Sanctuary, Robin Williams – Thoughts

The blog entry below is a ‘move-over’ from a Facebook status-musing this morning, with a little editing and a few adds.  I thought it worth contributing to the conversation, the meaning-making, the mourning, the hopes…

robin-williams-desktop-wallpapers-1So many things swirl around the internet and social media – and in my own thoughts, prayer, reflection – with Robin Williams’ death.  Video clips, recent or decades old interviews or parts played, the reactions of friends, fans and celebrities: tons of short and long features and reflections are available for review.  And I’ve paged and viewed a good number, stunned, along with the many others sharing the experience and coping some with the loss of such a gifted artist  in such a tragic way by doing so in common, remembering him and being inspired by his work.  His career and his way of being in the world – comedic and vulnerable, real and ragged – and his way of telling stories – these made him very accessible to many of us, as if we had a decades-long relationship with him as a brilliant-quirky-wise-sad-hysterical-laugh-out-loud relative in our extended families.

Among all swirling in my own heart and mind this morning, this comes through and holds my attention.

We all need refuge: places and people and perspectives and ways to access truth that we can run to and lean on not only in great need, but in the beauty and terror we experience in echoes in everyday. We need to know ourselves known and seen and embraced and accompanied. We need practices and pathways to help us stand in the truth that we are immensely loved and unshakeably safe, especially in storms and confusion and pain which all experience.

Robin’s death brings to mind the need we all have for sanctuary. So that is my prayer… a dwelling with this word, this reality… sanctuary.  How can we find it? Be it? Create it for each other? In our vulnerability receive it? In our grasping or addictions not withhold it from each other?

And, as I consider this, I wonder how this relates, yes, to Robin’s amazing life/gifts/pain/need/struggles and our own. But also our need for sanctuary, and our struggles to find it (sometimes, in our perception, over and against others) speaks to me of children on borders, of violence in relationships or in the Middle East and anywhere on our globe or in our homes, of people isolated due to illness or age or limitations or labels or even our/their own disastrous choices.  We are fragile and fascinating and amazing and in need.

If we come – and we do – from Trinity Love, and live too within the circle of that embrace, can we learn and taste and access and become truly sanctuary with and for each other in our world? I hope so.

I need sanctuary. Don’t you? Let us help each other find it. Let us create it with our words and glances, our sensitivities and welcomes, our policies and politics, our anthropologies and theologies and ecclesiologies, and our listening. Let us send each other ‘home’ and protect the silence around one another, as we each do the necessary work of presence and patience, nurturing what emerges and is formed in us slowly and gradually. Our souls are shy, Parker Palmer has liked to tell us.*  They need safe places to thrive, to find what is true, to seek integrity, to come to be.  Let us be harbor-sanctuary seekers and makers, releasing smaller efforts that close us and others off.  Let us cease judgments and violences, and all the ways we isolate each other and ourselves. We need conversions and transformations as individuals and as a human race…. and to accept the Grace in abundance available for our turning and learning.

It is simply true that life’s cycles and challenges are difficult. (We’ve all heard that growing old is not for wimps or sissies! ) Deaths and resurrections, both.  May we pursue working for sanctuary gently, yet boldly – and daily.

And for those in struggle, the psalm song refrain of a loved prayer echoes for me:  “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.  Be with me Lord.  Be with me.  Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble.  Be with me Lord.  Be with me.”  Be with us, Lord, each and all… and remind us of your presence. Mend our freedom and our sight – from all our specific impairments – so that we may choose the good, affirm the good, learn joy, trust, and build havens and harbors, and frequently visit them for our strength and empowering.

Robin, RIP.

Friends, will you join me in prayer and reflection with the word SANCTUARY, and anything it touches, calls, incites, invites in you?

*  Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness, is elegantly expressive on this point.

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keep the Vigil of Mystery – It Matters: Pondering with Jessica Powers

“To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind’s will.”

I am attracted, these days, to this poem by the gifted Carmelite Jessica Powers (1905-1988).   Her way with words I’ve long loved, and I’ll offer you this work in three parts over the next few days, with a few lines of wanderings/wonderings for your reflection and mine.

To live listening, to keep the vigil of mystery – these are wise invitations to the seeker. I wonder – can you and I learn to truly WAIT?  WAIT = Why Am I Talking?  Does my talking serve listening?   The freedom of the other?   The truth of a human experience or challenge?   The beyondness of an encounter with LIFE, GOD, LOVE, A HUMAN PERSON, or SELF?  Are my words echoes that come out of silence,  or noise that protects me from the rawness of experience?

