Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Keeping Vigil with the Word of God

It is always exciting when a new book is born especially when the book is yours. My 8th book will have a September birthday. I like that because autumn begins in September and autumn is my favorite season. The portion I am quoting below from my book is from the 4th chapter which is entitled, Don't Look Back. This chapter is on commitment for I have perceived that commitment is difficult for many people. Yet it seems so essential for joyful daily living.

~~a quote and a prayer from ABIDE: Keeping vigil with the Word of God~~

A human person on fire with love for the 'way of Christ' and setting that fire ablaze with action and contemplation is one of my images of commitment.


Your invitation has not been forgotten. There was no RSVP so I have dilly-dallied in my response. I want to be your disciple but I struggle with the cost. All? The cost is all? There are moments when I find such extravagance attractive. My whole-heart leaps for joy at the very thought of this prodigal gift of self. But my half-heart cringes at the thought of having nothing left for it. Perhaps if I could get my half-heart to make friends with my whole-heart the result would be a harmonious friendship that would bless my burning desire to be your disciple. But my half-heart is so cautious and not too keen about the exquisite risk of giving all.

O Unfailing Love, please be patient while I work this out.

--taken from ABIDE: Keeping Vigil with the Word of God

(Macrina Wiederkehr, Liturgical Press--early September release)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Personal Altars

This morning at breakfast a few of us were discussing the value of personal altars in our rooms. Some of us found them important for our prayer; for others they seemed unnecessary. For me they are helpful although I have to guard myself from getting them too cluttered. I frequently change the symbols or icons on my altar to emphasize a new piece of growth that has happened in my life, some insight that has ocurred or something that is trying to get my attention. At this time in my life, God seems to be calling me away from a lot of words. Two of my favorite words are DWELL and ABIDE. These words help me remember my desire to just BE. The Holy One, Source of my Life, is always present and so nothing I place on my altar actually renders God more present. The altar space suggests a sacred presence that is always in my reach. God doesn't need my altar. My altar reminds me that even in the midst of my distractions I am in the presence of the Holy Mystery. This morning I picked up an old tattered copy of my book, Seasons of Your Heart and read a selection that fits with my desire to keep my altar more simple. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"In our search for the holy, there are times when our restless preparations smother the very truth for which we are searching. We decorate our rooms and make elaborate preparations for prayer, when a single flower and a moment of waiting are all we need to meet the One Who Comes. In our restlessness, our futile search sometimes becomes the only god we ever meet."

A moment of waiting! A single flower!

Those words hold special meaning for me as I try to simplfy. Now I sometimes begin my personal prayer with an empty altar. After my time of reflecting on the Scriptures I ask this question, How did God visit me during my hour of prayer? What is Christ asking of me for this week? Then I place on the altar a symbol, word, or picture, --a reminder of what went on in my heart and mind during this time of prayer. I use that as a prompt for the next week. I recall, too, our biblical ancestors who would sometimes pile up stones and pour oil on the stones as a memorial of God's visitations. [Genesis 28:16-19]Call to mind events in your life where God seemed absent; it is never too late to discover presence in what seemed like absence. Perhaps even now you are being invited to cry out with Jacob, Truly, God was in this place all the while and I never knew. I didn't know you were there, until now! Until now! Sometimes a backward glance uncovers a grace we almost missed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't be sad!

I walked out to the Sycamore Tree this morning at dawn. After a few rains this week a bit of green was actually returning to the grass, but for the most part the dry and crumbling leaves on the tree and on the ground looked rather forlorn. I glanced at one of the fallen leaves and I whispered to the whole world, "Don't be sad!" Then I realized I was talking to myself. It happens often when I am trying to dwell in the Mystery! There is much in the world that is lovely. There is much in the world that is lonely! Lovely and Lonely! Right at my fingertips the Mystery lives, and breathes and has its being. I miss what is near because I am reaching for the stars. I reach for that which is not crumbled, and brown and dying. "But don't you see," I say to myself, "Stars are falling all around you." The Mystery wears your name and sees through your eyes, and hears with your ears. I turn again to the world and whisper, "Don't be sad."