Thursday, August 31, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Friday, August 25, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
These words are in our midst; in Scripture, in books, poems, songs and scattered conversations. And they have unlimited power, if we listen to them. They have dropped like jewels from God and only wait for us to pick them up and treasure them. I call these Mission Moments, inspiring insights from humanity that, if received with an open heart at the right moment, can alter our attitudes, even change the very course of our lives.
What word will you hear today? What word will you speak? Is there power in it? Does it come from Heaven? Is it bigger than you are, stronger? Does it seem to be leading you somewhere? I know these words are out there, in here. Maybe the first move is to build a culture of silence in my heart. Then there's a space for the word to fall, to sink in, to germinate.
There may be mission moments buried in the songs you'll hear today on the radio. Maybe a child will whisper a word and it will sparkle in a new way for you. Maybe you'll read something that has the fragrance of eternity in it. Maybe an e-mail that says Fwd:fwd:fwd:Must read! Do not delete!
It could happen.
Who can say what it will be or where it will be found? Let's listen, wait and see...
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
This one helped me see the need for a redemption of some of our words from a fallen understanding of them, starting with the word Love.
"Love does not mean to have and to own and to possess. It means to be had and to be owned and to be possessed. It is not a circle circumscribed by self, it is arms outstretched to embrace all humanity within its grasp."
- Bishop Fulton J. Sheen
Jesus is the perfect reflection of this Love. And we came to know love in this, as St. John told us, that God first loved us. Ours is the response to Love that enables us to then offer love to others. Love is not our own invention, a concoction we created, but the very Sea of God's own life in which we were born.
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Saturday, August 19, 2006
I was in the city yesterday; met Rebecca for lunch and then ran some errands. Actually, I walked some errands. And there is nothing like a walk through the city; there's the traffic and the noise, sure. Some beautiful architecture, shops, etc. But the best part is when you look up and allow the great wave of human faces to wash over you.
The city is a microcosm; a world in miniature. I saw busy men busily walking, talking into their plastic devices, women without haste pointing out flowers to their babies, and the elderly sliding along at an even slower pace, perhaps in an effort to teach us that life moves fast enough already, no need to push it along. Turning a corner onto Market Street, another wave breaks over me, and I see broken men slumped over plastic bags, full of our discarded treasures. What stories could they tell? A pair of young faces, sitting on a corner near a store, looking weathered, tired, tatooed, and thoroughly pierced. The young man held a sign: "Travelling - anything can help." I wonder where they want to go?
I want to look deeply at each person; I'm amazed at the uniqueness of everyone, of every shade and texture and color on this coat of many colors that is humanity. But no one makes eye contact in the city. Not for more than 2 seconds anyway (I timed it, 2 was the record). We don't have the time, or we are caught up in our own stuff, and we're not thinking. Or it's just the natural response to an overwhelming amount of activity; the world is too much with us, and we put up walls to keep ourselves safe.
There is a film called Powder (it's been awhile since we had a filmable! See previous post on Filmables). In the movie, a young boy is given the gift to read hearts. He knows what thoughts are stirring deep in the souls of the people around him. Many are afraid of Powder; it's the fear of the unknown, the fear of being known. But one young girl looks him in the face. "What are people like... on the inside?" she asks.
"They think they are alone," he tells her. "They feel separate.... but they are not."
As hard as it is, and I struggled with this yesterday, we must look into each other's eyes. We must return to that innocence, that openness that we had as children, who always look, who see, who watch the faces on the bus and the train. Slowly, prayerfully, carefully, always mindful of the wounds in ourselves and others, let's build up this One Body. Listening to the desire that rests in all of us to know and to be known. St. Augustine said "The deepest desire of the human heart is to see another and to be seen."
We are one. One body, one diamond that turns in the Hand of God, throwing off a multitude of refracted light and beauty. Only our own fear and sin can dim that light, separating us from God, from each other, from ourselves.
Lord, let your Face shine upon us and we shall be saved!
