Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Messy Family....Is A Holy Family, Right?

"One of the hardest things in life is to have words in your heart that you cannot utter." -J. E. Jones I think those words can sum up where we find ourselves, so often, during the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Season. When we are present to all that is celebrated, we are pretty much find ourselves caught up in silent awe. Awe, wonder, is the beginning place of all prayer. Do we not find ourselves caught up in the celebrations in a way that stills us on the inside? In this "stilling of the insides", we become more aware of something that is greater. Something outside of ourselves which we intuitively know we are connected with. Are we are not drawn to listen more attentively and allow ourselves to be taken to new and exciting places? These places however we are unable to really describe. We have lost the language (Rohr). Does that mean we have to settle for less? By no means. That is why we have been given the works of the artists. To paraphrase Kenneth Branagh, "In the hands of a great poet, words and music have a way of affecting us in a way that we don't understand or be able to communicate”. We find ourselves in a state of "spiritual intoxication".

Hidden within these days and weeks is a spiritual tsunami. The True Spirit of these times is not 86 proof !!!. Whatever comes to us from the latter, passes. The gifts bestowed freely upon us by The Former, lasts forever. It is this reality, experienced by us in each and every moment is celebrated over an extended period of time.; The mystery of The Incarnation reveals to us who we really are in God's loving eternal design. Yes, we are eternal, and The Eternal has entered our humanity to be our model. We cannot solve This Mystery, all we can do is give reverence to it, and so be led each year into a new and more vibrant understanding. We only have this Season once in our lives so we must be vigilant for the ever new insights WILL come to us. God does not repeat Himself.

So, as we enter the process of wondering (aweing),reflection and contemplation, so many new layers of meaning will be revealed to us. The mystery of The Infinite, All Power-full One, coming to us disguised in the vulnerability of a baby,is like an artichoke. It has layer upon layer, and it takes a long time to get to the heart. Each layer, of the mystery, nourishes, enlightens, and challenges us. St. Paul tells us "the goodness and the humanity of God has appeared in our midst" – God, The Majestic One, The Omnipotent One, could so easily have chosen to send His Son into an environment of power, and prestige. He choose not to. Because, how will we who have no power and prestige relate to such a one. Consequently when we are chasing after the latter we are willing ourselves to be in a place where God chose not to be. Placing His Only beloved Son into the reality of where He entered this world has layer upon layer of meaning. Each year we are led deeper and deeper into this mystery, only in so far as we encounter, and own, our poverty, powerlessness, and vulnerability. Reflecting on our status and privilege, will avail us nothing. It will leave us anxious, fearful, and full of discontent. To be in those places is NOT part of God's dream, His Aisling, for us, His Beloved daughters/sons. It is of our own graceless choice. How often do we find ourselves choosing to be where God is not, and then wonder, where God is? This precious gift of free will, is definitely both a blessing and a curse.

God chose to send His Son to be part of a human family. A family of property, and prestige? No way. Would you not think that He who was able to order all of creation would do a better job of getting Mary and Joseph organized ? Why did He not wait for the wedding to take place? With the approach of the Angel Mary experienced fear, anxiety, and uncertainty? What was the struggles of Joseph as he was called to cooperate? I feel certain we can honestly say this was a real mess, from the human stand point. Yet it was into this messiness that that our Savior was sent. Why? So again, we have a God who knows messiness, is not put off by it, and weaves it all into the pattern of His redeeming will. The messier a family is, the closer our God is to that family. It is through the messiness, a messiness however that must be owned, that a Savior is experienced. In this way it is the messy family, that is the holy family. That is right, and to our way of thinking it makes no sense. It never has, nor will it ever be so. A sick family relies on their own power. They can handle all the challenges that life throws at them, alone and by themselves. (This is foundation of spiritual abuse.) That illusion has been shattered, as it has to be shattered them as a family, and for all of us, as individuals. With that shattering comes excruciating pain. This pain can last and will last, until the job is done. There is no ducking this shattering if we care or dare to become authentic human beings. That is our true destiny. This is the trail each one of us has to travel. There are no exceptions. T o become whom we are chosen to be, we are required to, in some cases forced, to accept that inner powerlessness. It is these moments of so called disaster, a Savior has been born to us. A living Savior is given to us. It is out of the darkness, the true Savior, appears.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Letter from Papa J

Dear Friends,

I, again, take this opportunity to wish you, and yours, a Healthy, and Happy Christmas/Epiphany season. May He, and so become a reality in a world so desperate in need of a Living Savior. As He becomes an ever deeper reality within your, “little church of the home”, His Presence will seep out and bring about the Kingdom of peace, justice, and love. We all have to play our part to continue that which the Christ Child began, as He appeared as one like us. The Child grew up, and became the Prophet Jesus, who rattled the smug cages of the leaders of church and state. Of course, it is this that got Him killed, We, in like manner, must take the risk of being prophets and be prepared to pay the price. As it was with Him, whom we follow, so it will be with us. We are however, guaranteed all that is necessary for us to fulfill in which we are uniquely called to do. Do you remember in the old days we called that actual grace? That love presence, will ever and always be there to nourish, strengthen, and encourage us. As we are faithful to the radical message of The Gospel, so too a faithful to the radical message of The Gospel, so too a more healthy, a more whole, (holy), home church and society may come into being.

Thornton Wilder has written the following: “We can only said tobe alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. “Where we are at present, we are being forced to look beyond what is on the outside, it is not there. We are called to focus on what has real, and lasting value, the inner being, and Sacred Presence. This Sacred Presence, comes hidden and revealed within the human condition. We all need to become more aware of the eternal gifts within, and as we search for same, on the outside. That “stuff” we seek, on the outside, will never be enough. We are designed for something so much infinitely mine the inside treasures. Our bank accounts will not reflect this discovery. Peace, joy, and love are priceless. No earthly value can be placed on these eternal gifts.

I am still enjoying “retirement”. There are the daily challenges that come with the aging process. You will notice I did not say, maturing process??? Since that has not happened so far, it ain’t going to happen, Thank God. I had my usual long trip. Drove and hiked about 9,000 miles. Again, I encountered some wonder-full wildlife all out in the open, I might add. IN the Lamar Valley I saw a wolf. The wolf posed like a dog. Those of you on FaceBook can view those pictures. I also heard her/him howl. It was awe-full, and exhilarating. I saw two more bears; the count is now up to 12! An e-book is almost ready. From what I am told it will be ready in January. As of now, it is called, “Soul Searching”. I take this opportunity to thank the many of you, who because of your acceptance, gave me the courage to write what has been written. I now believe, more than ever, we are loved into honesty. I am looking into having some hard copies printed as well. If you have nothing to do, Google Fr. Joe Hennessy. I did out of the blue, and was I shocked! My FB profile picture is an elk, a photo taken in Yellowstone.

So, have a wonder-full Christmas/Epiphany Season. Live each moment in the knowledge that you are the “contemporary Christ”. It is you, who in your daily struggle to live, that continues the ongoing revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation. What dignity you are gifted with, do not allow any power of church or society take awasy from you. Christ came that we would have life and have it to the fullest. Love yourself, and so others, by claiming a vital, life-giving, way of living. St. Irenaeus has written those famous words, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive.”

May 2012 see you claiming, and cherishing who you really are. There will be, then, nothing missing.

Wishing you the best of Irish luck,
God Bless,
Papa J., (a.k.a. Fr. Joe)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Adventing....of.....?????

I was going through some old journals and came across the following quotation. This is from August of 1993, and I do not remember the authors name. "If our lives are to be healthy, (here I would add the words - and holy), and our spirits are to grow, we must be dedicated to the truth. For the truth is reality. And the more clearly we see the realty of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world.”

The spiritual life ever and always calls us to live in the truth of who we really are. The truth of who we are comes to as we contemplate on the revelation of, The Truth. Each year we are given a whole season, which is dedicated to the reflection, and contemplation of the truth. This truth is both hidden and revealed, in our evolving reality. Since we are ever new, so then our reality, truth, will be ever new. There are no repeats, in our God's creation. Pretty exciting?? During this time when reality is “adventing”, we must prepare ourselves to honestly face this change, which leads to a newness. What is the new reality that has been or is being revealed in and through you reality? Where do we see a new presence, and in that presence, The Reality of God both hidden and revealed? Advent is an everyday experience.

The Truth has come, and continues to come anew, through grace. Mystery is experienced in the mystery of the present moment. When we hear it said "this is the same old stuff, there is nothing new" we are listening, not to the truth, but to a lie. In the lie there is no lasting creativity, death is it's destiny. Why? Because the lie is not connected to The Life Source. When we espouse such a way of living, we are being dealt death, rather than life. We likewise will become death-dealers, rather than be life-givers. We make that choice every moment of our lives, either consciously or unconsciously. As we embrace the reality of who we are, the truth of Who we are called to be, and Who has done this calling, The Mystery of the Incarnation, is once again revealed, anew for us to discover and be a place of discovery for others. For this Mystery to be discovered within we not only need the x-ray eye of faith, at times we will need an MRI.

Our willingness to be led into this new discovery takes courage. Yeats once said, “it takes reckless courage to journey into who we really are”. We must ask Mary for the courage to be able to say "YES” as she so bravely said yes. We are saying “yes” to the same God, who shepherded her through all her questioning and uncertainty. It was not always an easy journey being the Mother of The Savior. In being His mother, more was demanded than she could ever imagine or dream of. Yet, she persevered in her "yes". She is set ever before us as our model. Our "yes" will lead us, as it led her, to Calvary. On Calvary, she stood by the cross of her Son, in utter powerlessness. In the presence of her "standing by", she has gifted us with an eternal message, which becomes ever new for us. As she had to wait to give birth to her Son, Mary had to stand by and wait for her Son to die. She held Him in her arms both after birth and after death. So too, as our Mother, given to us on Calvary, is there to Mother us in our births and deaths. She will be present in the aftermaths as well.

How hard, difficult and pain-full these moments are. In these moments, we do not want to or need to be alone. We are in desperate need of some presence. In our Bethlehems and Calvarys. Our Mother Mary is present to assure us of the presence of Her Son. As she was with her Son, so is she present to, The Still Suffering Son within us. As she was so too, shall ever be. What great comfort there is awaiting us as we embrace that part of the reality. The gifts of The Mystery of The Incarnation from announcement to birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and the descent of The Life Giver, can never be exhausted. Why? Because we are dealing with the eternal. Our flesh provides a home for The Eternal. Advent provides us with new ways of not only discovering This Hidden Guest, it also provides us with ways to celebrate this inner reality. May these celebrations enhance your belief in your chosen-ness. In other words, deepen your belief in your essential goodness, in your beloved-ness. As there was a Herod out to destroy The Infant Child so we have to be on guard ever alert, not to allow present day Herods to denigrate , destroy, or question our essential goodness. That danger will come to us from not just our known enemies, Herod appears under the guise of "concerned" family and so-called friends. We have to conform to their narrow understanding of what is healthy, holy, while all the time missing out an understanding of The Birthing taking place in our deepest reality. “Religiosity is for those who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have been to hell." (This is one of my very favorites.)

Mary, through all that she had to endure, was forced to come to a new way of living. She had to leave the security of her old life. With her "Yes" everything was radically changed. So too with us. Our "yes" will demand so much more than we are ready right now to commit to. Thank God we do not know the future. We are strengthened through the living of each moment to endure whatever life has to offer us. That old saying "God strengthens the back for the burden", I have found to be so true. We will NEVER be given more than God and we can handle. As Mary was prepared to become The Christ Bearer, so are we. As Mary was graced, so are we. As Mary was told by Gabriel, "She had found favor with God", so too, we must listen to the Angel Gabriels of our lives who reminds us that we too have been, are graced, always. Nothing can come between the love of God and us who so desperately need and desire that love.

Mary presented her Child to the shepherd outcasts, who came to visit Him. Later, as The Good Shepherd, He will seek out and search out the outcasts of His time. Where are we going to look within to find “the outcast" which is in need of a visit from The Shepherd Child? As a result of our encounter with The Shepherd Child, we will like the shepherds of old, have Good News to tell all those who will encounter us on our journey.

I hope these last few weeks have provided you with some material which will enable you to discover a new reality alive and dwelling deep within. Within that living reality will be discovered The Reality of The God of Light, Life and Love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Wish....Healthy Birthing

Last Sunday I left Sun lakes in a light fog. (No, I was not hung-over!) As I drove to St. Andrew's I made my way frog, to good viewing conditions, and back into fog again. As I went along I was again reminded of the fact, that this my present reality is, a great paradigm, leading to a an ever deepening understanding of our spiritual journey. On this journey there are the times when we physically cannot see beyond the next step. There are times when our view of our God is lost in doubt, uncertainty, and disbelief. All of these are part and parcel of this earthly journey of ours, as spiritual beings. This is our lot as every moment we journey, enfleshed in a humanity, that is ever and always transforming us. All of these experiences are used by God to mold us into who He has intended us to be, and so fulfill our destiny. It is in this way we fulfill our vocation. This is the source of real joy, and lasting happiness.

"God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me, nor do I really know myself." This has been my prayer for the “Foggy Days". As I get older that prayer has become my abiding, comforting, and consoling companion. Each time it brings with it new meanings, and insights. I wish the same for you, as you journey through your “Foggy Days". Speaking about foggy, ever drive from Brookings to Meyer's Beach, on the Oregon Coast?On this stretch of highway, one meets serious fog banks. As I drive, there are times when I can barely see the road ahead. After awhile, I begin to ask the question, "Will this ever break up, so I can be in sunlight?” This goes on for a time. Just as I have given up, and accepted the fact, not very willingly, this is going to be one of those endless foggy days, I drive into brilliant sunshine, and awe-full scenery. What a change of attitude occurs within. I go from being discouraged, and disheartened, to being wide awake to the beauty, and wonder right there before me. That particular is just filled with places that evoke thoughts and feelings that cannot be expressed in limited words. Words, cannot describe mystery. As I am enjoying these, WOW (wonder on
wonder) moments, guess what? Into a dense fog bank I go. My joyful optimism, with its feeling that everything is now going to be okay, suddenly disappears. It is back to hanging on, doing what is necessary to stay on the road, and avoid an accident. I go back to being very much awake. Alert to traffic, in front, behind, and that which appears beside you. Now on top of these anxious thoughts and feelings the "itty bitty negative committee", make its presence felt.

We all have that "itty bitty negative committee". It has taken a room in our heads, and is not easily evicted. The best we can do is to develop a strategy which will enable us to to reject its constant negative messaging. This demands constant alertness. I must remember I am more than any thought or action. I am not the person others see, or believe they see. I have the eternal within, nestled in a place no sin can touch. That committee is the lie which always must be replaced with The Truth. This is our life long battle. We engage in that battle every moment we are given to live. In this way we are life givers to ourselves, and hence to others. We can also choose, yes this is a choice, we are death dealers to ourselves and consequently to others. Of our essence we are good, right? We are always on a journey of discovery into that reality. This journey we call life.

As I find myself in that dense fog, " the committee" starts up, and can do a real number on me. But I have to choose to allow it. It is not God's will that I am bombarded with this negativity. This is the result of a, as yet, non- transformed human condition. It takes a real conscious effort to break away from that negative thinking. It is essential to reject the lie, so as to be lead into the truth. One is lead to the belief that in this called to the understanding since this is now part of my reality, Reality, God, is to be found. A lesson is learned. The revelation of the wisdom will take time. The wisdom will be slow in coming, but WILL appear when we are most need of a deeper insight. This will be an insight that will be way beyond the obvious. God, through the power of His merciful love, turns the lemons we create, in lemonade. With God all things are possible, and with Him nothing is impossible. (The source of great hope.) That is why I have real trouble with that statement, "God did this for a reason" when something bad happens. This Is NOT God's will! He, of His essence cannot harm us, so as to make Himself look good. Think about that for a while…….. A god that inflicts evil so as to look good rescuing us, is a god that must be rejected. Bad things happen when we misuse our free will. Bad things happen to us when others misuse their free will and we become the victims of their dysfunction. What happens to us has nothing to do with the living God, whom The Christ Child, is the revelation of. Can such a God who came to us as a vulnerable Child, take advantage of us in our vulnerability? That would make God an abuser. We find ourselves so ready to automatically blame God, rather take responsibility for our part in what has happened.

This takes real honesty. We also have to confront others in their misuse of their free will, as it applies to our well being. It takes real courage to be healthy and challenge others to treat us in a healthy manner as well. We will not think our way into this healthy state, we will have to act our way, into this
new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable way of living. Yes, it will be the latter for a long time. So, do not give up. You are giving birth to who you really are. All birthing involves pain. So it is with us. For each one to become our real selves, which is where our God reveals Himself, we have to take the risk of being rejected by family, and so called "friends ". Your healthy family and REAL friend, will be only too will to encourage you, as this new reality emerges from within. So then when “stuff happens", and it will, let us not be too ready to blame God, rather than take personal responsibility for what has happened.
Let us ask for the grace, the strength, the courage, to hold others to become healthy and responsible. Do not act out victim behavior. We all have to choose to be survivors, living a life of peace, joy, and freedom. We reject the life of the victim, living a life of guilt, fear and shame. At times, we must risk a fight rather than settle for dysfunction. We must challenge those who are too ready to give God a bad name. We must not allow "the blaming game”, be played out in our presence. Why? We must know this to happen as it creates a false understanding of our Gracious God. We must not buy into the lie, no matter how popular the lie is. A lie is a lie and we must not choose, or allow ourselves to become the people of the lie. (Peck) "This is a way of living that makes our life here on a earth a living hell.” Hell is where God, is not. "It is heaven all the way to heaven, and it is Hell all the way to hell." Teresa of Avila. The old order, we find has passed away. Behold we now experience “new Heavens and new earth”. By The Lord, has this been done, and it is wonder- full to behold, and reflect on. This is why we are so lucky to be gifted with this season of expectation, and active waiting.

Just as the message of The coming Savior came to John The Baptist, in the desert. In like manner, the beginning of our journey into the Good News, always begins in our desert experience. Or, it will happen, as it has so often for me, in deep fog, as I hang on for dear life. As I look back this has been my experience, yet I always hope, the next time it will be different. The only difference is it just goes deeper. So where are you experiencing your personal desert, as an individual, a couple, a family. Where do need to hear the consoling Good News, there is a Savior and He has come, not only to be for us, but to be with us, and within us. It is the acceptance of our deepest reality, a highway for our God is created. Highways do not just appear. They demand hard, difficult and sustained work. We are never alone in our “highway making”. We will always be guarantee whatever is, “The Daily Bread” we will need.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent....Divinity Within Humanity

The world is a country which nobody ever knew by description, “One must travel through it one's self to be acquainted with it". So wrote Philip Stanhope many centuries ago. We are told today that unless we discover the Advent world within ourselves, it will have no life giving meaning for us. The people, places and events are not meant to be just words, they describe a reality within each one of us, at this time. As we gaze on the crib, it will have no real meaning until I come to discover this outer reality, is alive and living within myself. We ask for the gift that on Christmas when we view the crib in our "little churches of the home", and in the gathering of these communities of faith, a real encounter will take place.

