Sunday, July 23, 2017

God's Dream . . .

And God said:
I myself will dream a dream
within you.
Good dreams come from me
you know.

My dreams seem impossible,
Not too practical,
Not for the cautious   
woman or man,
A little risky sometimes,
A trifle brash perhaps.

Some of my friends prefer
To rest more comfortably,
In sounder sleep,
With visionless eyes.

But for those who share my dreams,
I ask a little patience,
A little humor,

Some small courage,
And a listening heart.
I will do the rest.

Then they will risk,
And wonder at their daring
Run, and marvel at their speed;
Build, and stand in awe at the beauty
of their building.

You will meet me often as you work:
In your companions,
who share your risk;
In your friends,
who believe in you enough
to lend their own dreams,
Their own hands, 
Their own hearts,
To your building;

In the people who will find
your doorway,
Stay awhile, and walk away
Knowing they, too, can find a dream . . .

There will be sun-filled days,
And sometimes it will rain.
A little variety!
Both come from me.

So come now,
Be content.
It is my dream you dream:
My house you build;
My caring you witness;
My love you share;
And this is
the heart of the matter.  

sc ~ rgs

Aloned . . .with God!

Alone with God
All-one with God
Being alone with God
Being all-one with God

It is a terrible grace.
An awesome gift,
but terrifying all the same.
There is no way to get there
except to lose yourself,
to lose what you know of yourself.
And then, the battle is over.
There will be nothing left but God.

Being alone, all-one, with God
is a terrible and beautiful grace.
Terrible, because
the only way there
is to lose yourself.
Beautiful, because
when you lose yourself
there is no one left but God.

You are all-one
Alone with God!

It happened to Jesus
It can happen to you
If you stay with Jesus
it will happen to you.
Alone with God
All-one with God.

Now I understand
why Jesus went out
to the desert hills so often
alone . . .

A Tree Full of Angels
Macrina Wiederkehr

One inch at a time . . .

A Spiritual Journey

And the world cannot be discovered
by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(Collected Poems)

Stories to ponder. . .

The story of a blind girl

There was a blind girl who hated herself just because she was blind. She hated everyone, except her loving boyfriend. He was always there for her. She said that if she could only see the world, she would marry her boyfriend.

One day, someone donated a pair of eyes to her and then she could see everything, including her boyfriend. Her boyfriend asked her, “Now that you can see the world, will you marry me?”

The girl was shocked when she saw that her boyfriend was blind too, and refused to marry him. Her boyfriend walked away in tears, and later wrote a letter to her saying:
“Just take care of my eyes dear.”

A glass of Milk, paid in Full

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk.
He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”
“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”

He said, “Then I thank you from my heart.”

As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.

She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:
“Paid in full with one glass of milk.
Signed, Dr. Howard Kelly.”

Author Unknown

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mary Magdalene ~ Faith-filled Friend . . .

Feast of Mary Magdalene ~ July 22
(Posted by Ron Rolheiser, OMI)

I never suspected
                        and to be so painful
                        to leave me weeping
With Joy
            to have met you, alive and smiling, outside an empty tomb
With Regret
            not because I’ve lost you
            but because I’ve lost you in how I had you –
                        in understandable, touchable, kissable, clingable flesh
                        not as fully Lord, but as graspably human.

I want to cling, despite your protest
            cling to your body
            cling to your, and my, clingable humanity
            cling to what we had, our past.

But I know that…if I cling
            you cannot ascend and
            I will be left clinging to your former self
            …unable to receive your present spirit.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

God of presence . . .in our present!

Litany of God's Names by Joseph Sobb, S.J.

O God of silence and quietness, you call us to be still and know you -
O God of steadfast love, your Spirit is poured into our hearts –
O God of compassion, your Word is our light and hope –
O God of faithfulness, you fill our hearts with joy –

O God of life and truth, from you we receive every gift –
O God of healing and peace, you open us to divine grace –
O God of all creation, our beginning and our end –
O God of salvation, you reconcile all things in Jesus, -

O God of Jesus, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit –
O God of Jesus, who invites us, “Come and see” –
O God of Jesus, who was tempted as we all are –
O God of Jesus, who is your pledge of saving love –

O God of Sarah and Abraham, from whom came  Jesus -
O God of Anna and Simeon, who recognized Jesus, your Son,
 as Messiah –
O God of Mary, who bore Jesus, -   
O God of Joseph, to whose fatherly care was entrusted Jesus, -

O God of all generations, of all times and seasons and peoples –
O God of our mothers and fathers, of all who have loved us –
O God of our past; O God of our future –
O God of our present, O God in our present -

Mystery Within . . .


