A Monk in the World :: KINSHIP WITH CREATION


Let [her] look on all the utensils and goods of the monastery as sacred vessels of the altar.**

The “Green” movement may seem like a recent development. But the care of creation is a Biblical and monastic value. 

Creation was our first gift from God and the care of creation His first command. 

We must not take it lightly.

No matter the differences in faith, there is only one planet. 

We have common ground with equal responsible.

Whether plants, animals or possessions made from materials from the earth…

We are called to reverentially care for them all. 

Repurposing, recycling, not being wasteful with food and natural resources are all ways we can exercise kin-ship with creation. 

By doing so we honor God and what He has lovingly given us.

**Rule of Benedict 31:10

Copyright: macchia / 123RF Stock Photo

Feeling Good!

As with most addicts I’ve struggled with a true sense of feeling most of my life. Growing up in a dysfunctional home environment where feelings are rarely if ever discussed, can cause great problems and confusion. You have feelings, but because your feelings are seemingly unimportant to anyone else, to have feelings must be bad, so you learn to stuff the feelings down until eventually you’re numb. For the feelings you can’t numb by stuffing there’s self medication, for me it was with drugs of all sorts, alcohol, and any sexual relationship I could find.

I lived the better part of 50 years unable to decipher within myself certain feelings. Until, October 2004 when Bill and I went to a couples seminar led by Dr. Doug Weiss, who was speaking on intimacy in marriage. During the seminar, the couples had to do a “Feelings” exercise, where we would look over a list of words that describe different feelings: sad, angry, disappointed, joyful, excited, etc… In the exercise we were to choose a feeling word, describe a time before the age of 18 when we felt that feeling, then describe a time after the age of 18 when we felt that same feeling. I can’t recall what feeling word I chose, all I remember was my mind freezing, my throat choking up and a panic coming over me as I was thinking how to describe this feeling. I couldn’t get words out of my mouth. What was this? It was such a simple exercise, but it had shut me down. Gradually, after a few minutes I was able to come up with an answer, but I was sweating when I was done. I was in pain, I wanted to run but I couldn’t.

Over the last 4 years, Bill and I continued to do this exercise; not on a regular basis anymore, but in the early months of my recovery it was very important. God has done a remarkable thing in healing my ability to feel. So much so, that now, my feelings are out in the other direction. I can be walking through a super market and be overcome with such a sense of God’s love for people that I want to cry. Other days, I will be overcome with a deep sadness for the darkness people are lost in that I don’t know what to do to help them . It appears to be a double edged sword this thing called feeling. We either try to run from them because they are too much for us to handle or they become overwhelming because we can now feel them so strongly.

There are days that I can be walking my dogs and I look around at God’s creation with such a sense of love and appreciation for His goodness to us. This beautiful world — the sun, the sky, the trees, the birds, the fish, rivers… How can we ever doubt His presence and His great love for us?

I praise God, for the gift to feel deeply now. It has made me a better person and certainly a stronger Christian. I believe when we accept Christ as our Savior and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given the ability to see the world and feel in some ways what God feels for us. I am so thankful for the Truth of His grace and mercy. I don’t ever want to be numb to that again. It’s truly a new dawn. It’s a new day. It’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good!

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

My life as always been an adventure, certainly never boring. As my husband, Bill, and I prepare for our upcoming move to California, God recently revealed some things to me about what he has brought us through these last 2 years.

We lived in Houston for about ten years; where our addictive lifestyle began and praise God, also ended; but it remained a place of painful reminders and sometimes dangerous triggers. Early in the Summer of 2006, an opportunity came up for us to move to the New Orleans area to help with the Hurricane Katrina restoration efforts. Bill was between jobs, so we decided to go and see what God had in store for us there.

Amidst the widespread destruction, God placed us in a small town, on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain, called Abita Springs. What was once a Choctaw Indian village, is now recognized for its attractive historic district, beautiful gardens and country stores. We found a house that was built in the 1880’s with wood floors, high ceilings, glass door knobs and wavy glass in the windows. The town setting was forest-like with nature and creatures abounding… we had birds of all sorts with squirrels always after their food. In the evening we had our own personal hoot owl, actually a Barred Owl, but it really did say “Hoo Hoo-tie Hoo!” God graciously gave me the chance to snap his photograph just as he looked down at me high in the tree. (see photo above) Amazing! I was awestruck for months, watching and listening to him. At night the raccoons would play under our bedroom window, talking back and forth to each other with their strange chatter. But then I would hear the hoot owl call out and the raccoons would change their talk immediately as if to warn each other. I learned later the Barred owl is a predator of raccoons.

After a year we out grew our assignment in Louisiana and God returned us to Houston for a 6 month pit stop that would allow me to learn that I can live anywhere even among old memories and triggers as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus! While there I was still able to find beauty all around–in our apartment complex as I walked the dogs each day, on a scenic drive to my part-time job at Curves, in the new friends I made at church and in just being as I strove to stay in God’s will and presence while we awaited our next assignment.

In February this year, God quickly plucked us up again and brought us to Dallas/Ft Worth for Bill’s new job. We landed in Colleyville to a neighborhood of older 70’s ranch style homes surrounded by old oak trees, tall pines, rolling hills — peace and quiet. No more noises of the city, here, like in Louisiana, we had animal adventures everywhere — a rooster crowing and foxes crossing our path on morning dog walks, homes with horses down the way, a nearby pond with proud swans swimming, hawks crying out as they soar high above the trees and a cute family of guinea fowl running free just around the corner. But our best animal entertainment was what Bill calls “the squirrel rodeo” each day in our back yard as the dogs played chase with the squirrels trying to raid the bird feeders!

Since God delivered me from narcissism, while living in Abita Springs incidentally, I see the world in a completely different way. No longer is life revolving around me and what I can get out of life and those around me. I can see God and all of His creation: trees… birds… fish… dogs… squirrels etc… As I see these creations I see them praising God when they are doing what they were each created to do. The tree sways in the breeze praising God as the wind rustles the leaves… the hawk praises it’s Creator as it rides the wind currents above… the swan in the pond praises God as it floats gently with such ease… and we, what are we created to do? When we spend time in fellowship with our Creator we are doing what we were created to do. God wants to be with us and for us to be with Him. That is where we will find the love that can fill our hearts and change our ability to see the beauty that is all around us.

These last couple of weeks I’ve been reflecting on where we’ve been since the Summer of 2006. It seems the trip has taken us from one level to the next, always a promotion of sorts, each with its own beauty to be found. Yes, there is beauty all around, but for it must be found. We have to make our own effort to see the beauty. I think it must start first with having the love of God living in your heart, for once you have love living inside you, it is far easier to see love all around you.

We thought we had landed to stay when we came to Dallas, but God had yet a better plan for us —northern California! We are still awaiting final instructions to our next landing place, but our stay in Texas will be short lived now. We have out grown our assignment here and now must be promoted. God showed me the other day while sitting on the back porch enjoying the sunset, this is but a preview of what is to come. I don’t know what God has in store for us in California. What I do know is Beauty is truly in the eyes of the Beholder. If we are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in love we can and will find God’s beauty everywhere!

He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. -Deuteronomy 10:21

This link will give you a taste of my experience with the Barred Owl in Abita Springs, La. Enjoy the wondrous beauty of God’s creations! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fppKGJD3Y6c