Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Transformation Through Suffering

Friday, July 10th, 2020

The supreme irony of life is that this voice of Christ works through — and alongside of — what always seems like unwholeness and untruth! God insists on incorporating the seeming negative. There is no doubt that God allows suffering. In fact, God seems to send us on the path toward our own wholeness not by eliminating the obstacles, but by making use of them. Most of the novels, operas, and poems ever written seem to have this same message in one way or another, yet it still comes as a shock and a disappointment when we experience it in our own little lives. But apart from love and suffering, both of which are always underserved, I see no other way that humans would recalibrate, reset, or change course. Why would we?

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 83-84

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, July 10, 2020

Steeped in Joy

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Through my experiment in joy, a whole dimension of Christianity has opened up to me, like a beautiful flower blossoming from a bud long dormant. This new spirituality is of such sweetness, light, and grace that it entirely entrances me. I’ve always suspected the existence of this and have had many glimpses of it. What’s different now is the confidence that I know the way into this new country and how to live there, because I’ve discovered for myself that it’s real. I believe! Finally I believe enough in the Bible’s offer of everlasting joy to see this great promise fulfilled in my own life. I shall never be the same. The veil of the world’s lies has been torn away, and now I know for certain that the Christian life is meant to be entirely steeped in joy. With the author of Hebrews I can say that I’ve already come to “the city of the living God . . . to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (12:22).

My experiment has been wildly successful. Joy has indeed become an ingrained habit of my soul — so much a part of me that it hardly seems possible that I lived without it for nearly half a century. Not only am I much happier now than ever before, but I know it’s possible to keep moving in the direction of joy and to have more and more of it. In the search for joy a certain point arrives where the balance tips in our favor. We find we’re no longer striving for happiness, we’re simply happy. It’s like getting out of debt: Without a fat mortgage payment to dole out every month, life takes on an entirely different feel. Difficulties still come, perhaps grave ones, but joy keeps flowing into the hurts like a self-renewing stream.

Is it really possible to be happy all the time? Three years after my experiment, I still cannot quite join Brother Lawrence in saying, “I am always very happy.” What I can say is that every day is full of moments of happiness, as full as the sky is of stars. Yes, an immense expanse of cold black space yawns out there, but that’s not what draws my eye anymore. My gaze, and with it my understanding, have shifted. To believe in God is to believe in good and to see its preponderance everywhere. All I see now are the bright, jewel-like moments of joy that keep coming to me and that, taken together, do not seem a jumble of random sparks but comprise a great and dazzling picture — a vision so beautiful as to utterly overwhelm the darkness.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 187-188

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 22, 2020

An Important Choice

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

Forgiveness is above all a choice. It is a choice to find peace and live life fully. We can choose either to remain stuck in the pain and frustration of the past or to move on to the potential of the future. It is a choice we can all make, and it is a choice that will lead us to a healthier and happier life.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 217

Photo: Leithöfe, Germany, June 14, 1997

A World of Singers

Friday, May 29th, 2020

The shared capacity to sing points to the many deep genetic connections that link humans to other living beings. In a beautiful article Rhodora Beaton eloquently states, “The image of singing as we go invites a broader vision of the journey song, one that includes the duets of gibbons, the beat-keeping dances of parrots, and the elaborate and distinctive calls of whales and other aquatic mammals.” Humans do not sing alone but raise their voices with a world of singers sharing the journey of life together.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 221

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 22, 2020

Part of Our Story

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Our scars are part of our story, but they are not its conclusion. The past is ours and will always be a part of us, and yet it is not all there is. It’s a process, moving from wounds to scars to grief to showing those scars. It takes time, and maybe therapy, and maybe being vulnerable in community, and maybe working through the twelve steps, and maybe making a lot of mistakes, and maybe experiencing a tiny bit of joy.

— Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless, p. 158-159

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 25, 2020.

Your Best Revenge

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who hurt you power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 211

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 23, 2020

The Blessing of Work

Sunday, May 24th, 2020

But the work for which we are fitted — which we feel we are sent into the world to do — what a blessing it is and what fulness of joy it holds.

— L. M. Montgomery, Emily’s Quest, p. 102

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, May 22, 2020

Purity Systems

Friday, May 1st, 2020

The desire to live a holy life that is pleasing to God is understandable, but this desire is also fraught with pitfalls.

Our purity systems, even those established with the best of intentions, do not make us holy. They only create insiders and outsiders. They are mechanisms for delivering our drug of choice: self-righteousness, as juice from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil runs down our chins. And these purity systems affect far more than our relationship to sex and booze: they show up in political ideology, in the way people shame each other on social media, in the way we obsess about “eating clean.” Purity most often leads to pride or to despair, not to holiness. Because holiness is about union with, and purity is about separation from.

–Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless, p. 26

Photo: Paris, France, April 2001

Make Mistakes

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

Make interesting, amazing, glorious, fantastic mistakes.

Break rules.

Leave the world more interesting for your being here.

Make good art.

— Neil Gaiman, Art Matters, “Make Good Art”

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 19, 2020

Free Will

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

Free will is a good thing, but sometimes obedience is more convenient.

Cog, by Greg van Eekhout, p. 180

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 15, 2020