In our souls everything
moves guided by a mysterious hand.
We know nothing of our own souls
that are ununderstandable and say nothing.

The deepest words
of the wise person teach us
the same as the whistle of the wind when it blows
or the sound of the water when it is flowing.

~ Antonio Machado ~

(Translation by Robert Bly, in The Enlightened Heart, edited by Stephen Mitchell)

Monday, July 17, 2017

"My Pleasure" . . .

A cat dies and goes to heaven. God meets him at the gate and says, “You have been a good cat all of these years. Anything you desire is yours; all you have to do is ask.” The cat says, “Well, I lived all my life with a poor family on a farm and had to sleep on hardwood floors.”  God says, “Say no more."  And instantly, a fluffy pillow appears.

A few days later, 6 mice are killed in a tragic accident and they go to heaven. God meets them at the gate with the same offer that was made to the cat. The mice said, “All our lives we've had to run. Cats, dogs and even women with brooms have chased us. If we could only have a pair of roller skates, we wouldn't have to run anymore.” God says, “Say no more.” And instantly, each mouse is fitted with a beautiful pair of tiny roller skates.

About a week later, God decides to check and see how the cat is doing. The cat is sound asleep on his new pillow. God gently wakes him and asks, “How are you doing? Are you happy here?” The cat yawns and stretches and says, “Oh, I’ve never been happier in my life. And those Meals on Wheels you've been sending over are the best!”

+ + +

There is a grocery store in our town that has a foundational philosophy of Servant Leadership.  Every customer is considered a guest. My experience has been that when you wander through the store and look puzzled at finding what you want, suddenly a clerk appears to help you. When you express gratitude for their service, they respond, “My pleasure.”  One time I wasn’t able to find an ingredient I needed for a marvelous dish, so I went to the manager and inquired. He instantly took out his SmartPhone and searched as to where he could locate it among their distribution warehouses.  He said, “I’ve located it, but it won’t be here until two days from now. When we get it in, we will call you.”  I expressed my gratitude for his service and he responded, “My pleasure.”

In a recent experience at a retreat, I was the “presider” in which I was to facilitate the reconciliation prayer service.  This meant introductions, organizing the readings, and giving a short reflection on the readings before the ministers went off to administer the Sacrament to the participants. Well, I couldn’t help but tell them the story of my grocery store experiences of “My pleasure.”  But in my reflection, I related this comment to how God might relate to us in our healing and forgiveness.

We come to retreat entering into silence, searching for a word of hope, an insight, a specific grace, an affirmation, or a challenge where we may meet new Nazareths  and new Bethlehems.  We sense that we are in the presence of the Holy and we express our prayer of gratitude. It is then at the level of the sacred we hear whispered in our heart, “My pleasure.”  For God does not desire worthiness but only willingness. 

What if we would enter into the Sacrament with such sincerity, and a deep desire to be healed and forgiven that deep within us as we express our gratitude for the flood of healing grace – God says, “My pleasure.”  What if, as we walk and live beyond that moment of gracing in the Sacrament, we encounter a situation where we need the courage and integrity we prayed for in the sacrament? Then again deep within us we sense a movement of grace, a surge of courage to stand in a non-defended stance and softly hear . . . “My pleasure.”

It just seems that before the thought has fully formed within us, or the words have left our lips, God rushes to embrace us saying,  “Anything you desire is yours; all you have to do is ask – then say no more . . .for you are welcomed here, you are accepted here, you are loved here.” And humbly we say, “Thank you.” And God responds,” My pleasure.”

Previously posted July 2012

The Journey

A journey continues until it stops
A journey that stops is no longer a journey
A journey loses things on its way
A journey passes through things, things pass through it
When a journey is over, it loses itself to a place
When a journey remembers, it begins a journal
Which is a new journey about an old journey
A journey over time is different from a journey into time
An actual journey is into the future
A reflective journey is into the past

A journey always begins in a place called Here
Pack your bags and imagine your journey
Unpack your bags and imagine your journey is done
If you're afraid of a journey, don't buy shoes

~ Mark Strand ~

(Chicken, Shadow, Moon & More)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Keys to peace and freedom . , ,

The Fable of the Four Philanthropists

Once upon a time, there was a small town besieged by war. Invading marauders eventually captured the land, built a prison in middle of the town square, and imprisoned all the warrior men of the community. And every day citizens would see their sons and fathers suffering behind bars in the middle of the town square. Unable to bear it any longer, 4 philanthropists got together and decided to make an offering of peace.

