Archive for September, 2018

Give Space to the Good

Monday, September 10th, 2018

The third benefit from forgiveness emerges as we give more love and care to the important people in our lives. I know from my own experience and those of many others that hurts from the past often cause us to draw away and mistrust the very people who are trying to love us. Too often the people who suffer from our grievances are not the people who hurt us but those who care for us today.

If we rent too much space to what went wrong, where is the space to appreciate the good in our lives? If we focus our attention on past defeats, how can we give our full loving attention to our significant other, friends, or co-workers? If we remain bitter over past parenting cruelties, who suffers — our parents or our current friends and loved ones?

— Fred Luskin, Forgvie for Good, p. 73

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, October 26, 2014

Anger of Limited Duration

Sunday, September 9th, 2018

Let us pause here for a moment to dwell on the significance of this fact of the limited duration of the divine anger, so clearly taught in the Old Testament. Take a few instances, “I am merciful, says the Lord, I will not keep anger for ever” (Jer 3:12). “His anger endures but a moment” (Ps 30:5), “while his mercy endures for ever” (Ps 136) — a statement repeated no less than twenty-six times in this one psalm. “He will not always chide, neither keeps he his anger for ever” (Ps 103:9). “He retains not his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy” (Mic 7:18).

But if this be true, what becomes of the popular creed? If God’s anger is temporary, how can it be endless? If it endure but a moment, how can it last for ever in even a solitary instance? I would invite our opponents fairly to face these plain and reiterated assertions: and to explain why they feel justified in teaching that God’s anger will in many cases last for ever, and that his mercy will not endure for ever.

— Thomas Allin, Christ Triumphant, p. 238

Photo: Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland, July 11, 2003

Narrow Our Focus

Saturday, September 8th, 2018

Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, says, “How narrow is the gate that leads to life.” Mistakenly, I think, we’ve come to believe that this is about restriction. The way is narrow. But it really wants us to see that narrowness is the way.

St. Hedwig writes, “All is narrow for me, I feel so vast.” It’s about funneling ourselves into a central place. Our choice is not to focus on the narrow, but to narrow our focus. The gate that leads to life is not about restriction at all. It is about an entry into the expansive. There is a vastness in knowing you’re a son/daughter worth having. We see our plentitude in God’s own expansive view of us, and we marinate in this.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 31-32

Photo: Notre Dame, Paris, April 2001

Relational Sacred Text

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Midrash, with its imaginative engagement of the Bible’s stories, reminds us that biblical interpretation need not be reduced to a zero-sum game, but rather inspires endless insights and challenges, the way a good story does each time it is told and retold. Our relational God has given us a relational sacred text, one that, should we surrender to it, reminds us that being people of faith isn’t as much about being right as it is about being part of a community in restored and restorative relationship with God. This is how Paul engaged Scripture, after all, and Jesus — both of whom were Jews.

— Rachel Held Evans, Inspired, p. 25

Photo: Sunrise, South Riding, Virginia, September 7, 2018

Morning Gratitude

Thursday, September 6th, 2018


In a very real way, morning gratitude is a primary form of mindfulness, a practice of paying attention to abundance and life.

— Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, p. 76

[Photo: Sunrise, South Riding, Virginia, March 16, 2015]

God’s Forgiveness

Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

The crucifixion is not what God inflicts on Jesus in order to forgive; the crucifixion is what God endures in Christ as he forgives. The monstrous aspects of Good Friday are of entirely human origin. What is divine about Good Friday is the completely unprecedented picture of a crucified God responding to his torturers with love and mercy. Golgotha offers humanity a genuinely new and previously unimagined way of conceiving the nature of God.

— Brian Zahnd, Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, p. 90

Photo: Kilchurn Castle, Scotland, July 2003

Surprises

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

Feelings of apathy as they relate to our relationships often stem from insufficiently paying attention to those around us. Remember: everyone we interact with has the capacity to surprise us in an infinite number of ways. What can first open us up to each of our innate capacities for love is merely to recognize that.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 127

Photo: Sky Meadows State Park, Virginia, July 3, 2017

Punishing in Order to Save

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

God’s active involvement in drawing people to repentance is not to be thought of as an activity that is separate from God’s activity of punishing people for their involvement in wrongdoing, as is often assumed by many traditionalist Christians. God does not punish people instead of saving them from their sins, but, if the foregoing picture of divine punishment is true, God punishes people (by showing them the essential ugliness of their sins) so that God can save them.

— Heath Bradley, Flames of Love, p. 77

Photo: Carlyle Lake, Illinois, October 1992

Joy Banishes Loneliness.

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

Joy is a presence. When I’m happy it’s because I do not feel alone. Gone is that gnawing core of anxious ache that makes me think I must face the world alone and handle all my problems without help. Joy fills up this emptiness with a presence. Indeed this mysterious sense of presence is joy’s chief characteristic. There’s a fellowship, a secret companionship, an invisible embrace. Happiness comes wrapped in warmth because it’s literally like being hugged.

Joy, like love, banishes loneliness. Whereas love is specifically directed toward another person, joy has a softer focus. If love is the sun, joy is the moon and the planets — a reflected light. Just as the moon shines only because of the sun, so we are happy only because of the loving presence of the Other. We may not be consciously aware of the Other, nevertheless His presence is the reason for our joy.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 89

Photo: Rhododendron Park, Bremen, Germany, May 16, 2004

Settling

Saturday, September 1st, 2018

Human beings are settlers, but not in the pioneer sense. It is our human occupational hazard to settle for little. We settle for purity and piety when we are being invited to an exquisite holiness. We settle for the fear-driven when love longs to be our engine. We settle for a puny, vindictive God when we are being nudged always closer to this wildly inclusive, larger-than-any-life God. We allow our sense of God to atrophy. We settle for the illusion of separation when we are endlessly asked to enter into kinship with all.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 2-3

Photo: Sky Meadows State Park, Virginia, July 3, 2017