Monday, November 25, 2013

A...Mystery...We...May...(choose to)...Ignore

Another year has almost passed. All passing's must be celebrated for healthy living. That is why at this time we are in the midst of celebrating the ending of The Liturgical year. In the liturgical year, we take 365 days to reflect on the gift that comes to us in every moment, and nanosecond we are privileged to live. As we think of a second, or any given moment it is so sudden that we blink and it is gone. No big deal! How wrong we are. In each and every moment, every nanosecond, The Infinite, The Unknown, The Unknowable, is perfectly hidden and revealed. We can take each moment for granted and look to a future event to give us what is present, in this present moment. In this now moment comes to me all that I need. Many times because the "now moment" is not giving me what I want, I just blow it off and turn my attention to something else. I am even expecting that "something else, or somewhere else" to give me that which will never bring me peace, or happiness. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be. The Liturgical year's liturgical celebrations as it were, takes the mystery hidden and revealed in each sacramental moment, and does what with it? It extends, stretches the moment, through minutes, days, and weeks so are afforded the opportunity to not only look at, but be lead to see the ever newness of The Mystery, God. No two seconds, no two moments are the same. We may think so, but that thinking needs to be challenged. Without that ongoing challenge we will live a life-less, boring, self-centered, selfish life. Actually we do not live, we just exist. Then we are driven to look for a scapegoat to blame. We will want, we will need this scapegoat to carry the blame rather than take responsibility for our own inaction. "Growth begins, when blaming ends" (Powell). Darn that!!!
                        Our Liturgical celebrations, given a chance, afford us the opportunity, and the means to journey into the mystery of our lives  and there, encounter The Presence, The Mystery within. We are reminded that liturgy is what? (Before you read on, how do you answer that question? What is your personal understanding of the action you take part in each time you gather with other members of your faith community? Your understanding will color, for good or for ill, your participation in the liturgy.) Liturgy we are now given to understand, and accept, is "the WORK of the people." It is the whole community gathering together to honor and worship their God, present in Word, Sacrifice, and Sacrament. Each is invited, by our reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, to come and celebrate their individual and collective participation in The Priesthood of Jesus, The Christ. Liturgy is not about our relationship with Jesus, but with Jesus The Christ.  Jesus The Christ, is the historical Jesus, Who has journeyed through death, Resurrection, Ascension, and now through His Spirit dwells not with (The Historical Jesus), but WITHIN each one of us. The Christ knows, from His lived experience as The Human Being, what it means to suffer, die, be buried, then rise, and ascend to send His Spirit to dwell within our depths. Jesus, The Christ, The One Whose Body we are called to be, and Whose priesthood we are consecrated to share in each liturgical gathering. This is just one of the wonder-full, mystery participation gifts that we are gifted with by our Baptism, but is either taken for granted or just ignored. As a result our participation in the liturgy is life-less, or nonexistent.
                           If The Mystery within our depths does not connect with the presence of The Mystery hidden and revealed in each celebration is there a reason? I wonder.  Is it because we do not  see our everyday life connected with our liturgical life? Do we see in each and every moment fodder for our next Eucharistic celebration? Each moment we live, we are encountering The Paschal Mystery we have been baptized into, but we do not consciously name the deep, hidden, reality of the moment. In each Eucharistic celebration as we proclaim, The Mystery of Faith, we are proclaiming publicly what has been so often a private experience. That is why our preparation for each coming celebration begins as we walk out the door of the place we have just worshipped in. All of our life experiences, no matter how "ordinary" they are, go into the new creation of who we are. This "new creation" will be brought, through a response to grace, to celebrate the newness of its creation. In the Sacred Meal celebration. there is a deepening, a solidifying of the relationship between Creator and creation. Liturgy celebration and the life we lead, then are one. The same Christ is present, and encountered in both. What a gift this liturgical year is. It gives us 365 days, 8,765.812 hours, and 31,556,926 seconds, so we can choose in what timeframe we choose to delve into The Mystery, to find that which will give an ever deepening meaning to the life we live. In this way we will not have "liturgy without soul." Our every moment soul journey will be an unending source of light, life, and love to be celebrated in The Liturgical celebration. Which leads to what.....???

