But for me, winter has an even greater gift to give. It comes when the sky is clear, the sun is brilliant, the trees are bare, and first snow is yet to come. It is the gift of utter clarity. In winter, one can walk into woods that had been opaque with summer growth only a few months earlier and see the trees clearly, singly and together, and see the ground they are rooted in.
A few years ago, my father died. He was more than a good man, and the months following his death were a long, hard winter for me. But in the midst of that ice and loss, I came into a certain clarity that I lacked when he was alive. I saw something that had been concealed when the luxuriance of his love surrounded me—saw how I had relied on him to help me cushion life’s harsher blows. When he could no longer do that, my first thought was, “Now I must do it for myself.” But as time went on, I saw a deeper truth: it never was my father absorbing those blows but a larger and deeper grace that he taught me to rely on. Continue reading “The Winters Will Drive You Crazy Until You Learn To Get Out Into Them …”
To look at the last great self-portraits of Rembrandt or to read Pascal or hear Bach’s B-minor Mass is to know beyond the need for further evidence that if God is anywhere, he is with them, as he is also with the man behind the meat counter, the woman who scrubs floors at Roosevelt Memorial, the high-school math teacher who explains fractions to the bewildered child. And the step from “God with them” to Emmanuel, “God with us,” may not be as great as it seems. What keeps the wild hope of Christmas alive year after year in a world notorious for dashing all hopes is the haunting dream that the child who was born that day may yet be born again even in us and our own snowbound, snowblind longing for him. Continue reading “God Is Everywhere (Advent Meditation) …”
The tree awakened earlier than usual one morning and stretched her arms toward the horizon as if to invite the early rays of dawn into her world. She shivered with delight, wiggling her roots in the muddy earth, which had only recently yielded its frozen hardness.
She sensed something was different. Her roots seemed to be extending further and more firmly into the soil. Her arms seemed to embrace more of the world, not with the timid gestures of a sapling afraid of tangling with the wind, but with the freedom of knowing that the wind could not topple her. Continue reading “The Tree That Survived The Winter …”
I want you to know I’m praying for you if you are like Tamar, struggling with infertility, or a miscarriage.
I want you to know that I’m praying for you if you are like Rachel, counting the women among your family and friends who year by year and month by month get pregnant, while you wait.
I want you to know I’m praying for you if you are like Naomi, and have known the bitter sting of a child’s death.
I want you to know I am praying for you if you are like Joseph and Benjamin, and your Mom has died.
I want you to know that I am praying for you if your relationship with your Mom was marked by trauma, abuse, or abandonment, or she just couldn’t parent you the way you needed.
Continue reading “A Prayer for All Women on Mother’s Day …”
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 …”
In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.
— Brennan Manning from Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
Wounding and healing are not opposites. They’re part of the same thing. It is our wounds that enable us to be compassionate with the wounds of others. It is our limitations that make us kind to the limitations of other people. It is our loneliness that helps us to find other people or to even know they’re alone with an illness. I think I have served people perfectly with parts of myself I used to be ashamed of.
— Rachel Naomi Remen
My opinion is not that we minister best out of our needs and wounds, but that we minister best when we have recognised our own needs and have attended to our own wounds. Our needs and wounds can only be a source of our ministry when they have been acknowledged and given appropriate attention. When we would minister to others out of our own needs and wounds, we would do harm to them. It is very important for us that we recognise how our needs and wounds can be a great source of our suffering and call us to an even fuller surrender to God’s first love, the love that can fulfil all our needs and heal all our wounds. As long as our needs are raw needs and our wounds are open wounds, we will inflict wounds on others and create needs in others without realising it.
— Henri Nouwen from Love, Henri
Continue reading “We Are All Wounded People …”