Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Walking Trees . . .

In the gospel of Mark (8:22-27) there is a story of how people from a village brought a blind man to Jesus for healing.  The story unfolds with Jesus taking the blind man by the hand and leading him beyond the village.  “He put spit on the man’s eyes, laid hands on him and asked, ‘Do you see anything?’”  The man responded that he saw people, but they looked like trees walking.  So Jesus had to lay his hands on the man’s eyes once again and the man recovered his sight with 20/20 vision!

This is a great story of how we come through the process of discernment.  The spirit often invites us to leave our comfort zones so that in our discomfort we can be detached enough from our illusions and certainties to notice how we feel within, so that we can learn to trust God’s grace and light.  Much like the man in the story, we are never alone. God is present with us as we encounter new events, circumstances, relationships, and experiences that are part of our search for what God desires of us. 

Discernment is a way of deep listening that cannot be forced.  There is no “drive-thru” for discernment; there is no App for quick and easy answers; and there are no flashing lights with bells and whistles pointing to the right path!  Often, we find clarity and peace a little at a time – we get “blurry-clear” insights and begin to notice more and more of God’s purpose for us with each step on our journey. We are invited to notice signs in our everyday lives that God seems to put in our path to point to the way that will give us peace and joy. This movement is often slow, so as to allow God to gently take us by the hand and to touch our hearts again and again, so that our seeing becomes a vision of how we are being called to a new way of being and becoming. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Words of Love . . . Words With Heart . . .

Nothing is more practical
than finding God,
that is, than falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything. 

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,

what you will do with your evening, how you will spend your weekends,
what you read,  who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love,
stay in love
and it will decide everything.

(Pedro Arrupe, s.j. 1907-1991)    

💓 💓 💓 💓 💓

Heart of Love, source of kindness,
Teacher of the ways of goodness,
You are hidden in the minutes of daily life
waiting to be discovered among us.

Heart of Gladness, Joy that sings in our souls,
the Dancer and the Dance,
You are Music radiating in our
cherished times of consolation.

Heart of Compassion, the Healing One weeping
for a world burdened and bent,
You are the heart we bring
to the wounded and weary world.

Heart of all Hearts,
You are the Gift living
in the depth of our lives,
connecting us with others. 

(Joyce Rupp/ Out of the Ordinary)

"Holy One, in every moment we live in your expansive love and your tender embrace. All around us we behold your presence. All around us and within us life emerges, fresh and new, vital, sparked with zest. May we continue to expand our lives and our living, accepting the challenge and responsibility to be co-creators with you. May we embrace all the gifts you have given and use them well, in love and for love. May we use our gifts with wisdom and with courage, celebrating the connectedness and seeing the expressions of your love everywhere. May our actions and attitudes generate unity and may love bring us to communion. May we live in such a way that generations to come will look at us in you and say, 'Radically Amazing!'”      
 (Judith Cannato: Radical Amazement)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Light of Courage

For Courage
When the light around you lessens
And your thoughts darken until
Your body feels fear turn
Cold as a stone inside,

When you find yourself bereft
Of any belief in yourself
And all you unknowingly
Leaned on has fallen,

When one voice commands
Your whole heart,
And it is raven dark,

Steady yourself and see
That it is your own thinking
That darkens your world,

Search and you will find
A diamond-thought of light,

Know that you are not alone
And that this darkness has purpose;
Gradually it will school your eyes
To find the one gift your life requires
Hidden within this night-corner.

Invoke the learning
Of every suffering
You have suffered.

Close your eyes.
Gather all the kindling
About your heart
To create one spark.

That is all you need
To nourish the flame
That will cleanse the dark
Of its weight of festered fear.

A new confidence will come alive
To urge you toward higher ground
Where your imagination
Will learn to engage difficulty
As its most rewarding threshold!

(From To Bless the Space Between Us by John O'Donohue)

A Gathering Prayer . . .

Gather Me to Be with You

O God, gather me now to be with you as you are with me.
Soothe my tiredness; quiet my fretfulness; curb my aimlessness;
Relieve my compulsiveness; let me be easy for a moment.

