Tuesday, August 20, 2019

PODCAST - Let's Talk Dirt! CC, 021

Dirt, grass and wheat?

Yes, that’s the topic of today’s episode of Cassidy Comments!  I hope you will join me as I pull together our deck-building project and the Gospel of John!

What are the special ingredients it takes for us to grow and mature?
Are we supposed to hate our life?
How in the world did our deck get built 7 ½ inches off square?

Tune in to find out the answers to all of these questions!

Don’t forget to join me at janetcassidy.blogspot.com to read my columns and share your comments too!

Have a blessed day in God’s Word!

Janet Cassidy

Monday, August 12, 2019

What are you Dragging around Unfinished?

Over 30 years ago, when earth tones were all the rage, I started an afghan that was brown, rust and cream colored.  It was an ambitious project and quite boring, mostly due to the fact that it was made entirely by using the afghan stitch.

If you don’t know the afghan stitch, let me explain it to you.  You put a bunch of loops on one large knitting needle, and then you take them all off.  Then you put them all on again, and then you take them all off again.  You do this—I don’t know—a couple of hundred times at least.

Suffice it to say that as we were preparing for a garage sale, I had to make a decision about my afghan that was about 1/3 of the way done.  It has been moved from place to place around my basement for several years.  It was kept in a big box with big skeins of yarn.

I had to accept reality.  I was not going to finish this monster.  But, what should I do with it?  I thought maybe I could sell it in the garage sale, but people smarter than I knew not to throw down any money on it.

So, as happens following a garage sale, you are stuck with all of your priceless gems that others have deemed to be without value.  So back in the house went the afghan box.

But, after 30 years, I have gained a little wisdom (not evidenced by this story so far), and knowing I would never finish the project, I decided to complete it.  I tied off the ends where I had left off so many years ago and made myself a lap blanket.  

I can’t believe how handy this little afghan lap blanket has been!

I would encourage anyone who has been dragging around an unfinished project to make a decision about it and get over it.  Life is too short to be burdened by stuff.

Speaking of stuff, I think the Missionaries of Charity (St. Teresa of Calcutta’s group of missionary sisters) get it right.  Their life is very simple, which allows them to connect in a deeply personal way with the people they serve.

I was watching a documentary on them and was amazed how they would go into a building which was going to serve as a home for them, and remove all of the mattresses, carpets and even declined use of the boiler system.

I will probably never completely understand their logic, as I do not walk in their shoes, but I find their complete dependence on Jesus amazing.

The documentary told about a guy who wanted to take a picture of Mother Teresa so that he could go back to where he came from and tell people about her and maybe solicit some donations for her and the sisters.

She was adamant and said several times that she did not allow fundraising on their behalf, that they depended totally on Jesus to provide for their needs.  They don’t ask for money, she told him, repeating an obviously hard and fast rule.

St. Teresa finished what she started for Christ.  Unlike my half-hearted effort with my afghan, no matter how tiresome her work was at times, (after all she was human), she stuck with it.  The reason is that she said Yes! to Jesus and refused to go back on her commitment to him, even if the work was quite disgusting at times and labor intensive.

St. Teresa was “all in,” all the time.

I suppose most of us have not quite reached the “all in” place that Mother Teresa did, but I am hoping that God can make something beautiful (and useful) out of our efforts, if we do not give up, even if it takes 30 years to figure it out!

Janet Cassidy

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Are you focusing on "What's Next?"

I came across a thought-provoking article my a writer named Gustavo Razzetti that gave me great pause.  His article was titled, “Why Accepting Death Will Make You Worry Less.”

While I don’t necessarily agree with his proposition that the acceptance of death will make you worry less, for me the interesting part of his article was the exercise he said he learned from someone named Bernie Roth at Stanford.  Here’s how it goes:

“Imagine you have 10 min to live, what would you do?”

Answering the questions one at a time with great thought, we are to continue the exercise moving from 10 minutes, to ten days, ten months, ten years and the rest of your life; then see what happens to your perspective.

I don’t normally spend much time on these sorts of questions, but for some reason, this one caught my attention.  As I reflected on what I would do, beginning with 10 minutes, the first one was easy.

Without hesitation and with great urgency, I would go to confession and receive the Eucharist and get anointed.  That is really a no-brainer for me.  If I’m dying, I want to get my slate as clean as possible in my short time left.

The only way this exercise works is if you take it seriously and take the time to give each extended period your attention.  I figured that as my time lengthened, my urgency would decrease, but oddly for me, that didn’t happen.

I seemed to retain the same sense of urgency, but more for spreading the gospel.  As anyone who has that fire within them knows, there is a real sense of wanting to be sure everyone knows about God and salvation before it is too late.

I suspect that is not so different from the urgency with which the first disciples of Jesus lived.  Going out on mission, there was the very real sense that people needed to know what they knew about who Jesus was.

For us today, the urgency comes from wanting people to know that although your life might be moving along just fine, you are really missing out if you are not aware of Jesus and actively seeking him, or responding to his call when prompted.

If you do not pay much attention to your faith or the reality that there is a God, you may be terribly surprised when you only have 10 minutes or 10 days to “catch up,” if you have been living your entire life as if he doesn’t exist.
And that is (or will be) really sad.

The urgency to spread the gospel rises up out of a love and concern for others, but it is frustrated by how difficult it can be to break into the everyday, where people are so busy and distracted and comfortable that they just don’t see a need to live faith-centered lives, often because they feel that they just don’t have time.

What this exercise really does is require you to prioritize.  You have to think about what you spend most of your time on and what is high on your list of importance.

You have to re-think what really matters when you consider you may only have 10 minutes left.

It forces you to ask, “What comes next?” after this life, and deal with your conclusions and beliefs.

You begin to consider, What is petty?  What is trivial?  What really matters?

According to Razzetti, “Western civilizations fear death. That’s because we’ve been taught to hold on to things. In our material world, life has become a possession too. And we cannot let go of it.

Interestingly enough, when someone dies, even the most religious folks feel sad. We hold onto life as a material property, thus blinding our spiritual beliefs.”

Since I have no background on this author or the group he has founded, I have to admit that when he says, “Transformation is human-led—it happens through the people who will live it. People and organizations need to build their own capability and capacity to transform, constantly” it strikes a disconnect with me because I believe that transformation is Holy Spirit led.  I’m not seeing that in this comment.

Nevertheless, I thought I would share this little exercise with you and hope that you give it a try.  

Let me know what you discover.

Here is a link to the original article if you want to check it out for yourself, but like I said, I don’t know much about the author so do not take it as a recommended website.

Janet Cassidy