Con-tent-ment: the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.

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Do you remember a catchy little song from the ’80’s that went, “Don’t worry, be happy” for about 10 minutes straight? It would get stuck in my mind and become an unintentional mental mantra. In some ways, it also became a spiritual meditation for me when things were going crazy at work.

It’s actually not a bad mantra in an age when we’ve learned that chronic worry is detrimental to our health. Chronic worry can reduce the quality of our lives. Worry can wear us down and deplete us. Worry can interfere with our ability to live our lives with joy and appreciation for the goodness and beauty that can be found in each day…if we open our hearts and minds and look for it.

The peace activist, Thích Nhất Hạnh says, “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.” We long for peace in our world, peace in our country, peace among politicians, peace among neighbors, peace in our families. But true peace, begins in our own hearts. Peace grows out of a sense of satisfaction with what and who we are. If even a rock can find peace and contentment in just being, why can’t we?

Jesus says, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25,27.

So, when it’s finally time to climb into bed at the end of the day, give yourself a break! You did the best you could, or maybe you didn’t, doesn’t matter. Tomorrow’s another day. Put yourself in God’s hands and don’t worry…..be happy.

Tol-er-ance: To endure without repugnance; put up with;capacity to endure pain or hardship

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What is your pain threshold? I can tolerate moderate pain up to a certain point, and then I admit, I get whiney! When I had my emergency eye surgery, one of the most difficult parts of that experience was when the very young residents were trying to insert an IV into my dehydrated and invisible veins. They tried eight different locations on my right arm, wiggling and digging the needle around…well, I know I’ve already shared more than some of you want to know or hear about needles!

The ability to tolerate pain varies widely among people and for each person it’s different. I can tolerate pain, but I certainly don’t seek it out or embrace it. I don’t like it and I pretty much avoid it as much as possible. That’s why Jesus doesn’t teach us to “tolerate” our neighbors and our enemies. A world of tolerance means we will put up with our neighbors when we have to…but we won’t seek them out or embrace them. That’s why Jesus doesn’t talk about tolerance…that creates a world that requires fences and walls in order to make good neighbors. Jesus gives us the much harder task. Jesus tells us that we must learn to love them. To embrace and love them all.

“I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who insult you and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt 5:45)

Re-sur-rect: Rising again, as from decay, disuse, etc.; revival. To bring back to life.

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Did you ever think you would be so happy to see dirt? DIRT! Squishy, muddy, beautiful brown dirt! We have spent the last few weeks entombed in snow and ice, the dreary bleakness seeping into our souls. The soggy weight of winter has bogged us down and we’ve gone into hibernation. We’ve hunkered in our homes waiting for the breath of spring that we had almost believed might never come. As the sun’s warmth begins to melt the frozen mounds at last, we are reminded that Lent is not our season of despair. Lent is our season to remember that God opened a way through the red sea, that Jesus stilled the fiercest storms, that we have been promised that when we turn our hearts towards God, the path will be made straight and God will get us through. We remember that the cross, that death, is not the end of our journey. From the bare, dark earth, new life will push forth. From an empty tomb, love and hope will pour out into the world. We remember that we are not a dying church. We are a resurrection church. We are the church of life, death, and new life, in and through Christ. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5:17) May you see the world in new and beautiful ways! Happy Spring thaw!!

Te-nac-i-ty: The quality or fact of being able to grip something firmly.

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These last few dandelion seeds appear to be holding on with all their might.  Do you ever feel that you are barely holding on?  Do you ever feel that you are clinging to the end of your rope with only your fingertips?    It’s been a difficult winter and it seems as if spring is an impossible dream.  In the chaotic whirlwind of our lives, when we feel we are losing our grip, Jesus says, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but if you give it up for me you will find it.”  When we can’t hold on one more minute, when we can’t stand one more thing going wrong, Jesus calls us to surrender.  Jesus calls us to let go, to let go of the worry, the stress, and the anxiety.  Jesus calls us to take a leap of faith and grab onto God.  Just like our tenacious dandelion seeds, it is only when we finally let go and let God that we will be able to dance with the wind and fly.