Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Desert, The Star, The Emerging Life

If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things: if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars as did the shepherds? Or ponder over the coming of the Child as did Mary? For each one of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life. –author, not sure

The Desert: My desert is a wilderness place within where I cannot always see the fruitfulness of my life. Having lived in a desert hermitage for 9 months I am aware that in the desert, life suddenly emerges from places that once seemed desolate. I look again and the barren land is laughing out blossoms. That is a good image for the inner landscape of the soul . We do not always sense those growing places even when something mysteriously new is stirring in our depths; yet if we remain faithful to the journey through our desert and if we keep the door of the heart ajar, the light of the star will find us.

The Star: Desert places need a star. Let us take heart; the star is available. Remember! We have left the door of the heart ajar. Even in the darkest of nights I have known that star. Sometimes it is not above me leading me on; sometimes it is within me lifting me out of myself. Sometimes it is a sweet invitation calling me to quiet spaces where I can befriend my desert places.

The Emerging Life: In each of us there is a depth we have not yet discovered. That is why we must make this desert journey. That is the reason we need to believe in the star: the star above and the star within! A desert to travel. A star to discover. Perhaps 2010 will be the year when something deep inside us turns over and opens its eyes, sees the door of our hearts ajar and comes out singing. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Darkness Holds the Light

Maybe the darkness holds the light,
rekindles it through the long dark night
Perhaps our joy is cradled by our sorrow,
held and protected till the dawn of tomorrow.

The picture above has become a metaphoric prayer for me. I waited a long time for the light on the morning this image was born. When it finally pushed its face through the blackness it took my breath away. It looked as though the darkness was holding the light. I wanted to call out, “Stop right there. Hold the moment!” Life is not like that, of course, and the light kept coming. Afterwards I felt a little guilty for needing to capture the moment. “Forgive me.” I said to the light and to the darkness, “forgive me for not trusting my memory.” I wanted it to last forever, yet this photo is so dim compared to the sacramental memory of the Earth Turn that brought me the light on that autumn morning. I forgave myself quickly and have been praying with this picture for several months. It speaks to me in deep ways about how the dark moments of my life have always seemed to protect and save the light for me. I can’t always see and experience the joy, hope, and trust, the courage, love and beauty, the faith, life and light hidden in the cloud of my unknowing. The brightness within is often invisible and yet when I practice deep seeing I know without a doubt that we are containers of light and, oh, we must shine on one another or die.

O Source of Light and Darkness,

Instill in each of us a deep knowing that we are containers of Light:

our sorrow holds our joy,
our despair holds our hope,
our fears hold our courage,
our anxieties hold our trust,
our indifference holds our love,
and our clutter holds our yearning for the Eternal

In spite of our sometimes disordered lives,
all the brightness within us
is kept safe for us--safe for that moment
when we joyfully claim it as
part of our inheritance.
We are containers of peace and joy,
hope and faith, forgiveness and love.
We are containers of the Divine.
We Are Containers of The Light.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Am So Happy

Do you ever find a quote you like so much you want to call up the author and book a flight to meet somewhere for tea at the first available space in his or her schedule. That is sort of the way I felt when I was browsing one of the blogs I follow and came across this quote from Come Sit by my Fire (

"Tell me what you feel in your room
when the full moon is shining in upon you
and your lamp is dying out,
and I will tell you how old you are,
and I shall know if you are happy.”

~ Henri Frederic Amiel

Of course when I checked out the author and discovered he died in 1881 I guess the tea party will have to be a dream. He was even Swiss (my heritage). Ok, Ok, do I sound like a drama queen? On some days I am and I’ve made peace with that. At least you know I’m alive. And for the most part I’m happy. Never get bored! Oh, a little existential loneliness perhaps but that, too, tells me I’m alive.

I might be getting into my ego too much. I'll have to go to confession to Eckhart Tolle, that dear man who has so much wisdom. I want to read everything he has written. Still, I’ve spent so much time and effort building up this ego. It’s hard to let it go.

I am so excited and happy because of the things we can learn from one another.

The moon you behold here is a very special moon that God spoke from, to someone who needed a Divine Message one night, but that’s a whole new story and not mine to share.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

All Through the Night

All through the night
into the morning hours
cold beads of rain
ice the tree's dark branches.
The trees are strong; they do not bend
and this becomes their downfall.
When you do not bend, you break.
The icy day becomes my classroom.
Near the ice sculptured trees
frozen little bushes, vines and cedars,
are bowed low in adoration
bent, but not broken.
The frozen trees, sad and beautiful,
moan and sway with the weight of reality.
Lovely ice sculptured arms
yield to the bitter truth of the moment
as the silence is harsly broken.
In its wake, a deafening silence
rises up from deep inside
where my tears are frozen
like the beads of rain
that fell through the night.
How do we name what happens
without condemning it?
This is nature's way;
There were no developers present.
Was the rain unknind to freeze?
Did it have a choice
to bend our break
to destroy or build?
Sometimes I fear reality.
--Macrina Wiederkehr
from The Circle of Life published March 2005,
by Joyce Rup and Macrina Wiederkehr

This was written at least 10 years ago
after the death of a tree I loved.
As I read it again after all these years
a question is born in my heart:
Is there anything in my life that has broken
because I was unable to bend?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Night Watch


The poem (O BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS) found in my last post was written for my book, Seven Sacred Pauses, to help us celebrate the Night Watch (one of the hours in the monastic tradition). For a long time I have been aware of how many people fear the darkness or see it only as a symbol for sin and oppression. In this poem I am concentrating on the positive aspect of darkness. Darkness offers intimacy and nurturance. It is only in the dark one can see the stars. Each seed grows in the darkness of the earth. The baby grows in the darkness of the mother’s womb. There are times when we close our eyes searching for the insight that helps us see more clearly. For the CD that accompanies my Seven Sacred Pauses book go to Velma Frye’s web site: You will find her lovely arrangement of O BEAUTIFUL DARKNESS on the CD.

