Sunday, 8 December 2013

Advent 2013 - Peace and Hope

I was asked this past week to prepare for my church how I, personally, practice HOPE or manage to feel HOPE in situations.  I spoke at my church this morning and now feel it appropriate to share it on the blog.  May it help you have HOPE in this season of Advent but also at other times of the year and in all situations.

 Hope.....what is hope?  I was asked to speak about how I, personally, manage to feel hope in all situations.  Over the years, it has been music and scripture that has provided me with hope in various situations where I felt utterly hopeless.  Singing is a form of worship and prayer even when I am at home by myself.  I always rely on Psalm 31: vs. 3-5, "For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me.  Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength.  Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me O Lord God of truth."  This scripture is a balm to my soul when the going gets rough in life.  I imagine a rock and a strong, thick fortress built from rocks that protects me from all sides; a refuge in times of difficulty.  I practise keeping an open line of communication with my God.  Sometimes I drift away when the going is good but I always find God's glorious presence in unexpected moments in nature and music.  When I finished my last treatment, my husband took me to Lemoine's Point for a very slow walk to the water's edge where I saw sunbeams shining through the clouds and reflecting on the water.  He used to take me to the parking spot across from the airport while I was in treatment and too weak to walk.  We would sit and just soak up the peacefulness of the water whether it was calm or choppy.  This always gave me hope as I looked forward to being strong enough to walk at the water's edge.  2 years ago while I waited for diagnostic tests, I knew I had cancer.  We just didn't know what kind.  My options were thyroid cancer, lymphoma or lung cancer.  Lung cancer......This caused major fear and terror because my dad died in 1991 from lung cancer and was diagnosed at the exact same time of year....Nov. 30, 1990.  Fear is a powerful distractor from our ability to hope.  I couldn't sing or play my flute.  I didn't feel like playing the piano.  However, the birdsongs I heard outside my home were another form of music which was a balm to my soul.  It gave me hope that as the old children's hymn says, "God sees the little sparrow fall, He meets his tender needs".  If God can look after all the tiny sparrows and birds that provided me with such wonderful music, then God would take care of me too.  No matter what.  That's where the hope came from.  God is the source of the hope that all things would be taken care of including me. connect with God I needed quiet time.  I think this is why nature is such a draw for me because there is nothing like the peaceful quietness of nature to connect with God.  I used to fulfill my responsibilities from the time I arose in the morning straight through to the time I fell exhausted into bed at night.  During my illness and treatments and even now, I build in quiet time in the morning and at night to reflect on my relationship with God.  Sometimes this comes in the form of prayer.  Sometimes it comes in the form of meditation with the aid of "The Book of Awakening" by Mark Nepo.  Sometimes....during the day I have unexpected moments which I call Godcidences where I see God is with me.  These fill me with hope that things will get better.  I had one just on Friday.  I returned a friend's phone call and we chatted.  She mentioned how she would just like to sing for the pure joy of singing (make a joyful noise).  This appealed to me as I've continued to struggle with my voice.  A private get together to sing music without any expectations!  What a gift this would be in my day!  We decided to be spontaneous and meet at the church to sing in Upper Founders' Hall.  I was supposed to do my groceries but instead I quickly ran downstairs and grabbed just a few books and pieces of music without thinking.  When I arrived at the church, I saw my minister in the hall and she discussed with me the possibility of speaking about how I practise my hope.  I agreed and planned to ponder this on Saturday.  I continued to Upper Founders' Hall with my friend and we chose music at random.  The very first song spoke to me very strongly!  I had a Godcidence!!  This music fit the topic of Advent Hope and Peace perfectly.  As I sang it, I had a full warmth fill my body and soul.  God was with me again as I was struggling with a very chaotic personal week.  God provided me with hope as I sang with a friend in a spontaneous rendezvous.  I would have missed this wonderful experience if I had said no to it so I could get my groceries done.  Hope is available to all of us if we allow ourselves to be still, quiet and accept the possibility of God's constant presence with us.  I will now sing a short excerpt from the song that was definitely a Godcidence on Friday.  It's called "From A Distance" which was performed by Bette Midler.

Since I can't sing on the blog, the words that really spoke to me were "It's the voice of hope, it's the voice of peace, it's the voice of every man."

I wish you all an Advent season filled with Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

1 comment:

  1. This is beautiful, Cathy. I finally got a moment to read this post and was pleasantly surprised to see your write about singing; it's something I wrote about today on my blog. It's something that my mother told me is one of the most joyful things in life --- to sing.

    Hope is something every human being needs. It's what keeps us moving forward. It is the soul's music. Thank you for such a lovely post.