Monthly Archives: September 2014

Seeds of Humanity

The mystic Julian of Norwich, holding an acorn in her hand in the fourteenthjulian century said of it, “In this is all that is.” The Earth shakes at the thought of the simple truth of it.

In every seed is the gift of life to those seeking life, wanting life, denied the kind of life that is full of energy, full of hope. But the hope is a tenuous one, a sacred one, one to be treated with awe for fear of our own failure to protect it.

Seeds are the one thing that are the only genuine promise we have of the future. “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow,” Martin Luther wrote, “I would plant an apple tree today.” It is an insight that defies despair, that promises new life in the midst of the old. It is a beacon that cries out for commitment in an age such as ours when the seeds of destruction among us—greed, power, and control—are in mortal struggle with the seeds of life.

And now, so accustomed have we become to destruction in the name of progress, we are on the brink of commercializing seed, of politicizing seed, of monopolizing seed, of genetically modifying seeds for the sake of someone’s control of creation, of making seed the new military weapon of the twenty-first century.

It is all a matter of valuing the money we can make today more than we value the life that is meant to come.

But the problem is that we ourselves are all seeds, too. We are either seeds of universal love or seeds of exploitative racism. We are seeds of eternal hope or we are seeds of starving despair. We are seeds of a new humanity or we are the harbingers of humanity’s decay.

It is a choice. A conscious choice that depends on what we see in seeds and how we treat them and whose we think they are and what we will do to keep them free and available. Or not.

We are the seed of our own life to come and the life of the planet as well. Indeed, “In the seed is everything that is.

Joan Chittister

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My Church

Professor and preacher Fred Craddock tells about visiting a church one time where he was supposed to hold services on Friday evening, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. When he pulled into the parking lot of the church, a funeral was concluding. People were moving to their automobiles; the hearse was still there. The minister saw him, recognized him, and motioned for him to come over. Craddock didn’t want to intrude; he was just waiting until the funeral was over. He was standing next to the widow. The pastor introduced her to Craddock, and Craddock felt awkward. He said to her, “This is no time for you to be meeting strangers. I’m sorry, and I’m really sorry about your loss.” Her husband had been killed in a car wreck and left her with four children. He said, “I know this is a very difficult time for you.”

She said, “It is. So I won’t be at the services tonight, but I’ll be there tomorrow night, and I’ll be there Sunday morning.”

Like any sensible and caring person, Craddock said, “Oh, you don’t need to.”

“Yes, I do,” she said.

He said, “Well, what I meant was, I know it’s a very hard time.”

And she said, “I know it’s hard. It’s already hard, but you see, this is my church, and they’re going to see that my children and I are okay.”

My church is going to see that we are okay. Isn’t that what a church is supposed to be all about?

Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest.

—Jesus

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Teresa of Avila #1

Teresa of Avila

 

“If, then, you sometimes fall, do not lose heart, or cease striving to make progress, for even out of your fall God will bring good, just as a man selling an antidote will drink poison before he takes it in order to prove its power.”

~ Teresa of Avila ~

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An Elusive Lesson

Abba Marcarius the Great said to the brothers at Scetis, when he dismissed the assembly, ‘Flee my brothers.’ One of the old men asked him, ’Where could we flee beyond the desert?’ He put his finger on his lips and said, ‘Flee that,” and he went into his cell, shut the door and sat down.

— sayings of the desert

makarioslargeThere is a quite popular saying in the advertising business – location, location, location. When the monk questioned Marcarius, he was saying we desert monks are in the perfect location. Surely in this desert we have retreated from everything, and are in danger from nothing. Not so, says the great master. The greatest temptation of all still plagued them, and they had overlooked it. Their greatest opponent was the corrupt communication that would come out of their mouths.

The sin of gossip, slander and others originate from the words that come out of our mouths. Silence and introspection are our greatest friends. We must all think before we speak, and remain silent instead of having an opinion on everything. In the plethora of words that spew out of our mouths, much harm is done. The brother had just been dismissed from assembly (worship/prayer) , and Marcarius urged them to go back to their cells and reflect on the revelation that had received rather than to speak idle words to each other. This is a hard but worthy lesson for us.

Prayer Thought – Lord let us see the value of times of silence and reflection.

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Food for Thought-5 Ideas about Influence

I really like this little list.

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A Blessing September 22

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,

so that stranger and friend may come and warm himself at it.

And may light shine out of the two eyes of you, celtic-cross

like a candle set in the window of a house,

bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.

And may the blessing of the rain be on you,

may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,

and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,

and sometimes a star.

And may the blessing of the earth be on you,

soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,

soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;

and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.

May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.

And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.

—–Scottish Blessing

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A Monk’s Story

One day a man from a nearby village called out at the monastery gates, and  handed the old monk who opened it a magnificent bunch of grapes, saying, “Dear Father, I have brought as a gift the finest grapes my vineyard has produced.”

PorterThe monk smiled, “Thank you, I will take them to the Abbot immediately; he’ll be delighted with this offering.” But the villager said, “No, no I brought them for you.”

