Writer’s Rules

C.S. Lewis was a English scholar, writers and theologian. His many works and writings are still widely used today. He was not only a great writer of books but a caring man who answered his mail and never missed an opportunity to encourage young writers. In 1959 an American schoolgirl wrote to C. S. Lewis asking him for advice on the craft of writing. He sent her a list of eight rules.

1. Turn off the radio.

2. Read good books and avoid most magazines.

3. Write with the ear, not the eye. Make every sentence sound good.CS Lewis Writing

4. Write only about things that interest you. If you have no interests, you won’t ever be a writer.

5. Be clear. Remember that readers can’t know your mind. Don’t forget to tell them exactly what they need to know to understand you.

6. Save odds and ends of writing attempts, because you may be able to use them later.

7. You need a well-trained sense of word-rhythm, and the noise of a typewriter will interfere.

8. Know the meaning of every word you use.

Not many of us even think about typewriters and radios anymore but we are still surrounded by distractions that can blur our focus and rob us of some jewel that might have been. Lewis’s advice is just as alive today as it was nearly 60 years ago when he first penned this list. I past this along to all my fellow bloggers and readers.


Prayer

Lord help me to develop the talents that you have seen to bestow upon me. Guide me to use my time wisely and to continue to work on my gifts.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under C. S. Lewis

The Right Heart

     “Every wise man, therefore, will allow others the same liberty of thinking that he desires they        should allow him, and will no more insist on their embracing his opinions than he would              have them to insist on his embracing theirs. He is patient with those who differ from him,              and only asks him with whom he desires to unite in love that single question: “Is your heart          right, as my heart is with your heart?”

—-John Wesley from “Catholic Spirit”

         Jesus said: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a             person.”

 

The words of John Wesley ring loud and clear in this confusing and divisive time. Wise men allow others to differ from them without turning on them. The concept that we must all walk in step with one another or become enemies is destroying our churches and nation. Our political or theological stands are not the sum total of our being.. The heart reveals our true nature. We are people of good heart or bad heart. If we wish ill will and destruction with any who disagree with our opinions, then I would say that we are not of good heart. However, people of good heart and wisdom can embrace others even if they are not in full agreement with them.

People of good heart:

  • Look for areas of agreement
  • Attempt to find the greater good
  • Work for the greater good
  • Seek truth
  • Understand there is more than one right answer
  • Give up power

 “Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart?”


The Wesleyan Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine.Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.Put me to doing, put me to suffering.Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,exalted for thee or brought low for thee.Let me be full, let me be empty.Let me have all things, let me have nothing.I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.And the covenant which I have made on earth,let it be ratified in heaven.Amen.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under John Wesley

Owning Forgiveness

One nun came to Blessed Sarah and said to her: Pray for me, my lady.  – The blessed one said to her: Neither will I have mercy on you nor will God unless you have mercy on yourself, fulfilling the virtues as the Fathers have commanded us.

——-Amma Sarah of the Desert

Forgiveness is the act of pardoning an offender. In the Bible, the Greek word translated “forgiveness” literally means “to let go,” as when a person does notclip_image002 demand payment for a debt. Jesus used this comparison when he taught his followers to pray: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is in debt to us.” (Luke 11:4) Likewise, in his parable of the unmerciful slave, Jesus compared forgiveness with canceling a debt.—Matthew 18:23-35.

We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered. The Bible teaches that unselfish love is the basis for true forgiveness, since love “does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.

The ability to forgive yourself is key to your psychological well-being. Unforgiveness of self causes a wide range of problems. Suicide, addictions and depression are just a few of the many things associated with self-condemnation. Psychologists struggle to develop creative ways to address this issue. Many suffer from a lack of awareness of their problem with this issue. Behavioral professionals, religious and irreligious, know the importance of self-forgiveness. Many corporate hours are spent in seminars that stress the necessity of learning the importance of forgiveness. This endeavor is tremendously costly for the corporate world.