Could it be that we live speaking instead of listening because we feel somehow safer or in more control when we guide the dialogues we have with others, with life’s complexities, with our own confusions or cluelessness?  What would it take to lay down the burden of managing mystery and to instead hold vigil in the darkness?

At times this may indeed feel raw, vulnerable,  intimate – and remind us once again of what we do not understand.  Without a GPS to tell us exactly where we are, a Google or Bing access to explain the unknown, and an app to help us navigate with ease… will we be okay?

At this time of year,  I liken it to the reaction we might have as we step onto an empty beach or look up at night – away from city lights – at vast darkness or uncountable stars.   Does sheer space in those contexts scare us,  make us feel small?   Do we feel inconsequential before multi-billion grains of sands or a night sky-view that hints at a cosmos we cannot begin to see or imagine from where we stand?  And in our more daily moments?   Do large joys or sorrows overwhelm us?  Does not-knowing disturb us, and send us into calculating or strategic plans that remake the real contours of complexities into manageable microbits?

SAMSUNGspitzer-saggitarius-glorius-blue-space-800

Powers’ words invite us to listen to the Spirit – to recognize all moments as opportunities to stand small and naked and clueless before mystery – and to learn trust.  Those moments at the beach or beneath the night sky bring me peace, in the midst of wonder – and likely bring that to many of us.  Our intuitive selves know that these experiences are safe and whole-ing.  They can quiet us, even help us to relax by evening us out, reminding us of the large, of the gift we have in living in it without grasping, and refresh us with joy in our being part – a precious part – of something very VERY large. (Think universe, cosmos, creation, and the Creator bigger-than-this-infinity LARGE!)

This awareness can become a lifestyle – and one more relaxing and whole than endeavoring to protect ourselves from life’s big  questions or managing mystery.  We can find joy in being little, known, poor, unknowing.  But this indeed is not an easy journey for we who express our discomfort with this reality, our alienation from this truest identity, in manifold ways.  We circle.  We project.  We protect.  We narrate.  We analyze.  We fear pain.  We have known hurt.  But being bigger than we are and trying to microwave meaning and skip over transcendence with reality-for-dummies strategies simply does not work.  We can be taught, and allow ourselves to be drawn out and allured into deserts and spaces where we can learn trust and heal from our own first person singular ways of doing frenzy.  We can allow ourselves to rage or weep, laugh or dance, and ask for whatever we need for the next steps into living mystery and listening to life and living with the Spirit.  And we can support each other on this journey as true community and pilgrims in process.

With time, and Grace’s enduring work in and with us, we may find that Living Loved and finding our refuge and home and mission from there may prove to be our truest experience of Mystery, as we – and all – are wrapped within the Trinity’s love.  And our vigils with these truths will guide us to reengage in living with integrity,  and provide us a way to reboot when we stray back to lesser living and efforts to manipulate or be our own source, wisdom, control.  They may also help us as individuals, and as a human race, to make better decisions towards peace and stewardship and solidarity and creativity.  And is that not a need for our very survival at this point?

So,  let’s listen to the Spirit today some… do our part to be faithful to the journey.  It matters if we do.  It matters that we do.

“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, 
in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”

(Isaiah 30:15)

Categories: General, Mystery, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Aslan’s Resurrection Romp and Roar

The rising of the sun had made everything look so different – all the colours and shadows were changed – that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing.  Then they did.  The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.

“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the two girls rushing back to the Table.

“Oh, it’s too bad,” sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”

“Whose done it?” cried Susan.  “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”

“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs.  “It is more magic.”  They looked round.  There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

 

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.

“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.

“Not now,” said Aslan.

“You’re not a – not a -?” asked Susan in a shaky voice.  She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.

Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forehead.  The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came all over her.

“Do I look it?” he said.

“Oh, you’re real, you’re real!  Oh, Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know.  Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time.  But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation.  She would have know that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.  And now – “

“Oh yes.  Now?” said Lucy jumping up and clapping her hands.

aslan-resurrection“Oh, children,” said the Lion, “I feel my strength coming back to me.  Oh, children, catch me if you can!”  He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail.  Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table.  Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him.  Aslan leaped again.  A mad chase began.  Round and round the hill-top he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs.  It was such a romp as no one has ever had in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.  And the funny thing was then when all three finally lay together panting in the sun the girls no longer felt in the least tired or hungry or thirsty.

“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business.  I feel I am going to roar.  You had better put your fingers in your ears.”

