Thursday, December 30, 2010


Detail from "The Worship of the Shepherds" window at Trinity Church, Boston

Phillips Brooks, as you undoubtedly know, was one of our great preachers. I remember, shortly after I moved to Boston, visiting Trinity Church where he was rector and that being such a thrill for me! Did you know that Trinity had the first free standing altar in the U.S. and this, in the late 19th century?

Here's something he said that I think is worthy of reflection as we are saying good-bye to one year and beginning to welcome in another:

The glory of the star, the glory of the sun--we must not lose either in the other.We must not be so full of the hope of heaven that we cannot do our work on the earth;we must not be so lost in the work of the earth that we shall not be inspired by the hope of heaven.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The true wonder

Artist: Lorenzo Costa

While it may well help to have a musical background in order to tap into the wisdom of the following, I think we have all heard a song badly sung while still realizing on a deep level the perfection of the song itself:

The wonder is not that there should be obstacles and sufferings in this world, but that there should be law and order, beauty and joy, goodness and love. The idea of God that humans have in their being is the wonder of all wonders. They have felt in the depths of their lives that what appears as imperfect is the manifestation of the perfect; just as a person who has an ear for music realized the perfection of a song, while in fact he or she is only listening to a succession of notes.

-- Victor Gollancz

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Artist: Bramantino

Do you know the works of Willa Cather? The following is from a newspaper column she produced toward the beginning of her writing career. I can't determine exactly when this was written but it had to have been quite early in the 20th century. Somehow these paragraphs seem wonderfully apppropriate for tonight:

Up in the Negro church one Christmas the congregation were singing the "Peace on Earth." When the plaintive music stopped an old gray-haired Negro in a frock coat and wearing two pairs of glasses arose and began reading the old, old story of the men who were watching their flocks by night and of the babe who was born in the city of David. He became very excited as he read, and his voice trembled and he unconsciously put the words to measure and chanted them slowly. When he finished he looked up at the ceiling with eager misty eyes as though he could see the light of the heavenly messenger shining in upon him.

It is a beautiful story, this of the holiest and purest childhood on earth, beautiful even to those who cannot understand it, as dreams are sweet to men without hope. After all, if we cannot hear the carol and see the heavenly messenger, it is because our ears are deaf and our eyes are blind, not that we turn willfully away from love or beauty.

No one is antagonistic by preference. Almost any of us who doubt would give the little we know or hope to know to go down upon our knees among the lowly and experience a great faith or a great conviction.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

God with us

We moving ever so inexorably toward the yearly observance of a great and mighty wonder - the Mystery of the Incarnation. Here's something rather lovely about that:

If the grandfather of the grandfather of Jesus had known what was hidden within him, he would have stood humble and awe-struck before his soul.

-- Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moving toward the day!

This is THE interpretation, dear people. John Eliot Gardiner simply cannot be beat when it comes to Baroque interpretation. Same for the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists.

And the opening strains of this oratorio (that timpani bit at the very beginning) simply announce "Christmas!" to me like nothing else. I will play my CD of this while I trim my tree on Friday. It's a tradition I absolutely love!

A candle to pray by

I think maybe I've blogged this before somewhere. It seems as good a time as any for a repeat.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Knowing we're in it together

Artist: John Leech

I don't know if this is still true or if it was ever true, really. What I know is that we would all benefit by seeing each other as "fellow-passengers to the grave..." rather than completely different sorts of beings:

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on their journeys.


-- Charles Dickens from A Christmas Carol

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fourth Sunday of Advent

In today's gospel reading, Joseph has a crisis. Mary is pregnant and the baby is not his. An angel then reassures him in a dream and he is off on the adventure of his life. Here's something about how to process the crises in our lives:

None of us avoids crisis. All of us have trouble in the course of our lives. Because this is so, the great difference between people does not lie between those free from trouble and the rest of us. The great difference appears between those people who are vanquished by their problems and those people who find in their problems something worthwhile that redeems the rest.

-- Charles Hoffacker

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Grace in our time

"Wedding of Mary and Joseph" (between 1650 and 1700)
We are moving toward the Feast of the Nativity - that great and lovely day of great and lovely wonder. May we be open to this wonder, indeed:

It takes grace in our time to keep our minds open to wonder, to be ready for the tug from God, the push from the Spirit, and the revelation of deep things from the hearts of ordinary people. It takes grace, but it is a great gift.

