Monday, March 31, 2008

Jesus Can Work It Out

This is the Choeur Gospel Celebration de Quebec. Dust off your high school French and take a look at their website right here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

God’s love is like a circle

Here's something I stumbled upon today that's meant to be a children's song. It's sung to the tune of "Stand up, stand up for Jesus".

God’s love is like a circle
A circle big & round,
For when you see a circle,
No ending can be found.
And so the love of Jesus goes on eternally
Forever & forever, He loves both you & me.
Today, I got a forwarded email that was so hate-filled (toward a certain group of people I'll choose not to name here) that I felt really sick inside. This sweet little song was something of an antidote for that and it brought me to gratitude.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Prayer for protection

Many years ago, a little girl in my neighborhood told me a slogan she had learned in Sunday School: "There is no spot where God is not!" I was reminded of that today when I found the following prayer:

The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me;
Where I am, God is!

Friday, March 28, 2008

His living presence

The earliest reference to the Resurrection is Saint Paul’s, and he makes no mention of an empty tomb at all. But the fact of the matter is that in a way it hardly matters how the body of Jesus came to be missing because in the last analysis what convinced the people that he had risen from the dead was not the absence of his corpse but his living presence. And so it has been ever since.

-- From The Faces of Jesus by Frederick Buechner

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spiritual beauty

"Internal Dialogue"

On an impulse I decided to run a search using the words "spiritual beauty" on Google Images. I found the above painting. Here's something the artist, Kim Walker, has to say:
Painting allows me the quiet and thoughtful internal dialogue that refreshes my spirit. For me, there is no greater beauty than what God has already provided. It can be seen in every aspect of nature, from the tiniest petal to the outreaches of the heavens. My artwork takes me on a spiritual journey as I seek and collect each item found in the natural world. Also, by incorporating these elements into my work my desire is to provide another way to view this beauty that might otherwise have been missed.
You can find more of her work right here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dying to self

I'm afraid I don't have a source to give you for the following quote. I found it years ago and memorized it:

Let us die while we live lest when we come to die we shall be dead indeed.

-- Inscription on an early Christian tomb

Monday, March 24, 2008

A prayer for day's end


You have been with me all through this day,
stay with me now.
As the shadows lengthen into darkness
let the noisy world grow quiet,
let its feverish concerns be stilled,
its voices silenced.
In the final moments of this day
remind me of what is Real.

But let me not forget
that you were as present in
the stresses of the day just past
as you are now
in the silence of this night.

You have made me for
day and for night,
for work and for rest,
for both heaven and earth.

Here in this night
let me embrace and not regret
the mysterious beauty of my humanity.
Keep me in the embrace of your Reality through the night,
and the day to come.
Surround me with your silence
and give me the rest that only you can give--
Real peace,
now and forever.

--Evelyn Underhill

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is risen! Alleluia!

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. . . . We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."

--Pope John Paul II

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Stabat Mater - Pergolisi

Countertenor Andreas Scholl and Soprano Barbara Bonney

Here is an English translation of the complete Stabat Mater poem:

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

When my body dies,
let my soul be granted
the glory of Paradise. Amen.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Am I a stone and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

-- Christina Rossetti

Let us all, like the poet, pray for the gift of tears on this day.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday

Most of us will have a ritual foot washing ceremony as part of our Maundy Thursday observance tonight. I want to recommend that you read a Washington Post article from a couple of years ago entitled "Gaining a Dose Of Humility, One Washed Foot at a Time". Here's part of what it says:
As they prepared for the holy ritual, the churchgoers had all the essential items: latex gloves, nail clippers, chlorine and antibacterial soap. The only things missing were the feet, and soon enough they poured into the church by the dozen.

Many were callused and cracked from cold nights spent on the streets. Some were sore and infected. What they needed was some old-school -- we're talking centuries here -- Christian doctrine in action. So volunteers at Centenary United Methodist Church in Richmond got down on their knees and scrubbed.

The practice of foot-washing, rooted in the biblical account of what Jesus did for his disciples, has ebbed and flowed throughout church history, abandoned at various times for reasons of dogma or embarrassment. But in recent years it has grown in popularity as an act of submission, both at Easter season services and in many other settings.
Pregnant and homeless since November, Wright has drifted with her 7-year-old daughter from shelter to shelter. One constant in her life has been the Friday talks over foot-washing with the volunteers.
"When they put my feet into that hot water -- whew!" she sighed. "It sure feels like heaven."
May tonight's ritual be deeply meaningful to each of you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Today is Wednesday in Holy Week. If you are not able to get to church tonight, I recommend that you read the service of Tenebrae on your own. Here's a description of the service:
The name Tenebrae is the Latin word for "darkness" or "shadows," and has for centuries been applied to the ancient monastic night and early morning services of the last three days of Holy Week, which in medieval times came to be celebrated on the preceding evenings.

