steadfast love of the Lord is present and in this I place my hope” (Psalm 33).

As we continue on into autumn, I pray that you will find the time and make the time to step into the gift of creation. Allow our sister Mother Earth to fill your mind, your heart and your soul with a “perfect” God moment to simply be.

Continued Autumn Blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving: Always Gratitude

– Br. Michael, ofm

 

Gratitude can mean different things for different people,

at different moments in each of our lives.

 

Right now, some people are grateful to be alive

while others don’t even recognize this gift.

 

Awareness of the blessings that we have each day

should awaken us to those who go without and our response.

 

Thankfulness is a life-long journey

which transforms who we are and how we are to others.

 

Instead of counting the worries and “don’t haves” in our life

if we focus on the freedoms and “do haves” we see our riches.

 

Turning our attention to others is the way we build community

everyone deserves respect and dignity even if we disagree.

 

Understanding that for some it is sports and food

which bring about words of thanks on their lips.

 

Dancing, serving, the arts, culture and a life of faith

brings about realms of thankfulness for others.

 

Everyone has something for which to give thanks

again we do so this Thanksgiving with gratitude.

 

Generous God,

as we pause and give thanks this Thanksgiving Weekend,

we rejoice that your love and mercy are always in abundance.

You are with us in our want and needs,

you are with us in our joys and contentment,

and for this we give You thanks.

As we gather at table or gather with friends

or spend time in creation

we raise a thankful hymn of praise

for all our blessings this day and all our days,

for you desire nothing more than

to love us all the days of our life.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feast Day Dear Francis October 4, 2012

October 4, 2021

My Dear Brother Francis,

You are quoted as saying, “Let us begin, brothers, to serve God. Let us begin and let us make progress, because up to now we have made too little progress.” This little phrase has been running through my mind, my heart and even my soul over the past few weeks. You said these words near your death challenging your brothers. Now some eight centuries later I sit with them, listening to your wisdom and they challenge me.

Let us begin to serve God. Yes, let us here and now in this time and place. Francis, this is hard to do in this time and place. Our world is so topsy-turvy as of late and I’m not sure if I have the right words or actions in my serving God. I know that I must continually come to see God in my sisters, my brothers and in all of creation, but it must be more than simply seeing, it must involve action. I feel my words are weak and my actions inadequate. How do I serve God? I ask myself this question because your words to your brothers “we have made too little progress” is a truth I ponder.

Our sister Mother Earth is calling out in pain, and I don’t know how to respond. I desire to make good steps to help be part of her healing. I desire to again simplify my living so to seek the beauty she offers me each day as means of connecting with God. I feel if I can honor her, I will indeed see glimpses of the divine and in turn serve God. My progress here has been too slow. I heed your wisdom in seeing creation as our sisters and brothers. How did you do it? How did you see their divine nature beyond their temporal substance? I’m no scientist, and I know you were not, so this must mean wonder and awe was your navigator. Francis, my brother, tell me again about the wonder and awe you lived with so that I can bravely begin again to serve God by living in tune with creation.

The church is at a crossroads, and it seems that the word progress makes its members squirm with uncertainty and frustration. We the people of God called to be the body of Christ seem to be getting stuck in unnecessary details where we choose division over unity. I sometimes feel trapped like I’m walking a tightrope in how to respond. I desire to be an advocate for those who feel separated and alienated from the beauty of this community. My heart breaks for those who have been left out in the cold or hurt by the church. I think that we will only move forward if we acknowledge each other’s pain by listening to each other, so as to strengthen the bonds of humanity. Francis, my brother, tell me again about the ways you challenged the church with your simplicity and your desire for people to encounter the love of God so that I can bravely begin again to serve God as a herald of hope in the church.

Then there are the many relationships we live in and encounter. Like with you what began as a small band of brothers grew, the relationships changed and were tested, I too find this in my relationships. It seems that over the past few months I have had to evaluate my relationships, reviewing how I am in them and what they need or mean. I am reminded that in some ways I must begin again with each encounter for we are constantly growing, changing and seeking. Francis, my brother, tell again about the ways you were present for your brothers and for those beyond the circle of your brothers, how you were present for the lepers and the poor so that I can bravely begin again to serve God in the relationships of my daily living.

 

Finally, dear brother Francis, I ponder this vocation that I continue to journey in and grow in. The ever-changing world around me is making me more attentive to the authenticity my vocation demands. To be present for people, reminding them of God’s deep love and mercy. To listen well to how God is speaking to my heart. To listen well to how God is speaking in the heart of others. To continually address the false power that I try to hold so that I can freely be who I am before God. This is the authenticity my vows demand. Being a religious brother in these difficult times can sometimes feel like I’m out of touch; in those moments I can hear your voice whispering, “it is time to begin again.” Francis, my brother, tell again about beginning again and making progress, for I think I’m starting to understand that this has more to do more with my heart than anything else. It is time for me to bravely begin again, I choose to do so knowing I have you as a companion walking with me in the footsteps of Christ.

Peace, my brother.

May peace and goodness bless us all.

Happy Feast!

Your brother,

Michael