Acts 2:1–4 The flames separated and settled on each of them…. Ten years ago at this time I was on a retreat at Our Lady of Solitude in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. During most of my three and a half weeks at OLS, the only other retreatant was an abbess on sabbatical from her convent in India. She and I spent much of each day together in silence in the chapel. One day she looked at me knowingly and pointed to the now flowering ocotillo plant outside the chapel window. “It’s almost Pentecost,” she said. “Those flowers remind me of flames.” The anticipation of Pentecost in the middle of one of the hardest years of my life. Spring in the desert during an El Niño year. Flowers like flames. The director of OLS when I was there, Sister Therese Sedlock, has since passed away, and OLS is now the […]
Acts 1:9–11 Jesus rose from the dead (Easter), appeared to various people over the course of forty-plus days (the Easter season), ascended into heaven (Ascension), then sent the Holy Spirit to those he had left behind (Pentecost)—a series of terrifying, beautiful surprises. Today is the sixth Saturday of Easter; Thursday was Ascension Day; Pentecost is in eight days. We’re in the middle of all this crazy new life. The bulbs I planted in December put up a few flowers and are now reduced to drooping green stalks, but … the wild irises outside my office window are rioting. There are six flowers out there this morning. Go figure.
John 14:9 Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” During the long silence that followed the reading of John 14:1–14 this morning at St. Cuthbert’s, I found myself wondering exactly what Jesus meant when he said that anyone who has seen him has seen God. In Exodus 33:20, God tells Moses that no one may see God’s face and live. So gazing at Jesus, we are able to gaze upon what would otherwise kill us. Looking at Jesus, really seeing him, is a way to pass down an otherwise deadly corridor; a way to reach the true, eternal, mysterious, awesome, hidden Source of Life. What actions, then, do I feel God calling me to take? Gaze more often at Jesus as he is described in the gospels … read the […]
I’m grateful that the Easter season lasts for 50 days. I didn’t go to church on Easter—I wouldn’t have been able to take it all in. (Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel like going this year. Too big a disconnect: the agonizingly slow growth of rooted faith on one hand, and the fast-blooming cheerfulness of an Easter Sunday church service on the other.) Some of the bulbs I planted are flowering. It’s a scrappy, messy affair; unpredictable, earthy, and with mixed results. But maybe that’s how faith is anyway.
John 11:1–45 v. 37: But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” It’s the fifth Sunday in Lent, and the first anniversary of my dad’s death. The story of Lazarus’s death and resurrection (or resuscitation?) was very alive to me during March of last year. Here is an excerpt from my journal. March 15, 2007 The heading for this section in my bible is “Jesus Comforts the Sisters.” I just crossed it out. I don’t think your deepest intention and hope for them here is that they be comforted. Comfort is so little compared to whatever it is you’re really driving at in your interactions with them. No, you are not bringing COMFORT to the sisters—COMFORT would have been showing up a week earlier and sparing them Lazarus’s death scene, embalming, burial, and their own grieving, […]
Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart. In The People’s Companion to the Breviary, Psalm 51 comes up not only on days like Ash Wednesday, but every Friday morning, rain or shine. The Carmelites of Indianapolis, who created the People’s Companion, phrase verse 6 like this: “For you desire truth in my innermost being; teach me wisdom in the depths of my heart.” I have prayed this prayer many, many times. As I figure it, because God desires truth in my innermost being, God is willing to teach me wisdom. This is a prayer I would expect God to answer. Am I any closer to an answer? I don’t know, but I do continue to see my need to make the request. To see and act on deep truths that are revealed by growing self-awareness and awakeness—this […]
John 20:1 On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 11–12 Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping when she stooped down and saw two angels inside. 14–15 [Mary] turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” 18 Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She saw. In the darkness of night, in the darkness of a tomb, and in the darkness of confusion and grief, she saw. How does that work? —> I’m beckoned into the darkness —> I’m awakened to a sight —> perhaps, with grace, I’m led to a dim recognition of what it is I’m seeing (epiphany!) —> […]
Matthew 2:1–12 When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. (NRSV) Sometimes the Epiphany holds still, and we can catch up with it.
John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. I planted bulbs about a month ago, and this photo shows four tiny shoots above the ground. Can you see them? I can, but only because I have felt them with my fingertips. It dropped below freezing last week, which is rare for us, and I worried. But then I remembered that bulbs can survive much worse.