Appreciate questions. Sometimes it is essential to dwell in the uncertainty of asking, the discomfort of not knowing. Sometimes we get a choice, as when we are students, and opt to learn. Other times, we are thrust into such situations, and must cope. Either way, this becomes a necessary skill: to be present to what we have not yet learned or thought, and to discover that there is much we do not yet understand.
To ask, or to be asked, is to become vulnerable. When you inquire, you enter into a reciprocal relationship, expressing your own need for information or education, admitting you need support or assistance to attain the answer you seek. You acknowledge that, one way or another, you are seeking. You also turn to someone else for guidance toward an answer.
Sometimes, simply by asking, you also discover that you know what is needed. That by articulating the question, you find insight within yourself.
At the same time, to ask a question, or to be asked, is to become strong. When you embrace the state of uncertainty and not-knowing, you become more comfortable with growing and learning. To ask a question is to become more connected, to open yourself to the resources of a network of relationships. To be asked a question is to be honored or perceived as someone who serves as a guide or mentor.
Appreciate that in the asking, or being asked, you do not have to know the answer. Sometimes it is best to acknowledge that you, too, will have to make inquiries in order to provide a solution or information. Or that if you are the one asking the question, be prepared with patience and humility, to wait for answers, or to receive only partial responses and incomplete understanding.
Give thanks for questions. — Rev Gail
To you, O God of my ancestors, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and power, and have now revealed to me what we asked of you, for you have revealed to us what the king ordered. — Daniel 2:23-24
There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive? ― Dalai Lama
GRATITUDE (excerpt) — Mary Oliver What did you notice? What did you hear? When did you admire? What astonished you? What would you like to see again? What was most tender? What was most wonderful? What did you think was happening?
Let us give thanks for other living creatures that aren’t human. For animals and birds, insects and reptiles. Let us recognize our connection to the whole living world, and the intricate relationships human societies have with ecosystems and habitats. What happens to other living creatures also affects us.
Some animals are domesticated. Pets, for instance, provide comfort and companionship. Domesticated animals, of all kinds, often exist as part of the network that sustains people: work animals, agricultural animals, and others, too.
Wildlife becomes a different presence for us. Some people interact directly with nature through their passions and professions. Some of us only encounter them vicariously. Yet all of us, whether we feel the immediacy of the connection or not, are deeply affected by other living beings in our world.
Imagine, for instance, how bees pollinate trees and flowers. Imagine the taste of honey at the end of the summer. In so many ways, the aspects of the world from which we derive pleasure are made possible because of the lives and journeys of other living creatures.
Let us give thanks for the other beings that share the world with us: creatures with whom we have kinship and for whom we are accountable. Our relationship to the larger world — including its other inhabitants — is a holy and sacred trust. May we be grateful. — Rev Gail
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” — Genesis 1:24-26
If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. ― James Herriot
Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry, or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can. — Dalai Lama
People are essential to our wellbeing. Isolation from human interactions contributes to people’s poor health: mental and physical.
At the same time, while we notice some people, we often overlook others, who are integral to our daily living. Now’s the chance to look twice. Recognize someone who regularly shows up in your life, in ways that you don’t usually realize. Cashiers, custodians, cooks, drivers, delivery people: these are just some of the people who work ‘frontline’ roles, and due to the pandemic, and have received recognition as essential workers.
Meanwhile, let us give thanks for relationships that renew and comfort us. Those folks who are beloved family and essential friends. Others who enrich our lives as teachers, coaches, mentors, coworkers, colleagues, companions, care givers, and more. Today you’re invited to actually focus on at least one these connections and their meaning for you.
While we’re giving thanks for people, we can even acknowledge difficult personalities that challenge us. Perhaps there’s a person in your life who troubles you; this person might also become — through gratitude — a teacher of sorts, offering up life lessons that they didn’t intend to share, but that you have found a way to claim as your own.
