Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Religious Life in the Mean Time

No matter what the Order, Religious are and should be dangerous! Our counter-cultural lives are prophetic. Simply going inward is a revolutionary act because each of us is transformed, thus touching others, regardless of specific apostolate. We subvert the dominant paradigm and the status quo. While so many folks today focus on "getting ahead," along comes the Brother or Sister, seeking the lowest place in order to bind the wounds and make for justice.

Franciscans every bit as much as Benedictines, for example, start from the contemplative and move beyond themselves to the active. Each order is active and contemplative. One without the other is simply incomplete. It is good for us Religious to remember that.

Religious orders revolutionized the Church and society when they were founded, and are doing so today. New forms are coming to fore, such as dispersed communities with married/partnered members who also wear habits when appropriate. This is a very good thing. These communities work along side more traditional orders, but are not in any way a lesser expression of the Religious life. In some cases, they're a much more robust form of this special, though not superior, call.

Jesus calls us to follow him; he doesn't ask. The Religious life is one way he does so. We are called not only to feed the poor and comfort the afflicted and sick, but also ask why these conditions are what they are. It might mean walking Calvary ourselves, but we cannot shirk from this responsibility...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Walking With Jesus

Jesus is the Reason for all the seasons of my life. It is with him that I walk as his reign is within my heart, and all Creation, and my heart and all Creation dwell within his reign. Easy, no!

The wimpish Jesus frolicking among the sheep in the fields isn't real. He wasn't blond haired and probably not blue-eyed either. He might not have been attractive by contemporary standards. He grew up and lived in an occupied land. Did anything good ever come out of Nazareth (John 1:46)?

This man Jesus looks you directly in the eyes and says "Come, follow me." Folks, that's not a question! When we get up and walk with him, our whole lives are turned upside down, inside out, to the point that we don't recognize ourselves. God fills us.

Putting our hands in the hand of the man who stilled the waters, doesn't guarantee instant heaven. In fact, you might think you're in hell! Change from what we thought we knew and want to hold onto at all costs causes much pain. When compassion begins to bloom, our hearts feel as if they've been wrapped in thorns. We encounter our earthiness, humus, humility.

But once the heart of stone is cracked and smashed, what joy! But not a joy that calls attention to itself, but, rather, a quiet knowing, a deep loving, that transforms one into a new creation. A new person dwelling in the bosom of his or her Beloved reaches out to others by being love-in-action.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Corpus Christi and Pride

The Feast of Corpus Christi, literally the Body of Christ, is celebrated in many churches of the catholic tradition today, transferred from this past Thursday. I have always been strongly drawn to the Eucharistic meal, which I believe is Jesus Christ, though am not going to get into an argument over how what happens when a presbyter consecrates the Bread and the Wine. I don't care how it happens, only THAT it happens. Christ is manifest among us, feeds and sustains us on this Journey.

The Body of Christ is also the People of God, coming together as one. I looked around St Paul and the Redeemer parish today, amazed at how this takes place there. Two folks celebrate birthdays tomorrow: one reaches his second the other, her eighty-eighth; he is white, she is African-American. The Deacon who preached is openly gay, as are several of the rest us. But no one makes a big deal of it because it simply is what it is. It is Corpus Christi : different colors, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, yet all one in Christ.

Several members of the parish, including the Rector, who is straight, march in today's Pride March, showing the Body of Christ, the People of God, not as something static, but actively incarnating the Good News, being Christ to others. Jesus is all about going after those kept out because they are somehow different, which gets lost in the bucolic narrative known as the story of the Good Shepherd, in which too many people act as if the Lord literally goes out and picks up a lamb that has gone astray, rather than people forced beyond the boundaries. Jesus doesn't worry about what others think about him, because he's doing his Father's business. We can do no less.

In pride, then, we re-member that the body is made by God in God's image and likeness. It is blessed, for what else can it be? No doubt, many excesses take place in our society, by folks gay and straight alike, but that doesn't take away that we need to re-connect with our bodies and honor sexuality, in healthy and wholesome ways. 

To me, as a Christian who happens to be gay (and left-handed, blue-eyed, etc), I am called by my Baptismal Vows to be the Gospel in action and honor the body which God has given me. That's not always easy. Walking with Jesus is costly, for grace isn't cheap. But God Incarnate understands because God walked and continues to walk in our shoes. With the Beloved, we are proud of where our history has brought us, and thankful to be the Body of Christ in a world that so needs Jesus' message of compassion, justice and liberation.
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two Flow One

 "Rainbow Ocean" by Thelma1

This picture touches me to the core. It's movement, overlapping, yet not blending, colors, speaks to the Oneness that permeates all Creation. The colors are not static, and neither is our God, who's always in action, incarnating, as He did in Jesus, as She does by permeating all that lives, moves and has being. The Trinity speaks to this; Buddhist dependent co-arising as well, methinks. 