Tonight, turn out the electric lights,

light a candle and let the sacred darkness enfold you.

The winter solstice has been celebrated since ancient times. As we prepare for the winter solstice, that time when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest from the sun, we prepare for sweet hibernation, the gift of winter’s darkness. We also celebrate the very slow return of the light. Let us embrace both the darkness and the light as gifts for the soul as we celebrate the shortest day and longest night.

O Beautiful Darkness

The arms of darkness hold us,
Revealing now how dear we are.
O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.
O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

Enfold us and hold us.
Inform us, transform us.
O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.
O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

Surround us, all around us,
And hold our light, like sky to star.
O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.
O beautiful darkness. O comforting darkness.

-Macrina Wiederkehr taken from SEVEN SACRED PAUSES

Use these words to prepare you for the winter solstice.

Friday, December 4, 2009

You Have Lost Your Original Love

I have been pondering some of the “in the beginning” times of my life and have become aware that I am almost always more faithful in the beginning. In the beginning of any season: autumn, winter, spring and summer as well as the beautiful liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. In the beginning of each season I glow with hopeful anticipation of the gift of the new season. I journal faithfully and seem to pray all the right prayers. I am grateful for the new season that has entered my life.

Likewise, each time I begin a new journal I taste the joy of one of those in the beginning times. Recently I have been reading through my old journals and it is so obvious that at the beginning of the journal my faithfulness shines through even in the legibility of my penmanship. In the beginning I never scribble. I write slowly, purposefully, reflectively. What I write appears to be blessed and anointed. It has substance and I don’t whine very much.

But then something happens. Just like the seasons, the newness wears off and my beautiful in the beginning dries up like a brook in summer’s heat. Words don’t flow quite so well. The illegibility of my writing suggests that hurriedness has returned and the slow thoughtful process of my in the beginning time has disappeared. Even as I write this I see what a marvelous topic for reflection this is. I doubt that I am the only person who understands something of the struggle of remaining faithful to my original love and the purity of my original intention.

I even see this tendency in blogging. Sometimes I surf through various blogs and will find some that are absolutely wonderful in my estimation; but then suddenly I notice that the last post was five months ago. Rarely do I return to those abandoned blogs for I assume the author has lost interest. Believe me I totally understand. It is so easy for me to lose my first fervor.

The tendency to abandon my original love has been the focus of my prayer these last few days. I offer these thoughts to you for your reflection also. What happens? Why do we lose the excitement of our early love. We will probably have varying answers to that question. It may even be that I needed to move on to something new; perhaps that original love is not quite dead but has risen in new ways in my life.
In the book of Revelation the apostle John is greeting the churches of Asia. Each greeting begins with a salutation of peace and grace, an affirmation, and then closes with a reproof. In Chapter two, to the church of Ephesus the reprimand is this:

You have turned aside
from your early love.

O God of our original love,

Return to us!

Teach us to return to our own deepest self.

Entice us. Woo us. Track us.

Find us in those places where we are lost.

Behold our heart’s original yearning.

Stir up in our hearts a desire to be faithful

to the things that lead us to the deep places.
As I pray this prayer you have my very best

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Advent

The Liturgical Season of Advent is pure gift for me and there is no where I would rather be during Advent than in my own monastery. For this reason I try not to take a lot of outside engagements. I prefer not to travel much but to STAY PUT. Everything points to the sacredness of this season. The focus is not on shopping or even decorating. It is a season of hope for a dear world that has known far too much darkness. We focus on the coming of the Light, the approaching feast of the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. I usually spend much time praying for peace during this season. Above you will see my Advent wreath with two little angels in waiting. Strange as it may seem to some people, we do not put up our Christmas tree until a few days before Christmas. Of course we leave the tree up during the 12 days of Christmas. That is when we begin (in earnest) to celebrate Christmas.

In my last post, using thoughts from the poet Dorothy Walters, I alluded to the truth that there is something in our hearts that constantly bleeds towards God. During Advent I am always drawn into this ancient yearning so difficult to describe. I ache for God.

