On the scale of our human history, rituals like putting up Christmas trees, lighting menorahs, reading Hafiz, and baking rice dumplings are new. We, humans, have celebrated the earthly repercussions of our orbit longer than we’ve celebrated virtually anything. Before Christmas and Hanukkah, before monotheism or any other kind of theism, our ancestors were staring up at the stars, trying to gather clues about the changing of the seasons, the passing of time, and what the darkness might bring. The idea of marking the longest, coldest night with the knowledge that the warmth and light is not too far off, that is ancient. And no matter where we’re from, what religion we are, or to what ethnic group we belong, we can be sure that our ancestors, all of our ancestors, contemplated Earth’s place in the universe with awe. For them, it was sacred. And it still can be for us. Even more so because science has brought us a deeper understanding of the mystery and beauty of nature than our ancestors could have ever dreamed. Continue reading “Advent Day 21: Sanctuaries That Emerge From The Magnificent Stream (Winter Solstice) …”
I took a deep breath and looked to God above, begging for help with what felt like an insurmountable task: sitting still and being quiet. Slowly, as the deep breaths continued, inner stillness came. I began to notice my surroundings. In that moment, I saw everything as it was—beautiful, holy, God’s gift. My heart welled to the point that I thought it would leap out of my chest. I realized that the hunger I felt was my desire for God. For one solid hour, I breathed deeply in the silence and in being with God.
On that day, I touched something powerful: God within me, residing in the inner space that only God and I can access. I understood that holiness lived within me as much as it lived outside me in the beautiful surroundings of the retreat grounds. Continue reading “Advent Day 13: When the Well Runs Dry …”
It’s winter and there is smoke from the fires. The square, lighted windows of houses are fogging over. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.
— Linda Hogan from Dwellings
Walk, don’t run.
Walk, don’t run. Continue reading “Advent Day 04: Walk, Don’t Run …”
Christmas is amazing — and radical. It challenges wanderers to let their imaginations run wild. Christmas is an irrational, impossible, paradoxical season the infinite in the finite, God’s light in the gloom of our world, the whole of the universe concentrated in a little baby, the God of The Big Bang and the galaxies appearing in a homeless, working class, and soon-to-be refugee family.
… may you be sensitive to the awe and wonder of the Incarnation. As you experience the many births of Christ in your life and in our world, I pray that you will embody, in the gloom of our time, the wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien , who wrote that “not all who wander are lost”. Continue reading “Advent Day 02: Not All Who Wander Are Lost …”
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) …”
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
— Acts 1:6-8
Standing in my evening vestibule
wrapped in fading light
I push Chronos out the door firmly,
Your time is up, I say
as I usher in my dear friend Kairos,
pulling her into a welcome embrace.
Goodbye clock time,
Hello grace time,
Set-my-heart-free time is
past due today. Continue reading “Desert Day 38: For Some Things There Are No Wrong Seasons …”
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