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.
When wax and wick work best, light and heat are all that’s left.
Like a candle, our wick of spirit is encased in our humanity, and when our spirit is touched, we light up until all we know melts and changes shape for the burn of our experience. Repeatedly, our sweat and struggle burns our sense of self and world away, so that our Divine spark can be released, again and again. These moments of Spirit-Lighting-Up not only rearrange our lives, but they light and warm those who stay near.
In such moments, we become one with what we see, and this sudden Oneness is what the faithful of all paths have called Love. And in the illumination of Oneness called Love, all that’s left is a willingness toward birth, an urge to be touched by something timeless and fresh. All that’s left is the want of deep parts in strangers. To relish the waking over being awake, the burning over being burned, the loving over being loved. Continue reading “Advent Day 11: Oneness With Love …”
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
— Maya Angelou from Amazing Peace
Mercy & Love
I came across a quote from St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “The God who comes to us as an infant can only be mercy and love.” Every time we look at a Nativity scene, God reveals mercy and love. What happened on Christmas only shows us mercy and love.
This is the time to remember all of that. We remember how our God rejoices and delights in us. So much so that he didn’t want to remain hidden. God didn’t want to leave us alone in the struggles and doubts and questions of life. God came to us in person, in flesh and blood, to be found.
— Mark A. Villano from Time to Get Ready
There are more healings of lepers than any other kind of story in the four Gospels. Jesus is always healing lepers. Leprosy, in fact, in the New Testament is a broad term. It really doesn’t mean what we would call Hansen’s Disease today. “Lepers” were people who, for some reason, were told they were physically unacceptable. They were people who were considered taboo, contagious, disabled, dangerous or excluded for all kinds of reasons. The message seems to be: “You’re not doing it right” or “You are not acceptable as a member of society.” Every Society does this, and we do too, but just in different ways and by different criteria.
When Jesus receives the lepers, he always touches them, and often he then leads them or sends them to a new place. Invariably he reintroduces them to the community and realigns their social status and acceptability. He pulls them back inside of social acceptability. That is the healing!
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas
For Mercy’s Sake
But if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless.
— Matthew 12:7
Jesus and his disciples were walking through a field of grain. The Pharisees became upset when the hungry disciples pulled off and ate some of the heads of grain because such activity was not permitted on the Sabbath. Jesus responded to their criticism by telling the Pharisees that he was not so concerned about the rules of the law (sacrifice) as he was about the way people related to one another (mercy).
I know Jesus’ words are true for me: I’d rather fast for a day anytime (sacrifice) than have to be kind and open to someone who has dealt me a low blow (mercy). I would rather choose my own daily sacrifices than have them come to me in the form of critical people, impatient drivers, grumbling friends and irritable coworkers. How much easier it is to give up a piece of candy or go to church on Sunday than to stay loving toward those who mess up my day. Sacrifices I choose seem easy compared to the continual kindness required by Jesus.
I will accept the difficult people of my day.
May the sacrifices I choose be ones
filled with love and kindheartedness.
— Joyce Rupp from Inviting God In: Spiritual Reflections and Prayers Throughout the Year
- Guide to Advent 2019
- My Calling Is To Love
- Without Love
- Fall On Your Knees
- Born In A Manger
- A Season of Mercy and Love
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They are prepared for a God who strikes hard bargains but not for a God who gives as much for an hour’s work as for a day’s. They are prepared for a mustard-seed kingdom of God no bigger than the eye of a newt but not for the great banyan it becomes with birds in its branches singing Mozart. They are prepared for the potluck supper at First Presbyterian but not for the marriage supper of the lamb …
― Frederick Buechner from Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale
The longer I wake on this Earth, the louder the quiet things speak to me. The more I experience and survive, the more I find truth in the commonalties we all share. The more pain softens me, the deeper my joy and the greater the lessons of those things that live in great stillness. Continue reading “Advent Day 09: The Deeper My Joy …”
If we want to know why we’re all so afraid to let our true selves be seen and known, we have to understand the power of shame and fear. If we can’t stand up to the never good enough and who do you think you are? we can’t move forward. I only wish that during those desperate and defeated moments of my past … I could have known what I know now. If I could go back and whisper in my ear, I’d tell myself the same thing that I’ll tell you as we begin this journey:
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.
― Brene Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection
Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited.
— Thomas Merton from Raids on the Unspeakable
Marvelous Truth, confront us
at every turn
in every guise.
― Denise Levertov from A Grateful Heart
We forever drift in and out of the miracle before us. As our eyes dilate and constrict in order to see, we are opened by love, wonder, and truth into the immediacy of all that is incomprehensible, only to wrestle with pain, loss, and obstacles that make us constrict. And during the wrestle, the miracle of life seems out of reach. Though once enduring what we’re given, pain and loss open us further. This is how the human heart sees. Modern culture tells us that we are entitled to a perfect, happy life. Yet if we insist on deifying a painless life free of loss, we will only be battered by the pain and loss we are given and miss the point of the journey. Much as we’d like, we can’t be happy all the time, any more than we can dilate or inhale all the time. We need to dilate and constrict, and inhale and exhale, in order to live. And so, the heart, mind, and soul need to open and close to the entirety of the human experience in order to make sense of things as they move through. Difficult as they are, pain, loss, and obstacles are dynamic forces of life that make us open and close. It is up to us to make sense of our lifelong conversation with them. Continue reading “Advent Day 07: Our Real Work …”
Learn to get in touch with silence within yourself and know that everything in this life has a purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences; all events are blessings given to us to learn from. There is no need to go to India or anywhere else to find peace. You will find that deep place of silence right in your room, your garden or even your bathtub.
— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross as quoted in “Messenger of Love” by Lennie Kronisch in Yoga Journal, Issue 11, November-December 1976, pp. 18-20
The spiritual life, in other words, is not achieved by denying one part of life for the sake of another. The spiritual life is achieved only by listening to all of life and learning to respond to each of its dimensions wholly and with integrity.
― Joan D. Chittister from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today
When the heart opens, we forget ourselves and the world pours in: this world, and also the invisible world of meaning that sustains everything that was and ever shall be. When the heart opens, everything matters, and this world and the next become one and the same. Continue reading “Advent Day 06: An Open and Growing Heart …”
When you’re like a keg of dynamite just about to go off, patience means just slowing down at that point—just pausing—instead of immediately acting on your usual, habitual response. You refrain from acting, you stop talking to yourself, and then you connect with the soft spot. But at the same time you are completely and totally honest with yourself about what you are feeling. You’re not suppressing anything; patience has nothing to do with suppression. In fact, it has everything to do with a gentle, honest relationship with yourself. If you wait and don’t fuel the rage with your thoughts, you can be very honest about the fact that you long for revenge; nevertheless you keep interrupting the torturous story line and stay with the underlying vulnerability. That frustration, that uneasiness and vulnerability, is nothing solid. And yet it is painful to experience. Still, just wait and be patient with your anguish and with the discomfort of it. This means relaxing with that restless, hot energy—knowing that it’s the only way to find peace for ourselves or the world. Continue reading “Advent Day 05: Practicing Peace In Times of War …”