Day is done…….

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It’s growing late….earlier I watched stars shyly make their sequined appearance one by one in the cobalt sky. Humans and animals alike have settled into deep breathing for the rhythm of the night has caught us all. The house creaks, and the events of the day flutter, collect, and float down and gather at my feet coming to greet me again here in my quiet chair. I smile, for it was a good day. Soon all the lights will go out for me and I will say a prayer and talk to God unless I fall asleep first. Later, in the deep dark when it’s morning but not quite morning, worry will come to find me. But I am ready for it. I have the 23rd Psalm.

Times like these I reach for Merton’s hours. So now I look for Monday and it’s here:

Let us live in this love and this happiness, you and I and all of us, in the love of Christ and in contemplation, for this is where we find ourselves and one another as we truly are. It is only in this love that we at last become real. For it is here that we most truly share the life of One God in three Persons.

Thomas Merton, A Book of Hours.

Usually, you just don’t need that many words……..I am finding that out. The more I write, the more I realize that to be a good writer, you need to be an even better editor.

When the soul quiets

Small Miracles
 
A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire. Thomas Merton
 
By this time in December you are in one of two places. You are either madly scrambling around because you just realized that Christmas is less than one week away, or you have conceded that whatever has not been done up to this point will not get done and you can begin to relax and really enjoy pre-Christmas.
 
I am at the latter stage.  True Christmas can only be ushered in when the soul quiets. The world is outside and it continues to spin wildly out of control, but I try to back off. I try not to call people on the freeway names, although this time of the year it is increasingly difficult, even with the Jesus sticker deterrent on the back window.
 
This falls under the: “I am a Christian, but I am still human category.”
 
I daydream by the tree before the light of dawn creeps over the Superstitions. I realize it will soon be packed away along with the nativity scenes, but Jesus will stay.
 
In the quiet of my soul I imagine sitting by a window with big, fat flakes of snow falling outside and a fire on the hearth inside and the peace that happens when all the clamour and noise of life is far away.
 
That’s when you can hear God.
 
I look around and I realize how much I dearly value the people in my life, here once more with me at the close of another year. When you can look in their eyes and see eternity reflected back it’s not just a silly jewelry commercial, it’s why God came to this earth.
 
It’s the seeking and saving of that which was lost, all of us, and not only us, the whole creation. 
 
Just imagine if you will, alongside myriads of angels and us bowing before the Throne, the giant redwood and the smallest of woodland creatures doing the same. And why shouldn’t they? They will once again know a world without fear. The one Sin stole.
 
And all around us, while we see evidence of the brokenness of creation, we also see its mending. People who will not give up. People who will continue to risk their own lives for the poor, the broken, the weak.
 
The defenseless. The ones too weak and powerless to do anything about their own condition.
 
It’s God paying ransom with His very own Son. 
 

Unwrapping His Promises

How long we wait, with minds as quiet as time………….Thomas Merton

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
 “And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
Isaiah 58:10-12

 
My time in the desert has taught me much. When the heat stretches on and you see no end, you long to escape it. You drive up north, you go to the coast, or you go to the theater or the mall. You learn to adjust what you do. You learn from the little creatures you see that somehow thrive, and it inspires you too to go on. This imagery is easy for us desert dwellers. But here, God is trying to teach a different kind of lesson.

A lesson for when the soul is parched and needs refreshing.

He is trying to teach us a new way of living for when life burns you out. We say, “I need a trip to the Spa,” But He tells us we need to give to those who have less. New life, new energy, new hope is found when we do for others, and when we lean on Him in the doing. In a way, God is saying, “Get your mind off yourself and you will feel better.”

But unless we also harness the power of the Holy Spirit, we will quickly be burned out. It’s only when we join hands with the Creator that this regeneration and refreshment happen. The body might be beat, but inside the Spirit leaps.

In caretaking I have found this to be true. As soon as I stop harnessing God’s power, I find my anger flaring up at all those little moments….a shirt getting stuck on the hanger, her pacing back and forth, her opening and closing the door 10 times.

