I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.
— Mary Oliver from Upstream
Alone in the alien, snow-blown woods,
moving hard to stay warm in zero weather,
I stop on a rise to catch my breath as the
setting sun—streaming through bare-boned
trees—falls upon my face, fierce and full of life. Continue reading “Welcome Home …”
As dark misery settles down on us, and our refuges of lies fall in pieces one after one, the hearts of men, now at last serious, will turn to refuges of truth. The eternal stars shine out again, so soon as it is dark enough.
— Thomas Carlyle from Past and Present
The Time Of No Room
Into this world, this demented inn
in which there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes uninvited.
But because he cannot be at home in it,
because he is out of place in it,
and yet he must be in it,
His place is with the others for whom
there is no room. Continue reading “Uninvited (Advent Meditation) …”
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 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 …”
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 …”
The spiritual journey is not a career or a success story. It is a series of humiliations of the false self that become more and more profound. These make room inside us for the Holy Spirit to come and heal. What prevents us from being available to God is gradually evacuated. We keep getting closer and closer to our Center. Every now and then God lifts a corner of the veil and enters into our awareness through various channels, as if to say, “Here I am. Where are you? Come and Join me.” Continue reading “Desert Day 11: The False Self … “
Whether you think about the mind from the perspective of Western psychology or Eastern spirituality or common sense, it’s clear that the mind is wired to find order. Habits make us feel safe. Judgments of those who are different than us make us feel protected. The stories we tell ourselves, really, are part of the armor we build to keep this order intact. A traumatic thing, be it big or small, happens to us, and then might come with us for the rest of our lives. We see our story as something that keeps us safe. But it also limits us. And we have many, many stories. These stories impact the ways we understand and experience love. Continue reading “Desert Day 04: The Conscious Effort Real Love Requires …”
We have to give ourselves permission to be weak enough to enter into Holy Week. Stop pretending that you can hold everything together. No one is telling you that you have to be strong. Instead, you need to be real. You do not need to put on a special face to others to show you are a Christian. Stop perpetuating illusions about the way others tell you to be. Continue reading “The Courage To Be Real (Holy Week Meditation) …”
We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that something deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
— E. E. Cummings
The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.
— Sue Monk Kidd
Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.
— Thomas Merton from A Search for Solitude
Continue reading “The True Self …”