Today, let us give thanks for people of all kinds. — Rev Gail
And now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to make this freewill offering? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. — 1 Chronicles 29:13-14
… and they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.” And all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. — Ezra 3:11
Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise. — Psalm 79:13
We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives. ― John F. Kennedy
In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices. — Elizabeth Gilbert
You know, when Nelson Mandela went to jail he was young and, you could almost say, bloodthirsty. He was head of the armed wing of the African National Congress, his party. He spent twenty-seven years in jail, and many would say, Twenty-seven years, oh, what a waste. And I think people are surprised when I say no, the twenty-seven years were necessary. They were necessary to remove the dross. The suffering in prison helped him to become more magnanimous, willing to listen to the other side. To discover that the people he regarded as his enemy, they too were human beings who had fears and expectations. And they had been molded by their society. And so without the twenty-seven years I don’t think we would have seen the Nelson Mandela with the compassion, the magnanimity, the capacity to put himself in the shoes of the other. ― Dalai Lama
Generosity does not require material abundance. When I think back on the many people who have been so generous toward me, I never think of money or “things.” Instead, I think of the way they gave me their presence, their confidence, their affirmation, support, and blessing — all gifts of “self” that any of us can give. And where does generosity come from? Perhaps from another life-giving virtue, the one called gratitude. — Parker Palmer
Stay — Jan Richardson A Blessing for Ascension Day
I know how your mind rushes ahead trying to fathom what could follow this. What will you do, where will you go, how will you live?
You will want to outrun the grief. You will want to keep turning toward the horizon, watching for what was lost to come back, to return to you and never leave again.
For now hear me when I say all you need to do is to still yourself is to turn toward one another is to stay.
Wait and see what comes to fill the gaping hole in your chest. Wait with your hands open to receive what could never come except to what is empty and hollow.
You cannot know it now, cannot even imagine what lies ahead, but I tell you the day is coming when breath will fill your lungs as it never has before and with your own ears you will hear words coming to you new and startling. You will dream dreams and you will see the world ablaze with blessing.
Wait for it. Still yourself. Stay.
Songs about Ascension:
Highlands by Hillsong (Christian rock/contemporary)
Questions to consider about re-entering ‘real’/daily life and waiting for the arrival or support and help … themes from Acts 1: 6-10:
Can you name peak moment(s) or mountain-top experience(s) in your life?
When you re-enter daily life, after pinnacle moments, how are you changed? What do you carry with you from such times?
Can you retain or cultivate some of the blessings or gifts of such exceptional times? What practices help you do so?
When you’re told to wait for something to come … told to ‘shelter in place’ until the resources you need arrive … what is that like? Waiting? Preparing? What is difficult about waiting? What opportunities does a period of waiting offer?
Meditations on Farewell & Being Left Behind
If we have grown weary in this season. If we have become overwhelmed. If we are living with fear or anxiety or worry about what lies ahead. If the swirl … has become intense. If time is moving strangely. If grief has been a traveling companion. If the ground beneath us has given way. If resurrection seems less than certain … This is the day that calls us to breathe. This is the day that invites us to make a space within the weariness, the fear, the ache. This is the day that beckons us to turn toward one another, and to remember we do not breathe alone. — Jan Richardson
It is queer to be in a place when someone has gone. It is not two other places, the place that they were there in, and the place that was there before they came. I can’t get used to this third place or to staying behind. ― Elizabeth Bowen
For Sayonara, literally translated, ‘Since it must be so,’ of all the good-byes I have heard is the most beautiful. Unlike the Auf Wiedershens and Au revoirs, it does not try to cheat itself by any bravado ‘Till we meet again,’ any sedative to postpone the pain of separation. It does not evade the issue like the sturdy blinking Farewell. Farewell is a father’s good-bye. It is – ‘Go out in the world and do well, my son.’ It is encouragement and admonition. It is hope and faith. But it passes over the significance of the moment; of parting it says nothing. It hides its emotion. It says too little. While Good-bye (‘God be with you’) and Adios say too much. They try to bridge the distance, almost to deny it. Good-bye is a prayer, a ringing cry. ‘You must not go – I cannot bear to have you go! But you shall not go alone, unwatched. God will be with you. God’s hand will over you’ and even – underneath, hidden, but it is there, incorrigible – ‘I will be with you; I will watch you – always.’ It is a mother’s good-bye. But Sayonarasays neither too much nor too little. It is a simple acceptance of fact. All understanding of life lies in its limits. All emotion, smoldering, is banked up behind it. But it says nothing. It is really the unspoken good-bye, the pressure of a hand, ‘Sayonara. ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Thoughts on Waiting
