This is real

At sundown tonight, Rosh Hashanah begins. May all of our Jewish brothers and sisters be blessed with a sweet new year – we could all use that, right?

Each year I read the book cited in the link below. I find it an extremely important element of my spiritual life.  May we all find ways to embrace suffering; it spares no one. If that is not evident this year, I do not know if it ever will be.

My retreat from last weekend is still being processed, but this much is clear to me – honesty without shame, suffering with vulnerability, and offering ourselves openly to God and one another is the only way forward. May we soften, open, embrace – and be transformed. It is all very real, and we typically are, to riff off of Rabbi Alan Lew’s book title, completely unprepared. Yet God awaits us.

L’shana tovah to our Jewish friends. May peace prevail for all, may we each do our part of it, one surrender at a time.

“Our suffering, the unresolved element of our lives, is also from God. It is the instrument by which we are carried back to God, not something to be defended against, but rather to be embraced.”
― Alan Lew, This Is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation

Bidden or Not

115_BZ-vocatusA video reflection about feeling joy and sorrow in this season of Easter, especially this year when sorrow may seem to take the lead. Here are links to the books and the quote I mention:
Carl Jung
The Prophet
Make Me An Instrument of Your Peace
The Closeness of God

Easter dawns

Sunrise October 2016 leaving Villar de Mazerife

Dawn breaking over Villar de Mazerife, Spain, October 2016

How often do many of use the old adage “it is always darkest before the dawn” without thinking about it? Very often, that is the answer. When I was on Camino de Santiago in September and October 2016, I learned the truth of the saying. While walking on the portion of the Camino known as “the meseta,” the flat northern plains in Spain, we would leave our albergues in the dark. Walking in darkness, it would actually get a bit colder and a bit darker as sunrise approached. At that time the sun was not coming up until after 8am, so it was not even that early. But it was that cold and that dark.

Then each day would offer us a gift if we turned around, we would see the faintest hint of light on the horizon behind us. Dawn would soon break, dispelling the darkness and the cold. Soon, the sun would blaze overhead and the temperatures would rise. We would walk on, donning hats and sunglasses, adding sunscreen to arms newly bared as we peeled away layers of clothing.

Every day felt new when this moment happened, as if we had not witnessed it the day before. Every day was joy.

Today as I consider that it is Easter, but that it feels like anything but, I am reminded to focus on the cold and dark for a moment before I recognize what it happening… Each day we rise again and again and again.

This Easter may be the coldest and darkest pre-dawn moment that many of us will ever know, but hold this thought in your mind, grasp it as tightly as you do when you cling to Christ… Dawn will break, the darkness will be eradicated and flooded with light, the cold will turn to warmth.

Rejoice in the Alleluia that signifies the Risen Christ! No matter how cold and dark it feels, and often we must remain in that place for longer than we wish, may we all know the hope of belief in the Living God.

May your Easter be blessed in these unusual times. Darkness is dispelled, Jesus has destroyed death forever! New life springs forth! Easter dawns and Christ is risen! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

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Put love

tumblr_o8y3h820oa1qaowvro1_500In addition to remember that we are not to be afraid, right now might be a good time to remember to be kind. It does not take much… wait a minute, it does take a lot. Especially at times of stress and uncertainty, which is where we are right now.

Help one another, thank people who continue to do their jobs, such as first responders, doctors, nurses, all medical personnel, grocery store employees, garbage collectors, postal carriers, UPS and other delivery drivers, pharmacists and drug store employees, local and federal government workers, many behind the scenes, working to make sense of this new reality, restaurant workers and food delivery people. Remember ministers, priests, and others who are on the front lines physically or virtually, tending to the souls of those who are troubled or ill. Who are those souls? All of us.

Think of how everyone’s personal economy will be impacted in ways large and small. Share what you have. Donate to a food pantry, even if it is just one can of soup. If everyone did that, there would be a lot of food. Offer to pick things up for a more vulnerable neighbor and then leave it at the door. If you can, tell them not to worry about the money.

Share your friendship and love with others, especially those hardest to share it with. Remember to smile, something you can do online as well. Offer a greeting. Be patient. Try not to lose hope. Encourage others and allow yourself to be encouraged.

These are strange and trying days, let us be kind to one another. The words of St. John of the Cross remain in my heart in a special way right now. May we all follow this and remember that love is action, decision, commitment, not romance or just a feeling. Love is your life, be it always. It is hard. Will you help me? I will help you. May we all put love where there is little or none, each and every day.