I focus on a Motorhome that sits idle in storage for the lack of freedom to just get up and go. I lament the loss of freedom and say it’s not fair. What is fair? People in Haiti are living in tents and have no clean water.

It wasn’t fair the Jesus had to go to the cross but He did. And now despite everything I deserve, I get Heaven here and now. And for eternity. With that in view, I can be more than a conqueror.

Whatever we are going through here and now, it is only for a season. And there are blessings everywhere we turn when we have the Lord to refresh us in all those scorched places in life.

Let’s unwrap His promises today, the basket is overflowing……..

Pray as if it’s the first time

 
 
There must be a time of day when the man who
makes plans forgets his plans,
and acts as if he had no plans at all.
 
There must be a time of day when the man who has
to speak falls very silent.
And his mind forms no more propositions,
and he asks himself:
Did they have a meaning?
 
There must be a time
when the man of prayer goes to pray
as if it were the first time in his life
he had ever prayed,
where the man of resolutions puts his
resolutions aside
as if they had all been broken,
and he learns a different wisdom;
 
distinguishing the sun from the moon,
the stars from the darkness,
the sea from dry land,
and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill……
 
No Man is an Island:
Thomas Merton
 
This is where I am today, friends. I sat in silence today, my candle flickering,  unable to say any prayer that made any sense. Tongue-tied I sat in the silence. I was feeling nothing except the sense that I had lost myself and I wanted me back. Caretaking does that.  
 
When I read these very wise words of Thomas Merton something within me sprang to life. The recognition that so much of what we are doing in our modern society makes it all but impossible to hear God’s voice. I have felt that I needed to get away and hear the sigh of the wind in the pines…..I tried on Sunday. We drove all the way up to the rim, but there was a fire and all we could smell was smoke.
 
Sometimes it doesn’t work out. But God is still here…..and within me, His Spirit.
 
As long as I have Him, what else do I need? In His fullness I can find everything I will ever want, need or desire. The need I feel within, that deepest longing that we all have, can be fulfilled in Him and only in Him.  
 
When I read the lines……..”When the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed,” my soul quickened. Merton got it. And I can get it too.
 
We are all broken. That’s where we must start. And it’s not so much a learning, it is a remembering who we are. In the Spirit of reconciliation we must turn and help heal each other. That is what makes God happiest of all. Too often we sit alone in our pain and confusion, when right next to us is someone who could help, and in letting them help us, we help them too.  
 
I leave you to prayer and meditation in every quiet moment you find today.
 
Meditation: Psalm 15
 


We are God’s offspring…..

Entrance to village church in South Warnborough, Hampshire, England. Image courtesy of flicker
A.W Toser…..”What I believe about God is the most important thing about me.”
“We are what we love. If we love God, in whose image we were created, we discover ourselves in Him and we cannot help being happy; we have already achieved something of the fullness of being for which we were destined in our creation. If we love everything else but God, we contradict the image born in our very essence, and we cannot help being unhappy, because we are living a caricature of what we are meant to be.” Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe
 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:24-28
Not much time to post today, but I will leave you to quiet meditation with these selections, which say it much better than I ever could anyway……blessings for the day! Lori

Autumn Thoughts

God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God.

– Oswald Chambers

“When we are alone on a starlit night, when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children, when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet, Basho, we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash – at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the “newness,” the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, all these provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.” — Thomas Merton

I have always loved fall…..the expectation, the whisper of cool breezes, the closing out of summer with one bright blaze of glory. I wonder, is it summer throwing a tantrum or fall announcing its presence? All the same it is like no other time of year. It is joy mingled with a bit of melancholy thrown in, like you want to sit at a window all day and watch the leaves twirl down, lost in thought, tea having long grown cold, book open but untouched.…..It is hope of good things to come, quiet moments by the fireside, bundled up walks, breath blowing frost, stacking wood and burning leaves.
It is the faint promise of Advent settling quietly about your spirit that makes you feel like home…..Softly saying He is coming even though you know He is already here….
Photos from Flagstaff Observatory and Sedona Tourism, Google Images
Any fall thoughts you want to share?

