Sunday, February 28, 2016

Changing Relationship

The name that God gives Moses reveals and conceals at the same time. Whether our relationship with this God is 20 or 40 or 80 years old,  I AM WHAT I AM helps us to realize that the relationship can always be deeper.  A healthy relationship with I AM is one that is always changing.  Better understanding.  More profound love.
(I am going to start using earlier pictures, so don't think the Lake is thawed and already has boats on it.) 

Friday, February 26, 2016


I am grateful for the blessing of surviving to celebrate my 80th birthday.  This picture from several years ago was filed under "Awakened by Beauty," whom we sometimes call God.
I prayed and meditated on Psalm 90 this morning: "from age to age you are God....Our life is a mere seventy years, eighty with good health....Teach us to make use of our days and bring wisdom to our hearts....shine your love on us each dawn and gladden all our days.  Balance our past sorrows with present joys and let your servants, young and old, see the splendor of your work.  Let your loveliness shine on us, and bless the work we do, bless the work of our hands" (1994 translation by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.)
I thank God for showing Godself in my family and friends, in nature, in Eucharist, and in the beauty that human beings create, like movies.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


This is the painting of the 2nd station from St. Martin de Porres Church.  In the Gospel according to John, he writes "So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha." (19:16-17)  The other three Gospels just say that they led Jesus out to be crucified.  They mention the cross only when Simon is made to carry it, an incident that John doesn't have in his Gospel. 
Jesus embraces all the pain and suffering of the human race.
I love you, Jesus my love, let me love you always.

Monday, February 22, 2016

I AM ?!

"What's your name?" Moses asks God in his encounter with the burning bush.  God replies, "Elyeh-Asher-Ehyeh."  This is how Robert Alter puts the Hebrew in our alphabet in his fine translation of The Five Books of Moses.  Alter says that the most plausible construction is "I-Will-Be-Who-I- Will-Be," but that it could also be "I-Am-That-I-Am" or "I-Am-He-Who-Endures."  There is a lot of theological speculation about the meaning of this name.
Carey Walsh says that the name protects as it reveals Divinity.  Moses wants to get to know God.  God initiates an intimate relationship with Moses, but there will always be an element of mystery.  The Divine remains elusive.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Approaching Holiness

Carey Walsh in her book Chasing Mystery proposes Moses in the story of the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-15) as a model for approaching mystery.  Moses pauses to check out this bush.  A fourth grader told me once that it was burning up but not burning down.  Divine presence is inviting rather than coercive.  It's as if God were saying, "If Moses notices the difference, then I shall speak to him."  God is waiting, not to see if Moses merits a revelation, but to see if he is receptive, ready for a relationship.  Moses slows down and pays attention to "the ordinary, from which the holy blooms."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pilate and Jesus

The church of St. Martin de Porres in Marigot on St. Martin has a unique set of the stations of the Cross.  Each is a painting done by a different artist in whatever style he or she chose.  This is the first station: Pilate condemns Jesus to death.
Luke 23:1-25 has Pilate declare the innocence of Jesus three times.  Finally, however, Pilate caves in to the demands of leaders and the crowd, and hands Jesus over to their will.
We ask forgiveness for the many times we caved in to the crowd.
I love you, Jesus my Love, let me love you always.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


While Jesus is praying on the mountain Luke says that Jesus' clothing becomes "dazzling white" (9:28-36) and  that Moses and Elijah appeared with him "in glory."  When the disciples wake up they see "his glory."  The luminous brilliance that fills them and surrounds them is the presence and power of God.  It is a glimpse of the Risen Christ and the Christ who will come in glory.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Prayer on the Mountain

Luke makes the transfiguration a prayer experience of Jesus (9:28-36.)  Both Moses and Elijah who appear to him had experienced The Divine on a mountain.  Peter wants to nail this experience down, but when we have these intense experiences of God's presence they are almost always fleeting.  We  keep climbing the mountain and wait in prayer.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chasing the Wind

Carey Walsh points out that Ecclesiastes often uses the combination  "vapor and chasing the wind."  She suggests that yearning is in our spiritual DNA and "chasing the wind" indicates our effort toward transcendence.  The Hebrew word for "wind" also means "spirit."  Recognizing that The Divine is hard to grasp like "vapor" and "wind/spirit" simply whets our appetite.  It is not futile to search for something more.  "It is, rather, the very basis of mysticism."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Vapor of Vapors

