Showing posts from November, 2017


I was talking to a dear friend of mine who happened to be opening Mary Oliver's Thirst for the first time ever! What a life-changing moment for all of us, I'm sure! So, I picked up my copy, full of many memories used as bookmarks over the years (some Scripture, an answer key for grading a fourth grade test, a Google map print-out from 2012, and quotes scribbled down from Dorothy Day's journal, among other goodies). I started to list my favorite poems by page number for her. I just read selected lines from some favorites, too.

Dorothy Day's words marked one of my favorite poems that I use to accompany me through the winter months: The Winter Wood Arrives. (Page 14)

I think
     I could have
          built a little house
               to live in

with the single cord—
     half seasoned, half not—
          trucked into the
               driveway and

tumbled down. But, instead,
     friends came
          and together we stacked it
               for the long, cold days

that are—

Lady Bird

I had the good fortune to see the movie Lady Bird last night. I had seen some great early reviews of the movie, and it now scores 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, which I use as a pretty accurate guide since it averages many individual movie reviews to create a score for a particular film.
Lady Bird tells the story of Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson, a high-school senior who deals with all the usual high school "stuff": friendships, love, college applications, parents, dreams, idealism, and identity. Nothing happens in the story that we might characterize as "over-the-top" or "unrealistic;" there is nothing to really give away with spoilers, yet it totally captures you and invites you in because it is so true-to-life. And while she is dealing with her coming-of-age at 17 or 18, I think the movie would resonate with most people at some level because it tells a very human story.
The film was funny, yet heartbreaking...just like the teenage years. The relat…

Giving Thanks

Right now I am particularly grateful for this prayer from Hosffman Ospino that showed up in Give Us This Day on November 13 as the gospel reflection.

Lord, grant me your wisdom.
     Wisdom to learn what I must know to love you more and contemplate the depths of your mystery in the everyday.
     Wisdom to trust in the work of your Holy Spirit in my life and in the world, so I can walk with the confidence that in the end all will be well.
     Wisdom to listen to your Word with an open mind and a willing heart, making it the norm of my journey.
     Wisdom to long for you with the desire to be consumed by the power of your transforming and generous love.
     Wisdom to cherish your life-giving presence in a world charged with your grandeur.
     Wisdom to recognize you in my sisters and brothers, especially those most in need, starting with those who live closest to me.
     Wisdom to be conscious that I am but an earthen vessel sustained by your grace despite my sins and my limitations.

In Equal Measure

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one-- to each according to his ability.  Then he went away.
As I sit with today's gospel, I am pondering the numbers for the first time (at least for the first time that I can remember!). This is odd given my proclivity for quantitative reasoning, but I usually end up focusing on the cultivating versus squandering with this particular reading.

More specifically than just the numbers, I am spending time with the fact that each of the first two servants brings back the same number of talents as were entrusted to them.

What would it look like to use all the gifts God has given me? Not just the ones I feel like using that day, or the ones that are easy to harvest. Not just 1 of the 2, or 3 of the 5--50% or 60%, if we are talking numbers. What would it look like to live totally and completely, 100%, out o…

The Moment at Heart

I get tired of reading all the reflections on how busy we are, and perhaps I shouldn't spend my time reading them, but...

I did read a piece on my dear On Being blog yesterday by Omid Safi titled, The Disease of Being Busy. What was different about this reflection for me was that he suggested something that I believe might actually help us pause, might not stop making us busy (since it feels inevitable at this point), but might just help us grow in compassion for others, too. Safi writes:

In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal?

What is this
haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know.

Wow. How is your heart doing at this very moment? Imagine what might happen to us if we asked that question...a…

Listen With the Ear of Your Heart

For the past two weeks, it's been parent-teacher conference time at Saint Benedict Center. As I meet with parents and learn more about the whole picture of their children and their development into human beings, I have been reflecting on the ways I am also learning about the nature of God.

Parents are very excited to tell you about their children; I have learned how important it is to let them talk as I make sincere attempts to practice Benedict's art of "listening with the heart of your heart." I try to do this instead of immediately posing questions that will reinforce some of my preconceived notions about the child--something which I have practiced much during my brief time as a teacher.

I was sitting with one particular parent, and all of a sudden it dawned on me.

Having these conferences, I see how it is not just the parents who want to tell me about their children; God is always trying to speak to me about Her creation. Parents want an opportunity to be heard, …

More from Ken Wilber

From No Boundary: ________________________
Perhaps we can approach this fundamental insight of the mystics—that there is but one immortal Self or Witness common in and to us all—in this way. Perhaps you, like most people, feel that you are basically the same person you were yesterday. You probably also feel that you are fundamentally the same person you were a year ago. Indeed, you still seem to be the same you as far back as you can remember. Put it another way: you never remember a time when you weren’t you. In other words, something in you seems to remain untouched by the passage of time. But surely your body is not the same as it was even a year ago. Surely also your sensations are different today than in the past. Surely, too, your memories are on the whole different today than a decade ago. Your mind, your body, your feelings—all have changed with time. But something has not changed, and you know that something has not changed. Something feels the same. What is that?

This time a…

Coping With Reality

This weekend we returned to Villa Maria, PA for an intercommunity formation weekend as we do a few times a year. This time we heard a Marist brother, Br. Don Bisson, speak on religious life as a container. He meant “container” in the sense that it becomes the space and shape that holds our discernment. So, if I chosen to live the monastic life, that is the container that informs my choices.

He spent Saturday morning talking about the process of individuation and transformation that religious life uniquely offers. Each person, consecrated or not, enters into the life process of moving from False Self to True Self, as Merton put it. (Br. Don uses “Coping” instead of “False.”) But, by entering religious life we enter into that process of conversion in a heightened and conscious way. I loved his use of the term “Coping Self,” as it felt a gentler way of naming our rough edges that need some smoothing on our way to God. He reminded us to be grateful because what we did to cope got us to w…

Song for Autumn

I am finally willing to admit autumn is here. We haven't taken the kids out for playtime in a few days, and I have upgraded my coat. While I cannot admit that this is my favorite time of year, the colors are rather beautiful, and this poem from Mary Oliver makes it a bit easier, or at least it gives me something to ponder about the season.

Song for Autumn
In the deep fall don’t you imagine the leaves think how comfortable it will be to touch the earth instead of the nothingness of air and the endless freshets of wind? And don’t you think the trees themselves, especially those with mossy, warm caves, begin to think
of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep inside their bodies? And don’t you hear the goldenrod whispering goodbye, the everlasting being crowned with the first tuffets of snow? The pond vanishes, and the white field over which the fox runs so quickly brings out its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its bellows. And at evening especially, the piled firewood shifts a little, longi…