September 22, 2012
Welcome to Sabbath Moments, the Saturday meme hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. Be sure to visit her and join us as we write about the times we experienced God this week in the quiet and ordinary.
Nature and the garden
This week has been gorgeous here in southwest Missouri. When the sun shines it has a beauty and clarity not present when it burned up the tomatoes this summer. We also got a couple of days of rain – nice steady showers with intermittent downpours. There was also a pounding thunderstorm right over the house at 3:00 yesterday morning that went on for a couple of hours.
Things are beginning to return to a fresh green color and the impatiens in the planters on the front porch have completely revived. We are now down only 10 inches on rain. I am so thankful to God that I can enjoy once more the cool breeze blowing through the windows. Plus, the surviving Arkansas Traveler tomato plants gave up a bunch of green tomatoes that will work handsomely for the baked green tomato dish we enjoy.
We have been blessed with four great dogs in our married life. Two purebreds and two mutts. I see an action of God in these animals who have been our protectors and family members. For some reason, two of them have been particularly adept at reading my mind and I theirs. There is no other explanation for why, when we are in separate rooms, the dog knows she gets to go in the car with me to the grocery as happened this week. Sometimes she goes and sometimes she doesn’t. Our trips are random, not on a schedule, but the minute I have decided, even an hour beforehand, to take her with me, she knows and runs to wherever I am, whining and jumping up and down, fixing me with an intense stare.
When I, out of her sight, have decided to get up and give her a treat in exchange for an obedience trick, she knows. Francie also knows when the piano students are supposed to arrive and what time Latin class is. I am in another room, having given no signals whatsoever, and she is already up on the couch watching for the children I have brought into my conscious awareness, expecting them. Such ties are a mystery to me, but I know that somehow God has made it so and every time it happens I thank God for having picked out such an enjoyable dog for us.
Today’s meditation in Divine Intimacy on mercy had this to say:
The Holy Spirit wishes to chisel the features of Jesus in us, transforming us into living images of the Savior; therefore, He gently and unceasingly urges us to be merciful. He puts into our hearts a love for the miserable: for those who are wretched both in the material and in the moral sense, so that, like Jesus, we may go in search of them, ready to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of their souls. Above all, He spurs us on to seek those who, because they have made us suffer, have a special claim to our mercy. We can no longer be satisfied with forgiving them and treating them with kindness, but we must experience the need of doing good to them if we are to fully carry out the teaching of Jesus: “Do good to them that hate you” (Mt. 5:44).
I have often wondered why it seems so much easier to perform the corporal works of mercy for those we don’t know, while often letting the opportunities to show mercy to those we do know pass by. Perhaps it is because we are busy, like the Pharisees, judging those we know according to our standards rather than putting ourselves in their shoes and rolling up our sleeves to help them. Or could it be we are getting a good feeling about ourselves by running to the soup kitchen when grandmother could really use some willing hands to help with chores?
Mercy is quiet – like in the confessional when Jesus forgives us our sins. It is gentle – like when we listen to a friend’s troubles without trying to make them act the way we think they should act. It brings peace – like when we have lifted a burden of concern from someone’s shoulders because we have a gift we freely give to them expecting no return. Mercy is diligent in praying for those who have wronged us, too.
We are all travelers through life. At times our vehicles break down, we get flat tires, make the wrong turn, take our eyes off the road, or meet worse drivers than we are. At those times we need mercy and knowing our need, we should be increasingly sensitive to others’ needs in the same situations. Our every act of mercy that truly seeks the good of another puts us one chisel stroke closer to being the living image of Christ the Holy Spirit is shaping us to be.
And if we have no love for the miserable in life, especially those in our home or family, we are the most in need of God’s mercy because the Holy Spirit is unable to work in us by our own choice. A very scary thought, indeed.
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