The first philanthropist went to the jailer and said that he had a lot of money and couldn't stand to see the prisoners without fresh water. He begged for mercy so that he could spend all his money to buy fresh water for the prisoners to drink. The invaders allowed it and the philanthropist felt at peace with his offering.

The second philanthropist went to the jailer and said he had a lot of livestock and couldn't stand to see the prisoners sleeping on rocks and dirt. He begged the jailer to be allowed to use his sheep and animal skins to make beds and pillows for the prisoners. The invaders allowed this gift and the philanthropist felt at peace.

The third philanthropist went to the jailer and said he had a very large farm and he couldn't stand to see prisoners eating so poorly that many were malnourished. He begged the jailer to be allowed to bring all his food from the farm and make meals for the prisoners. The invaders allowed this gift and philanthropist felt at peace.

The fourth philanthropist had neither farm, nor livestock, nor money. He was very poor. But he was a saint. So for his gift he did what any saint would do: he stole the jailer's keys, snuck back to the jail at night, and released all the prisoners. And he felt at peace with this offering.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Kateri and Jake . . .

July 14 - Feast of Kateri Tekakwitha - First Native American Saint
1656 - 1680
In April 1656, a baby was born in an Iroquois village situated along the banks of the Mohawk River in upstate New York. Her mother was a Christian and wanted her to be baptized, but her father was chief of a tribe who opposed the French Jesuit priests. "Little Sunshine" was a ray of joy to family and friends, but joy and love in the family didn't last long. When she was four years old, smallpox swept through the village. Her father, mother, and baby brother died, leaving Sunshine pock-marked and almost blind. Her uncle adopted her and she was renamed Tekakwitha ("she who pushes with her hands") due to her having to feel her way around as a blind person.

As her childhood passed, her eyesight improved. She became very skilled in Indian embroidery, beading, and wood carving. She worked hard, but in her free time she liked to walk in the woods or stroll along the river, where she could be alone and think about God. As her new family was not Christian, she was not to pray or talk with the missionaries who worked among the Indians. When she was eighteen, she announced that she wanted to become a Christian. Her family was furious.

She attended lessons at the mission and on Easter Sunday, 1676, she was baptized with the name Kateri (Katherine). After this she was treated cruelly by her family, but she never showed her misery. Eventually, two kind Christian Indians helped her escape across the St. Lawrence River to a Christian community in Canada, where she received her First Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1677. There she carried water, cooked, sewed, and attended every Mass. She spent all her free time in the love and service of the Lord.

On a trip to Montreal to sell Native American handicrafts, Kateri met a religious order of nuns and realized her calling. On March 25, The Feast of the Annunciation, Kateri privately pronounced her vows. From then on, she devoted her life completely to God.
Her private penances and hard work left her often ill. She suffered greatly during the winter of 1680 and on April 17, 1680, at the age of 24, Kateri died. Almost immediately her face turned beautiful and shining. All the pockmarks from her disease disappeared. A smile appeared on her lips. Everyone was astonished. The wonderful transformation remained until burial the next day on Holy Thursday.The Lily of the Mohawk was beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is celebrated on July 14.

Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology, as is St. Francis of Assisi. On October 21, 2012, Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI.  The miracle attributed to Kateri's canonization is the story of Jake Finkbonner. Jake was so close to death after flesh-eating bacteria infected him through a cut on his lip that his parents had last rites performed and were discussing donating the 5-year-old's tiny organs. His cure in 2006 from the infection was deemed medically inexplicable by the Vatican, and became the "miracle" needed to propel a 17th century Native American, Kateri Tekakwitha, on to sainthood. Jake is fully convinced, as is the Catholic Church, that the prayers his family and community offered to God through Kateri's intercession, including the placement of a Kateri relic on Jake's leg, were responsible for his survival. Jake, now 13 and an avid basketball player and cross-country runner, was present at the canonization; along with hundreds of members of his own Lummi tribe from northwest Washington State and indigenous communities across the U.S. and Canada.

