Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday 30 May 2008

The week ends with a movement away from talking of plants and talking about what we are intended to be.

But what about you? What about me?
unlike the animals and the trees, it is not enough for us to be what our nature intends. It is not enough for us to be individual people. For us, holiness is more than humanity. If we are never anything but people,...we will not be saints and we will not be able to offer to God the worship of our imitation, which is sanctity.
It is true to say that for me sanctity consists in being myself and for you sanctity consists of being your self and that, in the last analysis, your sanctity will never be mine and mine will never be yours, except in the communism of charity and grace.

We are not merely a category. We are individuals. We are beloved as a category in creation but we are made holy as we emerge in life as the beloved of God - each of us as we are gifted. In the last sentence of this quote, I was really struck by how our sanctity - as individuals - can and does and will be magnified as we come together in the communal acts of charity and grace. For when these attributes are blended into one moving force - one body, its gift of life is magnified and the whole creation is seen with new eyes that care beyond my own care and bless beyond my own blessing and share beyond my own ability to share. Humanity is blessed as each of us - within our own sanctity - join in the celebration of our life-giving power in God's creation.

Connection: Does this sound odd or what - be a part of the communism of charity and grace.

Lord of the Community, grace us with your presence and encourage us to join with one another as we offer up our gifted lives to bring new life to our world through your grace and wisdom. Amen.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thursday 29 May 2008

More images from nature to bring home the special character of God's creation.

The forms and individual characters of living and growing things, of inanimate beings, of animals and flowers and all nature, constitute their holiness in the sight of God
Their inscape is their sanctity. It is the imprint of God's wisdom and God's reality in them.
the special clumsy beauty of this particular colt on this April day in this field under these clouds is a holiness consecrated to God by God's own creative wisdom and it declares the glory of God.

What an image of hopefulness. What is right before us at this moment...the people walking by...the students studying...those doing their jobs - all this - is sacred and demonstrates the vastness of God's creativity. It is not easy to see things in such a light. With our filters running and our biases pressing us, there are few things we let ourselves see with eyes that pick up on the glory of God. I suppose we all wait for something holy to enter our lives. Maybe we even attempt to enter something we consider a holy time or a holy place. And yet, this grand area of the ordinary and everyday life in which we now sit or stand or walk bursting with the holy. I would say that too often, we are looking so hard we miss so much and then we are left with a false impression of what holy is.

Lord of Life, as we move through this day we need to have eyes that pay attention to the holiness of the moment and the way the holy shines through what may be considered nothing more than a passing ordinary event - no grand special experiences - just the ordinary wonder of now. Amen.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wednesday 28 May 2008

More from Thomas Merton in the chapter "Things in Their Identity."

No two created beings are exactly alike. And their individuality is no imperfection. On the contrary, the perfection of each created thing is not merely in its conformity to an abstract type but in its own individual identity with itself. This particular tree will give glory to God by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever will do.

The gift of one's identity is quite sacred. I may be a part of a certain "group" of people because of my race, ethnicity, nation of origin, etc., and yet I am the only one of me. That is the beauty of God's claim on each of us in baptism. We are each the beloved one....all beloved. And yet, there is such a diversity of texture and appearance and gifts that comes within each one of us. Like this image of the tree that is like no other before or after it, each of us must fill our own shoes - no other shoes. Each one of us sends down our roots and blows with the wind quite differently. Part of that is because we are all different and unique. Part of that is that the wind/spirit blows on each of us differently because we are all in different places. The Spirit takes what is so individual and it is able to create from this blessing of our uniqueness - a body that is one.

Connection: Today there will be no one like you to add to the beauty of this day.

Come, Creating God and let your power for life sustain us as we find our way through this life. Be our strength as our gifts unfold and our unique personalities help to shape the communities in which we live. Amen.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Friday 30 May 2008

The week ends with a movement away from talking of plants and talking about us

Thursday 29 May 2008

More images from nature to bring home the special character of God's creation

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Today we move into a chapter in "New Seeds of Contemplation" call "Things in Their Identity" - by Thomas Merton.