Amma Sara knew about such forgiveness 1500 years ago, and said it was the place to start. God is a God of forgiveness and grace, and we must forgive ourselves in order to receive forgiveness. Our problem with self-forgiveness is that we don’t really believe in grace – that marvelous property of God that allows Him to forgive us even though we are most undeserving. Amma Sarah called the forgiving of ourselves a fulfillment of the virtues that were bestowed upon us by the Creator. Forgiveness, even of our own faults, is a virtue.

Related image


PRAYER

Lord, teach me to forgive others and to own forgiveness for myself. This ownership allows me to move forward. Lord allow me to set aside the crippling pain and shame that so possesses my life and move forward forgiving and forgiven.

AMEN


1 Comment

Filed under Desert Ammas, Forgiveness

A Word on Prayer

When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station,

we do not presume to do so

except with humility and reverence.

How much the more, then,

are complete humility and pure devotion necessary

in supplication of the Lord who is God of the universe!

And let us be assured

that it is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7),

but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction.

Our prayer, therefore, ought to be short and pure,

unless it happens to be prolonged

by an inspiration of divine grace.

In community, however, let prayer be very short,

and when the Superior gives the signal let all rise together.

On Reverence in Prayer – Rule of St. Benedict


There are countless books written on prayer. How to pray? When to pray? Why to pray? Who to pray for? Nearly 1500 years ago the monk “Benedict “gave us a short paragraph that shed light on these questions. Let’s us look at his suggestions to his fellow monks, and I dare say, to us.

First, we are humble in our approach to people we wish to help us. We seldom get help when we are very haughty towards those who could easily help us. Benedict notes that when we approach persons of high station (money and power,) we do it with reverence and humility. Simply stated, our wants are wrapped with respect and deference. We do not approach people preaching at them about what they owe to others because they as so blessed by God.

prayer-conversations-with-god

Second, he reminds us that we owe abundantly more respect and deference to God when we approach Him. Let’s not go to God quoting the “ask and receive” verses that we find so handy when we need something. We tend to use these verses to force the hand of God. He will not be forced.

Third, many words will not impress God, especially when they are uttered publicly so as to impress those around you who hear them. Such words ring hollow in the ear of God.Prayer-9-20-17

Fourth, prayer should have purity of heart and emotion bearing repentance. When prayer bears these characteristics, it is pure and worthy of the ear of God. Benedict suggests that prayers ought to be short and pure.

 

 

God calls for prayers that are reverent and non-attention getting.


Prayer

Lord, remind me that you deserve my reverence and respect no matter how dire my present need may seem. Let me pray to you and learn to wait patiently for your answer. Relive me of the temptation to pray with many words to impress others and to wear you down.

Amen


Leave a comment

Filed under Benedict of Nursia, Benedictine Rule, Prayer

Over Thinking

Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind.

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

 

The dualistic mind is essentially binary, either/or thinking. It knows by comparison, opposition, and differentiation. It uses descriptive words like good/evil, pretty/ugly, smart/stupid, not realizing there may be a hundred degrees between the two ends of each spectrum.


—- Richard Rohr

Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.

—-Benedict of Nursia


We Americans Christians have a real problem with over thinking. Our burning desired is to have a definitive answer for everything, even things that are Over-Thinking-3unanswerable. Richard Rohr points out that there are a hundred degrees of truth between right and wrong. Methodist founder John Wesley felt that in most cases there was more than one right answer. Today we face a real danger of narrowing the love of God by over thinking the words and work of God. It is a sad day when religion is more interested in certainty than mystery. Without mystery there is no God, because He is the ultimate mystery.

Our first consideration should be the concept that logic hinders the work of God. Would Jesus have ever healed the first person, preached the Sermon on the Mount or raised Lazarus from the dead if He wanted people to believe in His mission based on logic? The things He did, the words He uttered defied Jewish, Greek and Roman logic. By what He did, he proclaimed Himself as not of this world. Jesus didn’t come into the world to teach us to be logical but to urge us to be mystical. The church is not about logic but about grace and mystery.