Sunday, November 17, 2013


"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home." M.Basho. Home is a word that will crop up in conversation a great deal over the next many days, and weeks. Time that, hopefully, we will live in, and not just, exist in. We will be asked the question, "Are you going home for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for the New Year, are I/we? We will hear the excitement in the voices of those who are blessed with the opportunity to experience this very spiritual event.  Like all that is really real, and so an essential part of this spiritual journey there are two realities to face. The positive side has been expressed in the above questions. Yet when we are honest, we have to also deal with this sad commentary, on that same reality, "I/we have to go home this year, and I/we, do not want to."  One reality two, two responses.  Some journey home with a mixture of both.  There is the excitement, tinged with fear and trepidation.  There is the excitement of reunion, but reunions carry the challenges of having to face unresolved issues. Issues that are part of our family story, hence an essential part of our own story. That is a reality we have to face whether we like it or not.
              To be healthy, we will have to face that which we prefer not to face, given a choice.  To be spiritually healthy we have to face our own fears, and journey into our own darkness.  It is then we are strong enough to face the familiar challenge.  The challenge that comes with belonging to a human, frail, finite family of origin. In so far as we allow ourselves to allow the process to happen within ourselves will we be bearer of the solution?  As opposed to being contributors to the ongoing, and ever so developing dysfunction.  Family life is messy, but as the messy-full-ness is dealt with the wonder-full and surprising gifts are bestowed on those who have the courage to dare face what is called "the family secret." "The secret," can be hidden, denied, medicated, but only for so long.  It will eventually, and not in a very acceptable way, come into the light of day.  That is a guarantee. "Whatever is whispered in darkness, will be shouted from the rooftops."  I cannot count the number of times I have seen this dynamic become part of oh so many, many families' reality.  Over these 50 plus years in ministry, I have come to accept, not understand, that the "holidays" seem to bring out the best, and the worst in individuals and families!!!  That saying:  "Every blessing is a curse, and every curse is a blessing" is so very mysteriously true when it comes to family.  Every family has "the family secret." Each individual's unhappinesses and difficulties can be traced in so many instances to their participation in the covering up and so denial of the secret which must be protected no matter what the cost.  Many, many, oh so many sacrifice themselves to death rather than divulge that which is known but never admitted. Kudos to all who are brave enough to speak the unspoken secret.  In speaking your truth, you are being a force for good in the ongoing creation of this world.  As you speak your truth, you must also accept that this is not you speaking, but The Spirit of Truth, God, within you.  Whenever we are dealing with real truth there within lies The Divine Presence.  As you speak the truth, you are never alone.
                        I was really stuck when it came to this blog.  No movement for a couple of days.  Then I went on a hike this morning, and took the struggle with me.  I have found out over the years, that when I have a challenge to face, Joe better take a hike.  On these particular hikes, I seem to get what I need to know not necessarily what I want to know.  Some of the truths that are placed before me, I would much prefer that they had never appeared."  The truth will set you free, but first it will tee you off."  In retrospect, I wish I had not started to reflect again on that opening quote, "Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."  Out of the blue the following questions popped into my head, Have I found a home on this life's journey?  Am I at home to all that the journey, I prefer hike, has brought, and is bringing to my consciousness?  Am I fully at one, at peace with the reality of the Joe I am constantly discovering?  If I am not at one, at peace, and so at home why not?  My Gracious Creator would have this wish for me.  That I may have life, and have it to the fullest, but this is not my reality.  After all the years of struggle, I still am not completely at home with who I really am.  I have to keep reminding myself of the fact I will never find real rest, real lasting peace on this journey. ("You have made us for Yourself O Lord, and we will NEVER rest until we rest in YOU.")  I will have temporary glimpses into what it means to be "at rest."  Because of "the changing moods of the human ear," they do not last.  In this struggle to be "at home," I have had to learn the hard way that "home-coming" to who one really is, is a process and not an event.  We are told "Home is where the heart is," and this begs the questions where your heart is, and what really is in your heart?  There is a reality that we are challenged to face, but only on a moment to moment basis.  Thank you God for never deserting me in those moments when I do not feel Your presence, Your gift of faith reveals that a feeling of Your Presence is not necessary for Your actual Presence.  I have been given a human heart with which to deal with my deepest, mysterious reality, "A spiritual being immersed in the human condition."How fickle human nature is, and what mystery lies within the human heart! We are challenged to find our home within this mysterious place we call the human heart."  Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love, belonging, and joy --the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the power of our light." Brene Brown.