You may remember that I gave you some messages that I would like to slip under your door. Now I am wondering if you might want to share a few messages you would like to slip under the doors of those you love in this holy season. As for me, I love finding hopeful messages under my door. Perhaps we can all take a little extra time for silence and hope.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bleeding Toward God





-dorothy walters

from "Marrow of Flame"

Here are some messages I would like to slip under your door:

  1. It's ok to wake up laughing...and it's ok to wake up weeping.
  2. Gratitude is medicinal but you will need to say "thank you" more than once a year to get full benefit of the medicine.
  3. Forgive and the whole landscape will change. -Kathleen Griffin
  4. There is a depth in you that you have not yet discovered.
  5. Today, put on joy. The world needs it so much. No matter how many sorrows try to crowd it out, joy is a permanent resident in your soul. Happiness is a bit fleeting but joy is more stable because joy, as novelist Eugenia Price tells us is "God in the marrow of our bones."
  6. "There is nothing in your life too terrible or too sad that will not be your friend if you find the right name to call it, and calling it by its own name, it will come upright to your side." Laurens van der Post
  7. Keep vigil with your life. Guard well your heart.
  8. You are a blessing; let the light of your life shine on others this day.
  9. Practice waiting with patience and you may be surprised with new revelations.
  10. You are a jewel of creation.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Grateful for the sun, moon and stars that shine upon us day and night

Grateful for the silent, mystical gospel of dawn and dusk

Grateful for the friends who sit at the table of my heart

Grateful for the many faces of God, revealed to me each day

Grateful for the honest ones in my life who call me to live awake

Grateful for my family whose roots are entwined with my heart

Grateful for the raindrops that bless the thirsty earth

Grateful for everything that grows and buds and blossoms

Grateful for my passionate yearning to remain rooted in Christ

Grateful for sorrows and joys that keep me loving and living

Grateful for the one lone leaf I’ve been watching—that finally let go

Grateful for the winds in my life that blow things out of place

Grateful for the fire of life that rekindles my enthusiasm

Grateful for mentors who support my many paths to God

Grateful for poets, artists, musicians and authors who feed my soul

Grateful for the medicine of God’s Word

Grateful for the ointment of beauty

Grateful for silence and solitude that restore my heart-vision

Grateful for St. Benedict’s encouragement to balance work and prayer

Grateful for the ability to be grateful and oh, yes, grateful for YOU!

Gratefully Yours,
©Macrina Wiederkehr

Friday, November 20, 2009

Seeing With Our Inside Eyes

everything has to be inscribed
across the heavens
so you can find the one line
already written inside you.

—David Whyte
Today let's try to connect
with the beauty inscribed across the skies,
or planted upon the earth
or falling from the trees
with the beauty that is truly
already written inside us.
O God, help us to see with our inside eyes.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Jubilant Dance Of Dying

With my feet caressed by sycamore leaves I am taking a moment to thank everyone who follows my blog and to say to those who comment, thank you also. There are times when you comment and try to publish your comment and it mysteriously disappears so please if your comment isn't posted it is not intentional. As for me, I'm a little sporadic at responding to comments. If I respond to one comment and not another it just says something about what is going on in my life at the time. Ordinarily I do not respond to comments. I do well to get an entry posted. As you can see this is turning out to be more of a MOSTLY WEEKLY blog than an ALMOST DAILY blog.

Rebecca over at Dazzling Darkness sent me some wonderful thoughts concerning the ALL ABOUT DYING post. She tends to look at autumn as a hibernation time rather than a dying because the leaves will return in a new form in the spring. She shared a poem with me that she has graciously given me permission to share on this blog. I love the poem and I, too, actually look at this kind of dying as a Happy Dying. Autumn is not a sad season for me.

One day when the air was supple and
full of hope
My life unfurled in a thousand, thousand
Shades of green.
Firmly held,
Tethered by my resilience,
I inhaled each moment.
Moving with currents of air
Or playful breeze
Holding my arms open to the rain
Turning in to survive the storms
Surrounded by murmuring voices
Crescendos in the wind.

I lived the long green-ness
With all the exuberance of
The innocent.
And then, gradually, the nights lengthened
The air cooled
and I plunged deep into myself
Erupting into a golden flame.
Until one day
I was strong enough
To choose to

I was witnessed by one who said,
Fall is far too graceless a word
For the jubilant dance
That carries you back
into the ground of your being
Where you will always dream
In a thousand, thousand shades of green.

--Rebecca Johnson
Let's all try to be part of the jubilant dance
that creation offers us every season--every day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

All About Dying

When I went to my Sycamore tree to journal Sunday afternoon, waiting for me on the swing was a leaf that looked like a magic carpet. I had forgotten how big the leaves of Sycamore trees are. I sat down and held it in my hand for a long time. The leaf took my breath away in its dying beauty and all I could do was sit and behold the season of autumn. I saved my journaling for later and simply entered the experience of being in and with this drama of life and death.

I have always loved this season best even if everything around me seems to be dying. When I sit ankle deep in leaves I feel like I am in a tomb that is also a womb. Sacred Compost! The other side of dying always seems like life to me even when I have to look through the dying with tears in my eyes. Autumn calls me to stop clinging, to loosen my grasp on what I think I know and embrace the beautiful unknown.
Autumn is the Season of Mystery.

Like trees stripped bare I cry out with autumn sadness,
“How can I give shade with so much gone? My question answers itself as I experience the great mystery rising up in the heart of me. With the trappings gone it is easier to see the truth of who I really am. All I have is my poverty and God’s grace and the mysterious truth is: That’s enough!
It is enough for me to be poor in God’s hands. The shade I give is God’s shade, not merely my own. This is the season of transformation. We are called into the prayer of centering. Let us return to the center. We let go of everything that is not God. In the words of Meister Eckhart I pray,




I put the sycamore leaf
down on the holy ground. I do not even carry it inside to my personal altar. I let the altar of the earth have it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Little Things That Serve You

There is a poem by Pat Schneider, The Patience of Ordinary Things, that has become part of my daily prayer. It is a reflection on the many little things that serve us each day—things we take for granted because they are so ordinary. The poem begins, “It is a kind of love is it not? How the cup holds the tea,… and I think: Yes, it is! Poetry, like scripture, can be both read and prayed. This happens to be a poem that I pray. So now, as I behold the cup loving me and serving me by holding my tea or coffee each morning, I start thinking: What else am I missing? What are the little things that serve me each day?