Now we need to think about the truth that we hold so dear. Jesus said to Pilate. “What is Truth?” I believe that truth is where you intersect with God and become one with Him. One man’s truth can be another man’s enemy. Our God calls us to love Him and His creation. He gives each of us the proper amount of grace to accomplish this elusive task. God never intended faith to be a “one size fits all” concept. Faith is an ongoing journey of personal experiences with God. Our interaction with his indwelling spirit forms us every day. There is no single handbook that tells us how to practice our faith. The reason we are told in scripture to not forsake the assembling ourselves together is so we might share the diversity of our journeys. In these assemblies we find out what the work of God looks like today, not two thousand years ago. Rest assured there will be many similarities, but there will also be some things that are laser focused on current time and place. Never forget the degrees of truth on the spectrum.Over-Listen-1

Oh, how different would the world be if we listened with the ears of our heart? Heart listening would surely end racism, war, crime and all other manner of sin. Long ago it was conceded that we will never attain perfection on this side of heaven, but we must try. Winston Churchill’s famous and short speech was given at his alma mater, Harrow. Here’s the complete text, “”Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” I urge you to never give up the idea of listening at all times with the ears of your heart. Heart listening will march us steadily on to Christian perfection and an ultimately more peaceful world.

Over-Listening-2The simplicity of living without over thinking every little detail of our spiritual walk will lead us to that peace that surpasses all understanding that is referenced in the Bible.


PRAYER

 

Lord help me to truly listen to you without allowing my thinking to block you out. I submit myself to your way and cast aside the way of the world. free me from the chain of my logic and open up for me your infinite river if grace.

AMEN


2 Comments

Filed under Christian Journey, Winston Churchill

Quotes to Ponder

9-6-17

For the past  six years I have been sharing quotes, reflections and prayers with you by way of this blog and my emails.Today I give you a collection of quotes as fodder for your prayers and journaling. I hope you will find them helpful and inspiring.

Surely we cannot take an open question like the supernatural and shut it with a bang, turning the key of the madhouse on all the mystics of history. You cannot take the region of the unknown and calmly say that, though you know nothing about it, you know all the gates are locked. We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.”

—G.K. Chesterton

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

—Meister Eckhart

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

—Julian of Norwich

I will soothe you and heal you, I will bring you roses. I too have been covered with thorns.

—Jalaluddin Rumi

Every word, every image used for God is a distortion more than a description.

― Anthony de Mello

For if the will has nothing to employ it and love has no present object with which to busy itself, the soul finds itself without either support or occupation, its solitude and aridity cause it great distress and its thoughts involve it in the severest conflict.

—Teresa of Ávila

That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.

—Peter Rollins

I used unexpectedly to experience a consciousness of the presence of God, or such a kind that I could not possibly doubt that He was within me or that I was wholly engulfed in Him. This was in no sense a vision: I believe it is called mystical theology. The soul is suspended in such a way that it seems to be completely outside itself. The will loves; the memory, I think, is almost lost; while the understanding, I believe, thought it is not lost, does not reason—I mean that it does not work, but is amazed at the extent of all it can understand; for God wills it to realize that it understands nothing of what His Majesty represents to it.

—Teresa of Ávila

Faith is the door to the full inner life of the Church, a life which includes not only access to an authoritative teaching but above all to a deep personal experience which is at once unique and yet shared by the whole Body of Christ, in the Spirit of Christ.”

—Thomas Merton

Have you ever wanted More? Not more stuff . . . or success . . . or fame . . . but more intimacy, more connection, more mystery, more awe

—Mariah McKenzie

Anyone who truly loves God travels securely.

—Saint Teresa of Avila

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

—Julian of Norwich

Benedict-9-6-17

Live simply and without thinking too much, like a child with his father. Faith without too much thinking works wonders. The logical mind hinders the Grace of God and miracles. Practice patience without judging with the logical mind.

—Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.

—-Benedict of Nursia

Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.

—- Saint Teresa of Avila

When Abba Anthony thought about the depths of the judgments of God, he asked, ‘Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?’ He heard a voice answering him, ‘Antony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.

—Anthony the Great


PRAYER

God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.”

AMEN

___Julian of Norwich


Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes

Self Denial

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?