Encounter in not just about a fleeting, casual meeting. Like passing someone in the corridor, or at this time of year in the mall. In an encounter we have in an in depth meeting with another reality. Some part of our deepest reality really meets some part of that persons deep reality. The result of this meeting is change. If there is no change then there is no change, there has been no real encounter. The change will not be of our choosing. Yes! We will not choose the change. Each encounter is Holy and Sacred. As reality meets reality. The Divine Encounter, the divine. The result cannot be controlled by us. It is beyond our power, however we try. We have to surrender to the gift resulting from the encounter. All of this demands, real presence. Why? Because we are dealing with REAL PRESENCE. Real Presence is only present in honest living. This is so frightening for us and as a result we have so few real encounters in our lives. We, then, live lives that are meaningless, lonely, and seemingly without value. Yet, we have within us that which all the wealth of this world cannot buy. What then are riches hidden deep within? Each person has to make their own unique journey of discovery. This will happen as we freely choose to respond to the particular grace of this season. We will be led to a new awareness to what really is of value. This "great treasure", which is beyond earthly value, has been given , has been entrusted to us. To make this "pearl of great price” even more worthwhile, it is enhanced each and every moment we live. This make s the inner journey, however painful, so rewarding. I like the following quotes; “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures". Thornton Wilder. “Uninterpreted truth is as useless as buried treasure.” L. Strachey.
During this Season of Advent, let us get in touch then, with the LIVING Crib, present within each one of us. This is indeed "buried treasure". This is a very fruitful spiritual exercise. It allows us to personalize the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany scriptures . That which is alive within us will come to discover it's outward expression each time we see a crib scene. What a spiritual explosion? That is why this time of year is looked on as a time of special grace. Some describe it as a constant wave of grace washing over our hearts, souls, and minds. This "washing over” results in new awareness. New insights, triggering new challenges resulting in new commitments. Gives new meaning to New Year's resolutions??? We will find ourselves making commitments to something more than just losing weight. The result of this action will reveal to us what has happened because we choose to allow the encounter to take place. “We live our lives looking forward, but understand it looking back."

So far on this Advent we have begun to see that this is a season, it is a time, within which demands that we be alert for the approach, and the appearance of The Divine. A Divinity that cannot be controlled, or programmed. This Mystery cannot be solved by our present finite, human minds, so what is asked of us is that we develop reverence. Reverence for The Mystery revealed to humanity, through The Human Person. This reveals to us how our God sees us as we make our dwelling within within humanity. He has joined as a human being to transform all life into the place of encounter, with the Divine. He knows well the workings of the human heart, and how fearful we can be, He made allowance for that. So as not to threaten us, He appeared, clothed in the vulnerability of a baby. When He appeared as a baby he was a threat to those in power, not to the powerless. We do not see any local people of power at, or in the crib scene. These leaders of church and state had the knowledge, but not the wisdom to seek out The Child, the newest, and the best revelation of who their God really was. Let us ask then for the gift of wonder, so we can see beyond that which is ordinary to the new, ongoing revelation of our "vulnerable God". As He came once in human form, He has now chosen each person to continue The Incarnation. In each person the mystery continues to be revealed anew. With this in mind, always believe, where you stand, is a holy place. The God dwelling within your presence makes it so. St. Francis went so far as to say, "Everything that is, is to be adored". Strength and blessings for the journey, from a wanderer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Advent....To See More Clearly

Another Advent Season is with us. I was thinking on a hike recently, after 48 years, is there anything new to be said about Advent?
There is not much new to be said, however, there is so much newness, to be experienced. This will be our FIRST Advent as we are, right now.
We, as we are today,have never experienced this season of patient expectation.There will be a newness. this newness will not happen in a vacuum. This newness will be in direct proportion to the effort we will make so we can encounter the newness as it breaks into our everyday living. We will have to make the effort to look beyond the familiar, to that which is hidden, and exists beyond the familiar. Let us ask to see the people, places and events of the Season through a new set of lenses. Let us allow faith and wonder to lead us to a new Bethlehem. Let us make the effort to this year to take the risk of leaving the familiar behind. Why? So we can have a new vision, a newer, more vibrant, life-giving understanding of how each person, place and event of this Season is within us, right now. What we read in the scriptures is not just about what happened 2,000 years ago. This season challenges us to encounter all the above, in our everyday living.

Here is a suggestion to make this Advent a newer, and more life-giving reality. Take one person, place, or event and reflect on where that reality is within you. Where do you find Bethlehem within, this year? Where in your life is the place you are certain God is not there? What is the part of you that you look down on and resent? Who, for instance, has been Angel Gabriel for you? Who have you been an Angel Gabriel to? Who has been Elizabeth for you as you struggled with the reality you are the bearer of The Christ. That in itself is a challenge, but we have to give birth to that reality. A birth that will take place in a very hostile world. Not unlike Mary and what she and Joseph had to face. Now the next one is real nasty, where do we find Herod in our lives? Who is it that makes the effort to destroy the Life of THE INFANT within us? Who is it we are persecuting so that The Mystery of The Incarnation within is prevented from taking root and developing? When we are being tough on ourselves now we can encounter the shepherds within. The outcasts of society we the first to hear the Good News, and become proclaimers of said good news. God's ways are definitely our ways. Take, then, this year an unfamiliar person, place, Advent, then, is NOT a once a year event. It is an every MOMENT event. What we are doing in this season is taking an in depth, faith led look at an age old, but ageless event. This ageless event is an encounter with the infinite, hence it's meaning can never be
exhausted. There will be new insights because of the ever newness, of our human journey as spiritual beings. We will be challenged to see the connection, an ever new connection, between what is presented to us in the Gospels, and how we are living that gospel reality in the reality of our daily living. However, let us be honest, and own the fact we are all imperfect bearers of the Good News. But, let us never lose heart. The real good news is that while we are on this journey Our Gracious Father/Mother God is ever and always molding and fashioning us to be more like Jesus Christ. He was , and ever will be, the ONLY perfect manifestation and revelation of God. The rest of us are following perfectly imperfect, always in need of the strengthening, transforming grace which will allow us to fulfill our eternal vocation.

Each moment we live then is another moment in which The Holy Spirit is molding and fashioning into who our God wants us to be, so we can be more authentic bearers of the Good News, His Son was the incarnation of. We then each day continue make the Mystery of The Incarnation an ongoing reality. That is the God given dignity of each and every person. No matter where he or she is living out their reality. Being faithful, and true to their reality, is the necessary conditions for God's plan to work. When we are not true to who we really are, the original plan is frustrated and God now has to work with plan "B". Plan 'B" is challenge we give to God as the result of our egocentric egos being in control, rather than the healthy true self. It takes a great deal of purgation and purification for the true self to surface and the false self be put in its rightful place. This battle royal is the battle, we have to experience, and endure, within the depths of souls. There is no let up. That is why our Good Shepherd God never sleeps. He is the vigilant One always there to defend, nourish and gently guides us.

In this season we again look through the eyes of faith to the approach, the appearance of God. He appears in the most unlikely places. He approaches us in the personhood of the vulnerable, the outcast, the “least ones", in the estimation of the world. As the world sees that is not how our God sees. May we all be gifted with a deeper insight, so we can see more clearly as God sees.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Kingdom For The.......Powerless

We are coming to end of yet another Liturgical year. Another year in which you and I were invited to deepen the connection between what is the experience of our everyday living, and what we celebrate in our liturgical celebrations. When there is no connection between the two, neither is there a connection between us and 'the celebration". Where there is no connection, then we have "liturgies without soul", and we leave without soul nourishment. I like to believe that all liturgy is a celebration of life. It is a celebration of a life that is fully human". In so far as it is fully human can the presence of the divinity be revealed. It is in the imitation of Him who became, The Human Being, can the divinity placed within us come to be revealed. This revelation is not just for our benefit it is given to be shared with all those who our God WLL place in our path. We do not become imitators overnight. There has to be much purgation, much illumination, so that the union of wills can take place. Our self will dies a very slow death. It's desire for power, and control does not die easily.

The ego does not wish to share moments of loss, disappointment, and weakness. Our egos drive us to look good on the outside, while we are going to hell on the inside. The lie is " you to look good, no matter what". Living that lie brings so much pain, death, and destruction to so many. The sad thing about it is, this lie is passed on from generation to generation. Perfectionism is a great cover up for " the lie”. Behind that desire to be perfect is the individual, or family secret which must be defended at all costs. The cost is many times the loss of knowledge of of who one really is. The soul is lost. There is no loving, creative spirit. The only power being tapped into is the destructive power of the lie. It takes a serious earthquake for the true person to emerge. Thank God for Twelve Step programs. In the safety of the fellowship the truth can be spoken. The real truth is spoken for the first time. In speaking the truth there is that immediate connection with THE TRUTH. This Truth is the power that will set us free. The toxicity of shame is now replaced with hope, and courage. Not only that but there is a gradual growth in faith in a Benevolent God who does care about individuals well being, as well as all of His creation.

All this was always present but it took that awe-full journey into the hell of powerlessness, for The Truth to be revealed. When the false image of who we are supposed to be, is replaced with the truth of who we really are a miracle takes place. It is the miracle of grace. As we begin to pray from this new place of honesty there is a certain something that is now present that was not there before. We are not to analyze or examine this new gift. It is a GIFT and is given for us to enjoy. So there will always be a great struggle. There will be an ongoing hostility between the real self, the one God's knows and listens to, and the false self whose prayer is not heard because does not know of its existence. That is why gut prayer, prayer from the depths is always heard. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and from all their distress he rescues them.” As long as we are alive there will always be that war between the opposing wills. That war is waged on the battle field of our souls.

