planet Earth from space (credit: unknown)

Today is the annual celebration of Earth Day! It is a day for us to recall the natural gifts we have been given which nourish and sustain us. Whenever I see a picture of our planet, like the one here, I am astounded to realize that we are but travelers through a vast universe! I know that sounds cheesy, but think about it; we are on a ball which is moving quickly on a path it has travelled for millions of years. We are truly passengers on a vessel, and this vessel has all the equipment necessary for our survival. We need to properly care for the earth so that we, and future generations, may not only survive but also be able to enjoy the beauty of nature all around us.

St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, wrote this "Canticle of the Creatures". I urge all of us to spend some time meditating on what we can do to sustain our planet.

"All praise be yours, My Lord, through all that you have made. And first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day....

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars; In the heavens you have made them, bright and precious and fair.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air....

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water, So useful, lowly, precious and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten up the night....

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother, Who feeds us...and produces various fruits With colored flowers and herbs....

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks, And serve him with great humility."

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Read more: Rest Stop (Friday) ... Earth Day

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Today, for Christians around the world, Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Spiritually, Holy Week has always been a special time for me as this week is a high point of much emotion in the life of Jesus, His early followers, and for me.  In my personal spiritual journey I try to understand what it was like living in the time of Jesus. I read historical books as well as the Bible in my attempt to more deeply understand and feel the emotions of the people of the time. In my effort for a deeper and closer relationship with God, I immerse myself into the Bible stories, trying to feel what they felt; experience what they experienced. This week, Holy Week, is a recollection of not just an ancient story, but a retelling of real events which happened to real people who lived real emotions, real feelings, and real experiences.

Our challenge this week is to enter into the emotions of the apostles and the bystanders as they experienced the events leading up to the betrayal, arrest, death and later resurrection of Jesus. The emotions of this week begin today, with the…

Read more: Rest Stop (Palm Sunday) ... the start to an emotional week

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Today, Christians around the world will receive ashes on their forehead as a reminder that we came from dust and will once again return to dust. Therefore, "Ash Wednesday" is a time to pause, reflect on our lives, and make plans to remove from our lives those aspects of ourselves which do not lead us closer to our God.

The practice of pruning our lives of those areas which are not healthy or which take us away from our inner-peace, produces a sense of humility as we realize that we are not perfect, but that we have the ability to learn from our imperfections. Letting go allows us to be true to ourselves, and open to the guidance of others.

There are people who exemplify humility, and for me, the ideal example comes from Saint Francis of Assisi. He was a wealthy son of a powerful merchant father, who, after gaining personal insight, gave up everything to live in poverty and to serve the poor in the spirit of Jesus. It wasn't simply the giving up of everything that made Francis humble; it was his attitude and way of living.  In the book "The Way of St. Francis: the Challenge of Franciscan…

Read more: Rest Stop (Ash Wednesday) ... letting go

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Today the Christian world celebrates the Epiphany; the commemoration of the moment when the three kings, or wise men, arrived at the birthplace of Jesus. They had journeyed far and long, following a star in the sky. Why did they embark upon this journey? They noticed something different and new in the sky; sensing its importance, they chose to follow it. They interpreted this sign in the sky to be significant and a sign of the arrival of a powerful person, a king. I have no doubt that although wearied by the journey, they were excited by the anticipation of their findings.

When they arrived at their destination they found the powerful person whom they were seeking, in a barn! Talk about blown expectations. Their journey of significance; their journey of anticipation at finding a powerful king on his throne, led them instead to a barn and a baby lying in a manger. A manger, its prior and intended use, from which the lowly and dirty animals ate.  They found a defenseless baby laying in an animals' food bowl. Talk about a let down.

Along our life's journey, when our anticipated expectations don't live up to reality, how do we…

Read more: Rest Stop (Epiphany) ... flexible expectations

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