Branching Out Blog

Leftovers

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 16, 2023 6:00:00 AM

There are so many kinds of leftovers, some good, and some not so good. With big and busy holidays, for example, there are often various amounts of leftover foods from the specially planned feasts. How long do the turkey remnants last in your refrigerator? Are there crumbly samples of many different cookies left over from the workplace cookie exchange? Was that big casserole too overwhelming to finish at one sitting?

For the most part, I like leftovers when it comes to food. Leftovers can mean I don’t have to plan a meal or bake something new. Often leftovers even taste better the next day. Sure, many meals of “repeats” can get to be too much, but from my experience, that does not happen very often.

Let’s get out of the realm of leftover foods. How about leftover laughter? What fun it is to recall a humorous incident or a funny joke and chuckle again to yourself. How about meeting a friend with whom you had shared a silly experience, and when your eyes meet, burst into laughter again?

There are treasured memories—-leftover thoughts—that linger with us for years. We joyfully recall life experiences with family members and friends who have moved away or passed away. We might remember and savor first-time happenings or last-time moments. We may love to rehash happy occasions or holy spiritual highs. Not long ago, we read in Sacred Scripture that after the shepherds visited the newborn Jesus,

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

Of course, certain memories may be sad or punctuated with grief but remain part of our “leftovers repertoire.” Perhaps some thoughts that pop into our minds can involve resentment. I have heard of families that deal with leftover resentment or grudges for years. Nothing good comes from unforgiveness. Grudges should be discarded as if they were moldy aged food leftovers. The time with which each of us has been blessed should be used for producing and fostering positive, loving, and fruitful relationships and memories. We should pay attention to what St. Paul advises in Philippians 4:8:

    Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,

   whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any

   excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

 I encourage all of us to be very careful which leftovers of any sort we carry with us this year. Making a resolution to invite the Holy Spirit into each day of our lives—and keeping that resolution—is a good ingredient for future promising leftovers!

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Topics: forgiveness, reconciliation, Scripture, Sharon Krause, holding grudges

Words and Consequences

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 29, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Grudge! That word jumped out at me as it was read in Mark’s gospel at today’s liturgy. I have heard stories of grudges between families and individuals. The stories are never good. I know of one family that for almost 20 years has been damaged by a grudge over the worth of family property. Three members of that large family have isolated themselves from all the other relatives. They never communicate. It is as if the rest of the family had died! There are many causes of grudges, but they all seem to involve unforgiveness or anger or ambitious rivalry. Words are usually exchanged. Emotions come into play.

In Mark 17-29, we learn that John the Baptist has told Herod that it is unlawful for him to have his brother’s wife, Herodias. For that, John is imprisoned by Herod even though Herod enjoyed listening to John’s preaching. Herod promised Herodias’s daughter her heart’s desire after her delightful dance; that is when grudge-ridden Herodias suggested that her daughter ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod had to keep his word!

If we hold a grudge, we try to punish the person with whom we are at odds. We really are punishing ourselves by holding on to anger or resentment. In the Lord's Prayer, we ask God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we hold a grudge, we take back our part of the proposed deal with God. Somehow, we might righteously think that if we hold onto a grudge, the object of our anger gets what he or she deserves: the loss of our love or attention. We, however, miss out on the possibilities of satisfying interactions with that person. The grudge can take on a life of its own and be “in charge.”

I suggest that we try to turn grudges into nudgesthat is, nudges to bring love into challenging situations. Deflate the grudge balloons! Pray about any situation that tempts us to hold onto anger; ask the Holy Spirit to shine a new revealing light to help us see other sides to the story. We might take a small step and start a conversation about something else upon which everyone does agree. Do a little. charitable work of mercy together. Recall a happy event we have shared and give thanks to God together. Invite conversation and possible new avenues of joint effort.

Remember that grudge-holding is bad-example-giving to others. Diffuse the emotional buildup while remembering past joys.

 

Psalm 51:12-14 is a good forgiveness prayer:

   A clean heart create for me, O God,

       and a steadfast spirit renew within me.

   Cast me not out from your presence,

       and your holy spirit take not from me.

   Give me back the joy of your salvation,

       and a willing spirit sustain in me.

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Topics: reconciliation, Scripture, Sharon Krause, holding grudges

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