Archives for 2005

Slowing Down

“Cut down the number of things you do until you can genuinely love every last one them. Let love be your guide and your delight, and inhabit a world small enough for that to happen — it will grow later, as needed, as love fills and softens you and makes you more elastic. God, the author of love, isn’t interested in giving us nervous breakdowns at Christmastime or any other time. Love isn’t supposed to wear us out. It comes among us to make us strong. ”


    Peace is not something you can force on anything or anyone…
    much less upon one’s own mind.
    It is like trying to quiet the ocean by pressing upon the waves.
    Sanity lies in somehow opening to the chaos,
    allowing anxiety,
    moving deeply into the tumult,
    diving into the waves,
    where underneath,
    peace simply is.
    – Author Unknown

Daily Life

    Let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is “daily” life. We can, each of us, only call the present time our own…Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow. It is as if [God] were to say to us: “[It is I] who gives you this day [and] will also give you what you need for this day. [It is I] who makes the sun to rise. [It is I] who scatters the darkness of night and reveals to you the rays of the sun.” Gregory of Nyssa, On the Lord’s Prayer

Staying focused on today is often hard for us to do. It is a challenge to prevent our minds from moving into all sorts of imaginings about tomorrow and the future. All of this future focus, interfers with our ability be present in the present and causes us to fritter away today with possibilities that may or may not materialize at some point in the future. Jesus (in his Sermon on the Mount) reminds us, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Matt 6:27, NRSV) The constant chasing after and worrying about can actually increase our stress levels and cause health related issues which, in the end, can actually shorten our span of days!

Thankfully, Jesus, calls us to live differently. We are called to live trusting in the provision of God. Trusting in the provision of God is about seeking balance and striving to let go of our propensity to control the events and people in our lives. Jesus teaches us, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. ” (Matt 6:34, NRSV) In Twelve Step groups, there is the constant admonition to live “One Day at a Time”. There is great blessing for us in living from this perspective – putting our future concerns in God’s hands and moving forward fully engaged in today’s business.

This is, however, definitely not work for the faint of heart! This business of “daily” life. Can we trust God for provision and let go of our imaginings and worries?

Gregory of Nyssa encourages us to use sunrise and sunset as reminders of God’s constancy and daily provision in our lives. These are consistant markers for us in our life journeys – day in day out. The sun rises and the sun sets. Days move into days, months into months and years into years. The consistancy of the occurance provides empirical evidence that we can ‘hang our hats on’. What are the markers in your life that serve as reminders of God’s constancy?

God is unchangeable – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8, NRSV) Can we trust God for provision and let go of our imaginings and worries?

Yes, with God’s help!


As your Son, Jesus, taught us, we pray:

    Our Father, which art in Heaven,
    Hallowed be thy name,
    Thy Kingdom come,
    Thy will be done,
    On earth as it is in Heaven.
    Give us this day,
    Our daily bread,
    And forgive us our tresspasses,
    As we forgive those who trespass against us,
    And lead us not into temptation,
    But deliver us from evil,
    For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory,
    Forever. Amen.

Basking in Belovedness

You are God’s Beloved.

Being God’s Beloved is not about who you are

    nor about what you do (or don’t do).

Being God’s Beloved is about who God is.

You are loved.

Bask in your Belovedness.


“In A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis tells the story of an experience that his wife, Joy, once had:

    Long ago, before we were married, [Joy] was haunted all one morning as she went about her work with the obscure sense of God (so to speak) “at her elbow,” demanding her attention. And of course, not being a perfected saint, she had the feeling that it would be a question, as it usually is, of some unrepented sin or tedious duty. At last she gave in – I know how one puts it off – and faced Him. But the message was “I want to give you something,” and instantly she entered into joy.

Left to our own devices, we all tend to “put God off,” not realizing that God “wants to give us something.” We have inherited the ancient tendency to forsake God, the mysterious “fountain of living waters” that we can neither posess nor control, and put our trust instead in “broken cisterns that can hold not water” (Jer 2:13).