Do not be afraid

Just a short post at a busy time. While I understand the impulse, and have to manage my own desire for it, I am praying about the panic buying in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

Our focus should always be on some kind of life oriented to others, not ourselves. During Lent, the need to practice this way of living becomes even more clear. What does it mean if we give up chocolate, social media, or alcohol, but buy a case of toilet paper? Whatever our Lenten practice is, how does panic buying bring us closer to God? I’m not asking about the desire to panic buy, but rather the act itself. The desire is no surprise, the act is where we encounter something deeper. And if we have done the panic buying, how will we proceed with both the material goods and the internal spiritual journey?

My panic buying Continue reading

Even now

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God. -Joel 2:12-13Desert Heart

Even now… what a beginning. Even now… No matter what, even now, return to me. That is pretty clear, isn’t it? God seeks our return now – even now.

We cannot fix ourselves, we cannot be transformed without God and without one another. Even now, it is never too late, return by journeying through the desert. We are to rend our hearts and not our garments, a task that is so much harder. It is easy to rip one’s own garment than it is to open our prickly hearts, yet our prickly hearts with all their flaws is what God wants. God already knows our hearts, so there is nothing to fear.
Let us journey together into the desert with Jesus and see what transpires and transforms.

May your Ash Wednesday and your Lent be blessed. May we journey well together, stumbling through the desert with our desert hearts exposed and ready for healing, even now.

Hero takes a fall

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Others living up to expectations… right now that seems impossible for so many. 

The news about L’Arche and Jean Vanier shocked so many of us. Yet another hero fallen, the great man has done terrible things. If you have no idea what I am talking about, please see this link.

At first – after the shock, after feeling ill about it, I started to realize that maybe I was not shocked at all. Sometimes I think that my ability to be shocked is long gone. Having grown up in a family of abuse, having gone through quite a long and ultimately healing journey of life, I have a very distinct and perhaps quite different point of view. Long ago I had to make some peace that it is entirely possible that the most beloved humans in your life may also be the most broken ones. As a result, they may end up working to break you, intentionally or not. How do you make any sense of that? I cannot give you a map, I can only tell you that it is so hard to hold it all, but it can be possible.

How my heart aches for women who were manipulated by Vanier and then had to hear a steady stream of how great he was. I cannot imagine how any of them must have felt. What a mess and what an abuse of power.

When I read this particular news, after gut punch beyond gut punch of such news, I began to think…  what is God trying to say to us?  Beyond that I started to wonder about what is being gestated in the Spirit? And what is trying to be born? Here we are at the gateway to another Lenten season and the question screams out at me – what will die, what needs to die? Things do need to die during Lent, so that thing can be born. What is trying to be born? What do want from new life? And how will we live our resurrection?

That is where I begin my Lent, with the reminder that another hero takes another fall. As this was happening we also got news that the sainthood cause of Rutilio Grande SJ as Pope Francis declared him a martyr. Normally I would be cheering about this, but today I am not of that mind. I have long loved and admired his work and memory, but right now I feel anxious about priests, about men being declared saints. At least for the moment until we can come to some realistic place about what sin is and what grace is and what healing is. And until we can some to some place where truth is told and reparations are made in meaningful ways. I am not supposing that anyone else has abused anyone, but I am exhausted by learning dark truths that were buried in falsehoods, in woven tales, and in lies. Maybe we just need a moratorium, even for those we love and cherish, we need some time.

downloadHonestly, I feel as if I enter Lent stunned by so much information, and I enter Lent craving silence, space, stillness, and peace. And I enter Lent without much chance to get large doses of any of those things. So it goes, I will carve out the small places and spaces of solitude needed.

How do you enter Lent? Who has fallen in your life? What has died? What needs to die? Whatever it is, may your days be blessed. I will try to do some writing, but as you know things have been spotty of late. We will see what God has in store for us. Onward, onward we go – fallen heroes and all.

See you in Los Angeles!

33397505_10160498361750088_6910372254916280320_nAre you headed to LA for the 2020 LAREC? If so, please stop by booths 584, 586, 588 to visit Clear Faith Publishing. Bring this ad in this image to get a 10% discount on all merchandise.

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Come meet us and learn more about our varied offerings! 

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