And they did.  And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare look at it…

“We have a long journey to go.  You must ride on me.”

Excerpted from  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Macmillan Publishing, 1950, 131-134.

THANKS to C.S. Lewis for this Narnian window into the truth and joy of this day!  I don’t know about you, but the romp and the excitement and the laughter and velveted paws and landing topsy turvy — these all seem SO fitting.  I’d love such an Easter experience – and hope for one, one day!  And I hope to see you there – with all of creation – in the celebrating, romping  joy!  Unending, including everyone and everything – amazing wondrous magical mysterious laughing rescued embraced love and delight!  Blessed Easter, one and all!

Categories: Easter, Triduum | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trinity Love – in Jesus – Beckons, Waits

SAMSUNG

O soul, return, for Jesus Christ is calling you with hands outstretched on the cross; return, for the whole abyss of the Trinity stands ready for your coming.

See how patiently He waited – oh how long He waited for you!….He was mercifully expecting your return!…
Return, O soul: Christ is waiting for you on the cross. His head is inclined for a kiss, His arms are spread out for an embrace, and His hands open in a gesture of giving. His body is stretched in a position of total offering; His feet are attached so that He will remain with you; His side is open to let you in.

[Bonaventure, “Soliloquy on the Four Spiritual Exercises”  I:4-38, 39. Engl. trans. Jose de Vinck, Works of Bonaventure, Vol. III – Patterson, NJ: St. Anthony Guild Press, 1966, 69.]

Categories: Triduum | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Joseph of Nazareth – Friend, Witness, Patron – Be With Us, Tend Our Journeys Too

Happy Feast of St. Joseph, one of my patrons! In Mary’s vulnerability, he encircled her. His sheltering created a boundary where Mary’s availability to God and the life within her could flourish. Mary is theotokos, God-bearer; but it is Joseph who surrounded his beloved with strength and tenderness, bearing the one who bore the one larger than the universe itself.*

Joseph, your faithfulness to God held you firmholy-family
as you guided and protected Mary
and the child within her womb,
as you assisted at a stable birth,
as you greeted star followers and sheep tenders.

You held an infant son to your chest
and, with his mother, taught him –
as he toddled and explored
the human confines of home and hearth –
to speak and to pray.

You shaped wood, family, and Jesus –holy-family-statue
with love and attention.

You bore the one who bore God,
sheltering and encompassing her
from the beginning,
treasuring her as she treasured in her heart –
and you in yours –
what crazy wondrous things
your God (and ours)
was amazingly moving forward
through your growing son.

SAMSUNGTeach us your trust
your daily fidelity,
your openness to witness wonder
in the everyday.
And be companion-friend to us, to all.

Provide your circling tending presence,
place your hand upon our shoulders,
as we make our vulnerable way along too,
seeking to be available to God
and give Christ birth today,
at Spirit’s prompting.

Put in a word for us
to the boy and man you shaped,
and teach us your love for him
and your willingness to have him be all he is,
whether or not you or we understand.

We greet you and thank you on our way!
And we thank God for you!
St. Joseph, pray for us.


*This description of Mary owed to another friend, Clare of Assisi, in one of her letters to Agnes of Prague.

Categories: Poetry, Saints | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Uses of Sorrow, Darkness, Temptation: Mary Oliver and Lent D5*

The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

               (Mary Oliver, from Thirst, Beacon Press, Boston, 2006)

boxofdark

On a Sunday when the Gospel sends us to find Jesus in the desert, Oliver’s poem seems apt.  Coming across it reminded me of the line from Isaiah that reads “I will give you treasures out of the darkness”.  It takes years indeed, it seems to me, to discover the gifts in darkness, sorrow, temptation.

I like very much the view of a few who have reflected that part of the experience of Jesus’ temptation in the desert was discovering what being God’s Beloved (as he was named at the Baptism) was not.  It was not to always be fed and full.  It was not to have power and control.  It was not to be rescued.  For us as well.  We are Beloved – but we are sometimes/often empty and yearning.  We are Beloved – but our experience and fact is often of being poor in power to control events or people or even ourselves.  We are Beloved – but that does not mean we are rescued from every harm.  But we are God’s Beloved Ones, right along with Jesus, and these things do not make that Belovedness somehow less.

Who are we to measure love so meagerly, or not to unwrap the gifts we are given in deserts and darkness?

It’s in the desert that we are “allured” by God (Hosea 2) and where distractions are less and we might hear and respond.