Previously posted 2014

God of the in-between time. . . .


Let us pray:
God of the Seasons, God of in-between time, we are walking into mystery. 
We face the future, not knowing what the days and months will bring to us

or how we will respond. 

Be courage and compassion in us as we journey. 

May we welcome all who come our way. 
We thank you for the gift of being able to rise each day

with the assurance
of your walking
through the day with us. 

So may there always be a little light in our darkness. 
May there always be a little faith in our doubt.
May there always be a little joy in our sorrow.
May there always be a little life in our dying.
May there always be a little hope in our sadness.
May there always be a little courage in our fear.

And may there always be a little slow in our hurry.

God of the Seasons, God of in-between time,
deepen our faith to see all of life through your eyes

and we praise you now and forever. 
(Adapted from: Song of the Seed by Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB.)

A Gentle Moment . . .

An Unclenched Moment?
Gentle me, Holy One,
into an unclenched moment,
a deep breath,
a letting go
of heavy expectancies,
of shriveling anxieties,
of dead certainties,
that softened by the silence,
surrounded by the light,
and open to the mystery,
I may be found by wholeness,
upheld by the unfathomable,
entranced by the simple,
and filled with the joy that is You.
~Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

Heart of All Hearts . . .

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. 

Holy One, in every moment we live in your expansive love and your tender embrace.  All around us we behold your presence.  May we continue to expand our lives and our living, accepting the responsibility to be co-creators with you.  May we live in such a way that  generations to come will and say, “Radically Amazing!”
(Judith Cannato: Radical Amazement)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A story for the week . . .

There’s a story in the Hindu tradition that runs something like this: God and a man are walking down a road. The man asks God: “What is the world like?” God answers: “I’d like to tell you, but my throat is parched. I need a cup of cold water. If you can go and get me a cup of cold water, I’ll tell you what the world is like.” The man heads off to the nearest house to ask for a cup of cold water. He knocks on the door and it is opened by a beautiful young woman. He asks for a cup of cold water. She answers: “I will gladly get it for you, but it’s just time for the noon meal, why don’t you come in first and eat.” He does.

Thirty years later, they’ve had five children, he’s a respected merchant, she’s a respected member of the community, they’re in their house one evening when a hurricane comes and uproots their house. The man cries out: “Help me, God!” And a voice comes from the center of the hurricane says: “Where’s my cup of cold water?”

This story is not so much a spiritual criticism as it is a fundamental lesson in anthropology and spirituality: To be a human being is to be perpetually distracted. We aren’t persons who live in habitual spiritual awareness who occasionally get distracted. We’re persons who live in habitual distraction who occasionally become spiritually aware. We tend be so preoccupied with the ordinary business of living that it takes a hurricane of some sort for God to break through.

Author Unknown

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July 4th - Interdependence Day!

In the words of David Barton, he reminds us of what the celebration of Independence Day – July 4th – is all about.

 “On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to approve a complete separation from Great Britain. Two days afterwards – July 4th – the early draft of the Declaration of Independence was signed, albeit by only two individuals at that time: John Hancock, President of Congress, and Charles Thompson, Secretary of Congress. Four days later, on July 8, members of Congress took that document and read it aloud from the steps of Independence Hall, proclaiming it to the city of Philadelphia, after which the Liberty Bell was rung. The inscription around the top of that bell, Leviticus 25:10, was most appropriate for the occasion: ‘Proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof.’”   

However, I’d like to also declare an Interdependence Day.  Even though we celebrate our separation from the Crown of England, we must come to the awareness that we really do not live as “separate peoples” of this planet. It is to be shared by all – for we are interdependent with all of life on this earth and beyond!

I recently returned from directing a retreat and I often would walk the grounds of the center and quietly observe the trees reflected in the surrounding lake, watch the Sandhill Cranes fly over the near-by pier, and study the puffy, luminous clouds that looked as if they fell into the lake as they were reflected there along with the trees. I will post pictures to give a visual of what I experienced.

As I pondered my surroundings, I was amazed how this environment truly was an ecosystem happening right in front of me: fish, plants, trees, flowers, bees, birds, raccoons, deer, turtles, and more all in the dance of the ecosystem waltz! Everything working, living, sharing, moving, breathing together in one movement of life in this small circle of the earth. Nothing separated – nothing independent – everything interdependent.

