Posts Tagged With: grace

The Gift of Hope

Dear Pope Francis,

I went to the mall yesterday and met up with some friends. I bought a new dress and some other things. The whole day seemed entirely normal, except that it wasn’t. Anytime I stopped and looked around the mall, I wondered if the people dining at the Parisian cafes had felt like I did, before the shooting erupted.

I’ve felt sad, with just a twinge of fear since I first heard about the shootings in Paris on Friday, and it’s only been compounded by reading about the other terrorists actions around the world. I’ve been thinking about how many violent attacks there have been in the last few years: terrorists, depressed individuals shooting at schools, martyrs, and full-scale war. There is so much, and part of me just wants to hide from it all. My heart wants to shrink away from all of the pain of the world, because that would hurt less.

I imagine that hearing about each of these horrific tragedies dims the metaphorical light in my heart just a little bit. If it keeps dimming, eventually the light will be gone, and with it my ability to hope that peace will eventually come.

This reminds me of a scene in season four of the show Once Upon a Time (caution: spoiler alert – in case you haven’t caught up). In the second half of the season, Rumpelstiltskin, the Dark One, is experiencing heart trouble. All of the bad deeds he has committed are literally turning his heart black and snuffing out the good magic. In the season finale, the Apprentice saves Rumpelstiltskin by casting the darkness out of his heart, leaving him with a clean white heart.

Every time I hear about a violent attack, my heart is blackened, dimmed a little bit. It’s not that I’m turning evil, like Rumpelstiltskin, but I loose my ability to hope. Like Rumpelstiltskin, when my heart gets too close to becoming entirely black, it can be restored. God clears out all of the gunk, all of the fear and worry, and gives me a clean heart, ready to hope again. The Apprentice used magic to clean Rumpelstiltskin’s heart, but God uses something event better – He uses grace.

God pours out grace to clean us in lots of ways, but they are not always tangible. But I can tell when God has used grace to clean my heart, and allow me to hope for the best, despite seeing awful things in our world.

Praying for the world,

Lauren

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Giving and Receiving

Dear Pope Francis,

I’ve been thinking a lot about the passion story and service the last couple of days. About how best to use my gifts to serve God and to serve others, and about telling the difference between when I’m really serving others and when I’m serving myself.

Wednesday night, I stayed up until almost 3am agonizing about whether or not I would show up at the Legislature on Thursday in counter protest to the pro-choice rally planned. I thought about what I would do and what I would say if I was the only pro-lifer there, and I thought about the crowd shouting “Crucify him!” when Pilate tried to release Jesus. I thought a lot about Peter’s denial of Christ and for a while, I felt like not going to the rally would be akin to denying Jesus.

the_washing_of_feetWhen I thought about what I would do and what I would say, I also thought about how people would react, and about the publicity of being the only person there in opposition. I imagined sitting in a chair and knitting all day, with a Bristol board sign stating my opinion. And I decided not to go.

I sat at my desk, and over the course of an hour, wrote by hand the very personal story I had planned to share. It was the first time I had ever committed the entire thing to paper, and when the three sides of loose leaf were covered, I folded them up, sealed them in an envelope and went to bed.

I prayed for the hearts and minds of the people at the rally and for the politicians in the Legislature while I went about my day Thursday, but I did not go downtown until it was time for mass.

At mass, I was struck by Peter’s reluctance over Christ washing his feet. It made me think about how easy it is for me to try and serve others through a phone call to someone I know is lonely, or by knitting another square for charity, or by inviting someone over for supper. But it’s much harder to accept service from others, like rides to church or letting a friend pick up my tab when we go out for a beer and wings, or even just accepting compliments when they’re given (more on that next month).

I try to live to give, but I need to be more open to receiving what others are giving.

Part of that is also being more open to receiving what Christ has to give – forgiveness and grace, unconditional love, and redemption for the whole world. Jesus allowed himself to be tortured and then died in agony on the cross this afternoon to pay the price for my sins. How can I give his love to the people around me if I don’t permit myself to receive his love and his grace?

Receiving,

Meredith

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