You can’t teach what you don’t know, Can’t lead where you won’t go

My gracious Lord,

You were so close…You felt so close…throughout our Lent this year. It was truly a holy Lent, and I give thanks for it. I’ve wanted to hold on to the feelings of consolation that I felt. But that’s not how this works.

Life intervenes once again, demanding my attention for tasks I postponed during Lent. I am both relieved to “get back to normal” and missing that special focused time with You. Maintaining that level of focus requires an aestheticism that I don’t feel called to, and yet…am I not?

The zeal for writing here, for allowing my complete focus to be on You, my voice lifted only to You is a tricky thing. I still fall far too easily into writing about me, rather than to You. And yet, I sense Your hand guiding me to keep trying, to continually return to You as my only audience. I felt Your desire for me to write with this great unknowingness, with this complete lack of presumption for Your purpose, this trust that You’re here with me…I felt Your desire for me to learn Your desire for me, to allow myself to trust, to submit, to fall into Your waiting arms. So be it.

As I write, then, I open my heart to Your word for me and leave to You their purpose.

I have to say there are times as I begin, that it seems like I’m talking to myself, but I pray, oh Holy Father, that You give me the grace — that most undeserved, but most precious gift — to hear and to write with Your words.


I had occasion to spend time with people whom You have placed on my path — new friends from church, neighbors, family.

My prayers for our daughter and her fiance and their plans for marriage, seem to be bearing fruit.

I didn’t know what to ask, Father, for them, except that You move their hearts to include You in their wedding plans. That You help both of them to see beyond the party of the wedding, to include their shared love of You in their planning.

I think they intend to, but their unspoken intentions are easy to lose sight of. I pray that You continue to work on their hearts and help them to lean on You. As they grow closer and more trusting in one another, I pray that You help them grow in their trust in You.

Any lack of faith or loving sentiment for You in our daughter’s life is most certainly my fault. I tried to place her in environments where she would learn about You from others more able to show her the way. As I have tried to describe in other places — we can’t teach what we don’t know; we can’t lead where we won’t go. I have not been perfect, or even very good, when it comes to my understanding as she was growing up. Neither my words or my life experience to that point were very helpful. I’ve often thought I exposed her to just enough religious upbringing to inoculate her from the true church. Still, she has a sweet and loving and just heart. She loves You and she knows You love her. Strengthen her in her faith, Father. Nurture those little seeds that I know You have planted in her, and help both her and her fiance to grow strong in their love for You.


Our neighbors invited us to a small, last minute gathering for dinner. And we were invited to an Easter gathering of new friends from church including two Dominican nuns. The differences between the two groups were striking.

With folks from church I probably spoke too much (something I hope You’ll continue to help me overcome). With our neighbors I felt almost muted with no strong desire to use my voice at all. There was a familiar sense of long-ago times when I didn’t know what to say or how to act in groups, feelings that were always accompanied by the discomfort of not fitting in even as I knew I didn’t much want to fit in.

This most recent experience didn’t have this particular discomfort, so much as there was a certainty that I don’t have much in common with them and didn’t wish to spend much time there. I’ve been praying pretty regularly for our hosts who are both fallen-away Catholics. Maybe You have more to show me with them as time goes by, but I’ll wait to follow Your lead, if it’s something You feel strongly about me participating in.

Our older daughter and her son continue too as sources of interior conflict and sadness. She periodically shuts us out of her life — literally: not keeping appointments; avoiding calls and messages, even when we said we were worried and intended to call the police if we didn’t hear from her. When we did call the police to ask that they check on her, she became very angry with us and hasn’t communicated since. I vacillate between feeling as though we are doing everything we can — we pray for her multiple times daily, give money and time and counsel and sympathy — to little effect. And feeling as though she may not be fully in control of her situation due to possible addictions, trauma at birth affecting her in ways we don’t understand. Yet, even if all those things are true, how does it help? Sympathy and love are already part of our automatic responses. Frustration and giving up and letting go are there too…praying You, Father, will have mercy on them and lead them to people or resources that will help them find their way to You. What else can we do? At 42 years old she was beyond our control and even our influence long ago…but maybe not beyond our prayers. I pray so.

