Bringing People Together

May 25th, 2016

Belief exists inside a person. As such, it has the power and the tendency to separate a person from his neighbors who believe differently. But authentic religion connects people rather than separates them into the elect and the misguided, the saved and those who walk in darkness. The primary function of religion, as Durkheim discovered and taught and as every congregational clergyman of any denomination has discovered for himself or herself, is to bring people together rather than to separate them, thereby increasing their joy and diluting their sorrows. For that to happen, one’s theology has to escape from the prison of the self and translate into sacred deeds shared with others, deeds sanctified by having the fingerprints of God all over them.

— Harold S. Kushner, Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life, p. 117.

We Need Each Other.

May 24th, 2016

I’m not exactly sure how all this works, but I think, ultimately, it means I can’t be a Christian on my own. Like it or not, following Jesus is a group activity, something we’re supposed to do together. We might not always do it within the walls of church or even in an organized religion, but if we are to go about making disciples, confessing our sins, breaking bread, paying attention, and preaching the Word, we’re going to need one another. We’re going to need each other’s help.

— Rachel Held Evans, Searching for Sunday, p. 255

Do It Again!

May 23rd, 2016

Far from originating joy, humans are meant to be like an echo, reverberating with God’s joy and sending it back to Him. The very word rejoice contains (in the prefix “re”) this idea of “over again” or “back.” The message of joy bears repeating, for in this dark world we need to hear about joy again and again. Paul obviously thought so when he wrote from a prison cell, “I will say it again: Rejoice!” True joy is tireless. It’s like a little child squealing, “Do it again, Daddy!” to which our heavenly Daddy replies heartily, “Yes, let’s do it again! And again and again!”

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 8

New Beginnings

May 9th, 2016

When we embark on a new career, open an unfamiliar door, begin a loving relationship, we can seldom see nor can we even anticipate where the experience may take us. At our best we can see only what this day brings. We can trust with certainty that we will be safely led through the “shadows.”

To make gains in this life we must venture forth to new places, contact new people, chance new experiences. Even though we may be fearful of the new, we must go forward. It’s comforting to remember that we never take any step alone. It is our destiny to experience many new beginnings. And a dimension of the growth process is to develop trust that each of these experiences will in time comfort us and offer us the knowledge our inner self awaits. Without the new beginnings we are unable to fulfill the purpose for which we’ve been created.

No new beginning is more than we can handle. Every new beginning is needed by our developing selves, and we are ready for whatever comes.

— Karen Casey, Peace a Day at a Time, May 9.

What Jesus Said

May 6th, 2016

We have not yet come to consider the fact that the very best of men said he knew God, that God was like himself, only greater, that whoever would do what he told him should know God and know that he spoke the truth about God, that he had come from God to tell the world that God was truth and love.

— George MacDonald, Discovering the Character of God, p. 20

Humility

April 30th, 2016

Humility is about refusing to get all tangled up with yourself. It’s about surrender, receptivity, awareness, simplicity. Breathing in. Breathing out.

— Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough, p. 132

Turning to God in Suffering

April 27th, 2016

In general, we do not turn to God in suffering because we suddenly become irrational. Rather, God is able to reach us because our defenses are lowered. The barriers that we erected to keep out God — whether from pride or fear or lack of interest — are set aside, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We are not less rational. We are more open.

— James Martin, S.J., The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, p. 78

Guilt Hides Fear.

April 25th, 2016

Guilt is a place where we have made a monument to a mistake and left the path of life to worship at this monument. It has us withdraw and then withholds us from the people we love. We may feel we have made a mistake in relation to our partner and now feel guilty about it, but guilt not only reinforces the mistake, it starves our partner of the very love and nurturing they need. Forgiving ourselves cuts through the guilt and allows us to give the love and nurturing. Guilt keeps us stuck like the great superglue of life; the primary reason for our guilt is so we don’t have to move forward and face the next step. Our willingness to allow the next step to emerge cuts through fear in much the same way that forgiveness cuts through guilt.

— Chuck Spezzano, If It Hurts, It Isn’t Love, p. 54

Public Library as Refuge

April 22nd, 2016

Places like the public library where Jennifer, Kaitlin, , and Cole found refuge are crucial to the day-to-day survival strategies of the $2-a-day poor. They offer a warm place to sit, a clean and safe bathroom, and a way to get online to complete a job application. They provide free educational programs for kids. Perhaps most important, they can help struggling families feel they are part of society instead of cast aside by it. Sometimes these institutions serve those in need begrudgingly — a library might prefer that it not be a rest stop and warming station for the city’s homeless people. But other times they attend to destitute patrons with tremendous love and warmth. Kaitlin’s friend the librarian gave her more than a job; she gave her a way to contribute, a place to belong.

— Kathryn J. Edin & H. Luke Shaefer, $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, p. 101

From Our Heads to Our Hearts Through Our Hands

April 21st, 2016

I’ve come to believe that creativity is the mechanism that allows learning to seep into our being and become practice.

— Brené Brown, Rising Strong