Meditation by Landis Homes Board Member Rachel Pellman
At Landis Homes we begin many of our gatherings with a meditation and prayer. In this blog I share a meditation by Board Member Rachel Thomas Pellman at the start of our October 2015 REC Day sessions for team members. REC stands for “Relaxation, Education, and Communication”, all of which are included in these annual half-day sessions.
I am just finishing my term as a board member of Landis Homes. I want you to know that the board is aware of the fact that Landis Homes has its good reputation in part because it has capable leaders, but also in large part because of all of the team members who do the daily work that makes Landis Homes function. As a representative of the board, I want to say thank you! You make a difference!
There was a song we used to sing in Sunday school when I was a little girl. The lyrics said, “O be careful little hands what you do, O be careful little hands what you do, for there’s a father up above, who is looking down in love, so be careful little hands what you do.” It had lots of verses, “Be careful little feet where you go, Be careful little tongue what you say, Be careful little ears what you hear, Be careful little eyes what you see.” Anyone else every sung that song?
As a child, the song always left me a bit unsettled. In my young mind, I imagined a God ready to pounce on me whenever my hands, feet, eyes, ears, or tongue got me into trouble. About a year ago one day on my morning walk, that song came into my mind. I’ve probably sung that little tune about a hundred times in my lifetime, but for the first time ever, as I hummed through it, the phrase that jumped out at me was, “who is looking down in love.” “There’s a father up above who is looking down in love!” The God who is watching is not a punitive, hungry for vengeance God, but a God who loves us and watches us with love. Whatever our hands, feet, ears, eyes and tongue do, is indeed seen by God, but seen through the eyes of love. When I think of it that way, it transforms for me, the daily acts of routine life. God cares about the work of our hands and feet. God cares about what we say and do. And as followers of Jesus, we act in loving ways. With this new way of thinking about it, the emphasis is not on careful (as in watchful on anxious), but on care-full, as in full of care. Be care-full little hands what you do, little feet where you go, little tongue what you say, little ears what you hear, and be care-full little eyes what you see.
There is a Celtic spirituality tradition that talks of “Thin Spaces”. In these special “thin spaces” it is believed that the distance between heaven and earth is very thin. The veil that separates heaven from earth can be lifted, the door between heaven and earth can be cracked open for a moment, and in these thin spaces, we can, for a moment, get a glimpse of the glory of God.
There are geographical destinations that are known as thin spaces. They are pastoral, beautiful spots where it is easy to feel the presence of god. But I would like to suggest that thin spaces can be created any place where we relate to each other in loving ways. When your hands, full of care, reach out to tenderly wipe a tear from the face of a crying dementia resident, the veil is pulled aside and we can see the face of Jesus. When your hands, patiently unclog a toilet that is once again stopped up because a resident had flushed an inappropriate item, and that person is treated with dignity and kindness; when you prepare healthy food and present it with care, even when the persons eating it may not be able to notice, the mist rolls back and the face of Jesus is present. When your care-full ears hear the wish of a resident, and you do what you can to make that wish come true because it is special to that individual; or when you listen for the words that can no longer be spoken and need to be figured out with intuition, heaven opens for a bit and love shines through. When you use your full of care tongue to say a kind word to encourage a co-worker or a resident, when your words reframe the complaints of a person in distress and make the picture brighter, the space between heaven and earth disappears and God is right there. When your care-full feet travel slowly and patiently to walk with a resident to experience the beauty of outdoors, or when you run quickly to respond to a call, and you treat that person with respect, the space is very thin.
Ephesians chapter 4, verse 6 says, there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in all.” The presence of God is everywhere, but it is only when we are mindful to that presence that we will be aware of the many thin spaces we encounter each day.
Let’s try to be more aware of those thin spaces. In his song, Anthem, Leonard Cohen says, “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
We will not be perfect. Even when we are careful, our hands, feet, eyes, ears, and tongues will sometimes disappoint us. But we worship a God who watches us with love, and invites us to those thin spaces where we encounter that love in very real ways.
Let the light of Jesus shine through you as you go about your work. Use your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and tongue to be the bringers of love, gentleness, joy, and compassion.
Prayer: Loving God, we acknowledge our brokenness, and are grateful that your light can shine through those cracks. Make us mindful of your presence, so that our feet walk in the path of kindness. Touch our hands that they will be agents of healing and hope. Unseal our ears to hear your voice in the cries of others. Open our eyes so that we can catch a glimpse of heaven in our relationships on earth. Guard our tongues so that our words are gentle when words are needed, and quiet when there is nothing to say. May we see you above all, through all, and in all. Amen