Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breath....The Invitation

We have been offered and accepted a new spirit for the new life that is now ours. One person told me she lost a husband and a son. Her prayer is for the spirit she needs to be a woman of her age, who has lost a husband and a son. Her prayer is not the prayer of a woman who is blessed with a husband and a son, and maybe grandchildren.

The prayer of a newly married couple is a prayer for the spirit they need to face the challenges of the first years of married life. They have to struggle through the process "form, storm, norm and perform". They will have to accept the fact that their relationship is always part of an ongoing process. The spirit requested by a couple that are five years together is not that of a couple who have been married for 15, 20 or more years.

The prayer of a couple who has lost a child or children is not the prayer of a couple who has a child or children. The prayer of a widow or widower is for a unique spirit for their unique lifestyle. The prayer of a blended family is also a unique prayer as they pray for the spirit to strengthen them. To strengthen them as they have to struggle with the ongoing process of "form, storm, norm and perform". This struggle is always going to be at an everdeepening level.

God gives us His particular grace in each of our unique situations. The different stages of the single life also demand a unique prayer for a unique spiritual experience. The emptiness, the aloneness of the single life must be recognized and owned. When this does not happen, we can so easily lose our way and end up in places we would prefer to avoid.

God's love for us is particular, passionate and persistent. His love is always being offered, we must welcome that Creative Love into the place of our woundedness, into the place of our brokenness, into our aloneness. We have been given the power to invite and allow God to transform what is in the painful place of loneliness into the consoling presence of solitude.

Thomas Merton had the following to say, "Surrender your poverty and acknowledge your nothingness to the Lord. Whether you understand it or not, God loves you, His presence in you, lives in you, dwells in you, calls you, saves you and offers you an understanding and compassion which are like nothing you have ever found in a book or heard in a sermon."

What we also have to remind ourselves that we have been given the power, the free-will, to deny ourselves hope and consolation. What a double-edged sword freedom is! We must remind ourselves again and again that we have to make a choice between life and death, hope and despair, fear and faith. The choice is an every moment choice, it is here and now.

All this leads us to the opening prayer of Easter Sunday liturgy when we prayed, "Send Your Spirit, into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, by the flame of Your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing Your praise beyond the farthest reach, for without Your Spirit humankind could never raise its voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord."

The prayer of Pentecost is asking the Spirit to be sent into our lives. It is an invitation. Because God, out of love, respects our free-will. He, like the great lover He is, awaits our invitation. We must know who is it that we are inviting. Why the invitation is being offered. What we are inviting Him to do. He is God, all-powerfull, all-knowing and all-loving. These are just some of His qualities. One saint encourages and paraphrasing here, when we pray to God, we pray for big stuff so as not to insult His dignity.

We then ask Him for help in the places we are helpless. We ask Him to come and reveal love in the places we ourselves can find no love and are powerless to love. We ask for His loving compassionate wisdom to understand how it is He can make all things work together. He makes all things work together, so we who believe, can be brought to joy and hope. We are asking for a new way of acting so we can be strengthened to commit ourselves to a new way of thinking. We pray that we may be strengthened to see that our lives are reflecting all that happened to Jesus Christ as He was, so we are. We are now His living presence. A living presence that comes to us only when we too have surrendered, died and allowed a new spirit to live within us. This then is a new creation, that is happening and will continue to evolve because we are graced. It will continue as long as we allow ourselves to be loved. The transformation will continue until one day, we too can say with St. Paul, "I live, no not I, it is Christ who lives within me". The dream of The Dreamer IS being realized. We are everdeepening our participation in that dream, but there is a choice to be made. The choice is being made right now.

The following prayer is from The Liturgy of the Hours,

Breath on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love the things you love,
and do what you would do.

Breath on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with you I have one will,
To live and to endure.

Breath on me, breath of God,
My soul with grace refined,
Until this earthly part of me,
Glows with your fire devine.

Breath on me, breath of God,
So I shall never die,
But live with you the perfect life,
In Your eternity.

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Here are three questions that help define this new spirit in our lives so we can experience an ever-new creation within us:

1) Who is it that we are inviting?
2) Why are we inviting this Spirit?
3) What are we inviting this Spirit to do?

Who is it that we are inviting? We must be consciously aware that we are inviting the power of love into our lives. It is a love that, like all healthy love, and of it's essence created. It is, a Creative Love, bringing a oneness into a world of chaos, disunity and disharmony. It is a Creative Love that makes all things work together for good. And, I mean here, ALL THINGS, not just the things we are comfortable with! Like healthy love, it transforms us, ever so slowly, ever so gently into an ever-renewing creation. This is the love that we are invited to sow in the place where we see no love right now.

