"The nature of calendar time is linear; it is made up of durations that begin and end. The Celtic imagination always sensed that beneath time there was eternal depth. This offers us a completely different way of relating to time. It relieves time of the finality of ending. While something may come to an ending on the surface of time, its presence, meaning, and effect continue to be held and integrated into the eternal.
This is how spirit unfolds and deepens. In this sense, eternal time is intimate; it is where the unfolding narrative of individual life is gathered and woven. Eternal life is eternal memory; therefore it becomes possible to imagine a realm beyond endings where all that has unfolded is not canceled or lost, but where the spirit-depths of it are already arriving home." John O'Donohue To Bless the Space Between Us, p. 157 How encouraging is that!
"I admire you Christians because when you see someone hungry and thirsty, you see Jesus. When you see somebody in prison or in hospital you see Jesus. When you see someone who is strange, a stranger or naked, you see Jesus.
What I don’t understand is that you don’t see Jesus in your own brokenness. Why are the poor always outside of you? Can’t you see that they are inside of you; in your hunger and thirst? That you too are sick; that you too are imprisoned in your own fears and need for honour and power; that you too have strange things inside of you which you don’t understand; that you too are naked?” Carl Jung
Cairn: a pile of rocks formed as a marker, or a place of spiritual reflection or a monument of sorts - they can be found all over the world as far back as the Bronze Age! This one marks the summit of a mountain. The Peace Cairn in Donegal Ireland is worth checking out. Have you ever built one?
The poem below was sent to me this week as a bookmark from Spiritual Directors International. It's beautiful!
CAIRNS Eternal pilgrims we, on the sometimes broken sometimes silken path we call our lives.
Longing pilgrims we, hungrily seeking stones and rocks all shapes and sizes to point the way.
Blessed pilgrims we, when the stories of our lives sometimes broken sometimes silken are deemed cairns by the one who truly listens.
Grateful pilgrims we, gathering stones and rocks, and with the one who truly listens patiently creating a cairn of balance that reaches toward heaven.
Wise pilgrims we, as we bless the cairn bless the sometimes broken sometimes silken path we call our lives, and know that heaven is the gift of welcoming the broken and the silken with equal measure.
One of today's Divine Office readings was from Ecclesiasticus 19:4-17 - an excellent section of advice regarding the perils of gossip. It advises that if you have heard something about another, it would be best to let it die with you. The following line struck me :) "Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh, so is gossip inside a fool."
Today's Saturday - Top Ten film is All About Eve, Joseph E. Mankeiwitcz's brilliant and timeless 1950 drama about greed, manipulation, and ambition.
One of my very favorite actresses, Bette Davis played the aging Broadway star, Margo Channing, who takes the unassuming Eve Harrington, (Anne Baxter) under her wing. But Eve schemes to take over Margo's roles on both Broadway and in her private life. Who hasn't known (or perhaps been) an Eve Harrington character in their life at some point?
It's easy to see why this film was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won 6 including Best Picture of the Year. A favorite quote from this movie is Bette Davis' line - "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night." which you can view here.
I like the following quote because it reminds us that everything passes - nothing stays - particularly our emotions. I'm just not too sure about the word "permanentize". I can barely pronounce it - it doesn't exactly roll off of one's tongue. But I do agree with the concept - we want situations and relationships to remain permanent - and that is not living in reality.
"Notice changes. If you do not inquire into your sensations, you might perceive them as unbearably intense, and presume they will continue to be so for a long time. However, if you do inquire into your sensations, you will soon notice their evanescent nature. Sensations differ from second to second, they might disappear entirely within minutes. The realizations that sensations come and go will allow you to break your tendency to "permanentize" and assume that things are more lasting and painful than they ever could be."
As I was driving out of town the other day I reached over to grab something from the passenger side floor. Was I surprised when I pulled up a $10 bill. Nothing makes me happier than to find money I didn't know I possessed!!! So after completing my "happy-i-found-my-money" dance & placing my cash on the passenger seat I noticed the light ahead was turning red.
As I slowed down I noticed a man standing on the corner. OH NO! He was holding a placard with the words "VietNam Vet. Will Work for Food"....My first thought? "GOD MAKE THIS LIGHT TURN GREEN". (I didn't say it was a good or kind thought but i'm trying to be honest here.) Needless to say it was the longest red light I have ever sat through! My inner dialogue went something like this:
me: i am not giving that man my $10.
the voice: why not?
me: because i just found it!
the voice: who do you think gave you the thought to reach over there?
me: i'm not going there with You.
the voice: chuckle - then that light will never turn green. me: but he'll probably just waste the money - look, the liquor store is right over there!
the voice: is what he does with the $10 any of your business?
me: well....no....WHY DOESN"T THIS LIGHT TURN GREEN! the voice: we already covered that one. two minutes ago you didn't even know you had $10. and now you are clinging to it. what's that about?
me: hmmm...good point....why am i clinging to it? because of my grasping nature i suppose....good grief....what is wrong with me? (as i rolled down the window the man reached in, took the money, and said "God Bless You Dear" at which point the car behind me started honking)
the voice: um, roberta, the light changed....you really should get moving.
Every morning I receive The Daily Office online from Josh Thomas. If you are looking for a new way to add more prayer to your life I highly recommend this site. Today's topic was the plight of Christians in Iraq - a topic that doesn't receive as much coverage as one might think it would.
Prayer concerning War in Iraq and Afghanistan by Josh Thomas
Almighty God, we look with grieved distress on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; we watch human beings murdered, decapitated, burned alive. All we can do is think of Jesus and behold your shameful Cross.
Give us the courage to look at your Son’s gentleness on Calvary, Lord. Give us the courage to look.
We beg you to bless our soldiers, granting them every humanitarian victory, saving them from all harm and bringing them home with your fastest godly speed; that they may be swiftly reunited with their loved ones and received with grateful thanks.
We pray humbly, guiltily, earnestly for all the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq; for an end to violence and murder and the restoration of order, prosperity and peace. We pray you to enlighten your servant George, the President of the United States, and all the members of Congress with their advisers, generals and critics, that we may obey your divine demand for justice; and enact, with your beloved peoples of all lands, your lasting peace.
We pray for Israel, O LORD, your Promised Land; for your dear Palestine and all its neighbors; for Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. And yes, dear God, we pray most heartily for these United States.
We raise our hands and hearts to you, O YHWH, and to your Son Jesus Christ, knowing and respecting that other peoples may call you by a different name and discern you in a different light; even as we proclaim your majesty, your sovereignty and your permanent, magisterial blessing, from your holy city Jerusalem to your entire far-flung universe of earthlings, saints and stars:
One true GOD, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
It's Saturday - that means another Top 10 film choice - And today's selection - The Red Balloon - a classic from 1956 - Every summer our local public library's Summer Reading Program would show this award-winning, 34-minute film by Albert Lamorisse. Who didn't fall in love with Pascal, the young French boy who discovers a beatiful red balloon on his way to school that becomes his best friend? With themes of hope, jealousy, sadness and redemption, what's not to like about this classic? I just watched it with several of my grandchildren last week. La Ballon Rouge never ever loses it's appeal to my inner child! (to view the entire film on YouTube click on the link which will show you part 1. then click on parts 2,3, & 4 on the panel on the right.)
It was a busy week according to the Sequim Gazette's weekly Police Blotter. A QFC employee reported the theft of "about 4 pumpkins". Who would have absconded with them? Perhaps it was the 3 pygmy goats that the Sequim Quality Inn employee reported finding in the hotel's pet area? I think those goats should be held for questioning....Notice the grocery store employee used the term "about" in describing the pumpkin theft. It could have been three that were stolen, don't you think? PLUS, in a separate incident a woman reported that someone "stole a receipt from her purse" on the same day the pumpkins disappeared. Are ya following me here? Everyone knows that goats will eat anything. It doesn't matter to them whether it's paper or pumpkins. Don't let their cuteness fool you. These goats have guilty written all over them!!!!
Tis the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila (1582) - she is one of two women who were declared a "Doctor of the Church" for her writings. She was also a spiritual friend of St. John of the Cross. The following quote can be found in The Brightest and the Best by Sam Portaro: "To encounter Teresa is to encounter passion, not simply sexual passion -- though there is more than a little of that type of passion evident in her life and work -- but that single-minded devotion and commitment that refuses to be swayed, that pursues its course and defiantly damns any who would divert it. Teresa was a woman of dogged determination who battled great odds to achieve her goals. She was not afraid to venture forth in faith, and her venturing took her into some wild and wonderful places." (P. 185) May we not be afraid to venture wherever our faith may take us - May we all discover those wild and wonderful places!