I have begun to practice noticing the little things that serve me and yes…
“It is a kind of love...

  • how the candle holds the wick and the wick holds the flame
  • how the tree holds the branches and the branch holds the leaf
  • how the earth receives the roots and the sky holds the stars
  • how the book holds the stories and the pages hold the words
  • how the plate holds the food and the table holds the plate
  • how the walls enthrone the pictures and the pictures, the images
  • how the face holds the freckles and the smiles and frowns
  • how the computer keys lovingly support the fingers
  • how the shoe supports the foot and the finger holds the ring
  • how the earth's turning, offer us hours of light and darkness.

I could go on forever but my heart is calling me to fill the kettle with water, turn on the heat so that the molecules can began the fast dance of love to make the water hot so that the loving cup can hold the tea as I sit before the blank page of my morning work and practice patience. But before I began I sing praises to all the little things that bless me unaware each day. A quote from Coleridge winds its way through my mind: "A stream of love crept through my heart and I blessed them unaware."

Well, it was something like that. Today I would like to serve others in little ways by blessing them in secret.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Save Us From Congealing

"Death is not the enemy. Age is not the enemy. These things are inevitable, they happen to everybody. But what we ought to fear is the kind of death that happens in life. It can happen at any time you're going along, and then, at some point, you congeal. You know like jelly. You're not fluid any more. You solidify at a certain point and from then on your life is doomed to be a repetition of what you have done before. That's the enemy. There are two kind of people walking around on this earth. One kind you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congeal into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing. With these people, you can never say X stops here, or now I know all there is to know about Y."

--Gail Godwin from The Finishing School.

O Ever Changing God

Protect us from congealing.

Plant deep in our hearts an intense desire

to be flexible, bendable

always open to your transforming breath,

ever flowing, flowing, flowing.

Until we flow into the sacred stream

of that Eternal Drink which is You.

Then pour us back into the world

and let the flowing begin

again and again and again.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Let's All Become Namers

Magical Morning

I have always loved to name things. The morning I left San Damiano Retreat Center there was a perfectly lovely sunrise. I didn’t just see the sunrise that morning; I took time to experience it. I have posted the sunrise above and its name is MAGICAL MORNING.

My fascination with naming things began early in my life. Once when I was a very young thing, surely not past nine, I went to my mother almost in tears and said, “It isn’t fair; everything is already named.” At this late date in life, I can’t recall her exact words but she seemed to suggest that I could create new names—and so I did. I’ve been naming things ever since. I name the places that speak to me. I name special trees, gardens, brooks, big rocks, meadows and valleys. I name experiences and growing seasons. Sometimes I give people new names. I often use these names in my prayer. A few days ago when I was doing my “memories prayer,” I prayed, O Holy One, do you remember our velvet evening of so long ago?That was all the prayer I needed. I simply beheld the velvet evening again remembering exactly where I was, what I was feeling, how I was growing.

There is power in a name. We can enable others to feel beautiful by the way we pronounce their name. I think of Mary Magdalene in the garden on resurrection morning and can only imagine how she felt as she heard Jesus saying her name, “Mary!” Your name can become a prayer by the way you pronounce it. Sometimes I use my name as a prayer mantra when I am meditating.

It is very important to honor people’s names. We must do all in our power to keep people named and never un-name them I learned about un-naming others in Madeleine L’Engle’s book, A Wind in the Door. I will quote a bit from the book but first I must tell you that a cherubim named Proginoskes and nick-named, Progo, has come to Meg’s planet (earth) to help her understand that when you do not love others you un-name them.

Progo, you said we were Namers. I still don’t know: what is a Namer?”
“I’ve told you . A Namer has to know who people are, and who they are meant to be. I don’t know why I should have been shocked at finding Echthroi (evil) on your planet.” (and Meg asks, Why are they here?) “Echthroi are always about when there is war. They start all war. …I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming—making people not know who they are. If someone knows who s/he is, really knows, then s/he doesn’t need to hate. That’s why we still need Namers, because there are places throughout the universe like your planet, Earth. When everyone is really and truly Named, then Echthroi (evil) will be vanquished.”

And so I say to my readers:


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Left My Voice in San Francisco

Home from the San Francisco bay area where I was leading a silent retreat at San Damiano Retreat Center in Danville. The 84 retreatants were edifyingly quiet. I was inspired by their faithfulness to the silence. The photos here surely portray that this is a place of graced beauty and you might consider coming here some day for a soul journey.

The amusing irony of it all, which may actually be a bit prophetic, is that I lost my voice almost as soon as the retreat was over. Perhaps God is telling me to eat my own words. I flew back to Arkansas in silence, even wrote a note to the airline attendant so she would know what I wanted to drink.

Every experience is a teacher and so I am trying to learn from this silence that was not on my schedule. Most of the things on my TO DO LIST for today I have put aside. Sleeping, reading, resting, caring for my health: those things I tend to put on the back burner, are right up front now. They have my attention. At the moment I can only whisper. It is silent in my heart too. The prayers of the retreatants have followed me home in silence.
I think we talk
what lives inside silence
scares us.
-spoken by Angel in Linda Hogan's book, Solar Storms

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Hopefully it is not terminal but I do believe I have the beginnings of blog envy. Since envy is one of the capital sins I would like to free myself from its grip just as soon as possible. I have felt it creeping up slowly when I am surfing blogs. It isn’t likely you will find me surfing TV channels since I watch TV so seldom but I do love words and enjoy reading about people’s lives, their dreams and hopes, their favorite books, even the things they like to eat and grow and who they would enjoy having tea with. It would be easy for me to become part of a blog community if I had the time.

And oh my, as I surf, there are these little voices in my head that begin to talk to me saying, “well look at this creative blog.” (i.e. Lila's photo above) Why can’t you be a bit more creative?” And some blogs have all those neat backgrounds—and features I’ve never tried to use staring me in the face until even my blog starts talking to me, saying things like, “Why don’t you spruce me up just a bit? I’m a little dull next to some of these beauties.”

“Well,” I try to explain, “I’m a beginner and am likely to make a career out of being a beginner. After all, you are a contemplative blog and so you need a lot of white space. Some of these other blogs, much as I love them, are a little busy,” I tell myself—hoping for some consolation.

After all, the most sensible thing to do is to follow the advice given in the name of Beth's blog: Be yourself---everyone else is taken --I find that most consoling so I will try to be myself and stumble along in BlogLand as I am able.

And I do thank Lila for allowing me to use her (what shall we call it) eye poem, dream board, creative collage, whatever: knowing all the while that if I had more time to experiement I could have inserted her blog page so that it would open up to the very page of her creative display above.

Oh well...Enjoy whatever page you are on; and truly as Beth says, Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. And you are just fine whoever you are--wherever you are.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Slow Turning


Of course I am waiting for the brilliant flare of autumn. Waiting for that glorious nest of gold and red to sweep me off my feet! Today, however, as I wandered through our spacious gardens of trees it came to me that the slow turning is sometimes missed because we are looking for something a bit more spectacular.

Today let's watch for the slow moments of transformation in the trees and in the heart. For the heart, too, must learn to appreciate the process. Here is a gentle reminder from one of my favorite authors:

...There is nothing in your life

too terrible or too sad

that will not be your friend

when you find the right name to call it,

and calling it by its own name


it will come upright to your side..."

~~Laurens van der Post

Ah! Yes! But you must call it by name! And you must embrace the slow process of the turning leaves of your heart.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn Surrender

Autumn, my favorite season, is a mystical time with a beautiful language all its own, a language my soul understands, no translation needed. A kind of eternal longing wells up in me that seems stronger in autumn than it does in other seasons. Perhaps it is my own forgotten memories of a source of life behind the life I now know, my own unrealized yearnings to return home.

…I often hear people talk about spring cleaning which involves anything from going through closets and downsizing, to cleaning the house from top to bottom. I personally like to use the season of autumn to do this. It fits well with the house cleaning that nature is doing. For the past few years, it has become my custom in autumn to evaluate what needs to be relinquished in my life. Sometimes possessions weigh me down. At other times it is my character flaws that burden not only me, but everyone who lives with me. I look into my closet and into my heart each autumn and ask, “Is there anything I could surrender that would help me become a freer person?

One of the things I enjoy about autumn is that, unlike myself, it looks like it’s having fun surrendering. There is a playfulness about it. All those bright colors and falling leaves! As a child I used to stand in the midst of dancing leaves on a windy autumn day. My face turned upward, my hands stretched out, I would gather the leaves in my arms like birds falling from the sky. On some days I would try to keep my eye on a single leaf, following it wherever it led me, which was sometimes over the fence into the neighbor’s pasture. One day, having worn myself out, my mother found me asleep in a big pile of leaves. The memory is a good one and I find myself wishing I would wear myself out playing a bit more in my adult years.

—taken from THE CIRCLE OF LIFE, p 186
by Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I wanted to discover a new room in my soul, but I found instead an old room suffering from neglect. I went to the country to pray—away from my office, from schedules and conversations and anxiety. I was going to build on an extension to my life: a new soul room that I could slip into when I needed a great deepening. I soon discovered it doesn’t work that way. The most praying I can say I have done is that I refrained from incessant working.

I sat quietly in an easy chair and gazed out into the meadow mindlessly. Was that prayer? I slowly cooked up a comfortable pot of soup. Was that praying? I read from the scriptures and from Eckhart Tolle’s book, The New Earth. I read slowly not trying to figure out the meaning of each sentence. I read as though I was walking though a garden keeping company with the plants and flowers. Was that prayer? I fed the donkey slices of apples and pears. Was that prayer? I sat by the pond and watched the mist rising up shrouding the old bench with a mystical ambience. Was that prayer? I sat in candle light trying to be present to the age-old mystery that ever so sweetly haunts me without end—always the mystifying haunting. Was that prayer?

I’m not sure—perhaps it doesn’t matter if I prayed or not. Perhaps prayer is simply connecting with the Source of my life. Perhaps I don’t have to build a new room for my soul after all. Perhaps the room has been here with me all the while just waiting to be discovered. Perhaps it is about being utterly present to WHAT IS without analyzing it or trying to own it. Perhaps it is about putting away my tools of production (on occasion) and just being with the mystery. Perhaps it is about not tying to figure out if I am praying or not; and I have been told that the truly wise ones pray even as they work.