-- Lewis B. Smedes

Monday, December 13, 2010

Praying with icons

I remember when I first learned that in Eastern Christianity, icons are seen as windows through which we see into the spiritual realm. Here's something quite beautiful about the experience:

God broods over us in the icons. And so we are summoned to look at them every day for they bring life, food, and grace into our bodies. There is a shining forth in our flesh that emerges with undivided attention and devotion. We come to drink in the icon and to be taken and held by it. We stand before the eye of God, or sit, or kneel, and we bow and kiss the icon, touching our fingers to our forehead, lips, shoulders, and heart as we greet and acknowledge that we are there — before All That Is, before God, the Holy One. Always the icon seeks to bring us to prayer and attentive adoration.

-- Megan McKenna

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gaudete Sunday

I listened to many versions of this carol on YouTube today because I wanted to bring you a good one that I have not posted before on this blog. This one (by the Mediæval Bæbes) is excellent. An even better version (I would assert) can be found on The Anchorhold (another of my blogs).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Revolutionary patience

Artist: Claude Monet

Christian hope is not the same as the kind of everyday hope in which we are attached to an outcome. Christian hope is about keeping faith regardless of the outcome. It is also fundamental to what it means to observe the season of Advent.

I heard a preacher say recently that hope is a revolutionary patience; let me add that so is being a writer. Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.

-- Anne Lamott

Friday, December 10, 2010


Let us not forget that the yearly imperative of Advent is to wake up:

We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito. And the incognito is not always easy to penetrate. The real labor is to remember to attend. In fact to come awake. Still more to remain awake.

-- C.S. Lewis

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Biebl Ave Maria


The Ave Maria by Franz Bieble was originally written for men's voice but this arrangement is also simply luscious.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The sublime invitation

Interestingly, this is the "picture of the day" today over at Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Saint Nicholas

Artist: Francesco Guardi

A powerful observation about what it means to give:

While you have a thing it can be taken from you... but when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. It is yours then for ever when you have given it. It will be yours always. That is to give.

-- James Joyce

Advent II

Artist: Edward Hicks

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.

-- from Isaiah 11

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wherever we come alive

I believe I have told you before that I had the privilege of hearing David Steindl-Rast speak at an interfaith conference back in the early 70s. He was riveting. I don't remember any other speaker from that occasion but Br. David was simply unforgettable:

Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being... Wherever we may come alive, that is the area in which we are spiritual.

-- Br. David Steindl-Rast

Friday, December 3, 2010

A river of grace

Artist: Carol Popp de Szathmary

The Great Silence is, to my mind, the most powerful and meaning monastic practice of them all. Normally this period during which all talking ceases begins after Compline (the last prayer office of the evening) and continues until after breakfast the next day. Remember, of course, that by breakfast time, the monks or nuns have already participated in early morning meditation and the office of Morning Prayer as well as the Mass. Monastic communities also have other times and places for which silence is the rule.

Here's something quite wonderful about the practice:

Silence is like a river of grace inviting us to leap unafraid into its beckoning depths. It is dark and mysterious in the waters of grace. Yet in the silent darkness we are given new eyes. In the heart of the divine we can see more clearly who we are. We are renewed and cleansed in this river of silence. There are those among you who fear the Great Silence. It is a foreign land to you. Sometimes it is good to leap into the unknown. Practice leaping.

-- Macrina Wiederkehr

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Asking the right questions

Artist: Sperindio Cagnola

I see much suffering related to the truly cruel teaching that if we believe the right things and do the right things that we'll prosper and have no serious difficulties in life. And so I find the following approach to be profound in a very powerful way:

In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.

-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Something about knowing ourselves

Artist: Jan van Eyck

Here's something I came across today. It gives me pause. There is much to think about here and much to pray about as well. It seems to me that it could be a good focus for Advent to keep this assertion as much in mind as we're capable of managing:

The things that we love tell us who we are.

-- St. Thomas Aquinas

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wake up!

The opening movement to Bach's Cantata #140 just says "Advent" to me. And the following performance is simply magnificent:

I performed this many times myself back in the day. The oboe parts are to die for, truly! And, I must say, I would have loved working with this concertmistress (whose role, by the way, can be as important as the conductor's). Her leadership technique is awe inspiring.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The eternal silence of God

Artist: El Greco

Today, I'm finding myself focusing on the writings of John Main for several of my blogs. Here's a passage that addresses something about silence:
Language is so weak in explaining the fullness of the mystery. That is why the absolute silence of mediation is so supremely important. We do not try to think of God, talk to God or imagine God. We stay in that awesome silence open to the eternal silence of God. We discover in meditation, through practice and taught daily by experience, that this is the natural ambience for all of us. We are created for this and our being flourishes and expands in that eternal silence.