A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying God. It "consents," so to speak, to God's creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.

The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like God. If it tried to be like something else which it was never intended to be, it would be less like God and therefore it would give God less glory.

For all of us it would be good to be able to honor the intended being of that which is other. I would think that we would then be more aware of what each part of creation has to bring to the whole. Llike the different trees in our front yard, they are so different from one another and yet that is what they are intended to be...and because of that, they each are a greater gift to the yard and those who notice them. I suppose we need to expand this notion to our humanity. No one is asked to be something other than human. To try to be more would cause us to miss who we are as individuals. WE are not even asked to be like other humans. We are to be the one God creates in us. I know that brings many folks problems as we try to look and compare and grade and evaluate one another. Then again, there is meant to be peace in knowing that each of us is a beloved one of God and we are invited to be that gift of life that is me...and you. When we are open to the wonder of our being, we are open to the beauty that becomes a vital part to the wider community of God's creation.

Connection: Yes, we are each different. Yes, that doesn't always please us. Yes, we can resist being who we are...but then, everyone will miss out on the gift of creation each of us is.

Lord of Creation, we often attempt to be more than the life we have been given. When we resist being ourselves, we often spin off center and lose track of the gift of life you created in each of us. We then become anxious and unable to live like the lilies of the field and the birds of the air - free and beloved. Amen.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday 23 May 2008

I think this is a good piece to bring us to the end of this week. Again from Merton and again about saints.

The eyes of the saint make all beauty holy and the hands of the saint consecrate everything they touch to the glory of God, and the saint is never offended by anything and judges no person's sin because the saint does not know sin. The saint knows the mercy of God. The saint knows that her/his mission on earth is to bring that mercy to all people.

Why doesn't the saint judge or become offended at that which others do or what happens around them... "because the saint does not know sin." Really!?! But it goes on and makes even a more creative statement that simply sets me back on my heels. "The saint knows the mercy of God." That is our agenda...that is our knowledge...that is what leads us...that is what shapes our vision and the path set out before us...that is simply powerful! And what are we to do in our lives? Some are always wondering or asking what God's will is to be in their life. Well, to bring the mercy of God to all people seems like it is all that needs to be said. What a life that would be! What a way to shape this day - to bring God's mercy to all people. I dog-eared that page so that I will stumble on it again and her that wonderful call to life.

Connection: Well...bring on the mercy....bring it on to all!

Blessed are you, O God Most High, for your mercy carries us into this day and invites us to live within your image as we move through the day and meet and greet those who will be a part of the life we are shaping in your presence. Praise to you, O God. Amen.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday 22 May 2008

The words about saints continues - by Thomas Merton.

The saint knows that the world and everything made by God is good, while those who are not saints either think that created things are unholy, or else they don't bother about the question one way or another because they are only interested in themselves.

I have to remember that "saint" to me is not someone who does good things. Rather the saint is one who lives within the reality that s/he is claimed by God as is all of creation. Therefore, we are, as saints, apart of the whole goodness of the creation. In that sense, there is no me over and against the rest of priority given to segregation that dictates that some things are holy and others unholy. As I say this, it is also important to not that in Lutheran circles we say that all the baptized are saints...and sinners. Therefore, we are all people who can easily be "only interested in themselves" (turned-in-on-self). It is so important to see things through the lens of our sainthood. For as we look out at everything God has made, we are not stuck on ourselves but rather see the fullness of God's delight.

Connection: The first hymn (that was called a hymn) I learned as a young Roman Catholic boy was at my confirmation in fourth grade -- "Holy, Holy, Holy." It is worth tripping through this day with those words and images in our hearts.

Holy are you, O God, and holy is all that you create. When all things are holy we are free to engage the world as resident saints who find joy and delight in all things and are ready to serve as will be needed this day. Amen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Today is a continuation of Thomas Merton on the holy...specifically the saint.

