Contemplatives and ascetics of every age and every religion have always sought God in the silence and solitude of deserts, forests and mountains. Jesus himself lived for forty days in complete solitude, spending long hours in intimate converse with the Father in the silence of the night.
Winter here is a demanding season—and not everyone appreciates the discipline. It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy. And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts. Continue reading “Winter Has A Gift To Give …”
I’m concerned about a better world. I’m concerned about justice; I’m concerned about brotherhood and sisterhood; I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about that, he can never advocate violence. For 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 through violence. Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.
And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only answer to humankind’s problems. And I’m going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it isn’t popular to talk about it in some circles today. And I’m not talking about emotional bosh when I talk about love; I’m talking about a strong, demanding love. For I have seen too much hate. I’ve seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South to want to hate myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces and their personalities and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we aren’t moving wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. He who hates does not know God, but he who loves has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality. Continue reading “I Have Decided To Love …”
When a great moment knocks on the door of your life,
it is often no louder than the beating of your heart,
and it is very easy to miss it.
— Boris Pasternak (in a letter to Olga Ivinskaya)
For the morning light
and its irresistible dawning,
for your untameable utterances of life
in boundless stretches of space
and the strength of the waves of the sea
I give thanks, O God.
Release in me the power of your Spirit
that my soul may be free
and my spirit strong.
Release in me the freedom of your Spirit
that I may be bridled by nothing but love
that I may be bridled only by love. Continue reading “Celtic Benediction: Morning Prayer …”
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dried tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages. Continue reading “On the Pulse of Morning …”
Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.
― Mary Oliver from “It Was Early” in Evidence
May this [year]
be a [year] of blessings:
blessings of goodness,
blessings of joy,
peace and kindness,
friendship and love,
Let us step outside for a moment
As the sun breaks through clouds
And shines on wet new fallen snow,
And breathe the new air.
So much has died that had to die this year.
We are dying away from things.
It is a necessity—we have to do it
Or we shall be buried under the magazines,
The too many clothes, the too much food.
We have dragged it all around
Like dung beetles
Who drag piles of dung
Behind them on which to feed,
In which to lay their eggs. Continue reading “New Year Poem …”
A Prayer for Christmas
God, give us eyes this Christmas
to see the Christmas star,
And give us ears to hear the song
of angels from afar …
And with our eyes and ears attuned
for a message from above,
Let Christmas angels speak to us
of hope and faith and love —
Hope to light our pathway
when the way ahead is dark,
Hope to sing through stormy days
with the sweetness of a lark,
Faith to trust in things unseen
and know beyond all seeing
That it is in our Father’s love
we live and have our being,
And love to break down barriers
of color, race, and creed,
Love to see and understand
and help all those in need.
— Helen Steiner Rice from The Poems and Prayers of Helen Steiner Rice
A Blessing for Christmas
Perhaps it does not begin.
Perhaps it is always.
Perhaps it takes
to open our eyes,
to learn to see
what has forever
shimmered in front of us— Continue reading “Advent Day 29: Christmas Day – Where the Light Begins …”
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
— Isaiah 9.2
All grace comes precisely from nowhere—from silence and emptiness, if you prefer—which is what makes it grace. It is both you and yet so much greater than you at the same time, which is probably why believers chose both uprushing fountains (John 7:38) and downrushing doves (Matthew 3:16) as metaphors for this universal and grounding experience of spiritual encounter. Sometimes it is an uprush and sometimes it is a downrush, but it is always from a silence that is larger than you, surrounds you, and finally names the deeper truth of the full moment that is you. I call such a way of knowing the contemplative way of knowing, as did much of the older tradition. (The word “prayer” has been so consistently trivialized to refer to something you do, instead of something that is done to you, with you, in you, and as you.) Then, like Mary, you are ready to give birth. You are ready for Christmas … Continue reading “Advent Day 28: Silent Night, Holy Night (Christmas Eve) …”
The American Declaration of Independence says we have an “unalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness. God created us to be happy and joyful “in this world and the next,” and Jesus says the same several times in John 14- 17. The only difference between the two is that any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued. The “joy the world cannot give” (John 14:27) always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves. The first is self-assertion, the second is self-surrender. The first is taking; the second is receiving. The two entirely different human dynamics. You do not catch a butterfly by chasing it. You sit still and it alights on your shoulder. Then is chooses you. That is true happiness.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas
Giving and Receiving
This prayer is based on the scriptural imperative to give of what we have received. Our gifts are recalled and named so we can see our abundance. We then respond with our willingness to share this abundance with others … Continue reading “Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …”