Sunday, May 29, 2016

On Becoming the Body of Christ

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This morning we heard a great homily about scarcity and abundance. We were given the important reminder that when we create a space for Christ to enter our lives, there is always enough for everyone at the table.

Are we willing to create that space?

Are we willing to risk the inner change that happens when we enter into the messiness of humanity?

Last night I read a great quote from C. Norman Kraus:

The drama of incarnation does not conclude with a final act that neatly wraps up the loose ends of the story and draws the curtain. Rather it ends with an open future for those involved.

And another from John Perkins:

If we are going to be the body of Christ, shouldn't we be like he was when he came in history? He didn't commute daily from heaven to earth to minister to us poor sinners. He didn't set up his own nice mission compound. No, the Bible says that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). That's how we were able to behold his glory, because he dwelt among us...

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

List of Life

My brain was scattered with many moments, each of which I considered trying to form into a blog post for this entry.

1. Sister Helen Prejean came to speak at the Mount last night. She gifted us with moving words about the way her perspective on life and God shifted when she began encountering the poor - a beautiful prophet about the not-so-beautiful capital punishment system.

2. There is a lilac bush blooming right outside my window right now - one of my favorite blossoms within nose's reach.

3. I got to spend time looking at interesting trees with a friend.

4. I got to spend time in the garden with another friend and her poppy that looked as if it were floating in the air.

5. I enjoyed watching some intense kite flying at the beach. I had never seen anyone so committed as to so eagerly jump right into the cold lake!

So, I didn't know what to do with all of this life in this blog. But, lectio with today's Gospel provided an answer. Jesus asks Bartimaeus, "What do you want me to do for you?" Bartimaeus replies, "I want to see." I just want to see, too, not necessarily trying to put all these experiences into words. And when you encounter abundant life, all you can do is be grateful.

With gratitude for life.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Saw a sign next to a street performer the other day...

It said:

Love is who you are; ego is who you think you are. 

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

One of my professors in college compared me to another student once: "She is pragmatic, but, Val, you are a dreamer."

That statement makes more sense to me now than it did when I was 22, and I hope that my understanding of what it means to be an idealist only continues to unfold.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing the movie Zootopia. It is the story of a young rabbit, Judy Hopps, living on her family farm, who dreams of being a police officer in the big city of Zootopia.

She, too, is an idealistic gal, and without giving the movie away, Judy is able to see past differences and work through difficulties to create a happy ending. (Surprise!)

Maybe that is why I love Disney movies so much - always a happy ending. But, compared to other children's movies, the message was particularly spot-on; I loved it. And, in addition to seeing the movie, I also listened to a lecture on "staying at the table" in community. The lecture was based on a great piece that Parker Palmer wrote about community by the same name.

He writes about different examples of community found in Scripture: the Garden of Eden, the New Jerusalem, and the Last Supper. He points out that Eden and the Holy City are outside history, and looks to the Last Supper to understand how Jesus sees past differences and works through difficulties:

And how did Jesus manage to stay at the table? What was his “secret”? It was the same “secret” that Jesus taught throughout his ministry – put ultimate reliance not on yourself or on others but on God alone. Jesus was not shocked or undone by the dissolution of community that he saw at the Last Supper. He knew human nature, he knew our weakness, and the disciples only demonstrated what he already knew. But he knew something more. He knew that there is a God who is with us more fully than we are with each other, a God who will keep us together if we will only place our trust in God and not in our own togetherness.

Between seeing the movie and reading Palmer's words, my idealism enjoyed great nourishment. The quote reminds me that it isn't about specific people - we don't choose who's in and who's out; community is union with all life, even the messy parts. It is our joint relationship with and in God that creates true community. Are we willing to join and stay together to create the dream?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

I, Matter

Every once in a while (and actually, more often than not), I find myself caught in word play. It is the natural consequence of loving words and an overactive mind.