In our liturgy the ideal is revealed to us. As we look at this ideal, which is presented for our imitation, we have to admit we sure do come up short. We are not to be discouraged. As one wag put it; "We are all here, because ,we are not all there" Pretty good?? We always approach The Sacrifice, and Sacrament because we are accepting more and more the truth of the scriptures; "Of ourselves we can do nothing, but we can do all things in Him Who strengthens us". "With God all things are possible.” It is only in and through my weaknesses God's power is revealed. “Our weaknesses become our strengths, the source of compassion for others, and the basis of our awakened nature.” (Halifax)

I think that prayer from Lent is appropriate here; " May our faith hope and love , turn hatred to love, violence to peace, and death to eternal life”. Now The Kingdom of our God has a place to be revealed. In this milieu, “A Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice peace and love becomes a reality”. Not through our strengths but only through our weaknesses. Is not This Kingdom an awe-full mystery? The acceptance of the reality of who you are, in all its messy truth, is the threshold over which we must cross so as to gain entrance into God's Kingdom.

“It is only through our weaknesses and brokenness, can we have an audience with a God of faithfulness and compassion." (Stuhmiller)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grace and Free Will......Real freedom

The Liturgy for last week-end contained a prayer for health of mind and body. The prayer asked for health to continue the work of Jesus Christ, which is asking for the health to do what our God has planned on us to do. He created us with a plan in mind. Each one of us has been created uniquely. Each one of us, no matter how we see ourselves, or are seen by others, is uniquely gifted destined to be a unique contributor to the totality of creation. When we find ourselves questioning our value, our worth-whileness, we need to remind ourselves all that is my reality is being woven into the whole of creation. Yes, even these moments of doubt and uncertainty have been woven into the totality of my life. As a consequence all that I have and am now experiencing in part of the totality of creation. What we think are throw away moments, moments to be denied, or if possible destroyed have become a part of living creation. All of this happens through the miracle of grace. Nothing goes to waste in our Creator's Creation. What we judge as worthless , or even shame-full, is not how God see the same reality. All, what we judge as good or bad, is woven into the total reality of creation. In our Creative Creators there is nothing that is not used. "There are", as one author has so wisely said, "no garbage cans in God's Kingdom". Nothing is denied its existence. Everything is woven into a living whole. Everything is woven into a wholeness. Everything is woven into holiness. This is the work of The Creative Power of God, which is also,The Power of Love, Who is, The Holy Spirit. Wherever there is love, there is, of necessity, creation.

In all of these mysterious workings, no one is doing anything by themselves. Co-operation, collaboration, is required. God relies on humankind to bring about the continuation of the perfection of His creation. He in us, and we in Him continues the perfection of a creation that has been in process for millions of years. This ongoing creation will not stop with our passing. As we have built on the efforts of so many, so many will come after us to continue the work we have been a part of. Each person, in every generation will be given the unique gifts, and grace necessary for their unique contribution. So, we are ever and always given a choice. We are given the choice to say yes, or no. That is how much our God loves us. He, the Ultimate Lover loves us into freedom. There is no force, there cannot be. It is intrinsically impossible for our God to force us to do anything. God does not make us do anything. He is not a puppeteer, pulling the strings, as we move on command, with no self control. There is that image of God in some people’s minds, that is not the living, loving, gracious God of a healthy spirituality.

When a person is healthy, personal boundaries are respected. Since our Father-God is the essence of health, our boundaries are always respected, and safeguarded. Sometimes, no, a great deal of the time, I wish God was not so healthy. A little dysfunction on His part would make my life so much easier. At times, it tees me off that God will not do for me what I can do for myself. I like things to be done my way, and on my terms. Not healthy thinking, so I am told!!!!! Such thinking leads to real dysfunction. When my little agenda allows no questions, and no opposition tolerated, this eventually leads to dictatorship. That old saying about absolute power corrupts absolutely, needs to be kept in mind! Even when it is more convenient to deny that particular wisdom. Will, can an ego trip like this last? Of course not. Eventually there comes, in all of these scenarios, painful collapse. This leads to apparent destruction, as the so called powerful one is overthrown. The false- self created, paper mache kingdom, is destroyed. This can, and will happen sometimes fast sometimes slow. The towers built will crumble. All that has constituted the kingdom turns to rubble. This is where faith, hope and endurance comes in. This is not the end, however. This is the beginning of a new creation. The first was the creation based on ego. The second is the creation is brought about by grace. The chaos brought about by the fall of that created by self, will is in direct contrast with the peace, joy, and love experienced in that new creation of grace. What has really happened is that our Creator God has taken the rubble of our kingdom, and created His Kingdom with it. (Rohr) That is why we have a sense of familiarity, yet we know something has changed. These changes are slowly, and gently revealed to us.

Thomas Merton has written the following about the above mentioned cooperation, and collaboration, " ....if I hope in God, I must also make confident use of the natural aids which, with grace, enable me to come to Him. If He is good, and if my intelligence is His gift, then I must show trust in His goodness by making use of my intelligence. I must let faith elevate, heal and transform the light of my mind. If He is merciful, and my freedom is a gift of His mercy, I must show my trust in His mercy by making use of my free will. I must hope and charity purify and strengthen my human liberty and raise me to the glorious autonomy of a son/daughter of God.

Some who think they trust in God actually sin against hope because they do not use the will and the judgment He has given them. Or, what use is it for me to hope in grace if I dare not make the act of will that corresponds with grace? How do I profit by abandoning myself passively to His will if I lack the strength of will to obey His commands? There, if I trust in God’s grace, I must show confidence in the natural powers He has given me, not because they are my powers but because they are His gifts. If I believe in God's grace, I must also take account of my own free will without which His grace would be poured into my soul to no purpose."

Monday, October 24, 2011

From Medicators to Hope....

On my recent long trip I was, again, able to take advantage of the ongoing generosity of the Echeverria family. This resulted in 25 days in a cabin in Montana, 30 miles from West Yellowstone. The latter is one of my very favorite places to visit. Over one hundred days have been spent in this part of “the cathedral of the great outdoors”.

“Every blessing is a curse, and every curse is a blessing.” How true that saying has been for me. When I get to that cabin I am in peace and quiet. My usual medicators are not available-no T.V., no radio and no internet hookup for the computer. (I am not a great techno guy, so I was not able to figure out the cable.) One year there was not even the ticking of the clock, to keep me company. This year there was company. What company that turned out to be! One evening I was listening to the ticking of the clock . Then this thought bubbled up from within, with each tick my death is one moment nearer. How wonder-full???? I was so tempted to get up and remove the batteries so I would not be faced with the steady, unstoppable, march of time into eternity. Boy, does that trigger the uncomfortable feelings of powerlessness as one is faced with lack of control.

It is then I have to remind myself of what Fr. Richard Rohr has said in one of his books. When we get into solitude we will be faced with our issues of addiction, negativity, fear, and control. But Richard, every year? Yep! Joe, in his innocence, thought that after doing this for a number of years it would get easier. Well that was a bad thought. I find that for the first two weeks I am looking for excuses to get the heck out of that cabin. I come up with a lot of EXCUSES but faced with reality, they are not reasons. T.S. Elliott has said ; "human beings can only face, so much reality" ditto for me. The good news is, the tougher that time is in solitude the better one feels after the struggle. It is definitely a struggle. I wonder, is that why so many want to take their computers on vacation so they will have something to distract them when there is down, or quiet time? I read recently that some people turn their vacation time really into hard work. Go, go, go, let us never have time on our hands. This is not a vacation. It is just another type of work, under the guise of vacation time. We are inclined to go from one form of hustle and bustle to another kind. We are deceiving ourselves. No wonder so many want a vacation when they return from their so called "vacation".

When faced with the issues, bubbling up in silence, we will either run away, the ego's choice, or allow one’s self be gently led into deep, and progressive, prayer. This is the choice of the true self. The false is very demanding, and so gets the attention. The true self is the shy, quiet one. One has to listen carefully. We must be led far away, way beyond the noise and clamor, not only to listen, but hear what is it we need to hear. Not necessarily what we want to hear. It is in the quiet, the whisper of the Spirit of Truth expresses it's desire for us. For us who are ever and always the beloved.

Often it is the prayer of desperation, "out of the depths I cry unto you O lord. O God come to my aid, O Lord make haste to help me." Does He hasten? I have been exposed to the fact that my haste, is not God's haste. God's time is not my time. This is something that I have to just not only know but accept. Acceptance is a process. “God's way is not our way, so I have to pray for the gift of my way to be transformed into God's way. What an ongoing struggle that is! Then the two following sayings have a deeper meaning, “No pain no gain", and "growth only comes after death". This is true in everything, both in the physical world and in the world of the spirit.

