Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I just came in from watching the sun set on a perfect summer day, the last of August. This summer has been full of perfect days, the best I remember here at the Lake.
Today has been one of those days when I feel like I'm floating, from the time I got up until now, and hopefully for a few more hours. It was 70 when I went for my walk and I felt like I was gliding through the air the way I later went gliding through the water as I took my morning swim. It got up to 85 this afternoon, mostly still, with an occasional breeze. From 5:30 until 7:30 PM I sat on the deck eating supper and then just gazing at the Lake. For long periods there was not a moving boat in sight nor any sound. Near sunset seven Canada Geese came gliding silently and smoothly across the still water. God seems to seek me out with a day like this.
I took the picture last week when I drove with two friends along a nearby ridge road that has glorious view after glorious view.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
These men were in a band that I heard playing one evening along the River Seine in Paris.
It is impossible to find God in ourselves and in nature without finding God also in every human being. In a reflection on final judgment Karl Rahner says, "...the face of the Son of Man, from whom we will be able to read our verdict, is already looking at us mysteriously through every human face we see, since all are his brothers and sisters. This face if looking at us through the pure face of the child, the worn face of the poor, the tear-stained face of the sinner, even the bitter face of our so-called opponent and enemy."
I started imagining my ongoing judgment: looking into the faces of those whom I have hurt and into the faces of those whom I have helped.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Rahner's "everyday mystic" has a direct relationship with Ultimate Reality, even when the mystic doesn't have a name for it. I have often wondered where the Church and the Sacraments fit into this relationship. Reading this morning in The Mystical Way in Everyday Life, translated and edited by Annemarie S. Kidder, I was struck by a metaphor of Rahner's (p. xxxi.) He says the Church has "apparently constructed immense and complicated irrigation systems in order to water and make fertile the landscape of this heart by means of the word, her sacraments, her institutions, and practices." However besides these waters "piped in from outside" there exists, "so to speak, a drilling station on the landscape itself, so that from such a source, once tapped, there spring from the land itself the waters of the living spirit unto eternal life, as spoken of by John."
This is not to say that there "exists an ultimate opposition between this innate source and the 'irrigation systerm' installed from the outside." What is meant here is that "such external pipes of grace only useful when they meet with this ultimate grace from within."
Monday, August 23, 2010
Luke 14:1-14 has Jesus at dinner at the home of a leading Pharisee. The early verses, which are left out of this coming Sunday's Gospel, set the stage for what follows. Putting this miracle here is a mark of Luke's skill in arranging his material. I have always paid more attention to the issue of healing on the sabbath than to the dropsy that needs healing.
The New Interpreter's Study Bible has a revealing footnote about it. Dropsy is a swelling of the body due to an excess of fluid (today known as "generalized edema"). Persons with dropsy suffered from an insatiable thirst in spite of the fact that their bodies already retained too much fluid. For that reason in the ancient Mediterranean world dropsy was used as a metaphor for greed, a way to describe the rich elite who wanted yet more money and more prestige, the very people whom Jesus addresses in the following verses.
Jesus not only heals this man's dropsy but wants to help the dinner guests recognize their greed by noting how they push themselves into the more desirable seats. He goes even further to encourage hospitality to the least and the left-out.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
This is what the Lake looked like this morning. After a lot of perfect summer days, it rained off and on last evening and then during the night.
I've been reflecting on Isaiah 66:18-24 which ends the book with a very strong statement about God's intention to save all people. In verse 18 God says, "I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see my glory." In the Jewish Publication Society's Study Bible that I use the book ends by repeating verse 23,
"And new moon after new moon,
And sabbath after sabbath ,
All flesh shall come to worship Me.
--said the Lord"
The Christian bibles that I checked end simply with the negative verse 24. A footnote in the Jewish Study Bible says, "In Jewish practice, v.23 is always printed again after v.24 so that the book ends on a positive note." It points out that the same practice is observed at the end of Malachi, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations.
What I find worth remarking is that the passage says that, as all the peoples of the world come to see God's glory, they bring with them all the Jews who have been scattered throughout the nations.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A picture of a perfect morning on the Lake. Indeed, the last three days could not have been better. Sitting on the deck looking at this perfection at one point took me out of myself into direct contact with God.
I later thought again of Karl Rahner's notion of "everyday mystic." All people are able to experience God and become mystics. This direct encounter with God is not reserved for an elite few but can be experienced by anyone, even if they do not have a name for What or Whom they are experiencing. He seems to say that that is just the way we are built, the way our mind and heart work. This makes us open and receptive to God's always giving Godself to us without making us earn the gift. This direct encounter is a mystical experience.
It is in this sense the Rahner can say, "The devout of tommorrow will be a mystic, someone who has experienced something, or they will be nothing at all."
Friday, August 13, 2010
"A great sign appeared in the sky: a woman clothed in the sun, standing on the moon, with a crown of twelve stars." (Rev. 12:1)
This lovely image of the Church in the Apocalypse is also used to reflect on the Assumption of Mary. God saves Mary from the destruction of death the way God saves the Church from the destruction of evil. God raises Mary body and soul into heaven. Assumption is Mary's Resurrection.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Last Wednesday we had a terrific rainstorm in the afternoon that left lots of clouds. The sunset did manage to show itself under the clouds, but it was after the sun had set that we began to see some haunting leftovers. Among the several good shots this Beauty moved me most deeply. The darkness and the horizontal strokes create a peaceful feeling. The light engenders hope. But that's probably too much analysis. It is just Divine.
Friday, August 6, 2010
This butterfly accompanied me as I headed home from my walk this morning, at times on vetch, at times on Queen Anne's Lace.
I have been researching all week the meaning of "Gird your loins" in Luke 12:35-38. To put it simply, it's a metaphor for "Be ready!" In this expression "loins" refers to the part of the body between the hips and the ribs. I suppose that means the waist. I even went to the library to look at some medical books, but it is not a term used much in modern medicine. What was more useful was a dictionary drawing of a steer with "loin" marked in the middle of the animal and the term "sirloin" and "tenderloin" nearby. A friend who butchers showed me where the deer's loins are along the lower back.
The Biblical image is of someone tucking his long robe up under his belt so that his lower legs could move more freely. Luke Timothy Johnson translates verse 35 "Have your belt cinched tight" and verse 37 "the master will put on an apron" (instead of "gird himself"). This stunning image of a master in New Testament times tucking up his robe and waiting on his slaves is a marvellous image of Jesus humbling himself to feed us at the Eucharistic table.
In telling the story, Jesus wants us to know that he will return and that no one knows when, so we are to stay ready. What I realized finally was that I had let all this research distract me from the fact that I was not eager for Jesus to return, certainly not the way the early Christians were!