Things I am pondering…

Wisdom House, Litchfield CT July 2014

Today I am wondering about how compartmentalizing our spiritual life keeps us from God. Many of us seem to think that the place to pray is Church, perhaps at mass. I’ve heard the remark that mass is “my time with God.” While I do understand that, and have thought it myself, I have to wonder how this harms our spiritual growth and well-being.

This is not to say that mass is not time with God, but it is time with God in community. For me, I see it as a rather large, raucous, dinner party with Jesus. I love time alone with God, but mass is not where I expect it.

This is not meant to be a post delineating liturgical elements and ecclesiology. Maybe we will do that another day, but today I am pondering the nearly invisible but resilient fabric of integrated spiritual life. It is something I long for, gratefully something I glimpse, but it can appear to be elusive.

This got me wondering about how I compartmentalize, without fully understanding the utterly shocking reality of Christ in the most mundane and often annoying moments of life. Doing the grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, dealing with a difficult person, and so forth. How many times am I sitting in a meeting as a sense of growing testiness rises up within me because I am impatient, thinking to myself “I can’t wait to go on retreat.”

If I cannot experience the presence of God in all moments and all things, how can I expect to find God at a monastery or retreat house?

Of course retreats, mass, spiritual direction, and other such pursuits are important. However, today I am hoping to smooth out the ridges that keep me from traversing the ordinary and the holy in one journey. Maybe my need for this day is to experience the “Quiet Area” that is deep within my heart, rather than seeking it as part of something external.

What is your quiet area? The one in your heart and the one outside. How can any of us stitch the interior and exterior together with the thread of God in our very being into a quilt of holy integration?

This will be my prayer today. Will you join me?

Allowed in

This morning I came across the words of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, also known as the Kotzker Rebbe. You can learn more about who he was here. When asked where God could be found, he replied, “Wherever He is allowed in.” You can find this and more of his wisdom at this link.

If you look at the graphic at the top you may read it as GOD IS NOWHERE.

Or you may see it and understand it as GOD IS NOW HERE.

What a reminder that God is where God is allowed in. We might believe that we always allow God in, but it is worth examining how we might do quite the opposite.

Where is God in your life today? Nowhere? Or now here? God is all powerful, but the choices here are given to us by God. What a risk on God’s part, vulnerable, and also hopeful.

Today when each of us wonders in prayer about where God is, perhaps we can pray with this notion, that God is turns out to be where we allow. What will you choose today?

Love all things that are

2501-f4f1eToday’s Gospel is one of my favorites. Luke tells us the story of Zacchaeus. Most of us know by now that Zacchaeus has seemingly sold his tax-collector soul the Romans, and was much hated by his neighbors in Jericho.  He knows Jesus is passing through town and for whatever reason – to hide from him, or to see him, Zacchaeus gets up in those branches. I always imagine Danny DeVito playing the role if a movie were ever made! Can’t you just see it?

Jesus, being Jesus obviously spots Zacchaeus. Instead of castigating him as an outcast and sinner, instead of ignoring him or denying him, he does the typically unthinkable Jesus thing and says:

“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.”

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Invitation

imagesI’m feeling very nostalgic for the 80’s these days. Although I was inching my way to 30 and beyond as the decade progressed, it was a time when I arced through many galaxies on the journey to becoming who I am today. And yes – without a doubt – God was woven into every element of every fiber of this time.

You may wonder why I say that… Well, I lived in the juiciest years of that decade as an executive by day, but dressed all in black and skulking around dark, smoky, loud, generally unsavory nightspots when the sun went down. I stayed out too late, I smoked too many cigarettes, I definitely drank too much. And I danced and danced and danced, imagining it happiness at the time.

There were many happy moments, but happiness was what I sought. Happiness was an elusive pursuit, always bolting around the next bend before I could grasp it. And how I tried to gather it up in clenched and greedy fists, fueled by a heart that was Continue reading

Other lands – an Independence Day reflection

160512_WeThePeopleHappy 4th of July – Independence Day. Today I am thinking about freedom. And yes, I am one of those people who vehemently dislikes patriotic songs at church. *shudders* The Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and the Battle Hymn of the Republic – absolute no. America the Beautiful – maybe.  If there is to be singing on or around a national holiday, I will always go with Finlandia, also known as (among other things) “This is My Song.”

Ironically, the song was written in a burst of Finnish nationalism by composer Jean Sebelius in the late 1800’s in response to the encroachment of the Russians. Here we are in 2017, with our bursts of nationalism somehow fused with the encroachment of the Russians, but I digress, and that’s another post for another day.

In any case, the words sung to Continue reading