Friday, May 27, 2011

Beauty

Artist: Anton von Werne

Two by Matthew Fox:
“Do not confuse beauty with beautiful. Beautiful is a human judgment. Beauty is All. The difference is everything.”

“If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.”
~~~

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Moments and connections

Artist: Jean-Baptist Greuze

It's a delightful poem. One that offers intriguing material for reflection. One, I would assert, that is deeply spiritual:

I like you.

I, like you, have many routine days.

I, like you, have many routine days and moments.

I, like you, have many routine days and moments of sheer joy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Something about being in the present moment

Artist: Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller

This is just delightful:
I've stopped thinking all the time of what happened yesterday. And stopped asking myself what's going to happen tomorrow. What's happening today, this minute, that's what I care about. I say: What are you doing at this moment, Zorba? . . . I'm kissing a woman. Well, kiss her well, Zorba! And forget all the rest while you're doing it; there's nothing else on earth, only you and her!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The highest knowledge of God

Artist: Caspar David Friedrich

I found the works of Anthony de Mello in the early nineties, I'd say, and I'm so glad I did. Here's something he said about the limits of conceptual thought:

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had a world where everybody said, 'We don't know?' The fact is that you're surrounded by God and you don't see God, because you KNOW ABOUT God. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept. You miss God because you think you know. The highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable. All revelations, however divine, are never any more than a finger pointing at the moon. As we say in the East, 'When the sage points to the moon, all the idiot sees is the finger'."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Making green places

Artist: Claude Monet

Most people who read this blog know by now how much I admire Frederick Buechner and how much I have benefitted from his writing. With all the current carrying on about the Rapture, the following seems to be an appropriate passage to ponder:
We cannot make the Kingdom of God happen, but we can put out leaves as it draws near. We can be kind to each other. We can be kind to ourselves. We can drive back the darkness a little. We can make green places within ourselves and among ourselves where God can make his Kingdom happen.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Prayer for vision

Artist: William Blake

It's easy to become very cynical today and lose any confidence in the possibility of vision at all. Maybe that's why this prayer seems very beautiful to me:

May a good vision catch me
May a benevolent vision take hold of me, and move me
May a deep and full vision come over me, and burst open around me
May a luminous vision inform me, enfold me.

David Abram

The above is quoted in Prayers for a Thousand Years by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon.
~~~

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Laughter and "don't know" mind

Artist: Frans Hals

As I think I've said before here, I'm very grateful for the ministry of Richard Rohr whom I first discovered in the early nineties. This is from what is probably my favorite of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.
The 'final stage' of the wisdom of faith is what we might call the Holy Fool. Ironically the Holy Fool is one who knows he doesn't know, but doesn't need to either. That's the freedom. I'm not saying the Fool sits in some kind of dull ignorance. I am saying there is a state of inner freedom into which true wisdom comes....

If we can't laugh after 50 or 60 years, we probably haven't done it right. We're taking ourselves too seriously; we have not discerned the mystery. Everything finally belongs. If we can't laugh, we are probably holding our debts against ourselves and we haven't accepted forgiveness. The person of prayer, quite simply, is a person who can cry from the heart and laugh from the belly.... God forgives the world for being broken and poor. God forgives us for not being all that we thought we had to be and even for what God wanted us to be. That is probably why we fall in love with such a God. Why wouldn't you? You would be a fool not to - and you will be a 'holy fool' if you do.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Recent posting difficulties

Dear friends,

The Blogger program has been down the past couple of days and I have been unable to put up any new posts. It's now functioning again but, at the moment, I'm hard at work on organizing the Center's garage sale items. The garage sale is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday) and so that will require all my attention as well.

I'll probably be back to posting on Sunday.

Sincere apologies for any inspiration inconvenience!

Blessings to all,
Ellie

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A practice of joy and dedication

Artist: Albert Bierstadt

I find myself gravitating toward Huston Smith this morning. He is the great scholar of world religions who is a practicing Methodist himself. Here's something he said that has appealed to me over the years:
The Winnebago medicine man Reuben Snake was my pre-eminent teacher from the Native Americans. I recall one of the things he taught me. He told me, 'Huston, our tepees are pointed east, and when we stepped out of them in the morning we would throw up our arms and shout Aho! when we saw the sun. Huston, you should do that, too.' And I do. At my first glimpse of the sun I raise my arms and shout 'Aho!' I did it this morning. The first time I see the sun it infuses me with this inspiration, just like the sunlight brings vegetation and the beauty and all life.
I'm very fortunate, really, in that my little house faces east so that when I open my front door first thing in the morning, I often see the sunrise. I have intuitively been doing this practice! Encountering the above quotation again inspires me to include the "Aho!" greeting as part of the ritual.
~~~

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Faith

Artist: W. J. Neatby

Simple. Beautiful. True:

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.

-- Tagore

Faith is much more about singing than it is about asserting.

And it is much more about "feeling" the light than claiming beliefs about it.
~~~

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For Mother's Day

St. Anne with the Virgin, 15th Century

I wanted to offer an extra post today in honor of mothers and mothering. And I selected the above icon because of something that has troubled me for a long, long time now. I wonder how it affects little girls over the years growing up in the Church that on no occasion in the Bible do people rejoice because a DAUGHTER is born.

Even though the stories about the birth of the Virgin Mary are extra-scriptural legends, at least they portray a mother and child in which the child is a girl.

So, happy Mother's Day all you mothers out there. And to the daughters and sons as well!
~~~

Unshakable strength

Ancient Roman fresco

It's about prayer, of course.

I love the bit here about the birdbath!

Do click through on the author's name here. Dr. Carrel and his accomplishments are new to me - and quite fascinating.

Too many people regard prayer as a formalized routine of words, a refuge for weaklings, or a childish petition for material things. We sadly ndervalue prayer when we conceive it in these terms, just as we should underestimate rain by describing it as something that fills the birdbath in our garden. Properly understood, prayer is a mature activity indispensable to the fullest development of personality -- the ultimate integration of man's highest faculties. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit which gives the frail human reed its unshakable strengths.

-- Alexis Carrel

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Art and transformation

Artist: Ivan Firsov

Oh, I love this. It has been at the core of my perception of the sacred since I was a very little girl:

All art that really draws us to look at it deeply is spiritual. Art accepts all the sadness, and transforms it implicitly affirming that beauty is essentially the presence of God.

Sister Wendy Beckett in The Mystical Now

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Whose eyes?


I'm not sure it's widely understood just how radicial this is:

I know that I have to move from speaking about Jesus to letting him speak within me, from thinking about Jesus to letting him think within me, from acting for and with Jesus to letting him act through me. I know the only way for me to see the world is to see it through his eyes.

-- Henri Nouwen

Monday, May 2, 2011

Now


Mmmm. I like this. I just do. And I think it says something about resurrection:

It is eternity now. I am in the midst of it. It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it as the butterfly in the light-laden air. Nothing has to come; it is now. Now is eternity; now is the immortal life.

-- Richard Jefferies