It is in the darkness that we may discover where light (Light) comes from; where we may find ourselves too in solidarity with other dark-traveling journeyers, and offer and receive the support of pilgrim companions. There we are not over others, or under them – but we find ourselves side by side in need of way-walkers we link arms with and hope as we go step by step.  We may find, surprisingly, new strength from walking this way, and learn to differently see and value and love and relate.

It is in the temptations perhaps that we learn the art of listening for the homing signals that say ‘this is off target, this is on’, ‘beware’, ‘this is plastic, this is gold’.  It may be there we discover (again from Isaiah) that the Teacher is behind us saying “This is the way, walk in it, when you would go to the left and to the right”: and we know he’s right because we know what was the wrong way.

A friend today posted a line she heard at Mass on temptation:  “Our temptation is often that of forgetfulness… forgetfulness of how much God loves each of us. When we try to remember that amazing truth, we will be home again in the arms of Christ.”   I love it.  My only edit is with the last line: “we will know again that we are home in the arms of Christ”.  We’re already there, but as noted, we forget.  Our darkness, deserts and temptations make it hard to see.

But let’s practice what we believe – literally.  Practice by focusing on what we know to be true – such love – whether or not we have sand in all the wrong places, we can’t see well, or we’re off kilter with confusing messages or off-center longings or attachments.  If we just live and love from here, knowing we are in the arms of God in Christ…  whatever our circumstances…  we will find ourselves “coming out of the desert, leaning on [her] lover” (Song of Songs).  We will learn the uses of sorrow, darkness, desert, temptation – and perhaps be more clear on who and whose we are in our everyday.

Blessings on you as you receive whatever gift this day and Lenten season brings.

                                                                                                                             * Lent D5 – Day 5

 

Categories: Lent, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lenten Savings Time – Losing an Hour

Daylight Saving Time“The hour we are going to lose this weekend is the one I was planning on going to the gym.”  LOL, right?  I saw this today and thought it was pretty funny.  Attributing to the hour we are losing due to Daylight Savings Time something we weren’t all that committed to anyway — that’s art!  It’s like making the cosmos the responsible party for our cheating.  Great idea, right?

Well, after I laughed I started thinking about how this plays for Lent, but backwards.  Perhaps the hour we are losing might be put to good use, so to speak.  What if the hour we are going to lose is the hour this week that…

  • we were going to waste piddling around on social media so as not to face or encounter someone/something, or…
  • we were going to delay before calling that person we are uncomfortable with or estranged from, or…
  • we might have filled with judgments or gossip or negativity after being slighted by someone, or…
  • we were going overindulge in something not good for ourselves or others, or…
  • we were going to shop for something we don’t really need right now, or…
  • we were going to get through, but not devote the kind of energy our family or our work or our relationships deserve, or…
  • we were going to secure our priorities and financial good, with little consideration for those in need, or…
  • we were going to pray, go to church, read scripture… but not really be present, or…
  • we were going to feed resentments or bitternesses or angers, or…
  • we were going to waste before bed and not get sufficient sleep to give our best to the next day, or…

I wonder if you and I could determine that the hour we’re losing could be lost for our gain (and that of the world!).  What behavior or activity or attitude or character trait do we feed by engaging in or thinking about repeatedly?  Could we consider having one less hour of some specific thing this week, attributing it as “lost” due to Lenten Savings Time?  Just one hour less of something that has a hold on us…  setting the clock ahead on that behavior or attitude, claiming there’s just not time for it.  Can we do it?

So now I think that simple piece about the gym and Daylight Savings Time a bit of a gift.  In addition to losing an hour of something not so on-target in our lives, let’s do something else for Lenten Savings Time.  Let’s not make the gym excuse!  Will we, during this first full week of Lent, make sure that we don’t lose a positive we have opted to more include in our living?  Let’s not let go of the good we hope to nurture as habit, but stick with the discipline slowly, gently, hoping with God’s good grace it becomes part of our skin and our being.

Don’t forget to turn those clocks ahead tonight!

 

Categories: Lent | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Will Mean Life for You? Lent D2

For a follower of Jesus – for one who seeks to be holy (one with God) – and to bring the rest of creation and all people/s along for the ride – what is fullness of life?  We might look to John 10:10 and see that Jesus’ words there tell us that he came that we might have full and abundant life. We might speak of our sacred responsibility to protect and value and serve human life in all its moments, with all its challenges and differing ‘incarnations’ in abilities and needs, from conception through natural death.  We might speak of enhancing the experience of life for those in need, living in violence, exposed to constant threat, suffering, alone.  We might speak of the Word who is Life (see John 1), the life in creation and of our world, or perhaps of eternal life.  All of these hold great importance.

