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 …”
To forgive our brother is to forgive
We abandon our revenge;
Our lives have seen suffering enough.
We are tired and worn out with
If we take revenge, it will be the cause;
The effect will follow me into my next life.
Look into the mirror; see the compassion
in your heart.
Avoid all resentment and hatred for Mankind.
— Le Ly Hayslip from A Grateful Heart
“Time heals,” people often say. This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality. But when the expression “time heals” means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it. “Time heals” implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. Continue reading “Desert Day 32: To Forgive Others Is To Forgive Ourselves …”
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 …”
Their words and names echo through the centuries and fall on our ears with the haunting, foreign ring of oriental temple bells: Abba Anthony, Amma Syncletica, Abba Marcarius, Abba Poemen. Yet these fathers and mothers of the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria are our own Christian spiritual forebears. Continue reading “Desert Day 10: Desert Listening …”
God breaks the heart again and again and again until it stays open.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden. Continue reading “Blessing For The Brokenhearted …”
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 …”
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,
Continue reading “Prayer for a Year of Blessings …”
A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss.
In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness
and claims that wholeness here and now …
When the shattering world.
Then your sheltering heart.
When the sorrowing way.
Then your encircling grace.
When the unbearable dark.
Then your comfort, your light.
When the empty, the ache.
Then your welcoming door.
Then this blessing,
— Jan Richardson from The Cure for Sorrow Continue reading “The Cure for Sorrow …”
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day. Continue reading “Three Gratitudes …”