It was then that I picked up Merton's classic, “No Man Is An Island”, and came to his chapter, "Sentences on Hope" where I read the following;

“We are not perfectly free until we live in pure hope... He who hopes in God trusts God, Whom he never sees, to bring him/her to the possession of things that are beyond imagination...Supernatural hope is the virtue that strips of all things in order to give us possession of all things. We do not hope for what we have. Therefore, to live in hope is to live in poverty, having nothing. And yet, if we abandon ourselves to the economy of Divine Providence, we have everything we hope for. By faith, we know God without seeing Him. By hope we possess God without feeling His presence. If we hope in God, we already possess Him, since hope is A CONFIDENCE WHICH HE CREATES IN OUR SOULS AS SECRET EVIDENCE THAT HE HAS TAKEN POSSESSION OF US. So, the soul that hopes in God already belongs to Him, since He gives Himself completely to those who give themselves to Him. The only thing faith and hope does not give us is the clear vision of Him Whom we possess. We are united with Him in darkness, because we have to hope, "For in hope we are saved. For hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance", Romans 8:24.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Prayer....More Gifts

"Let us pray to the Lord (Gracious God, Kind and Loving Father) who bends close to hear our prayer; Father your love for us surpasses all our hopes and desires...The hand of your loving kindness powerfully yet gently guides all the moments of our day....You guard us under the shadow of your wings, and search into the depths of our hearts....Your goodness is what our spirit can touch, and your love is more than the mind can bare. Lead us to seek beyond our reach and give us the courage to stand before you truth. Remove the blindness that cannot know You and relieve the fear that would hide us from you sight."

Did I make up that prayer? I wish I had that depth of relationship to be able to express the heartfelt wisdom the above words enunciate. The wisdom expressed is a gift presented to you and I, through the opening prayers of the 27th-29th Sundays of Ordinary Time. The opening prayer, the collect, reveals to us the theology that will be revealed, or hidden in the celebration to be entered into. That is why liturgy is righty called, "the work of the people". It takes work, it takes effort, it takes a sense of real presence on our part, to connect with The Presence. The Presence comes to us both hidden and revealed in The Sacrament of Word, Sacrifice, and Sacrament. We have to be in, not at, each celebration. There are times we are just there. There is no connection. There is no connection with anything that is happening, or with anybody around us. This is when we really need the community of faith. Why? Simply there will be others suffering with us in our disconnectedness. There will be others so connected they will be able to draw that something out of us, that was present but so hidden, so inundated with the trials and challenges of life. It takes that something that happens in the gathering which breaks down that which confines, and binds us. From each celebration we will be given what we need not what we want.

Many, many times the gift given is not obvious. It is not apparent at first glance. The hidden gifts, that wonder-full wisdom, the great challenges, are revealed to us through reflection, and ONLY through reflection. Silent reflection allows us slowly and gently to be drawn into the mystery of who we are, and who our God is. As we come to embrace All of who we are, the good and the bad, we will be drawn into a deeper understanding of the vastness of the Mystery, which is our origin and destiny. We are able to gradually become more and more comfortable with who we are as spiritual beings having a human experience.

In the above prayer we are words comforted with the words acknowledging our God bends close to hear our prayer. Ever reflect on what that really means? How so very human that image is? How often we have seen a concerned parent not only listens to the concern of their child, but will get down on their knees, look into the troubled face of their child. They give the child the gift of their caring presence to assuage whatever their fears and concerns are. It even gets better when warm, heartfelt hugs are exchanged. In every moment that dynamic is what is part and parcel of our relationship with our Mother/Father God. We are strengthened so that when we encounter words like fear, blindness, we also have words of encouragement like “loving kindness", and "goodness". If we are in the shadow of God's wings, then where is our God? These words, on reflection, will trigger the beginnings of a desire not only to be able to believe in the truth expressed, but there will come moments when we will want to experience that reality in our daily living. There is that spiritual principle, 'We become what we desire". It will happen not in the way we want, or expect, it will come in the way that Our Loving Father knows that is BEST for us. There is a whale of a difference between the two. We are always becoming reconciled with what God knows we need and what we want. We must also keep before us, "Be careful what you pray for".

We will slowly get connected with what has to this point been a secret, untapped strength. Now that changes. We will come to a deeper understanding of the mysterious, supernatural gift we call HOPE.

Until next week, blessings to and on all.....
The wondering wanderer

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Need, Not Want of a.....Ranger

I am sure most of you, either have read, or seen what happened to that Michigan man that was killed in Yellowstone Park. The Mary Mountain hike is one of my favorites. It was my intention to hike it again. Well, then I thought it would be a good idea to hike Mallard Lake instead. That was the hike I was on last year when I experienced thunder, lightening, heavy wind, rain and hail. Along with the running streams. I was lucky to get out of that in one piece. Not to make the same mistake again(you see, I am learning!), I went to the visitor’s center so as to check with a ranger. I was lucky to meet a young helpful ranger. I told him about my experience of last year. He was kind enough to check the weather radar and give the all clear. I still had Mary Mountain in the back of my mind, so I asked what bear activity was there in that area. He told me there was a lot of activity in the Upper and Lower Basin, so it would stand to reason that there would be activity in the Mary Mountain area as well. With that information, I decided to forgo Mary Mountain, and I went to Mallard Lake instead. What a good move that was indeed! You can imagine how shocked I was to read in the paper of the death of that unfortunate man. Good information kept me out of harm’s way. Good direction enabled me to make a very healthy decision. Applying common sense to the information I was given, I was able to avoid the danger. Naturally these events were uppermost in my mind. I have had plenty of time to reflect on that close call. What has surfaced from that reflection?

I like to compare the spiritual journey to a long, long marathon hike. All that goes into the preparation for one of these challenges, is required of us who make this journey, as spiritual beings having a very human experience. The only difference is one can choose to take on the challenge of a marathon, or pass on it. I have chosen not to meet that particular challenge. The challenge of the marathon hike, we call the spiritual journey, that is a different matter. In order to have some semblance of sanity, in this life, I for one had no choice but to surrender to the challenge. As I get older,, and who is not right there beside me, I am embracing no, change that, I have no choice but embrace the great words of Merton; “God I have no idea where I am going. I do not know for certain where it will lead to, and I really do not know myself.” I have fewer and fewer answers, but a growing mountain of questions. On reflection, they can all be summed up in the two questions St. Francis had, his whole life; “Who are you God, and who am I?” Simple, yet so profound.

When I am in Yellowstone I go to the rangers for good, fact based information. They, from their experience, will point out to me the different hikes. They will be able to share with the me the challenges, the degree of difficulty, also the great rewards from my efforts. I have to make the decision to take the hike or not. The ranger cannot make the climb for me. It is I, who will ultimately will take a particular trail, and have my own unique experience. Each trail is different. Each and every time you hike is a new and unique experience. No two hikes are ever the same. No two events are ever the same. No two moments are ever the same. God does not repeat Himself. He has, he is, Infinite Imagination. We all are in need of “rangers” who will provide us with the necessary information so we can journey in confidence and safety. The more the research, the more secure and confident the hike. This begs the question, who are the “rangers” we consult on our continuous hike, called spiritual journey? What are the resources we read, research, seeking guidance and counsel? It is essential for our spiritual health, and well being to be in constant contact with a healthy source of information. We are in constant need of information, that will lead to formation. This formation is not for the sake getting information. The formation that is essential is that which will conform us to the will of Our Father, revealed to us in and through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. This results in a battle, no, not a battle, a war. A battle is over and done with, in minutes, hours, days, or in some cases weeks. We are in a war. That war is within. The battlefield is our soul.

My ego wants to be admired, stroked, puffed up, made to feel good. This happens when we allow ourselves to be conformed with that which is on the outside. Power, property, prestige, control, comparisons, competitions, popularity and pleasure are that which will lead us to live a life that is all based on what is on the outside. The inside, the spiritual is neglected and the price to be paid? We live our lives in a constant state of unrest, disharmony, disarray. There is no inner peace, security or serenity. The result is disaster. But let us not lose hope. When we get to the stage where we are facing death and disaster, strange as it may sound, we are in the best possible place. It is now that we are teachable. It is now that we are prepared to read, listen to and reflect on what the “spiritual rangers’ have to say about where we have landed, as the result of listening to the wrong voice of guidance. The voice of the as yet non transformed ego will lead us to many versions of hell, here on earth. The rangers will inform and offer guidance as to how to let go of one way of thinking and acting, so as to be free to enjoy at a level beyond our imagination, an inner life of peace, joy and love. Rather than having “hell on earth”, we will experience partially what will be fully, and eternally ours in heaven. We do not have to fight this war by ourselves. Our Gracious God will provide essential for a life that is “happy, joyous, and free are open hands. Opened in hope and confidence. Our Shepherd Ranger. This will not happened in the way we expect it to happen. It will be a slow process through places and spaces we never imagined would be part of our life’s hike. Life is so full of surprises. It stands to reason that He who is The Author of Life, The Surprise.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Honest Prayer...Leads to What?

The last prayer I quoted last week from the Fourth Sunday in Lent, is one that has to be used often. It will aid us, help us, as we face the challenges on this oh so human journey. The human journey we are called to make as spiritual beings. We are after all aliens. Yes, this is who we are. Because of this reality, whether we like it or not, aliens have so much to teach us about who we are, and who we have been called to be. Each alien is a sacrament, for you and I. In their life's story, is our story with our God as we make our way through "this Vale of tears''. When we look closely, and examine without judgment, the life of an alien we will see a living incarnation of who we are, as individual pilgrims, and as a pilgrim people. The poverty of the alien, is really the poverty that is deep within each one of us. As we grow in reconciliation with that poverty, we will be slowly lead, to the embracing acceptance, of the presence of those who at one time, appeared as a great threat to our security. We will be able to listen with more open and accepting hearts what Jesus has to say in Matt. 25. He tells us He is the hungry one. He is the prisoner. He is the sick one. He is the one away from home. He does not provide ANY EXCUSES. He states the reality. He gives us the bare facts. These are challenging facts, which we as, The Contemporary Christ Presence, we must face up to.