Today, a selection from Deuteronomy 30 is the first reading of the liturgy.   Within it is the oft quoted, “I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life then…”  Well and good, this is a rich passage for reflection and study.  But on the day after Lent has begun, I am interested in the lines that follow. They answer this question:  How are you and I to choose life?  We are given a trinity of instructions.  By…

— loving the Lord, your God —
— heeding God’s voice —
— holding fast to God —

for THAT will mean LIFE for you  (v.20)

Given Lent’s beginning, how do these three echo in you?  How about choosing today one above to reflect on further?  Select the one that attracts you the most or gets on your nerves the most – both are speaking to you!  Some kindling for reflection on each is provided below. Don’t overthink as you read (there’s more there than you need — WAY more), but notice what calls out to you simply and gently.  Create your own additional brainstorming, and follow the Spirit’s promptings to discern the invitation to you today for reflection and/or action!  

 

SAMSUNG

 

Loving the Lord, your God.  Who is your Lord, your God?  Is it the God?  Is it the one revealed by Jesus’ way among us?  Or an imposter? Would you and I rather hold onto our image of God than meet the living God?  What do we need in order to be open and vulnerable to such a meeting?  Is your God (like Aslan in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia) good, but not quite safe and predictable?  Does God surprise you?  How do we love the One larger than the cosmos and tinier than our tiniest microcosm, for whom time and size and limits make no sense, but who became poor for us in Christ in the incarnation and the cross?  (See Pope Francis’ Lenten message, #1 for great insight here, link below — and Franciscan theology and spirituality).  What does love like God’s call you to?  Since God is Love, IS a pouring all of self out for us; how do we pour ourselves out in turn for our Trinitarian God?  Is this God your Lord?  What would that mean?  Are you to love God in the fasting that God wishes (per Isaiah): in releasing those bound unjustly, in serving, in freeing, in giving to especially God’s poorest ones?

Heeding God’s voice.  Implied is that God’s voice is heard.  How else could we heed?  So, how do you and I listen?  Do we listen?  Do we know that to have an ‘open ear’ is to be obedient? How does ‘obedience’ sound to you?  What disciplines do we need in order to better listen? What gets in our way and what helps us? Where and to what do you listen?  Would this call you scripture reading?  Reading some classics in spirituality?  Reading and learning from saints who have listened and loved as Jesus did?  How do you listen to bird song, construction work, keyboarding, baby’s crying, elders’ subtly expressed (or not so subtly expressed) needs, the cry of the hurting, the longings of the bound, waterfalls, the regrets of the sick or dying, planes landing, sharp voices, whispered words, vows exchanged, music and song, your own or another’s heartbeat, prayer and worship?  Do we have selective hearing and heeding — as we hear God or others?  What are we invited to open our ear to today?  Are we willing to consent to what that will do in us, and call us to?

Holding Fast to God.  I admit, this is the one I find myself most attracted to.  What would it mean to hold on, hold fast, to not let go?  What other things or time fillers or attitudes or perspectives might we have to release to put our arms around God?  Can we learn to hold fast from the way Jesus did with Abba, as he lived and worked and prayed?  What if we believe we are already held fast by God, and we have just to return the favor?  What would that do to our perpective?  What must be released from our hands, from our attention, and what must have more of us?  How do we hold fast to our call, to our sisters and brothers, to the Word, to the Church, to the process of growth and transformation?  How do we hold fast when what we experience is difficult or deadening?  How do we hold fast when we want to flit and fritter. or we’re bored?  Does God need us to hold on too?  What could such holding fast mean for God?

If we do these three things,  it will mean life for us.

I wish us each this kind of enriched life – the kind of full life God wishes us to have, the way of life and love embodied in Jesus.

Choose life then, friends and fellow disciples, in the small and larger ways you find an invitation to through Deuteronomy’s offerings this day.  Happy Lent, Day Two (D2)!

*  Pope Francis’ Lenten Message 2014:  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/lent/documents/papa-francesco_20131226_messaggio-quaresima2014_en.html

 

Categories: Lent | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enter the Lenten Wilderness: Remain and Be Transformed

Wilderness, desert, place apart.  Lent invites us to embark on a journey that removes us from the multiplicity of distractions and involvements – even in brief snatches.  Through the practices of diving deep into prayer, committing to a fasting that removes the superfluous and reminds us of the central, and reaching out in love and alms without condition or counting to others, we willingly embark on the path.  We sign our consent to keep company with Jesus, to be transformed.