… “We all may need to be reminded – perhaps rather strongly sometimes – that our Lord is, paradoxically, both a jealous and an extravagant Lover.”

    — from “Unfailing Treasure: Lost and Found” by Debora Smith Douglas, Weavings, Volume XX, Nov/Dec 2005

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11, NRSV)

Mary, Martha and Einstein

    … in relativity theory time is defined by a description of specific manipulations with clocks, light signals, and measuring rods. It turns out that events that are simultaneous for one observer will occur at different moments if viewed by another observer moving at a different velocity… All operations by which time is measured are relative ones. — Klotz, Irving and Rosenberg, Robert. Introduction to Chemical Thermodynamics

    Time is not absolutely defined. – Albert Einstein

With Einstein we see a theory of time based in the concept of relativity. Time is relative to our ‘frame of reference’. Thus two observers of the same event in two different frames of reference will experience the event differently. This is a mathematically verifiable phenomenon. Scientists have actually placed highly accurate clocks on jets on flown them all around in order to verify the calculation. Amazingly it worked! (Now why can’t I ever get a job like that?) As Einstein says, “time is not absolutely defined”; it is dependent upon your frame of reference.

While ‘frame of reference’ is important to physicists, the concept of frame of reference is also useful to look at in the context of spirituality. One aspect of your spiritual frame of reference is your relationship with time. The story of Mary and Martha provides a good framework from which to explore this concept. [Read more…]

Family Time

    “I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian are not those who comtemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who manage to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self.” Kathleen Norris, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy, and ‘Women’s Work'”

I am a single mother of a son and a daughter who are both adults now. During their junior high and senior high years, we rushed from activity to activity. My son was a swimmer and my daughter played soccer and basketball. In addition to sports, both were involved in numerous other activities at school and church. There were practices, meets, games, and of course, homework.

We were always on the run – dinner was often in the car on the way to some activity. Time was the enemy.

I noticed a phenomenon that developed during their junior high years. About the time I was turning in for the night, one or both would come into my bedroom, sit down and begin to talk. These conversations were definitely not run of the mill. They generally were serious and reflective in nature. This was the point that they brought up their concerns, fears and questions about life in general. This was the time for the heavy duty stuff of life.
[Read more…]

No More Dry Land

The Swan

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is a letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each minute more fully grown,
more like a king, composed, farther and farther on.

~Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Robert Bly)

You are like Rilke’s Swan in his awkward waddling across the ground; the swan doesn’t cure his awkwardness by beating himself on the back, by moving faster, or by trying to organize himself better. He does it by moving toward the elemental water, where he belongs. It is the simple contact with the water that gives him grace and presence. You only have to touch the elemental waters in your own life, and it will transform everything. But you have to let yourself down into those waters from the ground on which you stand, and that can be hard. Particularly if you think you might drown…. Let go of all this effort, and let yourself down, however awkwardly, into the waters of [your] work.

    ~David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

Rilke’s The Swan is one of my favorites! I find myself returning to sit with it every couple of months or so. It serves as a good plumb line.

The contrasting image of the swan walking (perhaps more appropriately waddling) on dry land versus moving elegantly, effortlessly through the water serves as a powerful a reminder for me to sort through all of the various activities that I am involved in. Am I doing those things that I was created to be about doing? Or am I involved in tasks, that while worthwhile, work against my strengths and might, perhaps, be better done by someone whose gifts and talents are better aligned to these tasks.

Of course, the hard part, once the evaluation is complete, as both Rilke and David Whyte point out, is the letting go of the familiar dry land and moving into water. Dying to that image that I am all-powerful and able to leap tall buildings, an image that propels me to push harder and farther, is not an easy step to take. But as I am encouraged by the image of the Swan to make the evaluation in the first place, I am also encouraged by the image of the Swan to step into the water and leave the dry land behind!

Oh Lord, pour your light into my life. Give me the courage to live in this light, seeking to open myself to using my gifts and abilities in your service and ever fighting the tendency of ‘trying to be all things to all people’. Enable me to envision my life as you see it – strengthening me to step off the dry land and into the waters that you have created for me. Amen.