“Silence” as a word, however, already falsifies the experience and perhaps deters many people, because it suggests some negative experience, the deprivation of sound or language. People fear that the silence of meditation is regressive. But experience and tradition teach us that the silence of prayer is not the pre-linguistic but the post-linguistic state in which language has completed its task of pointing us through and beyond itself and the whole realm of mental consciousness. The eternal silence is not deprived of anything nor does it deprive us of anything. It is the silence of love, of unqualified and unconditional acceptance.
I think the distinction between a pre-linguistic and a post-linguistic stated is an important one, actually.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Something about love; something about God

Artist: Antoni Karwowski
I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn't resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes.

After that I liked jazz music.

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way.

I used to not like God because God didn't resolve. But that was before any of this happened.
The above passage is from a book by Donald Miller called Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.

I've just today come across several passages from this book. (One reviewer said it read like the diary of a born again Woody Allen!)

I think I want to read it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Blessings of the day

Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art....It is a privilege to be alive in this time when we can choose to take part in the self-healing of our world.

Joanna Macy

Monday, November 22, 2010

Remembering C.S. Lewis

Artist: Briton Rivière

It was on the 22nd of November in 1963 that C.S. Lewis died. Here are just a few quotations that I particularly like:
Something of God...flows into us from the blue of the sky, the taste of honey, the delicious embrace of water whether cold or hot, and even from sleep itself.

Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?

This moment contains all moments.

I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.

Looking for God--or Heaven--by exploring space is like reading or seeing all Shakespeare's plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare as one of the characters...

It was when I was happiest that I longed most...The sweetest thing in all my life has been the find the place where all the beauty came from.

Indeed. May all of us be sustained in our aspirations "to find the place where all the beauty came from."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King

One of my favorite preachers, Kate Huey, suggests some reflection questions for today:

As the end of another year draws close, what are the powers that you and your [fellow] church members fear, consciously or unconsciously? What "philosophies" and "false teachings" undermine Christian faith today, especially in your own setting? What is the power that helps you get through your day and the struggles of your life? Does the universe, does creation itself, feel out of control to you?...

The image of a king may seem a bit outdated for people in post-modern democracies. Do you think it is still relevant for the church today? Is there another image that works better for you? How might our understanding of Jesus' being "raised up" expand beyond what happened on one Easter morning to a comprehensive understanding of his place over everything, not just our individual, personal lives, or the community, or the church in every age, but all of creation, in all time?
I found the above questions right here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

So longs my soul for you, O Lord

There are many recordings of this on YouTube. I've listened to quite a few and this is definitely the best so far. The tempo is almost miraculously sublime and the diminuendo at the very end is shimmeringly perfect. Do listen!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Believing "in" rather than merely "about"

Artist: Max Slevogt

Believing in him is not the same as believing things about him such as that he was born of a virgin and raised Lazarus from the dead. Instead, it is a matter of giving our hearts to him, of come hell or high water putting our money on him, the way a child believes in a mother or a father, the way a mother or a father believes in a child.

-- Frederick Buechner

I have shared with you before how much I respect and value the works of Frederick Buechner. I really appreciate this passage because the misconception is widespread that we must believe certain doctrines about Jesus rather than placing our faith in him, setting our hearts on him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doing a small something

Artist: Mikhail Natarevich

I frequently have people come to talk to me who feel defeated because they can't come up with a strategy or a plan that solves everything about their predicament in an ideal way. Encouraging them to do something small can be really difficult because there is often a huge resistance to such an approach. That's probably why I like the following so much:

The doing of something productive regardless of the outcome is an act of faith. The doing of a small something when a large something is too much for us is perhaps especially an act of faith. Faith means going forward by whatever means we can.

Julia Cameron (from Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The paradoxical nature of Christian identity

Every single sentence of this is powerful and worth pondering on its own:

When Christians draw lines between themselves and others, Jesus remains a relentless and scandalous crosser of these lines. He quietly slips to the other side. Whenever an attempt to imprison him is made he disappears from sight and appears elsewhere. Thus is lived out the paradoxical nature of Christian identity. A Christian is simultaneously a member of a community and an outsider. It is as if Jesus still prefers to be with the outcast, however wrong their beliefs or behavior, rather than with those who are self-righteously sure that only they are right. The intolerant Christian isolates himself or herself from the Christ of universal tolerance. Jesus' truth is greater than all the opinions about him put together.

