Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy people seldom think of happiness. They are too busy losing their lives in the meaningful sacrifices of service. ~David Augsburger

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It is possible to be so active in the service of Christ as to forget to love him. ~ P. T. Forsyth

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Today's Christians are too often like deep-sea divers encased in suits designed for many fathoms deep, marching bravely forth to pull plugs out of bathtubs. ~ Peter Marshall

Friday, October 28, 2011

To live by the law of Christ and accept him in our hearts is to turn a giant floodlight of hope into our valleys of trouble. ~ Charles R. Hembree

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were. ~ Cherie Carter-Scott

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We often experience our time as empty. We hope that tomorrow, next week, next month or next year the real things will happen. But sometimes we experience the fullness of time. That is when it seems that time stands still, that past, present, and future become one; that everything is present where we are; and that God, we, and all that is have come together in total unity. This is the experience of God's time. "When the completion of the time came [that is: in the fullness of time], God sent his Son, born of a woman" (Galatians 4:4), and in the fullness of time God will "bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth" (Ephesians 1:10). It is in the fullness of time that we meet God. ~Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I keep thinking about how and why and with what hands
people touch each other’s lives,
the violence of bone and blood and muscle
it takes to make a reaching.
How much of a gift it is
that any two persons’ straight lines toward doom
become for a time
a charmed circle.
Amazing the patterns people make
by crossing each other’s paths
like black cats on this dark-night planet, amazing
to say I love you,
O Lord
I am not worthy that you should
that anyone should
come under my roof, O Lord
but how glad.

                                       ~ Joanne McPortland

Monday, October 24, 2011

“What we would like to do is change the world--make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute--the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words--we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.” ~Dorothy Day

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"The Blessing of Autumn"

As autumn flames across park and field
as smoke curls from ditch and garden,
as birds sing their farewell song,
as frost begins to touch the ground
and our hearts are warmed
by the scent, sound and touch of it;
now is the time to throw away
the heavy stones of anger, regret and fear,
which harden our hearts.
Now is the time to gather stories of praise
to build a cairn
of thankfulness to our God
for all the blessings of our autumn life.

                                          ~ Kate McIlhagga

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Forgiveness brings freedom - freedom from being controlled by the past, freedom from the emotional ties to the offender, freedom from the continual inner conflicts of bitterness and hate, freedom to become whole and enjoy the fullness of life. ~Jeanette Vought

Friday, October 21, 2011

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one’s life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God. ~ Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei

Monday, October 17, 2011

The New Testament does not say, "You shall know the rules, and by them you shall be bound," but, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." ~ John Baillie

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Four-fold Blessing

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work  for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those  who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all  that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to  comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you  really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Savior,  and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and  remain with you, this day and forevermore.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. The one who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude. ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We sat in her autumn garden and talked, Martine and I. I'd dropped by her studio on the way back from Ottawa, hoping to find her in -- her studio is open "by chance or by appointment", so it was a bit dodgy. But there she was, getting ready for the weekend art tour. She works in all sort of media -- glass, pottery, watercolours, oils. I love visiting, seeing what she's putting together from her tableful of stash -- she does a lot with found objects. I have several of her pieces; my favourite is a small black iron cage, adorned with slips of coloured glass and big bright earrings, which dangles in my front hall.

She made me tea and we talked and talked. Lately I've been blessed by such conversations; they seem to be becoming almost normal in my life. I'd had coffee with Andrew, whose partner Bill has bone cancer. I'd listened to Sybil telling about her husband's difficult death; he'd put her through hell on his way out. I'd visited my friend Toby in prison, and he had babbled like a brook, totally transparent and open, a transformed soul. I'd had a long, good lunch with Anna, whose marriage is foundering. And now Martine, who'd lost both parents and her husband in 18 months and is facing one of those huge life transitions -- as am I.

I grew up in a culture of reticence, where we didn't speak of important matters, where such speech was suspect, even indecorous. Keep the conversation light and civilized and (preferably) clever and stimulating.  Don't air the dirty linen. A part of me can still see the value of this approach; it doesn't burden total strangers, as the Ancient Mariner did, with a hell of a lot more information than they want. It puts high value on discipline, reticence, and good form, none of which is a Bad Thing. I'm generally with Miss Manners, and this sort of discourse is exactly to her taste. And of course I don't like whiners any more than you do. (But there's whining and there's real suffering, and those who really suffer rarely whine.)