If all the colors became one, we would have darkness; if we had no color, we would have whiteness. Both necessary for Life, thus neither bad things in and of themselves. While the mystics know that we are to realize unity with Unity, incarnationality honors the individual, albeit transfigured. The colors are many, but they are One.

When two people love each other truly, they remain individuals yet become one, never trying to change the other, but focusing, instead on the Love which binds them. In its fire, they're immolated into a new creation. Such is a visible sign of God's grace. 

Whether those two people are a man and a woman, two men, or two women, is irrelevant. The Beloved Weaver looms the tapestry in the Divine Image and Likeness. No one is to rent asunder the bonds of this union.

I think of my parents, married 57 yrs at the time of my father's death; I think of Richard Adrian Dorr, 83 and, John Mace, 91, who have waited 61 years for the right to marry legally in New York state, who now can. True love is true, simply...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fine Tuning

I love the violin. In fact, I played it for a while as a child, viola too. Sadly, I switched schools and did not keep up with it. This beautiful instrument can teach us so much, if we let it.

Like it, when we are fine tuned, truly our deepest selves, we produce beautiful and harmonious sounds. Whether classically or fiddlin' , the music flows and touches others. In order for it to continue being its best, the violin needs tuning constantly.

Did you know that if you hold a violin with its base on your knee, the front of the instrument facing out, and someone sits directly in front of you holding another violin likewise, strings toward you, and then one of you plucks a string, the corresponding string on the instrument facing will vibrate along with it? If we keep ourselves in tune love finds resonance within the other, and brings it forth.  

It may not be in perfect pitch, perhaps, but it's a start. Let us each let go and let God bring us into resonance so that love and peace may make glorious music, eternally.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Beyond Words

There comes a point on the contemplative journey that some reach wherein words fall oh so short. In fact, they can get in the way. Mystical prayer involves a deep yearning of the soul for the Beloved, as has been attested by holy men and women over millenia, such as Benedict, Scholastica, Francis, Clare, Meister Eckhart (long before Eckhart Tolle), John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, among so many.

This longing does not keep one from serving others, in fact, it speeds them on the way to do just that. Mystical prayer is love, and that love embraces all in its purview. It is fire and burns the dross away, so that God may shine in and through the one who so reaches out and is drawn to God, transforming him or her. As a result, so many others find themselves changed. Orthodox Christian saint, Seraphim of Sarov says:

Acquire the Holy Spirit
and thousands around you will 
be saved.

How beautiful that as the Paraclete lights beautiful candles in the wind that do not get extinguished, others find themselves drawn to the Light. But this doesn't cause the contemplative in the Christian tradition to forgo the Offices or the Eucharist, yet pulls them more strongly to them. They anchor and feed him or her, connecting to the wider Church, but, perhaps, giving a wider perspective in approaching them. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Asking the Questions

Discernment's a tricky thing, yet necessary on a daily basis. It allows you to sense where you are and if that is in line with what you and others sense is your vocation. Those others include a spiritual director or soul friend, perhaps a mentor in Religious formation.

Some days I wonder why I am even in Religious Life, as the vows flow from those made at Baptism. I wonder if those original vows all are that is necessary. Other days, I wonder if I am perhaps not called to the eremitic and monastic life, but to a more active expression, while still rooted in contemplation, like St Francis' way. Likewise, I have also wrestled with the call to the presbyterate for years, and have often wondered if it's okay to say "no," choosing instead to look at other options, seriously. Heck, some days I even wonder why I bother with organized religion at all.

Now, some might be surprised at this, but discernment needs to bring these questions to the fore. They are honest and need answering. And whatever the answer, it's correct if it's gotten to as the result of talking with mentors, prayer and deep listening. If these questions do not come up and are never dealt with, makes me wonder how genuine the discernment process someone's going through.

In my experience, none of this means anything unless it's in response to something, or rather, Someone. Stirrings felt in my being demand action, call for response. Over time, patterns emerge, and the answer becomes clearer for now. It can change over time, too, and that's right fine. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Words to Live By!