Friday, August 18, 2006
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
"Now this mountain I must climb Feels like a world upon my shoulders through the clouds I see love shine It keeps me warm as life grows colder In my life there's been heartache and pain I don't know if I can face it again Can't stop now, I've traveled so far To change this lonely life
I wanna know what love is I want you to show me I wanna feel what love is I know you can show me..."
OK, more on this one later.....
"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare.
All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption....
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden."
- C.S. Lewis, from "The Weight of Glory"
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Maybe you've heard the adage "We were created human BEings, not human DOings." I think, for me, it's partly being caught and taught by the culture to produce, to keep busy because being busy means you are important, you are "contributing." You have "things to do." And when you have things to do, you must be important. "I have a to do list. I have a cell phone and must check my messages. I have a meeting to go to. It is very important."
We've made our own anxiety these days; we have it pumped in via our "time-saving devices" like the cellphone, e-mail, etc. A monster has been created and we do not know where the off switch is to stop it. I cave in all the time. But not this morning.
As I was walking at a snail's pace, drunk with the scent of pine and tall warm grass, I saw an explosion of bull thistle in a field off the road. There were goldfinches bouncing around the stalks, little sparks of yellow fire dancing in this green and purple furnace of wildflowers. As they buried their beaks deep within the thistle for it's treasure, their work loosened the seeds and sent them sailing. We used to call them blowwishes.
Another page of creation's sacramental story turned for me. When we dive into our daily routine, with passion, joy, or in drudgery just to feed our families, we cast off seeds that the wind will carry. In work there can be beauty and grace. And when we move and breathe and make our way in work, we can step back from time to time and say with our Lord, "Behold, it is very good."
Life is the movement between work and play. But the work is always the means. Like a slow motion walk down a breezy road in Maine, this contemplation is what we are invited to taste, and in the end, to actually enter into. In the "fields of the Lord".... we are destined to play.
Friday, August 11, 2006
- taken from www.thehermitofmanana.com
Yesterday, my wife and I hiked the sun-washed coastal trails and soft sun-dappled pine woods of Monhegan Island, and from time to time, across the tiny harbor, we could see the pool of rock and grassy fields that Ray called home for some 40 years: Manana Island.
Monhegan Island (population 65 year-round) has its comforts and plenty of tourism; every other home there seems to have a gallery or studio attached to it. But it is a rustic, out-of-the-way place. Year round life there is not easy, for all the romance of the place. Angry storms pound its rocky shores, and the winter can howl like a ravenous wolf. It's a 10 mile trek over sea swells and salty air to the mainland. But imagine living as Ray Phillips lived. Imagine life unplugged; no television, no cell phone, no e-mail, no radio waves or microwaves...
Over 40 years of the sound of the surf, the cry of the gulls, and the click-clak of crabs on polished stones.
Thoreau said "It is life nearest the bone where it is sweetest." But how many of us are willing to dig that deeply? To strip away the superfluities of our 21st century lives and be barren? Live empty? I think it's all about trust. Do we believe God will fill us? Is the Infinite Truth of who we are and who God is enough to satisfy our aching hearts? Or will we give in and grasp for the finite things that always leave us hungry?
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said it's only when we are empty that God can fill us. But I have so much stuff inside! The clutter of comforts, the baggage of fear and worry. I'm learning that the letting go is mostly of a spiritual nature; leaving the material things behind is only a help and a beginning to the deeper purification of the heart.
So the question is "Can I live slowly? Can I let go of non-essentials as a way of preparing my heart for Life's Deepest Mystery, for the indwelling of the One?" For God does not desire to leave us barren, or empty. No man is meant to be just an island, sun-bleached and solitary, looking out on the beauty of creation. We're meant to become the very house of the Creator! The solitude we taste in our lives is meant to point us to the ultimate union we are called to. A communion of saints, circled 'round the Heart of God.
So we should seek solitude from time to time, and not fear it. We should carve out a quiet space in every day where we "do" nothing. Maybe then we'll discover something, or better still, that Someone, who is Everything our hearts are pining for.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Well, we're back from Moosehead and the North Woods of Maine, and at the moment sailing over to Monhegan Island, 10 miles off the coast of Maine. The briny foam is churning, seabirds are screeching and circling behind our ferry. And I have a signal... Satellites. Wow.