I thought, too, of my life as a woman religious in my community. Some would consider me pretty independent – guess I learned that as I was growing up – and yet as a committed member, I am interdependent with all those in my community. We pray with and for one another; we minister with and for one another, we celebrate with and for one another, - however, we share who we are and what we have with all in our ministries and way of life.  As a wise old mentor once told me, “As celibate women, we belong to everyone and no-one.” 

So on this weekend of Independence Day and the celebration of separation, I pray for all who walk this earth as we are interdependent in our way of life on this planet and that we grow in our actions, attitudes, and way of being that we acknowledge we are here as a people sharing the gift of life in the beauty of God’s creation on this small planet in the universe.  Let us dance together the interdependent waltz!


One day a little boy asked his parents, ‘How do wars break out? How are they declared?’ So the father, who was very learned in economic matters, started talking about wheat, oil, an all the things that divide the world. But the mother thought the little boy was far too small to understand such things, and she said, ‘Let me explain it.’ The mother began to explain, and the father grew angry, and a great argument developed. The little boy was very frightened indeed, and held up his hands and cried, ‘Stop, stop! Now I know how wars begin.’ (Irene Laure)

The late Albert Einstein, during his declining years, granted a press conference to a number of newspaper reporters. After they had plied him with questions on many subjects, one reporter asked: ‘Mr. Einstein, would you care to make a prediction as to the kind of weapons that will be used in the third world war?’ Modestly he shook his head and said: ‘No, I would not venture a prediction.’ After the briefest hesitation he added, ‘But I’ll tell you what will be the chief weapon in the fourth world war.’ The reporters were all ears and every pencil was poised in anticipation of the old man’s prediction. What would be the chief weapon in the fourth world war?

With an air of finality, the old man gave a one-word reply – 'Clubs!' It took a moment or two for the aged scientist’s reply to register, but as it did, a grim silence settled over the assembled group. (Anonymous)

“We can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion or work with those that stress the interdependence and equality of all human beings. The choice is yours. (22)”
― Karen Armstrong, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life

“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”
― G.K. Chesterton

“None of us can ever save himself; we are the instruments of one another’s salvation, and only by the hope that we give to others do we lift ourselves out of the darkness into light.”
― Dean Koontz

“Our culture values independence and isolation far too much, it seems to me--we have a hard time making ourselves part of things, of making ourselves responsible to others, and trusting others to be there for us. Sure, there's pain involved if we get hurt, but there's far more pain in isolation. I love community because God gave us other people to live with, not to pull away from, and I learn so much from others that I can't imagine my life without the learning I've gained from getting to know other people.”
-Tom Walsh

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Soul Listening . . .

Listening to My Soul –

Guardian of my Deepest Self,
I need to be still, to listen,
not only to falling leaves
and the gentle wind;
I need to listen to my soul,
too long neglected
while I bowed to the wild cries
of my greedy culture,
ever ravenous
for my undivided attention:
Do more, Buy more,
See more, Be more, Go more.

+ + + +

Let me be still
amid the beauty of earth.
Let me be a silent admirer
of all that is sacred.

Let me be reverent
in the presence of another.

Let me restore my inner eye.
Let me put to rest the wildness
of endless activity.

+ + + +

Who or what keeps you from giving your deepest self your undivided attention?
What do you hear when you listen to your soul?

Adapted from: Prayers to Sophia by Joyce Rupp

In this century and any century,
Our deepest hope, our most tender prayer,
Is that we learn to listen.
May we listen to one another in openness and mercy
May we listen to plants and animals in wonder and respect
May we listen to our own hearts in love and forgiveness
May we listen to God in quietness and awe.

And in this listening,
Which is boundless in its beauty,
May we find the wisdom to cooperate
With a healing spirit, a divine spirit,
Who beckons us into peace and community and creativity.
We do not ask for a perfect world.
But we do ask for a better world.
We ask for deep listening.

Author: Jay McDaniel

Monday, June 26, 2017


It seems that in ancient times there was a king named Akbar, who had a brilliant and clever prime minister name Birbal. Akbar was always asking questions that he hoped would baffle Birbal, but Birbal was always able to answer and so save his life and his ministership. One day Akbar asked Birbal if he could bring him someone who was HERE and not THERE.  Birbal brought him a thief, saying, “This thief is only in the world trying to get money and goods to increase his wealth HERE.”
Then Akbar told Birbal, “Bring me someone who is THERE and not HERE.” Birbal responded by bringing a wondering ascetic and said, “He completely neglects all aspects of this world.  Including his body and his well-being, to focus entirely on the world beyond.”

