Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Love/Fear

This upcoming Sunday's Gospel has similar themes to last week's Gospel reading. In my lectio with both passages, the same idea stuck out. Last week it was the words, "he sent messengers ahead of him." This week it is the words, "...he sent ahead of him."

But even with basically the same words, two different gratitudes came to me in my prayer. Perhaps it had to do with the word "messenger." When I read that word I thought of all the beautiful messengers in my life who proclaim Christ's presence to me, as it happened when Jesus himself was journeying toward Jerusalem. There are mentors, children, family, community, friends, and people whose names I don't even know acting as harbingers of the Divine in my life. I am grateful to witness the face of Christ in my life daily.

This week, on the other hand, I spent time with another idea: we don't really know what we are jumping into when we choose to follow the path of Christ. The choice precedes any of the reality of what will unfold ahead of us when we discern a new step in our journey. Yes, we try to make informed decisions and hopefully would not walk on a path that is unfit for us, but whatever is coming is unknown. And, it seems to me, that the best choice we have is to embrace that ever-present unknown.

It is so easy to fear; it is a very real part of being human. I know there were things I feared when entering into monastic community, not to mention all the things that bring out my fears on a regular basis. But, we do have a choice to trust that God is indeed at work all the time and move toward a place of loving the Mystery. Any time I able to do that, great gratitude runs through me. And, often times, it is those messengers who help me trust God at work in my life.

All of this brought to mind a wonderful animated short from the wonderfully creative Pixar team. It is called Day & Night. While I will not spoil it for you, I will include the text of only words in the film.

"Fear of the unknown. They are afraid of new ideas. They are loaded with prejudices, not based upon anything in reality, but based on … if something is new, I reject it immediately because it’s frightening to me. What they do instead is just stay with the familiar. You know, to me, the most beautiful things in all the universe are the most mysterious."

How do we live with the Mystery in our lives?

Let us walk in the holy presence.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sustainable Energy

This morning as I sat outside with my coffee taking in myriad shades of green, I thought about the different types of energy that we use in different seasons. A favorite song of mine also came to mind (Sun Giant, by Fleet Foxes):

What a life I lead in the summer
What a life I lead in the spring
What a life I lead when the wind, it breathes
What a life I lead in the spring

What a life I lead when the sun breaks free
As a giant torn from the clouds
What a life indeed when that ancient seed
Is a-buried, watered and plowed


What a life we lead, indeed! I know my energy during these months is significantly greater than my energy in those that are colder. All these thoughts ended up coinciding perfectly with a wonderful homily we heard during Liturgy later this morning.

Our presider reminded us that, often times, the last thing on our minds is discipleship during these summer months. Yet, all three readings this morning focused on that theme. First, God calls Elijah to call forward Elisha as a disciple. Then, Galatians reminds us that disciples, guided by the Spirit, are called to love. Finally, the Gospel relays the message that discipleship means forgoing our own ideas and desires.

So, with all this energy that the Sun provides right now, perhaps I am called to reflect on and act upon my call to be a disciple more than ever. How am I called uniquely by God to be a disciple? How, even with that unique call, am I called to humility in my service? How does my energy contribute to building the Oneness that God calls me to help create? How are we all called to do this together in community and through love?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

(c/o youtube.com)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Nature of It All

Jesus deigned to teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers he has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the fields would no longer be decked out with little wildflowers.

And so it is in the world of souls, Jesus' garden. He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but he has created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies and violets destined to give joy to God's glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be...

Just as the sun shines simultaneously on the tall cedars and on each little flower as though it were alone on the earth, so Our Lord is occupied particularly with each soul as though there were no others like it. And just as in nature all the seasons are arranged in such a way as to make the humblest daisy bloom on a set day, in the same way, everything works out for the good of each soul.

-Saint Thérèse, The Story of a Soul

Oh, the simplicity of a daisy! And, oh, God caring for it individually! I am not so sure I need to add anything to these words from Thérèse de Lisieux. They were just the words I needed to encounter today. God is good like that! Isn't it a gift when one quote is able to encompass all the conversations and thoughts you've been having?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

a daisy set to bloom - even everything you see encompassed by the quote!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

On Writing [Or, (N)on Writing]

This past week, the community and some of our friends delighted in a wonderful retreat. Fr. Mauritius Wilde, a missionary Benedictine from Germany, presented on Benedict's life through the perspective of detachment.

During the first conference on Monday evening, Fr. Wilde encouraged us all to do something different for the week. If we are early risers, sleep in. If we are voracious readers, drop the books. If we hold a grudge against another community member, let it go. Don't worry though - he assured us we could resume our personal normalcies when retreat ended today!

So, by the above title and lack of posting this past week, you can guess what I did differently - no writing, none. I didn't journal; I didn't take notes during the presentations; I don't think I sent more than five emails; I didn't write here; I didn't even copy and paste good quotes that I read online.

This is my first attempt at writing anything since last Sunday.

And, oh what I learned!