The problem with this way of operating is that it doesn't work very well in Interesting Times. In Interesting Times, you lack the energy for polite conversation; what you need to do is to talk -- really talk -- with genuine honesty, because that sort of talking and listening is where love truly happens, and love's what you most need.  That's the part that dear Miss Manners, much as I admire her, doesn't get -- or at least doesn't write about: It's not about being correct; it's about mustering and communicating it love, and making a space for someone who's suffering to be open about the suffering. It's about holding the sufferer in support and later in healing.  It's not narcissism or self-indulgence to need to talk openly and authentically when you're hurting really badly, although that's the message that I'd been brought up with and had heard a little too much from the communities to which I could not quite belong.  It's normal and human and right.  It's what we're supposed to do for each other.

I've listened to friends' troubles any number of times in the past; I think particularly of my adoptive daughter and the long, good talks we've had, and of other friends who have confided in me and who've listened in turn to my burblings. But something's different now.  There's been a sea-change, and it's in me. It's no longer a matter of caring for others, because that was the right thing to do; it's turned into a joy. It's an affirmation of the distance I've come since my own Interesting Times, the things I've learned, the wisdom I've garnered, usually the very hard way.  It's emboldening me to take the path that's authentically mine.  And that may mean walking away from places that don't permit that sort of honesty, not in anger or even in disagreement, but because I'm called to something richer and more nourishing.

Artists say that nothing is more beautiful than the naked human body. Martine and I don't fit the culture's definition of "beautiful body", not by a *very* long shot, but as we talked, our souls were naked, and I saw -- as I'd seen in talking to Toby and Anna and Sybil and Andrew -- how extraordinarily beautiful a thing is the naked human soul.

We sat and sipped our tea and she smoked a cigarette, and the autumn garden shone green and gold around us. She'd planted sunflowers, yellow and bronze, and their flowers glowed in the late afternoon sun. The garden held a Tree of Life she'd made in orange glass, hung on a black iron frame. The Tree of Life is her central symbol; it's painted on the front of her studio. It's an ample and bountiful symbol, full of fruit.  She's done so much serious suffering in the last couple of years, and yet joy poured out of her studio and washed through the garden she created last summer. Joy streamed through her small house and spilled out on the front lawn. Joy shone in her voice as she picked up a small piece of glass and started musing about where it might take her. We talked about the hard things we've been through, and joy -- the most satisfying golden stuff -- lapped around our feet. I'd believed it in theory, but now I could feel it in fact, that joy is indeed the other side of suffering. When we withhold ourselves from suffering -- our own or others' -- because "it's not quite nice", we lose that joy.

I bought a small glass panel, but I left it in her studio for the gallery tour. I'll collect it in a couple of weeks.  It may be too cold then to sit out in the garden, but we can hope for a warm October. ~Molly Wolf

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude toward life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So, too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God molds us according to God's love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control. ~Henri J. M. Nouwen

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are the great visions of the ultimate peace among all people and the ultimate harmony of all creation just utopian fairy tales? No, they are not! They correspond to the deepest longings of the human heart and point to the truth waiting to be revealed beyond all lies and deceptions. These visions nurture our souls and strengthen our hearts. They offer us hope when we are close to despair, courage when we are tempted to give up on life, and trust when suspicion seems the more logical attitude. Without these visions our deepest aspirations, which give us the energy to overcome great obstacles and painful setbacks, will be dulled and our lives will become flat, boring, and finally destructive. Our visions enable us to live the full life. ~ Henri J. M. Nouwen

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An act of love that fails is just as much a part of the divine life as an act of love that succeeds, for love is measured by its own fullness, not by its reception. ~ Harold Loukes

Friday, October 7, 2011

"The encounter with Christ, constantly intensified and deepened in the Eucharist, issues in the Church and in every Christian an urgent summons to testimony and evangelization." ~Bl. John Paul II

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Living a spiritual life makes our little, fearful hearts as wide as the universe, because the Spirit of Jesus dwelling within us embraces the whole of creation. Jesus is the Word, through whom the universe has been created. As Paul says: "In him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible - all things were created through him and for him - in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17). Therefore when Jesus lives within us through his Spirit, our hearts embrace not only all people but all of creation. Love casts out all fear and gathers in all that belongs to God. Prayer, which is breathing with the Spirit of Jesus, leads us to this immense knowledge. ~Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Feast of St. Francis! "I have done what was mine to do. May Christ show you what is yours to do." ~St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, October 3, 2011

O incomparable Giver of life, cut reason loose at last!
Let it wander grey-eyed from vanity to vanity.
Shatter open my skull, pour in it the wine of madness!
Let me be mad, as You; mad with You, with us.
Beyond the sanity of fools is a burning desert
Where Your sun is whirling in every atom:
Beloved, drag me there, let me roast in Perfection!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters - they require our first attention.

We can trust that when we reach out with all our energy to the margins of our society we will discover that petty disagreements, fruitless debates, and paralyzing rivalries will recede and gradually vanish. The Church will always be renewed when our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkable experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us. ~ Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen

Saturday, October 1, 2011

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. ~ St. Augustine of Hippo