Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Visit from Saint Nicholas


A Visit from Saint Nicholas
Clement Clarke Moore


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Friday, December 13, 2019

The content of Christ’s Eucharist is love


“The Church, if it is to be the Church, must be the revelation
of that divine Love which God  'poured out into our hearts.' 
Without this love nothing is 'valid' in the Church
because nothing is possible. The content of Christ’s Eucharist is love,
 and only through love can we enter into it and be made its partakers.”


― Alexander Schmemann



Saturday, December 07, 2019

Water towers, Seth Godin

Image result for water tower on top of building"
Water towers, Seth Godin

On the top of many apartment buildings (and on a hill in many towns) you’ll find a water tower, a large wooden or metal container holding tons of water.

Why bother?

It turns out that a pump that slowly and consistently pumps water uphill is way more efficient than the high-powered, high-capacity pump you’d need to meet spikes in demand. By using gravity to assist during times of heavy load, the consistent and more efficient pump gets the job done by planning ahead.
We all need a water tower somewhere in our work.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving




The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Shepherd me, O God




Shepherd me, O God

Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.
God is my shepherd, so nothing I shall want,
I rest in the meadows of faithfulness and love,
I walk by the quiet waters of peace.
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.
Gently you raise me and heal my weary soul,
you lead me by pathways of righteousness and truth,
my spirit shall sing the music of your Name.
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.
Though I should wander the valley of death,
I fear no evil, for you are at my side,
your rod and your staff, my comfort and my hope.
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.
You have set me a banquet of love in the face of hatred,
crowning me with love beyond my pow'r to hold.
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.
Surely your kindness and mercy follow me all the days of my life;
I will dwell in the house of my God forevermore.
Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants,
beyond my fears, from death into life.

 Marty Haugen

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Advent Calendar




Advent Calendar
He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.
He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.
He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.
He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.
Rowan Williams, was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury

Friday, November 15, 2019

Seeing a flower


“Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small; it takes time.
We haven't time, and to see takes time,
like to have a friend takes time.”


 Georgia O'Keeffe






Tuesday, November 12, 2019

the Highest gift




A billion times God has turned man
Into Himself
You stand in line for the
Highest gift
For his generosity cannot end.
But best to bring an instrument along
While waiting in the cold desert
And make some dulcet sounds
To accompany the palms’ swaying arms
That are casting silhouettes
Against the sky’s curtain
From our fire
Remind the Friend of your desire
And great patience.
A billion times God has turned man
Back into Herself.
We all stand in line
For the highest
Gift.
–Hafiz, The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Unclothe your awareness



“Unclothe your awareness of analytical thoughts. Keep it empty. Don’t cogitate on yourself or on others whom you know. Let them go… You no longer need to feed your mind by meditating on who you are and who God is. Grace will help you focus on holding yourself steady in the deep center of your soul, where you’ll offer God the simple fact of your existence. Your spiritual affection will be filled to overflowing with love and virtue in God, who grounds you in integrity.”
The Cloud of Unknowing, p. 182-185

Friday, November 01, 2019

For all the saints




For all the saints


For all the saints who from their labors rest,
who to the world their steadfast faith confessed,
your name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

You were their rock, their refuge, and their might:
you, Christ, the hope that put their fears to flight;
'mid gloom and doubt, you were their one true light.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Still may your people, faithful, true, and bold,
live as the saints who nobly fought of old,
and share with them a glorious crown of gold.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Ringed by this cloud of witnesses divine,
we feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
yet in your love our faithful lives entwine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
then hearts are brave again, and faith grows strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Tune: Sine Nomine
Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Be appreciative


Image result for winnie the pooh

"Do you really want to be happy?
You can begin by being appreciative of
who you are and what you've got."
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

STANZAS OF THE SOUL ~ St. John of the Cross

STANZAS OF THE SOUL

St. John of the Cross

1. On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings—oh, happy chance!—
I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.
2. In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised—oh, happy chance!—
In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest.
3. In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart.
4. This light guided me More surely than the light of noonday
To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me— A place where none appeared.
 
