It’s the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. I remember that day:
Sitting in my office at my computer when a colleague named Jeff LaRue poked his head in my office and said a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Realizing this was not a small plane crash.
Interrupting my CEO in a client meeting in the conference room to say that planes had crashed into both towers and the Pentagon. “Could we turn on the TV here?” The client was annoyed at my interruption.
Listening to the church bell, located across the street from our office tower, begin to toll. It continued to toll all day. The last time that happened was Pearl Harbor.
Watching the first tower collapse from the same viewpoint where I last saw the towers two weeks before.
Heading home to be with my high school student, calling my other child in a college dorm room, and contacting my husband who was on the road.
Working on a proposal while watching the television in my living room.
Finding out that my husband didn’t realize the extent of the situation until he got to a hotel and watching it on television.
Looking at the sky which now contained no airplanes.
Waking up the next morning to wonder what would happen that day.
The United States was probably at its best that week. We were determined in the face of fear. Many bad decisions later, we aren’t at our best. But we know that Christians can always be determined in the face of fear. Our side has already won.
The Sept. 11 reading of Sarah Young’s wonderful devotional “Jesus Always” points out that the world has always been at war. Yet we do not have to be afraid. Jesus has achieved the victory that allows us to have a hope and a future. But we are still not alone in the world. The dark side is still setting off explosions as it moves in defeat. So we are cautioned to have self-control and be alert.
Is it possible to be alert without feeling all-consuming fear? Yes. But we must be determined and ask for grace to achieve that state. Paul of Tarsus tells us that we are at our best when we recognize that we are weak and allow God to move through us.
So what does determination look like when we know that we are weak? Here are seven indicators:
We expect God to help when we are doing His will.
We believe in the importance of our role in the kingdom of God.
We focus our attention on the work we are doing.
We listen to God’s word and seek his will for next steps.
We avoid distraction.
We ask for help when we need it.
We keep going even when things get difficult.
None of us alive on 9/11 predicted the next 20 years. But God did know what would happen. Walking with Him in Christian mindfulness may help us to make the next 20 more successful for the kingdom.
Back in the good old days of 2019, we worried about taking too much work home. How does that compute when work is at home?
Working at home has enormous advantages … no commute, fewer interruptions for office socializing, more time with the family, the ability to run laundry while you run a meeting … and so on.
But it lacks the closure that getting up and coming home causes. Transition time via commuting is also gone.
A 2019 survey by Airtasker, reported in Business News Daily this March, found remote workers actually work 1.4 more days per month than those based in offices. That’s more than three more weeks of work per year. Some of that overage happens in the time once known as “after hours.”
The same survey also found that 29% of remote workers struggle with work-life balance. That’s compared to 23% of office workers. My guess is the figure for remote workers is higher now, more than six months later.
Those who practice Christian mindfulness may find their approach to ending the day has disappeared. The easiest answer is to schedule a prayer or devotional reading time at day’s end. Put it on the calendar. If necessary, call it “planning” or P&P on your public calendar. You’re going to pray over plans during this time.
If you need transition time to quiet down before rejoining your home world, take it. Walk the dog. Change your clothes to music. Breathe deeply.
Having set work hours actually makes you more productive. The day-end prayer time allows you to bring your work of the day before the Lord. Ask His blessing and ask His opinion on what’s ahead.
Then shut down the computer. Sign off from Slack or any other work chat app. Other tips for setting boundaries are in this article from Skillcrush.
The weather is glorious this weekend in my Midwestern city. It’s a perfect time to plant spring bulbs. Plant mindfully, welcoming God’s presence. We just may learn two lessons that these bulbs provide.
Christian life is all about delayed gratification. The bulbs will be working invisibly for a while. But the end game is beautiful.
You will get signs of hope as a new season begins. The green tops of the bulbs peeking through the dirt … what can be more hopeful than that.
You can plant bulbs no matter where you live. Inside, if necessary. I do hyacinths indoors. The front garden is tulips and daffodils. Just enjoy the beautiful weather.
Now, more than ever NOW, we need an Instant Smile on our phones.
So record the laughter of a favorite child or adult. Or take a video of your pet purring or playing happily. Put pictures that you especially love of Jesus and/or spiritual mentors, living or dead, on your phone.
Make a Pinterest file of things that make you laugh. You can see my Instant Smiles collection here.
Having these tools ready helps us when we feel darkness coming on. The Instant Smile collection allows us to Stop, Take a Breath, Observe your collection, and Pray and Proceed. This way we center ourselves into Christian mindfulness.
Today is an important day in the United States. And the voter turnout shows that most Americans know that.
Two presidential candidates we see so differently. An election that we all agree on: it’s critically important, and it will be a travesty if the other side wins.