So I bring all these concerns to You, Holy Father, as we move forward from this year’s Lent. Please look kindly on us, accept our gratitude for all Your consolations during Lent and throughout our lives, and take these sadnesses and concerns into Your holy care. If there are ways that You want me to walk, people You want me to seek out, to care for, please let me know. For now, this writing You’ve asked me to do blesses me. It allows me to feel Your touch, to hear Your words for me. Maybe for others, too? As Thomas Merton said, ‘I don’t know if my actions are pleasing to You, but I hope that my desire that they are pleasing to You, does in fact please You.

I pray that You continue to help me empty myself of myself, so that more and more Your light may shine through me to others. Help me ‘to give what You ask, and to accept what You give, with Joy and and big smile,’ as Sister St. Teresa of Calcutta used to pray.

I love you Holy Father and Your son, Jesus Christ, and pray that together with Your Holy Spirit, You three will continue to bless me and keep me, and those loving ones about me, in Your care.

I ask these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I died to myself

Oh my heavenly Lord,

I walked alone surrounded by demons and snakes
And You protected me.

I turned to You in fear
And you showed me your presence.

I called to You in my misery
And You heard me.

I cried out in sorrow
And You comforted me.

I searched for You
And You showed me Your way.

I called Your name
And You embraced me.

I rejoiced in Your presence
And You fed me.

I died to myself
And You took me to be Your own.

Hallelujah

Calling me

Holy Spirit, I’m drawn once again to online expression. To share with others my personal conversations with You and my Holy Father, who created me and who loves me and who yearns to be part of my life. 

It’s odd how intimidating communication can be if it has been left too long dormant. How to start again an old conversation; how to catch up? Best not to let this ground lay fallow for so long. So I will just begin where I am and leave blank, for now, the intervening time from my last visit.

Putting my prayers — my conversations with You, Holy Lord — on paper to reconsider in light of different events or to savor at a later time or to share seems always to have lasting grace.

I pray, heavenly Father, as we get going here again in this place that You guide my thoughts and my words…and my hands, as it happens…to those purposes that You have for me and this work. 

In Christ’s name I pray that You help me to empty myself of myself, so Your light is able to shine through my writing. Help me to seek not personal recognition, but rather to be a vessel for You and Your purposes. 

I pray that these conversations with You, these intimate words between You and me might bless others as You continually bless me. 

Amen

The Fullness of Spirit

Such wisdom in this post…I felt moved to share it. Thank you Bernadette!

somebodylovesmeblog

For a few years now I have been feeling something that I could not put my finger on, or explain to myself or anyone else.  Experiencing my mom’s last few days with her, before her death, intensified that mystical feeling within me.  Those days with my mother, truly a blessing, could only be described as overwhelming, intense love; a fullness in the physical space around me, spilling over into the interior of my heart and spirit.

That is the word to describe the feeling…fullness.  Since I have become closer to Jesus, and filled with the Holy Spirit, my being feels more dimensional and “full.”  No matter what is happening in the world, or around me in my personal life, that fullness inside me helps to keep me grounded in The Truth.  It helps me to look past whatever the physical or material reality is, and try to look at things…

View original post 921 more words

Reclining at table

Jesus, we’re told, often “reclined at table,” with his disciples and with others. I wonder, do I ever ‘recline’ in the fullness of what this word might mean applied to Christ?

When I imagine Christ reclining, I see Him vulnerable, open, receptive, comfortable, resting. His feet are not under Him bearing the weight of His body, but outstretched. They are not ready to run or prepared to fight, but up and resting.

Similarly, His arms are not flexed and ready for action. He might be lying back on one or the other of them, using it for support.

How much more calm and prepared would our bodies be to receive nourishment, if we could recline, as our Lord did, trusting, relaxed, at peace, not only in our surroundings, but in our humanity.

Pray we are able to recline in peace knowing that our sins have been recognized and forgiven; our souls washed clean by His Blood.

Are you shy? Or an introvert?

Introvert. Leonard Pitts writes this in a recent column in the Miami Herald:

The word is not a synonym for “shy,” though as a boy, I was that, too. But where shyness is an outsized fear of other people’s disapproval or of social embarrassment, to be an introvert is to be inward turning, more at home in small, intimate groups than large, boisterous ones. It is to prefer the quiet to the loud, reflection to exhortation, solitude to socializing.

For years, I struggled with that, wondered why I prefer the rainy afternoon spent watching old movies or reading a book to the sunny afternoon at a backyard barbecue watching people do the electric slide. Then, last year, I chanced upon a book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. It was the first time anyone had ever explained me to me. Turns out I’m not the only one. Turns out introversion is perfectly normal.

I think it fits me. How ’bout you?

Thomas Merton’s continuing relevance for today’s youth

Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M. writes recently of the continuing relevance of Trappist monk and prolific spiritual writer, Thomas Merton, in America, a Catholic magazine. I’d recommend the entire article to you, here, but was particularly struck by this paragraph mid-way through:

There is much that can be said about the still timely insights Merton presents to us about engaging other religious traditions. Perhaps the most pertinent is the need to live honestly in the tension between maintaining one’s own faith commitments and humbly learning from the experiences of others, all the while holding onto the belief that we are indeed, somehow, “already one.”

How simple and how challenging for so many in today’s world, but how important if we’re all to get through this world together.

The Boundless Beauty of Holy Ground

What do we miss when we ‘don’t look deeply enough.’ Great post by Michelle Lesher SSJ from God In All Things.

God In All Things

This is a guest post by Michelle Lesher, SSJ.


Picture it. An August retreat. A sunset as beautiful as any I had ever seen. The colors turned the sky into an artist’s canvas and I felt compelled to immortalize it using the camera on my brand new smart phone – Should be easy, right? I think not. Instead, what I got was shot after shot of a blurry hazy ball of orange nothing. Frustrated, I held the camera face down in front of me trying to figure out how in the world to zoom in so that I could see something; anything with a little more clarity. I accidentally pushed the shutter button and this is what I saw:

Sand Close-up

This was most definitely not the lovely sunset still happening in front of me! In fact, it took me a few moments to realize what I was seeing – the sand magnified…

View original post 335 more words

Faith

I began this year, 2014, planning to document the little miracles of my life as they occur along the way. And there have been so many: Our daughter’s job loss and her subsequent move and reemployment; her house sale, house purchase; our grand-daughter’s birth, my ability to be present when she was born; and so many little revelations, blessings, and consolations along the way.

I feel certain this most recent job loss is also gift from God. And, as the pastor, whose car’s brakes failed and rolled over the cliff while he was in church, was heard to say, “I can’t wait to see what good God has planned from all this.

In the meantime, I am called to have Faith.

Faith in His goodness.
Faith that He has our lives in his hands and will provide all that we need,
Faith.
No matter whether our circumstance is easy or hard, faith that His love is constant and sure.
Faith in His care of us.
Faith that He is present with us always, longing for us to be present with Him.
Faith that He is in control and that we should have no fear.
Faith.

Losing ourselves in God’s plan

Book CoverIn today’s world of blatant self-promotion and scrum to have one’s qualifications stand out from the rest of the crowd, Thomas Merton’s writing resonates. Critiquing his own early fervor, he said he unconsciously sought to have it ‘become spectacular’ and ‘draw attention to itself.’

In much of my world outside this virtual space, where with all of you I’m coming to understand a different way, self-promotion is often a default way of presenting oneself. Advice like, ‘if you don’t sing your own praises, who will?’ and ‘you have to be your own advocate if you want to succeed,’ are standard in many professions.

As we all become increasingly familiar with the mechanics of communicating online through various social media, there are growing numbers of folks seeking to teach us how to maximize our ‘hits’ and grow our network of friends and followers, to get the word out.

Many have worthwhile advice. But I long for there to be greater value placed on humility; for acknowledgement of the shoulders we all stood on to get where we are; for some appreciation of God’s work through each of us; for less grasping to ourselves and more embrace of shared recognition.

Merton described it this way:

The fervor of those days was special and young. It can inspire me to seek a new and different kind of fervor, which is older and deeper. This I must find. But I cannot go back to the earlier fervor or to the asceticism that accompanied it … What has begun now must grow but must never seek to become spectacular or draw attention to itself—which is what I unconsciously did in those days, proclaiming that I was a poet and a mystic. Both are probably true, but not deep enough, because then it was too conscious. I have to write and speak not as an individual who has cut himself off from the world and wants the world to know it, but as the person who has lost himself in the service of the vast wisdom of God’s plan to reveal Himself in the world and in man. How much greater, deeper, nobler, truer, and more hidden. A mysticism that appears no longer transcendent but ordinary. December 11, 1958, III.237–38

Merton, Thomas (2009-10-13). A Year with Thomas Merton (Kindle Locations 5833-5835). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Would that the small seeds of love and appreciation that we share here as witness to God’s transcendent power in our lives were ordinary.