A Prayer — July 30, 2014

Lord, I know you are merciful. I’ve been taught that you provide grace and mercy in spite of my behavior and in spite of my sins. You are a good God that comes to those that need You, no matter what.

And Lord, I need you now in my life more than ever. I know that I’m not perfect. I know that my sins are not hidden from you. I know that, at times, I sin knowing it’s a sin. I’m human, Lord, and while that’s no excuse, I know you love me despite my human nature.

Lord, I need you today to provide for me. I need your grace in my life to provide strength, because I am weak. I face temptations every day, and I wish I could say that I always walk away. I cannot do it alone any more. I just can’t. I need you to give me the strength and provide me with the guidance to overcome these desires to sin.

I need you to give me direction in darker times when I wonder if I can even face the next day. You can move the mountains that block my way in life. You can give to me what I need in my life.

Please, Lord, I ask of you to come into my life and offer your grace. I am open to it and ready to accept it. Allow my heart to always be focused on You and make my desire to live for You.

Lord, I know from the scripture that your grace is bestowed no matter what, so I just ask for it today. I may not always be perfect, but I strive to be better. Lord, help me be better. Help me see the clear, narrow path in front of me so I can walk in your ways and in your glory.

In your name, Amen.

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My Dog Saw the Rabbit

There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old men of the desert why it was that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up and returned to their lives in the city.

“Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, and they were barking and running as well. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the desert was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night.

After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. “Do you understand,” the old man said, “what I have told you?”

“No,” replied the young monk, “please tell me father.”

“It is simple,” said the desert father, “my dog saw the rabbit.”

—-Sayings of the desert

candle-yomhashoah1Seeing the rabbit is the key for us today as well. Just as in the desert monasteries people drift in and out of churches looking for God but never truly find Him. Their problem is that the never see Him. Many are drawn in by the excitement of others but fail to see who God really is and what He does for those who find Him.

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Paradox

All that is hidden and all that is plain I have come to know through Wisdom. Within her is a spirit that is intelligent, unique, manifold, subtle, active, incisive, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, dependable, unperturbed, all seeing…. She pervades and permeates all things, she is the untarnished mirror of God’s active power. She is one, and makes all things new, and in each generation passes into holy souls. — Wisdom 7:21-27

The history of spirituality tells us that we must learn to accept paradoxes, or we will never truly love anything, or see it correctly. (Normal thought would say you are either human or divine, but you can’t imagine being both until you meet Jesus!) Seeming contradictions are not impediments to the spiritual life, they are an integral part of it. They don’t encourage you to abandon your critical faculties, but to sharpen them. Please trust me on that.

Ikona_SofiyaPremBozhiyaGRMThe above passage personifying Wisdom (Sophia), is an insightful description of how one sees things paradoxically and contemplatively. Interestingly enough, Scripture calls this subtle seeing “she,” which in a patriarchal culture is a way of saying “alternative.” Alan Watts says that the loss of paradoxical thinking is the great blindness of our civilization, which is what many of us believe happened when we repressed the feminine side of our lives as the inferior side. It was a loss of subtlety, discrimination, and capacity for complementarity.

Each of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possess the patience of good relationships. “Untarnished mirrors,” as Wisdom says, receive the whole picture, which is always the darkness, the light, and the subtle shadings of light that make shape, form, color, and texture beautiful. You cannot see in total light or total darkness. You must have variances of light to see.

Richard Rhor
Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See

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A Treasure Hid from this World

20140727-182925-66565063.jpg“The kingdom of God within us is a treasure indeed, but a treasure hid from the world, and from the most wise and prudent in it. He that finds this treasure, (perhaps when he thought it far from him,) hides it deep in his heart, and gives up all other happiness for it.”

——-John Wesley, Wesley’s Notes

‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
——Jesus of Nazareth

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Difficulty and Grace

“And this has been a comfort to me, that I choose Jesus as my Savior-by His grace. In my suffering and sorrow He has taught me that I should choose only Him for my salvation in my well being and sorrow.”