There is a price to be paid when this call is answered. A great price is demanded of not a few, but so many of our sisters and brothers. Look at how many, many martyrs we have in South America, as the struggle for basic human dignity continues. I am happy/sad to say I was in one parish with Sister Dorothy Stang who was assassinated because of her great work for the poor and the oppressed. I have a picture of her dead body lying in a remote area. This is a constant reminder of the price many are prepared to pay so that the fruits of the Redemption reaches ALL not a few. There are so many who have no lived experience of what the Redemption has really brought to humanity. There is so much sacrificial work still to be done. So many martyrs still be be crowned. Many have chosen to take Sr.Dorothy's place. What courage it must take to know that at any given moment the ultimate sacrifice may be demanded of you. Talk about walking the Gospel message, and responding to it's demands. South America, has not only given the church so many martyrs, it has also gifted her with the wonder-full power of The Small Base Communities. What a dynamic presence for radical change that has been. Radical, because it charges the church at it's roots with a new enthusiasm for what is right and just. There is a wonder-full reservoir of spiritual richness available to the whole church from the experience of these people expressed in prayer. Real honest gut prayer, expressing their reality.

We have to admit we have not always been on the right side of the struggle. We were on the convenient side, where there was no danger to be faced. Then, the so called, WEAK, harnessed that eternal inner gift of hope, the result, mystifying. How could the poor, the weak, be so strong? What gave them that inner strength to fight, and not count the cost. The poor, the oppressed, are the channels, the sacraments, through which Our Gracious Father-God, continues to show His "fundamental option" still lies. As it was, so it is, and ever shall be. We all are in a struggle to liberate that which we have imprisoned, that which we have alienated, into the freedom that is ours as the beloved of our heavenly Father. As we are, so all those we see have the self same dignity. As we embrace all the we are, so we will find we will be able to embrace the many, many, disguises Our God comes to us in. He does not come, and never did, in trite answers. We, now more than ever must pray that we do not worship the convenient god of complacency. We must shudder when we think, smugly, we have all the answers. Look at those who crucified the Prophet Jesus. They thought they had all the answers, and were doing right in the taking of His life. How many lives have been taken, in many and various ways, by those who think they have they have all the truth they need, yet fail miserable to see the Real presence of God in the reality that is right before their eyes. How true is that old saying; "There are none so blind as those who WILL not see". Fear keeps them from the TRUE Presence of the living God in the lives of those who they are sitting in judgment of, and condemning. How easy it is to rash judge and condemn, rather than see the person as God's see them. Not the narrow god of our limited understanding, but the infinite loving and compassionate God of Jesus Christ. Without understanding there can be no real acceptance, and reconciliation . That is so very true for ourselves first, then it flows out to those who are placed in our daily lives. There are going to be some real eye-popping surprises in heaven, when it will be revealed to us who really is “THE APPLE OF GOD'S EYE".

I will finish up, no comments please, with a verse from an old Gaelic hymn:
" God.
Your eyes are watchful,
Your ears are listening,
Your lips are speaking,
Friend at my side."

Prayer can be seen as that gentle, misty rain that falls so gentle at times. In Ireland, when that happens, we call it "a soft day", and there are many of them. So then let us allow our prayer to bring about a gradual softening of the hardness with which we so often treat ourselves with. Then what was promised, through the prophet Ezekiel will become a reality for you and I. Through the prophet, our God promises that he will remove from us our hearts of stone. The heart that is critical, unyielding, judgmental, and so very inhuman. He, and only He alone, can replace the former, and in it's place we will be given hearts of flesh. We will be given the human heart. The heart that Jesus Christ modeled, and revealed to us through His life, and especially His death. This Heart of Christ, who will lead us to a life tat will be lived out lived in love, peace, freedom, and joy. Happiness, MAY happen, but it is not the goal. Happens can only happen, it cannot be made to happen. It cannot be bought or manufactured in some way. we are powerless to make happiness happen. It is a by-product of the life that is lived in the knowledge, you are the beloved. That is what has to be claimed," again and again." (Nouwen) May the gentle rain of Our Gracious God descend on the Field/garden of your souls. Then may the harvest that comes to you, be embraced, and accepted, giving you what you need , not what you want.


" God of the universe-God ever close to us we rejoice to call you Father (Mother). From this worlds uncertainty we look to your covenant (of faith full love)..We ask for Your guidance. ..Father in the rising of your Son death gives birth to new life. The suffering He endured restore hope to a fallen world. Let sin never ensnare with empty promises of passing that our love may give life. Father, let the light of your truth guide us on the way to your kingdom through a world filled with lights contrary to Your own. May your love make us what you have called us to be Father, may the gift of your life continue to grow in us, drawing us from us from death to faith, hope, and love. Keep us alive in Christ. Keep us watchful in prayer, and true to His teachings.....Father of everlasting goodness, our origin and guide... gifts without measure flow from your goodness to bring us Your peace. Our life is Your gift. Guide us on life's journey, for only You can make us whole (holy). Keep us strong in Your love.... Your Spirit has made us tour children, confident to call you Father. Increase your Spirit (of love), within us. Touch our hearts, help them grow. Touch our lives, make them signs(sacraments) of your love for all humankind.

The above is a composite of opening prayers from the Sundays beginning on the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time through the 19th Sunday. Since I am dealing with the gifts that come from theses prayers I might as well include my own favorite. This is from The Fourth Sunday of Lent:
"God our Father, Your Word, Jesus Christ, spoke peace to a sinful world and brought humankind the gift of reconciliation by the suffering and death He endured. Teach us, the people who bear His name, to follow the example He gave us: may our faith, hope, and charity turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life. "

Now why do not you write, or print out just a few of you comforting, and consoling prayers. Keep them handy so they will be readily available when the need arises. This we can all be certain of, the need will arise, and often We then must be responsible for that which we are able to provide for ourselves. God will not do that. He will not do what He knows we can do. Whether we do it or not, that is our decision. For that we are responsible. Becoming mature is accepting that responsibility. What happens when we pray those prayers that is in our God's domain. We will ALWAYS be given what we need not what we want. Gandhi word come to mind; “God will take care of our needs not our greed". Even into the spiritual life we find lust and greed. That is when we are honest!!!! "Honesty is progressive." But honest prayer will always lead us out of our illusions. We will slowly grow into deeper honesty with ourselves, others, and our God. It is not easy. We have to pray for this gift of honesty. Always keep in mind; "When I am honest about being dishonest, I AM being honest". I have always liked that saying.

So until next week let us keep watering the gardens of our souls through every day prayer. Your work, whatever it may be, IS your prayer. Embrace this reality, and know wherever you are, there is your God. Say Hi to That Presence, in your own unique way. Do it frequently. At first it will feel "weird", then as you develop the habit, through grace, you will become more and more comfortable. You are going to be surprised, and yes, even shocked at the conversations, and at the tone of said conversations. God is not anxious to hear the prayers of others coming from you. He/She is your lover, your beloved waiting, as the hymn says, "right beside you". This Presence IS a living presence, and your life makes it so. What a wonder-full mystery real life is?

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Saint Theresa of Avila saw what watering does for a garden, prayer does for the soul. I will deal with her first way, as this has been my own experience. Just as I had to draw the water to the garden so too we have to draw the water of prayer to the garden, that is our soul. I had to go to the source to fill those drums, so we too must go to The Source of Living Water, Jesus Christ. he Himself claims to be the source, of living water. Now-a-days we have to pay for water. The scriptures reminds us that this living water is free. We are to come without money, but we are to bring a 'soul-bucket" that is empty. The reality and harshness of everyday living empties us, big time. We do not have to live in fear. Our Shepherd Gardner will make sure we will have ALL that is necessary for our safe nourishment and growth. A well can and does run dry. The Fountain of Living Water is an eternal source of all that is necessary for eternal life. We must also keep in mind, the emptier the bucket, the more water we can receive. So when we get to that stage where we are most emptied of any of our own strength, we are in the best possible place. For it now, we are really ready for that which will renew, refresh, and reinvigorate us. We will get what is necessary to “pick up our cross" and continue on behind Him who goes before us, yet is able to share the common yoke. A paradox, yes, embrace this one as you would embrace ant other. Paradoxes are that which stretches us, and draws us into the realm we would not otherwise go to. This one goes with Paul's "It is only when I am weak it is then, I am strong”. Our egos will fight this tooth and nail. The journey into the acceptance of human weakness, and powerlessness in a power-full struggle. One we pray our egos loose. Why of the following. In the Old Testament God, when asked, "Who are you?", answers simple, "I Am, who Am". He also says, "Go and tell them, I Am sent you". We are the small "I am not the Great One”.

Since God's name for Himself is, I Am, then when we are able to say 'I am' strong, we are actually saying, I am, God strong. What a great gift emptiness is??? The following is some of the life giving water that has been offered to you and I over these last number of weeks. The source of this water is from the tap we call ,the opening prayer. Like a cold drink of water, on a scorching Arizona day, this is to be sipped slowly not gulped. down. We all enjoy to feeling of taking that mouth full of water and let it slowly seep it's way down our parched throats. As it works it's way down what a refreshing feeling that is. May that physical reality, become you spiritual reality. So drink freely, but slowly.

"God of the universe-God ever close to us we rejoice to call you Father (Mother).” From this worlds uncertainty we look to your covenant (of faith full love)..We ask for Your guidance. ..Father in the rising of your Son death gives birth to new life. The suffering He endured restore hope to a fallen world. Let sin never ensnare with empty promises of passing that our love may give life. Father, let the light of your truth guide us on the way to your kingdom through a world filled with lights contrary to Your own. May your love make us what you have called us to be. Father, may the gift of your life continue to grow in us, drawing us from us from death to faith, hope, and love. Keep us alive in Christ. Keep us watchful in prayer, and true to His teachings.....Father of everlasting goodness, our origin and guide... gifts without measure flow from your goodness to bring us Your peace. Our life is Your gift. Guide us on life's journey, for only You can make us whole(holy). Keep us strong in Your love.... Your Spirit has made us tour children, confident to call you Father. Increase your Spirit(of love), within us. Touch our hearts, help them grow. Touch our lives, make them signs (sacraments) of your love for all humankind.

