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