©Macrina Wiederkehr

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Blossoming Darkness of Faith

Open your heart to the blossoming darkness

Embrace the unknowns.

Say goodbye to the heart's drought

but not to the heart's struggle.

Offer compassion

to all that is incomplete in your life.

I'll meet you in community

in the heart and soul of the holy struggle

and the blossoming darkness.

The Merciful One has opened

the beautiful door of night;

We have accepted the invitation.

The soft petals of night receive us

and heaven listens to us

offering our "yes" to the sacred struggle

of spiritual growth and friendship.

So much is up to us.

Can we take the risk of stepping into

the gracious space of the unknown?

Let us hold hands with our doubts

and stand in the bright darkness of faith

_Macrina Wiederkehr

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fresh Bread from the Oven of my Heart

And in this frigid hour when the earth has the odor of dust and is so sad I wish I could beat on all the doors and beg pardon from someone and make bits of fresh bread for you HERE
in the oven of my heart.
-Caesar Vallejo

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

My Keen Whispers

My shoes and I are back from our Louisiana trip. It was my Keen Whispers first time to be out of Fort Smith and out of state. They are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned and since my hip surgery they are a true godsend. I have a thing about shoes. We become friends. When I have to throw away a pair of shoes because they are worn out, it isn’t easy. I think of all the places we’ve visited and what a support they’ve been. Once I buried a pair of shoes in St. Louis because it seemed more reverent to bury them than to throw them into some unknown dumpster away from home.

Walking is a necessary and important part of one’s health. What kind of shoes you wear while walking makes all the difference in the world. In an article I once read about the spirituality of walking the author said, Never trust a thought that doesn’t come from walking. Perhaps that is a bit of hyperbole but I like it. I have walked my way into stories and poems. I have walked my way into acceptance and forgiveness--into gratitude and inspiration--into understanding and trust. My walks are generally not the super strenuous kind but more of a contemplative stroll. It is almost autumn and I am thinking about the fallen leaves my Keen Whispers and I will crunch through. Perhaps, if we can find the time, we will do a bit of lounging in the hammock in the pine grove. There are times when we take a prayerful walk through our labyrinth. That’s what I call Soul Walking. There are so many ways to pray with your feet.

This morning as I sat under my sycamore tree I prayed about my feet (and my shoes) reflecting on some of the places we’ve journeyed. I even went back to my childhood, remembering how difficult it was for mom and dad to buy us shoes at all. I prayed about the people today who would love to have the pair of shoes I buried in St. Louis because they need them, worn soles and all. And I prayed about your feet too, whoever you are—reading this blog: I hope you will always have someone in your life to massage your feet. I hope that the places your shoes carry you will be filled with adventure and inspiration. May you have happy feet.

In a few days my Keen Whispers and I will travel to Little Rock for a Eucharist and conference, celebrating the jubilees of the Sisters in our diocese. Their next trip will be to California. We get around.

Become a disciple of joy! Massage someone’s feet this week. Choose someone weary who needs a bit of encouragement.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walking Trees

“To find your creativity
You have to leave the city of your comfort
and go into the wilderness of your intuition.
You can’t get there by bus--only by hard work, risk
and by not knowing what you’re doing
or where you’re going.
What you discover will be wonderful.
What you discover will be yourself.
-adapted from Alan Aida

These words massaged my soul this morning as I sat by my window praying. I asked God to help me go into the wilderness of my intuition. Most of us know more than we think we know but we have to be very still to touch the depth that is in us. And truly, there is a depth in each of us that we have not yet discovered. And so I asked, in prayer, to be given a memory that would stir up my creativity and imagination--a memory that would remind me of who I really am. The memory came very quickly and it is so dear...the face of a little girl arose in my mind's eye.

Many years ago when I was teaching grade school in Dixie, Arkansas (3 grades in one class room) I provided a sharing time for the children to talk about something from their lives that the rest of us might enjoy. A little girl raised her hand and told us that if we wake up in the middle of the night we should be sure and look out the window. She then proceeded to explain that at night the trees, who are tired of just standing still all day, start walking around and sort of visit one another. Fortunately the Spirit was very present to me at that moment and I didn't say, "Oh, that is just your imagination." I said something like this: "You know, I think maybe I've seen them at times also." Some of us talk about imagination as though it is false but that is where our dreams come from. And so I would say to all you grown-ups who are so busy with matters of such great importance, look out your window in the middle of the night (or even in daytime) and you, too, may see the trees walking about. The trees in the photo above look sort of like walking trees and I thank for it. If my Sycamore tree ever decides to go for a walk I hope it remembers to return to my cedar swing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Great Dawn of God,

As the earth’s quiet turning offers us a new day/, let your soft light fall gently upon all that has grown dim in our lives./ God of our ancient longings/, pour yourself into the spaces of our lives/ where we have become stale, weary or indifferent./ Enlighten and refresh our minds and hearts/ that we may step into this new day as one expecting miracles./ May we live this day with the kind of presence/ that enables us to discover that we were created to be disciples of joy. / Great Dawn of God, hear our prayer. Amen
~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~
--prayer by Macrina Wiederkehr
I'll be using this for our morning prayer Sept. 19 during a retreat I am leading at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau, LA - Pray for all the disciples of joy who will be attending.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

