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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Today’s Reading | James 1:17–26

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. (NRSV)

Over the years I have been an imperfect student of meditation. My practice has had long lapses and taken different forms. There are many reasons why I keep returning to a meditation practice, but the immediate one is that it helps to slow me down and to see things more clearly.

I am not quick to anger, but once angry I am extremely so. Things get loud. Usually my children are both the cause and target of my anger, even though I know with every cell of me that “Anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” My shouting and bitter words serve nobody.

As a mother, this is what I work on most fervently. My mother was an angry person, and I was terrified of that anger. I do not want to pass this on to my children.

So I take anything—anything—that opens up a space in my emotions and my reactions, those chains of habit and temperament that often serve me well until they don’t. Anything that allows me to see myself and the situation rightly. Anything that gives me a window to look into God’s mirror— the perfect law and the law of true liberty—and to persevere in the attempt towards righteousness. We are all blessed when I can do so.

And I know that these moments are a gift from God. My desire to change is itself a gift from God. Thanks be to God.

Father of lights, in whom there is no shadow, I pray you shine your light in the darkest corners of my heart, that I may more fully love you and seek your truth in all I do and with all I encounter. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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