"Life may be brimming over with experiences, but somewhere, deep inside, all of us carry a vast and fruitful loneliness wherever we go. And sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inward in prayer for five short minutes."
- Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, p.93 -
p.s. great book!...and the artwork is by joan baer - here are her words from her site....'As an artist, I am looking with loving eyes at faces, hoping, through the ritual of memorial, to rediscover and redistill their beauty and originality, and ultimately to come to meet the living souls that are always available, never lost. My task is, through the ritual of memorial, the faith in eternity, and the power of friendship itself, to build a bridge over the vast, immobilizing sea of horror, grief, and denial that paralyzes us in the face of violence – of racism and genocide – that will allow us to move toward the joy and love we naturally feel for all of creation, and for young creatures in particular."
Today is the birthday of Thich Nhat Hanh, well known Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and peace activist. Here are several of his words: "Drink your tea slowly and reverently,as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life."
People often ask me what the difference is between spiritual direction and counseling. There are so many answers to that question. Here is just one of them....
"Spiritual directors [as opposed to counselors] make their empathic focus not primarily the other person but the Spirit. This means that the spiritual director's goal is not primarily to understand how the person seeking direction feels. Nor is it to enter the person's experience and see the world as he or she does. Rather, it is to help the person come more closely in touch with the Spirit of God…. the empathic focus of the director is not primarily the other person but the Spirit of God."
I received a forwarded e-petition today and decided to check it out on Snopes.com to see if it was valid or a hoax. In the process (it was a hoax) I learned a new word/term - perhaps you are already aware of it?....it's a wonderful word and fun to say! It's Slacktivism.....which appears to be a combination of the words "slacker" and "activism". I started thinking of all the ways I have participated in this over the years....in high school I wore a bracelet with the name of a VietNam POW.....granted, I did pray for him but it was still a way of being involved w/o going into the streets to demonstrate against the war.
I also put peace signs on my VW bug - these started off innocently enough until mass marketing took over. Peace signs eventually became attached to everything from candles to earrings/ roach clip holders. (And yes, I did own those also.) And a few years back I drove around with the bumper sticker "Got Liturgy?" That one never quite caught on but my children loved to rib me about it and when I would visit any of them they would greet me with "Hey Mom! Got Liturgy?" They are easily amused.
So how about all those colored rubber wristlets people now wear? That started out well enough with the LIVESTRONG bracelets to bring awareness to fighting cancer but once companies smelled a way to sell these as an advertising tool they slipped closer to the edge of the slacktivism pool.
The most commonly seen form of slacktivism might be the colored ribbons on the backs of our cars which state "Support our Troops" - again, a great idea with an important message that exploded into a movement so large that these ribbons have lost their original meaning - now they are available in a rainbow of colors supporting every cause imaginable.
I'm not saying people shouldn't have ribbons on their cars or that we should not support our troops (though I do wonder what that really means), but I am wondering how far we have come from the example of Jesus who told us to actively take care of the poor, the widows/orphans, and the least of these. Would Jesus wear a bracelet or put a ribbon on his vehicle? Hey, that would make a good bumper sticker! Though I'm sure someone else has already marketed it.
Here is the definition from Snopes.com. "Slacktivism: We can't claim credit for having coined this term, nor do we know its actual origin, but we love it nonetheless. Slacktivism is the search for the ultimate feel-good that derives from having come to society's rescue without actually getting one's hands dirty, volunteering any of one's time, or opening one's wallet. It's slacktivism that prompts us to forward appeals for business cards on behalf of a dying child intent upon having his name recorded in the Guinness World Book of Records or exhortations to others to continue circulating a particular e-mail because some big company has supposedly promised that every forward will generate monies for the care of a languishing tot.
Likewise, it's slacktivism that prompts us to want to join a boycott of designated gas companies or eschew buying gasoline on a particular day rather than reduce our personal consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and taking the bus more often. Slacktivism comes in many forms, but its defining characteristic is its central theme of doing good with little or no effort on the part of the person inspired to participate, through the mechanisms of forwarding, exhorting, collecting, or e-signing. Our essay on the ineffectiveness of Internet petitions delves further into the topic."