Nevertheless, nothing is the end of the world except the end of the world. Our duty is to behave with Christian mindfulness, inviting the presence of Jesus into our personal walk, living one moment at a time in his love.
The Bible is quite specific about our behavior regarding government leadership. We pray for those people so we can be more likely to lead peaceful lives. Even Nero, who was the emperor of Rome when Paul wrote those words in 1 Timothy 2:1-3.
Being loving is not an option for Christians during this or any time. We need to be loving and respectful of everyone’s opinions. Whoever wins, we must, under the orders of God, pray for that person.
As we wait to see the results, we need to be loving as well. Tonight and in the uncertain period ahead, be loving toward yourself to be sure that you have the ability to convey God’s love to others.
The reputation of Jesus has been severely damaged in politics, now and in the past. We must pray for the graces necessary to embody the spirit of Jesus in the world … at home, with friends (Zoom or otherwise) and in our work.
Today is All Soul’s Day. Along with yesterday, All Saint’s Day, this is the traditional time for Christians to visit the graves of family members and close friends.
The graves of my parents, my sister-in-law and my step-son are within a 10-minute walk from my front door. Is it creepy living next to a cemetery filled with loved ones? Since I will end up there, too, it’s actually comforting. (And we are blessed to have the city’s botanical garden on the other side.)
All Souls Day is a time especially for those who lost a loved one this year. Should that be you, this is a beautiful sermon about grieving from my pastor, Julia Pickerill:
Whether you can visit a cemetery or not, here’s a prayer for All Saints Day:
whose days are without end
and whose mercies beyond counting,
keep us mindful
that life is short and the hour of death unknown.
Let your Spirit guide our days on earth
in the ways of holiness and justice,
that we may serve you
in union with the whole Church,
sure in faith, strong in hope, perfected in love.
And when our earthly journey is ended,
lead us rejoicing into your kingdom,
where you live for ever and ever.
Eternal rest grant unto our loved ones, oh Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.
I saw the One who is sitting on the throne, holding to his breast what looked like a lump of black and filthy clay as big as a human heart, decorated with precious stones and pearls.
Hildegard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen was a Renaissance woman in the 12th century. Such a thing was hardly possible. But she did it.
An aristocrat and an abbess. A composer and an author. She wrote “A Book of Simple Medicine” as well as four books on animals, three books on gems and metals, and two books on plants and trees.
She also saw visions that she wrote down. Centuries later, she was named a doctor of the church for her contributions to the understanding of theology.
This particular vision shows God the father clutching a filthy piece of clay that represents all of us. We all know what the filth is. It’s all our terrible decisions and selfishness. The pearls and gems are the souls that Jesus reclaimed.
When you are struggling over a loved one whose is lost, remember that God is clutching them tight to his chest.
A movie about Hildegard is available on Amazon Prime for free here.
Do you have a strong desire to know Jesus more intimately, love him more fully and follow him more wholeheartedly?
Do you want to live with an internal awareness that God is in you as you live, move and have your being, and to find God in all things?
Are you willing to follow Jesus in good times and bad?
Are you open to having your theology and image of Jesus challenged and expanded?
Warner’s retreat includes daily exercises for at least four weeks. He also suggests that you have a spiritual director. Many are doing Zoom meetings in the pandemic. So you can find one by asking your church leaders or searching online by typing spiritual direction and your town. Be sure the director shares your faith.
At the time he wrote this, Fr. Ravier had been conducting retreats for more than 30 years. He designed the book for “those who want to sincerely place themselves face-to-face with God so as to order their lives along his loving designs.”
We can use the time at home as fall deepens to deepen our own spirituality. Try a retreat!
I’ve learned a great deal from Teresa of Avila, a woman of courage, wit and wisdom. She reformed the Carmelite order and became the first woman to be named a doctor of the church for her wisdom.
In her day, Teresa’s wisdom was doubted so much that she was called before the Inquisition. Her life was based on a intimate relationship with God walked out in mindfulness.
Here’s five things that Teresa has taught me. I’ve read her writings, but find much wisdom coming from “Let Nothing Disturb You: A Journey to the Center of the Soul with Teresa of Avila.” It’s from Ave Maria Press’ excellent 30 Days with a Great Spiritual Teacher series.
Let us not forget to whom and in whose presence we are praying. If we were to live a thousand years, we would never fully understand how we ought to behave toward God. In God’s presence even the angels tremble — they who can do all that God wills.
Trials are heaviest for those my Father loves the most. Trials are a measure of God’s love.
Nothing can be compared to the great beauty and capabilities of our soul. However keen our intellect may be, we are no more able to comprehend the depths of our soul than we are able to comprehend God, for our soul has been created in the image and likeness of God.
If God is pleased with you, whoever resists you — whoever they may be — will be utterly disappointed.
The whole foundation of prayer is humility. The more we humble ourselves in prayer, the most God will lift us up.