Advent Day 24: Joy Is Within Our Reach …

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.
Epicurus

 

There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in wordless gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me …
— Thomas Merton from A Grateful Heart

 

All things in this creation exist within you, and all things in you exist in creation; there is no border between you and the closest things, and there is no distance between you and the farthest things, and all things, from the lowest to the loftiest, from the smallest to the greatest, are within you as equal things. In one atom are found all the elements of the earth; in one motion of the mind are found the motions of all the laws of existence; in one drop of water are found the secrets of all the endless oceans; in one aspect of you are found all the aspects of existence. Continue reading “Advent Day 24: Joy Is Within Our Reach …”

Prophets Are Already Among Us …

In every region, everywhere, they are the unsung but mighty voices of community, high-mindedness, and deep resolve. They are the prophets of each era who prod the rest of the world into seeing newly what it means to be fully alive, personally, nationally, and spiritually.
— Joan Chittister from The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage

 

It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings.
— Rebecca Solnit from Hope In The Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

 

God’s story is revealed in
our story and in a myriad
in mysterious ways. Each of
us is the pen with which God
is writing a fifth Gospel. Continue reading “Prophets Are Already Among Us …”

Labyrinths: No Step Taken In Faith Is Wasted …

How far I have to go to find you in whom I have already arrived!
Thomas Merton

 

Wayside Shrines

The difference between a labyrinth and a maze is that a labyrinth has no dead ends.

The famed eleven-circuit labyrinth inlaid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France has just one path, which takes the pilgrim in and out of four quadrants in a spiraling motion through dozens of left and right turns, before reaching its rosette center. Such a pattern invites meditation, and reminds the pilgrim the journey of faith is rarely a straightforward one. Continue reading “Labyrinths: No Step Taken In Faith Is Wasted …”

In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom …

We experience humility not because we have fought and lost but because humility is the only lens through which great things can be seen ― and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible.
― Parker Palmer from The Courage To Teach

 

In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom

In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your peace of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist. Continue reading “In Humility Is The Greatest Freedom …”

Advent Meditation: Hope Anyway …

See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness.
— Malachi 3:1–3

The prophet Malachi appeared at a time of discouragement for the chosen people. They had survived the exile under the Babylonians and were back in their homeland. In what should have been a time of gratitude and renewed fidelity to God’s law, Malachi saw the old patterns beginning again, the attitudes that had gotten the people in trouble in the past. The same old injustices, abuses, and indifference were creeping back into the culture … Continue reading “Advent Meditation: Hope Anyway …”

Advent Meditation: A New Narrative …

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
— James 4:6

He will rescue the poor when they cry to him;
he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them.
He feels pity for the weak and the needy,
and he will rescue them.
He will redeem them from oppression and violence,
for their lives are precious to him.
— Psalm 72:12-14

 

This is God at work, as God has been at work across the millennia, as God is at work even now – unfolding new narratives with, through, and among particular people who are others, outsiders to the assumed faithful. The good news that God bears through Jesus is concurrently jarring news, infuriating news to the temple stalwarts who push him, rush him out of the city to throw him headlong down the hillside (Luke 4:21-30). The good news is not the narrative they were used to, not what they expected from the living God, who had come once again to break through their calcified ways. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: A New Narrative …”

Advent Meditation: God Comes Uninvited …

Into this world, this demented inn in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited.
— Thomas Merton from Raids on the Unspeakable

The Arrival

A more lowly place of birth could not exist. Off to one side sits a group of shepherds. They sit silently on the floor, perhaps perplexed, perhaps in awe, no doubt in amazement. Their night watch had been interrupted by an explosion of light from heaven and a symphony of angels. God goes to those who have time to hear him–and so on this cloudless night he went to simple shepherds. Continue reading “Advent Meditation: God Comes Uninvited …”