The above is a composite of opening prayers from the Sundays beginning on the 12th. Sunday of Ordinary Time through the 19th Sunday. Since I am dealing with the gifts that come from theses prayers I might as well include my own favorite. This is from The Fourth Sunday of Lent:
" God our Father, Your Word, Jesus Christ, spoke peace to a sinful world and brought humankind the gift of reconciliation by the suffering and death He endured. Teach us, the people who bear His name, to follow the example He gave us: may our faith, hope, and charity turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life.”

Now, why don’t you write, or print out just a few of these comforting, and consoling prayers. Keep them handy so they will be readily available when the need arises. This we can all be certain of, the need will arise, and often We then must be responsible for that which we are able to provide for ourselves. God will not do that. He will not do what He knows we can do. Whether we do it or not, that is our decision. For that we are responsible. Becoming mature is accepting that responsibility. What happens when we pray those prayers that is in our God's domain. We will ALWAYS be given what we need not what we want. Gandhi word come to mind;
“God will take care of our needs not our greed". Even into the spiritual life we find lust and greed. That is when we are honest!!!! “Honesty is progressive." Gut honest prayer will always lead us out of our illusions.
We will slowly grow into a deeper honesty with ourselves, others, and our God. It is not easy. we have to pray for this gift of honesty. Always keep in mind; "When I am honest about being dishonest, I AM being honest" I have always liked that saying.

So, until next week let us keep watering the gardens of our souls through every day prayer. Your work, whatever it may be, IS your prayer. Embrace this reality, and know wherever you are, there is your God. Say Hi to That Presence, in your own unique way. Do it frequently, at first it will feel "weird", then as you develop the habit, through grace, you will become more and more comfortable. You are going to be surprised, and yes, even shocked at the conversations, and at the tone of said conversations. God is not anxious to hear the prayers of others coming from you. He/She is your lover, your beloved waiting, as the hymn says, "right beside you"

This Presence IS a living presence, and your life makes it so. What a wonder-full mystery real life is?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Waiting....Watering....Not Easy.

The earth, the humus, has been broken open. The seeds, and the seed potatoes, have been planted in the fertilized ground. Is that all there is? Unfortunately not. There is no instant growth, neither in the physical world, or the spiritual world. In both world we have the four W’s. (A), We have to wait, (B), we have to watch, (C), we have to water, and (C), we have to weed. All the above are not just necessary, they are each essential for a healthy, productive garden, and a healthy spirituality. This demands effort, sacrifice, and sad to say, a great deal of patience, all bound together with no expectations.
Waiting, for most of us is very difficult. we want results, and we want them now. Nature says to us, " hold you horses", growth cannot be rushed. There is a process here that has to be followed. If that is not followed then the results are not going to be what was desired, or we were destined to be given. The birth of God's only Son was not rushed. Unexpected, yes, ask Joseph. Mary, like all women had to go through the usual nine months of pregnancy, in order to have a healthy Son. Jesus had to learn the slow process of becoming a good carpenter. He was not able to snap His fingers, and a table and chairs would just suddenly appear. Nope, He had to do it the slow way. Slow is good. So we wait in, "patient expectation", for "the harvest "to appear. While we wait we watch. While we wait we are given the opportunity to rest. Rest from our efforts and surrender to the secret action of grace. This action is invisible . Just as we watch the rows and rows before we , in the beginning see no results. Deep within the earth these is a miracle happening. The seeds as we have sewn them die, they have to. It is the law of nature. Out of that dying new life appears. Unless the seed dies it remains just a single seed, but it is the dying that an abundance appears. So it is with us in our inner life. Where there is no death, there cannot be resurrection and NEW life. The greater the death, the greater the resurrection gifts. This is a guarantee.

We keep a close eye on the garden. We will come to see that it will need, both water and weeding. The water is essential for growth. The weeding is essential, so that a healthy space is provided for growth to happen. When the weeding does not happen, then growth is choked off. Would it not be great if you had to water just once, and weed just once. That is just a pipe dream, nothing to do with reality.

My reality was we did not have an irrigation, or sprinkler system. Actually we did have one, it was named Joe. The garden was a distance from the water source. So it was necessary to draw the water from the source, in five gallon drums. Water is heavy, that I soon discovered. Yet in order for growth to happen, numerous trips had to be taken with those two five gallon drums. In Ireland you can have a Summer with only one fine day. Other years you would only get one wet day. Guess which Summers I was gifted with, the" one wet day" Summer. While I was able to enjoy the beach in Garryvoe, by day, I knew well what was before me each evening. The results were great. We had fine spuds for dinner, to go with the carrots and parsnips. There were tomatoes, lettuce, and onions to make a wonderful salad. As we enjoyed all the good healthy food, not much thought was given to those, five gallon drums.

As the years progressed I have had the opportunity to reflect on those days, weeks and months in the garden. So many authors and mystics use the analogy of , the garden, as the symbol of our souls. as it happens in the garden, so the same reality is within our souls.( Jesus when He taught used the analogy of a field.) We have been called by Our Creator-Father to be co-cultivators of our individually gifted gardens. We are called to cooperate within , The Master Gardner, in the sacred work of the cultivation of our souls. He will not do what has to be done without our cooperation. He cannot get done what He intends, without our cooperation. What trust and faith Our Shepherd Gardner has in us. What a awe-full gift free will is?? Look at what is now within our power. Just as He had to wait for Mary's great YES!, so He waits for our Yes for His creative plan to be realized. That is how much Our God loves us. We have been created out of His freedom, to live, if we so choose, a life of creative freedom.

Here I have to rely on St. Theresa of Avila. She was able to connect the action of watering a garden with four different stages of prayer That is going to be next week effort.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Preparing the Ground....Hard Work

Over the last three weeks we have dealt with the hardpan, rocks, and briars mentioned in the Lord's parable. These are al soul realities for both you and i. These realities are faced by all, who embrace the human condition. This embrace will happen as we make our journey as spiritual beings having a human experience.The above realities are not to be shunned or avoided.These conditions , on the contrary, are to be embraced with the same love our merciful, and gracious God showers upon them. This is a process. it is called reconciliation.It is also called acceptance. Acceptance of our reality, knowing if it is real our God is already at work bringing healing and wholeness, holiness, long before we are even aware of what is happening, or needs to happen. This is the very silent, and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit, the Power of love in our lives.Active denial , active avoidance,will result in us falling deeper into that which we so desperately wish to avoid and deny. There is no running away from who we really are.
Through the power of Love, Grace, we are slowly lead to the belief, and understanding that, low and behold, beneath the hardpan,rocks, and briars is revealed the good fertile earth. The good earth, our essential soul, is the gift of our Gracious Father God.This reality is, and I reiterate,Is, present in each and every human being. there are no exceptions to this reality.There is present in all humans an essential goodness. It is called the heart. The heart, our deepest reality, is the dwelling place of our God. There is that place which has never known sin, or devision. There The Holy Trinity dwells in a unity. We are all called to join them in their life of joyful, loving,unity. This is our destiny, our sole purpose, in this life, as we are prepared for the fullness of that Reality, in heaven.
For this to happen we are faced with hard work. It involves us coming face to face with our broken humanity. We are gently lead , always through grace, to accept that which we cannot do. We surrender all of that which we are powerless over, into the waiting, outstretched hands of Him with whom all things are possible. We have to be constantly reminder The Power of Love, God, is the essence of health. This loving Parent, Father, is not co-dependant. He/she will not do for us what we can do for ourselves.( I wish at times God was a little bit co-dependant.)This love we are lead to see, and believe, is both gentle and challenging.He knows well our weaknesses. He also knows the strength, that lies within us. It is he who has placed that strength within us as His gift to us. I was brought with that saying," God fits the back for the burden. St. Paul assures us we will never, and i repeat never, be teated beyond our strength. I have to remind God, he has more faith in me than i have in myself.In this way, our strengths are reinforced, and our weaknesses transformed into strengths. All of this happens through the miracle of the secret action of Grace. The Holy Spirit is one very quiet, very secretive operator.In the pre Vatican church The Holy Spirit was called, the forgotten person of The Trinity. Not so in to-day's church. I wonder whose work was that?
Now we have the good earth, a new kind of work begins. The earth must be broken open to receive the seed. In the old days there were no power driven machines to dig and spade the ground. The ground of our souls is broken open by the harsh realities of life, death, loss, failure, ill health, divorce, loss of jobs and hence security. The earth, in that garden, had to be broken one fork at a time.It was not easy work, to say the least. "What does not kill you, makes you stronger' i found to be so very true. I did not find that out until later in life. This was back breaking work, or was it back strengthening work?Still later I came to realize that which I was doing on the outside, was great schooling in what was, and is now happening in my inner life.Gardening, farming, is a wonder-full sacrament of what is always happening in the life we cannot see, or easily grasp. Growth in both lead us into a deeper understanding of darkness. It is in darkness all growth happens, right?In the darkness there is a necessary death, so that 'Much fruit may be produced" in abundance.
To jump ahead. The earth has been broken,and fertilized. The seeds, and seed potatoes are in the ground. Is the work finished? No, of course not. Now the work of caring for the garden begins. What happens in a garden has been used by so many spiritual authors to describe the happenings in our souls. Gardens and gardening, as has been mentioned ,are great sacraments. They lead us to deeper insights using what is seen to deepen our knowledge of that which is unseen.
A gardener has to be always alert to what is happening, or not happening. Weeds, that will choke off growth, must be watched for. For growth to happen there must be obviously sun light, and of course water. Water is an essential element in life. It is also essential for the life of the garden. Water for the garden, "water for our souls," where will that take us to?
Well, no pun intended, that will be, hopefully, next weeks effort.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

From Briars to Bounty....

