Thursday, December 27, 2007

Love Took Flesh

Here's what love is according to two little kids. Noelle, age7, says, "Love is when you tell a boy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." 5 year old Bobby's idea is perfect for the season. He says, "Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."

A long time ago in Bethlehem Love took flesh and embraced the whole human race. That saving embrace reaches across the ages and enfolds you and me right now. We need never be lonely again. You will find an infant with arms open wide to hold you in Love's warm embrace forever.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Love Came Down at Christmas

"Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas."
(Christina Rossetti)
God is love. We don't have the words and concepts for an adequate description of God, but "love" probably comes closest to expressing what and who God is. God is Gracious Love, Freely Given Love, Love that we don't have to earn. "When the kindness and love of God our Savior dawned upon us, it was not because of any good works that we ourselves had done; it was for no reason except God's own faithful love." (Titus 3:4)
Over and over God tried to get that message through our thick skulls. Finally God decided to aim, instead, at our hearts by coming as a baby, a tender, simple, helpless infant lying in a manger. There may be a scrooge or two among us who doesn't like them, but most of our human race find babies irresistible. Love becomes a baby to hug us close and win our hearts.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let God

God is completely present in me and loves me perfectly. God's presence and love do not grow. God could not be more present nor more loving.
The growth happens in me. I am not as aware of God's presence and love as I could be and I am not as able to surrender myself in love as I could. It is God who makes me more aware and more loving.
All the people and places and things that God has put in my life are ways that God makes me aware of God's presence and love. All the love that God sends my way through my relatives and friends touches my heart and makes me more loving.
All that is necessary for me is to let go and let God.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Into Great Silence

I watched the DVD Into Great Silence last night. The new documentary that captures compellingly the life of contemplation in the monastery of Chartreuse. Almost three hours long it is slow and deliberate and becomes itself contemplation. There is no narration and no background music. So lots of silence.
We get to see what the monks do: their work and worship and recreation. But the camera also takes its time just looking at ordinary things like the holy water font and rain rippling into a puddle and the corridors themselves. Starting with snow on the buildings and the surrounding mountains establishes a stillness that pervades the whole film. One sequence has an eternal feel where the camera speeds up and we see the sky over the buildings as a full 24 hours passes with stars and daytime clouds.
No individual monk stands out so we get a strong sense of community life even though there is very little verbal communication.
Throughout it all the bliss and joy of the great silence.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Contemplative Advent

Last night I came across a letter that I wrote when I was looking forward to coming here to live. Advent is a good time to renew my resolve. I wrote "I find myself inclined to a more contemplative life." Even in high school I seemed to like "meditation" or "mental prayer" more than many others my age. In my late 20's I often stayed overnight at a Trappist monastery to make a "day of reflection." Being here provides me with the liesure that is needed for a more contemplative life. In these last two weeks before Christmas I ask God to help me take advantage of the liesure.
In my letter I quoted Dorothy Day's quoting a Buddhist saying, "....the third period of life is the time of withdrawal from responsibility, letting go of the things of this life, letting God take over." I want God's help to value being over doing. To be still, to sit in silence.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


"To you, God, silence is praise." (Psalm 65:1) I want to find ways to be comfortable with silence, content with nothing said or thought. The silence of a winter night with no insect sounds takes me to God. Two close friends riding in a car can be comfortable with silence. Why not also in my relationship with God. That's mainly what I try for in centering prayer. No need to think nor talk nor make a plan. When we get right into the heart of who God is there is silence. It follows that the best way into the Divine is silence.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Contemplating Snow

It has been snowing for two days. Snow can be dangerous. Yesterday morning before the roads had been properly plowed I slid off the road going up around a steep turn. Fortunately rather than going over the hill I ended up against the bank on the opposite side of the road. The more I think about it, the more grateful I am to God for watching over me.
Snow can be fun. Speaking about the plow just now reminded me that when we were small most of the roads were not plowed. We had one road in our little town where we could sled almost a mile down hill. When the rare car would come along a warning shout went up from all the kids who were pulling their sleds back up the long hill.
Snow creates a beautiful stillness. When I went out to walk this morning the wind had died down and the snow was falling gently. I did not see a car for the entire time I was out. I felt surrounded by God.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

December Dreaming

These long nights of December are grace-filled times for dreaming. Isaiah's vivid dream of a world without war. His beautiful dream in chapter 11 of a return to Paradise. All God's creatures living in harmony: wolf and lamb, calf and lion, human
child. Harmony with family and friends and foreigners. Are these impossible dreams? Did we destroy Paradise forever by eating from the sin tree?
In the song "Woodstock" Joni Mitchell sings,
"We are stardust, We are golden,
and we've got to get ourselves back to the Garden."
Well, for sure, on our own we can't get back. With God all things are possible.
Langston Hughes encourages our December dreaming:
Hold fast to dreams for when dreams die,
Life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams for when dreams go,
Life is a barren field covered with snow.