This service is marked by a reading from the book of Lamentations and the gradual extinguishing of candles and other lights until a single candle, considered a symbol of the Lord, remains. Towards the end of the service, this candle is hidden, typifying the apparent victory of the forces of evil. At the very end, a loud noise is made, symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the resurrection (Matthew 28:2), the hidden candle is restored to its place and by its light all depart in silence.
You can find the service right here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The importance of self-acceptance

It's so important to accept ourselves and to find a way to make friends with the parts of ourselves we tend to want to reject. Marion Woodman puts it this way:

I am remembering, gathering together the prodigal parts of myself and welcoming them home.
Welcoming the parts of ourselves we have previously sent into exile does not mean indulging them or letting them be in charge. It does mean not getting in a contest with them. It means integrating them into the totality of our being without letting them turn destructive.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It was my very great privilege to hear Henri Nouwen give a series of lectures at Virginia Theological Seminary in the 1970s. Here's something he said about prayer:

To pray, I think, does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather, it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him into a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings. ... Although it is important and even indispensable for the spiritual life to set apart time for God and God alone, prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thoughts -- beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful -- can be thought in the presence of God. ... Thus, converting our unceasing thinking into unceasing prayer moves us from a self-centred monologue to a God-centred dialogue.

-- Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spiritual sensitivity and contemplation

Spiritual sensitivity heightens when we know how to see, touch, and taste the physical world with exquisite reverence and contemplative discipline.

Tessa Bielecki in Holy Daring

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Faith transforms the earth into a paradise.
By it our hearts are raised with the joy of our nearness to heaven.
Every moment reveals God to us.
Faith is our light in this life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Radical hospitality

Copyright 2007-2008 by Shoshanna Bauer All Rights Reserved
(Used with permission)
Dear friends,

Please go over to Elizabeth Kaeton's blog and read her post entitled The Radical Orthodox Rabbi. It brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful. Beautiful.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

God of the Moon and Stars - Kees Kraayenoord

Please watch this to the very end.

This was sent to us by Kate Morningstar.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

We REALLY need to remember this!

God speaks to us in a thousand voices each with the same clear message: "I love you. Please trust me on this one."

Hugh Prather in Spiritual Notes to Myself

Thursday, March 6, 2008

To dance, to sing, to play

"Dancing In The Light"

I really admire Anne Lamott so very much. Here's something she said in a recent interview:
I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We're here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don't have time to carry grudges; you don't have time to cling to the need to be right.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I cannot exist without in some sense taking part in you, in the child I once was, in the breeze stirring the down on my arm, in the child starving far away, in the flashing round of the spiral nebula.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The soul

"Transition of a Soul"

The soul is not a physical entity, but instead refers to everything about us that is not physical - our values, memories, identity, sense of humor. Since the soul represents the parts of the human being that are not physical, it cannot get sick, it cannot die, it cannot disappear. In short, the soul is immortal.

-- Rabbi Harold Kushner

Monday, March 3, 2008

Loving others

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.

-- Thomas Merton

Sunday, March 2, 2008

When your soul awakens

Some years ago I came across the writings of the Irish philosopher and poet John O'Donohue who sadly died prematurely in January of this year. Here's a paragraph from an essay published on his memorial website:
If you could imagine the most incredible story ever, it would be less incredible than the story of being here. And the ironic thing is that story is not a story, it is true. It takes us so long to see where we are. It takes us even longer to see who we are. This is why the greatest gift you could ever dream is a gift that you can only receive from one person. And that person is you yourself. Therefore, the most subversive invitation you could ever accept is the invitation to awaken to who you are and where you have landed. Plato said in The Symposium that one of the greatest privileges of a human life is to become midwife to the birth of the soul in another. When your soul awakens, you begin to truly inherit your life. You leave the kingdom of fake surfaces, repetitive talk and weary roles and slip deeper into the true adventure of who you are and who you are called to become. The greatest friend of the soul is the unknown. Yet we are afraid of the unknown because it lies outside our vision and our control. We avoid it or quell it by filtering it through our protective barriers of domestication and control. The normal way never leads home.
If you have a chance to listen to any of this tapes, please do so. His voice is so lyrical and soothing that just the memory of it delights and consoles.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Being present

"Presence XII"

Years ago I was blessed to discover the wonderful book by the great spiritual director Jean-Pierre de Caussade called Abandonment to Divine Providence or sometimes published as The Sacrament of the Present Moment. I recommend it highly. Here's a brief excerpt:
The present moment holds infinite riches beyond your wildest dreams but you will only enjoy them to the extent of your faith and love. The more a soul loves, the more it longs, the more it hopes, the more it finds. The will of God is manifest in each moment, an immense ocean which only the heart fathoms insofar as it overflows with faith, trust and love.