In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), there are two sons: the younger son, who runs away from home to an alien country, and the older son, who stays home to do his duty. The younger son dissipates himself with alcohol and sex; the older son alienates himself by working hard and dutifully fulfilling all his obligations. Both are lost. Their father grieves over both, because with neither of them does he experience the intimacy he desires.
Both lust and cold obedience can prevent us from being true children of God. Whether we are like the younger son or the older son, we have to come home to the place where we can rest in the embrace of God’s unconditional love. Continue reading “Desert Day 43: On Coming Home …”
How does the Spirit of God manifest itself through us? Often we think that to witness means to speak up in defense of God. This idea can make us very self-conscious. We wonder where and how we can make God the topic of our conversations and how to convince our families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues of God’s presence in their lives. But this explicit missionary endeavor often comes from an insecure heart and, therefore, easily creates divisions. Continue reading “Desert Day 37: The Fruit of the Spirit …”
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 …”
“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust.” —Isaiah 32:17
Loving Your Enemies
Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to “love your enemies.” Some men have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you? Others, like the philosopher Nietzsche, contend that Jesus’ exhortation to love one’s enemies is testimony to the fact that the Christian ethic is designed for the weak and cowardly, and not for the strong and courageous. Jesus, they say, was an impractical idealist. Continue reading “Desert Day 31: Love Your Enemies …”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
— Matthew 5:9
In times of great personal and social upheaval, real peacemakers, genuine bridge builders do four things:
First, they must tap into their own deepest spiritual self and recommit to the higher values that shines in them there. Continue reading “Desert Day 30: Calling Ourselves Peacemakers …”
Finally, Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies. He teaches what many thought a leader could never demand of his followers: love of the enemy. Logically that makes no sense. But soulfully it makes absolute sense, because in terms of the soul, it really is all or nothing. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we don’t see it at all. We see it once, and the circle keeps moving outward, widening its embrace. Continue reading “Desert Day 29: One Love And One Truth …”
You have an idea of what the new country looks like. Still, you are very much at home, although not truly at peace, in the old country. You know the ways of the old country, its joys and pains, its happy and sad moments. You have spent most of your days there. Even though you know that you have not found there what your heart most desires, you remain quite attached to it. It has become part of your very bones. Continue reading “Desert Day 28: Enter The New Country …”
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 …”