Is That You, God?

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2014 ©  Anne Rose

Does God talk to you? Is it presumptuous to think so? How do you know for sure it’s not the sauerkraut you had for dinner?

Well, sauerkraut or not, I believe He does talk to us. And it’s as real and plain as the words on this page. How do I know?  He and I just met for lunch at the local diner down the street. And I didn’t notice Him being at a loss for words, either. I mean, what’s the big deal about talking to Him? Just pretend.  And then when you get an answer back you won’t be pretending anymore.

You might still say, “I don’t care what you tell me, He doesn’t talk to me. I sit down and get quiet and I don’t hear a thing.”

But what do you call quiet? You can sit alone in a cave and still have the 1812 Overture blasting in your head: Oh, my, how am I going to pay the heating bill, the taxes, or tuition? And what wilI I ever do about my kids? Why, they’re next to heathens.

Let’s talk about quiet. Think of the most placid lake, perhaps Lake Tahoe, on a nearly windless day, crystal blue and so tranquil that you can hardly tell where it begins and the sky takes up. It ripples if the slightest breeze whispers across its surface. When we are quiet like this, we can hear God’s ripples in the silent stirring of our souls. Ah, such peace.

Now, picture Lake Erie during a storm. Our racing thoughts can toss us about like a little boat atop tumultuous waves, not relenting until they spit us onto the Niagara River and plunge us over the falls. No time for reflection there. All that’s left is to cry out, “Jesus, I’m going down!” It’s no exaggeration to say that this is probably the most difficult time to hear Him speak. Wouldn’t you agree that it makes sense to ask Him to breathe calm into our souls before we shoot the rapids?

In pacific waters, God’s voice impresses and uplifts us. It instills strength like the chorus of a thousand angels.

Ah, to hear Him only once in this way will change us forever.

On The Dark Night—Is There Really Anything Funny About This?

2014 © Anne Rose

I just woke up. That could be a good thing—except a zillion racing thoughts woke up with me. They need to find another bed.

Mark Twain said he had many troubles in his life and most of them never happened. It seems like most of mine did.

In the last four years I’ve seen my credit rating take such a plunge that a leap off the Burj Khalifa in Dubai would feel like a fall from the curb. I’ve had the banks, tax man, water works, electric company, tenants, city health department, litter patrol, lead agency, rain, wind, common thieves, copper thieves, con artists, insurance companies, family, dogs and even the squirrels in my yard make Job’s trials look like a case of coffee jitters. My mother-in-law said to think about my troubles as if I have only ten more years of this. I was thinking more like ten minutes.

My husband bought two lotto tickets today. My only thought: Do you think 130 million will be enough?

Is your life a walk on the beach—during a hurricane? Then you get what I’m talking about.

The Favorite

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Anne Rose © 2014

It’s easy to feel like a second-class citizen in this world. It’s even easier to feel second-rate in a spiritual sense. Have you found this to be the case?

Just looking about, others may seem to be enjoying a most fervent relationship with the Almighty. And you may feel like Elijah, hiding in the cave, waiting for the Lord to come your way. Only in your case He never seems to show up. And of course, you’re convinced that everybody else is having mystical encounters, along with almost immediate and impressive answers to their prayers.

So how are you missing the boat? What’s the key phrase, posture or necessary sacrifice you need to do? Or is it possible that in spite of all your efforts you don’t fit into the “favorite” mold? Maybe some have it and you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

Or is it?

The truth is that you are God’s favorite. Just this once don’t deny it. Act as if you really believe it. Because everything changes when you wrap your mind and heart around this gem. Say it again and again so it sinks down to your toenails: “I am your favorite, Jesus.” No more “buts” or “what abouts.” You’re finished with all that.

And while you’re at it, get over the guilt of thinking that it’d be prideful to admit it. Because once you know how special you are, you’ll bend over backward to love God and do what He tells you. And you’ll find it easier to love those you thought were better than you.

So do yourself a favor.  Be the favorite.

 

Look Around

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Anne Rose © 2014

If praying were as easy as looking at the things around you, would you do it more than you do?

Prayer can be like taking snapshots with your eyes of everything you experience through the day: You get up, brush your teeth, shower, comb your hair, gulp a cup of coffee, answer the phone at work, pick up the kids, go to the grocery store, fix dinner, wash the car, clean the house, pay the bills.

Now what does any of this have to do with prayer? Just how spiritual can any of these mindless hamster-in-a-cage tasks be? Well, it just so happens that they can be very spiritual—if they are transformed into prayers of the heart.

So how do we do this? We begin by telling God the moment our eyes pop open in the morning that we want to thank Him for everything we do during the day.  Then, the fun begins. Everything we do can become a thank you to the Lord. I thank You for every blade of grass I cut, for every leaf I rake, for every drop of rain, for every snowflake, for every second I’m stuck here in traffic, for every annoying bark from the neighbor’s dog, for every penny I pay for a gallon of gas. Don’t forget the fun things too: for every step I walk on this blue bird day, for every taste of this double chocolate ice cream cone, for every note of this music that soothes my soul.

I’ve got to tell you that something wonderful happens when I do this. Pretty soon the somber grays in my life become little sparks of light. I begin to see things inside out. Sometimes I even laugh out loud at the thought of thanking God for some of the stupid things I have to go through.  And you know what?  After a while, they don’t seem so stupid anymore.

So what about you?  If you’ve been spending your days muttering that you were made for something better, you’re right. You’ll know what it is when you look around with the eyes of your heart.

See Merlin Carothers. Prison to Praise. Escondido:Merlin R. Carothers, 1970; Luisa Piccarretta. Book of Heaven

 

 

The Passage

2011 © Anne Rose

 

My little boat glides across a narrow strip of shimmering blue, its wake licking island sands—white, true.

It seems to be snow, but I’m not sure, as my mind sees Arctic coasts—bleached, pure.

There I find the strangest sight of wind-up penguins in black and white. Sometimes I wonder if my mind is right.

 

My sister is dying. Or so they say.

It can’t be real, at least, not today.

I knew her once, a little girl, whose eyes saw things in just this way—sand castles of sugar, beaches of snow…

Is it real? It’s hard to know.

 

Her little boat transports her o’er. Now she’s nearing a more distant shore.

Closer and closer, the waves never cease,

drawn by the tide and a mysterious breeze.

 

I want to believe it. It has to be true,

for she’s passed through the mist now—beyond my view.

I wish I could see her, at least in my mind, in that wondrous place beyond all time.

But I’m somewhat adrift through troubles, dismay,

and need a sign that she’s found the way.

 

Suddenly, I see it! One spark of light makes it clear.

Her little boat has found the pier!

Thank goodness she’s gone ahead

to give assurance, to calm the dread.

Her face aglow, she’s through the door. It’s all she hoped for—and more.

 

Dauphin Island February 18, 2011 

A Whale of a Prayer

2014 © Anne Rose

Have you ever prayed for a whale to roll over? I have—on a whale watch off the shores of Cape Cod.

There were no guarantees on this Jonah-esque voyage that we would even come near a whale in all that ocean. Yet, as we approached the open sea my heart leapt just thinking about the possibilities. Look for the spouting mist, or birds hovering about looking for fish, or look for the luminescence of the whale’s undersides we were told.

Relentlessly, the steel-hulled vessel plowed the deep, leaving miles of white foam in its wake. But no sightings—just waves glistening in the blinding sun. Until a distant geyser appeared. And then, a long black form slipped above the waves. This sighting of a minke whale stirred me to the point that, like Peter at the Transfiguration, I had to say something! “God, let these whales give you glory. And let me see it.” Somehow I knew I would.

But seeing was not that easy since 220 passengers were packed into this boat like tuna after a good haul. And now, minke, finback and humpback whales were appearing out of the blue. I had to get a better look. So squeezing through the huddled mass of amateur photographers, I made my way onto the pulpit of the boat to catch a glimpse of two humpbacks’ enormous ruffled-edged tail fins waving as they dove.

After I had seen enough to satisfy my curiosity, I stepped down to allow others to get a better look. Almost immediately, the tour guide excitedly announced that the humpbacks had resurfaced, demonstrating breaching and fin slapping behavior off the starboard side (no good deed goes unpunished). Suddenly, due to the stampede of passengers, the boat listed decidedly to one side. This gave me the jitters. But more importantly, I couldn’t see! As I stretched on my tip toes I reminded God (just in case He had forgotten), “I can’t see them. Let me see them give You glory.”

But all was not lost. I had an idea! Port side was as empty as an abandoned parking lot. “God,” I prayed, “bring them over to this side.” Again, I had a sense of anticipation, so I moved slowly toward the side rail and waited like a lone rider waiting for the bus.

Not for long, though. Suddenly, the two humpbacks broke water right in front of me and an avalanche of spectators shifted port side to watch. Of course, this tipped the boat the other way. But I soon forgot my uneasiness. The two fifty-footers began to roll over like huge puppy dogs, sunning their big black bellies in the bright afternoon sun. They kept on rolling, too, sometimes onto their sides so they could stretch fifteen-foot fins heavenward and then slam them repeatedly against rolling mounds of ocean. All of this as if on cue: up together, down together. Hey, was this the Fin Follies? Over again, belly up, both fins up and down, white wings flapping like sea gulls, then onto their sides, seemingly applauding the God who made them.

Again, I heard the guide, “We don’t really know why whales do these behaviors.”

The whales continued slamming and slapping for quite a while, their pounding seeming purposeful, almost ruthless, full of power and relentless energy.

“Boy, this is unusual to see this kind of behavior go on for so long,” the guide said. Other veteran watchers agreed. It was nothing like anything they had seen before.

For those of you who are watching this video in your mind: What do you think? Is it too much to imagine that the Creator of the heavens and the earth would answer a prayer like mine?

Listen to what the prophet Daniel has to say about it. “Bless the Lord, seas and rivers, sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever. Bless the Lord, you whales and all creatures that move in the waters, sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.” Dn 3: 56, 57

Somewhere out there, a whale is doing this very thing.