-- Laurence Freeman

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Artist: Van Gogh

I first discovered Richard Rohr when I lived in Ireland - back in the early nineties. And I'm so glad I did. His writings and the recordings of his talks have been of great help to me in my continued formation ever since. Here's something he said that can offer rich material for many hours of reflection:
Let go of the private dream for the dream of God. Most of us live in the past, carrying our hurts, guilts and fears. We have to face the pain we carry, lest we spend the rest of our lives running away from it or letting it run us. But the only place you'll ever meet the real is now-here. It's the hardest place for us to live, the place where we're most afraid to live, because it feels so empty and boring. Now-here almost always feels like nowhere, and that's precisely where we must go.
Desmond Tutu also talks about the dream of God.

Probably the "private dream", as Rohr puts it. is really the dream of the ego. When you think about it, that dream is so very made up. It's not real at all. And yet, we become so easily attached to it. Learning to be right here, right now, helps us see through the phoniness of it all.

Friday, November 12, 2010

True homage

Oh my, oh my, oh my. Please look:

If God said,

"Rumi, pay homage to everything
that has helped you
enter my

there would not be one experience of my life,
not one thought, not one feeling,
not any act, I
would not

-- Rumi

People, if we took this on board, really integrated this understanding into the depths of our being, it would revolutionize our lives. Yes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Body and soul

Artist: Gustave Caillebotte

I did not know he said this. And, of course, it is the last point that we all too easily overlook, I think:

Good for the body is the work of the body,
good for the soul is the work of the soul, and
good for either is the work of the other.

-- Henry David Thoreau

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do we enjoy God?

Margret Hofheinz-Döring/Galerie Brigitte Mauch Göppingen
Image from Wikimedia Commons

Here's a poem that has escaped my attention before today. I'm very glad I found it and I'm going to spend a good bit of time reflecting on it:

Just these two words He spoke
changed my life:

“Enjoy Me.”

What a burden I thought I was to carry--
a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, "I know a song,
Would you like to hear it?

And laughter came from every brick in the street
And from every pore
in the sky.

After a night of prayer, he
changed my life when
He sang,

"Enjoy Me."

-- Teresa of Avila

Sunday, November 7, 2010

This is it, folks; really

Artist: Niko Pirosmani

Somehow, this remark by the great Gandhi escaped my attention before today. This is one that deserves to be taped to the bathroom mirror or right beside the door through which you leave your home every morning - or both:

If you don't find God in the next person you meet, it is a waste of time looking for him further.

-- Mohandas Gandhi

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When the storm is over

Artist: Wilhelm Krause

There is a lot more in this wonderfully evocative sentence than is immediately apparent. Please, don't read it just once:

When the storm is over and night falls and the moon is out in all its glory and all you're left with is the rhythm of the sea, of the waves, you know what God intended for the human race, you know what paradise is.

-- Harold Pinter

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Communion with God

Artist: Carl Ludwig Becker

This is so very much the way Archbishop Tutu thinks and feels:

Like when you sit in front of a fire in winter — you are just there in front of the fire. You don't have to be smart or anything. The fire warms you.

-- Desmond Tutu (on communion with God)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls' Day

"Ascent of the Blessed" by Hieronymus Bosch

By Your resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer has dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech You, give rest to Your servants in Your sanctuary and in Abraham's bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored You with purity, to our ancestors, brothers and sisters, to our kinspeople and friends, to all those who have lived by faith and passed on their road to You, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom.

-- from the Byzantine Divine Liturgy

Monday, November 1, 2010

All Saints Day

All Saints icon

We have to become saints. We have to become like Christ. Anything less is simply not enough.

-- Anne Rice

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The great reformer

As it happened, I went to Fellowship Lutheran Church this morning because of the Sunday afternoon prayer course I've been teaching for them over the past six weeks. And when I got there I discovered that today is Reformation Sunday. It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints' Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Here are a few things Luther said that I've always liked:
If you are not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don't want to go there.
Pray, and let God worry.
Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The inbreaking

Icon of Holy Wisdom
Into the daily cycle of our lives
When all seems well
With us and with the world
When our yoke is easy
And the burden light
You break in
And scatter our complacency

Into the daily cycle of our lives
When we are comfortable
And at our ease
When the fire is lit
But eyes are closed
You break in
And challenge our dependency

You break into
Our daily prayers
Humble hearts
Lay souls bare
You break in
You break in

You break in
When defences are down
With an Angel's shout
Or the quietest sound
You break in
You break in

And we change
And all things change
When you break in

I found the prayer on this page.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our bounden duty

Yes, I know that Camus would be considered either an atheist or an agnostic but I'm going to quote him here anyway because I think this is really, really good:

I have no idea what's awaiting me, or what will happen when this all ends. For the moment I know this: there are sick people and they need curing.

