Saturday, May 31, 2008
The morning sun shining on leaves and weeds like this is what greets me often these days on my morning walk. I usually pause at this tiny stream whose sound is soothing. These walks and my prayer beforehand continue to keep me centered. Divinity shines in the simplest things.
I got out of the habit of writing here during ten days that I couldn't get on line. I never intended this blog to be a daily thing, but I'm surprised that I went this long without reflecting in writing here or in my journal. Writing is often for me another way of praying.
Memorial Day Weekend is the official beginning of summer. We had lots of relatives and their friends here at the Lake. It is very satisfying sharing what I have with people I love.
It is easy to forget that the day is intended for remembering. I just found out today that Memorial Day has its roots as far back as the Civil War. Simple ceremonies honoring those who died in the war between brothers. We remember our own dead as well. Three of my classmates from long ago died this month, one of them a very close friend. Most recently a young man I knew died. Even though God has blessed me with pretty good health, I know that I have reached the age when death can come calling. "If God spares me" is in my mind when I am planning and sometimes on my lips.
Monday, May 12, 2008
When I was away from home in school I had a friend whose family some classmates and I liked being part of. It was the mother who made that family inviting, who made it clear that we were welcome. It was she who fed us.
To appreciate the role of the Holy Spirit it helps me to see the Spirit as the One who mothers us into the family life of the Holy Trinity, the One who draws us in and nourishes us in this new life.
I realize that God is neither male nor female, nor neuter for that matter. The Divine is beyond any of our human categories. I do, however, find it helpful sometimes to think of the Holy Spirit in feminine terms, like the mother who made us feel so much a part of that family.
Trinity helps us to understand that the life of God is dynamic, Father, Son, and Spirit knowing and loving each other, a Family of intense intimacy. The Father wants to share that intimate Love with all of us. So he sends the Son to be our Brother. The Son gives us his Spirit. In Romans St. Paul says, "The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." It is the Holy Spirit who mothers us into the eternal loving embrace of the Trinity.
Friday, May 9, 2008
"In our labor, rest most sweet; grateful coolness in the heat.
Console our restless lives, by your comfort, we seek."
This verse of my favorite hymn to the Holy Spirit comes to mind when I reflect on this scene. The hymn, written by Ricky Manalo, is called By the Waking of Our Hearts. It is based on the Pentecost Sequence. I don't often love a piece of music right off. I usually get to like it only after I hear it a few times. But I heard this hymn in a church in Oregon when I was visiting my sister one year after Easter and liked it immediately. I have been singing it a lot lately and trying to memorize it.
It captures beautifully the gentle, nourishing side of the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the wildfire brought on by the Sprit in Luke's description of the first Christian Pentecost. It does occur to me, however, that letting the Holy Spirit gently draw us deep down into the innermost part of ourselves where we meet the Divine must precede any authentic witnessing to the Good News of Jesus.
The refrain of the hymn prays,
"By the waking of our hearts, by the stirring of our souls.
may the Spirit of God abide and bring us together in Christ."
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I have been so impressed this year with the spring color in the woods, almost a muted autumn. Yesterday, as I drove along a country road, the early sun was hitting these woods just right. I was looking for the best angle when I came across the art work of a farmer.
As we come to the end of the Easter season we have been reflecting a lot on the Holy Spirit's breathing new life into our hearts, sticking with us, and holding us in an eternal loving embrace. These are comforting reflections.
Now in Pentecost the Spirit becomes a fierce wildfire, setting us aflame with a Love that cannot be contained, a raging Love that sets fire to everyone and everything we come near. Ghandi said, "A lukewarm thing loses its heat when it touches something else; a burning thing sets fire to everything it touches." We are no more than kindling. It is the Spirit within us who spreads the Good News of Gracious Love.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
About a half hour ago it was pouring down rain but my room was glowing a muted sunset orange. When I looked out the window I saw that the setting sun was shining through the driving rain. I don't remember seeing this before. I guess it wasn't raining where the sun was setting. To get any pictures I had to stand on the deck in the rain. The picture that captures the event best has rain spots all over it. So this is my second favorite.
In current The Catholic Worker, a small newspaper, there is an article about Dorothy Day. In her diaries she often used the phrase "the duty of delight." Even when our world is nothing but worries and rain, the Spirit can fill us with joy and enable us to fulfill our duty of delight.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I used to think that when Jesus rose from the dead, he spent forty days hanging out with the disciples. Then someone asked "You don't think he took a room in town, do you?" Resurrection means that Jesus, body and soul, is in heaven. His rising and going to heaven happen at the same time.
For several weeks after Easter, however, the Risen Jesus appeared off and on to the disciples. It's as if he were making sure that they were ready to carry on his work without his visible presence. I had always thought of this in terms of making sure that they had learned enough of what he wanted them to teach. He promised the Holy Spirit to help them learn.
I had forgotten about love. Through these Resurrection appearances Jesus was weaning the disciples away from him. It just occurred to me today that maybe he himself also needed to be weaned away from them, that he wanted these weeks for himself as well. These were men and women that he had loved so much that maybe he too wanted some more time with them, doing the things that they used to do during his lifetime, dinners and a picnic on the shore.
The Holy Spirit, then, was most of all a love-gift. What we call the Ascension was the last time they would see Jesus and hear him, but through the Spirit Jesus would be able to live in love with them forever.