Starting the Day Right


PSALM 143:8-10

Let the morning bring me Word
of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on levelground.

I started the day the only safe way to start it….By rolling out of bed, placing my forehead to the carpet and uttering a prayer….first for strength, then a thank you for another day on the earth….for my health, for the miracle of being able to start again. All over the world, others are waking too. Some with prayers, some with curses, some with a combination of both.

Really, I start the day with an advantage. An advantage of weakness. A knowledge that I can’t do this on my own. When I am off work, I don’t start off nearly this needy. But I should, since I have no guarantee of what may happen on any given day only that You walk beside me.

So I gave my day over, and whatever happens. God is in it. And it will be good because He is with me.

The most wonderful moment of the day is that when creation in it’s innocence asks permission to “be” once again, as it did on the first morning that ever was. Thomas Merton

Morning Prayer

Sea of Galilee, Google Images

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Mark 1:35

There must be some time of day when the man who makes plans forgets his plans, and acts as if he had no plans at all. There must be a time of day when the man who has to speak falls very silent. And his mind forms no more propositions, and he asks himself: Did they have a meaning?

There must be a time when the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life that he had ever prayed, when teh man of resolutions puts his resolutions aside as if they had all benn broken, and he learns a different wisdom:

Distinguishing the sun from the moon, the stars from the darkness, the sea from dry land, and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill. Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

Thank you Lord for the quiet hours of dawn, when the world is just beginning to stir and wake. There is nothing quite like the early morning prayer. I feel a closeness with You, knowing You felt the need too, to rise early and meet Your Father. Before the day begins, we come in faith and hope, not knowing for sure what the day will bring, but knowing that You will be in it and through it. And in my mind I see others too, bringing their own offering. I feel a kinship with them, Lord, in these quiet moments, as I add my prayers to other voices, as You set the earth, the planets, this place of beauty in motion once again…..

The glory of being human


It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities and one which makes many terrible mistakes: yet, with all that, God Himself gloried in becoming a member of the human race. A member of the human race! To think that such a common realization should suddenly seem like news that one holds the winning ticket in a cosmic sweepstakes.

I have the immense joy of being a member of a race in which God became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun. Meditation from Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours

As awoke this morning at 4:00 AM I wasn’t exactly glorying at being human. I would much rather have slept and gloried a bit later, but just the same, somewhere in my spirit I echoed these thoughts of Merton. What a miracle to be able to get up, live another day healthy enough to work, to praise God for the fact that I am even here….every minute we have on this earth is a treasure and a blessing because God holds us in His mighty palm. Whatever comes my way today, Jesus be my strength!

In spite of my weakness, my frailty and failures, help me be a blessing to someone today, Lord. Amen

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Merciful proof….

Photo from google

“It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce man and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars the more they talk about peace?”
— Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain)

There is so much that is good in the world, each day we wake to the possibility of witnessing a miracle, if we could only see it as such. What is it about a spectacular sunrise that gives us hope, makes us believe that it is very worth getting up and doing it all again?

There is a Spirit that lives and breathes, that once moved across the waters of the unformed earth, whose breath continues to fill everything in the universe, who moves in us today.

He is behind it all….behind each new blossom, every drop of rain that falls to the ground. He is behind the wild exultant joy we feel sometimes that makes us want to shout out in praise because He started it all.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” –Job 38

He is behind those quiet moments when we feel we are part of a much bigger whole, bit players in a magnificent stage that is living breathing thriving and pulsating with lifethat struggles to survive even when it seems there is a slim chance for it.

Once, in the quiet hush of a crisp October twilight I walked alone in the woods. It was the time of evening when day and night meet and greet, and nature draws itself in close. I had a holy visitor, nary a trace of sound he made as he trotted, this lone coyote, then sprang lightly over a log, blowing puffs in the air. I felt like a guest there in his perfect world, inside his poem.

God and I saw it together……and it was good.