The wait is long. My dream of you does not end. — Nuala o”Faolain
Behind every fear, there is a miracle waiting. — Marianne Williamson
We have to let go of the life we planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell
Christian Commentary on Ascension
Most of Christianity has been doing just that, straining to find the historical Jesus “up there.” Where did he go? We’ve been obsessed with the question because we think the universe is divided into separate levels—heaven and earth. But it is one universe and all within it is transmuted and transformed by the glory of God. The whole point of the Incarnation and Risen Body is that the Christ is here—and always was! But now we have a story that allows us to imagine it just might be true. Jesus didn’t go anywhere. He became the universal omnipresent Body of Christ. That’s why the final book of the Bible promises us a new heaven and a new earth. (Revelation 21:1), not an escape from earth. We focused on “going” to heaven instead of living on earth as Jesus did—which makes heaven and earth one. It is heaven all the way to heaven. What you choose now is exactly what you choose to be forever. God will not disappoint you. — Richard Rohr
I’ll be honest, Jesus, Ascension Day brings up some abandonment issues for me. I know you promised we wouldn’t be alone, that you would send a Helper and Advocate, full of power and truth and ready to guide, but let’s face it: the fire of the Spirit is the wild kind. One moment I sense that it’s blazing like the burning bush, the next it’s like it’s out with a poof. I still haven’t figured it out. I still haven’t been able to pin it down. —Rachel Held Evans
No, we’ll probably never physically see Jesus. But we can see the people that represent Jesus. The church community is the first thing that comes into my mind. We all represent Jesus in the good things we do. I mean, we’re not the perfect servants of God. Nobody is perfect. But we see people do good things for other people all the time… As a church community, wehelp, we serve God and others, too. We pray. We forgive and also ask to be forgiven. That’s just the little part of God inside of us that tells us to do good. So WE are the Jesus of the Earth. — Katie from Ebenezer Lutheran
Thoughts on Ascension & Heaven
True change is within, leave the outside as it is. — Dalai Lama
Ascensions into heaven are like falling leaves … sad and happy all at the same time … Going away isn’t really sad … especially when your going enables a new kind of presence to be born. — Ernest Hemingway
The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true.— John O’Donohue
Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. — Henry David Thoreau
At His Ascension our Lord entered Heaven, and He keeps the door open for humanity to enter. — Oswald Chambers
Earth’s crammed with heaven… But only he who sees, takes off his shoes. — Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is. — Fred Rogers
There’s always another level up. There’s always another ascension. More grace, more light, more generosity, more compassion, more to shed, more to grow. — Elizabeth Gilbert
Ah, paths of the soul, mysterious ways of the heart! One must walk their full lengths before facing the supreme equation of Eternal Life. It is essential for you to live all their conflicts and to know them fully in the long process of spiritual ascension. — Andre Luiz Moreira
Jesus raised our eyes above and beyond the narrow limits of our … lives, showed us other horizons, gives us a world beyond our ourselves. — Joan Chittister
To write the true natural history of the world, we should need to be able to follow it from within. It would thus appear no longer as an interlocking succession of structural types replacing one another, but as an ascension of inner sap spreading out in a forest of consolidated instincts. Right at its base, the living world is constituted by conscious clothes in flesh and bone. — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The way to heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh … Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will. … Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. … The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted. — Jonathan Edwards
Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord. — Pope Francis
The Ascension is actually the birth of the Inner You expressed as the spiritual individualism of the inner particle state. — Stuart Wilde
