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Showing posts from June, 2017

On Solitude

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While our community was on retreat earlier this month, one day of the week was a "Desert Day" - a day devoted to silence and solitude. Mary Oliver writes this in the poem, Today:

Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.


They're a pretty powerful combination: silence and solitude. And, I think this poem captures that pretty powerfully. Our retreat presenter, Bonnie Thurston, talked about the way that Thomas Merton's "ego-driven quest for God" eventually led to a self softening; his journey took him to solitude. I personally struggled quite a bit during our Desert Day because my ego had placed some expectations on the way I wanted to enco…

The Ponds

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I heard a wonderful presentation on feminist theology this weekend, which ended with this beauty from Mary Oliver.

The Ponds

Every year
the lilies
are so perfect
I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding
the black,
mid-summer ponds.
Nobody could count all of them —

the muskrats swimming
among the pads and the grasses
can reach out
their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that
rife and wild.
But what in this world
is perfect?

I bend closer and see
how this one is clearly lopsided —
and that one wears an orange blight —
and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away —
and that one is a slumped purse
full of its own
unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising a…

The Shift, part 2

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The Shift

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"Simply living in a convent hasn't made me safe from my interior flood, or stopped me from obsessing on my own thoughts and feelings. But the practices mean I can lessen the length of time the afflictions last, weaken the impact they may have on my soul, and reduce the damage I may do to myself or others through acting on the impulses stirred up by the afflictions. I've become better at discerning their onset and on rare occasions have even been able to shift myself toward God--that place where all feelings, thoughts, and desires sit back and rest and there's no fuel for destructive or heightened emotions." (Mary Margaret Funk, OSB)
I've had a lot of spiritual food to work with the past few weeks. A lot.
When I was at NADI, a former prioress from the Beech Grove community, Mary Margaret Funk, presented on the eight thought afflictions that we humans wrestle with on the journey of seeking God. These afflictions (food, sex, things, anger, dejection, acedia, vai…

Young Peace Journalists

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Here is an update on my corporate commitment project.

A few pieces have been published on the Pax Christi blog telling the stories of refugees. The group of Young Peace Journalists, of which I am a part, has been dedicated to writing these stories.

The piece that I wrote can be found at this link.

Another piece, by fellow journalists, Alexandre and Alessia, can be read here.

It has been a wonderful experience to meet regularly with this group of young, committed people. I hope you enjoy.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

peace at the lake

After a Week of Pondering the Mystery of God (More Intensely Than Usual)

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Retreating with Thomas Merton This Week

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At Fourth and Walnut, Merton realizes:

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness. The whole illusion of a separate holy existence is a dream. Not that I question the reality of my vocation, or of my monastic life: but the conception of “separation from the world” that we have in the monastery too easily presents itself as a complete illusion: the illusion that by making vows we become a different species of being, pseudo-angels, “spiritual men,” men of interior life, what have you.

Certainly these traditional values are very real, but their reality is not of an order outside everyday existence in a contingent…

Joy and Beauty Abound

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It is difficult to avoid beauty in the springtime; it seems as though beauty is ubiquitous in this season. Joy and beauty accompany each other, so maybe it's by the transitive property that there is much joy right now, too.

Just look at these trees, the sun pouring through them, and the shadows on the leaves created by their intermingling with the sun's rays.


Joy and beauty.

Last night, two novices, Karen and Dina, made their first monastic profession in our community and became scholastics. The ceremony was beautiful, the celebration - festive.

Joy and beauty.

And something else stood out for me during the ceremony last night. I looked across the chapel at women who have been watching first professions for fifty, sixty, even seventy years. They have vowed to support and uphold so many other seekers on the journey, and in ways they could have never imagined when they took their own first vows. It was a moving experience. These women are not in the springtime of their lives, bu…