A saint is capable of loving created things and enjoying the use of them and dealing with them in a perfectly simple, natural manner, making no formal references to God, drawing no attention to his/her own piety, and acting without any artificial rigidity at all. His/her gentleness and sweetness are not pressed through his/her pores by the crushing restraint of a spiritual strait-jacket. They come from her/his direct docility to the light of truth and to the will of God. Hence a saint is capable of talking about the world without any explicit reference to God, in such a way that her/his statement gives greater glory to God and arouses a greater love of God than the observations of someone less holy, who has to strain her/himself to make an arbitrary connection between creatures and God through the medium of hackneyed analogies and metaphors that are so feeble that they make you think there is something the matter with religion.

Witnessing without making any explicit reference to God...some would say that cannot be done. And yet, I find this to be refreshing and quite truthful. Too often, I think religious people can be like those who like to tag buildings with their initials or their "sign." Religious folk can be so into labeling things with God language that we are often left with no ability to imagine the greatness of God because of all the "tagging" going on. When we talk about the world around us with eyes that are open to the graciousness of God, we speak about a bold world that brings life out into the open and brings people together and creates moments of dialogue and exploration that can bring people to a simple and silent "amen." There is no pressure to make it fit. There is no expectation that certain words must be used in certain ways that will bring about certain situations. Rather, the day is left wide open and we, as saints, explore and share and question and become surprised at the utter joy that comes within God's Reign even as we let go our our language slip aside while we take on the day.

Connection: Rather than tag things with our religious words and boxes, it would do us well to let go and take the world as it is and spend some time listening and seeing its wonder.

Come, Lord of the New Day, and stir us up as you promise. When we attempt to put your Reign into a box, liberate us to see the glory of your Reign that keeps breaking into our lives and new ways and times unexpected. Amen.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday 20 May 2008

More on the saint in the midst of the holy - by Thomas Merton.

Some people seem to think that a saint cannot possibly take a natural interest in anything created. They imagine that any form of spontaneity or enjoyment is a sinful gratification of "fallen nature." that to be "supernatural" means obstructing all spontaneity with cliches and arbitrary references to God The purpose of these cliches is, so to speak, to hold everything at arms length, to frustrate spontaneous reactions, to exorcise feelings of guilt. Or perhaps to cultivate such feelings. One wonders sometimes if such morality is not after all a love of guilt! They suppose that the life of a saint can never be anything but a perpetual dual with guilt, and that a saint cannot even drink a glass of cold water without making an act of contrition for slaking his thirst, as if that were a mortal sin. As if for the saints every response to beauty, to goodness, to the pleasant, were an offense. As if the saint could never allow him/herself to be pleased with anything but his prayers and his interior acts of piety.

Being a saint is a joy. Being a saint is to be alive and in the midst of God's creation and able to jump and leap and dance and sing whenever...and where ever! Imagine a community of saints in which the saints were to hold everything and everyone at arms length. It would not be the community of saints called the church. We embrace one another...even if that doesn't mean a literal embrace. To draw away from others is to put our selves in the position of the powers of hell for by definition, hell is where we begin and continue to be separate from one another. We are a part of the beauty and diversity and awesome creativity of God's Reign. As we reflect on that position, we are able to honor all of creation and move toward all things without carrying the burden of guilt. Once we honor creation as we are absorbed in God's glory, we become a part of the gracious care of all and not the monitor of what can and cannot be. When we lock ourselves away and consider the life of the saint as "other-worldly" we take away from the saint the very thing given by the fullest.

Connection: When you come in touch with a morality that if filled with guilt, it is a sure sign that those around you are not absorbed in the vision of God's is mostly the vision of their own reign. When that happens, become more absorbed in the wonder of God's Reign.

Lord of Life, it is by your very breath that we are refreshed and renewed. There are so many times when we are in the middle of those who point finger and it is easy to point along with them. Keep our eyes on your glorious graciousness and open us up to the touch of your closeness. Amen.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday 19 May 2008

In his writing about the Holy, Merton addresses himself to the image of saint.