–Julian of Norwich

Long ago Julian found a way to touch the grace of God in difficult times of her life. In our very trying and difficult world ,we too, can

St Margaret's church - stained glass - geograp...

find this grace and make challenging times of life opportunities for growth and grace. Let us vow to make our difficult times teach us to rely and His grace.

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

—–1 Peter 4:13

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The Limit of My Imagination

Scripture brought me

to the gate of Paradise,

and the mind, which is spiritual,

stood in amazement and wonder as it entered,

the intellect grew dizzy and weak

as the senses were no longer able

to contain its treasures –

so magnificent they were –

or to discern its savors

and find any comparison for its colors,

or take in its beauties

so as to describe them in words.

St Ephrem

——-St. Ephrem

Ephrem’s words speak volumes to me when I try to imagine what seeing God in all His splendor would be like. Such an event defies description. The words of scripture lead to the gate of paradise, but we stand there paralyzed by its glory. God is ever preparing us for the day that we will meet Him. When we begin to see or imagine God as He really is we quickly run out of words. As we ponder ourselves and our God in this world let us have great satisfaction that the best is yet to come.

Lord keep me near You as I seek to understand You in all Your glory. Keep my journey faithful and true. Amen

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Joy of Work

There was in the Cells an old man called Apollo.  If someone came to find him about doing a piece of work, he would set out joyfully, saying, ‘I am going to work with Christ today, for the salvation of my soul, for that is the reward he gives.’

—-sayings of the Desert

Our world could be turned upside down if we would really take the words of this monk to heart. Finding joy and salvation in our work make the work worth doing, and worth doing well. The whole concept of working for Christ when we are doing the tasks of the day allows us to see our days through a new lens that gives us joy and meaning beyond our imagination. We must ask ourselves, what would it take for me to see my work as salvation for my soul?

children at workDefinitely it places a new perspective of what it means to work and serve. For most of us, work is a means to an end. The monk leads us to believe work is our end, and we will be incredibly rewarded for doing the tasks of the day. Implicitly, we are being told that God sends our work to us as a means of worship. Imagine the difference it could make in your life if you saw your work as an act of worship and a means of grace.

Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

—-Jesus of Nazareth

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Words for the Journey

the holy books ...

No one can live only on food. People need every word God has spoken.

When you do good deeds, don’t try to show off. If you do, you won’t get a reward from your Father in heaven.

When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. Then your gift will be given in secret. Your Father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you.

Don’t store up treasures on earth! Instead, store up your treasures in heaven.

Your heart will always be where your treasure is

Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself.

I tell you not to worry about your life. Can worry make you live longer?

Why do you have such little faith? Put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.

God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.

Ask, and you will receive. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be open for you.

Treat others, as you want them to treat you.

You can tell what they are by what they do.

I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.

Anyone who gives one of my most humble followers a cup of cool water, just because that person is my follower, will surely be rewarded.

If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.

Good people bring good things out of their hearts, but evil people bring evil things out of their hearts.

What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?

Whenever two or three of you come together in my name, I am there with you.

Everyone who is now first will be last, and everyone who is last will be first.

Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.”

If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored.

I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.

Reflection – Choose one of these sayings of Christ to become your focus each day as you journey.

Monica Boudreaux

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Everyday Monks and Mystics

Irvin J. Boudreaux:

More about thin places

Originally posted on Green Preacher:

The blow from the humpback whale splashed back down on its backThere is in Celtic spirituality an awareness of ‘thin places’ in the universe, where the visible and the invisible world come into their closest proximity. Monasteries and holy places were meant to be founded at such spots to increase the likelihood of a transcendental communication. These thin places were threshold places, which can mean a border or frontier place where two worlds meet and where one has the possibility of communicating with the other.

Marsha Sinetar in a wonderful little book entitled ‘Ordinary People as Monks and Mystics’, reminds us that the search for ‘thin places’ is not just the purview of those religious types who live in set apart places. Rather, each of us has the ability to discern and experience such sacred places. From my own experience such places sometimes are found in houses of worship, but more often, are found in the everyday. Have you ever been…

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Thursday Prayer — July 17

If There Is Righteousness in Your Heart

If there is righteousness in the heart,CelticCross1
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So let it be


—A Scottish Blessing

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