A couple of weeks ago, reflecting on the book of Hosea with a group, we looked together at the active words in a section of Hosea 2/3.  There God allures, leads, speaks, gives, removes idols, makes covenant, espouses-espouses-espouses, sows, has pity, names.  We respond and we call, and we respond again.  It is God who acts, who unerringly finds places and spaces in our life experiences where we can better hear and respond: often wild places, dry places, remote places.  These become, as in Hosea, doors of hope.

Lent is a calendar place and space, and one we collaborate with by entering.  We are allured, but we also compose and dispose ourselves to presence by the practices Ash Wednesday traces.  Like the early disciples, we show up.  Like those who companioned Jesus on the roads of Palestine, we are often clueless as to the curriculum, the transformation, the path we are on.  Still, our remaining with him matters.  And that is Lent.  We choose to come and to remain, as we are.  Wonders can then occur, beyond our reckoning, our recognizing, even our sight in this lifetime.

Though spring seems still far off in the mid-Atlantic of late,  hope does not disappoint, for there is an unerring pull toward life and growth that SAMSUNGis part and parcel of this world, this universe we inhabit.  The smallest seed holds potential for something amazing to emerge that is not evident in its small encasing.

God brings us, allures us, to wildernesses and deserts so that we can recover our first loves, our enthusiasms, our joy, as disciples and loved ones.  God invites us so that we can remember what is core and release our desperate grasping at what was never ours to hold onto to begin with.  God wakes us to our sisters and brothers – on the verge of war, on the streets we pass, in the house next door, sitting at our tables and workplaces – with needs we can and must attend to, if we truly believe we are all one, are all God’s, are all amazing stardust, are all beloved ones.  Resurrection impulse leads to life, and we are all to not just believe in, but practice resurrection, as poet Wendell Barry told us.

As Lent begins, we are well reminded today (Ash Wednesday) by Pope Francis that “in the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could lead to a hardness of heart, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of the boundless love of God, in order to experience his tenderness.”  It is God’s tenderness which surrounds us and which is transformative.  Our job is to show up and to stay put in God’s presence, and to imitate the love and tenderness we meet there in our interactions with each other, most especially with those in need.  Our remaining matters.  So, what to do for Lent?

Enter, remain, collaborate.  Respond, call, respond.  Wake, remember, release.  Allow, be embraced, be open.  Imitate, give, serve.  Turn, repent, rethink.  Practice, quiet, pray.  We can trust the process we enter, the path we’re on, and the One who works our transformation – whether or not we understand, perhaps even better when we do not and cannot.  Let us come to Lent, stay put, encounter faithfulness (our God), learn to love, and be shaped further into love in the ways our Lord knows best.

Mayhap you’ve seen these words of Catherine of Siena recently on social media:  “We’ve been deceived by the thought that we would be more pleasing to God in our own way than in the way God has given us.”  They strike as true.  Trust your transformation and your path to our good God, the shape and pattern of your growth to Christ’s safekeeping, but keep collaborating and watching.  God guides all paths, and will guide these 40 days.  Celebrate the work of grace – the Spirit’s creativity – in you and in the world…  and pray, fast, give.

SAMSUNG

Categories: Lent | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why Are We Not Alive With Joy?

I’m finishing these days Madeleine L’Engle’s Bright Evening Star: Mystery of Incarnation.  Yes, I KNOW we’re out of the Christmas season and into Ordinary Time.  Ah…. but of course the Incarnation makes Ordinary Time utterly Extraordinary!

These few paragraphs went past my eyes today, and I really wanted you to see them.  May they feed your amazement and bring you joy!

spitzer-saggitarius-glorius-blue-space-800“Jesus is the Son of the One who created the stars in their courses, and yet, as Christ, he was Creator of the stars and without him was not anything made that was made.  

We will never understand with our finite minds that, yes! he shouted the magnificence of the universe into being, and yet, as Jesus, he left this fiery home and came to our little blue planet as an ordinary mortal.

Everything is more than it seems, and we get occasional glimpses, revelations, but when we try to analyze and explain them we lose them.  

Angels were his chariots, and he rode upon the wings of the cherubim, and he is further away from us than galaxies billions of light years away, and he is as close to us as the beating of our own hearts.

He is with us because of a love beyond our comprehension, and it is only through our own love that we are able to know him at all.  And it isn’t even our own love; it is Jesus’ love, expressed through us.

So what has happened to us?

Why are we not alive with joy?”

Categories: General | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: