God does not die when we cease to believe
“God does not die when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.”
Dag Hammarskjold, 20th century
The Seed of True Self
As I learn more about the seed of true self that was planted when I was born, I also learn more about the ecosystem in which I was planted—the network of communal relations in which I am called to live responsively, accountably and joyfully with beings of every sort. Only when I know both seed and system, self and community, can I embody the great commandment to love both my neighbor and myself.
Source: Let Your Life Speak
Attachment and Love
The flip side of attachment is love. How many times have we confused the two? Is there any way to transmute our attachments and addictions into love? The force behind our addictions is the thirst for wholeness, for union with the divine. At its origins, our spiritual yearning is a natural and healthy impulse. When we misdirect that craving into attachments and addictions, we obscure its positive potential. In opening to the Spirit, we dispel the power of our addiction. We tap the source of love and divine creativity.
Source: The Thirst for Wholeness
Dogmas have helped to hold Christians together in faith communities, but it is not the dogmas that animate and inspire. Living faith belongs to the heart rather than to the head. People grow in faith through encounters with others whose fidelity to Christ is a lived experiential witness rather than fidelity to a set of truths. Christian faith is a lived experience rather than intellectual assent to a creedal formula.
Source: Catching Up With Jesus
Loving andKnowing Jesus
“Knowing the heart of Jesus and loving him are the same thing.The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.”
Henri Nouwen, 20th centuryMind-boggling Diversity
We come from God and return to God, and in the ‘interim’ we live in the presence of God–even when we do not know or acknowledge it. We are created in the image of God (the entire universe reflects God’s glory, each and every creature and thing in its particular, concrete, unique way). Creation is a panoply of mind-boggling diversity, a myriad of outrageously extravagant species and individuals who all together make up the body of God…. Each creature praises God by simply being itself, by being fully alive.
Source: Life Abundant
Play needs no purpose. That is why play can go on and on as long as players find it meaningful. After all, we do not dance in order to get somewhere. We dance around and around. A piece of music doesn’t come to an end when its purpose is accomplished. It has no purpose, strictly speaking. It is the playful unfolding of a meaning that is there in each of its movements, in every theme, every passage: a celebration of meaning.
Br. David Steindl-Rast
Source: Gratefulness the Heart of Prayer
A New Orientation
The conversion to a more relational mode of living is unlikely to be pioneered by major institutions—religious, political or otherwise. The new orientation is likely to come from the ground up, from the ground swell of people gradually becoming disenchanted with the fragmenting culture of individualism. Despite the odds weighted against it, this breakthrough may happen much more quickly than any of us alive today can imagine.
Source: Catching Up With Jesus_____
Morning prayers are best said
in the water, belly up,
facing the rising sun,
and immersed in the
renewing feel of the font
with your ears submerged
so that everything you say
is magnified, flying straight up
to be heard by all the trees
and the mountains
and to be carried away on the wind
by the ravens and the gulls
for the rest of the world.
Source: Soul Fire: Accessing Your Creativity
We are too complicated. We have made God too complicated. We have been so anxious to define and to control, that God has been lost in all the definitions, the rituals and the rules. God is. And that, perhaps, is too simple for us.
Source: A Warm Moist Salty God
Wow this one gets my mind and heart going. I want to say God is LOVE (1 John 4:8 & 16). Just to be doesn’t seem adequate. But God reveals God’s name to be “I am who I am” in Hebrew meaning simply “to be.” ~Pastor Susan
As artists we work every day. We make our own lives every day; we care for our family every day. It is hard daily work, this creative process. But it is also greater than personal. We are asked to care for others as well—helping them to create their lives as we were helped. Our work is global—we are asked literally to help make the countries of the world fit together in new ways. We begin this making, of course, in our own selves, our homes, our own country—but we can’t stop there.
Source: Learning by Heart
A Long Process
Forgiveness, the act of loving my enemy, like forgiveness of self, is not a sudden event, a rapid change of heart. Most of the time it is a long process that begins with the desire to be free, to accept ourselves as we are, and to grow in the love of those who are different and those who have hurt us or appear as rivals. It is the process of getting out of the prison of our likes and dislikes, our hatreds and fears, and walking to freedom and compassion.
Source: Becoming Human
God Rushes In
Not only we ourselves desire life in abundance; God desires it for us as well. Not only must our eyes and ears be attentive; God’s “eyes” and “ears” are always attentive to us…. God does not wait for us to puzzle out the way of life; God rushes in before the soul finished its prayer to show us the way. And the way is to rejoice in this constant, loving Presence.
Source: Desiring Life
Church and State
The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Mahatma Gandhi, 20th century
Force Field of Christ
We are saved by standing consciously inside the force field that is Christ—not by getting it right in our private selves.
Here is a traveler. He has launched out on a long journey. He comes to the first inn, and there he remains forever. His reason? He has been told that many travelers have come this way and have stayed at this very inn; even the master of the house once dwelt here…. Oh soul! All that is wished for you is that you press toward the end…. Only remember this: Do not stop at the first stage.
Source: Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ
O living God, soften us!
Let the fire of your love
thaw the frost within us.
Let the light of your justice
sear away our blindness,
Let the grace of your compassion
heal our hardened spirits.
O living God, soften us!
That, flowing with your grace,
we be impelled to face the world
in bold compassion,
that, driven to justice,
we may dare to cry aloud
for the little ones,
the raped, the beaten
the imprisoned, and the hungry.
O living God, soften us!
Sweep us forward
in a Mighty Wave of Mercy
to heal our darkened world.
Source: A Mystical Heart
“The hunger to belong is not merely a desire to be attached to something. It is rather sensing that great transformation and discovery become possible when belonging is sheltered and true.”
pulsates with the fire of desire
for our everlasting union.
My very breath is but Yours.
My heart is a limitless beacon
of Your love.My Spirit, being Yours,
is the light of the world.
My eyes but radiate and reflect
our Perfect Love.
My very essence vibrates with You
as the harmony of music
not yet heard.My vision is but Your Love
flowing through me,
seeing only its own reflection.
My only fulfillment is following Your
Directions and Guidance.My voice, being Yours,
can only bless
My prayer is but an eternal song of gratitude,
That You are in me,
and I am in You,
And that I live in Your Grace
Source: A Grateful Heart
Source: Lessons From the Dying
Source: Learning by Heart
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, 20th century
If we truly honor the Jesus of the Kingdom of God, what we encounter is a spiritual visionary afire with the living Spirit of God, animated with the intense passion of the prophet, enlightened with the deep perception of the mystic, and grounded in the slime and texture of the living earth. Truly this is God with the people, the Emmanuel in a fiercely real way. This is not a God for devotional seclusion, for evangelical rhetoric, or for heady academic analysis. This is a God of engagement, participation, liberation and compassion.
Source: Catching Up With Jesus
till your mud settles and the water is clean?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
Tao Te Ching
You hollow us out, God, so that we may carry you, and you endlessly fill us only to be emptied again. Make smooth our inward spaces and sturdy, that we may hold you with less resistance and bear you with deeper grace.
Power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love. It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Source: In the Name of Jesus
Source: A Grateful Heart
Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is to fit together and we all do this every day. Not all of us are painters but we are all artists. Each time we fit things together we are creating—whether it is to make a loaf of bread, a child, a day.
Source: Learning by Heart
Source: A Grateful Heart
Source: Field of Compassion
— Richard Rohr
Source: Field of Compassion
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.–Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
Source: The Incendiary Fellowship
Source: Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics
She said her parents did not know her very well
when they named her.
They thought Silence was a beautiful name
for a girl.
When a couple in church announces the birth of a girl
Silence says, “I think we should all clap for that.”
Silence says, “Keep telling us about that, we need to hear.”When someone complains about the church
needing air conditioning
Silence says, “That’s why I bring my fan.”I love this woman named Silence
And I think we should definitely
Keep Silence in the church.Margalea Warner
Source: Daughters of Sarah magazine
Source: 2012 LCWR Assembly Address
Source: 2012 LCWR Assembly Address
Cold and dark, it may be
But this is no winter now.
The frozen misery of centuries cracks, breaks, begins to move.
The thunder is the thunder of the floes.
The thaw, the flood, the up-start spring.
Thank God, our time is now
When wrong comes up to face us everywhere
Never to leave until we take
The greatest stride of soul that people ever took
Affairs are now soul-size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Source: A Sleep of Stranger
Source: Catching Up With Jesus
Source: The Incendiary Fellowship
Source: The Kingdom of God
and threw it into the sea.And another, and another.
He couldn’t stop.He wasn’t trying to fill the sea.
He wasn’t trying to empty the beach.He was just throwing away,
nothing else but.Like a kitten playing
he was practicing for the futurewhen there’ll be so many things
he’ll want to throw awayif only his fingers will unclench
and let them go.Norman MacCaig
Source: The Poems of Norman MacCaig
Source: The Cost of Discipleship
you have seen my affliction,
and unbound my eyes;
you have bereaved me of the burden
to which I used to cling;
you have woven my pain
into patterns of integrity;
the wounds I cherished
you have turned into honors,
and the scars I kept hidden
into marks of truth.
You have touched me gently;
I have seen your face, and live.Mary Ellen Ashcroft
Source: Spirited Women
Source: Field of Compassion
Source: Field of Compassion
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
“Hurry, you will be dead before—”
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted so by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!May Sarton
Source: Collected Poems 1930-1993
disc 6 (CD),
and Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, p. xvii
Source: Reaching Out
Source: The Art of the Commonplace
Source: New Designs
Source: Journeys by Heart
dwells where we cannot tell
nor sight reveal him,
until the hour has struck
when the small heart does break
with hunger for him;those who do merit least,
those whom no tongue does praise
the first to know him,
and on the face of earth
the poorest village street
blossoming for him.Jane Tyson Clement
Source: No One Can Stem the Tide
Source: Faith Beyond Borders
Source: The Gospel According to Jesus
Source: Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millennium
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists and breathe out sleeping children
and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen
and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:
hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:
flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don’t wait another minute.
Source: The Art of the Commonplace
Source: The Wisdom Jesus
Source: Imagining a Church in the Spirit
Source: God’s Echo
– Yelena Bonner
Source: God’s Echo by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Source: Journal entry 1856
The greatest gift
I can conceive of having
to be seen by them,
heard by them,
to be understood
touched by them.
The greatest gift
I can give
to see, hear, understand
and to touch
When this is done
contact has been made.Virginia Satir
Source: Making Contact
Source: Servant Leaders Servant Structures
Source: Words and the Word
Source: Turning to One Another
Go out and walk in the rain!
If you are in love,
then why are you asleep?
Wake up, wake up!
You have slept millions and millions of years.
Why not wake up this morning?Kabir
Source: The Kabir Book by Robert Bly
Source: No Man Is an Island
Source: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Consent to it
But don’t wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination
Remember the light
Take an outstretched hand if you find one
Exercise unused senses
Find the path by walking it
Watch for dawnMarilyn Chandler McEntyre
Source: A Knock at Midnight
But I dare not ask for the will to forgive in case You give it to me
and I am not yet ready.I am not yet ready for my heart to soften.I am not yet ready to be vulnerable again;not yet ready to see that there is humanity in my tormentor’s eyes,or that the one who hurt me may also have cried.I am not yet ready for the journey.I am not yet interested in the path..I am at the prayer before the prayer of forgiveness.Grant me the will to want to forgive.Grant it to me – not yet- but soon.
for Jesus in action.
And that action is our wholehearted
and free service—the gift of the poorest
of the poor—to Christ in the distressing
disguise of the poor.If we pray the work…
if we do it to Jesus
if we do it for Jesus
if we do it with Jesus…
that’s what makes us content.Mother Teresa
Source: Words to Love By
Source: Companions on the Inner Way
Source: Why O Lord?
Source: The Double Search
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.Walt Whitman
Source: Leaves of Grass
Source: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest
Source: Letter from Birmingham Jail
Holy (Black) Saturday
Pray for your enemies.
_____ Suggested practice for day 39 of Lent
No TV day
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Transformative Suffering Redemptive Suffering Friday, April 18, 2014 The “cross,” rightly understood, is precisely and always untoresurrection. It’s as if God were holding up the crucifixion as a cosmic object lesson, saying: “I know this is what you’re experiencing. Don’t run from it. Learn from it, as I did. Hang there for a while, as I did. It will be your teacher. Rather than losing life, it is gaining life. It is the way through.” The mystery of the cross has the power to teach us that our suffering is not our own and my life is not about “me.” Redemptive suffering is, I believe, a radical call to a deeper life and deeper faith that affects not only the self, but also others. We should pray for the grace to bear our sufferings as Christ bore his for us. Hopefully, a time will come when the life of Christ will be so triumphant in us that we care more about others than about our own selves, or better, when there is no longer such a sharp distinction between my self and the other self. Remember that conversion is more than anything else a reconstituted sense of the self. As Paul puts it, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). The suffering that we carry is our solidarity with the one, universal longing of all humanity, and thus it can teach us great compassion for and patience with both ourselves and others (see Colossians 1:24). Adapted from Job and the Mystery of Suffering, pp. 178-179 Gateway to Silence: God is in this with us. ____ Suggested practice for day 38 of Lent
Attend the Passover dinner and Tenebrea at CPC tonight (6:30pm)
or another worship service in your area.
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Partnering with God Thursday, April 17, 2014 Many people rightly question how there can be a good God or a just God in the presence of so much evil and suffering in the world—about which “God” appears to do nothing. Exactly how is God loving and sustaining what God created? That is our dilemma. I believe—if I am to believe Jesus—that God is suffering love. If we are created in God’s image, and if there is this much suffering in the world, then God must also be suffering. How else can we understand the revelation of the cross and that our central Christian logo is a naked, bleeding, suffering man? Many of the happiest and most peaceful people I know love “a crucified God” who walks with crucified people, and thus reveals and “redeems” their plight as his own. For them, Jesus is not observing human suffering from a distance; he is somehow in human suffering with us and for us. He includes our suffering in the co-redemption of the world, as “all creation groans in one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22). Is this possible? Could it be true that we “make up in our own bodies all that still has to be undergone for the sake of the Whole Body” (Colossians 1:24)? Are we somehow partners with the Divine? At our best, we surely are. Adapted from Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps, pp. 120-122 and Job and the Mystery of Suffering, p. 181
Suggested practice for day 37 of Lent
Eat mindfully today
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Suffering Can Bring Us to God Wednesday, April 16, 2014 The genius of Jesus’ ministry is that he reveals that God uses tragedy, suffering, pain, betrayal, and death itself, not to wound you, but in fact to bring you to God. So there are no dead ends. Everything can be transmuted and everything can be used. After all, on the cross, God took the worst thing, the killing of God, and made it into the best thing—the redemption of the world! If you gaze upon the mystery of the cross long enough, your dualistic mind breaks down, and you become slow to call things totally good or totally bad. You realize that God uses the bad for good, and that many people who call themselves good may in fact not be so good. At the cross you learn humility, patience, compassion, and all of the Christian virtues that really matter. Jesus says, “There’s only one sign I’m going to give you: the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Luke 11:29, Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Sooner or later, life is going to lead you (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the beast, into a place where you can’t fix it, you can’t control it, and you can’t explain it or understand it. That’s where transformation most easily happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God. Suffering is the only thing strong enough to destabilize the imperial ego. It has to be led to the edge of its own resources, so it learns to call upon the Deeper Resource of who it truly is, which is the God Self, the True Self, the Christ Self, the Buddha Self—use the words you want. It is who we are in God and who God is in us. At this place you are indestructible! Adapted from The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered (MP3 download) and A New Way of Seeing, A New Way of Being: Jesus and Paul, Disc 2 (CD, MP3 download) _____ Suggested practice for day 36 of Lent
Read a poem
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Holding the Pain Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Don’t get rid of the pain until you’ve learned its lessons. When you hold the pain consciously and trust fully, you are in a very special liminal space. This is a great teaching moment where you have the possibility of breaking through to a deeper level of faith and consciousness. Hold the pain of being human until God transforms you through it. And then you will be an instrument of transformation for others. As an example of holding the pain, picture Mary standing at the foot of the cross. Standing would not be the normal posture of a Jewish woman who is supposed to wail and lament and show pain externally. She’s holding the pain instead, as also symbolized in Michelangelo’s Pietà. Mary is in complete solidarity with the mystery of life and death. She’s trying to say, “There’s something deeper happening here. How can I absorb it just as Jesus is absorbing it, instead of returning it in kind?” Until you find a way to be a transformer, you will pass the pain onto others. Jesus on the cross and Mary standing by the cross are images of transformative religion. They are never transmitting the pain to others. All the hostility that had been directed toward them—the hatred, the accusations, the malice—none of it is returned. They hold the suffering until it becomes resurrection! That’s the core mystery. It takes our whole life to comprehend this, and then to become God’s “new creation” (Galatians 6:15). The imperial ego hates such seeming diminishment. Unfortunately, we have the natural instinct to fix pain, to control it, or even, foolishly, to try to understand it. The ego always insists on understanding. That’s why Jesus praises a certain quality even more than love, and he calls it faith. It is the ability to stand in liminal space, to stand on the threshold, to hold the contraries, until you move to a deeper level where it all eventually makes sense in the great scheme of God and grace. Adapted from The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered (MP3 download) Gateway to Silence: God is in this with us. _____ Suggested practice for day 35 of Lent.
Offer someone a sincere apology
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation Transformative Suffering Transforming Our Pain Monday April 14, 2014 All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become “sacred wounds” and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others. If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know where to put it. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it. Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying storyline of human history. Biblical revelation is about transforming history and individuals, so that we don’t just keep handing the pain on to the next generation. Unless we can find a meaning for human suffering, that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, humanity is in major trouble. Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 25-26 and Job and the Mystery of Suffering, pp. 90-91 Gateway to Silence: God is in this with us. _____ Suggested practice for day 34 of Lent.
Take a walk
Suggested practice for day 33 of Lent.
Read John 8:1-11
At the start of spring I open a trench in the ground. I put into it the winter’s accumulation of paper, pages I do not want to read again, useless words, fragments, errors. And I put into it the contents of the outhouse: light of the sun, growth of the ground, finished with one of their journeys. To the sky, to the wind, then, and to the faithful trees, I confess my sins: that I have not been happy enough, considering my good luck; have listened to too much noise; have been inattentive to wonders; have lusted after praise. And then upon the gathered refuse of mind and body, I close the trench, folding shut again the dark, the deathless earth. Beneath that seal the old escapes into the new. Wendell Berry Source: Collected Poems: 1957-1982
Suggested practice for day 32 of Lent.
Pray for peace
Suggested practice for day 31 of Lent.
Educate yourself about a saint www.catholic.org/saints
Layers of Violence and Tenderness
“People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs, and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.”
Eudora Welty, 20th century
Suggested practice for day 30 of Lent.
No sugar day
Where else is there sweetness in you life?
My Symphony To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurrying never. In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony. William Ellergy Channing Source: Masterpieces of Religious Verse
Suggested practice for day 29 of Lent
Confess a secret
Suggested practice for day 28 of Lent
Suggested practice for day 27 of Lent.
Write a Thank You note to a mentor
Keeping Quiet Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; let’s stop for one second and not move our arms so much. It would be an exotic moment without rush, without engines; we would all be together in a sudden strangeness. Fishermen in the cold sea would not harm whales and the man gathering salt would look at his hurt hands. Those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, victories with no survivors, would put on clean clothes and walk about with their brothers in the shade, doing nothing. What I want should not be confused with total inactivity. Life is what it is about; I want no truck with death. If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead and later proves to be alive. Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go. Pablo Neruda Source: translated by Alistair Reid in Extravagaria
Suggested practice for day 26 of Lent.
Light an actual candle
“I am a servant of the Truth not the functionary of the body. I am a lion of the Truth, not the lion of passions”
Suggested practice for day 25 of Lent
Light a virtual candle
The Length and the Width I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. Diane Ackerman
Suggested practice for day 24 of Lent
No shopping day
Flowers “The earth laughs in flowers.”
_____ Suggested practice for day 23 of Lent
Read Psalm 121
Hungry for God We have food to share with a world that is hungry, even famished. Spiritual wanderers—those spiritually starved and denied—show up at our doors, not because they like our buildings or even because they like us, but because they are hungry. Hungry for forgiveness, for rest and peace. Hungry for mercy and grace. Hungry to explore and grow. Hungry for the good news of new life, of abundant life. Hungry for God to do a new thing. Amy Oden Source: God’s Welcome: Hospitality for a Gospel-Hungry World _____ Suggested practice for day 22 of Lent
Try morning and evening prayer
_____ Suggested practice for day 21 of Lent
Introduce yourself to a neighbor
Time to Stop
Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop. We do not stop when we are finished. We do not stop when we complete our phone calls, finish our project, get through this stack of messages, or get out this report. We stop because it is time to stop. Sabbath requires surrender. If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop—because our work is never completely done. Wayne Muller Source: Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest _____ Suggested practice for day 20 of Lent
Tell someone what you are grateful for
Worn Smooth Like a jagged rock thrown into a flowing stream, the church once “troubled the waters.” Now, however, it seems as if the church has slowly, often imperceptibly been worn so smooth by the culture that it no longer creates any disturbance at all. Charles Campbell Source: The Word on the Street
Suggested practice for day 19 of Lent
Ask for help
Love and Fear
Love makes us vulnerable and open, but then we can be hurt through rejection and separation. We may crave love, but then be frightened of losing our liberty and creativity. We want to belong to a group, but we fear a certain death in the group because we may not be seen as unique. We want love, but fear the dependence and commitment it implies; we fear being used, manipulated, smothered and spoiled. We are all so ambivalent toward love. Jean Vanier Source: Community and Growth
Suggested practice for day 18 of Lent.
Everything you want
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
Suggested practice for day 17 of Lent.
We try so hard as Christians. We think such long thoughts, manipulate such long words, and both listen to and preach such long sermons. Each one of us somewhere, somehow, has known, if only for a moment or so, something of what it is to feel the shattering love of God, and once that has happened, we can never rest easy again for trying somehow to set that love forth not only in words, myriads of words, but in our lives themselves. Frederick Buechner Source: The Magnificent Defeat
Suggestion for YESTERDAY day 16 of Lent. Oops.
Invest in a canvas shopping bag
_____ Suggested practice for day 15 of Lent.
Bring your own mug for your coffee today.
Fire What makes a fire burn is space between the logs, a breathing space. Too much of a good thing, too many logs packed in too tight can douse the flames almost as surely as a pail of water would. So building fires require attention to the spaces in between, as much as to the wood. When we are able to build open spaces in the same way we have learned to pile on the logs, then we can come to see how it is fuel, and absence of the fuel together, that make fire possible. We only need to lay a log lightly from time to time. A fire grows simply because the space is there, with openings in which the flame that knows just how it wants to burn can find its way. Judy Brown Source: Teaching With Fire edited by Intrator and Scribner
Suggested practice for day 14 of Lent.
Pay a few sincere compliments
Only by Love Only by love can people see me, and know me, and come unto me. Those who work for me, who love me, whose End Supreme I am, free from attachment to all things, and with love for all creation, they in truth come to me. Bhagavad Gita _____ Suggested practice for day 13 of Lent
Read Psalm 139
A Never-ending Call God’s call, vocation, is twofold. God calls us saying, ‘Come, follow me.’ We arrive and then we must follow. We find but must go on seeking. God’s call is a never-ending call, to the unknown, to adventure, to follow him in the night, in solitude. It is a call incessantly to go further, and further. For it is not static but dynamic (as creation also is dynamic) and reaching him means going on and on. God’s call is like the call to become an explorer; it is an invitation to adventure. Ernesto Cardenal Source: Love
Suggested practice for day 12 of Lent
Pray for people and situations in the news today
We mostly spend [life] conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have and to Do. Craving, clutching and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual, even on the religious plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest: forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in, the fundamental verb, to Be: and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of the spiritual life. Evelyn Underhill Source: The Spiritual Life
Suggested practice for day 11 of Lent
Call an old friend
Christian spirituality means eating together, sharing together, drinking together, talking with each other, receiving each other, experiencing God’s presence through each other, and in doing so, proclaiming the gospel as God’s alternative vision for everyone. Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza Source: In Memory of Her
Suggested practice for day 10 of Lent
Bring some food for the Food Bank to church tomorrow
Suggested practice for day 9 of Lent
Do someone else’s chore
Prayer Is an Egg
Don’t do daily prayers like a bird pecking, moving its head up and down. Prayer is an egg. Hatch out the total helplessness inside. Rumi Source: translated by Coleman Barks
Look out the window until you see something beautiful you hadn’t seen before.
To Be Radical
The more radical a person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can better transform it. This individual is not afraid to confront, to listen, to see the world unveiled. This person is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side.
Paulo Freire Source: Preface to Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Take 5 minutes of silence at noon
Jesus does not demand great actions from us but simply surrender and gratitude. Source: The Story of a Soul _____ Suggested practice for day 4 of Lent
Give a donation to a
non-profit of your choosing
Don’t turn on you car radio today.
Listen. Pray. Love. Listen to the Spirit…. Love…love…love, never counting the cost. Go into the marketplace and stay with me. Pray, fast. Pray always, fast. Be hidden. Be a light to your neighbor’s feet. Go without fear into the depth of man’s heart. I shall be with you. Pray always. I will be your rest. Catherine Doherty Source: The Little Mandate _____ On this second day of Lent we suggest this practice:
Pray today with a friend or loved one.
Calling Us to Wholeness The salient fact about the community we yearn for, and that calls us into wholeness, is that it cannot exist for itself. It exists only in relationship to the world. In recent years we have awakened to the fact that the people of this world are largely destitute—without food and clothing and shelter, and without structures that nourish an inward life. Unless a group of persons reach beyond themselves to touch and be touched by some of this need, its members will not know community. Elizabeth O’Connor Source: The New Community
Please join us at Christ Presbyterian Church tonight at 7:30pm for our ASH WEDNESDAY TAIZE WORSHIP. Begin the Lenten journey toward Resurrection with Scripture, Silence, Prayer and Song.
In Disguise Souls who can recognize God in the most trivial, the most grievous and the most mortifying things that happen to them in their lives, honor everything equally with delight and rejoicing, and welcome with open arms what others dread and avoid. Jean Pierre de Caussade Source: The Sacrament of the Present Moment _____ The Consequence Joy is not a requirement of Christian discipleship, it is a consequence. It is not what we have to acquire in order to experience life in Christ; it is what comes to us when we are walking in the way of faith and obedience. Eugene Peterson Source: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction _____ Finding One’s Own Happiness I have been intensely and imaginatively happy in the quietest places. I have been filled with life from within in a cold waiting room in a deserted railway junction. I have been completely alive sitting on an iron seat under an ugly lamppost at a third-rate watering place. In short, I have experienced the mere excitement of existence in places that would commonly be called as dull as ditch-water. G. K. Chesterton Source: The Spice of Life _____ Welcome Morning There is joy in all: in the hair I brush each morning, in the Cannon towel, newly washed, that I rub my body with each morning, in the chapel of eggs I cook each morning, in the outcry from the kettle that heats my coffee each morning, in the spoon and the chair that cry “hello there, Anne” each morning, in the godhead of the table that I set my silver, plate, cup upon each morning. All this is God, right here in my pea-green house each morning and I mean, though often forget, to give thanks to faint down by the kitchen table in a prayer of rejoicing as the holy birds at the kitchen window peck into their marriage of seeds. So while I think of it, let me paint a thank-you on my palm for this God, this laughter of the morning, lest it go unspoken. The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard, dies young. Anne Sexton Source: The Awful Rowing Toward God _____ Discrimination “If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything … that smacks of discrimination or slander.” -Mary McLeod Bethune _____ God Incognito We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with God. God walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate. The real labor is to remember, to attend. In fact, to come awake. Still more, to remain awake. C. S. Lewis Source: Letters to Malcolm Chiefly on Prayer _____ What Life Does I often want to say to people, ‘you have neat, tight expectations of what life ought to give you, but you won’t get it. That isn’t what life does. Life does not accommodate you, it shatters you. It is meant to, and it couldn’t do it better. Every seed destroys its container or else there would be no fruition.’ But some wouldn’t hear, and some would shatter themselves on principle. Florida Scott-Maxwell Source: The Measure of My Days _____ To Love at All To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become breakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. C. S. Lewis Source: The Four Loves _____ The Word I Hear Why am I drawn to desert and mountain fierceness? What impels me to its unmitigated honesty, its dreadful capacity to strip bare, its long, compelling silence? It’s the frail hope that in finding myself brought to the edge…I may hear a word whispered in its loneliness. The word is ‘love,’ spoken pointedly and undeniably to me. It may have been uttered many times in the past but I’m fully able to hear it only in that silence. Belden Lane Source: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes _____ Grains of God I must learn to let go of the familiar and the usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to ‘leave myself’ in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God. If I were looking for God, every event and every moment would sow, in my will, grains of God’s life that would spring up one day in a tremendous harvest. Thomas Merton Source: New Seeds of Contemplation _____ Fixing the Whole World “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes, 20th century A very comforting thought on Pastor Susan’s return from Palestine. Go to Pastor Susan’s Blog to read about her olive tree planting trip. _____ May the suffering be suffering free… “May suffering ones be suffering free and the fear-struck fearless be. May the grieving shed all grief — and the sick find health relief.” -Zen chant _____ A Love Like That The sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky. Hafiz Source: translated by Daniel Ladinsky _____ Receiving Love Receiving love brings us to a place of vulnerability. That is why it is so difficult. So often we live in the illusion that it is much easier to love than to be loved. We may think we can exercise a bit of control in loving another, but there is no control in being loved. The ones who truly love us walk into our hearts, often unnoticed, unannounced, and then reveal to us how genuinely loveable we are. And nothing feels more vulnerable than that. Judy Cannato Source: Field of Compassion _____ Waging Peace “Wage peace. Never has the word seemed so fresh and precious: Have a cup of tea and rejoice. Act as if armistice has already arrived. Celebrate today.” -Judyth Hill I’ll be waging peace on Valentine’s day planting olive trees in Palestine again today. ~Pastor Susan _____ Closing Doors Our growing capacity to look the other way when confronted by poverty in the public sphere lead us to accept not only the segregation of our neighborhoods and public places, but also the segregation of our consciousness and being. When we close the door or turn away from the stranger, a door closes in us as well. Stanley Saunders and Charles Campbell Source: The Word on the Street _____ When I say it’s you I like “When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” Fred Rogers, 20th century _____ Who You Are Your problem is, you don’t know who you are. Let me tell you who you are. You are a ray of God’s own light. You say you seek God, but a ray of light doesn’t seek the sun; it’s coming from the sun. You are a branch on the vine of God. A branch doesn’t seek the vine; it’s already part of the vine. A wave doesn’t look for the ocean; it’s already full of ocean. Martin Laird Source: Into the Silent Land _____ The Important Question “The important question to ask is not, “What do you believe?” but “What difference does it make that you believe?” Does the world come nearer to the dream of God because of what you believe?” Verna J. Dozier, 20th century _____ Keeping Faith It is not difficult to keep faith with a God of justice when the freedom movements are successful. But it is when the revolution fails, despair sets in, and the dreams are shattered—and, on a personal level, when people have to face a future of unemployment, poverty, and isolated caring for severely disabled dependents—that the discovery of a God who suffers with is, who becomes vulnerable with is, is what sustains our hope. Mary Grey Source: The Outrageous Pursuit of Hope Very important thought for Pastor Susan who is in Occupied Palestine this week. See her Pastor’s blog. _____ Threshold In invisible line surrounds us. Though unseen it’s as real as one that is drawn in the sand. Cross it, and we are in a new realm entanglement in a love affair, blessedness of God’s life and grace. Mary crossed the threshold with her “fiat,” Abelard and Heloise in their embrace, the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence. Each of us decides—perhaps each day— to cross or remain behind that invisible line, that threshold into a new horizon that forever changes our destiny. Robert Morneau Source: The Color of Gratitude and Other Spiritual Surprises _____ Living Is a Great Deal More Living is a great deal more than simply not dying. It is carrying out a mission, committing oneself to fashion some meaning that will attain eternity. Time does not create enough space for us to completely realize the meaning of life. Our desires, our hopes, our love, our capacity to communicate, and our powers of understanding surpass and transcend everything that might present itself to us. In wanting the world, human beings seek the Absolute that is God and that surpasses the limits of this world. Leonardo Boff Source: Way of the Cross—Way of Justice _____ A Pilgrim Church Let us not forget: we are a pilgrim church, subject to misunderstanding, to persecution, but a church that walks serene because it bears the force of love…. The Christian religion does not have a merely horizontal meaning, or a merely spiritualized meaning that overlooks the wretchedness that surrounds it. It is a looking at God, and from God at one’s neighbor as a brother or sister, and an awareness that “whatever you did to one of these, you did to me.” Archbishop Oscar Romero Source: The Violence of Love _____ Peace with Your Enemy “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Nelson Mandela, 20th century _____ People are like stained-glass windows “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the [night] sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, 20th century _____ Surprise Me One can move into life with openness. It is as if one says to the world, and to life, and to one’s self, and to God, “Surprise me!” This simple shift of attitude can make the difference between boredom and beauty. Gerald May Source: Simply Sane _____ Choosing Joy Joy is what makes life worth living, but for many joy seems hard to find. They complain that their lives are sorrowful and depressing. What then brings the joy we so much desire? Are some people just lucky, while others have run out of luck? Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently than the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice. Henri Nouwen _____ Only Light Through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that. Martin Luther King Jr. Source: Where Do We Go From Here? Chaos or Community? ____ Christianity and the Future “Christianity is wholly and entirely confident hope, a stretching out to what is ahead, and a readiness for a fresh start. Future is not just something or other to do with Christianity. It is the essential element of the faith which is specifically Christian.” -Jürgen Moltmann _____ Mindful Every day I see or I hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It is what I was born for— to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world— to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant— but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations, Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these— the untrimmable light of the world, the ocean’s shine, the prayers that are made out of grass? Mary Oliver Source: Why I Wake Early _____ The world and the church are changing “[T]he world and the church are changing more rapidly than we can comprehend some things are the same: the world and the church desperately need [our] energy, imagination, passion, impatience, intelligence, and love one of the great biblical themes is that God calls all of us to walk into the future without knowing exactly where we are headed, to let go of old securities and certainties and trust the God who promises to be with us wherever we go.” John Buchanan, 21st century _____
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__ One Persistent Demand Part of being human is to experience moments of true perception about those things that touch you so intimately that suddenly you see…. Such moments don’t come often. Hold on to them. Cherish them until they become so much a part of you as to be second nature. For there is only one persistent demand made upon us by the Spirit. It is that we are receptive. That we keep our eyes open, our minds unclosed. It is, in short, that we retain all our lives our sense of wonder. Michael Mayne Source: The Sunrise of Wonder _____ Invest Life “I must not just live my life; I will not just spend my life. I will invest my life.” Helen Keller, 20th century _____ Is Now Eternity is not to be pursued. Run, and it shortens; arrive, and it is shut: Forward or backward, nothing but the folds Of time; that you will tighten, fumbling them. Eternity is only to be entered Standing. It is everywhere and still. Slow, and it opens: stop, and it is whole As love about your head, that rests and sees. Eternity is now or not at all: Waited for, a wisp: remembered, shadows. Eternity is solid as the sun: As present; as familiar; as immense. Mark Van Doren Source: Collected and New Poems 1924-1963 _____ Transformative vision of God [Jesus] proposed a transformative vision of God. God isn’t the one who condemns to poor and weak. God isn’t the one who favors the rich and righteous. God isn’t the one who ordains the rich to be in the castle and the poor to be in the gutter. God is the one who loves everyone, including the people the rest of us think don’t count. – Brian McLaren _____ Justice and power Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just. Blaise Pascal, 17th century _____ Turn and Give Thanks I turn to God and give thanks for whatever gifts I am able to appreciate: perhaps just the breath in my lungs or how dearly God loves me…. What I manage to be grateful for may be very small, but that little glimpse may be enough to open the door to gratitude. The more grateful I feel, the more that interior abundance naturally wants to overflow into acts of generosity. Because God is so generous to me, I want to be generous to others. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas Source: Newsletter of the Shalem Institute Fall 2006 _____ Expecting Mystery A sense of Mystery can take us beyond disappointment and judgment to a place of expectancy. It opens in us an attitude of listening and respect. If everyone has in them the dimension of the unknown, possibility is present at all times. Wisdom is possible at all times. The Mystery in anyone may speak to them and heal them in the grocery store. It may speak to us and heal us too. Knowing this enables us to listen to life from the place in us that is Mystery also. Rachel Naomi Remen Source: My Grandfather’s Blessings _____ Fallow Time There is a fallow time for the spirit when the soil is barren…. Face it! Then resolutely dig out dead roots, clear the ground, … work out new designs by dreaming daring dreams and great and creative planning. The time is not wasted. The time of fallowness is a time of rest and restoration, of filling up and replenishing. It is the moment when the meaning of all things can be searched out, tracked down, and made to yield the secret of living. Thank God for the fallow time! Howard Thurman Source: Deep Is the Hunger
I will light candles this Christmas. Candles of joy, despite all the sadness. Candles of hope where despair keeps watch. Candles of courage where fear is ever present. Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days. Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens. Candles of love to inspire all of my living. Candles that will burn all the year long. ~ Howard Thurman