5. Oh, night that guided me, Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved!
6. Upon my flowery breast, Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping, and I caressed him, And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.
7. The breeze blew from the turret As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand he wounded my neck And caused all my senses to be suspended.
8. I remained, lost in oblivion; My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.

Would I might wake St. Francis in you all




ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Vachel Lindsay
(1879-1931)
Would I might wake St. Francis in you all,
Brother of birds and trees, God’s Troubadour,
Blinded with weeping for the sad and poor;
Our wealth undone, all strict Franciscan men,
Come, let us chant the canticle again
Of mother earth and the enduring sun.
God make each soul the lonely leper’s slave;
God make us saints, and brave.

Monday, October 28, 2019

God’s unwieldy love



“God’s unwieldy love, which cannot be contained by our words, wants to accept all that we are—nothing of our humanity is to be discarded. No part of our hardwiring or our messy selves is to be disparaged. Where we stand, in all our mistakes and imperfection, is holy ground. It is where God has chosen to be intimate with us, and not in any way other than this.  [Our] moment of truth isn’t in recognizing what a disappointment [we] have been all these years. It comes in realizing that God has been beholding [us] for all this time, unable to look anywhere else.”
–Gregory Doyle, Tattoos on the Heart

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

a little felow follows me

a wonderful post today from Ryan Holiday


image
John Wooden began coaching basketball in 1932. When his son was born around 1939, a friend sent him a picture with a poem on it, which he hung in his home so he might see it every day. The picture that accompanies the poem is a man on a beach whose son runs behind him, playing in his footsteps in the sand. The poem, which Wooden memorized and liked to give as a gift to other people, went as follows:

A careful man I want to be —
a little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
for fear he’ll go the self-same way.
I cannot once escape his eyes.
Whatever he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he’s going to be —
that little chap who follows me…
He knows that I am big and fine —
And believes in every word of mine.
The base in me he must not see —
that little chap who follows me…
But after all it’s easier,
that brighter road to climb,
With little hands behind me —
to push me all the time.
And I reckon I’m a better man
than what I used to be…
Because I have this lad at home
who thinks the world of me.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called







I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.  But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Ephesians 4:1-7)

Monday, October 07, 2019

a stern teacher




“Nature can be a stern teacher. Unwavering in her truth. If you are brave enough to wander into her recesses and release control of your life to a mystery larger than yourself, you may just come face-to-face with yourself–a soul unmasked.”
–Anita Amstutz, Soul Tending: A Journey Into The Heart of Sabbath

Saturday, October 05, 2019

At risk




“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined
as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomesa form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience,and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk;culture-death is a clear possibility.”

 Neil Postman, social critic

Monday, September 09, 2019

Community





“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people . in a way we couldn't as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility,  we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.”

 Jean Vanier,
founder of the L'Arche communities



Friday, September 06, 2019

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front





Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready-made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.

And you will have a window in your head. 
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer. 

When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you 
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something 
that won't compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor. 
Love someone who does not deserve it. 

Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed. 

Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias. 
Say that your main crop is the forest 
that you did not plant, 
that you will not live to harvest. 

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns. 
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees 
every thousand years. 

Listen to carrion — put your ear 
close, and hear the faint chattering 
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful 
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men. 

Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child? 
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 

Go with your love to the fields. 
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts. 

As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn't go. 

Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction. 
Practice resurrection.

Friday, August 30, 2019

I live yet do not live in me




I live yet do not live in me,
am waiting as my life goes by,
and die because I do not die.

No longer do I live in me,
and without God I cannot live;
to him or me I cannot give
my self, so what can living be?
A thousand deaths my agony
waiting as my life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

This life I live alone I view
as robbery of life, and so
it is a constant death — with no
way out until I live with you.
God, hear me, what I say is true:
I do not want this life of mine,
and die because I do not die.