September’s 3rd gift

Listen to your Loneliness

Listen to the Silence

I am watching myself live more and more these days which, at times, gives me considerable concern and at other times evokes much enjoyment. It is all part of my evolving call to live more mindfully. This morning during one of my moments of pacing as opposed to centering, I suddenly heard the voice of a character in one of Linda Hogan’s novels saying: “I think people talk because what lives inside silence scares them.” She may be right. Even I, who write so much about silence find myself, at times, fearing the core of silence. What lives inside silence scares me. What lives inside silence is the terrible beauty of being alone with the Alone. What lives inside silence is the challenge of nada, nothing but being—pure being. That sweet eternal darkness that has no voice—the beauty of someone Divine holding me. Can I bear the mystery of being alone with the One who is all-one? What lives inside silence is the Great Loneliness. Many of us fear the loneliness. Oh! Anything to smother the loneliness: surf the web or the TV channels, collect friends on facebook, call someone on the phone, have three more cups of coffee, clean out a closet, text someone to tell them the sun is out or you’re eating deep fried onion rings (or something else that they really don’t need to know). All those things are fine. They aren’t evil; they can even be fun. But you know what? Sometimes they get in the way of transformation. They get in the way of spiritual growth.

There are some who move beyond their fears and find inside the silence, an immense peace. On some days I experience this peace but there are times when I still surrender to the fear.

September’s third gift is to find grace in loneliness,
immense peace in silence.

Waiting for the third gift.


The third gift is slowly being revealed to me.
...and I have not yet decided
whether this will be
an almost daily or
a mostly weekly blog.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Prayer to the God Within

O God of Every Season—You are All we can imagine You to be. O Ancient Love, are Our Hope through all Seasons of Life.

You are The Power hidden in the Ground of our Being.
You are The Seed in our Growing.
You are The Rain that Softens our Dry Hearts.
You are The Mountain we climb to get a better view.

You are The One we wait with in moments of Darkness.
You are The Hunger in all of our Yearning.
You are The Breath in our Breathing.
You are The Transformation in our Growing Seasons.

You are The Song we sing in any kind of weather.
You are The Love in our hearts reaching out to the lonely.
You are The Promise that keeps us hoping.
You are The Life behind all our dying.

You are The Dawn moving through darkness each morning.
You are The Morning Mist rising from the pond.
You are The Storm Cloud covering the sun.
You are The Rainbow rising in our tears.

You are The God hidden in bread and wine on our altars.
You are The Guest at our dinner tables.
You are The Fire in our passion for life.
You are The Gift in our lives that waits to be given.

You are The Center of all we have been,
all that we are and all that we yet can be.

-Macrina Wiederkehr

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September’s 2nd Gift

I have been trying to watch myself live lately. What I see is often disappointing. I see one who moves too fast, thinks too fast, and often speaks too fast. That is why I chose the practice of pausing for my first September gift. When I get caught up in frenetic movement it is difficult to see things and people clearly. It is difficult to experience joy. When I move so fast some of the loveliness of life becomes a blur that seems to get in my way. This is not living from the soul because, you see, the things that get in my way are, in reality, a part of my life. They, too, have their beauty and they have a right to be here; yet my busyness prevents me from seeing the offering of their lives and so I miss the splendor of the moment--and that’s a shame. Likewise, when I am in constant movement I miss the joy of all the things I fail to notice. Dom Columba Marmion, OSB speaks of joy as being the echo of God’s life in us. And in one of her novels, Eugenia Price says, "Joy is God in the marrow of our bones." That is September’s second gift for me. I WANT TO BE A DISCIPLE OF JOY! Early this morning I heard joy’s invitation, Come follow me! What would our lives be like if (even in the midst of daily disappointments and sorrows) we were forever trying to remember the joy within? The amazing face of a Squash Blossom spoke to me this morning. It was a disciple of joy. It spoke without words. The moment was pure grace and now I know beyond a doubt, I AM CALLED TO BE A DISCIPLE OF JOY.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September's 1st Gift

A new month is a bit like a hidden treasure trove. I don’t know what it holds; it is still mystery. I love beginnings: new years, new months, new weeks, new days—even new moments when I can live slow enough to notice them. Actually it is the vigil of September. It is still August 31. This is my prayer of anticipating September. I am remembering that I hold the key to unlocking September’s potential. I spend a little time dreaming of the untold stories, the new people I will meet in this month, the pieces of wisdom I will acquire, the insights that will well up from my depths, the kindnesses I will both give and receive, the prayers that will fill up this month. And yes, even the sorrows of this month. They are all waiting in the mysterious treasure chest of a month that is on the horizon. It will be a month full of possibilities and I want to be in it with all my heart. Will I be open? Will I be receptive to all that can be?

September, I welcome you. As I step into your pages I am asking for three gifts. The first gift is this: Help me remember to pause. I know now that it is not enough to write a book about Seven Sacred Pauses. Remembering to pause is a spiritual practice.

Help me remember to pause.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Reflection Mark 7:1-23

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.

In no way do these words of Jesus in today’s gospel make less valid the good advice you were probably given from early childhood: wash your hands before you eat. Of course it is helpful to remember that there are people in our world who have to carry water for miles for the simple necessities of life. The water they bring into their households may need to be used for more important matters than washing hands.