Aging is a staircase – the upward ascension of the human spirit, bringing us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity. As you may know, the entire world operates on a universal law: entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Entropy means that everything in the world, everything, is in a state of decline and decay, the arch. There’s only one exception to this universal law, and that is the human spirit, which can continue to evolve upwards. — Jane Fonda
Through the Holy Spirit comes our restoration to paradise, our ascension into the kingdom of heaven, our return to the adoption of sons, our liberty to call God our Father, our being made partakers of the grace of Christ, our being called children of light, our sharing in eternal glory, and, in a word, our being brought into a state of all “fulness of blessing,” both in this world and in the world to come, of all the good gifts that are in store for us, by promise hereof, through faith, beholding the reflection of their grace as though they were already present, we await the full enjoyment. — Saint Basil
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. – Soren Kierkegaard
Ironically … it is by the means of seemingly perfunctory daily rituals and routines that we enhance the personal relationships that nourish and sustain us. ― Kathleen Norris
Solving problems means listening. – Richard Branson
One thing becomes clearer as one gets older and one’s fishing experience increases, and that is the paramount importance of one’s fishing companions. — John Ashley Cooper
We don’t know who we are until we see what can we do. – Martha Grimes
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. — W. H. Murray
A Thirsty Fish (excerpt) — Rumi I don’t get tired of you. Don’t grow weary of being compassionate toward me! All this thirst equipment must surely be tired of me, the water jar, the water carrier. I have a thirsty fish in me that can never find enough of what it’s thirsty for! Show me the way to the ocean! Break these half-measures, these small containers …
What is one thing that this pandemic has caused you to see or experience differently? What do you appreciate?
What do you want to keep from this experience? What do you want to let go or be done with?
What in your life do you now consider to be abundant, that might once have felt scarce or limited?
And what do you now wish you had in greater quantity or quality, that you didn’t appreciate before this time?
What would you wish to give or offer, without limit, if you could?
What simple rituals or habits create a pattern in your daily life?
What gives you a sense of purpose?
What are some comforting practices or routines that you have developed during the pandemic, or in the bigger picture, across the course of your life?
Trying a Different Approach; Attempting Something New
One country … one ideology, one system is not sufficient. It is helpful to have a variety of different approaches … We can then make a joint effort to solve the problems of the whole of humankind. — Dalai Lama
You will enrich your life immeasurably if you approach it with a sense of wonder and discovery, and always challenge yourself to try new things. – Nate Berkus
Do one thing every day that scares you. — Eleanor Roosevelt
Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. – T.S. Eliot
I hope that … you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. — Neil Gaiman
Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things. – Theodore Levitt
Try new things everyday. Don’t be afraid of failures. You will not lose anything. But your brain will be packed with experiences. — Akash Ryan Agarwal
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. — Neale Donald Walsch
I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I’m not afraid of starting up, starting over, or even failing for that matter, because the fact that I try new things in itself is a victory. — Lynn Collins
Without experimentation, a willingness to as and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund. – Anthony Bourdain
To live an art-filled life, one must be willing to try new things & accept that things change. – Lee Hammond
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. – Walt Disney
Life is worthwhile if you try. It doesn’t mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do, if you just try. – Jim Rohn
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? – Vincent van Gogh
I won’t know if I like it until I try it, will I? ― Cassandra Clare
How do you know, unless you open the door? ― Casey Rislov
Change How You Think About Problems
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. – Albert Einstein
Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines. – Robert H. Shuller
Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin
Every problem is a gift. Without them we wouldn’t grow. – Tony Robbins
It isn’t that they cannot find the solution. It is that they cannot see the problem. – G.K Chesterton
Problems are nothing but wake-up calls for creativity. – Gerhard Gschwandtner
Inside of every problem lies an opportunity. – Robert Kiposaki
There is no problem outside of you that is superior to the power within you. – Bob Proctor
You can increase your problem-solving skills by honing your question-asking ability. – Michael J. Gelb
On Fishing: Light-hearted and Deep-minded Observations
Fishing is a discipline in the equality of men – for all men are equal before fish. — Herbert Hoover.