“Very good,” said Akbar. “Now bring me someone who is neither HERE nor THERE.” Birbal left for a while and then returned, presenting to the king a beggar, saying, “This man is neither HERE nor THERE, because he is always envious of everyone else in the world. He’s not participating in the world in any sense and, at the same time, has no concern for spiritual matters. Thus, he is in no way THERE either.”

“Very good again,” exclaimed a pleased Akbar. “Now, is it possible that there is anyone in the world who is both HERE and THERE?”  “Yes, your majesty,” answered, Birbal., and he brought forth an honest household couple. “This man and woman work in the world and tend to their family, but do everything with God in their thoughts. Because they do the work of the world and allow their spiritual practices to carry them through both the good and the bad times, they are a woman and man who are both HERE and THERE.” (Story by John Shea – The Legend of the Bells)

Reflection: In a recent article it stated that many of us are being seduced by multi-tasking, - trying to do a number of things at once. Researchers have now identified a new syndrome emerging called Continuous Partial Attention (CPA). This is described as when a person continues to e-mail, text message, and blog, while supposedly listening to someone else.

Much like our story, CPA can fool us into being not HERE and not THERE! - or be an Absent Presence (another syndrome). These syndromes can un-ground us from our capacity to listen to ourselves, or to the words of another, and to listen between their words and beyond their words. So let us consider a simple practice for the week:  Stop, breathe deeply, – be HERE, be PRESENT, and attend to the moment. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

His Name is John!

The story is told that in Valladolid, Spain, where Christopher Columbus died in 1506, stands a monument commemorating the great discoverer.  Perhaps the most interesting feature of the memorial is a statue of a lion destroying one of the Latin words that had been part of Spain’s motto for centuries.
Before Columbus made his voyages, the Spaniards thought they had reached the outer limits of earth.  Thus their motto was “Ne Plus Ultra,” which means, “No More Beyond.”  The word being torn away by the lion is “Ne” or “No” thus it reads “Plus Ultra.”  Columbus had proven that there was indeed “more beyond.”

Today, we celebrate the feast of John the Baptist, whose witness and voice called his hearers to a baptism of repentance and to recognize the “more beyond” in his prophetic message; the “more beyond” restrictive rules, regulations and religious customs, the “more beyond” predictable practices, and certainly the “more beyond” an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!
From the beginning of his life to the end, John the Baptist was a living witness to God’s unconventional and unpredictable ways of acting.  Elizabeth, his mother, was “more beyond” the age of childbearing when she conceived.  Her relatives and neighbors rejoiced at God’s intervention on her behalf, but they had very definite ideas about how things should go after that.  Religious convention prescribed how the rite of circumcision and naming were to proceed.  

Here in our Gospel, all of Elizabeth’s family and friends gathered around her for the purpose of circumcising the child.  But they also decided that her newborn child would be named Zechariah, Jr. after his father.  And then in this awkward moment, Elizabeth’s voice is heard in the wilderness of promise and possibility, and she says: “No, no, the child’s name will be John” … which translates, Yahweh is gracious. 

These people are faithful Jews, good people and lovers of God.  But at this moment, God is about to reveal a mystery that has never so much as entered their minds or hearts.  God was preparing to do something new.  Something “more beyond” their imaginations.  God and not social convention was to give John his name. 

Perhaps the miraculous and unusual circumstances surrounding John’s conception, birth, and naming are clues as to God’s plan for this child who will be a prophet – one chosen to be "voice and heart, call and sign" of the God whose design for the world is justice, compassion, forgiveness, love and peace.

In every age God sends prophets to remind us how God desires to be involved in our lives.  Prophets do as much as they can to carry out their purpose, which is to interpret the will of God and to proclaim it to the people.  "They stand in our midst and tell it like it is, speaking disturbing words that people don’t like to hear."

We might ask  . . . Who are those in our time who have been called to be the prophetic voices to speak disturbing words that people don’t like to hear?