"You are not God.
This ain't heaven.
Don't be an ass!"

Words of a Jesuit Novice master to his new charges...

A dear friend of mine sent those words to me after I had blasted him in an email quite awhile ago now, as I was upset at a couple of folks who didn't return emails I had sent. Sadly he bore the brunt when he didn't either, though I was to find out that he changed his main email address, thus didn't see my email until much later. Instead of blasting me right back or ending a friendship, he responded with compassion and defused my anger. I am forever grateful to him for doing so and to the anonymous Jesuit who spoke the words above.

The good Jesuit challenges us to keep it real and not make fools out of ourselves. When we let God be God, truly accept that no one, save God, is perfect, we won't end up making an ass out of ourselves. How often do we do the opposite, and allow our anger, fear, resentment, judgement control us, causing us to speak words that we cannot take back? We're not in charge and people are who they are...

When we do forget, we need to apologize as soon as possible, and demonstrate that we mean it. We need to be aware of emotions and thoughts as they arise, acknowledge them appropriately, in order to diffuse their emotional power. This doesn't mean to deny them, but rather take the fire out of them until such time as we can calmly examine why they arose. We then need to take appropriate action or not, depending on the situation. In a word, we need to get over ourselves!

 "Friendship" by Picasso 

Surrendering to God

For many, particularly those of us in the West, the thought of giving up control of any kind is anathema. We in our rugged individualism like to compartmentalize, including our religious and spiritual life. No loose ends, no messiness. Guess what? It simply doesn't work that way. God can't be micromanaged.

By completely letting go and giving our whole selves to the Beloved, we become aware of our oneness with the Ancient of Days. What freedom diving into that Divine embrace. When we do, we become aware of God-as-verb: constantly loving, in motion, three yet always one, eternally. 

Those who do surrender, radiate an inexplicable light and peace. Grace isn't cheap, and a person suffers on his or her way to full awareness that separation from the Beloved is an illusion. It turns the world upside down and rents the heart. It is the embodiment of Love. But what freedom is then known.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spiritual Fathers

Even though my Dad's dead, that doesn't keep me from honoring Fathers Day. I remember him and the lessons he imparted to me. I strive to live the values he instilled. So, in reality, every day is Fathers Day.

But I also think of those men who touch my life as spiritual fathers. Most, yes, are older chronologically, but some are not. Some are Christian, but not all. Some have their own children, others do not. 

It is through the way these men live their lives, that they bless me (and others) so much. They don't wear their faith on their sleeves, but it emanates from them in how they live in any given moment. They do not seek attention for themselves, but are rather unassuming.

So, to them I say: Thank you, and Happy Fathers Day...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Soul Friends

What a blessing to have soul friends on this Journey. They are truly quite few; one can usually count them on one hand, and possibly still have fingers left. These folks understand where you are and have been, even though the details of their individual experiences differ. Nevertheless, an underlying unity exists that transcends the exoteric. 

Such companions might be down the street, across town, or halfway around the world. Such friendship goes beyond time and space. These friends know themselves so well, thus, know you. You can actually finish each other's sentences.

The real beauty lies in that neither party expects anything from the other; they simply love. They don't even have to say much to each other, necessarily, for Silence speaks truth. How delightfully counter cultural!

Deep friends like this don't seek each other, they find each other. It truly seems a movement of the Holy Spirit that brings them together.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Is a Roman Catholic Revolution needed?

The pastor at Boston's St Cecilia Church preached a sermon calling on the Church of Rome to practice the love of Jesus and welcome those who are oppressed, particularly gay and lesbian folks. One of Boston's auxiliary bishops was present as the Archdiocese had told Fr John not to hold an "All Are Welcome" liturgy in honor of Pride Month.  Here is the story and a video:

The Church just celebrated Pentecost; the Holy Spirit certainly took hold of Fr John! The scowling bishop in the background most likely chewed the good padre a new one off camera, attempting to enforce the dysfunctional party line, where clergy are treated like children and lay folks to do whatever the hierarchy says.How much degradation will the People of God take?  


Voices like Fr John's are being raised all over, such as at the American Catholic Council held this past weekend in Detroit. More than anything, I would like Spring to truly dawn in the Roman Catholic Church here in America for the many I love who are still members of my former communion. It will take nothing short of a revolution to do it; I am not holding my breath. Who knows?