The old monk didn’t think he deserved such a fine gift. “Oh yes!” insisted the man. “For whenever I come by, you open the gates and welcome me. When I needed help because the crop was destroyed, you shared your meal with me every day. I hope this bunch of grapes will remind you of the sun’s love, the rain’s beauty and the miracle of God, for it is He who made them grow so fine.”

The monk held the bunch grapes. It looked full and luscious. He decided to present it to the Abbot, who had always encouraged him with words of wisdom.

The Abbot was very pleased with the grapes, but as he accepted them, he thought of one of the brothers who had been very unwell. “I’ll give him these grapes; they may bring some joy to his life.”

But the grapes didn’t stay in the sick monk’s room for long. He reflected, “Brother Cook has been feeding me such nourishing meals to help me recover. I’m sure he will enjoy these.” As the cook brought him his meal, he presented him with the grapes. “They’re for you,” said the sick monk. “You work so hard; take a moment to sit and enjoy these.”

Brother Cook was amazed at the beauty of the grapes, then he thought of the newest entrant to the monastery. He decided to gift them to the youngster as he felt he might be a bit lonely without his family, and also so that he might understand that the work of God is in the smallest details of creation.

When the novice received them, his heart was filled with the Glory of the Lord, for he had never seen such beautiful grapes. Just then, he recalled the first time he came to the monastery, and of the simple old monk who had opened the gates and warmly welcomed him; it was that gesture which allowed him to feel at home in this community of people who knew how to value the wonders of life.

And so, he walked to the monk at the gates. “Eat and enjoy them,” he said. “For you spend most of your time alone here, and these grapes will make you very happy.”

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Generosity Is the Secret to Our Joy

There is an old rabbinic parable about a farmer that had two sons. As soon as they were old enough to walk, he took them to the fields and he taught them everything that he knew about growing crops and raising animals. When he got too old to work, the two boys took over the chores of the farm and when the father died, they had found their working together so meaningful that they decided to keep their partnership. So each brother contributed what he could and during every harvest season, they would divide equally what they had corporately produced. Across the years the elder brother never married, stayed an old bachelor. The younger brother did marry and had eight wonderful children.

Some years later when they were having a wonderful harvest, the old bachelor brother thought to himself one night, “My brother has ten mouths to feed. I only have one. He really needs more of his harvest than I do, but I know he is much too fair to renegotiate. I know what I’ll do. In the dead of the night when he is already asleep, I’ll take some of what I have put in my barn and I’ll slip it over into his barn to help him feed his children. At the very time he was thinking down that line, the younger brother was thinking to himself, “God has given me these wonderful children. My brother hasn’t been so fortunate. He really needs more of this harvest for his old age than I do, but I know him. He’s much too fair. He’ll never renegotiate. I know what I’ll do. In the dead of the night when he’s asleep, I’ll take some of what I’ve put in my barn and slip it over into his barn.” And so one night when the moon was full, as you may have already anticipated, those two brothers came face to face, each on a mission of generosity. The old rabbi said that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, a gentle rain began to fall. You know what it was? God weeping for joy because two of his children had gotten the point. Two of his children had come to realize that generosity is the deepest characteristic of the holy and because we are made in God’s image, our being generous is the secret to our joy as well. Life is not fair, thank God! It’s not fair because it’s rooted in grace.

John Claypool, Life Isn’t Fair, Thank God!

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Six Ways to Experience Contemplation Online

Great insights and suggestions from Bryan.

Living Contemplatively

Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef

We live an increasingly virtual existence. We have ongoing conversations with our friends—sitting in our home, or from our office, or while standing on the street waiting for the bus—while they are in a different home, in a different office, or on a different street.

Person-Using-iPhone-4SNews and weather alerts pop up automatically on our phones, keeping us forever in the loop. We update our status so the world can know what we had for dinner, or so that not just family, but every person we’ve ever known can see a picture of our kids on their first day of school. We plug in to our devices to keep up-to-date on the news, choosing a website or newscast of choice. Sometimes, rather than looking out the window or stepping outside, we pull up our favorite weather app to decide if it’s going to be a…

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Self Judgment

Desert MonkA brother who was sharing lodging with other brothers asked Abba Bessarion, ‘What should I do?’ The old man replied, ‘Keep silence and do not compare yourself to others.’

—-sayings of the desert

There is no greater enemy than the enemy of self – judgment. When we compare ourselves to others, we are judging ourselves and usually looking for ways to compete with the other. This sort of behavior easily leads to jealousy and envy, emotions which ALWAYS cause us to fall into sin. Jealousy and envy become all-consuming and the next thing you know you are trying to eliminate them so they are no longer a threat.

The other side of that scenario is self – loathing. Such an attitude leads to loss of productivity, depression and destructive behavior. We must be continually be reminded that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and we are possessors of great potential. The sheer numbers of different personalities and talents are an expression of an infinite God whose possibilities are limitless.

The Abba is telling the brother and us, to keep silent and see the person that God has created. We are not all the same, but we are the crown jewel of God’s creation. In silence we discover God’s spark in our lives, and He then uses it to bring us to our full potential. As the psalmist says, ‘Be still and know that I am God….’

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