I wonder what would happen if
I treated everyone like I was in love
with them, whether I like them or not
and whether they respond or not and no matter
what they say or do to me and even if I see
things in them which are ugly twisted petty
cruel vain deceitful indifferent, just accept
all that and turn my attention to some small
weak tender hidden part and keep my eyes on
that until it shines like a beam of light
like a bonfire I can warm my hands by and trust
it to burn away all the waste which is not
never was my business to meddle with.
-- Derek Tasker
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Silence is like a river of grace inviting us to leap unafraid into its beckoning depths. It is dark and mysterious in the waters of grace. Yet in the silent darkness we are given new eyes. In the heart of the divine we can see more clearly who we are. We are renewed and cleansed in this river of silence. There are those among you who fear the Great Silence. It is a foreign land to you. Sometimes it is good to leap into the unknown. Practice leaping.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
God's love for us is not the reason for which we should love him. God's love for us is the reason for us to love ourselves.
-- Simone Weil
Sunday, July 24, 2011
For some reason, I happen to have Julian of Norwich on my mind this morning. Here are two quotations for your reflection:
Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it. It does good, though you feel nothing. Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing.
If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.
Both of these obseverations call attention to two of the most pernicious mistakes in the spiritual life. The first is giving too much validity to feelings. Many people will say, "Well, if I don't feel what I'm praying, what's the point?" Fortunately, I had a classically trained spiritual director in my formative years who made it clear to me that feelings were largely irrelevant.
The second mistake actually gives rise to very great suffering and that is the idea that if we believe the correct things and behave in the correct way that our lives will turn out all right --- that nothing bad will ever happen to us. Technically, that is known as the "just world theory" and it is not the gospel.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Credo is the word with which the great creeds of early Chistendom begin. “I believe. . .” we say. The Latin credo means literally, “I give my heart.” The word believe is a problematic one today in part because it has gradually changed its meaning from being the language of certainty so deep that I could give my heart to it, to the language of uncertainty so shallow that only the “credulous” would rely on it. Faith, as we have seen, is not about propositions, but about commitment. It does not mean that I intellectually subscribe to the following list of statements, but that I give my heart to this reality. Believe, indeed, comes to us from the Old English belove, making clear that this too is meant to be heart language. To say “I believe in Jesus Christ” is not to subscribe to an uncertain proposition. It is a confession of commitment, of love.
-- Diana L. Eck
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
We try so hard as Christians. We think such long thoughts, manipulate such long words, and both listen to and preach such long sermons. Each one of us somewhere, somehow, has known, if only for a moment or so, something of what it is to feel the shattering love of God, and once that has happened, we can never rest easy again for trying somehow to set that love forth not only in words, myriads of words, but in our lives themselves.
Monday, July 18, 2011
I believe that God prays in us and through us, whether we are praying or not (and whether we believe in God or not). So, any prayer on my part is a conscious response to what God is already doing in my life.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God. Really.
-- Lenny Bruce
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Thou sold'st thy birthright, Esau! for a mess
Thou shouldst have gotten more, or eaten less.
The sower is remarkably free in throwing the seed on all sorts of potential "growth areas." There's no calculation or careful husbandry of the seeds in his pocket. In the face of all sorts of obstacles and dangers, the sower counts on the bountiful return of a few seeds; he imagines the plentiful harvest reaped when even a few of the seeds find fertile soil.
Thomas Long writes: "Therefore, the church is called to 'waste itself,' to throw grace around like there is no tomorrow, precisely because there is a tomorrow, and it belongs to God" (Matthew, The Westminster Bible Companion). To whom does your "tomorrow" belong?
Friday, July 8, 2011
...I have found the cup to be a powerful teacher for my inner life. The ordinariness of the cup reminds me that my personal transformation occurs in the common crevices of each day. The cup is an apt image for the inner process of growth. The cup has been a reminder of my spiritual thirst. As I've held it, filled it, drunk from it, emptied it and washed it, I've learned that it is through my ordinary human experineces that my thirst for God is quenched. In the cup I see life, with its emptiness, fullness, brokenness, flaws, and blessings.
A cup is a container for holding something. Whatever it holds has to eventually be emptied out so that something more can be put into it. I have learned that I cannot always expect my life to by full. There has to be some emptying, some pouring out, if I am to make room for the new. The spiritual journey is like that--a constant process of emptying and filling, of giving and receiving, of accepting and letting go.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Have you ever had the experience of spontaneously feeling envious when someone has shared good news? It can be a really horrible feeling and, in some cases, can also lead to ongoing resentment. Rabbi Nilton Bonder speaks to this:
Yiddish has a very special verb, unknown to most other languages: farginen. It means to open space, to share pleasure; it is the exact opposite of the verb to envy. While envy means disliking or resenting the happiness of others, farginen means making a pact with another individual's pleasure or happiness. This unique word represents the space in which we allow others to express their happiness, feeling of success, or gladness.
Discipline is needed for farginen, because this feeling is rarely natural to human beings in their animal dimension. There is nothing wrong or false about seeking such learning. Like any other kind of social ability, such as not stealing, farginen comes through discipline. . . . When we are able to farginen someone spontaneously, it means we have done the required groundwork of dealing with our self-esteem, at least to some extent. But we will always have to work at reacting to opportunities for farginen, so as not to miss them.
It's much easier to suffer with a friend, to help someone who is less fortunate, than to farginen. It's much harder to sincerely share others' happiness. And the consequences are proportional: those whose suffering we share are eternally grateful, while those whose happiness we share will eternally care for us, as true friends.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Yes, yes, and yes again:
Sure, people need Jesus, but most of the time, what they really need is for someone to be Jesus to them.
— Reuben Welch quoted in The Body Broken by Robert Benson