Obsession and Blessings

I couldn’t get to sleep the other night – not an unusual occurrence, unfortunately – but this time I was obsessing on what happened earlier in the day. I had taken 2 of my cats to the vet and I should have known even as I was walking in that it wasn’t going to be good.

We’ve had snow and ice around here for a while and I had one cat in a carrier and the other on a harness, tucked under my arm. Toby usually walks in on his own but today he refused so I had to tote both him and Simon in. As I walked up the sidewalk there was this huge mound of snow right in my path. Someone had shoveled the snow from everywhere on the sidewalk except this one area. I could either go to my right through the grass and rocks or to my left into the parking lot and up the handicapped ramp. I went left and slipped on black ice. Thankfully, we all stayed upright.

When I got into the vets my appointment wasn’t for that day but for the next day (gosh, I tend to mix up days an awful lot) so, while they could take me, I wouldn’t be seeing my preferred vet, Dr. U and instead see a Dr. E. I could have come back the next day but who wants to go through the process of putting unwilling cats into carriers again?

So we finally got into see Dr. E and while she seemed to be a competent vet, she had absolutely no bedside manner with either the cats or myself. Dr. U is friendly, talks to the cats as much as she talks to me, always is touching and petting them. This Dr. E only touched the cats when she was examining them and didn’t speak to them at all! (For those of you who aren’t enamored of cats, you don’t know how important that is to the rest of us!) Dr. E was cold – ice cold.

Then, when it was time to check out, some 1-1/2 hours later (had to wait for labs) the receptionist was chatting with some people in front of me, so I stood there for a good 5 minutes with Simon in his carrier and Toby trying to escape his harness and get the heck out of Dodge. Finally, I interrupted their conversation and asked if I could check out. The receptionist said she didn’t have the paperwork. I said when will you. She said she didn’t know. (Deep sigh) I told her I’d be right back so I could put the cats in the car. She got this horrified look on her face like I was going to run off without paying my huge ($$$) bill so I said I’d leave my purse as collateral. Out I went with the cats, again slipping on the ice, put them in the car (Toby in a carrier inside the car, of course!); and back inside again.

Waiting, waiting, waiting – 10 minutes later I asked about the paperwork again and she said she didn’t know. I asked her to please go check on it. She very sullenly stopped her chat with the other folks and casually (read: very slowly) walked into the back. After a few minutes she came back, sat down at her desk without saying anything to me and turned to her computer. I said ‘Well???’. She said the paperwork was in the computer ‘but nobody told me’. Likely story. Can I please check out know? After I check out these folks first. (The same folks she’d just spent 20 minutes talking to.) I told her I had two cats in a cold car and to please check me out. 5 minutes or so later she finally started checking me out.

Consequently, I obsessed over those events for hours while trying to go to sleep. I’m still upset about it. But, it wasn’t until I started to pray about the events that I began to relax. I prayed for God to bless Dr. E and the receptionist. I tried to see it from their point of view but I was so keyed up I was unable to. All I could do was ask God to bless them. Every time I started to rehearse the day in my poor, tired brain, I’d be reminded to pray a blessing on those two ladies. It took a while, but the next thing I knew, my alarm was going off in the morning.

My lesson in all of this was that crap happens, all the time, every day, but the only way to overcome it and get the rest I need to face tomorrow’s crap is to pray a blessing for the folks who rained all over my parade. I don’t have to know with what to ask God for to bless them – anything I could think of would be subjective. But God knows best how to bless them and it’s best to leave it up to Him. And, at this point in my spiritual growth, I’m asking God to bless them for my benefit, not theirs, but maybe one day I’ll pray a blessing on someone and truly mean it with pure, unselfish motives.

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The wages of sin

In my reading today, I am asked to consider the crucifixion of Jesus, His blood sacrifice, and death. I haven’t much thought about it since leaving organized religion. And, in all honesty, I probably didn’t think about it much then, either. I’m not sure I believe in the concept of ‘sin’. Wrongdoing, immorality, injustices, evil, negativity, most definitely. But ‘sin’ carries with it different connotations.

I was originally ‘saved’ in a fire-and-brimstone Baptist church back when I was in my early teens. The preacher scared me into salvation with dire predictions of hell if I didn’t ask Jesus to cleanse me of my sins. His focus, as I remember it, was only on salvation – not spiritual growth. I remember feeling relieved after going to the front of the church and praying the ‘sinner’s prayer’; I was going to heaven and was able to focus on more important things like gossiping about boys in the back of the sanctuary with my best friend.

Even though my friend D and I were busy talking through sermons, I became acutely aware (through osmosis?) of what a terrible person I was, how sinful I was and how I caused Jesus such suffering. It was bad enough that my earthly father would remind me often of what an awful child I was – now I had a spiritual Father telling me the same thing. It’s no wonder I still don’t like to think about ‘sin’.

It’s taken many, many years for me to understand that while God works through man to spread His Love and Grace, man (or woman) will quite often skew the message to their own beliefs and/or benefit. So regardless of what man has to say on the subject of sin, God, I believe, is more interested in love, grace, reconciliation and relationship. When we focus too much on the ugliness of sin, we lose touch with the beauty of God. And all in all, I’d much rather focus on God’s beauty rather than His Son’s sacrifice.

Am I wrong in that? Some will say I am; I don’t know. I have to go with what is in my heart and what I feel God is showing me. Maybe I can get a pass on this ‘sin’ thing since I have suffered emotionally for so long. Maybe not; but I have to trust God He will lead me in the path I should go. If He wishes me to contemplate the ‘wages of my sin’, then I am open to it; until then, I will remain focused on His love, grace and beauty.

the One Who weeps

Do you ever wonder if God cries over the mess His children have made of the world? Does He feel sorrow when one of His children strays from the path of love and righteousness? Does He weep for the continual violence man heaps upon himself, upon the multitude of creatures with whom we share our earth home and upon the Earth herself?

Christian scripture tells us that Jesus wept over Jerusalem for the city’s sin and future destruction. And Jesus, being the spiritual Mystery of being fully God and fully human, I am almost certain God does, in fact, weep for His children. But to be honest, this subject is too heavy for my inept human brain to comprehend or even ponder.

The most I can understand and accept is that God loves us – me – you – everyone – and when we stray from Him and refuse to return, it saddens Him. I don’t have any human children but I’ve seen mothers weep over their lost children and if a mother’s sadness over her straying child is deep then the level of Mother God’s pain must be unfathomable.

But as deep as the pain is, the joy over our return to Her side is equally profound. It must be a joy unmatched in all of creation!

The Lord your God among you is powerful – He will save and He will take joyful delight in you. In His love He will renew you with His love; He will celebrate with singing because of you. Zephaniah 3:17 (ISV)

What a marvelous thought! Imagine – God singing in delight because of me – little ol’ flawed me. Amazing!