“Ripples”

ripples

“Ripples”

When we lose someone we love, questions seem to surface, Why did this have to happen to such a good person? Can I envision living my life differently with this new empty place? Do I really know God’s purpose for my life? Does what I do really matter?

I watched the rays of the sun reflect off the surface of the lake. As I sat at the edge of the water, I felt a deep sense of sadness and loss. I had just left the funeral of my close friend, Annie, and I wanted some time to be alone with my own thoughts. She loved nature, and I was taking the opportunity to reflect on how grateful I was to have known her.

Without focusing on anything in particular, I picked up a small pebble and threw it into the lake. I immediately noticed how the ripples formed a perfect circle and moved outward. I repeated the process several times. Each time I threw a rock (regardless of size), I was amazed at how large the circles of waves became and how long they lasted before they disappeared. It also occurred to me that when the ripples formed, they stayed in proportion to each other. As the waves moved in a steady rhythm on their journey outward, one ripple didn’t become misshapen or disconnected from the others.

My thoughts returned to Annie. Her life impacted so many people more than I will ever know. Just like the ripples of the waves spreading out, so does Annie’s beautiful example of love and faith. Her influence will always be felt by those who knew her and loved her.

Those moments sitting by the lake also reminded me of God’s providential care. Our lives are impacted by many things, good and bad. But just like the waves of circles in the water, God holds us steady and somehow keeps us connected with one another according to His will. While I may not always recognize and feel this, or understand fully, I believe it. Even in my sadness and grief, I know that I am included in an unending rhythm of God’s love and care. I am grateful that there is a merciful God who holds each human heart close to Himself, His Son, and His Spirit, all laboring to create harmony with what is and what is yet to be. In a mysterious, yet beautiful way, watching those waves helped me affirm my worth and purpose in this life and feel secure about Annie’s in the next.

I have lost a special friend. But by the grace of God, I am more at peace knowing that Annie and I remain connected in a beautiful circle that will be forever.

…Sally

Stones in the River (by Carrie Newcomer)

Sally Meyer is a 6th grade teacher at St. Jude School in Indianapolis.  “Visiting the Oldenburg Franciscan Center has become one of my favorite ways to deepen my faith.  It is in such a welcoming place that I am able to practice being open to the Spirit, and in turn, write about finding God in my everyday life.  I hope readers can take something meaningful from my writing.
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Resurrection, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Resurrection of trees at Springtime

Most of us, when we hear the word “resurrection” will think of Easter and Jesus’ return from the dead or the final judgment when all will rise from the dead.  Perhaps it is because at the time a person dies, grief at the loss of someone dear blocks out other emotions. To find a way of keeping our focus on the resurrection each of us will experience would be, in my opinion, a great way of seeing beyond the bodily death.  Our beloved parent, child or friend lives on.

Death is like birth.  A baby spends 9 months in the mother’s womb developing a body that will be able to thrive on the earth.  Then with much pain and trauma to both baby and mother, the child is born.  We spend 50, 70, 99 years on this earth developing a soul that will be able to see God.  Then with varying amounts of pain we will be birthed into the heavenly atmosphere leaving the people we loved and who loved us still in development.  These people have been part of our spiritual development, and they will grieve at not being able to see us.  But if the thought of the resurrection were daily reviewed, grief can be lessened.

Take look at the trees. In the winter the trees seem dead.  In fact, a visitor from New Guinea remarked about how fortunate we were to have so much firewood at hand!  She could not imagine these trees coming to life again in the spring.  Happily she was still visiting in the spring and could see the “resurrection” of the trees.

We humans cannot see the resurrection of our loved ones, but we would do well to remember they will rise.  They have spent their lives developing a spiritual life, even if they are not cognizant of doing it.  We are here to prepare for heaven.  Most of us will do a pretty fair job of it.  Some of us will do a magnificent preparation.  Others may not do so well.  But what you end up with when the spiritual birthing time comes is what you have been developing all your life.

Some people have lived in an atmosphere that nurtured the spiritual development day by day.  Maybe your home of origin was like that.  Some people did not get conscious of the need to nurture his/her spiritual nature until adulthood.  And there are some who never caught the need to nurture it.

Please note that I did not say religious life.  The spirit, the soul, can be nurtured in many ways, sometimes without religion.  If you equate religious with spiritual, you may have a different definition of spiritual.

I have heard of young persons who heard nothing of God or Jesus, but grew up with a strong sense that there was something more to life.  Their way of living could put me to shame.  Their sense of the spiritual was alive and strong, and that sense developed their souls even though they knew nothing of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, redemption.  I often think if we could bring that knowledge to them, they would be saintly giants.

Reflecting on what our life is all about and how we are nurturing our souls for heaven will bring us to thoughts of our resurrection and will probably help strengthen our spiritual life.

Peace and Joy to all as we approach the magnificent resurrection of Jesus. It is because of HIM that we are assured about our own resurrection.

S. Sharonlu

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S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Pebbles, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Pebbles ©Margaret Lois Jansen - SmallSmallActs.Com

There had never been a more scorching time.  All animals were suffering from drought because the sources of water had dried up.  Foxes and kittens, raccoons and dogs, all the animals said, “We will die because we have no water.”

When they did find a little water, it was in a tall narrow concrete vase attached to a patio step.  The vase was about 15 inches tall, and there were just about 3 inches of water at the bottom.  “No good,” said the other animals, “we cannot get to it.” And they wandered away.

A sly crow said nothing, but went about picking up little pebbles and dropping them in the vase.  Untiringly she dropped pebble after pebble into the vase.  When all the pebbles in the immediate area were gone, she crossed the road and found more. All were dropped in the vase.

She slept happily in her nest that night and the next day one or two of the animals came back and found the crow rested and fresh while they were on their last legs. “How did you do it?” they asked.  “Well,” she replied, “I dropped enough pebbles in the vase to raise the water level so I could reach it to drink.”*

How many things in your life are little, but gathered together they create a big effect?  There is not too much value in one feather, but a down coat or blanket will keep you very warm!  What about peas, chocolate chips, one piece of popcorn?  What would happen to symphonies if there were just one note?  Or how could we have masterpieces of art if there were just one color?

When you think of something big that needs doing, whether in your own life, or your family’s or in your town, city, or nation, break it down.  Find one thing about that situation that you can do. Do not try to do it all.   Try being a pebble.  Say something encouraging to someone; smile at a downcast face; write a little note; pat someone on the back.  Think of the little pebbles.  The purpose of their existence seemed very limited.  But combined with the wisdom and activity of someone totally unrelated, the pebble became a source of life!  Little things do mean a lot!

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF
(Tale adapted from Aesop)

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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The Oldenburg Franciscan Center and Convent are located in Oldenburg, IN.  Visit our website or call/write for directions!  Individuals and groups are always welcome to make retreats!  Also, you are welcome to join the Sisters for Mass in the Convent Chapel at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday or at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org
812-933-6437 / center@oldenburgosf.com 

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