Monday, May 20, 2019

Surprised by Joy



I am walking out to my car the other day, when this jacaranda tree caught my attention.  I was taken by the brilliant, bright orange...as if the tree was crying out, "Look at me!  Look at me."  I know this photo doesn't do justice to the beauty on full display.  Here is a close up of one of the branches.


I am still not sure that the vibrant-ness of that tree was captured and how captivated I was by its glory. 

We need moments in our life that stop us in our tracks.
We need moments when we are surprised by joy.

But so often in the blur and busyness of life...we can race and run past.

When I took this picture I was heading from one appointment to another.  I could have said, "Oh how pretty," with just a passing, cursory glance...letting the moment breeze by.  

Yet, I decided to stop and take a couple of photos of this tree, I believe, in full prayer to God.  

What is that you say, "Tree don't pray?"  Tell that to this jacaranda tree, if you dare.  

We have this confined notion of prayer where we have to bow our heads...fold our hands... mumble some words in monotone.  No wonder people want to leave prayer up to the so-called professional prayer-ers...aka...pastors.  What if prayer and practice were more alive?  If prayer is the invitation to be fully awake to God...listening for the song of God and looking for the glory of God in such a time as this...then, for me, stopping to take a photo is a prayer practice ~ and a faithful one too.

Walking with my wife as we process our day ~ prayer practice.
Petting my dog before I leave for work ~ prayer practice.
Asking my kids how their day was...listening...really listening ~ prayer practice.

I believe the mystics who say that God shows up disguised as your real life.  God, who is incarnate ~ self-empties ~ into Jesus the Christ (and each of us too) ~ then life - yours and mine - are one of the ways we can encounter and experience God.  

Pause for a moment ~ look back in the rear view mirror pondering where God showed up in your midst over the last few days.  Name it...claim it...celebrate it.

If it is a moment you are fully awake and aware of the sacred-ness - it is prayer.  The practice part is trying to stay in the state of awareness and awake-ness as much as possible.  

It isn't easy.

Nor is hitting a baseball hurling at you at 120 mph.
Nor is playing an instrument.
Nor is learning about which plants will thrive where - so they can be alight just like that tree.

We practice to improve.  

No one ever is a perfect prayer-er...just like every baseball player strikes out - every basketball player misses shots - and sometimes our flowers don't take for a variety of reasons.

To practice.
To keep our hearts ready and open.
To take a moment to notice and name the traces of grace around us.

That is my prayer for you this week.

Blessings  ~ 

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