But what prevents folks from exploring a group like the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, for example? It's fully Catholic, celebrating the seven sacraments and has Apostolic Succession. Clergy are either married/partnered or single, gay or lesbian, men or women. The laity has a strong voice in the democratic administration of the Communion. There are Religious Orders. Members are committed to justice and peace. It's growing. Parishes aren't without the Eucharist because they have clergy to preside. Seems that everything for which the American Catholic Council calls already exists here so what holds folks back?

Could it be, as a dear friend has observed, that many of us who grew up Roman Catholic, believe deep down what we were taught that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true faith? Many progressive RC's protest and say "no," but I think my friend is spot on. I don't say this to disrespect my Roman Catholic friends who embody Christ in their ministries, but just to point out that not all Catholics are Roman and that viable alternatives to the Roman Church exist which are fully Catholic.

I am not naive enough to think that there will be a mass exodus to the Episcopal Church. I, personally, have been blessed with a fantastic growing parish, with wonderful clergy and liturgy, not to mention a fantastic bishop. Many of us who grew up Roman Catholic, myself included, have found a home as Episcopalians, but it's not for all.

So, is the revolution worth it to stay in Rome? Might it be better if people vote with their feet and move to another pew in the same Church, one where the hospitality of Jesus is lived and practiced throughout the organization? I will not presume to answer for others...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Living the Spirit

What a fantastic day! Jeff Lee, Episcopal Bishop of Chicago, preached and presided at my parish, St Paul and the Redeemer, for Pentecost. The liturgy was so joyous and full of the Holy Spirit. The music unbelievably powerful--Gospel and jazz, along with the dignity of the ancient liturgy. It simply worked, and worked well. The Episcopalians at SPR are not God's Frozen Chosen, but are on fire with being Christians!

Jeff spoke of "quasi Christians," those of us who attend church, get involved, and love God, but who are, nevertheless, skeptical of things as well. This is a wonderful thing, as opposed to those who are absolutely certain about everything; if you have no doubt, or never had doubts, how can you have genuine faith? The bishop reminded us that the opposite of faith, is not unbelief, but certainty.

When we think we have battened down the hatches with precise definitions and formulae, we have deluded ourselves, creating idols that stand in the way of Truth. Buddha was right when he said to experience things for ourselves rather than accept blindly. Isn't it better to stand in the midst of Mystery and allow it to be just that? The Holy Spirit bloweth where She listeth, not where we think she should go; we Christians do not have a monopoly on the Beloved.

But do we just jettison the Creed? Absolutely not, but we acknowledge that it's "a love song," to quote the bishop, and that many of us are skeptical of some of its contents, or at least the way it states them. I have long said that creeds and doctrines are springboards into that deep Reality that we call God, not the Reality itself. We need to look to what they point, not get stuck in them. That's one of the reasons we sing, not chant or recite, the Creed at SPR.

It seems to me that many are afraid of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, preferring instead to hide behind the defense of illusory walls to "defend" the Faith. The Faith's just fine if we're willing to let go and live it...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blessed Pentecost

Estella Lousia M Canziani’s "Pentecost" 

Pentecost is about transformation, the fire that burns but does not consume. The followers of Jesus find themselves empowered by a strength of which they were not aware before. They know the Lord is with them now.

How poignant that this takes place within community; no privatized experience here, though it affects each person present. These folks are ablaze with the Holy Spirit's power.

When we open ourselves to the Pentecost moment, we can do phenomenal things in Christ. We can set the world on fire by loving others unconditionally!  

Friday, June 10, 2011

Made in the Image of What You Desire

Years ago I saw an Alfred Hitchcock production whose name slips my mind, but was profound nevertheless. Guests to an odd party are each asked to put on a mask. They wore regular clothes and the face covering. What was odd: the masks represented each individual's vice, hence a lust-filled person had a hideously lascivious and misshapen visage; a glutton had a piggish face, and so on. At the end of the story, each guest removes his or her mask, only to find that their face is an exact replica! 

Hence the words of Thomas Merton, ocso: "A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. A man cannot serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire."

In this country, we are experiencing the politics of meanness in its full fury. Jesus becomes a commodity, wrapped in the American flag, used for hate. The Beloved Community is being mocked by dime-store religiosity. This is an intensely spiritual matter! 

What fear must reside in so many hearts to attack, to hate, and do so openly. Armageddon is not about some grand-scale production number of Jesus' return on the clouds to damn people forever. It's now, between faces twisted in greed and hate and those open in compassion and hope. 

