Archive for the ‘contemplation’ Category

On Friday, I will continue my Franciscan journey in New York.  I am excited to be there. I look forward to living with the brothers out there and engaging in new forms of ministry.

 But these last two weeks, I have been on vacation – a break from community life.  As I transition from one community to another, I thought I should honor that sense of shifting, of change, by stopping in the middle and allow myself to reflect on the last year and pray and open to future possibilities and pray.  I stayed at a friend’s house in San Francisco with a nice little backyard, a territorial hummingbird, and a shedding but friendly cat.  It was ideal this last week, especially, as San Francisco calmed down after Gay Pride. 

So I found a quiet spot – and without forcing anything, found quiet within myself.  I would visit with friends, saying goodbye to them and the city I love.  They would ask if I was nervous or worried about such a big change.  I said I really wasn’t and today I can say the same.  The present moment can be frustrating or there can be conflict but the future in essence is a fantasy.  It’s not here yet, so I’m not all that concerned.  By taking this break, I have allowed myself to acknowledge God’s presence in my life and with gratitude, simply sit with that great loving presence  and trust that Jesus is guiding me only into his goodness.

 I am at my father’s house in St. Louis, Missouri.  I haven’t seen him all year and it’s good to be back and to  see him and my step-mother and to hear and see the Missouri birds.  This morning I woke up and we still had a soft rain after last night’s thunderous storm.  I walked out into the back yard and saw the two of the most beautiful woodpecker’s I’d ever seen.  Most of the woodpeckers  around here are small brown things with white faces and small white specks on their backs, but this morning two large fierce and noble looking birds with their red mohawks swooped into my Dad’s yard.  I actually gasped.   Yesterday, I saw the brightest yellow finch I’d ever seen.  I couldn’t preach to the birds as Francis did, but I did just let myself feel astonished at the beauty of creation.

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I was gifted with a couple of books this weekend. (people know me sooo well.) On the bus today, I opened Joan Chittister’s Illuminated Life from Orbis books:

Silence frightens us because it is silence that brings us face to face with ourselves. Silence is a very perilous part of life. It tells us what we’re obsessing about. It reminds us of what we have not resolved within ourselves, from which there is no escape, which no amount of cosmetics can hide, that no amount of money or titles or power can possibly cure. Silence leaves us with only ourselves for company.
Silence is, in other words, life’s greatest teacher. It shows us what we have yet to become, and how much we lack to become it. “Wherever I am,” the poet Mark Strand writes, “I am what’s missing.”
Silence, the contemplative knows, is that place just before the voice of God. It is the void in which God and I meet in the center of my soul. It is the cave through which the soul must travel, clearing out the dissonance of life as we go, so that the God who is waiting there for us to notice can fill us.
To be a contemplative we must . . . go inside ourselves to wait for the God who is a whisperer, not a storm.



Joan Chittister’s From Where I Stand columns

photo: brother jacob

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