It is not true that the saints and the great contemplatives never loved created things, and had no understanding or appreciation of the world, with its sights and sounds and the people living in it. They loved everything and everyone.
Do you think that their love of God was compatible with a hatred for things that reflected God and spoke of God on every side?
You you say that they were supposed to be absorbed in God and they had no eyes to see anything but God. Do you think they walked around with faces like stones and did not listen to the voices of people speaking to them or understand the joys and sorrows of those who were around them.
It was because the saints were absorbed in God that they were truly capable of seeing and appreciating created things and it was because they loved God alone that they alone loved everybody.

So connected to God that everything is seen more clearly - wow! So connected to God that all that is of God can be see as it was created...not with the eyes of what we would want it to be for us. The saint (which are, remember, each and every one of the baptized) is given the eyes to see all thing through a lens of a love that creates all things and leave nothing behind, forgotten and forsaken. Being "absorbed in God" does not make for a distant relationship with everything around us every day. I would think that the great martyrs of the church were not ones who saw the Reign of God as something other than the creation in which they were a part. If a Bonhoeffer was absorbed in God in such a way that he did not see the brutality and lies around him, we must say he was not absorbed in God! Rather, it was as he was absorbed in his baptism that the everyday incidences of this day were seen more clearly and he was given to act within the realm of God's love that creates and does not destroy. Show me a contemplative who is not aware of all the details and nuances of an ordinary day in an urban setting and I would have to say that we would not be looking at a contemplative. Contemplation opens up life so that we do not miss being a part of God's Reign as the moments pass by. Therefore, justice, mercy, peacemaking, reconciliation, and amazing joy awaits one who enters into contemplation...and it will draw us into the fullness of this life.

Connection: Try to notice one of the many ways God's gift of life is going on as we meander through the events of this day. In seeing those gifts, we are given opportunities to enter into them.

Blessed God, help us to become absorbed in You alone. For when that takes place, all that we come upon in this day will shine with your presence. Amen.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday 16 May 2008

Today we continue from Merton's chapter "Everything that Is, Is Holy" in "New Seeds of Contemplation."

Those who try to escape from this situation (using things to worship ourselves - as idols) by treating the good things of God as if they were evils are only confirming themselves in a terrible illusion. They are like Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent in Eden. "Woman has tempted me. Wine has tempted me. Food has tempted me. Woman is pernicious, wine is poison, food is death. I must hate and revile them. By hating them I will please God..." These are the thoughts and attitudes of a baby, of a savage and of an idolater who seeks by magic incantations and spells to protect his egotistic self and placate the insatiable little god in his own heart. To take such an idol for God is the worst kind of self-deception. It turns a person into a fanatic, no longer capable of sustained contact with the truth, no longer capable of genuine love.
In trying to believe in their ego as something "holy" these fanatics look upon everything else as unholy.

It is there in the last line that I thought how important this work is. I mean this for all of us. How easy it is to set up a world of "holy" and "unholy." Merton calls it correctly...this is how fanatics look at the world and what is the meaning of holy. The blame game never ends. We are always looking at ways to point our fingers. I think that is one of the reasons we jump into some of our wars. We live in fear. We live with the understanding that what we have and who we are is the way all things must be. Therefore, all else is to be questioned if not completely judged as evil. So when a person want to enter into dialogue and talk through options and look at plans of reconciliation and possible new ways to see old relationships, those people are called names - reviled - and we are warned about eh potential of being destroyed by such actions. Alas, fear is put in motion and we begin to label some things "holy" to us and others as "unholy" to us. It is a shame. And yet, we must all remember that we each have that capacity to be fanatics about this or that. We all seek to protect what is ours over and against the other.

Connection: Holy is the Lord God. Holy is all that God creates. Now, how do we consider that throughout the day and in the presence of people and things we would like to make into unholy objects in our lives?

Blessed are you, Holy God. You have made us in your image and you have created all things and announced that they were good. Turn us from our need to divide your loving work into categories that help us forget the blessedness of all things. Amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thursday 15 May 2008

Today will continue with yesterday's piece and what comes after it. Again, Thomas Merton.

Detachment from things does not mean setting up a contradiction between "things" and "God" as if God were another "thing" and as if God's creatures were God's rivals. We do not detach ourselves from things in order to attach ourselves to God, but rather we become detached from ourselves in order to see and use all things in and for God.