Being so removed from you I say
what kind of life can I have here
but death so ugly and severe
and worse than any form of pain?
I pity me — and yet my fate
is that I must keep up this lie,
and die because I do not die.

The fish taken out of the sea
is not without a consolation:
his dying is of brief duration
and ultimately brings relief.
Yet what convulsive death can be
as bad as my pathetic life?
The more I live the more I die.

When I begin to feel relief
on seeing you in the sacrament,
I sink in deeper discontent,
deprived of your sweet company.
Now everything compels my grief:
I want — yet can’t — see you nearby,
and die because I do not die.

Although I find my pleasure, Sir,
in hope of someday seeing you,
I see that I can lose you too,
which makes my pain doubly severe,
and so I live in darkest fear,
and hope, wait as life goes by,
dying because I do not die.

Deliver me from death, my God,
and give me life; now you have wound
a rope about me; harshly bound
I ask you to release the cord.
See how I die to see you, Lord,
and I am shattered where I lie,
dying because I do not die.

My death will trigger tears in me,
and I shall mourn my life: a day
annihilated by the way
I fail and sin relentlessly.
O Father God, when will it be
that I can say without a lie:
I live because I do not die?
St. John of the Cross

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Observer, by Rilke





The Observer
I can tell a storm by the way the trees
are whipping, compared to when quiet,
against my trembling windows, and
I hear from afar things whispering
I couldn't bear hearing without a friend
or love without a sister close by.
There moves the storm, the transforming one,
and runs through the woods and through the age,
changing it all to look ageless and young:
the landscape appears like the verse of a psalm,
so earnest, eternal, and strong.
How small is what we contend with and fight;
how great what contends with us;
if only we mirrored the moves of the things
and acquiesced to the force of the storm,
we, too, could be ageless and strong.
For what we can conquer is only the small,
and winning itself turns us into dwarfs;
but the everlasting and truly important
will never be conquered by us.
It is the angel who made himself known
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
for whenever he saw his opponents propose
to test their iron-clad muscle strength,
he touched them like strings of an instrument
and played their low-sounding chords.
Whoever submits to this angel,
whoever refuses to fight the fight,
comes out walking straight and great and upright,
and the hand once rigid and hard
shapes around as a gently curved guard.
No longer is winning a tempting bait.
One's progress is to be conquered, instead,
by the ever mightier one. 

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926)

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Turn

Turn me like a waterwheel turning a millstone.
Plenty of water, a Living River.
Keep me in one place and scatter the love.
Leaf-moves in wind, straw drawn toward amber,
all parts of the world are in love,
but they do not tell their secrets. Cows grazing
on a sacramental table, ants whispering in Solomon’s ear.
Mountains mumbling an echo. Sky, calm.
If the sun were not in love, he would have no brightness,
the side of the hill no grass on it.
The ocean would come to rest somewhere.
Be a lover as they are, that you come to know
you Beloved. Be faithful that you may know
Faith. The other parts of the universe did not accept
the next responsibility of love as you can.
They were afraid they might make a mistake
with it, the inspired knowing
that springs from being in love
-Rumi

Saying thank you





“In the same way that I am willing to thank my husband for a gift even before I have opened it—because I trust his love of me—I am willing to thank God for my life even before I know how it turns out. This is brave talk, I know, while I can still pay the bills, walk without assistance, and talk someone into going to the movies with me. My hope is that if I can practice saying thank you now, when I still approve of most of what is happening to me, then perhaps that practice will have become habit by the time I do not like much of anything that is happening to me. The plan is to replace approval with gratitude.”
-Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World



Saturday, June 08, 2019

Find the balm


“If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them.

If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it.

If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it. This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not "what does it say?", but "what am I looking for?" 
I suspect Jesus knew this when he said,

"ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened."

If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.” 

 Rachel Held Evans