The result is what? Where before there was anger toward oneself, now there is compassion. Where before, there was fear, now there is freedom of living life as a beloved son/daughter. Where there were hatred and violence, there is slowly growing a shy, quiet flower of peace. Where there was death, new life has appeared. A life full of energy, enthusiasm and hope. A life that is now able to cry out in a very loud, exalted, big voice -- "YES."

Our lenses are now being changed and refined. We are now able to see life and all of creation through the lens of love. I like the following from Anam Cara:

"To the loving eye, everything is real. This art of love is neither sentimental nor naive. Such love it is the greatest criterion of truth, celebration, and reality. Kathleen Raine, Scottish poet, says that unless you see a thing in the light of love, you do not see it at all. Love is the light in which we see light. Love is the light in which we see each thing in its true origin, nature, and destiny. If we could look at the world in a loving way, then the world would rise up before us full of invitation, possibility, and depth.

“The loving eye can even coax pain, hurt, and violence toward transfiguration and renewal. The loving eye is bright because it is autonomous and free. You can look lovingly upon anything. The loving vision does not become entangled in the agenda of Power, Seduction, Opposition, or Complicity. Such vision is creative and subversive. It rises above the pathetic arithmetic of blame and judgment and engages experience at the level of its origin, structure, and destiny. The loving eye sees through and beyond image and effects the deepest change. Vision is central to your presence and creativity. To recognize how you see things can bring you self knowledge and enable you to glimpse the wonderful treasures your life secretly holds."

Why are we inviting this Spirit? Why are we inviting this power of strength and transformation? We have come to realize from our personal encounter with the power of death and destruction in all its forms that left to ourselves, we are powerless. We need a power, a spirit, greater than we are, so we will not be suckered into fatalism, lack of confidence and despair. We have come to accept what the scripture says and what has become so true for us, "Of ourselves we can do nothing, but we can do all things in Him who strengthens us."

Yes, we need a Savior. We can no longer survive as an “I,” it must be a “We.” Lately, I have been telling people, including myself, that unless we make it, a “we“ effort, then we will “wee-wee” on ourselves and blame God and others!

What are we inviting this Spirit to do? To open our eyes, so we can see life where seemingly there is none. To open our eyes to the new life that is now emerging, where outwardly we see only loss and death. To strengthen our faith that in this place of loss and death, a new and deeper connection is evolving within ourselves, with others, with humanity, and all of creation. The preface of the funeral Mass stands as a reminder of our evolution -- "Death is not an end, death is a beginning."

All of our new understanding we now carry into ordinary time. Maybe it is wise to come up with something to usher us into mystery-laden time, which is not really ordinary.

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Spirit Offered

As we have seen, The All Powerful One appeared as The Vulnerable One -- a baby. A baby cannot do anything for itself. It is the only young, in all creation who has no instinct for survival. So the All Powerful God who was so for His people, is now appearing to His people as powerless. On His journey, He always reached out to the powerless and the outcast. Eventually, He ended up an apparent failure. Crucified. The death of a runaway slave. This broken, bruised, beaten and betrayed body is Emmanuel -- God with us.

The broken, bruised, beaten, betrayed one did not remain so. Through the power of the spirit He became the Risen Christ. The Risen Christ would depart so the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the disaster of His death is the same Spirit that will be sent in his stead. The same Spirit who brought order to the initial chaos of the first creation is the One who is to come to bring order to the new creation of a new people, and a new world. A new people, who are the chosen people of the new covenant of grace. We are that people, blessed, broken and given, to continue the mission of the ministry of Jesus Christ. We are called to be co-creators of a more just society. A society that can evolve when we are guided by the Spirit of Justice. We are called to be good stewards of creation in which The Creator God perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed. This challenging job of dignity is ours, yet we do not or ever will face this challenge alone. We will always have this Spirit of Jesus Christ.

As He was - so we are - through the power of the Spirit.

The following is a prayer by Thomas Merton, which I have given to so many people over the years:

Dear 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 this,
I believe that the desire to please you does
in fact please you.
I hope I have that desire in everything I do.
I hope I never do anything apart
from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
so I may know nothing about it at the time.
Therefore, I will trust you
For though I may seem to be lost,
and in the shadow of death,
I will not be afraid because I know you will never leave me to face my troubles all alone.