Saturday, November 9, 2013


             The seasons we observe in Mother Nature are used as a paradigm for the seasons of our hearts and souls. As we reflect on the physical realities we are brought to the understanding, that  behind all that we see is a far deeper reality.  In all reality is perfectly hidden, and perfectly revealed, "The Real." What we see only touches the surface. To see beyond that surface we have to have the x-ray eye of faith. As we reflect on the vast treasures bestowed upon us by the combined reflections, of the artist, poet, writer, composer, and mystic something happens. We, as the result of these gifts, receive an invitation, or maybe a challenge to see, feel, experience, and celebrate the hidden spiritual realities which up until now had remained hidden. The autumn season had had great wonder for me, this year Autumn has come with a twist. Twists do add that something, like a twist of lemon in a cocktail?  I have read about that!!!

             Autumn this year for me is different, it has come with that twist which adds a certain something.  I am now having to deal with the reality  the challenge, of seeing and living this Autumn through the lenses of my personal Winter season. ( In the golfing parlance it is called, "playing the back nine" I just hope that when I am on the 18th green I will get a hint when lining up that "final putt.")  This is a whole new sacramental experience from which gifts will flow. Some will be welcomed, others will come as a challenge.  From each and every new experience I have been lead to believe something new will bubble up from within.  There will be a new understanding, a new little insight that was not there before. This/these insight(s) when accepted, and reverenced always results in change.

         I must wait for that bubbling up, which always happens.  This bubbling up is not on a timer, and so cannot be scheduled into the pattern of one's life.  Now I am being challenged to accept the reality, my Autumn has passed. I, also, have to own the fact there was no celebration in its passing. One can, and does allow one's self to be so caught  up in "the doing of life" that the  richness behind "the being of life" is never really seen, known or reverenced. What a void that leaves.  A void that sooner or later has to be filled up.  It will be filled up with  a deeper sense of gentleness, kindness, empathy and compassion. These are mysteriously bestowed as the  result of healthy grieving.  On the other hand, the void can and will be filled up with all kinds of dysfunction when the healthy grieving process is not experienced.  Then we are angry, cynical, vindictive, just to name a few. The grieving process is not easy. However, it is essential for a healthy, whole, holy life. There are no short cuts.

                   Being in the process,  I came across the following, and it spoke to me of one aspect of Autumn:  "A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours, the clouds fleeting like our illusions, the light diminishing like our intelligence, the sun growing colder like our affections, the rivers becoming frozen like our lives--all bear secret relations to our destinies." de Chateaubriand. Then here are some other reflections of the same reality:  "Delicious Autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive Autumns." George Eliot. "No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace as I have seen in one autumnal face."  The mystical poet, John Donne.  "Autumn...the year's loveliest smile." William Cullen Bryant. "I love Autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it." Lee Maynard. "Fall colors are funny. They're so bright, and intense and beautiful. It's like nature is trying to fill you up with color, to saturate you so you can stockpile it before winter turns everything muted and dreary." Siobhan Vivian, Same Difference.