This is an entirely new perspective which many sincerely moral and ascetic minds fail utterly to see. There is no evil in anything created by God, nor can anything of God's become an obstacle to our union with God. The obstacle is in our "self," that is to say in the tenacious need to maintain our separate, external, egotistic will. It is when we refer all things to this outward and false "self" that we alienate ourselves from reality and from God. It is then the false self that is our god, and we love everything for the sake of this self. We use all things, so to speak, for the worship of this idol which is our imaginary self. In so doing we pervert and corrupt things, or rather we turn our relationship to them into a corrupt and sinful relationship. We do not thereby make them evil, but we use them to increase our attachment to our illusory self.

My first reflection was on the disaster in Myanmar. It is violently tragic. Nature can and does explode at time. That is part of creation. It is not evil. It is not God acting against certain people who are not behaving in the way we think God would expect (like Jerry Falwell's accusation that Katrina hit New Orleans because of Gays). In Myanmar, what becomes "evil" is the unwillingness for people in power to open doors so that other people can help. Rulers and leaders and...all of this to a degree. We are self-serving even if serving ourselves or our goals or our agenda will cause trauma and pain and suffer for others. "We turn our relationships to them (things) into a corrupt and sinful relationship." That is that 'turned-in-on-self' reality that is sin. We use things...people...whatever..."to increase our attachment to our illusory self." I think that is well said by Merton. If we can keep this in mind, we begin to enter a place of honesty that doesn't live on blame but rather on taking responsibility for how the world comes tumbling down around us. At that point, there are things we can do to re-center our living and find ongoing ways of being truthful and honor the things within creation.

Connection: How can we today...fight off that illusory self that is always trying to gain control? This may be a part of the battle.

Lord, you forgive us so that we can move beyond be self-consuming. We are always looking for ways to be the ruler of our world and yet you continue to dethrone us and send us off along your way of new life. We give you thanks. Amen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday 14 May 2008

What is detachment in the midst of the holy!?! Thomas Merton

Detachment from things does not mean setting up a contradiction between "things" and "God" as if God were another "thing" and as if God's creatures were God's rivals. We do not detach ourselves from things in order to attach ourselves to God, but rather we become detached from ourselves in order to see and use all things in and for God.

When we stop being the center of our universe we are able to re-view all things. When we are able to re-view all things without making ourselves the center of all things, we gain the beauty and purpose of the world because we are beginning to see things as they are and not merely through the lens of "my universe." Often I used Luther's expression for sin (turned-in-on-self) to draw a picture of this need to be detached from ourselves. It is as we are free from trying to save ourselves or make something of ourselves that we are given the whole in its fullest - and it is a gift. This is a daily exercise. We are so willing to turn our focus and energy of life toward that which we think will bring all things to us. And yet, when this is the case, we are letting go of the image of God that invites us to consider the welfare of all. Detachment from ourselves is a way to focus and see more clearly God's Reign as it enter this day.

Connection: Knowing that we don't do this "detachment thing" very well, it is another reason to have others who share the vision of God's Reign and are willing to help us wrestle with that which is before us so that we might let go of some things and hold onto that which is the life of God's Reign.

Take us home, O God, to the vision of your Reign. Take us home today and walk with us as we begin to live as though we are truly within your embrace and the blessed assurance that abundant life comes as we become attached to you promises and let go of our need to control our world. Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday 13 May 2008

We continue with how we enter the day as people who contemplate the Reign of God.

In any case, we should always seek to conform to the logos or truth of the duty before us, the work to be done, or our own God-given nature. Contemplative obedience and abandonment to the will of God can never mean a cultivated indifference to the natural values implanted by God in human life and work. Insensitivity must not be confused with detachment. The contemplative must certainly be detached, but s/he can never allow her/himself to become insensible to the true human values, whether in society, in other people or in one's self. If s/he does so, then her/his contemplations stands condemned as vitiated in its very root.

