Another gem today from the archives.
Help us to have the courage and humility to name our burdens
and lay them down
so that we are light to walk across the water
to where you beckon us. . . .
The memory of hurts and insults,
driving us to lash out,
to strike back
We name it
and we lay it down. . . .
Our antagonism against those
whose actions, differences, presence,
threaten our comfort or security
We name it
and we lay it down. . . .
We do not need these burdens,
but we have grown used to carrying them,
have forgotten what it is like to be light.
Beckon us to lightness of being,
for you show us it is not unbearable.
Only so we can close the distance.
Only so we can walk upon the water.
Blessed are you, Lord Christ, who makes heavy burdens light.
Kathy Galloway, Iona Community
by Faithful Finch
I’m the kind of person who worries if I don’t have something to worry about, so the scripture, “cast your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.”( 1 Peter 5:7) is a good reminder for me that I need to do something about those worries.
The verb, “cast” is such a great, active verb and makes me think of when I used to go fishing with my Dad, and would cast the line out as far as I could.
I find that when one is used to having worry so close by, there is almost a vacuum once you have cast it away, and there is a need to fill the space the worry has taken. I was thinking about what would be the best thing to fill this space when a sentence in a book by Henri Nouwen hit me, and I realized both what I had been doing by choosing to worry, and what I needed to do with the void once I cast my cares on the Lord!
The sentence says, “Continual complaining is more attractive than facing reality.” All these years, my worrying has been complaining that God is not enough! Facing reality is that God is there, and the answer to filling the void is to praise Him for His faithfulness, because He does care for me.
by Melodius Monk
“I would like to beg you….as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday, far into the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
I read this letter by Rainer Maria Rilke and it reminded me of one of the founders of our Community, Mother Cay Anderson. I was only 6 when Mother Cay died, so what I know of her is mostly through other people’s stories.
Sometimes I’m discouraged in my walk as a young Christian, feeling like I still wrestle with many of the same questions, doubts, and unbelief that I had when I first became a Christian. When I feel this way, a Brother likes to remind me of a saying that he had been taught by Mother Cay. She would encourage him by saying “it takes a lifetime to come into Christ.”
I find the combination of these two ideas comforting. Rilke’s notion of living your heart’s questions now, and Mother Cay’s encouragement to not be too impatient with yourself.
Each of our lifetimes is vastly unique, but I dare say that each phase of our lives is equally necessary, the good times as well as the difficult times. Hopefully in the end, each question we wrestle with will come together to make the whole person we are becoming.
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
you will lead me by the right road
thought I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
through I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my struggles alone.
by Melodius Monk
“We as followers of Christ don’t have some kind of special super power. We are not the spiritually elite. We just have the authority to show up. To show up and proclaim the nearness of God that scatters the darkness. And we can show up for life and for each other and for the world because what we need for healing and sustenance is always the same as the simple, ordinary things right in front of us—that’s just the way God works.“ -Nadia Bolz Weber
Early this morning, I was reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and already knowing the end, I started losing focus when surprisingly the story grabbed my imagination—as if to say, “don’t be so bored”—I have more to teach you. “Jesus then took the loaves and gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”
And I started thinking of Nadia’s quote in relation to being seated. Being seated is simple un-profound, and not hard to do. The people with Jesus that day simply had to show up, sit, and Jesus did the rest.
Daily I’m crying out to Jesus, where are you? What are you saying to me? Why can’t I find more answers? I want more assuredness from God, more peace, more answers, less doubt. I assume I must need to do more of “something” to gain access to God.
Sitting can be challenging. It feels unproductive, a little boring, vulnerable and uncomfortable. Yet I need not run, hide, or try to produce, but simply sit and take in what God puts right in front of me today.
Perhaps in the rootedness of staying put, we open ourselves to the possibility to receive from a God who wishes to give us as much goodness as we dare to want.
by Sister Spero
I recently had eye surgery to correct my vision, and the change is remarkable. Colors are brighter, lines are sharper—I see intricate patterns in tree bark I didn’t notice before. At the same time, I am aware of more cobwebs and dirt in corners that need my attention. This has started me thinking about vision—both physical and spiritual. I am sometimes envious of those who have spiritual vision, awed by their capacity to see truth and beauty. I realize now that this gift is as much a capacity to see ugliness, and comes with the responsibility to do something about it, so I should be praying for them, not envying them. I also judge others for not “seeing” something I think is obvious. Now that my physical vision is clearer, I realize how much I haven’t been able to see, without being aware of it. So next time I’m tempted to judge, I’m hoping to remember we all have different eyes, and to choose compassion instead.
by Sr. Spero
“…keep knocking at the innermost place of the heavens…”
I was stuck by this phrase from the hymn for Sunday Vespers (attributed to Gregory the Great, 7th century). It’s so simple. It reminds me of Jesus’s words, “Knock, and it shall be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7).
Knocking is not usually difficult. It doesn’t take great effort—like running, or leaping or holding back floods. Whether blind, deaf, or lame (physically or spiritually), most of us can still knock. Gregory says, “keep knocking.” Even if you don’t feel like it, keep knocking.
The next phrase of his hymn tells us the reward: “then you shall receive the prize of life.” I find this very encouraging. With a little effort on my part, knocking—even tentatively—God will do the rest. He opens the door.
By Sr. Spero
Deep calls to deep “in the roar of the waterfall.” (Psalm 42:10).
God calls to us from the depths of his love to the depths of our soul. Psalm 42:10 says he calls “in the roar of the waterfall.” The images of the psalms can translate to many situations, so they are always personal. To me, at this moment, the waterfall is all the thoughts in my mind that compete for attention. They roar and fall down around me on all sides. But the psalm tells me that God calls me in the roar, and if I listen, I can still hear. Today, the waterfall is thoughts, tomorrow it might be an emotion that consumes me, but the message is the same. He calls through the roar of the waterfall. I just have to stop and listen.
By Sr. Nun Other
Sometimes I clear my thought collection by writing poetry. I un-jumble the jumbled mess by sorting, eliminating, and re-arranging words on paper. Recently, I captured the words thistle thorns and placed them in my reject section. However, they persisted and insisted on space in my poem.
I’m of Scottish descent and somewhere in Scotland, there’s a clan chief and a run-down castle that bears my name. Enter the lowly thistle, scorned by gardeners, despised by children in bare feet, and just below dandelion on the least wanted list. It also happens to be Scotland’s oldest recorded National Flower. A 13th century legend tells of Viking invaders, who hoped to capture the Scots as they slept. Their plan failed when a barefooted soldier tromped on a thistle, cried out in pain, and woke the sleeping Scots. If I’m any example, Scots are not morning people, and the Vikings were quickly overcome by enraged clansmen.
The thistle is a symbol of tenacity. It’s both a humble weed and a complex entity composed of soft downy flower and sharp thorns. Its roots reach deep, it keeps a stubborn grip on the land, and flourishes in adversity. I’m aware that God hands me flowers with thorns now and then. The beauty of the flower is a blessing, but it’s the thorns that make me strong.
By Sr. Nun Other
The earth is composed of layers: surface, crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. And so are we. I have a surface-self, carefully constructed of what I want others to see. Successive layers, less in my control, lead to the heart of the matter. Psalm 51:10 petitions, Create in me a pure heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. God promises in Ezekiel 36:26-27, A new heart I will give you; and a new spirit I will put within you. While I’m busy trying, God is busy transforming. And I hope He finds my heart, fallow ground, plowed and waiting for the essence of Christ to grow.