Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-eight

Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets. New York: HarperCollins, 1962, p. 333.

Is it more compatible with our conception of the grandeur of God to claim that He is emotionally blind to the misery of man rather than profoundly moved? In order to conceive of God not as an onlooker but as a participant, to conceive of man not as an idea in the mind of God but as a concern, the category of divine pathos is an indispensable implication. To the biblical mind the conception of God as detached and unemotional is totally alien . . .

The grandeur of God implies the capacity to experience emotion. In the biblical outlook, movements of feeling are no less spiritual than acts of thought.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-seven

Brother David Steindl-Rast, in the foreword to Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ. New York: Riverhead Books, 1995, xiii.

In midwinter, St. Francis is calling out to an almond tree, “Speak to me of God!” and the almond tree breaks into bloom. It comes alive. There is no other way of witnessing to God but by aliveness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-six

The Gospel of Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-five

Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2007.

Several years ago now, I met a former parishioner in the city where he and his family moved so that he could accept another job. We had gotten to know one another when we both worked in Christian education--he as the chair of the parish committee and I as the priest in charge. When we met again, he was the new president of an urban university and I had moved to Clarkesville. After we had filled each other in on our new lives, I asked him where he was going to church. With no hesitation, he said that he was not going anywhere. His life was full. His work was valuable. He spent his days with people of many faiths and no faith at all, who gave him ample opportunity to practice his own.

Still immersed in church life, I was skeptical. “Say more,” I said.

“After a lot of listening,” he said, “I think I finally heard the gospel. The good news of God in Christ is, ‘You have everything you need to be human.’ There is nothing outside of you that you still need--no approval from the authorities, no attendance at temple, no key truth hidden in the tenth chapter of some sacred book. In your life right now, God has given you everything that you need to be human.”

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-four

The Cloud of Unknowing. New York: Image Books, 1973, 56.

A naked intent toward God, the desire for God alone, is enough.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-three

Rainer Maria Rilke. Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke: A Translation from the German and Commentary by Robert Bly. New York: Harper and Row, 1981, 49.

Sometimes a man stands up during supper

and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,

because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.

And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.

And another man, who remains inside his own house,

stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,

so that his children have to go far out into the world

towards that same church, which he forgot.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-two

Mary Oliver. New and Selected Poems. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992, 87.

The Kookaburras

In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator.

In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting

to come out of its cloud and lift its wings.

The kookaburras, kingfishers, pressed against the edge of

their cage, they asked me to open the door.

Years later I wake in the night and remember how I said to them,

no, and walked away.

They had the brown eyes of soft-hearted dogs.

They didn’t want to do anything so extraordinary, only to fly

home to their river.

By now I suppose the great darkness has covered them.

As for myself, I am not yet a god of even the palest flowers.

Nothing else has changed either.

Someone tosses their white bones to the dung-heap.

The sun shines on the latch of their cage.

I lie in the dark, my heart pounding.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety-one

Chogyam Trungpa, The Essential Chogyam Trungpa. Boston: Shambhala, 1999, 119-120.

An open wound . . . is always there. That open wound is usually very inconvenient and problematic. We don't like it. We would like to be tough. We would like to fight, to come out strong, so we do not have to defend any aspect of ourselves . . . It is just an open wound, a very simple open wound. That is very nice -- at least we are accessible somewhere. We are not completely covered with a suit of armor all the time . . . That sore spot is known as embryonic compassion, potential compassion. At least we have some kind of gap, some discrepancy in our state of being that allows basic sanity to shine through . . . we have some kind of opening.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lectio Divina - Ninety

Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, (New York: HarperCollins, Publishers), 1992, p. 185.

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Nine

Hafiz, The Gift. Daniel Ladinsky, trans. New York: Penguin Compass, 1999.

Tired of Speaking Sweetly

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,

Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and

Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,

He would just drag you around the room

By your hair,

Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world

That bring you no joy.

Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly

And wants to rip to shreds

All your erroneous notions of truth

That make you fight within yourself, dear one,

And with others,

Causing the world to weep

On too many fine days.

God wants to manhandle us,

Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself

And practice His dropkick.

The Beloved sometimes wants

To do us a great favor:

Hold us upside down

And shake all the nonsense out.

But when we hear

He is in such a “playful drunken mood”

Most everyone I know

Quickly packs their bags and hightails it

Out of town.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Eight

Simone Weil, quoted in W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book. New York: Viking, 1970, 283.