Right now, I can admit though that I am struggling to figure out what I want to say here. But, I do know a few things: I certainly learned that writing is a practice, or re-learned - I think I always knew that. I certainly learned that writing helps my brain process its thoughts much more than I realized, even if I am just writing seemingly insignificant details. I certainly learned that writing is a process that I love.

So, maybe this week you'll try to detach from something you normally do, too. That is, of course, unless you already did this practice last week on our retreat - then, welcome back those early mornings and books! (Maybe leave the grudges behind!)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sacred All Life

This morning we incorporated the first anniversary of our Pope's encyclical about care for the environment, Laudato Si, into Liturgy.

As I took a walk afterwards, I held our sacred home in prayer as I repeated the words from a song we sang.

Sacred the land --

Sacred the water --

Sacred the sky, holy and true --

Sacred all life --

Sacred each other --

All reflect God who is good.


Let us hold all of life sacred.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jesus, Help My Unbelief

I am currently reading Cynthia Bourgeault. She writes:

Throughout these various resurrection appearances there is an interesting phenomenon at work which I believe conforms to a valid spiritual principal. It might seem logical that the more spiritually advanced a person is, the more they would be able to meet Jesus in a fully enfleshed resurrection appearance -- "like matching like," so to speak. But in fact things seems to work the opposite way. Jesus is present in physical density only insofar as is necessary to match the density of doubt that is blocking the view. Mary Magdalene needs only to see him in order to be reassured, and so Jesus appears to her as a vision. Thomas's doubt is deeply visceral, so he receives a fully visceral resurrection appearance. And some who are particularly advanced on the path, such as John, the beloved disciple, never seem to require a private visitation at all; they already grasp the whole picture in their inner insight. Jesus is corporeally present only to the degree that people cannot yet see with the eye of the heart. As the eye of the heart opens, there is more and more freedom to release the physical traces and simply allow the naked immediacy of love to meet heart to heart.

The question that this passage asks me is: In what ways does Jesus appear to me in order to match the places where my heart is called to growth from its unbelief?

As I try to answer the question, I can say for certain that Jesus appears to me in the children at my ministry. Their simplicity, their ability to let the previous moment go as quickly as it comes, their less-hesitant acceptance of the good in whatever is in front of them, and their love of play are all places where my heart is called to see with more loving eyes.

And today, I found the perfect example of people playing that I must share. This takes me back to my days of loving Broadway, and it is just plain fun! The show Hamilton should be sweeping the Tony's on Sunday night, and if you're not one for rap music, skip past the first three minutes. The clip comes from The Late, Late With James Corden, and any fan of Broadway (or fun, in general) should enjoy!

(c/o YouTube.com)

How does Jesus appear to you in ways that call you to grow past your unbelief?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

An Interconnected Sequence of Events

A few nights ago, at dinner, we talked about when we would start seeing fawns appear in our backyard.

Yesterday morning, I sat in on a retreat about Creation Spirituality. I listened to incredible stories of the ways our Spirits interconnect with the Spirit of Earth's creation, of the ways we ache when creation aches.

Yesterday afternoon, I thought about my to-do list for today.

     so much depends
     upon

     a red wheel
     barrow

     glazed with rain
     water

     beside the white
     chickens.

Yesterday evening, I knew exactly what I wanted to write here in the blog.

This morning, while praying I asked God to grace me today with a lesson in letting go.

     So much depends
     upon
     a blue car
     splattered with mud
     speeding down the road.

After Liturgy, I was going for a walk when I saw a doe crossing the road. A fawn followed behind and across the road with the mother, the first fawn that I spotted this season.

     so much depends
     upon

     a car that comes
     down the road

     and the baby deer
     that, too, comes

     back on the road
     to go the other way.

The fawn was lying lifeless on the road, and I turned around and started walking toward Glinodo, our lake property, instead of continuing my walk. I sat by the lake and said prayers for the fawn and the life that had just been lost, the poor doe, and the driver of the car.

As I prayed, I thought about the gift of young life. I also thought about one of my favorite books that I taught to young life as a fourth-grade teacher, Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech. In the book, a fourth grader named Jack grows to love poetry and becomes quite the poet himself. He reads The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams, which inspires him to write his own poem about his dog, Sky, who was killed by a blue car splattered with mud.

My afternoon so much depended upon what came before. I let go of my to-do list, as I ached for the fawn. I read Love That Dog and wrote a poem to post on the blog that I could not have known I was going to write last night.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Gift of Peace

Today's reflection day was a gift - running, riding, reading, resting, reflecting, and now writing. (I can practice being okay with breaking patterns, too!)

Anyway, I did some inner reflecting in solitude, but I also received the gift of reflection with some wise and wonderful women in different conversations throughout the day.

In one of those conversations, we talked about how the Mystery of God is too big to grasp; we also reflected on how we do not know what will come from one day to the next. But, even through all of that reality, we can practice being at peace with whatever comes our way. We shared with each other what makes us feel most peaceful.

For me, it was hard to not feel peaceful sitting amidst God's creation this evening. (Photo credit: Hers, not mine!)



When do you, or what makes you, feel most peaceful in your life?

Let us walk in the holy presence.