There is a mystical line from William Blake that Thomas Merton quotes ‘we are put on earth for a little space that we may learn to bear the beams of love’.
That line has captivated me for years. So often I hear people asking what their purpose in life is and Blake speaks of it so clearly: we are to bear the beams of love. No one with any serious life experiences would take that definition lightly. Today a man came into Eremos saying he knew something was changing or shifting within him. It wasn’t just a physical or emotional or even financial shift going on (although all of those were going on in him). He knew it was something more and that more was impacting his life but he didn’t know how to deal with it. Ah yes, bearing the beams of love.
Our culture doesn’t have a language at its fingertips to talk about bearing the beams of love. Yet I hear it over and over each day as people are invited to be changed by Love within their lives. Another woman cried saying she didn’t believe in a Savior or Power greater than she is. Her life was in turmoil and there was no rudder to help hold her in place. What an awesome experience of the beam of Love calling her into a faith she did not know how to bear. And still another person faces a journey through death and cries out ‘teach me to pray’ and my heart says ‘yes, we learn to bear Love’s beams’.
It may sound like Love punishes, but it is the total opposite. It is Love that sustains us in and through all that life presents.
As you encounter your beams of Love this summer, please know you are being transformed into the image and likeness of God. It is a journey through faith and hope into Love.
One of the phrases I keep hearing from people (myself included) is: I am so busy!
I am not sure what this actually means. Is it that we have too much going on in our lives not life-giving? Are there so many wonderful possibilities that it is impossible to do them all, even though we may actually try? Is it that my responsibilities in life ask me to choose them, rather than what I would like to do for myself? Is it that I am trying to escape some level of pain through a myriad of distractions? Is busyness simply an illusion?
I feel certain you could come up with a dozen other possible sources of our ‘busyness’. But no matter what the source is, many of us are feeling the pinch of life these days.
Pondering my busyness pushed me to an old book by Jean-Pierre De Caussade: Self Abandonment to Divine Providence. His basic premise is that all of life is permeated with the presence of God. It is such a simple belief and one which invites us to stand back and examine our lives to see if what we are so busy doing, is truly filled with God.
When I have followed this advice for myself, I have discovered there is a softer, gentler me. I am not so rushed in getting things done and yet they still seem to get done! I have the freedom to say to someone ‘I am sorry, but I cant be with you today” and know that they will get on remarkably without me. I take time to go and find a gift for a friend and know that is more important to me than other things calling for my attention.
De Caussade has a truth Truly the universe and my life within the universe is permeated with God. I also know that I need to check my values when I discern what calls for my response in the moment.
If I can live conscious of my life in God, somehow I forget how ‘busy’ I am. I seem to let life flow and I jump in at any point within that flow.
Summer is a time of relaxing our pace. It is a time to connect with the meaning within life and surrender to God who is Life. I pray this will be your experience this summer.
In his Blessing called Presence, John O’Donohue prayed these words:
“May you awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.”
These words occupied my mind and heart during a weekend retreat with our Sisters of Diversity. So often we want to know the meaning and purpose of our lives. We want clarity and certainty in our decisions. While none of these is beyond the realm of possibility, they ultimately bring us to the mystery of who we are in God and in this time and space.
When we move through our analytical minds and hearts into the soul, we truly do awaken to the wonder of mystery. Life takes on new vitality and we experience it as a sense of being drawn out of ourselves in communion with all that is. O’Donohue expresses it by “entering the quiet immensity of your own presence.”
Have you ever thought of the quiet immensity of your presence? I would never have come up with those words but they express so wonderfully the experience of contemplation when we are drawn into the immensity of Love and are expanded through Love in a way that can be expressed as “immensity of presence.” And this experience truly opens us up to the wonder of our own mystery.
This experience creates in us an urgent need to serve others. We see life differently. We participate in life more gratefully–perhaps more prophetically and surely more compassionately. We need to make a difference in our world, not from an ego-driven place but rather a place of unitive connection. We are all one or, as Thomas Merton wrote, “there is in all things a hidden wholeness.” Touching the immensity of God I am in touch with everything.
So I join with O’Donohue and pray that in this month of May you, too, will awaken to the mystery of your being here and enter the quiet immensity of your presence.
Today the Christian church proclaims to the world
“He is Risen Alleluia!”
