Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call, I (the Lord) will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”
This last week our beautiful nation has been faced with horrific violence once again from those who are charged with protecting the masses as well as from one obviously mentally ill man who chose evil over love, violence over peace with the sniper killing of five innocent police officers and injuring eleven others at last count. Suddenly, as if it were something new, of which I recall forty years ago listening to my parents argue with prejudiced family members, it is the same ole’, same ole…. separation, fear, anger, violence. The illusion that we are a global community with social medias and technology creating a world filled with opposites talking and learning and accepting is just that…. an illusion. The separation continues sadly. We are left with #blacklivesmatter, #bluelivesmatter, #alllivesmatter, #loveaboveall of which untold numbers of posts and comments have ensued to debate which is politically correct to use in which groups of people and has resulted in further posturing of people on what they believe is accurate in the use of these hashtags and what is offensive. The separation has continued as far as I can see.
It was with excitement that I came across a post on Facebook from a long ago high school friend asking all Christian friends to consider joining her in a forty day prayer visual for our nation using the book If My People: A Forty Day Guide For Our Nation, by Jack Countryman. Without hesitation, I signed myself up and eagerly awaited the starting day… today. The just of the forty days is that we each agree to keep our beautiful, diverse, wounded nation in prayer for the next forty days. There is a Bible verse and brief prayer to be read as well as our personal reflections for each of the next forty days. It is a storming of heaven with hearts heavy and tired of the violence, the hate, the fear, with many of us members of the “Tribe of the Sacred Heart-member of a Scar Clan” (Dr Clarissa Pinkola-Estes). So for the next forty days, I will be posting my thoughts, meanderings, fears and dreams, my prayers for our nations, and my discerning of what God is asking of us to help heal this imperfect yet beautiful country of ours.
Being Catholic, I often “study” God’s Word in Scripture somewhat differently than others, including Protestants. We, as Cathoics, practice a Bible study called Lectio Divina. http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina It is quite simple to read Scripture using Lectio Divina and opens us up to allowing God to guide us in what his message is regarding the passage that He wants us to be open to. Begin with a prayer and ask God to protect you and to help you to understand the passage. Let go of expectations and preconceived notions of what the passage is saying. Be open and sensitive to God’s nudging, knowing that often Holy Spirit speaks to us in whispers and not in cymbals. Read the passage. Pause. Think. Pause. Read the passage again. Pause. Think. Pause. What word or phrase grabs your attention? What is it that you are being taught by the Holy Spirit? What is God wanting you to focus on? Where do your thoughts go with this word or phrase? This is Holy Spirit teaching you. Yes, there is context for every Bible verse as to when-what-where-why it was written. Yet, I believe fully that He uses these Words to speak to each of us still today. Yes, we must be careful to understand Holy Spirit teaching over our own self interpretation. If you feel uncomfortable with what draws your attention; forced to look at your own fears and ego desires; feeling stretched…. most likely Holy Spirit is trying to expand your narrow belief. If what you are coming to understand is disturbing to you or totally contrary to any reality you know, please do not hesitate to speak with your priest, pastor, spiritual director, close religious friends. Remember, pray, pray, pray at all times when studying Scripture, asking Holy Spirit to help you understand what is being said to you and why; asking for protection that your understanding is from Him who loves you with a never ending love; asking for courage to allow yourself to see His ways and not your own.
I encourage you to consider joining me on this adventure. It is sure to be an exciting ride, filled with Holy Spirit guidance and stretching each of us to learn a new way to accept, love, care for those in our midst.
May God Bless America with the healing of all!