—–Jesus

 

Self Denial is defined as – the willingness to forgo personal pleasures or undergo personal trials in the pursuit of the increased good of another.

Christian monastic asceticism(severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence) is remarkable for its balance, its sense of proportion. It does not overstress the negative side of the ascetic life, nor does it tend to flatter human nature by diminishing responsibilities or watering down the truth. It shows us clearly that while we can do nothing without grace, we must nevertheless cooperate with grace. It warns us that we must make an uncompromising break with the world and all that it stands for, but it keeps encouraging us with the hope of the happiness that lies ahead.

—— Thomas Merton


 

Self-denial is not very popular in our American culture. We are taught to want the best and more of it. A beer commercial once proclaimed, “You only go around once in life: Go for all the gusto you can.” The commercial is no longer aired, but the attitude permeates our society. Over and over we are urged to grab for all of life that we possibly can, and then go for more. An unprecedented number of Americans classify their religious status as unaffiliated or “none.” The concept of self-denial is an anathema to our society and, therefore, so is Christianity.

Nones

Jesus teaches his followers to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him. That concept just doesn’t speak to our society. Everything must have a payoff, a good result, be successful or it is just not worth doing. We in the church speak of what sacrifices are necessary to live the Christian life. Hypocrisy, ill will and scandals have unfortunately brought Christianity to aHypocrites screeching halt in our day. Many people have a hard time seeing that Christianity has any genuineness at all. We are no longer the focus of the marketplace or the leaders of society. Quite honestly, it seems as though we are being erased as if we never existed. We are either considered uneducated at best or mean hypocrites at worse. Our identity has become the purveyors of the “thou shat not “message. Why, you ask?

Because of the overall negativity of our message, much of the world has forgotten about the grace of God. This grace is the free and unmerited favor of God. In the secular world grace is simple elegance or refinement of movement. I would like to propose that both definitions are applicable to the follower of Jesus who practices self-denial. Merton says that we can do nothing without grace, and asserts that we must cooperate with grace. I believe that the Christian who lives in oneness with God by taking up of their cross is a person who is both receiving the unmerited favor of God and journeys through life with simple elegance. This life of self-denial is surprisingly freeing. We are no longer dragged down by competition, envy or even defeat. Now we can live in a world where God truly reigns. Simple self-denial makes God’s kingdom very real in the here and now.

Grace-1

The challenge is – do we truly believe in Him enough to practice self-denial and cross bearing? Tall orders these are, but ones that have an” other worldly” payoff. Those large numbers of “nones” that the pollsters tell us about have rejected the grace that comes with self-denial and can scarcely imagine what “grace freedom” really means. Grace freedom is the ability to live in the kingdom of God in the now and be excited about what is to come. The best things in life come by letting go.

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?


Prayer

Lord, I pray for the gift of grace that allows me to deny myself and take up my cross. That road is one that my mind will not let me follow, but I know that if I open myself to your grace I can see your mind and gladly follow. When that happens I have unimaginable freedom. The road is confusing, but I trust you.

Amen

1 Comment

Filed under Grace, Thomas Merton

Finding Silence


Thomas-Merton-8-23-17

Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.

—-Jean Arp

Silence has many dimensions. It can be a regression and an escape, a loss of self, or it can be presence, awareness, unification, self-discovery. Negative silence blurs and confuses our identity, and we lapse into daydreams or diffuse anxieties. Positive silence pulls us together and makes us realize who we are, who we might be, and the distance between the two. Hence, positive silence implies a choice, and what Paul Tillich called the “courage to be.”

—–Thomas Merton


For over seven years we lived on a very busy city street. During that time I began to believe that silence was just a myth that is found in some far off place. I, like the German sculptor Jean Arp, began to believe that silence was passing into legend. Two and a half years ago I moved into a much quieter, though not silent, neighborhood. Once again, I enjoyed birdsong and could hear the sound of the wind flowing through the trees. It was as though I was rediscovering creation. Soon I realized that my new home has noise as well. Determined not to let my silence be taken away from me, I began to embrace the noise as a pathway to inner silence. That sense of silence acted as a catalyst for a new and stronger spirituality.