·         Let us remember, Bishop Oscar Romero:   He wrote . . . “Do not consider me, please, an enemy; I am simply a pastor, a brother, a friend of this Savadoran people.  One who knows their sufferings, their hunger, their anguish.  It is in the name of these voices that I raise my voice to say: Do not idolize your wealth!  Do not horde it to let the rest die of hunger! I speak in the first person, because this week I received notice that I am on the list of those who are to be eliminated next week. But let it be known that no one can any longer kill the voice of justice.”

·         Sr. Dorothy Stang : a Notre Dame de Namur sister, who worked among the peasant farmers in the Amazon and who was assassinated in February 2005.  In her journal she wrote, “O God, we have given all.  I have even sacrificed my home, country, family, my trust, to work among your people. God, my lover and Creator, I love You but I don’t understand why they (ranchers and military) seek to destroy our simple life-joy-caring among the people.  I never came to create hate or division but to build love, confidence and caring among a beautiful abandoned people.  Does this have to be part of life’s struggle?”

·         Finally, John Dear, a peace activist, who had at one time been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  His challenge to us all is to be contemplatives of non-violence, be students, teachers and visionaries of non-violence, be activists of non-violence, and be prophets of non-violence and stand publically for peace.
So what is the Good News for us today?
Let us be open to the graces of these powerful readings.
Let us be open to risk the “more beyond” our comfort zones so that we, too, can be voice and heart, call and sign of the God who unsettles us.
Let us pray for all who are called in our time to be prophetic and speak words of challenge that people don’t want to hear.
And let us pray that John the Baptist will intercede for our world today so that we, too, will choose to live “more beyond” violence, greed and power and truly live peace, be peace.   

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Summer Morning Prayer

Opening Prayer

I bow before you, my hidden but beloved God,
as I begin this day.
An alarm rings in my heart to awaken me to the fact
that I am a pilgrim who travels a sacred path.
I now answer that call to mindfulness,
as I prepare to enter into silent prayer.
I join myself with all who are in prayer at this sacred hour
when the Earth once again faces its source of life, the sun.
I now turn fully to face you, O God,
the source of the universe and of my life,
as I enter into silence. (pause for silent prayer).

With fidelity I have tried to still my restless heart in you,
the divine source of all that I am.
May this effort bear fruit by my living more fully in the
present moment this day.
I join my voice to all the awakening sounds of the Earth
at this hour, as I pray. (reflect on a chosen passage of scripture)

Concluding Prayer

This summer day is growing warmer
as we turn to face the fullness of our daystar, the sun.
Plants, animals, and we human folk are all solar-powered
in the marvel of your clever creation.
May this morning prayer give me the energy
to act at all times this day with love and kindness.
May I treat each person and each living being as a
brother or sister, as a member of your sacred family.

I pray now for these personal needs: (offer intentions), and
for the special needs this day of (n.).
May the business of this day never eclipse my real work
as a pilgrim on the sacred path.

Open my eyes and ears to the miracles you have hidden
along my path this day.
Let my mind find its joy in the present moment,
the only place where you dwell.

I bow before you, Divine Creator, Holy Mother,
Eternal Source of my existence.
Your heart is my home;
from you I have come
and to you I journey this day.

(Author: Edward Hays)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blessing for this day . . .

Blessing This Day
 I only want to see the day ahead,
 My attention will not go     
  backward into my history,
 And my attention will not go forward
  into my future.
I am committed to staying only
in the present time,
 To remaining grounded in my world,
 To feeling a bond with each person
  I meet,
 To respecting my own integrity
  and my own honor,
 To living within the energy of love
  and compassion this day,
 And returning to that energy when
  I don’t feel it,
 To making wise and blessed choices
  with my will, 
 To maintaining perceptions of                  
 wisdom and non-judgment,
 To release the need to know why things happen

 the way they do,
 And to not project expectations over how
 I want this day to be ___
 And how I want others to be.
 And finally, my last prayer to trust the Divine.
 With that I bless my day with gratitude and love.
   Caroline Myss

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Gathering Prayer for the Week . . .

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)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Beginnings and Endings of the Day . . .

God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need.  Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace.  And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone
undone. . . just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with God.  Then you will be able to rest in God ~ really rest ~ and start the next day as a new life.
St. Teresa Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Trust your sense of judging melon!