Jesus is attempting to teach us the art of discerning what is essential in life. He wants us to reflect on priorities. And so he dares to call the hecklers on the sidelines who make it part of their profession to watch for other people’s faults, hypocrites. How easy it is to honor God with our lips because it is the acceptable thing to do in our society, yet to have hearts that are constantly making judgments about others. How easy it is to ‘keep the law’ and forget to love.

Guard well your heart the ancestors tell us. The same heart that pours out envy and greed, hatred and evil thoughts, has the potential to send forth love and blessings. Thus we are encouraged to evaluate our interior life.
My blog entry for today is taken from a meditation I wrote in A Year of Sundays, published by the Little Rock Scriptue Study.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Yearning for God

I yearn to be held in the great hands of your heart
Oh let them take me now. Into them I place these fragments: my life --and you, God, spend them however you want. --Rilke

Knowing something of the angst that the poet, Rilke, lived with I find myself wondering just what was going on in his dear heart when he wrote the words above. There are some who think he was an atheist (not that I would hold it against him if he was) but I don't think so. There is so much searching in his life--such an authentic yearning for the eternal. He was always reaching through the mists trying to draw apart the mystical curtains that would reveal the face of God. This morning as I sat by my window journaling, it came to me that I, too, am haunted by eternal questions. I, too, want to do something beautiful with the fragments of my life. I cannot think of a better place to put them than into the great hands of God's heart that they may be used wisely for the good of all. I comit myself to walking through this day aware that I am held in those hands...but it is not easy to live AWAKE. Today let me be awake to the needs of others for they, too, have fragments of their lives that they are trying to understand.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Wild and Colorful Dream

I have been praying for a renewal
of my creativity.

Perhaps this dream is the beginning.

A group of us were going to Subiaco Abbey for the night. I was driving a huge truck which seemed more like a bus. A few passengers were with me. I cannot recall the exact nature or purpose of our visit to Subiaco but someone told me to be sure and look out the window very early in the morning because there would be some cute little monster-like creatures running around before dawn. It seems they were part animal and part human and they appeared just before sunrise while it was still dark. Early the next morning (in my dream) I was awakened suddenly and literally drawn, like a magnet, to the window. Sure enough—there they were. The yard was filled with pudgy little friendly creatures running here and yon—decorating the trees, the lamp poles. Some were even hanging bright colored paper circles in the air; they looked like little Ferris-wheels and moved in a circle yet hanging in mid-air like magic. Then I noticed that some of the group I had come with were outside walking around with these friendly little creatures. And I thought, “Oh my goodness, they are actually out there in that magical land experiencing all that creativity while I am only watching it from the window. With that thought I went racing down the hall with the intention of joining these unconventional visitors. I woke up just before arriving in that that magical, mystical wonderland.

Now what was that all about?
I sure hope the Subiaco monks
take time to look out their windows at dawn.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Longing For Simplicity

Sometimes my life feels and looks a bit like the picture above. Yes, even my life as a nun. I have visions of the perfect nun—demure and sweet in her almost empty prayer cell, attached to nothing but God. Well, that’s not I! The desire for God, though, runs deep in my veins and recently my prayer has been leading me to look at the obstacles to my heart's deepest desire. One of my favorite gospel passages is the story of the rich young man of Matthew 19 who had such a burning desire to follow Christ but couldn't quite pull it off because of his possessions. My life has been haunted by a desire for simplicity and I believe it is an authentic haunt. A few days ago I was so moved by a meditation Mitch Finley wrote for the Living Faith Catholic Devotional. It was a reflection on Mt19:16-22 and Mitch was writing about how part of the path to spiritual freedom is "a radical disinterest in accumulating stuff." I got a lump in my throat as I read that phrase. I am glad for the lump as it got my attention. My mantra for the next few weeks will be exactly that: a radical disinterest in accumulating stuff. It is a practice I am ready for. Must be my age.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blueberry Pancakes

Away for some writing time! I had a serendipitous and mystical drive to my hideaway through meadows of fog. It seemed as though the Holy Spirit was revealing to me that I was being guided. A friend who lives near Mt. Ida had suggested I stop at Mt. Harbor Resort for blueberry pancakes that were out of this world. She and her husband were waiting for me. I wasn’t prepared for the sight of these pancakes even though Deb had done well in singing their praises. When they arrived on our table splashed full of blueberry jewels my first thought was, “Oh I should run to the car and fetch my camera.” And my second thought was, “No, don’t try to capture them; just enjoy.” I enjoyed half of them and decided to take the left-over’s with me to my writing retreat so was able to photograph half of them after all. I had brought along Diane Lockward’s poem, Blueberry, to share with D & R. after we had feasted on the B.B. Pancakes and as I read the poem it felt like a moment of MAKING MEMORIES. I will never again pass Mt. Harbor without remembering this mystical, magical moment—the three of us sharing our hearts out, eating blueberry pancakes and reading poetry. And that is just what Diane was doing in her poem. She was writing about a memory of her and her mother in their quilted robes, hair in curlers, in the kitchen (long ago) “ plates stacked with pancakes, blueberries sparkling like gemstones, blue stars in a gold sky, the universe in reverse—the two of them eating blueberry pancakes.” What memory would you like to write about? Or, perhaps you would just like to make a new memory.

See Diane’s blog at

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Speak To Me Only...