A misty day on Stemple Ridge.
I've been reading Chasing Mystery by Carey Walsh.  She is interested in teasing out how various parts of the Bible express the experience of The Divine.  In her treatment of Ecclesiastes, she says that the Hebrew word that is usually translated "vanity of vanities" is more accurately translated "vapor of vapors."  Walsh says that the phrase reflects the fleeting, intangible quality of finding life's purpose as well as any role divinity plays in life.  Vapor is a metaphor for the inexpressible Divine, which is quiet, not absent.  Ecclesiastes shows us how to read these subtle encounters with the Divine.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Call An Assembly

Drifting snow cancelled our Ash Wednesday celebrations, so by myself I read the scriptures and prayers.  I miss the congregation.  Starting this morning in Japan and Korea and moving across Asia and the Middle East and across Europe and Africa and the Americas Christians have anointed their heads with ashes.  Using the language of this lifeless matter we admit to God that we are sinful and weak and long to leave the past in dust and ashes.  God looks upon our helpless human race and, in gracious mercy and unending love, gathers us as one.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mardi Gras

French puts the adjective after the noun, so Mardi (Tuesday) Gras (Fat.)  It was a day to make pancakes and use up all the eggs.  A day to eat plenty of meat.  Carnival, extravagant celebrations, parades.  A day of riotous excess and pleasure.  A gift from God's abundance.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Snow Walking

I was getting ready to go for a walk about 3:45 PM. when a light snow began.  Within a few minutes of my walking it was snowing hard and finally began laying on my coat and most of the road and lawns and bushes and trees.   Several times I stopped and just watched the snow falling through the woods and sticking on the trees.  It made me feel light and peaceful.

Gracious and Merciful

God's mercy is a central theme in the Old Testament.  As we begin Lent the prophet Joel encourages us: "Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (2:13.)"  In many different books of the Old Testament these same words are used to describe God.
Mercy is the theme that Pope Francis has asked us to focus on during this Holy Year.  It is perfect that we are reading this year from the Gospel according to Luke who shows us a merciful Jesus whose parable of the Merciful Father/Prodigal Son can guide us through this Lent.

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Revenant

Very light snow blown from the pines and illuminated by the sun.
A week ago I saw the movie The Revenant which I liked very much.  DiCaprio's powerful performance as Glass almost takes second place to the extraordinarily beautiful scenery.  To my mind the beauty kept the movie from being grim.
I also found enough religious meaning to be convinced that the movie is about salvation.  It begins and ends with water, a symbol of life.  There are several mentions of God.  A lone Indian that shares his food with Glass tells him that revenge if up to the Creator.  Glass has a dream/vision of a ruined church with faded religious images painted on the wall, including a crucifixion.  Webster's definition of "revenant" as "one that returns after death or a long absence" made me think of resurrection.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

White Beauty

Sunday afternoon after the big snow I went for a slow walk in my neighborhood.  The sun had come out and was making everything even more beautiful.  It was one of those blissful experiences when I am particularly aware that I don't so much "take" pictures as "receive" them.  I was immersed in Beauty.  No matter how much beauty I was experiencing I still ached for more.
The Ultimate Beauty that we long for in those kinds of experiences is what we mean by the word "God."  We let Beauty possess us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

By God's Grace

 Sunset facing NW over frozen lake.
"By the grace of God I am what I am and God's grace in me has not been in vain. 1Cor. 15: 10"  One of the two quotes that have guided my life since I was in high school.  St. Paul knows that he is doing great work but he reminds himself that it is God's working through him.  Total dependence on God enables us to say, "Here I am.  Send me," and to continue Christ's work of netting people.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Here I Am. Send Me.

Sunrise the morning after 26 inches of snow.  We had just got back from the Caribbean the day before.  Snow in the foreground is on my roof.
The reading for this Sunday about Isaiah's call (6:1-8) goes well with the Gospel.  God asks, "Whom shall I send?"  Isaiah, overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of The Divine, answers eagerly "Here I am.  Send me." 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Netting People

Wow!!  What a surprise!  When I finished the entry below, I thought I'll just give it a try to get a picture, and now it's possible!
Sometimes when I think about all the people who find God-talk meaningless, I feel like Peter in Luke 5: 1-11.  Peter has been fishing all night and has caught nothing.  Jesus tells him to go try again and two boats almost sink with so much fish.  When Jesus says to Peter and to us "From now on you will be netting people," it's easy to forget that Jesus is the one who fills the nets.