Sunday, May 27, 2018

Here, There, and Everywhere

Last year when we had a guest living with us from Australia, she described the spring and summer seasons as a “symphony” because there were different flowers and blossoms playing and popping up all the time—much different than what happens in the Australian climate.

The other morning I read this line from Wislawa Szymborska in a poem:

No day copies yesterday,
no two nights will teach what bliss is
in precisely the same way.

Both of these are reasons why I change my normal routine during the warmer months. One has many options to get from the northeast part of the monastery to the southwest (or vice versa) on the first floor. (Through the chapel, or past the administrative offices, or up the steps and through the “west wing,” or down the steps past the garden room.) For me, though, the only way to travel right now is through our inner courtyard. It provides you about thirty more seconds of sunlight and outdoor time each day, double that if you are returning, too!

When I was walking through this past week, I noticed the first iris in bloom. The next day there were five—“no two days will teach what bliss is in precisely the same way.” It is wonderful to witness the symphony gaining momentum.

Of course, this is not limited to our inner courtyard alone. When I went for a run yesterday morning, the sun gracing the young grapevines stopped me in my tracks and begged for my attention. 

May we find small ways to listen to the symphony of nature each day, finding the bliss ever present, ever new.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

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, writes about vocation, using words that also gave me pause:

When I think back over the course of my life, I realize I’ve always been on a quest to understand the meaning of “vocation,” a word that comes from the Latin vocare, to call. A “calling” is not a job or even one’s work. It’s a summons that emerges from a desire so deep that it cannot be rationalized by the conscious mind. Indeed, as those reluctant prophets Moses and Jonah discovered, God’s invitation can be deeply inconvenient and sometimes terrifying. Jonah was so disturbed by what he was being asked to do that he fled, even to be swallowed whole by a great fish. But as Jonah discovered, no matter how inadequate or unprepared or scared you may feel yourself to be, God will always find you and point you in the right direction.

Having some time to pause gave me an opportunity to re-center in the right direction. It, too, has reminded me that while living my vocation in the daily (which is the only place to really live it, I have found), I easily get lost in the busyness. The busyness can be terrifying because hearing God’s call is that much harder. But, at the end of the day, my deepest desire is to seek God. It seems I don’t have to look too far!

May your Pentecost be Spirit-filled.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

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.

Friday, May 4, 2018

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 beating of a single heart.
It’s praising.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving.
You have a life—just imagine that!
You have this day, and maybe another, and maybe
     still another.
               (From To Begin With, the Sweet Grass)

May those days be full of “hammock moments.”

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Lingering with Mary

Oh do you have time      to linger           for just a little while                out of your busy and very important day      for t...