Letters of Growth
Sarah Josephine Buell Hale, Editor and Prophetic Witness, 1879
Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 961)
Psalms 40, 54 (morning) 51 (evening)
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Our new observance from the trial calendar: Sarah Josephine Buell Hale [Oct. 24, 1788-Apr. 30, 1879] A social reformer and advocate for women, she was an early supporter of the deaconess movement and helped establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. (Apr 30)
Paul writes today of his anxiety for the well being of the congregation in Thessoliniki. He has been separated from them for a time, and he knows that they have been faced with many trials. Paul writes to them after his companion Timothy has returned with good news -- the congregation continues to be healthy and vital. Paul closes this section with a prayer for them. "And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."
I ran across another letter the other day, this one written by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, published in the magazine Spirituality and Health. He was writing in response to a question about the spiritual journey. The person he was writing to was someone who had made a shift in their life from the pursuit of financial success to a focus on "all things spiritual." Like Paul's congregation in Thessoliniki, this person asked the Rabbi for some guidance about that journey.
Rabbi Shapiro suggests that there are "three major phases of life." After we have spent some time, usually some considerable time, achieving some degree of financial success, most people find that pursuit unsatisfying, and shift into a second phase of accumulating -- this time "accumulating spiritual things the way you used to accumulate material ones. You 'collect' gurus, seminars, retreats, and mystical experiences in pursuit of the next spiritual high."
He says that this second phase of spiritual accumulation eventually "proves unsatisfying, and you enter the third phase -- divestment. You simplify your life externally and internally. You stop chasing gurus and focus on those few people who really matter to you. You stop shopping for enlightenment and make peace with not-knowing. You realize that life isn't a question to be answered or a problem to be solved but a gift to be enjoyed, both in solitude and with loving friends. The first two phases are hard work. The third is pure play."
I often meet people who are in this third period of life. They tend to have space and availability for others. They are often involved in giving themselves away, especially in response to the needs of others. Their giving is natural, joyful, playful. In their lives the Lord has indeed abounded "in love for one another and for all." May God strengthen all of our hearts in holiness, that we may play with such peaceful loving kindness, that we may be blameless before our God and Father.
Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts
About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.
Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.
Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org
Our Rule of Life
Lowell Grisham, Rector