Yes, Jesus poured himself out for others. But he also went to parties, had breakfasts on the beach, went into the desert by himself, and took time off from the crowds. — Joan Chittister
Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after. — Henry David Thoreau.
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. — Vincent Van Gogh
… fishermen are the people with the most immediate vested interest in having a healthy sea. — Mark Kurlansky
The fish and I were both stunned and disbelieving to find ourselves connected by a line. — William Humphrey
In every species of fish … it is the ones that have got away that thrill me the most, the ones that keep fresh in my memory. — Ray Bergman
… drought affects everyone in the state, from farmers to fishermen, business owners to suburban residents, and everyone has a role to play in using precious water resources as wisely and efficiently as possible. — Frances Beinecke
What did Christ really do? He hung out with hard-drinking fishermen. — Iggy Pop
Fishermen own the fish they catch, but they do not own the ocean.— Etienne Schneider
There will be days when the fishing is better than one’s most optimistic forecast, others when it is far worse. Either is a gain over just staying home. — Roderick Haig Brown
Fishing is not an escape from life, but often a deeper immersion into it. — Harry Middleton.
I go fishing not to find myself but to lose myself. — Joseph Monniger
Christianity began as a religion of the poor and dispossessed – farmers, fishermen, Bedouin shepherds. There’s a great lure to that kind of simplicity and rigor – the discipline, the call to action. — Camille Paglia
I only hope the fish will take half as much trouble for me as I’ve taken for them. — Rudyard Kipling.
Everyone should believe in something. I believe I’ll go fishing. — Henry David Thoreau.
If all politicians fished, instead of spoke publicly, we would be at peace with the world. — Will Rogers
The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of something that is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope. — attributed to John Bucha
I don’t want to sit at the head table anymore. I want to go fishing. — George Bush.
The best fisherman I know try not to make the same mistakes over and over again; instead they strive to make new and interesting mistakes and to remember what they learned from them. — John Gierach
I have fished through fishless days that I remember happily without regret. — Roderick Haig Brown
The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad. — attributed to A.K. Best
Having a Sense of Purpose: Ordinary Tasks, Small Habits & Rituals as Sacred Moments
I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did? ― St Mother Teresa of Calcutta
It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters. ― Rick Warren
… God’s attention is indeed fixed on the little things. But this is not because God is a great cosmic cop, eager to catch us in minor transgressions, but simply because God loves us–loves us so much that the divine presence is revealed even in the meaningless workings of daily life. It is in the ordinary, the here-and-now, that God asks us to recognize that the creation is indeed refreshed like dew-laden grass that is “renewed in the morning” or to put it in more personal and also theological terms, “our inner nature is being renewed everyday”. Seen in this light, what strikes many modern readers as the ludicrous details in Leviticus involving God in the minuitae of daily life might be revisioned as the very love of God. ― Kathleen Norris
Excerpt from an essay by Rumi —There is one thing in this world which you must never forget to do. If you forget everything else and not this, there is nothing to worry about, but if you remember everything else and forget this, then you will have done nothing in your life. It is as if a king has sent you to some country to do a task, and you perform a hundred other services, but not the one he sent you to do. So human beings come to this world to do particular work. That work is the purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you don’t do it, it’s as though a knife of the finest tempering were nailed into a wall to hang things on. For a penny an iron nail could be bought to serve for that. Remember the deep root of your being, the presence of your lord. Give your life to the one who already owns your breath and your moments. If you don’t, you will be like the one who takes a precious dagger and hammers it into his kitchen wall for a peg to hold his dipper gourd. You will be wasting valuable keenness and foolishly ignoring your dignity and your purpose.
If you want to know if you are, in fact, loving yourself at all, ask yourself if you have ever cultivated something you like to do—like crocheting or gardening or painting or golfing or music. Ever. And if you haven’t, why haven’t you? Listen carefully to the answer. It is the key to being a whole person; it is the key to a whole other life. — Sr Joan Chittister