A businessman needing to attend a conference in a faraway city decided to travel on country roads rather than the freeways so he could enjoy a relaxing journey. After some hours of traveling he realized he was hopelessly lost. Seeing a farmer tending his field on the side of the road, he stopped to ask for directions. “Can you tell me how far it is to Chicago?” he asked the farmer. “Well, I don’t rightly know,” the farmer replied.
Well, can you tell me how far I am from Fond du Lac, WI?” the businessman questioned again. “Well, I don’t rightly know,” the farmer again replied. “Can you at least tell me the quickest way to the main road?” The exasperated businessman asked.“Nope, I don’t rightly know,” the farmer again answered. “You really don’t know very much at all, do you?” blurted the impatient businessman. “Nope, not much, but I ain’t lost,” the farmer calmly answered.

Part One: Here is another reflection from my retreat journey. So the story goes . . . “Can you tell me how far . . .?” That was a question that often lingered in my mind and heart before, during, and after my retreat. On the way to my retreat, I traveled north on the freeway, thinking that I would by-pass the road construction that appears like the flowers once spring has entered our hemisphere. No luck. Shortly upon my journey, there were rows and rows of orange barrels, workers with hard-hats and green vests, and company trucks parked along the road creating their own parking lot. So I had to be alert to the change in lanes, the new signs that were temporary, and the traffic that didn’t like being confined to only one lane. Unfortunately, I missed my exit going north since the new markings were tilted from the wind, and the orange barrels were also scattered, making it somewhat questionable if my exit was really open. So I knew that the next best thing was to shift into “Plan B”, which was simply to take the next exit and turn around and hit my desired exit going south. But lo and behold, upon entering the next exit going north, the ramp now was reconfigured with a round-about – again inviting me to test my driving and reading skills, while trying to not lose sight of the ramp I needed to go south. Well, with a smile and a wave to the other drivers, I eased my way to my ramp and headed south. Whew! I wondered if this was a sign of what was to come.  Would I be asking God - Can you tell me how far within am I to travel?  What is your desire for me? To what signs do I need to be alert? What is being reconfigured in your dream for me? 

Part Two: Upon leaving the grounds at the end of my retreat, I headed to the office to submit my payment. I casually asked the woman at the desk, “Can you tell me what the name of the road is heading east that takes me down into the valley from these bluffs? I’ve taken it before, but can’t remember its name or number. I believe it was a left turn.” She said, “You want 162 South.”  Ok – I would go with that and upon heading east for only a few short miles I came across 162 South, but it was now a right turn.  Hmmmm. This didn’t feel right or look right, for I remember a Stop sign, some fences, and the road umbrella-ed with beautiful maple and oak trees. This road, 162 South, was none of this. Hmmmm. Maybe those guys in the green vests and orange barrels have reconfigured this road too. So I made the right turn onto the road and didn’t recognize anything, any place, and there were no signs to let me know the place to which I was headed, and there were not too many roads that intersected with 162 South. So I thought, hmmmmmmm – guess this is a new adventure heading east. So I began “expanding my world view” now enjoying the beauty of the bluffs, and the greenery and wild flowers. Still no town or village – besides, I didn’t have a GPS, or a Pillar of Fire or a Pillar of Cloud – only my little direction gauge on the dashboard, my trusty map, and my inner compass – my own inner GPS – my intuition. After a number of miles, I knew this was not the road I had always taken when leaving the bluffs, but thought it would offer me some new perspectives and experiences.

Eventually, I thought of the wisdom statement from a meditation site:  “Trust your sense of judging melon.”  None of us go to “Melon School” to learn how to select just the right melon to place on our table for a sweet ‘n juicy treat. Somehow we already have that inner knowing about which melon is the best – we trust our eyes, our fingers, our nose, our grip in holding the melon, and our taste buds when samples are made available. Like my capacity to judge melon, I now had to trust my eyes, nose, mind, body, and inner knowing that I would eventually find the freeway. 

So it could be that the next time I would find myself in the bluffs of North West Wisconsin seeking a road of which was part of my comfort zone, I may just want to take another route – “a road less traveled,” which would offer me new learnings that I would have missed if I didn’t get “hopelessly lost” in the trust of God, nature, and road signs which were probably put up by those workers who attended “Orange Barrel School.”

I close with two quotes from Dag Hammarskj√∂ld who must have traveled back roads as well: “How long the road is. But, for all the time the journey has already taken, how you have needed every second of it in order to learn what the road passes-by.” And “The longest journey is the journey inwards.”

Previously posted June 2013