To love our neighbor as ourselves does not mean that we should love all people equally, for I do not have an equal love for all the modes of existence of myself. Nor does it mean that we should never make them suffer, for I do not refuse to make myself suffer. But we should have with each person the relationship of one conception of the universe to another conception of the universe, and not to a part of it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Seven

Mary Oliver, Thirst. Boston: Beacon Press, 2006, p. 4.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,

especially the willows and the honey locust,

equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,

in which I have goodness, and discernment,

and never hurry through the world

but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Six

Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace. New York: Vintage Classics, 2008, 293.

“It would be good,” thought Prince Andrei, looking at this icon which his sister had hung on him with such feeling and reverence, “it would be good if everything was as clear and simple as it seems to Princess Marya. How good it would be to know where to look for help in this life and what to expect after it, there, beyond the grave! How happy and calm I’d be, if I could say now: Lord have mercy on me! . . . But to whom shall I say it? Either it is an undefinable, unfathomable power, which I not only cannot address, but which I cannot express in words -- the great all or nothing,” he said to himself, “or it is that God whom Princess Marya has sewn in here, in this amulet? Nothing, nothing is certain, except the insignificance of everything I can comprehend and the grandeur of something incomprehensible but most important!”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Five

Thomas Keating, Invitation to Love

The experience of God's love and the experience of our weaknesses are correlative. These are the two poles that God works with as He gradually frees us from immature ways of relating to Him. The experience of our desperate need for God's healing is the measure in which we experience His infinite mercy. The deeper the experience of God's mercy, the more compassion we will have for others.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Four

Martin Buber, Between Man and Man, trans. by Ronald Gregor Smith (London: Kegan Paul, 1947), p. 184.

I have occasionally described my standpoint to my friends as the “narrow ridge.” I wanted by this to express that I did not rest on the broad upland of a system that includes a series of sure statements about the absolute, but on a narrow rocky ridge between the gulfs where there is no sureness of expressible knowledge but the certainty of meeting what remains undisclosed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Three

Anthony Bloom,
Beginning to Pray. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1970, p.12.

So often when we say “I love you” we say it with a huge “I” and a small “you”. We use love as a conjunction instead of it being a verb implying action. It’s no good just gazing out into open space hoping to see the Lord; instead we have to look closely at our neighbor, someone whom God has willed into existence, someone whom God has died for. Everyone we meet has a right to exist, because he has value in himself, and we are not used to this. The acceptance of otherness is a danger to us, it threatens us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-Two

Vincent Van Gogh, quoted in W.H. Auden,
A Certain World: A Commonplace Book. New York: Viking, 1970, p. 174.

It always strikes me, and it is very peculiar, that, whenever we see the image of indescribably and unutterable desolation -- of loneliness, poverty, and misery, the end and extreme of things -- the thought of God comes into one’s mind.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty-One

From the NRSV version of the Bible – John 20:19-29.

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lectio Divina - Eighty

Esther de Waal, Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1984, p.43

To listen closely, with every fiber of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking. If we stop listening to what we find hard to take then, as the Abbot of St. Benoit-sur-Loire puts it in a striking phrase, “We’re likely to pass God by without even noticing Him.” And now it is our obedience which proves that we have been paying close attention. That word “obedience” is derived from the Latin oboedire, which shares its roots with audire, to hear. So to obey really means to hear and then act upon what we have heard, or, in other words, to see that the listening achieves its aim.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Nine

Kallistos Ware, “The Power of the Name,” in Elizabeth Behr-Sigel, The Place of the Heart: An Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality. Torrance, CA: Oakwood Publications, 1992, p. 138.

To pray is to pass from the state where grace is present in our hearts secretly and unconsciously, to the point of full inner perception and conscious awareness when we experience and feel the activity of the Spirit directly and immediately.

The purpose of prayer can be summarized in the phrase, “Become what you are.”

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Eight

Ann Belford Ulanov, The Living God and Our Living Psyche: What Christians Can Learn from Carl Jung. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008, Kindle location 820.

The psyche wants to be whole, which does not mean perfect, but that all parts are brought in. God wants all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, not just the parts we choose. This is coming home, taking acceptance all the way down. The shameful secret, the hidden manipulation, even the murderous intent and, as well, the undared talent and buried tenderness, also get a seat at the table.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Seven

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation. New York: New Directions, 1961, pp. 80-81.