There's been evidence of people fishing for swordfish off of Monhegan all the way back to 200 B.C. That's just crazy! Now it's a favorite spot for artists and poets, and those celebrating their wedding anniversaries ;)
Peace and Salty Air!
. Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld
Monday, August 07, 2006
But being lazy is hard work. Letting go of plans, not checking e-mail, not posting religiously to a blog (hmm), not looking at your cell phone every 15 minutes, is hard! Try it sometime!
"Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of "doing for the sake of doing". We must resist this temptation by trying "to be" before trying "to do"." - Novo Millennio Ineunte, JPII
Pope John Paul II was and is the MAN. He recognized our restless itching to keep busy and tried to hush us, like a father rocking an anxious child to sleep. He spoke again and again of the One Thing necessary for wholeness in this world (it wasn't a cell phone, by the way). It was the art of listening, the gift of doing nothing, the capacity in all of us to, in the words from Paul Simon's new song "sit down, shut up, and think about God."
We're driving north through the woods of Maine as I write this (I know, a living paradox, but it's for you!) and the things that keep one busy are slipping past like the birch trees and boulders along this highway. No billboards, buildings, high-tension wires, malls or the madness of traffic. Just woods, rivers, mountains... I don't expect to have a signal once we hit Rockwood, but who knows.
There's a line from an Indigo Girls song that speaks of "days so still the beauty gives you pain." I'm hoping for that pain as we enter the great Moosehead Lake region for an overnight. To hear the "still, sad music of humanity" for a time, and to grow in appreciation of it. But the stillness is'nt just here in Maine. It's as close as the off switch on a cell phone, radio or television set. And mine is right.... here...
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Martin Buber once said "Solitude is the place of purification."
As I woke early today and sat out in the stillness of the morning, on the front porch of my father's cabin in these quiet Maine woods, I had a taste of it. Things get clearer when the dust of our daily movement is given time to settle. In solitude we can see...
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Friday, August 04, 2006
Yes, it's a bold statement. Scrawled across many a t-shirt, mug and bumper sticker throughout this northern land: Maine, The Way Life Should Be.
Bold, but it's true.
At this very moment, the missus and I are heading NORTH (there's something mystical just in that statement!) A week in the balsam-scented, boulder-speckled, lake-covered hills and forests of Maine!. My dad has a little cabin in a little town that has a little post office where they always ask you about LIFE. And so we're going to those woods "to live deliberately".... for a week.
I've been taking this route north for nearly 20 summers now. Maine is a wild, burning blue sky with air so clean and crisp it must be taken in slowly and prayerfully, like meeting someone older than you are.
SPOTS IN TIME: Being nearly run over by a bullmoose, biking down a logging road (I was biking, clearly) when he burst out of the brush, nearly 7 feet at the shoulder.
Sleeping on the shore of Moosehead Lake, watching countless stars swirl in a great dance overhead, making their milky way through the heavens.
Cooking lobster in a massive pot, laughing until we were doubled over, waterskiing at sunset on a lake of glass, fingers tracing the water along the way.
Setting beaver traps in the dead of winter with a crusty old barber named Leon. The smell of fresh balsam as we peeled saplings for bait. Looking out over Ragged Mountain to the sea, to the lobster boats dotting Camden's coast.
Singing my "hymns to the silence" in the absolute stillness by Misery Stream north of Rockwood. Drinking in deep thoughts as they rose from that holy place, so far from the things of man.
Thoreau said we need the tonic of wildness, of solitude, so that we can discover who we are and how we relate. "Vacation time offers the unique opportunity to pause before the thought-provoking spectacles of nature, a wonderful "book" within reach of everyone, adults and children. In contact with nature, a person rediscovers his correct dimension, rediscovers himself as a creature, small but at the same time unique, with a "capacity for God" because interiorly he is open to the Infinite." - Pope Benedict XVI
So off we go, away from the things of man and yet into the very heart of being human!
And we'll have some fun board games too, in case it rains. Let's hope I can still blog it up there!
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