What joy floods our minds and hearts as we celebrate the Life who offers us life abundantly.
In this time of struggle in our world when people are feeling the darkness of economics, job loss, illness or relationships, we take hope in this day. “He is not here”, the women were told when they went to the tomb. “He has been raised.”
This is the promise to each of us also. We shall be raised up. There is no pain or sorrow that can destroy us. We are led through the darkness by the Light we proclaim as Christ Our Light.
May this season of Easter bring you hope and new life in Christ. This is our prayer for you and with you.
Life has a way of serving us curve balls – things come at us in unexpected ways. For many of us these events or circumstances seem to leave us breathless for a moment. We may feel unable to think clearly and doubts rise up with such energy that we are thrown off balance.
So many have shared their stories of being thrown ‘off balance’. I listen to the logical progression of their lives and the unexpected erruptions they are experiencing. ‘Did I do something wrong?’ ‘Just when I am ready to retire, the bottom falls out of my nest.’ ‘After 14 years with my company, I am let go, what do I do now?’ People feel they have been reduced to struggling for survival.
What hold us when life seems to have betrayed us? I think one answer is ‘we hold each other’. We need to be with each other as we process the meaning of the moment. We need to hold each other in faith when we or they feel alone and uncertain. We need to find new insights and possibilities. And we need to listen deeply for the movement of the Spirit in our lives.
God is in each moment because we are always in God. We may find it easy to recognize the presence of God when things are seemingly going well. We don’t always see God when we are ‘thrown a curve ball’.
The promise of Jesus to his disciples was “I am with you always’. It was true 2000 years ago. And it is still true today. The challenging times seem to evoke God’s question to us: ‘will you let me be with you always?’
As we continue to journey through the uncertain times we are living, may we open to God’s loving presence enfolding us and sustaining us in and through each moment.
“I am so frightened!” kept coming from the woman across the hall from me. She was confused, alone, and confined to her hospital bed—not knowing why or even where she was. Whenever she saw someone passing her room, she would call out, “Will you help me? Please help me!” Each time I heard her cry my heart ached for her and for myself, knowing I was unable to go near her.
How sad it is to be alone in the world with no family or friends to care. I heard one of the night nurses say to her, “Don’t be afraid. You are in the hospital and we will take care of you.” In the dark of night one voice said all she needed to hear and for a moment all was quiet.
Over these days and now weeks, I have had the time and space to reflect on how people are crucial to healing. In Sacred Scripture Jesus touched people and that touch brought forth the power of healing in people who needed that touch.
“I’ll pray for you” is that profound touch that holds us when we don’t have the strength to hold ourselves and engenders within us the power to be healed.
“I’ll pray for you” is a gift so deep and personal that the individual is enfolded in the love of the one praying and in that love knows him/herself as beloved. What a gift it is to hold another in prayer and what a blessing it is to know oneself as held in prayer!
Of all the gifts I have received during these weeks of recovery, this one refrain has sustained me at a level beyond words. The healing is not mine to do but is done within me through the people who hold me in prayer.
As we begin our Lenten journey this year, I invite us to do as the prophet Joel proclaims, “Come back to me with all your heart.” Touch others with your love and invite others to touch you. Come back to practices that have had meaning for you but perhaps have slipped away over these months.
There are so many people who, like the woman across the hall, cry out “I am so frightened. Please help me.” Maybe you are one of them, maybe you know someone who is. Can you respond? Can you hold or be held in prayer until life is restored to you?
There is such hope and joy in the air these days. Washington DC is filled with people who want to be ‘there’ for this historic moment for the people of America and for the world. They want to be part of this historic moment not just a by-stander. I have heard news media people speak so emotionally about being caught up into the hope and joy of the crowds. There is a connection among people that the country and world has not known before.
And on this day, I find myself asking if I will be there with and for others as we experience the demands this new time and administration are going to ask of me. Am I willing to put myself truly with this leadership in ways I may find uncomfortable. Am I truly willing to be for the people and with the people in a way that I have never been asked. My mind and heart today say ‘yes’! But I know all too well that when the going gets rough, I can want to run away. Obama and our administration will only be as strong as we are willing to participate. He has vision and grace but it will take all of us working to make this country what we have dreamed it could be.
Obama has said he is going to work from the moment of his inauguration and I know this will be true of him and all who will be working with him. That includes me! I see this as truly a spiritual discipline. It is one thing to say yes, it is another thing to put myself in the yes through my actions. I know I don’t have to rely on myself. We live in a time when everyone has the capacity to reach out to each other. And so today, I ask that all who read this reflect on their personal calling as an American of the 21st century. What does THIS time ask of you?
As we stand on the threshold of a new year, I find my mind reflecting on the similarity between the birth of a new year and that of a newborn child. There is something so special and sacred in the birth of a child. People gaze at the infant in awe at the miracle of his/her entrance into our world. Holding this child in our arms, is profoundly contemplative. There is nothing other than the present moment and we know we are holding God’s miracle of life. As we watch this child grow seeing his/her personality emerge we find ourselves begin to wonder ‘what will become of this child’!
It seems this is also the pattern of each new year. We anticipate it with great hope and excitement wondering what this new year will bring. 2009 with the anticipation of a new president, there is a level of excitment not know for many years as the hopes and dreams we hold are put on Obama’s shoulders expecting him to fulfill our lives.
This sounds a bit like parents with their children, doesn’t it? We hope they willl have all we did not have. We hope they will become more than we feel we have become. And we learn (if we are able) to let the child be his/her own person. We learn to stand back and behold the wonder of their creation and evolution.
As the years have passed, I have discovered that this too is the wisdom of each new year. The famous or perhaps infamous ‘resolutions’ that I can never accomplish, have been replaced by a sense of wonder in the gift of each new day, each new encounter with the Giver of all gifts. In all the ups and downs of life, I have found this wonder fills my heart with joy and gratitude. All is gift and I am so blessed through the graciousness of God expressed throughout each day.
Each year truly is new, special and sacred. As you step through the doorway of 2009 may you find strength and support for the difficult moments that may await you and the gifts of peace, joy, happiness and love that will fill your life with meaning.
Blessings for 2009!
I can think of no better greeting for Christmas than the blessing of Joyce Rupp as so it is also my blessing for you this year.
A Christmas Blessing
May there be harmony in all your relationships.
May sharp words, envious thoughts, and hostile feelings be dissolved.
May you give and receive love generously. May this love echo
in your heart like the joy of church bells on a clear winter day.
May each person who comes into your life be greeted as another Christ.
May the honor given the Babe of Bethlehem be that
which you extend to every guest who enters your presence.
May the hope of this sacred season settle in your soul. May it be for you a foundation of courage when times of distress occupy your inner land.
May the wonder and awe that fills the eyes of children be awakened
within you. May it lead you to renewed awareness and appreciation
of whatever you too easily take for granted.
May the bonds of love for one another be strengthened as you gather
with your family and friends around the table of festivity and nourishment.
May you daily open the gift of your life and be grateful
for the hidden treasures it contains.
May you keep your eye on the Star within you and trust
this Luminescent Presence to guide and direct you each day.
May you go often to the Bethlehem of your heart and visit the One
who offers you peace. May you bring this peace into our world.
Adapted from Joyce Rupp’s Out of the Ordinary
The stores are dressed for Christmas shopping hoping to attract the cash flow they need to stay open during this financial crunch.
It is difficult to focus on Advent in a culture so focused on gifting-giving and parties. I wonder what this will mean for us in a year when over 25,000 homes have foreclosed and when so many people have lost their jobs and now struggle to meet their financial commitments. Many people have seen ½ of their financial portfolios disappear in the financial crisis hitting our country.
Maybe all of this will give us a year to focus on Advent – that time of quiet reflection in preparation of our hearts, minds and souls for Christmas. I think of the culture 2000 years ago in the middle-east when the Jewish people were anticipating a Messiah – one who would come to liberate them from the oppression of their political and economic burdens. They too wanted a leader who would restore them to being a powerful influence in their world.
I find myself wondering “what are we waiting for?” “What expectations do we have this year?” The gift of Christmas has already come into our world. Emmanuel is indeed with us already. The Gift that is Christmas is already among us. Perhaps this Advent waiting is more an experience of awakening to what has already happened. And so my questions are now ‘What are we seeking?” “Where are we looking?” “How can my awakening during Advent transform the world in which I live?”
I invite us to ponder these questions, not just with our minds, but with our hearts as we journey into and through this Advent Season.