-- Albert Camus

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pain and suffering, kindness and love

A South African landscape
Artist: Rosa Hope

I think I was sixteen when I first read Cry, The Beloved Country and it had a profound and lasting effect on me. I offer you the following today:

— This world is full of trouble, umfundisi.

— Who knows it better?

— Yet you believe?

Kumalo looked at him under the light of the lamp. I believe, he said, but I have learned that it is a secret. Pain and suffering, they are a secret. Kindness and love, they are a secret. But I have learned that kindness and love can pay for pain and suffering. There is my wife, and you, my friend, and these people who welcomed me, and the child who is so eager to be with us here in Ndotsheni – so in my suffering I can believe.

— I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi. For our Lord suffered. And I come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering. For he knew that there is no life without suffering.

Kumalo looked at his friend with joy. You are a preacher, he said.

-- Alan Paton

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rest and prayer

Artist: Nadezhda P. Shteinmiller

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.

-- Etty Hillesum

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Something about dreams

Margret Hofheinz-Döring/Galerie Brigitte Mauch Göppingen

It helps if we pay attention to our dreams by writing them down:

The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.

-- Carl Jung

Friday, October 22, 2010

How real love really works

Artist: Paula Modersohn-Becker

I've deeply appreciated the following ever since I first came across it some time ago:

Don't tell me you will love me forever. Tell me that you will love me Thursday afternoon at four o'clock.

W. H. Auden

This is what incarnational faith is all about. It's not abstract (or it's not merely abstract). Following Christ means cultivating the kind of love that manifests itself in the very real lives of very real people.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The present moment

Artist: Franz Nölken

The only opportunity you will ever have to live by faith is in the circumstances you are provided this very day: this house you live in, this family you find yourself in, this job you have been given, the weather conditions that prevail at the ...moment.

-- Eugene Peterson

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Not a bad approach to life; not bad at all:

Artist: Peter Severin Krøyer

"Praise the God of all, drink the wine, and let the world be the world."

— French Proverb

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jacob wrestling with the angel

Artist: Maurice Denis

This morning's reading from the Hebrew Scriptures was the story of Jabob wrestling with the angel.

The painting above is rather odd, isn't it? It looks more as if they are dancing.

Isn't it like that? Sometimes we strive with God; sometimes we dance.

To be whole, to be complete, we need to do both - God invites us to both.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Something about religious ideas

Here's something I just came across:

Religious ideas have the fate of melodies, which, once set afloat in the world, are taken up by all sorts of instruments, some of them woefully coarse, feeble, or out of tune, until people are in danger of crying out that the melody itself is detestable.

-- George Eliot

Perhaps one way of thinking about spirituality is that it can be the approach by which we learn to hear the true melody rather than the out of tune version. That way we learn that it is not detestable at all but ineffably lovely.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Connectedness and prayer

Artist: Arseny Nikoforovich Semionov

I get a lot of questions about how prayer "works" or whether prayer "works". I think prayer can only not work if we are completely separate. And I believe with Lewis here that our separateness is the real illusion:

Human beings look separate because you see them walking about separately. But then we are so made that we can see only the present moment. If we could see the past, then of course it would look different. For there was a time when every man was part of his mother, and (earlier still) part of his father as well, and when they were part of his grandparents. If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would look like one single growing thing--rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected with every other.

-- C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How we learn

Artist: Nikolay Dubovskoy
Image from Wikimedia Common

The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close behind me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lonely worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air;
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An interior conversation

Artist: Domenico Ghirlandaio

As for meditation, I would like you to be a disciple of prayer, because without prayer there is no habitual union with God. You need a type of prayer which is suited to your temperament, your situation, your inner inclination, consequently, your heart. Speak simply and candidly to our Lord as with another self, as with your sister. Be a child who is full of love and surrendered to her good maker. Let it be an interior conversation with God more than a work of the mind. Then, a scattered, distracted meditation will come together, because it will express all the thoughts and needs of your heart.

-- Peter Julian Eymard