We do not go into the desert to escape people but to learn how to find them; we do not leave them in order to have nothing more to do with them, but to find out the way to do them the most good. But this is only a secondary end.

The one end that includes all others is the love of God.

. . . the truest solitude is not something outside you, not an absence of men or of sound around you; it is an abyss opening up in the center of your own soul.

And this abyss of interior solitude is a hunger that will never be satisfied with any created thing.

The only way to find solitude is by hunger and thirst and sorrow and poverty and desire, and the man who has found solitude is empty, as if he had been emptied by death.

He has advanced beyond all horizons. There are no directions left in which he can travel. This is a country whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere. You do not find it by traveling but by standing still.

Yet it is in this loneliness that the deepest activities begin. It is here that you discover act without motion, labor that is profound repose, vision in obscurity, and, beyond all desire, a fulfillment whose limits extend to infinity.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Six

Dag Hammarskjold, quoted in W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book. New York: Viking, 1970, p. 174.

God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Five

J.D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey. Boston: Little, Brown, 1961, p. 172.

The Jesus Prayer has one aim, and one aim only. To endow the person who says it with Christ-Consciousness. Not to set up some little cozy, holier-than-thou trysting place with some sticky, adorable divine personage who’ll take you in his arms and relieve you of all your duties and make all your nasty Weltschmerzen and Professor Tuppers go away and never come back. And by God, if you have intelligence enough to see that -- and you do -- and yet you refuse to see it, then you’re misusing the prayer, you’re using it to ask for a world full of dolls and saints and no Professor Tuppers.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Four

From The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. New York: HarperCollins, 1995, p. 103.

God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.

Each note is a need coming through one of us,

a passion, a longing-pain.

Remember the lips

where the wind-breath originated,

and let your note be clear.

Don’t try to end it.

Be your note.

I’ll show you how it’s enough.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Three

Carmina Gadelica, quoted in Esther de Waal, The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003, p.33-4.

God, kindle Thou in my heart within

A flame of love to my neighbor,

To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all,

To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall,

O Son of the loveliest Mary,

From the lowliest thing that liveth,

To the Name that is highest of all.

O Son of the loveliest Mary,

From the lowliest thing that liveth,

To the Name that is highest of all.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-Two

Marie-Louise von Franz, Creation Myths. Boston: Shambhala, 1995, pp. 11-12.

One of Jung’s students asked him, “I am now seventy and you are eighty years old. Won’t you tell me what your thoughts are on life after death?” Jung’s answer was, “It won’t help you when you are lying on your deathbed to recall, ‘Jung said this or that.’ You must have your own ideas about it. You have to have your own myth. To have your own myth means to have suffered and struggled with a question until an answer has come to you from the depths of your soul. That does not imply that this is the definitive truth, but rather that this truth which has come is relevant for oneself as one now is, and believing in this truth helps one to feel well.”

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy-One

Ann & Barry Ulanov, Cinderella & Her Sisters: The Envied and the Envying. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983, p.121.

Even the saints must not be envied or emulated here. Even their most daring deeds must not be coveted to replace our own little timid acts and to make us into mirrors of their majesty. Their daring is theirs, not ours. Their renunciation, if that is the mark of their holiness, is for them, not for us.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Lectio Divina - Seventy

Esther de Waal, The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2003, p.8.

The word peregrinatio is almost untranslatable, but its essence is caught in the ninth-century story of three Irishmen drifting over the sea from Ireland for seven days, in coracles without oars, coming ashore in Cornwall and then being brought to the court of King Alfred. When he asked them where they had come from and where they were going they answered that they “stole away because we wanted for the love of God to be on pilgrimage, we cared not where”. This wonderful response and this amazing undertaking comes out of the inspirational character of early Irish spirituality. It shows at once how misleading is that word “pilgrimage” and how very different indeed is the Celtic peregrinatio from the pilgrimages of the Middle Ages or the present day. There is no specific end or goal such as that of reaching a shrine or a holy place which allows the pilgrim at the end of the journey to return home with a sense of a mission accomplished. Peregrinatio is not undertaken at the suggestion of some monastic abbot or superior but because of an inner prompting in those who set out, a passionate conviction that they must undertake what was essentially an inner journey. Ready to go wherever the Spirit might take them, seeing themselves as hospites mundi “guests of the world”, what they are seeking is the place of their resurrection, the resurrected self, the true self in Christ, which is for all of us our true home.