There are so many haunting lines in the passion narratives. Who of us, for instance, is not stirred in the soul when the passion story is read in church and we come to the part where Jesus takes his last breath and there is that minute of silence, where we all drop to our knees? No Good Friday homily is ever as effective as that single line (“he gave up his spirit”) and the moving silence that ensues.
Another such line that has always haunted me is the one that follows immediately after. Jesus dies and we are told that, at the very second of his death, “the veil of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” My imagination, even when I was very little, has always been able to picture that. I have this picture in my mind of it growing dark in the middle of the day and then at the second of Jesus’ death, almost as if by lightening, the temple veil is ripped from top to bottom while everyone looks on stunned, convinced now, too late, that the person they’ve just mocked and crucified is the Christ. It’s a great picture. But, my imagination aside, what is really meant by that phrase that the veil of the temple ripped open at the moment of Jesus’ death? Continue reading “Desert Day 46: Tearing Of The Temple Veil (Good Friday Meditation) …”
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 …”
In the morning
When I began to wake,
It happened again —
That you, Beloved,
Had stood over me all night
That as soon as I began to stir
You put Your lips on my forehead
And lit a Holy lamp
Inside my heart.
— Hafiz from I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy
Continue reading “Desert Day 27: A Deeper Awareness …”
Water, water, water … There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount , a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand, insuring that wide free open, generous spacing among plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which makes the arid West so different from any other part of the nation. There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.
— Edward Abbey from Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness
Everywhere is Desert
The Desert Fathers believed that the wilderness had been created as supremely valuable in the eyes of God precisely because it had no value to men. The wasteland was the land that could never be wasted by men because it offered them nothing. There was nothing to attract them. There was nothing to exploit. The desert was the region in which the Chosen People had wandered for forty years, cared for by God alone. They could have reached the Promised Land in a few months if they had travelled directly to it. God’s plan was that they should learn to love Him in the wilderness and that they should always look back upon the time in the desert as the idyllic time of their life with Him alone. Continue reading “Desert Day 25: Desert Wisdom, What God Has Blessed …”
The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
— Isaiah 35:1
My mother named me after a miracle of nature: Waris means desert flower. The desert flower blooms in a barren environment where few living things can survive.
— Waris Dirie from Desert Flower
The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.
The Weather of Love
Has a way of wilting
At the strangest,
Most unpredictable hour. Continue reading “Desert Day 24: Flowers In The Desert …”
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 …”
The most important starting point in any definition of the classical labyrinth is a description of its physical construction. It is a single circuitous pathway, leading uninterrupted to a central position.
— Jim Buchanan from Labyrinths for the Spirit
There is one way in and one way out. There is a beginning and an end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is not only in the center, but the whole labyrinth is in him. We are not alone. Although at times it seems like I am journeying away from the center, I am actually well on the way towards it. In fact, it is very true that as far as direction goes, I am often walking away from the center – away from the very place I am trying to get to – wondering how I will ever get there by doing that! But experience has taught me – on the labyrinth and in life – that as long as I keep going, one step at a time, I can trust I will get there eventually. It isn’t only about finding God in the center; it is about recognizing that the whole labyrinth – our whole journey – is held by God, in love. Continue reading “Desert Day 14: The Labyrinth, A Metaphor For Our Journey …”
Once upon a time
a child of happiness danced upon the land,
knew friendship with the earth
and celebrated life
with her love of solitude and simple things.
She grew into a young woman,
whose vision of self was clouded,
clothed with the complexities of insecurity
and the necessity of leaving the hallowed womb
of the quiet earth. Continue reading “My Journey to Wisdom …”
Peace is not the product of terror or fear.
Peace is not the silence of cemeteries.
Peace is not the silent result of violent repression.
Peace is the generous, tranquil contribution of all to the good of all.
Peace is dynamism. Peace is generosity.
It is right and it is duty.
— Oscar Romero from Peace Prayers
We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if the powerful countries would reduce their weapons’ arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds — our prejudices, fears, and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of the bombs are still here, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. Continue reading “Advent Day 17: Peace Be With You …”