In contemplation, we move through the day with eyes wide open and hearts in tune with the Reign of God. Therefore, we are always sensitive to what the prevailing winds of the day are blowing by us. There is never any detachment for those who contemplate God's Reign and are aware of the ongoing presence of God moving through us and around us. When we are God's beloved...when we are the image of God, then all that runs contrary to this Reign of God grabs our attention and we are "by nature" drawn into the care and repair of all things. This gives us the ability to be sensitive to life that is beyond my "own little words and needs" because I am not my own little world. I am a part of the wholeness of God's Reign that is, even now, breaking in.

Connection: So...we listen...we watch...we act...we love...we remember...we begin again and again to take note of our place before God and before one another.

As your Reign comes upon us, O God, open up our eyes to see how it is our hands so we can greet it as it comes in the shape of our lips with words of hopefulness and our ears that we may hear others bring your Word before our hearts that transformation may begin even as we take the next breath of our lives. Amen.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday 12 May 2008

Here is a good piece to consider as we begin the week - again, Thomas Merton.

Unnatural, frantic, anxious work, work done under pressure of greed or fear or any other inordinate passion, cannot properly speaking be dedicated to God, because God never wills such work directly. God may permit that through no fault of our own we may have to work madly and distractedly, due to our sins, and to the sins of the society in which we live. In that case we must tolerate it and make the best of what we cannot avoid. But let us not be blind to the distinction between sound, healthy work and unnatural toil.

We have many personal reasons for being frantic and anxious. Each of us are called to consider what is motivating us and moving and pushing us. That is part of who we are as followers of Jesus who are to be living in the Reign of God. This is not always an easy thing to consider. On the other hand, I was caught by the note that we "work madly and distractedly...due to...the sins of the society in which we live." The complete broken focus of the community creates instability and fear and dis-ease. When we do not see to the health care of all people - without exception, for example, and make it something a person must earn, generations of people go sick and must be whipped into that "frantic and anxious" cycle of life. Too often, people are attempting to enter a life of privilege so that they are not left out of the benefits that really need to be the bedrock of just society for all. That attempt to rise means we step on others or simply ignore them on our way to secure ourselves. When we are children of God, we are given eyes to see the whole story...the truth...and in that time of contemplation, we become people who act not frantically and anxiously....but with justice and mercy and loving kindness. The quality of life is quite different when we look at what is moving us.

Connection: Yes, the day may turn out to be a bit frantic and filled with anxiety. Therefore we are invited, again, to rest in the promises of our God. That may mean we pick ourselves up and become active in new ways...and it may mean that we really do simply rest for awhile.

God of New Life, we long for days when your mercy and justice become the face of your community of saints. For in those days, the wind of your Spirit will be blowing us in new directions and we will begin to see all things through the lens of your coming Reign. Amen.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday 9 May 2009

Here is what I would consider a wonderful look at the priesthood of all believers without using that language. What a gift of vision by Merton.

The requirements of a work to be done can be understood as the will of God. If I am supposed to hoe a garden or make a table, then I will be obeying God if I am true to the task I am performing. To do the work carefully and well, with love and respect for the nature of my task and with due attention to its purpose, is to unite myself to God's will in my work. In this way I become God's instrument. God works through me. When I act as God's instrument my labor cannot become an obstacle to contemplation, even though it may temporarily so occupy my mind that I cannot engage in it while I am actually doing my job. Yet my work itself will purify and pacify my mind and dispose me for contemplation.

What is the will of God? That we are faithful to our God. So in all things I am called to live within the domain of God's will. There will be no daily relationship that falls outside of "God's will." Therefore, if I'm hearing Merton correctly, the life of contemplation is at hand no matter where we are or what we are doing. If that is the case, then those who are wondering about how they can be more "spiritual" or grow in their "spirituality" need only live boldly within God's promise of new life in the middle of all that is ordinary from day to day. For within this context, we become truly contemplative...we begin to honor and hold dear and respect and see the connection between all things no matter where we are or with whom we are spending our time. We could say that there is no excuse as to why we cannot enter into the realm of contemplation and enjoy the fullness of God's Spirit. Unless of course, we have turned contemplation into an exercise that is not a part of life itself. Then, I might want to ask, what is it that we are contemplating.