St Francis and the Leper


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


One of the hallmarks of simple Christianity is hospitality.  Benedict of Nursia challenged those who took up his Rule to "welcome all as Christ." In a traditional convent, friary, or monastery, those who came stayed in a guest house; in contemporary communities, we must open our hearts. Not always easy and downright irritating some times, but always necessary.

Francis kissed the leper, and we must do no less. Following Jesus isn't easy nor is it always pleasant, but it will change you. The homeless man or woman walking the streets is a person; if he or she speaks to you, look them in the eye, whether or not you give money. Let them know you see them. Try to smile at people or at least acknowledge them with a nod; it could change someone's life, perhaps save it. Be kinder to yourself, too. 

I once heard the story of a little Russian girl, long before the Communist revolution, who joyfully yelled "Christos annesti" (Christ is Risen!) to a man she was passing. In her innocence, she radiated Christ's hospitality and love. The man had murdered someone days before, and as a result of her greeting, collapsed in tears, admitted his crime, and became truly repentant. Will it work every time? Probably not, but if it changes one person, isn't it worth it?

Faith communities as well need to open their doors wide and practice the welcome given by Jesus. The rabbi of Nazareth ate with tax collectors and women, which was simply not done in his day. He did not give them a litmus test of beliefs, but looked into their hearts and told them their faith healed them, calling them to sin no more.  

Part of being hospitable means making guests as comfortable as possible; it means taking the Church to our brothers and sisters wherever they are. It means taking food, yes, but also celebrating the Eucharist there, forming real community. It means offering empowerment, hope and liberation by struggling for justice, but personifying mercy.

Maybe if we as Church were more worried about loving and less about doctrinal perfection, true conversion in us all could take place.  

Christ of the Breadlines by Fritz Eichenberg

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

God and God's Dissenters

If one studies ancient religions, he or she finds out that many god-human couplings, wherein the woman is a virgin, produces a god-man as offspring.  This same god-man (Mithras to name one) endures crucifixion and raises from the dead three days later. So, argue some famous atheists, this disproves the Jesus story of the Christian tradition. Really?

While it is certainly possible that the early followers of Jesus merely reproduced the story of Mithras, substituting Jesus, and adding some other details. But I wonder if any of those ancient religions ever stated that their god-man was fully God and fully human, or God as human, as Karl Rahner, SJ, says. Somehow, I doubt that. 

As a dear friend says: "I'd like to see these so-called New Atheists take on the Niebuhrs," referring to Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr, two Protestant theological giants (also brothers) of the Twentieth Century. So many other theologians could be added to the list! Much of organized atheism attacks fundamentalism, which mainstream religion disdains as well.

Religion need not fear atheism, for the latter keeps it on its toes, which is not a bad thing. But the reverse is true as well. No one can prove or disprove the existence of God or the Incarnation, period. Besides, about just what God are they arguing and what does incarnation mean? Clarification rules the day...

Many atheists argue that all people are atheists in relation to the ancient gods (not entirely true) and that all we have to do is stop believing in just one more god and we'll be "free". It seems to me that this last one might just be the One True God in whose wake others have fallen (or not for some). Just because something can't be quantified, fails to render it nonexistent. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Getting Real

Isn't it sad when some folks think they can merely say "I'm sorry," and all is well? Talk is quite cheap these days, and unless change in behavior follows the words, they are meaningless. In fact, the words are often a lie, uttered out of expediency, needing to look contrite, when one really is not.

Same with love. Saying "I love you" is nice, certainly pleasant to hear, but if the actions before, during, and after saying so don't match the words, they're also meaningless. In fact, it's quite pathetic.

While I was blessed to be raised by emotionally healthy parents who said what they meant and meant what they said, thanks be to God, not everyone was. Someone I care about has an emotionally abusive parent who doesn't see that the wounds she inflicts drives him farther from her. She only cares about herself, because she's never gotten out of whatever she's stuck in. She's as sick as any alcoholic or drug user. May she find the helps she needs; he's beginning to, thankfully.

Not wanting to be a bummer with this post, but those who know me, know that I am deeply real, finding much for what passes as spirituality these days, with its denial of the negative, nothing more than fluff and fairy dust. Life needs to be lived as it is, knowing that the Holy Spirit's right there with us.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Let God be God

Mystics want God as God is; others want God as they imagine God to be, to paraphrase John Beevers in the introduction to his translation of Jean-Pierre de Cassaude, SJ's Abandonment to Divine ProvidenceHow often in our hubris do we forget that we are made in God's image and likeness, not the other way around. 

