Take Back the Land

The Conditions for Restoration and Blessing

Deuteronomy 30:1-13 The Message

Here’s what will happen. While you’re out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children’s hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you. And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I’m commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you’ll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back.

This commandment that I’m commanding you today isn’t too much for you, it’s not out of your reach. It’s not on a high mountain – you don’t have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it’s not across the ocean – you don’t have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now – as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!

The Holy Spirit burst threw me today like a freight train, crushing everything in its path and not caring who or what was in its way. I have been tired for some time in this season of wandering… where God where are you? Is this it? Is my life meant to be lived in these bits and pieces? Some ups, some downs…moments of joy and some of sadness. Am I supposed to live in the in between or for the next moment? Meditation after meditation, article, blog post, bible study, mass, homily, Instagram priests- I took it all in, and it was GOOD! But I couldn’t hear a lot of it. In fact, I couldn’t hear most of it. Because I was to busy keeping my mind fixed on negativity, demeaning words and actions, cruelty and meanness and re-living those words in my head over and over again waiting for God to give me a different platform, a different purpose, a different meaning.

We say that we do not care about words that hurt and those that hurt us, and that is a LIE. And although we may say it, the heart feels it and often deters us from the very thing that God has already told us to do. For a long time now I have been living in that lie, veering on and off the course, in and out of that narrow lane. Those words, those words in my ears. That email that I received telling me to shut the f*** up, the internet is mine not yours, this space is mine not yours, the message is mine not yours. And so the devil crept in, kept my hands from writing and my heart from feeling. Holding back the gift that God gave me- my words. Not for me, but for someone. A you, a friend, your sister. The words that seemed to flow like a dripping faucet, a steady flow until someone said, “I’ll fix that faucet!” So I let them “fix” that faucet. But I was the one who decided not to turn it back on.

The one thing that God asked me to do is the one thing that I’ve been holding back. I am the cause of my own downfall. And while I’d like to blame the ones that stifled me, it is not their fault. Undeterred, I should have walked right into Jerusalem.

Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day, for it is impossible that a prophet should die outside of Jerusalem. Luke 13:33

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Luke 13:35

Did you see that? Jesus willingly did that. Knowing everything, He walked into His own death. But along the way, he experienced everything that we did, rejection, pain, sorrow- you name it. He was undeterred. He kept walking. He did not hit the pause button or decide He would take another road. He kept going, His face set toward the ultimate goal- Jerusalem.

As we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, why do we fear, then tremble and stop? Why do we walk the other way or think that God has a different call on our lives just because people are mean and don’t like what we say?

Nelson Madela said this about obstacles and perseverance,

“When the water is boiling, it is foolish to turn off the heat.”

Could our mission and signs be any clearer? Is anything that God sends to us easy? And why do we run away rather than towards our heavenly missions? Why are we so deterred?

What a fool I am this day! If God demanded my life this day, could I say that I lived up to what He asked of me? Did I not hear the words of Mary- Do whatever He tells you to do!

I pray to God that my life is not demanded of me this day.

Oh how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?

Luke 24:25-26 (italicized the word “and” for emphasis, it was in fact BOTH!)

Can we not suffer yet still choose to move forward, all at the same time? Why do we run away when we know we are called? Why can we not endure and enter at the same time? Oh the great mystery of the crucifix…

So I will keep walking, mud and all. Those people that believe that they own the market on opinion and the internet, I’m over it…

I’m taking back the land.

Cloistered Words

It took several hours for me to find silence. At first I chased it, then shunned it, then cried over it. I had been led into the desert by the Holy Spirit and tasked to give up time- but very specific time. The time I spend in indulgence on platforms like You Tube watching silly videos or other such things that lead my mind to numbness. And although on first blush one might think that I was being to hard on myself, if you look deeper you can find the root of God’s request. When we substitute one thing for another to numb the pain or busyness of life, it is not holy, it is tragedy.

In my “day” job, I live as an attorney representing a major metropolitan police department. I am involved on a larger scale in our county on issues that effect millions of people- school shootings, the role of school resource officers and the taking of guns from people who are not in a place to have them. I look at horrible pictures, write laws and make decisions for people who are not equipped to make them for themselves. I have been operating within the confines of the criminal justice system for the past almost twenty years.

And so when I yearn for a break, for decompression, for peace, it is hard to simply “sit” in silence. The echoes of war ring deep in my soul. I think of guns, dying and the battlefield that my police officers live on daily. I worry about them, I pray for them, and I pray for myself. But most days, I cannot seem to simply let go…

So God asked me to fill my “quiet” time with all things Him, not to use escapes to deal with pain or to allow my mind to simply wander. And I attempted this for the first time on Day 4 of Lent, as days 1-3 were so busy at work and home I practically fell asleep in my clothes. After God cleared my calendar yesterday and I vehemently objected, I was left with nothing but myself… and Him.

And so I heeded His call. I found myself immersed in a documentary called “Chosen, ” a behind the scenes look at life as a cloistered nun behind the sacred walls of a monastery. The subtitle of the film, “Custody of the Eyes.”

The film was breathtaking and deeply disturbing all at the same time. But the disturbance was in my soul. I longed to be locked up with them even if only for  a short period of time. I adored their habit, simplicity and love for our Lord. I felt interrupted and challenged, questioning myself and my vocation, thinking about all of the time I had wasted not focused on the eyes of Jesus. I wanted my house to be a convent, a reflection of Him and His love for humanity.

One hour and 44 minutes is a long time to spend in a monastery, and I didn’t ever want it to end. I thought about their rules, expectations and order and I craved that. I have always had a profound respect and love for nuns since I was a small child. Maybe it was me gazing into my future entry into beloved Mother Church…

But I came out on the other end changed, wanting, needing…more. I felt alive in the silence of their monastery walls. I wanted to rid myself of idleness, of cheap substitutes and distractions. Because time is limited. Because it all should belong to God.

You can read more about “Chosen” here

I encourage you to watch it this Lent. For those at parishes that have the app “Formed” it can be found on there.