I'm starting something new today - a discussion of my favorite movies. Long ago I taught a class in which I had those in attendance list their top ten movies of all time. What a fabulous conversation we had. I discovered that people love their top ten and wanted to tell you why. Of course the problem we found with making lists with a limited amount of slots is that you always wonder what to do with that number 11 movie on your list (and if it had been 5 we would have worried about our number 6)! So this will be a fluid list - to be discussed on Saturdays.....so here goes....in no particular order. Today's selection - Smoke Signals(Chris Eyre, USA, 1998)....I love Sherman Alexie, the author of the book this film is based on. Go to the library and pick up one of his books. You won't be disappointed.
This is a movie about life on a NW reservation, the relationship between Native Americans and the United States, and the main characters, Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-a-Fire, who struggle to come to terms with their relationship with one another and their fathers. I never could figure out why the cover of the DVD didn't just have the two of them on it, but I digress....
This quote from the film speaks to the tragedy of their childhoods:
"You know, there are some children who really aren't children at all. They're just pillars of flame that burn everything they touch. And there are some children who are just pillars of ash that fall apart when you touch them. Victor and me, we were children of flame and ash."
By the way, I do a great impersonation of Thomas builds-a-fire in a Denny's restaurant (ask my kids) "Hey Victor! I remember the time your father took me to Denny's, and I had the Grand Slam Breakfast. Two eggs, two pancakes, a glass of milk, and of course my favorite, the bacon. Some days, it's a good day to die. And some days, it's a good day to have breakfast." But I digress yet again..:)
The must-see scene comes at the end of the film for this famous poem by Dick Lourie. It was originally published in a longer version titled "Forgiving Our Fathers" in a book of poems "Ghost Radio" published by Hanging Loose Press in 1998.
How do we forgive our fathers?
Maybe in a dream.
Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often, or forever,
when we were little?
Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage,
or making us nervous
because there never seemed to be any rage there at all?
Do we forgive our fathers for marrying, or not marrying, our mothers?
Or divorcing, or not divorcing, our mothers?
And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing, or leaning?
For shutting doors
or speaking through walls?
For never speaking,
or never being silent?
Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs?
Tomorrow, Oct. 4th is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. And who hasn't heard of St. Francis? Who hasn't at least seen one of these statues in a garden which depicts a serene looking man with the obligatory bird and fawn beside him. He's that odd monk that preached to the animals, right? And let's not forget the animal blessing that is conducted every year in remembrance of this man's love for all of God's creatures.
Several years ago, while vacationing in San Francisco, my husband and I wandered into a Catholic church in search of a quiet place to sit while other members of our family were enjoying a street festival we had stumbled upon while wandering through Chinatown. We had no idea that we had entered The National Shrine of Saint Francis of Assisi in the middle of the Blessing of the Animals. And what a sight to behold! There were over 50 animals gathered around the altar - and all of them were sitting together - as if it was something they did on a regular basis. There were dogs and cats and ferrets and birds. There were rabbits and guinea pigs and God only knows what else! Neither David nor I could believe the calmness of the scene of all the animals with their humans waiting to be blessed. A remarkable experience indeed!
I have a sign in my office that reads "Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary use words." It has been attributed to St. Francis of Assisi but scholars have not been able to find proof of that. Who really cares if he said it or not? It sounds quite Franciscan to me.
In Sam Portaro's "Brightest and Best - A Companion to the Lesser Feasts and Fasts" I found this quote which seemed to fit with all that we are facing today:
"Francis and those who follow in his way preach to us by living as though the gospel were a reality; they live as though the kingdom of God were present, the victory of Christ over this world as real as the closing Dow Jones average and the morning commute. They are an icon of vocation for every Christian, searching us and compelling us to see what we might be, and to live it."
I leave you with my favorite portrait of St. Francis by John August Swanson and one of this saint's most familiar prayers:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy; O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
P.S. We at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Port Townsend, will be celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi by gathering on the Labyrinth for a brief & beloved service for the blessing of every pet represented on next Sunday afternoon, October 5th at 4 p.m. All are welcome!
In the Catholic church October 1st is the feast day of Saint Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897)....also known as "The Little Flower"...she died in her early 20's but left her mark in remaining faithful in doing the little things. At a time in her life when she was struggling with her attempts at prayer she was reported as saying, "Jesus isn't doing much to keep the conversation going." :) Here's what another Catholic saint has to say about her.....
"Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the French Carmelite nun, made the simple things of life the seedbed of her sanctity. She was also one of the first women who declared her desire to be a priest. “Since I cannot be a priest on earth,” she said, “I would prefer to go to heaven.” God who had no place for inequities in heaven would, in due time she knew, bring to ripe the spiritual gifts of women." Joan Chittister