Probably out of fear and the need to control, folks paint God in a myriad of ways, but all too often in their own image. The Beloved simply IS, so why not simply experience God, for the Divine cannot be grasped...

True mystics dwell among us not wanting to attract attention because it's not about them. They do ordinary things--wash the dishes, mow the lawn, pick up doggy doo--the stuff of life.It is within the ordinary that God works in and through them, quietly, sometimes without them even knowing.

They shudder to be called 'holy.' They do not seek mystical experiences, knowing that various phenomena are real, but not the point, and, actually, distractions to the One Who Is, the Ancient of Days. It is their hope to be engulfed in the Holy Flame, that does not consume but transforms. 

Friday, June 3, 2011


Discernment is done daily, not only in monastic formation, but beyond. It is extremely important on those days when prayer does not seem to flow, when I don't want to do the Offices or lectio divina. Yup, monks and nuns sometimes get like that; surprise: we're human too!

Being part of a nontraditional community brings many of the same questions about the monastic life, yet some different ones as well. I live in the world and that changes the dynamic quite a bit, causing focus on other concerns traditional monks and nuns simply don't face. And what of vows?

All vows flow from those made at Baptism. Religious life of any form is simply a more one-pointed focus of those vows, no better, no worse. It does not guarantee holiness, though, sadly, some Religious would like to think it does. Monastic men and women are simply no different than anyone else striving for transformation, but our lives are called to witness to this. So, then, why bother, if we're all called to live out our Baptismal vows, why do this?

Simply, because, ultimately, it's not up to me. For whatever reason, the Beloved calls me to this life of witness as a hermit-monk. Ironic, that, since it is a call rooted in hiddeness, but that doesn't take away from whatever God chooses to do through that, often without my awareness.

Thankfully, I have a mentor in the Community of Solitude, who walks this journey with me, as well as a spiritual friend and mentor, who has been a hermit for over thirty years. They do not tell me what I want to hear, but, rather, serve as mirrors and reflect back to me where I am. I have also been blessed with my brothers and sisters in community, as well as other Religious who share their experiences. For all of them, I am grateful. 

So, when it comes time to petition to make Profession, will I do it? I have no idea, since today's what's important. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Holy Play


Playing with 65-lb, Beagle-Lab mix, Ginger is holy, sacramental even. Throwing her, thankfully, indestructible rubber tennis ball, brings her total joy. It gets this hermit out of himself and into the moment, which is, indeed, sacred ground.

Ginger teaches me about unconditional love; it simply doesn't take much to make her content and joy-filled. She reminds me that simplicity of life frees one to live it freely and truly. She doesn't dwell in the past or get lost in a fantasy-filled future. She is a creature of God and celebrates this by being who she is, right now. 

Now don't get me wrong. We humans cannot simply live in the present moment until we have faced and let go of our demons from the past, forgiving others and self where necessary. Too much of contemporary spirituality acts as if one can simply forget the effects of the past dwell in some instant bliss. Not so. We have to go through various experiences; emotions not expressed show up in a myriad of other ways in our lives if not expressed. Once faced, these experiences form the unique tapestry of who we are. 

The more we do this, however, the more we can become like Ginger, alive in the moment simply being who we are meant to be, alive in God through the power of the Holy Spirit, walking in the Way of Jesus. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


All Benedictines take the vow of stability, which for more traditional monks and nuns means remaining in one's monastery for life, praying and working. For a contemporary monk or nun, however, no monastery proper exists, so we remain stable in our prayer life--the Offices, lectio, prayers for the community and the world, meditation. In some ways, this is more challenging.

In a monastery, prayer life is scheduled, which makes it a bit easier on some levels, but no less demanding. For those of us in the Community of Solitude, we have to schedule around other things, such as family life, job, school, church involvement: the stuff of life in the world. Not easy. But this vow calls us gently back to 
re-membering this commitment.

But our life of prayer, this stability, is not simply centered around formal activities, but out life becomes prayer. More formal prayer leads us deeply to a place where the Holy Spirit enlivens and empowers us. Hence, stability leads to our transformation in Christ.

In our Community, our cell is wherever we find ourselves; our cloister the heart joined with the Beloved and all in the world. This isn't just some nice poetry, but, rather, the fruits of stability in prayer. We uphold each other and others through it. Stability puts us in our rightful place (humus-near the earth, humble), wherein we find ourselves nurtured. By God's grace, as we are transformed, so others too.

 Abu Ghosh Monastery, Israel