Merton refers to the damage caused by negative silence in “Love and Living.” My observation is the more we are surrounded by noise the more likely we are to fall into negative silence. I believe that it is caused by the constant awareness of that background noise that is always present. We become so frustrated by our inability to escape the uproar of humanity and position ourselves at the feet of the creator. We fight so hard to escape the uproar, we never find peace. The path remains elusive to us because we are concentrated on the negative. True silence is out there waiting for us to discover it.

True silence is positive silence, which is August-23-Personal-quotea time and a place of self-discovery. From that place we can be in the presence of God. The prophet Zephaniah says, “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests. “I believe that only way to truly be before the Lord is in silence. How can we really hear God above the din of the world unless we clear our minds and focus on Him? The Bible, early Christians, medieval mystics, modern monastics and all other sorts of people in sincere search of God have a common cry -SILENCE!! This cry instructs us to find a quiet place and present ourselves to God. The quietness allows God to calm us, settle us and speak to us, and more importantly, for us to hear God.

No matter what your circumstance, try not to believe that the quiet place is a thing of the past. Take the time to hear your surroundings and listen to God wherever you may be. The throng of urban life doesn’t have to drive us into the negative silence of brooding and moping. Discover the glimpses of silence that God allows you. Try not to be frustrated with the sounds of His creation but to offer them up as part of your journey to your inner self.


PRAYER

 

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.


Amen.

 

—-Thomas Merton


Leave a comment

Filed under Prayer, Silence, Thomas Merton

Natural Faith

8-22-17 


Though it may seem as though faith is absent more often than it is present, it is possible to strengthen this quality through silence and meditation. Like the sun and the stars, faith is a natural part of our soul life—we have only to learn to put our trust in this intuitive sense to begin to feel its healing effects. Faith is the fountain of spiritual discipline…an inner sense that allows us to bear with patience our doubts and despair, as well as the dry, depressing passages of life, knowing that somehow, some way, we are being led forward in the right direction.

~ from SOUL SISTERS by Pythia Peay

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes

Breaking the Bow

8-16-17

A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, “Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it.” So, he did. The old man said, “Shoot another,” and he did so. Then the old man said, “Shoot yet again,” and the hunter replied “If I bend my bow so much I will break it.” Then the old man said to him, “It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs.” When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

—— Abba Anthony of the Desert

From the beginning there have always been people who have viewed the Christian life as a life of drudgery. This type of life that has no room for fun or laughter. The hunter in our saying was shocked to see that monks could have fun, after all, monks were supposed to be serious and reverent. Monastic (Christian) life just has to be extremely hard, difficult and exhausting. There can be no room for laughter or relief. Abba Anthony taught the hunter the necessity of diversion and relief by challenging him to test his bow beyond its endurance. Every person, every machine, has its limits. When those limits are exceeded a breakdown can occur. Just as the hunter’s bow had its breaking point if rest was not given, so do we. What are some “take aways” from this saying?

  • Don’t judge people by your preconceived opinions.
  • Don’t neglect your need for down time.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Don’t force your body to endure beyond its capacity.
  • God wants you to laugh.
  • God wants you to meet people where they are.
  • God wants you to strengthen people.

Let us not make the mistake of lording over people that God sends our way. Show them that you are kind and generous, but most of all, that you are genuine. We can accomplish so much more for the kingdom when we allow ourselves to be genuine and vulnerable. Then the world sees Christians as their friends who want the best for them. Too often, the world sees the followers of Jesus as demanding, harsh and a rule driven sort of people. The world is truly looking for the “good news” and we can give it to them. People are strengthened and renewed by laughter and kindness and that is the calling of a Christian to bring light and life to the world.

Do something that is burden easing for someone this week.


Prayer

My Lord, help me to spread your grace to those around me. Help me to be a person of light to all I encounter. I pray that You will plant in me the secret of being a burden lifter for those you have entrusted to my influence. May my world be filled with laughter and joy.

Amen

Leave a comment

Filed under Abba Anthony, Desert Fathers