How do we make room for this transforming new life-giving Spirit? We need do nothing – except -- let go of what is harmful, what is toxic, what is death-dealing, what is victimizing us. [May I remind you of the great need to write and always burn as has been suggested before.] We must let them ascend as the wounds on the risen body of our Brother Jesus Christ. Let them ascend into Heaven so as to create a space to be filled with a presence of the Holy Spirit, the re-newing, the transforming power of God. Because of this, a new way of life, a new way of living is now opening up right before our very eyes. We are not thinking our way, we are actively cooperating with life-giving spirit to allow God's dream for us to become a reality. "Behold, I make all things new." This Holy Spirit, this power of love in our lives, puts the "get up and go" back in our lives where our get up and go has gone – gone -- gone.

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Friday, June 5, 2009

God For......God With.....God Within

Every ending is a beginning. Some endings arrive with a bang, others in a simple, calm whimper. Some beginnings ignite in a blaze of glory, other beginnings -- like the dawn of each day -- occur in a gentle, almost undetectable way. The Pascal/Ascension cycle, that 90-day procession, reaches its long-awaited climax. There in the presence of a strong, driving wind, in the appearance of tongues of fire, is a theophany -- an appearance of God – as a breathing of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

This is reminiscent of the first creation when God breathes life into the form He had created from the earth. In this action, man received life. The risen Christ breathes the Holy Spirit on the frightened, huddled disciples. A new creation is born. This new creation is public, not private. It is for all of humankind. It is meant to transform all creation. There is now a newness to humankind and an evolving order. The old has now passed away and a new creation is in progress. A creation that can be -- and was -- opposed.

This new creation can never be prevented from reaching its intended destiny. We, as human beings, have been given great dignity as co-creators with God of this new creation. How do we make it personal? How can we connect with our daily living? How do we connect with the reality of God sending the Holy Spirit to enter, vivify and empower these disciples? Huddled in fear, they none-the-less went forth and became the living presence of Jesus Christ. They were given the life of the Spirit to live life fully free from fear.

God for...
To recap the Jesus of history, He has died and then risen as the Christ of God, the Christ of Faith. He has ascended, departed, no longer a physical presence. He has departed to Heaven, wounds and all. In the Old Testament, we had a God of power. Yahweh evolved from one of the many gods to Number One among those many gods. He was a God who was for His people and had a power to defend and protect them. To put it in today's language, Yahweh was so powerful, so strong, "you did not mess with His people." God proved it over and over. He was always there for His people. Even when His people deserted Him and His ways of living, He did not desert them. He was always the Good Shepherd who cared for His flock, even when they strayed. As it was, so it is.

God with...
In the New Testament, there is a change. God now becomes more personal. God now is known as a God "with His people," Emmanuel. He becomes flesh, enmeshed in our humanity. He is "likened to us in all things, except sin." He dies to show His love for each one of us and all sinners. He comes to share in everything we as human beings are asked to endure. He comes to be our foundational concept of God. This would enable us to move from the transcendent other-worldly presence of God beyond, to the imminent God with us. Mankind can now believe God is always with them and beside them.
As it was, so it is.

He is the God that no matter where humankind goes or where humankind finds itself, this God has gone before them, ready to welcome them wherever they tread. He is a God who definitely is with His people. As a God with us, He then tells us something really startling. He tells us it's better that He leaves so that He can become the God within us, through the Spirit, the new Advocate, whom He will send when He leaves.
As it was, so it is.

God within...
He can only be a God within when we make room for Him. As we look at history, salvation history, we see that God seemed to have serious trouble with finding a home, a place to dwell. It took Him time to have the Ark of the Covenant built as His dwelling place. Then He had a temple built. That did not turn out to be such a safe home -- it was destroyed. When He became human to dwell among us, it was not only difficult, but actually impossible, to find a human dwelling place in which to be born. We are told in scripture -- by Jesus Himself -- that the God-man had no place to lay His head. He was, however, invited to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. These invitations to meals, He accepted. God has this tremendous love for you and me. He awaits our invitation. He asks our permission to come and eat with us. He asks for our permission to confer, to bestow the gift of His life-giving spirit when it is we who depend on Him for our very existence. What a mysterious love affair this is! This love affair is modeled for us in God's inner life. God's inner life is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit living as one, yet dwelling within each one of us. This is the wonder-full mystery that we are celebrating this weekend. As we reflect on the mystery of the Holy Trinity we can break it down in the following way:

God For... is our Father
God With... is our Savior Jesus Christ
God Within... is the Holy Spirit dwelling within each one of us

The dreamer’s journey continues…