The American Declaration of Independence says we have an “unalienable right” to the pursuit of happiness. God created us to be happy and joyful “in this world and the next,” and Jesus says the same several times in John 14- 17. The only difference between the two is that any happiness that is demanded from life never becomes happiness because it is too narcissistically and self-consciously pursued. The “joy the world cannot give” (John 14:27) always comes as a gift to those who wait for it, expect it and make room for it inside themselves. The first is self-assertion, the second is self-surrender. The first is taking; the second is receiving. The two entirely different human dynamics. You do not catch a butterfly by chasing it. You sit still and it alights on your shoulder. Then is chooses you. That is true happiness.
— Richard Rohr from Preparing for Christmas
Giving and Receiving
This prayer is based on the scriptural imperative to give of what we have received. Our gifts are recalled and named so we can see our abundance. We then respond with our willingness to share this abundance with others … Continue reading “Advent Day 27: The Gift of Christmas …”
The word kindness has a gentle sound that seems to echo the presence of compassionate goodness. When someone is kind to you, you feel understood and seen. There is no judgment or harsh perception directed toward you. Kindness has gracious eyes; it is not small-minded or competitive; it wants nothing back for itself. Kindness strikes a resonance with the depths of your own heart; it also suggests that your vulnerability, though somehow exposed, is not taken advantage of; rather, it has become an occasion for dignity and empathy. Kindness casts a different light, an evening light that has the depth of color and patience to illuminate what is complex and rich in difference.
Despite all the darkness, human hope is based on the instinct that at the deepest level of reality some intimate kindness holds sway.
— John O’Donohue from To Bless the Space Between Us
Continue reading “Advent Day 16: A Season of Mercy and Love …”
If you trust in Nature, in what is simple in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.
— Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet
You keep us waiting.
You, the God of all time,
Want us to wait for the right time in which to discover
Who we are, where we must go,
Who will be with us, and what we must do.
So, thank you … for the waiting time. Continue reading “Advent Day 06: You Keep Us Waiting, Looking, Loving …”
What’s enough? Countless times I’ve watched the sun rise like God’s tender mercy to gently lift the dark blanket from the earth, and countless more times I’ve watched the sun set in such a splendiferous farewell that it must reflect the fringe on God’s robe. I’ve seen the sky define blue and endless. I’ve watched rivers run to the sea, full as life runs to God. I’ve felt the sea roll in on the eternal note of mystery and assurance. Continue reading “Responses to the Mystery of God’s Presence (Thanksgiving Meditation) …”
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I’m grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It’s a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day. Continue reading “Three Gratitudes …”
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
— Melody Beattie
Continue reading “Gratitude for the Work of Loving the World (Thanksgiving Meditation) …”
But what we do know, from our own experience and the experience of history, is that photographs can change the course of things, turn one’s head, alter one’s thoughts, enlighten one’s darkness. To shoot with that awareness, to know our images, made of light, can contribute light—that is the true joy of photography. Continue reading “Eyes of the Heart: Photography as Contemplative Practice …”
The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”
And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.
We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.
And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.
— Rainer Maria Rilke from A Year with Rilke
Continue reading “Autumn Trees …”
Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.
― William Cullen Bryant (Indian Summer)
An Autumn Blessing
Blessed are you, autumn,
chalice of transformation,
you lift a cup of death to our lips
and we taste new life. Continue reading “Blessed Are You Autumn …”