Advent Day 9 (Hanukkah Day 2) ~ Where are you going?

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MONDAY OF THE SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT

“Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!”  Isaiah 40:3

This image was taken on I-95 between Jacksonville and St. Augustine one misty December Sunday morning about 2 AM.  I was living in St. Augustine at the time.

On my way home from “Father Bob’s night out,” I was so taken by the magic of the vista before me I had to pull off and capture it on my Canon Power Shot.

For me, even the interstate can be a place for reflection. . .

I was thinking of John the Baptist’s message that also appeared in last Sunday’s gospel:

“Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight his paths.”

And this was what I wrote back then, inspired by that moment on the side of a highway at 2 AM on a magical / mystical Sunday morning.

Where are we going, Lord?

Every day we’re on a journey that will not be complete until we meet You.

In our daily commutes, stuck in traffic, are we making progress in our spiritual journey, Lord?

Are we making a straight highway in the spiritual wasteland I sometimes think America is today, Lord?

John’s message was one of repentance.

When he said, “make straight his paths,” he meant  to clear a way for the coming of God into our hearts and souls.

Get rid of the roadblocks that stop us from making progress.  Our addictions.  Our resentments. Our selfishness.

If we don’t make an effort to do that, our Christmas will be hollow / empty, Lord.

In all of our pre-Christmas bustle and hustle are we preparing a straight path for you to come
into our hearts, our homes, our workplace, our land, our world this Christmas?

What are we doing, Lord?  Really doing with our lives?

Where is our life’s journey taking us?

What is life really  all about?

I-95 at 2 AM can help us ponder that question.

I realized that was a special moment for me, a moment I seized.

Or rather seized me.

Carpe diem.

Thank you, Lord.

On Monday morning there would be a return to frenzied /  furied  / hurried / unaware / unreflected lives of  many going to and fro and not knowing really where they were going.

Time for a change, dear friend?  Time for a change?

Here’s a video from Godspell: Where are You Going? Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d care to reflect on them. Click here.

P. S. Our Jewish friends began their celebration of Hanukkah last evening. If you’d like to know something about their celebration, it’s origin and it’s festivities, here’s a link for you: Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 19 ~ Our vulnerable God / Hanukkah Day 4

Our Lady breast feeding Jesus — Shrine of our Lady of La Leche — St. Augustine, Florida

Friday of the third week of Advent

Luke tells us the charming story that God became incarnate ~ enfleshed ~ as a little vulnerable baby boy.

It truly is amazing to really think about that.

Even if you’re not ready to accept the story as true, the meaning of that story can really grab you if you let it.

But, sadly, so many of us celebrate Christmas all our lives without really reflecting on the implications of the story for our lives.

Jesus was not only vulnerable in his birth, but also in his death.

He chose to stand before Pilate, bound, scourged and silent.

He chose to say nothing or do anything in his defense.

Vulnerable indeed.

What’s the message here?

St. Paul gives us a clue:

“When I am powerless then I am strong” ~ 2 Cor. 12:9-10.

How can that be?

I think about that a lot because I was powerless a lot dealing with depression.

Some days I wasn’t able to get out of my chair.

Jesus is showing that in our vulnerability,

in our weaknesses,

in our poverty of spirit,

in the brokenness of our lives

we will find God.

Jesus,

You came into this world as a little child

as needy as any other baby.

You sucked at Mary’s breast 

and received your nourishment as God from a human mother.

You became one of us and with us.

You accepted our fleshiness, our misery, our joys and sorrows.

You came down to our level to raise us up to the dignity of God.

Thank you, Jesus!

Come into our world this day.

Help us to accept our own vulnernabiity as something positive.

Teach us to recognize Your face in the most vulnerable among us

for they can be our most radical spiritual teachers.

They know.

Help us understand, Lord.  Help us truly understand.


Now to get us in the mood here is a charming YouTube rendition of  The Little Drummer Boy. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 18: Depressed or lonely at Christmas? Hanukkah Day 3

O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer

Our spirits by thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O Antiphons

Thursday of the third week of Advent (Hanukkah Day 3)

There sometimes can be a lot of depression swirling around at Christmas.

People can feel lonelier because we’re expected to be cheerier and we just don’t feel it.

This blog is meant for us to pray and reach out and notice these folks.

Let’s be with folks who have lost a loved one and still miss them.

With kids who are shuffled back from one parent to another to “celebrate” the holidays.

With soldiers far away from home and their families at home without them.

And so, may we pray:

There are sometimes dark clouds in our lives, Lord.
Pierce the gloominess of our lives with Your very own Light.
May we allow You to dawn in us this day.
May we be ready for Your dawning in a new way in our lives this Christmas.
May this celebration of Jesus’ birth bring meaning and joy in the midst of our worries and concerns.
And may we BE the dawning of  your light and love and justice
in our homes, our neighborhoods, our jobs, our world.

And there are dark and ominous clouds over our world right now, Lord.
Pierce our greed and hate, fear and complacence, violence with hope, Lord.
May we pray earnestly for a new dawn for our beloved country and our world.
May we BE the dawning of  your light and love and justice in our land.

Lord Jesus, come!  May we be ready for the dawn of your coming in a new way this Christmas,
May the light of that dawning transform our lives and our land.
We need Your Light and Your Love more than ever.

Now, before you go, here’s an enjoyable music video for you. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

ADVENT DAY 17 ~ WHAT / WHO ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Day 2 of Hanukkah

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Wednesday of the third week o f Advent 

O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,

reaching from one end to the other,

mightily and sweetly ordering all things: 

Come and teach us the way of prudence.

~ O Antiphons

One of the major themes of Advent I promised I would talk about is  “waiting.”

The Jewish people are waiting for the Messiah.  We are waiting for the return of Christ.

Some expect him “soon and very soon.” 

(As for me, I don’t worry my lil head about the rapture and stuff  or anything apocalyptic ’cause we ain’t gonna know the answer anyway! Jesus doesn’t even know, only the Father.)

Every one of us is longing ~ yearning for something — Someone.

What — or Who — are YOU waiting for?

– for Godot?

– to be accepted into college?

– a new job?

– your son to come home from serving in the military?

– to win the lottery?

– someone to fill your loneliness?

– for news that your biopsy is benign?

– to get home after being stuck in rush hour traffic and bad day at work?

– a letter that never comes?

There are all kinds of things we have to wait for.

Advent is about learning how to use “waiting time” well.

We can wait patiently or impatiently.

Some people want “fast access DSL” to be even faster.

But I have learned that slower is better.

When we’re waiting in line or in the doctor’s office — especially during Advent — we can go inside ourselves.  Quiet our mind. Just focus on our breathing for a while or say a decade of the rosary.

REAL LIFE happens when we’re waiting for something else to happen.

Real life happens between here and there.

But we have to be ready. Open.     Ready to hear God speak to us in the murmured wisdom of a three-year-old.

Ready to see the evidence of God’s presence when you walk out the door in the morning.

– or even to see God in a baby in a manger.

Ready and waiting for Jesus to come to us in a new way this Christmas.

Yes, life happens WHILE we’re waiting.

When we’re not in any particular hurry.

When we’re ready to respond to whomever wants or needs our attention at the moment

– one of your children or perhaps a stranger at the  checkout counter at the corner grocery store.

That’s what a real Christmas is all about!

That’s what a spiritual life is all about whether you are Catholic or Hebrew or Muslim or Buddhist or a non-believer.

But the most important waiting that we try to learn during the Advent season is to wait for the Lord.

Having enough faith to wait for God to act in our life on God’s time — not ours.

So, Advent is about learning patience.

It’s  also about longing for something – Someone more.

About realizing  as St. Augustine said:

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, my God!

Finally, dear friends, I share with you a song I’ve always loved from West Side Story because it captures so well the excitement / the anticipation/ the hope / the yearning / striving / hungering / the thirsting / the DESIRE of the human race for something MORE! Someone NEW to break into our life and turn us upside down.

Click here > > > “Something’s Coming!” sung by Tony in West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein — a YouTube presentation. Turn up your speakers and enter full screen.  Christmas is one week away.

Have a great day!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

How Good it is to give Thanks! (Thanksgiving Day 2013)

IMG_0446When I was in AA many a year ago, we were taught a very simple form of prayer ~ to say “please” in the morning and “thank you” at night.  What could be simpler and more heartfelt? Thanks is on my lips and in my heart whenever I can accomplish something that I need to do ~ usually after I’ve said “Please help me do this, Lord.”  And that little conversation ‘ll take place several times a day.

So, for me, every day is a thanksgiving day!  But I share here a little list of things I’m grateful for this year; it’s similar to last year’s list.  A couple of things dropped off and some were added.  I hope you’ll make your own gratitude list.  And when you sit down for dinner on Thursday, why not take a moment to ask folks to first have a moment of silence to think of something that they’re especially thankful for this year.  And then ask each of them if they’d like to share it.  (The moment to think is important! Don’t skip it or else everybody will repeat what the last one said.)

 

Dear Friends / Dear God,

These are the things I am thankful for during 2013 . . .

(not in any particular order)

+ For my health

+ That I am able to pay my mortgage and my bills and put food on my table                                                                             

My trusty burgundy Mitsubishi Eclipse Spider convertible that is great fun to drive

+ Realizing that I am a thinking / feeling / willing /  imperfect human being

+ My weaknesses that make me depend on God for my strength

+ My talent for writing and photography

+ My dog Shoney who is just a lovely and loving little creature and a real blessing

+ The sun, the clouds, the flowers, the trees, the ducks  and my lovely condo I enjoy every day

+ For the people I care for

+ For the people who care for me

+ My faithful Macbook Pro computer

+ The gift of contemplative prayer

+  For my Catholic faith and the gift of my priesthood

+  For our new Pope Francis who is bringing new hope and joy and great example to many

+  For the lives of friends that died this year who  have touched me deeply

+  For You! my faithful readers

+ And finally, my loving relationship with my heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit

” Rejoice always,

             Pray without ceasing.

 In all circumstances give thanks,

            for this is God’s will  for you in Christ Jesus.”

  I Thessalonians 5: 16-18

 

Now, before you go, here’s a beautiful slideshow with great music simply entitled “Thank You, God.” Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.  

And HAPPY HANUKKAH to our Jewish Sisters and Brothers that begins at sundown on Wednesday!

Thank YOU, my beloved readers.

May 2014 be a good year for you and your family.

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer