Focusing on Gratitude…..

     Each five-year anniversary, my husband and I try to take a special vacation. On June 8th of this year, we celebrated our 40th. Our landmark getaway was postponed until October because we wanted to experience a New England autumn together. We returned yesterday from a trip that took us to Boston, Vermont, the Berkshires in northern Massachusetts and beyond.

     Today is the first Monday in November. Since we as a nation will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a few weeks, I decided to dedicate November’s Listening on the Journey… posts to focusing on gratitude. Also, beginning this coming Thursday, each post will include some of the photos Ron captured during the two and one-half weeks we spent in New England.

     I am so extremely grateful for the opportunity to write this blog and for you who take time out of your full schedules to read the words I write. I’ve appreciated your words of encouragement more than I could ever express. They have given me courage to keep learning, growing and being intentional about my own journey of faith.

     So, to kick off this Month of Gratitude, I’d like to say that I’m:

     I’d also like to encourage each of us to be generous with our gratitude and challenge ourselves to often:

Blessings on your journey of gratitude…

Sue Reeve

Experiencing Jesus in Everything…

Sue’s Note: The photos in today’s blog were taken by my husband during our September vacation to Southern California. One of my favorite activities during our relaxing getaway was a long, early morning walk on Coronado Island, sharing the beach with graceful sandpipers.

     During a four-day contemplative prayer retreat at Cova de Sant Ignasi in Manresa, Spain, in 2018, my heart aligned with the 16th Century religious leader who founded the Jesuit Order. My admiration for Ignatius of Loyola deepened with each page I read in his biography, Alone and on Foot, by Brian Grogan, SJ.[1]

     For the next 9-12 months, as part of the Spiritual Direction program I started recently, I will be doing an intensive process known as the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.

     Ignatius was from a wealthy family. During a long and painful period of recuperation from a wound he received during a fierce battle, Ignatius became committed to the mission of Christ. In time, he relinquished every earthly possession and lived the rest of his days in poverty, service to others and learning.

     “Ignatius wanted to help everyone, no matter what age or stage of life, experience Jesus…”[2] When I read those words, I thought, wow! That’s what I want!

     Above all else, my deepest desire is to experience more and more of Jesus, to learn about and pursue a journey of being conformed increasingly into His character. I desire to let nothing but that which honors God possess me. This, I know, will be a lifelong process.

     As I become aware of non-essential attitudes and behaviors, I want to be willing to loosen my grip on all that’s temporary—on everything I own, even everyone I love, every hope and every dream I hold dearly. I admit, though, I have no desire nor plan to give up everything, wear coarse burlap clothing, beg for food, sleep on the floor nor pray five hours a day as was the practice of Ignatius!

     Ignatius identified with words written by the Apostle Paul in the second letter he sent to his friends in the Corinthian church:

     An important part of the Spiritual Exercises is the Prayer of Examen done two to three times daily. The prayer is a simple process. I thought it might resonate with some Listening on the Journey… readers. Some may want to join me in this spiritual discipline.

PRAYER OF EXAMEN

  1. Give Thanks.
  2. Ask God to reveal your sins.
  3. Examine how you lived this day [or portion of the day] in thoughts, words, and deeds.
  4. Ask forgiveness
  5. Ask God for the grace to amend your ways.

2 Key Questions to ask each time:

– Where did I experience God’s love?
– How did God’s love impact the way I lived my life?

Blessings to all as we travel and grow together in our journeys of faith…

Sue Reeve

  1. Ignatius quote on first sandpiper photo is taken from this book.
  2. Journey with Jesus – Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, Larry Warner, InterVarsity Press, 2010

The Empty Seat That’s Not Empty…

     My husband doesn’t even need me to ask anymore.

     Whenever he notices an unique empty bench, he always snaps a photo of it. He knows there’ something about an empty bench that captures my imagination.

     Recently while vacationing in Southern California, we visited the amazing San Diego Botanic Gardens, which contained many lovely benches. As Ron snapped away, I started wondering why in the world I was so captivated by the sight of an empty seat. It dawned on me there’s something about them that reminds me of the real, yet invisible presence of the Holy Spirit.

     Today’s post contains empty seat photos as well as thoughts about the Holy Spirit, who may not be seen with our human eye but is so present in our human spirit.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:5)

     Hope is huge. I’m reminded the unseen presence of the Holy Spirit has infused hope into my heart, even when life circumstances have been difficult, and my faith has felt weak and wobbly. (Bench at San Diego Botanic Gardens.)

I love the power of the Holy Spirit that came “like the blowing of a violent wind…” on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2-4) as well as in a “gentle whisper.” (1 King 19:12). (This bench is in the Japanese Gardens at Manito Park, Spokane, WA)

Early on in his earthly ministry, Jesus referenced the importance of the Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free…”
Luke 4:18 (NIV)

(This rugged bench sits in Yellowstone Park.)

David wrote, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalms 139:7 (NIV)

     This thought can be unnerving if I’m trying to run away from God but realizing an omnipresent Spirit knows all about me and all about the ones I love brings my heart much comfort. (I love the cozy feel of this bench at San Diego Botanic Gardens.)

 

 But the Helper— the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name—that One will teach you all things and remind you of everything which I said to you. John 14:26 (DLNT)

     I am so grateful “that ONE” was not only given to Jesus’ earthly disciples but also to you and to me. The Spirit still reminds us of Christ’s life-giving words as well as the heartbeat of God in those words. (This weathered stone bench can be found at Manito Park in Spokane, WA)

The Holy Spirit, who seems sometimes ignored or minimized, is a vital member of the three-in-one God (Father, Son and Spirit).

(These benches are familiar to us who live in Coeur d’Alene, ID and enjoy walking along the Centennial Trail.)

     I hope you’ll pause to consider the presence of the Holy Spirit in your faith journey …

Sue Reeve