Something stirred from deep within. I felt it knocking, begging to be acknowledged and released. I could not put a name to it, but something felt awakened after a long period of dormancy. In truth, this gnawing sensation had been building for more than a year, but on the levee that day, I grappled with this powerful presence at work in me. I had no words for the hunger that was asking me for more. All I could do was attempt to be still and acknowledge its existence. Continue reading “Desert Day 41: Be Still, My Restless Soul …”
The sun turns a key in a lock each day
As soon as it crawls out of bed.
Light swings open a door
And the many kinds of love rush out
Onto the infinite green field.
Your soul sometimes plays a note
Against the Sky’s ear that excites
The birds and planets.
Stay close to any sounds
That make you glad you are alive. Continue reading “Desert Day 36: The Gateway to All Understanding …”
But there is this too. Respite. Rest. Letting the desert be the desert, without feeling compelled to bulldoze our way through it.
I think of a long stretch when I found myself in a soul struggle that had caught me entirely by surprise. Consumed by the wrestling and working and searching, I felt exhausted. After a time, my spiritual director, Maru, gave me this phrase: holy absence.
There are times, she said, sometimes seasons, for removing ourselves from the struggle. Time for sabbath. Time for rest. Continue reading “Desert Day 34: Holy Absence …”
Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But those who drink the water that I will give them will never become thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give them will become in them a spring that gushes up to eternal life.
— John 4: 13-14
And the well runs dry. It’s one of the most common experiences in the spiritual life. A practice that we have cherished, a habit that has deepened us and drawn us closer to God, a discipline that we perhaps have engaged in for years no longer seems to work. Gradually over time or overnight with no warning, its familiar contours turn foreign, dull, perhaps even painful.
These times call us to some of our deepest discernment. They dare us to ask, Am I being called to go deeper in this practice, to persist, to keep digging toward the wellspring that surely must be here somewhere? Am I being invited to wait and to listen? Or is God leading me toward a different practice than the one I have known? Continue reading “Desert Day 20: When The Well Runs Dry …”
Mysteriously, as elusive as it is, this moment–where the eye is what it sees, where the heart is what it feels–this moment shows us that what is real is sacred.
― Mark Nepo from The Book of Awakening
What is going on in your innermost being is worthy of your whole love …
— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
By slowly converting our loneliness into a deep solitude, we create that precious space where we can discover the voice telling us about our inner necessity—that is, our vocation. Unless our questions, problems and concerns are tested and matured in solitude, it is not realistic to expect answers that are really our own. How many people can claim their ideas, opinions and viewpoints as their own? Sometimes intellectual conversations boil down to the capacity to quote the right authority at the right time. Even the most intimate concerns, such as the concerns about the meaning and value of life and death, can become victims of the fashion of the time. Frequently, we are restlessly looking for answers, going from door to door, from book to book, or from school to school, without having really listened carefully and attentively to the questions. Continue reading “Desert Day 17: Listen Carefully And Attentively To The Questions …”
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 …”
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) …”