 + + + 
O God, gather me to be with you as you are with me.
Forgive me for claiming so much for myself that I leave
no room for gratitude; for confusing exercises in self-importance
with acceptance of self-worth;
+ + +
For complaining so much of my burdens that I become a burden;
For competing against others so insidiously that I stifle celebrating
them and receiving your blessing through their gifts.
+ + +
O God, gather me to be with you as you are with me.
Keep me in touch with myself, with my needs,
my anxieties, my angers, my pains, my corruptions,
that I may claim them as my own rather than
blame them on someone else.
+ + +
O God, deepen my wounds into wisdom; shape my weaknesses
into compassion; gentle my envy into enjoyment,
my fear into trust, my guilt into honesty,
my accusing fingers into tickling ones.
+ + +
O God, gather me to be with you as you are with me.
(From: Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Valentine's Day Heartful Reflection . . .

A few seasons ago, I presented the following reflection on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. As we move into the much "heart-anticipated" celebration of Valentine's Day in the USA . . .why not ponder the Heart of God . . .  So I post this reflection:

Image design by: Doris Klein, CSA

Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The story is told that once a young boy was about to have open-heart surgery.  To prepare him the surgeon said, “Tomorrow I will look at your heart.”  Smiling, the boy interrupted, “You’ll find Jesus there.”  Ignoring his remark, the surgeon continued, “After I have seen your heart I will try to repair the damage.”  Again, the boy insisted.  “You are going to find Jesus in my heart.”

The surgeon who had suffered losses in his own family and was still in pain from a failed marriage, felt very distant from God. He replied in a chilling tone, “No, what I’ll find is damaged tissue, constricted arteries, and weakened muscle.”

The next day he opened the boy’s chest and exposed his heart. It was worse than he expected – a ravaged aorta, torn tissue, swollen muscles and arteries.  There was no hope of a cure, not even the possibility of a transplant. His icy anger at God began to surface as he thought, “Where is God? Why did God do this? Why is God letting this boy suffer and cursing him with an early death?”

As he gazed at the boy’s heart, he suddenly thought of the pierced heart of Jesus, and it seemed to him that the boy and Jesus shared one heart, a heart that was suffering for all those in the world experiencing pain and loss; a heart that was redeeming the world by love. 

Struck with awe at such goodness, such redemptive, unconditional love, tears began rolling down the surgeon’s cheeks, hot tears of compassion for the little boy. Later, when the child awoke, he whispered, “Did you see my heart?”  “Yes,” said the surgeon.  “What did you find?” the boy asked. The surgeon replied, “I found Jesus there.”
The heart can be understood as a physical part of each of us – that hidden yet vital organ that circulates the full human blood supply three times per minute and whose hundred thousand beats a day are often taken for granted. The heart is the very core of a person.  When that very center is deeply affected, one’s whole way of thinking about the world, one’s whole way of feeling it, of being in it is profoundly altered. As in our opening story, the doctor experienced a conversion of heart – a healing from heartlessness to heart-fullness. And the child – who was all heart and shared in the heart of Jesus – had a heart filled with redemptive and unconditional love.

Today’s feast (June 3) is the celebration of the “enlarged heart” of God as it was enfleshed in the heart of Jesus through the womb of Mary – a heart filled and overflowing with unconditional love and mercy.

Today is not necessarily a feast of our devotion to the heart of Jesus, but it is a celebration of God’s devotion to us by offering us a heart of love beyond our comprehension, a heart of love beyond any Hallmark card expression, and a heart full of love that is unfathomable. Our God’s love is tender; Our God is totally in love with us, and desires to be of one heart with us. For as John writes: God is Love!

As we celebrate this feast today of God’s love for us it was different in the Middle Ages – as the devotion was not to the heart of Jesus but to the wound in the side of Jesus. In later times, especially rising from the visions of St. Margaret Mary, the focus shifted more to the Heart of Jesus.

In the writings of Margaret Mary, she describes what happened one day as she was praying when she received a vision of Jesus:  “For a long time he kept me leaning on his breast, while he revealed the wonders of his love and the mysterious secrets of his Sacred Heart. Till then, he had always kept them hidden; but now, for the first time, he opened his Heart to me.”

Margaret Mary continued to describe in her writings how Jesus revealed his heart as a heart on fire with love as he said: “My divine Heart is so passionately fond of the human race, and of you (Margaret Mary), that it cannot keep back the pent-up flames of its burning love any longer.”  She then reveals what followed. “Next, he asked for my heart. I begged him to take it; he did, and placed it in his own divine Heart.  He let me see it there – a tiny atom being completely burned up in that fiery furnace.  Then, lifting it out – now a little heart-shaped flame – he put it back where he had found it.”

In our Gospel today, Jesus reveals to us that his heart is humble and invites us to find rest within his heart. Jesus lived love and mercy throughout his ministry as he encountered the least, the last, and the lost.

In Scripture we find a number of examples of how his love was lived out. . .
• Let the children come to me . . .then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them
• At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them.
• Moved with pity, Jesus touched their eyes and immediately they received their sight.
• (Rich man) Jesus looking at him loved him.

So what is the good news for us today?
Let us through our daily reflection imagine ourselves resting in the heart of God hearing the heartbeat of God in the intimacy of our own prayer. 

(Nouwen)- “when we come to hear the heartbeat of God in the intimacy of our prayer, we realize that God’s heart embraces all the sufferings of the world.  We come to see that through Jesus Christ these burdens have become a light burden which we are invited to carry.  . . It is in the heart of God that we come to understand the true nature of human suffering and come to know our mission to alleviate this suffering not in our own name, but in the name of Jesus.”

For God’s heart goes out to us and God’s love is always there for us –
Closing: Reflections from Macrina Wiederkehr’s experience of the heart of God in her prayer . . .

Like lightning at dawn – the All-Powerful One came
electrifying, energizing, frightening, shattering, crashing into my morning prayer! Totally unprepared for this kind of interruption,
I froze on my knees both in wonder and terror.
There was no morning silence left,
no comforting darkness to enfold me
only those flashes of light that make hiding impossible.
But this? Oh, this was awful!
God stood there with terrible, penetrating loving eyes, saying only:
Your love is too small!  

Standing that close to truth felt uncomfortable, unbearable and I tried
to hide my face the way I often do when truth gets too close.
I tried to hide the pieces of my terribly divided heart. 
But then the lightning came again.
And God was standing there even closer than before
Holding the pieces of my heart with such tenderness
still saying, Your love is too small. 

I took the pieces back with reverence
My tears proclaiming the truth of all I felt.
There was no pressure, no force
just the God of morning asking for my love.
And now, every time I see those flashes
in the northern sky I hear again, a voice
saying simply, Your love is too small.

And I weep; I weep at the possibility of who I could be.
(From Seasons of Your Heart)

Prayer with Heart!

Design by: Pablo Mutini
The Heart of Eternal Love

Heart of Love,
Source of all kindness,
Teacher of the ways of goodness,
you are hidden in the pockets of daily life,
waiting to be discovered.

Heart of Gladness,
Joy that sings in our souls,
the Dancer and the Dance,
you are Music radiating in our
cherished cashes of consolation.

Heart of Compassion,
the Healing One weeping
for a world burdened and bent,
you are the heart we bring
to the wounded, worn and weary.

Heart of Comfort,
Sheltering Wings of Love,
Refuge for sad and lonely ones,
you embrace all who bear loss,
gathering their tears with care.

Heart of all Hearts,
the First and Best of all Companions,
you are the Gift secreted in our depths,
connecting us with others.

Heart of Understanding,
One who gazes upon the imperfect,
the incomplete, the flawed, the weak,
you never stop extending mercy.

Heart of Freedom,
The Uncontained Spirit bearing truth,
Great Liberator, forever calling to us,
you urge us toward unrestrained trust.

Heart of Generosity,
Abundance of insight and hope,
daily you offer us gifts of growth,
leading to continual transformation.

Heart of Deepest Peace,
Center of Tranquility,
Resting Place at the core of our being,
you are waiting always for our return
to this sacred home.

Author: Joyce Rupp ~ Out of the Ordinary

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Clad Yourself in Peace!


Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
It says, come, rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made, proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet know you still
Knew nothing.
The River sang and sings on.

 ~ Maya Angelou, On the Pulse of Morning