Monday, January 31, 2011

persistence & perseverance

"The Ba'al Shem Tov spoke to his disciples about such persistence this way: 'A man of piety complained to the besht,* saying,  'I have labored hard and long in the service of the Lord, yet I have received no improvement.
I am still an ordinary and ignorant person.'
And the besht answered,  'Ah yes, but you have gained the realization that you are ordinary and ignorant, and this in itself is a worthy accomplishment, is it not?'

Persistence and perseverance in hard times may not guarantee that we will receive what we set out to do. But what we ourselves can become inside ourselves, in spirit and soul, in the process will be more than worth the effort."

from Becoming Fully Human by Joan Chittister
*besht - acronym for Ba'al Shem Tov

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


"A hurtful act is the transference to others
of the degradation that we bear in ourselves."
Simone Weil

well now, there's something to think about.
degradation - a decline to a lower quality, condition, or level

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Food Play

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would say,
"Don't play with your food?"
Do you think this is what she had in mind?

Friday, January 21, 2011

eclipse of the soul

"A self-absorbed soul eclipses itself."
Rabbi Dennis S. Ross

Thursday, January 20, 2011

rule breaking

"There were rules in the monastery,
but the Master always warned against the tyranny of the law.
"Obedience keeps the rules," he would say.
"Love knows when to break them."
-Anthony de Mello

yep, Love broke all those silly rules...
and still does.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

befriending sorrow

“One very important way to befriend our sorrow
is to take it out of its isolation,
and share it with someone who can receive it.”
Henri Nouwen (Here and Now, page 45)

this quote was snitched in broad daylight from the Henri Nouwen website
i wish i knew who took this photo so i could credit them. i love it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Lose Weight

"Atlas wasn't forced to hold up the world.
He was convinced that if he didn't,
the world would fall."
Mark Nepo

There is a difference between
bearing one another's burdens
and taking on another's pain
that just isn't yours to carry.
So go ahead.
Put down what you've been holding up.
Your shoulders and back will thank you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Our journey into Egypt

One of the main hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality is imaginative prayer - the placing of yourself inside the telling of a biblical story. In the poem below, Antoinette Voute Roeder places herself in the second chaper of Mathew, verses 13 and 14.  Here is yet another Epiphany moment - a time for Mary and Joseph to enter unknown territory with this child who is already making their impossible life even more complicated. From the art above we can see that this must have been a harrowing journey.

I recently received news that the path I thought I was on is no longer the path that I am on.  This has led to deep lament, anger and sadness - i.e. the process of grieving.  And with it came a huge desire to chuck God in the bin.  Of course that desire must have passed because here I am once again talking about my desire for God.  Sigh...So like the Holy Family, I'm packing my knapsack and heading towards all the unknowns that Egypt may hold, choosing to focus not on what might have been but on what is and is to come.

journey (in the way of Ignatius)

"We watch them until they are mere specks
on a wide and vacant desert:
woman huddled in her shawl
jouncing on the donkey's back,
man beside her, walking tall,
into Egypt.

I say to you, let us go too.
Let us start upon this journey
into unknown lands and future
where we have no friends, no home,
no kin waiting, no work to perform.

At our feet I see two backpacks,
royal blue, festooned with straps
of leather and with shiny buckles
Bulging with their contents,
they are equal size and weight,
heavy with the same provisions.

As I hand one on to you
and look into your eyes
I know you pack no miracles.
I can expect no angel bands
or acts of God along the way:
just all things needed for the journey
and your priceless company
until we reach that other country,
an extraordinary banquet,
that long promised feast.

Mathew 2: 13 & 14
Ignatian prayer:  St. Ignatius of Loyola left us a prayer practice which involves
the use of one's imagination with scripture passages."

This passage is from Antoinette Voute Roeder's Weaving the Wind, p. 101,102
If you would like to learn more about Ignatian Spirituality please click here.
If you are interested in receiving spiritual direction drop me a line at

artwork by James J. Tissot taken from here

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Demands of Love

Here's another "Epiphanyish" thought for today. 
(The checks are mine.)

"Love will make demands on us.
It will question us from within.
It will disturb us.
(double check)
Sadden us.
(God yes)
Play havoc with our feelings.
(triple check)
Harass us.
Reveal our superficialities.
(enough already)
But at last it will bring us to the light."
(Oh Lord! May it be so!)

-Carlo Carreto 1910-1988

this photo of an indoor labyrinth
 was taken inside the parish hall at St. Paul's Port Townsend

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cana Wine

Today's Gospel reading is the familiar story of Jesus turning water into wine as recounted in John 2:1-11. Antoinette Voute Roeder captures the intensity of the mother-son relationship in this poem from her book "Weaving the Wind"....Enjoy!

"He was dancing with the bride,
when he became aware of her,
unobtrusive at his side.
They have no more wine she said.

And the dance came to a halt
as he looked into her face,
saw her eyes speak worlds of love,
cosmic beckoning in the deep space
of Creation.

Filigrees of fear, of wonder,
plucked like fingers at his heart.
Lady, (and it sounded like
he was addressing royalty),
it is not my time.

His gaze remaining locked with hers,
he saw within the wet depth
of her woman's tears, himself:
upwelling, surging, and emerging
in a second birth.

Is it? was his whisper
and it hung between them, quivering
Then he caught her, strong embrace,
and turned to seek his Father's face
before opening the door
to the beginning of his life,
the outpouring of himself,
in this, the first of many signs.

Cana wine.

                                 John 2

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphany Joy!

"May this holy season be for each of us
A time of moving beyond what is “reasonable”
And toward the star of wonder;
Moving beyond grasping tight to what we have
To unclenching our hands and letting go,
Following the Light where it leads;
Moving beyond competition toward cooperation,
Seeing that all humans are sisters and brothers.
Moving beyond the anxiety of small concerns
Towards the joys of justice and peace.
May the transforming acceptance of Mary and Joseph,
The imagination of the shepherds,
And the persistence of the wise men
Guide us as we seek the Truth,
Always moving toward the Divine promise.
Always aware God can be hidden in the frailest among us,
Always open to the unexpected flash of Grace,
To the showing forth of that Love that embraces us all."

From Education for Justice -
Adapted by J.M. Deren from "Blessings and Benedictions,"
by W.L. Wallace in Shine On, Star of Bethlehem, CAFOD, 2004.

And if my wee wise guys have shown us anything at all this year,
they have definitely modeled persistence in their search for the truth!
Let us enter the Season of Epiphany with gratitude and joy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Message Icing

"When sacred text is used as message icing
on a substance cake that's already baked,
we learn little about the text itself."
- Steve Thorngate, Century Blog

I'm not even sure why this struck me the way it did.
OK, perhaps it's because I like cake!
And a lemony one at that!
But it does remind me to be careful to not use any sacred text
to prove my own point of view.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Almost to the Light

As the wise ones faithfully follow the light,
which will guide them to the Light,
let us ponder our own epiphanies.
Messenger of truth and mystery,
Opener of doors and windows,
Source of both day and night,
We come to you as the sages of long ago did,
Somewhat frazzled, confused and amazed
by what you have chosen to reveal to us.
We walk on in the journey of life,
struggling to accept the gifts you give,
to figure them out, to make sense of them.

Bless us with the capacity to live
With unanswered questions,
To trust that even a child can lead us,
To step over the threshold into your wisdom.

In the name of the one who revealed your love,
we pray. 
Prayer by Sherri Alms, Liturgist