Reflection for Monday, May 23, 2022: 6th Week of Easter.

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Shirley, Nancy
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|Once again, the "random" assignment of a reflection has one of my favorite readings and just perfect for this time. The month of May for me focuses so much on women – devotion to Mary, Mothers' Day, Nurses' Day/Week, the anniversary of my mother's death.  All of these aspects always make me think more about the journey as a woman – the ups and downs, the challenges and the rewards, the disappointments and the triumphs.|I love reading about the women in the Bible and their unique roles in so many stories that would be the domain of men. Lydia's story is a special one to me.  Perhaps it is that she is dealer in purple cloth.  My most favorite color is purple in any variation -- So her purple cloth and her uniqueness as a strong, independent woman always intrigued me.  The first time I heard this reading I wondered what is the significance of being a dealer in purple cloth – why would that be mentioned?  I did do a little research on this to try and understand the back story.  Unfortunately, this is the only chapter where Lydia is mentioned in the Bible and the details about Lydia are few.  We know that she is a worshipper of God yet as a citizen in a Roman colony that seems unusual – of course being a "businesswoman" with a sizable household is not usual either.  Purple cloth was reserved for the most elite, so being a dyer and seller of purple cloth makes her quite special.  Perhaps what captivated me the most about Lydia is the circumstance in which Paul found her and how her heart was open.  In some of the passages preceding this reading, Paul is directed in several different ways and guided to this particular town.  Clearly, destiny (AKA God's plan) is to connect Lydia and Paul.  He finds her with a group of women worshipping – God's plan unfolds as He opens her heart to Paul's teachings. No coincidence that all came to together or that she immediately seeks Baptism for herself and entire household.  Her status and wealth put her in a unique position to support the Church in Philippe – she embraces that opportunity with her whole heart and soul. |When I was working with Ignatian Spirituality Project and retreats for homeless women in recovery, I loved referring to the lessons from the women in the bible including Lydia.  The author (whose name is escaping me right now) spoke of how women supported each other at the foot of the cross and now support each other in the various crossroads of life.  We walk the rutted roads together – cry together, laugh together, pray together.  She said we bind ourselves together not as prisoners but rather as kindred climbers there to pull each other up, support, and encourage the ascent to better things.|Lydia provides a role model for us all (men and women) to keep our hearts open.  So often that is my prayer – not for this or that material thing or even conclusions – rather prayers to keep my heart open.  Open to hear the message – will it be in a reading?  An interaction with a colleague or even a stranger?  A sunrise or a rainbow?  Or in responses from readers who send back such wonderful messages to my angst in reflections that my heart is renewed?  God speaks in so many ways – I have yet to hear a burning bush, yet the whispers of hope and guidance are all around me – I just need to open my eyes and heart.|This is one of my most favorite uplifting songs – I can't sit still or be quiet when I hear it.  A friend of mine not knowing how much I loved it sent it to me last week to lift my spirits and, indeed, it did! While the words of the song are probably enough to make you smile, this video may provide even more joy!|Grace Got You   (MercyMe)
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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