The Tree That Survived The Winter …

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 …”

The Opening of Eyes …

That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read. Continue reading “The Opening of Eyes …”

A Prayer for All Women on Mother’s Day …

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 …”

Desert Day 46: Tearing Of The Temple Veil (Good Friday Meditation) …

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) …”

Desert Day 43: On Coming Home …

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 …”

Desert Day 42: Children Of God …

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
— Matthew 19:14

Vulnerability

Vulnerability is something we instinctively reject because we are taught from kindergarten on that we must protect ourselves, control our behavior and our lives. But in becoming man for us, Christ made himself totally vulnerable for us in Jesus of Nazareth, and it is not possible to be Christian while refusing to be vulnerable. Continue reading “Desert Day 42: Children Of God …”

Desert Day 41: Be Still, My Restless Soul …

Something stirred from deep within. I felt it knocking, begging to be acknowledged and released. I could not put a name to it, but something felt awakened after a long period of dormancy. In truth, this gnawing sensation had been building for more than a year, but on the levee that day, I grappled with this powerful presence at work in me. I had no words for the hunger that was asking me for more. All I could do was attempt to be still and acknowledge its existence. Continue reading “Desert Day 41: Be Still, My Restless Soul …”

Desert Day 36: The Gateway to All Understanding …

The sun turns a key in a lock each day
As soon as it crawls out of bed.

Light swings open a door
And the many kinds of love rush out
Onto the infinite green field.

Your soul sometimes plays a note
Against the Sky’s ear that excites
The birds and planets.

Stay close to any sounds
That make you glad you are alive. Continue reading “Desert Day 36: The Gateway to All Understanding …”

Desert Day 35: Humility And Contemplation …

Abba Xanthias said, “A dog is better than I am because a dog also has love but, unlike I myself, the dog does not pass judgment.”

Abba Sarmatas said: “I prefer a person who has sinned if he knows that he sinned and has repented, over a person who has not sinned and considers himself to be righteous.”

Humility and contemplation are the invisible twins of the spiritual life. One without the other is impossible. In the first place, there is no such thing as a contemplative life without the humility that takes us beyond the myth of our own grandeur to the cosmic grandeur of God.  In the second, once we really know the grandeur of God we get the rest of life – ourselves included – in perspective.  Reaching the moon told us how really insignificant we were in the universe.  We begin to rethink all our dearly held notions of human consequence.  Humility leads directly to contemplation. Continue reading “Desert Day 35: Humility And Contemplation …”