This weekend the community enjoyed a presentation from Lynn Levo, CSJ. She gave us great insights on what it means to be truly human - to be full, free, and loving. While reminding the community just how important each of us is, she also reminded us that we can only understand that reality through relationship with each other. Basically, we need each other.

It made me think about one of the units that I taught in fourth grade science - Matter.

If I truly believe in God, Jesus, and the Spirit, then everything is important. Everything matters. Yes, every little bit of creation, every particle of matter is so infused with the sacred that I must reverence it.

Everything. Matter matters.

The homophone "matter" (another fourth-grade concept) - coincidence...I think not.

Happy Pentencost! Spirit alive!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spring Things

I got a bit overwhelmed by beauty when I went running this morning.

Budding Trees


Looking up from the ground

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Let's Expand on That

This weekend has been full of adventures with many people dear to me. Throughout each of these adventures, wonderful conversation has emerged. Yesterday we welcomed a summer intern who will be living with us for the next ten weeks.

As I sat in conversation with her last night after dinner, we talked about the very real concerns of people our age in regards to the Church. We know that fewer and fewer young people worship with a parish community, but yet they still crave community, meaning in life, and social justice.

My best answer (right now) to these concerns is that the view of God that Church gives us isn't anywhere big enough. I say that because God encompasses community, meaning in life, and social justice for me, among so many other things like mercy, joy, forgiveness, and truth. And because of that, I need my faith in God.

Deep conversation like what we shared raises a lot of questions, perhaps (and hopefully) more questions than what we start with. I told her that it made me think of a Denise Levertov poem. (Title: A Gift)

Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

So, this is my question for you right now...What words does God encompass for you?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

P.S. Another gift - the spider plant given to me by two sisters in the community has its first flower!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What's Giving You Hope These Days?

Saturday evening I received a text from a friend saying that Daniel Berrigan had died. The news quickly flooded my Facebook newsfeed and conversation around the monastery.

I read his obituary from the National Catholic Reporter. Now, I am not of the generation who witnessed the Jesuit priest burning draft cards with other nonviolent protestors, but I still feel the enormity of losing such an important figure of peace and justice movement.

There were two parts of the obituary that stuck out for me. One was a piece of advice he gave to the former Jesuit John Dear: "All you have to do is to make your story fit into the story of Jesus." Sounds simple, right?! The other was a question that he asked one evening around the dinner table, "What's giving you hope these days?"

Wouldn't it be wonderful if around our dinner tables we were able to speak of the things that give us hope rather than all the things in the news that bring us despair?

Here is a poem that Berrigan wrote called Some.

Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.

Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.

“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”

“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

The children, the heart, and the bread are certainly causes for hope in my life. A peaceful rest to you, Daniel Berrigan.

Let us walk in the holy presence.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Sign of Peace

The Sign of Peace just happens to be one of my favorite parts of Liturgy. Of course, as I was telling someone the other night, it used to make me super nervous as a super introverted kid who got butterflies just thinking about shaking a stranger’s hand. Now though, the Sign of Peace is a moment when I get to embrace so many people who are super dear to me.

So, as I have been doing my lectio this past week, I sit with these words:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you” (John 14:27).

Peace is a word that is hard not to love because, at least for me, it connotes a state of being where Love outshines everything else. And, I get glimpses of that in my life: two children discover how to share a seemingly unsharable toy; words of support arrive at just the right time; the sky turns magnificent shades of purples, blues, and pinks at the start of a new day.

These are all signs of peace for me. But what we're talking about here is a peace not of this world; it is an inner peace, an inner state of being that depends only on the love of God permeating my entire self. 

How do we reach this place of inner peace in our lives? Before we offer the Sign of Peace, we hear the words, "Look not on our sins, but on the faith of our church." My faith is how I reach that deep peace of Christ; my faith that calls me to love, mercy, and forgiveness. When I embrace those, I begin to find inner peace in my life.

May we be a sign of peace for one another as we embrace a faith that leads us to the peace of Christ.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

signs of peace that people I love have given me

There Is Need of Only Rhythm

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside at his feet listening t...