My Dad was a police man. Yes, he was an Irish cop. In my younger years we got to move quite a lot. That is why I always have an eye out for newcomers. I was a "newcomer" many times. In some parts of Ireland, we are called "blowins". Our last move as a family was to the village of Castlemartyr. When we got to the kitchen and looked out we saw a back yard, a very large backyard, and a even larger garden. That was the good news. The bad news, the garden was overgrown with briers, thistles and weeds. Let's say that is what I saw. My father, a farmers son, his vision was different, it was. Well let us now fast forward to see where once there was an overgrown disaster, now there is a well ordered garden. With peas, carrots, tomatoes, celery, lettuce and of course rows and rows of "Irish Rice", potatoes. It did not happen overnight, nor in one year. It was a gradual transformation . If my memory serves me right, I spent a good part of at least two Summer vacations in and among those thorns and overgrown weeds. It took a great deal of pain,hard work, sweat and some blood. Encounters with thorns and briers will always, always leave you with a little bloodletting. That adage, "No pain, no gain" was so very true, in this case. There had to be serious effort before the good earth was revealed and a harvest could be harvested. There had to be the clearing away, before the seed could be sewn.

These scenes and thoughts welled up as I listened to, and reflected on the third reality, the seed cast by the Sewer, found Itself. The Seed, The Word of God, The Good News, is received. The circumstances, the reality in which it has been received are not conducive to growth. For growth as authentic, healthy, human beings it is essential we are immersed in an atmosphere of healthy love. Healthy love is indispensable for our healthy spiritual growth. Yes! Healthy, loving, and authentic human living are one and the same. We are told again, and again that we are loved recklessly by our Prodigal Father. A love without any conditions, restrictions, or reservations. Do we believe it? For the most part no. Why? Because nobody in this journey of ours can replicate that love. Human love,"the second love", is of it's essence incapable of meeting this great challenge. As a result, those we love, and say they love us, will hurt us. In the same way the people we so desperately want, and wish to are the victims of our selfishness, and self centeredness. That old song, "We always hurt the ones we love". So the, we hear the wonder-full Good News that there is this extravagant love we hear it with our ears, but never get to accept. We hear "You are loved". The next question that pops up right away, "well what have you done to deserve that"? "What are you going to have to do to repay that love"? "I love you just the way you are." "If you REALLY knew me there is no way you would be saying that." The conversation goes on, and on, like that. We all have that committee in our heads that has a relentless energy, resulting in our endless restlessness. That voice of negativity is always present. That voice has only one purpose, and that is, to prevent you and I from accepting, believing, enjoying, and above all, celebrating The Gospel"s Good News, you have been, are now, and always will be My beloved daughter/son.

That committee, speaks only words that trigger feelings of Guilt, Fear, and Shame. These three I like to call, "the toxic trinity" The "tt's" only goal is to destroy us. They are death dealers, and will go to any means, any extremes to make sure we have our own personal hell, here on earth. They are the 'briers' of the gospel. They choke the new life that has been given to us, through God's love for us. Their job is to get us to loose ourselves chasing power, property, and prestige. We go chasing that which will make us look good on the outside. Why? Because we do not believe our essential inner likeableness, goodness, and lovableness. We are in desperate need to become more accepting of what is means to be human, to be limited. We are, and never will be, in this life, perfect. The toxic trinity wants us to believe the lie that perfection is there, that it is possible, if we would only somehow make a greater effort.

That leads to tremendous insanity. This insanity is so easy for us to observe. It is present, and can be observed in so many individuals, families, and as a consequence in family based institutions. The games that go with "control, comparisons, and competition" leave so many victims in their wake. Every addiction,and compulsion can be traced to the power given to the 'tt" in our lives. We all have to get to that point where we have nothing of ourselves to meet the challenge of the 'tt". There is one who has all the power. We must bring our powerlessness to the All Merciful, Lenient One and there spell out what it is we of ourselves cannot do. The prayer of desperation, crying out from the depths of our nothingness, is always. That is the prayer that comers from the gut. It is our deepest truth. In this prayer there is no sugar coating. There is no effort to look good, or sound good. Here we meet who we really are, and as we meet who we really are, lo and behold there meeting us is The God of Jesus Christ. The briars, brambles, weeds, thorns, and thistles slowly are moved away, and the good earth, which has ever and always been there is revealed. That is the next blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rocks in the River of Grace....

As you read last week, life has a way of hardening us. There are so many and varied ways that demands of us, to survive, that we stuff our feelings and emotions. In the family of the active alcoholic, you don’t think for yourself, you do not express your honest feelings, and you do not speak your truth, or reveal in any way the family secret. This is true of ALL dysfunctional families, and organizations. As long as we are able to either deny, or repress our true feelings there is a very sick peace. It is peace at any price, and such "peace" eventually will lead to innumerable "wars" leaving painful and destructive wounds. Wounds that must be attended to, or else the dysfunction is passed on from generation to generation. Take a real honest look at the families you know and see how the wounds of past generation is having a devastating effect on the current generations. This will, unfortunately, continue until some generation says, "Enough" and speaks the truth. The truth WILL set the person free, but it will also tee a lot of people off. That is why there must be truth speakers in each family. They are not the most popular member, but they are the most free, and above all, the healthiest. This freedom, like all freedom comes at a price. Sometimes at a great price. The one who tells the truth may themselves be attacked, wounded, and killed. Not always a physical killing, but much worse, the spiritual and psychological assassination. The "secret" must be guarded at any cost, and so the hardening will continue. The good news that The Word is intended to bring cannot be believed, or received. It is amazing the number of individuals who are so condition in the "lie", they find it so difficult to come to believe and accept the truth. They will never know or experience God's dream, The Asling, which He so desperately wishes to impart. The call to be, The Beloved, goes unheard. The beloved is loved without "condition, restriction or reservation". We do NOT, nor can we ever earn, deserve, or qualify for it.

We must always keep before that saying, "Love will find a way". The All Powerful One's Love will find a way. The way He will reach us will not, and I repeat not the way we expect Him to reach us, but reach us He will. God has His own rules, His way of doing things, and they are way beyond what we can understand. All we can do is gaze in wonder, and be gently lead to a desire to have what seems to be impossible. With God all things are possible, that is with the God, The Prophet Jesus, came to teach us about. This is not true of the false gods of human beings creation. We will, left to our own devises create a god made in the image and likeness of ourselves. The ultimate idolatry!!!!!!!!!

We all have the innate need and desire for love. Yet being who we are as wounded human beings we find ourselves as the rocky ground of the parable. When we have not experienced a healthy love , they will be no depth to us. Everything is on the surface. How difficult it is to believe the good news, and how easily we embrace the negative. If you are like me, you will hear a number of good or kind remarks, they there will be one negative comment, which one will get the most attention? Which one will have a more lasting effect? "What tangled webs we weave……" All of us , as human beings will encounter the following rocks on the journey, " guilt, anger, resentment, boredom, anxiety, greed and envy". (Also called The Garbage of Life.) These come in all sizes. From little pebbles, to seemingly immoveable boulders. These we encounter, but we are not on our own. "Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more." Grace IS ever and always being poured out upon us. This is happening to us, whether we know it or feel. It is those moments when we feel the most abandoned, the most unloved, the most lost, Grace, the love of God is most operative in our lives. The contradiction is when we feel most distant from God, and His loving presence, it is then and there we are closest to our God. The living and true God we are always discovering, anew. MYSTERY !!!!!!

I just love to hike or walk by a river, or stream. When you look at something long enough something beyond what one see initially slowly is revealed. Mountain streams are for the most part, rocky. You see the water cascading down. As it flows you can see it dodging between the rocks, as it winds its way down hill. Where the flow is strong, the water will cover the rocks, and keep on going. What were just dull rocks, now exposed to the constant flow of water, are revealed now as polished and gleaming. There is a beauty, which would not be there if the water had not flowed. It appears to me something like happens to you and I. We, as spiritual being having a human experience, will encounter small pebbles, large rocks, and seemingly immovable boulders. We are always caught up in the river of Grace. God's grace, like the flowing waters of rivers, and streams, is always slowly transfiguring, and transforming us. The river one sees, and the power one observes, is a great example of what is always happening to us, and within us. The rocks reveal their beauty on the outside, for all to see. Your transformative beauty will be an inner peace, joy, and love. You will, for the most part , have the joy, not the happiness, that no matter what the obstacle, there is a gift waiting to be bestowed upon you. A gift not for yourself, but for the person that will be placed in your life. The garbage does not remain garbage, it is transformed into treasured gifts, by The Great Recycler in the sky. "Behold I make all things new."

All we have to do is express the desire to have the pebbles, rocks, and boulders of our lives be exposed to the everlasting flow of Grace. Then time, that is Graced, will bring more delight than the most captivating Rocky Mountain river or stream. So, "let the river flow, let the river flow". Let us then allow ourselves to be immersed in, and refreshed by an endless stream of a love we will never understand or comprehend, in this life. It is not for us to analyze, it is for us to enjoy. Come then, approach with confidence, not fear, the river of Divine Merciful love immerse yourself in it's refreshing water. Drink fully from this stream. This river runs free, and is free to all who choose to drink from it, then you will "taste and see the goodness of God".