Our Deepest Vocation

Henri Nouwen said—
My deepest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.

I have always loved that quote. Here are some examples of my living out that deepest vocation.

Last weekend I traveled home. They are a bit ahead of us spring-wise. The irises and peonies were already in bloom. The beauty was stunning.

I went home because we celebrated the baptism of my first godchild (my cousin’s newest baby). A pretty obvious example!

While I was at home, I got my first hummingbird window feeder. Not only have I attracted hummingbirds, but orioles, too!

I must admit, my life has been going pretty non-stop this entire Easter season. This weekend is the first weekend that I have had a chance to catch more than just glimpses of God, but also a breath! (Thank you for that gift of the Spirit, Pentecost weekend!) I re-read Mary Margaret Funk’s wonderful book, Into the Depths, which recounts her near-death experience during a catastrophic flood in Bolivia. She, too…

Beautiful Liminality

Why can’t liminality look this good in human life?!

The other day I looked out the window, noticing the forsythia bush had begun to push some green through those wonderful yellow blossoms. I noticed it, too, in the magnolia a few days later. I figured I should go on a walk around the monastery and find some more examples.

Witnessing this in nature reminds me that liminality is quite a beautiful thing, no matter how much tension and discomfort seems to take hold in your life at the moment.

May I continue to let nature be my model, that dear teacher of wisdom, conversion, and life.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Between Two Trees

The other evening I enjoyed my first “hammock sit” of the year.

I hadn’t started to use a hammock until June last year, once the trees were already in bloom, once the mosquitos were already “out for blood.” So, when I looked up at the trees this time, I was a bit thrown off. And then I noticed them: the minuscule buds on the branches. (Still not visible here)

Nature, it seems, naturally obeys Benedict’s call in the Prologue: Run while you have the light of life. The trees are off and running for another year. I sat, pondering the trees, on my hammock in good company: with Mary Oliver. After a busy couple of weeks, with a few more ahead, this was just the solitude I needed to re-center myself.

Mary offered her wisdom:

The witchery of living
is my whole conversation
with you, my darlings.
All I can tell you is what I know.

Look, and look again.
The world is not just a little thrill for the eyes.

It’s more than bones.
It’s more than the delicate wrist with its personal pulse.
It’s more than the b…

The View From Spring

This World
Mary Oliver

I would like to write a poem about the world that has in it
nothing fancy.
But it seems impossible.
Whatever the subject, the morning sun
glimmers it.
The tulip feels the heat and flaps its petals open and becomes a star.
The ants bore into the peony bud and there is a dark
     pinprick well of sweetness.
As for the stones on the beach, forget it.
Each one could be set in gold.
So I tried with my eyes shut, but of course the birds
     were singing.
And the aspen trees were shaking the sweetest music
     out of their leaves.
And that was followed by, guess what, a momentous and
     beautiful silence
as comes to all of us, in little earfuls, if we’re not too
     hurried to hear it.
As for spiders, how the dew hangs in their webs
     even if they say nothing, or seem to say nothing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe they sing.
So fancy is the world, who knows, maybe the stars sing too,
     and the ants, and the peonies, and the warm stones,
so happy to be where they are, on t…

Rooting in Joy

I feel like it is finally okay to post this poem. After another 2" of snow this past week, adding up to a total of 198.5" for the winter, I couldn't care less for that last 1.5" that would give us the 200" record.

The Spring (After Rilke) by Delmore Schwartz

Spring has returned! Everything has returned!
The earth, just like a schoolgirl, memorizes
Poems, so many poems. ... Look, she has learned
So many famous poems, she has earned so many prizes!

Teacher was strict. We delighted in the white
Of the old man's beard, bright like the snow's:
Now we may ask which names are wrong, or right
For "blue," for "apple," for "ripe." She knows, she knows!

Lucky earth, let out of school, now you must play
Hide-and-seek with all the children every day:
You must hide that we may seek you: we will! We will!

The happiest child will hold you. She knows all the things
You taught her: the word for "hope," and for "believe,"
Are still upon …


The Little Boy
by Helen E. Buckley

Once a little boy went to school.
He was quite a little boy.
And it was quite a big school.
But when the little boy
Found that he could go to his room
By walking right in from the door outside,
He was happy.
And the school did not seem
Quite so big any more.

One morning,
When the little boy had been in school a while,
The teacher said:
“Today we are going to make a picture.”
“Good!” thought the little boy.
He liked to make pictures.
He could make all kinds:
Lions and tigers,

Chickens and cows,
Trains and boats –
And he took out his box of crayons
And began to draw.

But the teacher said:
“Wait! It is not time to begin!”
And she waited until everyone looked ready.

“Now,” said the teacher,
“We are going to make flowers.”

“Good!” thought the little boy,
He liked to make flowers,
And he began to make beautiful ones
With his pink and orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said,
“Wait! And I will show you how.”
And she drew a flower on the blackboard.
It was red, with a green stem.

Fearful, Yet Overjoyed

Some of my favorite words in Scripture come immediately after Easter. They are three short words in fact: "Fearful, yet overjoyed."

You might know these words refer to Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary's” emotions after encountering the empty tomb. I imagine others might favor these words, too, seeing as they give comfort to the oft-occurring intermingling of fear and joy in our lives. These words remind me that it is normal to experience fear and joy simultaneously. While it might feel a bit weird inside, I am not the only one. (The point being driven home especially well in Disney/Pixar’s wonderful film, Inside Out, by the way.)

While it’s easy and obvious to point out this deeply human experience, I discovered a real-life example this week as we continue to wait for that moment when it finally feels like spring.
How did we get more snow? I don’t know. But we did. For a few days this past week, there appeared yet more white stuff on the ground. The daffodils and croci…