Connection: Be present and alert and ready to enter the journey of this day and to see God' will breaking into our lives and shaping us.

Spirit of God, you do not wait for the appropriate time to grasp us and make us new. For even now the day is beginning to provide us with life we may not have considered and life we will find to be quite amazing. Encourage our engagement in all the life that will be presented to us today. Amen.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Thursday 8 May 2008

Merton writes about the rights of others and the needs of others - I like it.

For the right of another person is the expression of God's love and God's will. In demanding that I respect the rights of another God is not merely asking me to conform to some abstract, arbitrary law: God is enabling me to share, as God's child, in God's own care for my brother and sister. No person who ignores the rights and needs of others can hope to walk in the light of contemplation, because his/her way has turned aside from truth, from compassion and therefore from God.

We are a people tied to one another and in that tie we are tied to our God who is continually calling us into the fullness of our being - as God's beloved. When we attempt to walk away from others as though we can live our own lives secure and protected from others, we are really stepping away from the very source of our God domain - the community. I hear echos from the story of Genesis chapter one when humanity is give the gift of be caretakers of all things. As we care for one another -stranger...enemy...neighbor...foreigner- we are as God would be: compassionate and caring without condition. We we consider those around us and their needs, we really do enter into the domain of contemplation that begins to pull us into more of ourselves.

Connection: we are...ready to be the unfolding love and grace of

Let your Spirit, be our Spirit, O God, and when that is our life, the world and all of us will be transformed. Amen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Merton on the will of God.

How am I to know the will of God? Even where there is no other more explicit claim on my obedience, such as a legitimate command, the very nature of each situation usually bears written into itself some indication of God's will. For whatever is demanded by truth, by justice , by mercy, or by love must surely be taken to be willed by God. To consent to His will is, then, to consent to be true, or speak truth, or at least to seek it. To obey Him is to respond to his will expressed in the need of another person, or at least to respect the rights of others.

I was touched again to hear that obedience to God is to take note and be moved to act for the welfare of the needs of others. With that in mind, there is no disconnect between any of us. We are a part of this grand vision of God's will that knits together all things. Too often, though, we do not or will not or cannot see the connection and therefore we are stuck with ourselves and miss out on the field of love that sways when the breath of God's promises bring truth and justice and peace and mercy right into the very depths of who we are.

Connection: When and where will you not how God's love has become a part of this day in the middle of our interactions with others?

Grant us the patience to listen again and look again and then, in that time, see your love present as the source of our life together, O God. It is as we learn to breathe that we learn to see more than that which we so often move by so quickly. Hold our lives and inspire our patience and vision. Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday 6 May 2008

More of the seeds of God's love - Thomas Merton.

If these seeds would take root in my liberty, and if His will would grow from my freedom, I would become the love that He is, and my harvest would be His glory and my own joy.

There is nothing of coercion or pressure in this love of God. It is available and will not be held back because it is always the power that brings all things together into one united and diverse and robust creation. In the presence of such love the ways of our lives seem to change into that which loves us. It is as though we love even when there is no one watch...but rather because that is what we find fulfilling even when we could choose to be and act another way. When a community moves and sways to the beat of this love, this love is magnified and becomes quite extraordinary. That is why the community of saints in the world does greater things than the Lord of the Church. For we are many acting and living within the love of the one whose love is boundless and creates more love in, with, and under all who are free to walk in the way of God's love.

Connection: We live within the wonder of God's love that is poised to come to life among us and in us. Therefore we anticipate the day with great expectation.

Your glory shines among us, O God, and when it shines, the light of your shines within the lives of those who are raised up by you for life that is eternally reflective of your love. Amen.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday 5 May 2008

Merton give space to note when these "seeds" of contemplation come to us so that we may become aware of more than our superficial lives. is God's love that warms me in the sun and God's love that sends the cold rain. It is God's love that feeds me in the bread I eat and God that feeds me also by hunger and fasting. It is the love of God that sends the winter days when I am cold and sick, and the hot summer when I labor and my clothes are full of sweat: but it is God who breathes on me with light winds off the river and in the breezes out of the wood. His love spreads the shade of the sycamore over my head and sends the water-boy along the edge of the wheat field with a bucket from the spring, while the laborers are resting and the mules stand under the trees.

