Waiting in hope

EDIT Meseta hopeBe full of hope today, be as full of hope as you possibly can be.  Times are tough, they are very hard everywhere for so many of us. Even in the times of greatest joy, things can be challenging and hope is the fuel that propels us onward.

Motivational sayings often steer us towards optimism – conflating or confusing it with hope. Hope is not the same as optimism, just as joy is not the same as happiness. Hope is the warmth of a flame that is in all of our hearts, sometimes a roaring fire, other times an ember that we fear may go cold.

Optimism is not a bad thing – it is necessary, but it should not be confused with, or worse yet, replace hope. Optimism is something in our head, something that we can think and conjure with a mindset.  Hope lives within each one of us and radiates something essential to ourselves and to our world. Optimism can help us with develop endurance, but it is hope that strengthens our soul for the trying times when we must wait.

Hope is strengthened in silence and stillness, nurtured in its dynamism and grace through quiet, meditation, creativity, and prayer. This is how we approach the dark days of December, with this inner posture illuminating the world around each one of us, illuminating the world within us, as we await in hope the dawning light of Christ.

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Stay, wait in hope

(Please be aware that this post contains one image that might be challenging for some.)

rosesToday is the First Sunday of Advent. It is also the 38th anniversary of the martyrdom of Maura Clarke M.M., Jean Donovan, Ita Ford M.M., and Dorothy Kazel O.S.U. in El Salvador.  Known as the Four Churchwomen of El Salvador, they gave their lives to the Gospel, even unto their last breath. Jean Donovan, the one lay missioner among the sisters wrote to someone right before her death. Her words remind us of the challenge of watching and waiting in the name of Christ in a violent and war-torn land.

“The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave…. Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave. I almost could, except for the children, the poor bruised victims of adult lunacy. Who would care for them? Whose heart would be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” Continue reading

Soul Seeing

Soul Seeing book Nov 2018A brief post – I am so happy to announce that an essay of mine has been included in a new compilation from Orbis Books. Soul Seeing, Light, Love, Forgiveness is a beautiful collection of essays and reflections from a wide variety of writers. Many of these works have been featured in the Soul Seeing column at the National Catholic Reporter, which is lovingly shepherded by Michael Leach, Publisher Emeritus at Orbis Books.

How grateful I am that “It All Tastes Like Love,” my Soul Seeing column from 2011 was selected to be included in this volume. It is an honor to be among the giants found in these pages. And I cannot lie – I am recommending this book. Not because of me, because of all the light, love, and forgiveness you will find in its pages!

Organic Thanksgiving, organic joy

Gratitude EDIT large Oct 20 2016 well worn pathWith Thanksgiving arriving this week, I have had gratitude on my mind. In general, gratitude is like a annoying presence that I could not get rid of – although for many years I tried to do just that, but my anger was no match for it.  Ultimately I surrendered and now I am glad, well – grateful – that I did so.

Joy is also a constant companion. Happiness and joy are not the same at all. Once I got that message, I realized that joy was ever present, even in the midst of sorrow. Joy was like a less annoying presence, in fact almost invisible, until opened the door of my heart to usher in gratitude. It all sounds so hackneyed, so cheesy, but it is true. Now I am far from being little Miss Sunshine, if you know me in real life you know that I am easily irritated and typically irascible. Yet, bubbling away on a kettle within me is the ridiculous concoction of joy and gratitude that often steams its way out of me.

It is a mystery to me, but this week, I would like to talk about it more because it all distills down to one thing… We choose both gratitude and joy, no matter what order you experience them, but making those choices are not always easy.

Holidays are often opportunities for manufactured versions of both things… and ticking time bombs of distress as a result, given the family and/or social situations of many of us. May both gratitude and joy be yours this week, in the most profoundly organic way possible, found in the most unexpected places.

Los martires – ¡Presente!

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On this day in 1989 a group of Jesuits and two women who worked with them were martyred in their home in El Salvador. They are known today as the Jesuit Martyrs of El Salvador.

Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Ignacio Martín-Baro, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Amando López, S.J., Joaquin López y López, S.J., Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Elba Ramos, and Celina Ramos were all brutally murdered by gunmen who stealthily snuck into their compound under the cover of darkness.

You can read more about the incident from this link, a from The Jesuit Post in 2017. Below you will find a video that also goes into their story. As will all those who have gone before us, may their memory forever be a blessing. As with all martyrs, especially those from El Salvador in the 1980’s, we say ¡presente! after their names because as ever, they are present, they are with us, they remind us to press on in the name of justice that can only come through the peace of the Gospel. Their lights shine on, may we always keep those flames burning, passing the light to others with every action in our lives.

Sister Thea Bowman

sr_thea_bowman[1]In the midst of all the awful church news, good news prevails. I’m not trying to sugar coat the horror of the on-going revelation of sexual abuse and the even more on-going revelation of church obfuscation and cover up. That is all pretty bad. Yet that is not all that church is – even if it seems that way.

The US Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) is currently meeting in Baltimore and something important and good happened – so I am sharing it here. Good things at a USCCB meeting ought not to be an “event” but… somehow it is. What is this great thing? Well Sister Thea Bowman’s cause for sainthood is finally taking a step forward! Thanks be to God! This is just the beginning, but Continue reading