It is God's love that speaks to me in the birds and streams; but also behind the clamor of the city God speaks to me in His judgements, and all these things are seeds to me from His will.

It is not always a a pleasant breeze. God is present in the breezes that also make our sweating more intense. But if we are looking for only one kind of presence, we miss so much of the expansiveness of God's love. Our God is available and handing us the vision of God's Reign even as we endure the ordinary that is often not the best of the way we would have things come to us. The grand and mighty intervention of the love of our God may be that simple bucket of other words...the simple life that is offered to us by and through others when the only thing happening in our lives is the everyday routine that we think offers no inspiration...and yet it is revealing God's love at hand.

Connection: When will you be surprised by the presence of God's love today?

Lord God, when you touch us with your love, we often do not feel that touch. Most often, it is because we do not anticipate how close and present your love is to us. Help to open our eyes to the many and various ways we are exposed to your love...and yet do not see. Amen.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Friday 2 May 2008

Today I'm simply adding onto yesterday's piece from Thomas Merton.

The mind that is the prisoner of conventional ideas, and the will that is the captive of its own desire cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and a supernatural desire. For how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and an opposite desire. God cannot plant His liberty in me because I am a prisoner and I do not even desire to be free. I love my captivity and I imprison myself in the desire for the things that I hate, and I Have hardened my heart against true love. I must learn therefore to let go of the familiar and usual and consent to what is new and unknown to me. I must learn to "leave myself" in order to find myself by yielding to the love of God. If I were looking for God, every event and every moment would sow, in my will, grains of His life that would spring up one day in a tremendous harvest.

This can almost sound like we must do the searching for God. If that is how we read it, it can become a life-long prison...for we do not find God. The opposite is the case. Our God finds us and abides with us and will not let us go. Now...let us start with that simple truth. As that is the case - God so loves the world - we need only open our eyes and find the reminders everywhere. And yet, we can be so turned-into-ourselves that we will not leave ourselves for even a moment. We would rather spend our lives trying to make something of ourselves - even if we are simply manufacturing a facade - than to turn and embrace who we are in the eyes of our God who liberates and sets us free to experience the depth of the life God has created for us. So we are invited to "look around" and notice those seeds that God plants throughout our lives that come to blossom into a fullness of life that none of us is able to build for ourselves.

Connection: Sometimes we have such a high regard for what we think we are able to do and be that we do not simply stop and be open to God's touch and welcome into God's Reign.

When you are abiding with us, O God, we often forget that you are so near. We look for other ways to flourish within our lives. But when your ever-present Reign is visible to us, we flourish by simply being in your presence and taking in the wonder and liberty that you already have set before us for life. We praise you, O God. Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday 1 May 2008

More Merton

The mind that is the prisoner of conventional ideas, and the will that is the captive of its own desire cannot accept the seeds of an unfamiliar truth and a supernatural desire. For how can I receive the seeds of freedom if I am in love with slavery and how can I cherish the desire of God if I am filled with another and an opposite desire.

It is no easy to let ourselves wander into that which is not already under our control. By control I simply mean we've been there or at least know how to pretend that we have been there. By control I simply mean the ideas and experiences we have fenced in as being what is real and good and right. When this takes place within us, we also fence in our own lives. We become as trapped or "put away" as anything we would seek to put under our control. We become gods of our own making and we make ourselves without the freedom that God gives to us all. In other words, we reject God -even as we play the games of religious words and rituals- in order to establish and keep and protect what we want for ourselves. Thus, we become slaves. We are so tied to caring for what we have put together as our limited self, we cannot even entertain the life of vision and hope our God holds open for us.

Connection: Maybe we should make sure that we wander a bit today. When wandering...wonder...when free.

Lord of Life, it takes so long for us to let go of that we think we have created and must sustain. It can be so long that we never turn to see the life you offer to us. We need a nudge...a pull...a call, to free us from ourselves. Free us, O God. Amen.