Already Yours

It can be difficult for those of us living in a culture that prizes earning power above nearly everything else to understand that in the economy of grace, the currency of deserved and undeserved is irrelevant. It is absolutely true that you can’t earn God’s love. But it’s not because you are a helpless wretch whose sin makes it impossible for God to even look at you or because you have done something so grievously wrong that your soul has been permanently stained, as if by spiritual Sharpie. The truth is, you can’t earn God’s love because you already have it. You can’t be any more loved than you are because God’s love has already been freely and abundantly given. You can’t do anything to achieve a greater portion of God’s love because God’s love for you is already unconditional and it is already infinite.

— Rachel Held Evans, Wholehearted Faith, p. 180

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 6, 2015

Enticed Through Love

God always entices you through love.

You were probably taught that God would love you if and when you changed. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love and acceptance itself. This is the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But, because most common religion has not been at the mystical level, you’ve been given an inferior message — that God loves you when you change (moralism). It puts it all back on you, which is the opposite of being saved. Moralism leads you back to navel-gazing and you can never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a total gift.

— Richard Rohr, Yes, And. . ., page 18

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 4, 2022

Futile Disputation

It is futile to enter into disputation with any worshipper of the letter, seeing that for the purposes of argument the letter is so much more manageable than the spirit, which while it lies in the letter unperceived, has no force. The letter-worshipper is incapable of seeing that no utterance of God could possibly mean what he makes out of it.

— George MacDonald, Wisdom to Live By, p. 101, quoting from Donal Grant

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, November 1, 2021

Truly Good News

The truly good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 105

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 2, 2021

Love Out of Proportion

Trust me on this: We are loved out of all sense of proportion. Yikes and hallelujah. Love reveals the beauty of sketchy people like us to ourselves. Love holds up the sacred mirror. Love builds rickety greenhouses for our wilder seeds to grow. Love can be reckless (Jesus is good at this), or meek as my dog, or carry a briefcase. Love is the old man in the park teaching little kids to play the violin: much time spent tuning, the children hearing their way into the key he is playing. My parents heard the key as success, security, moving expeditiously, and living as expected. But love lumbers like an elephant, it naps on top of your chest like a cat. It gooses you, snickers, smooths your hair. Love is being with a person wherever they are, however they are acting. Ugh. (A lot of things seem to come more easily to God.)

— Anne Lamott, Dusk Night Dawn, p. 190

Photo: Above Gundersweiler, Germany, April 22, 2000

God With Us

Again and again you see how Jesus opts for what is small, hidden, and poor, and accordingly declines to wield influence. His many miracles always serve to express his profound compassion with suffering humanity; never are they attempts to call attention to himself. As a rule, he even forbids those he has cured to talk to others about it. And as Jesus’ life continues to unfold, he becomes increasingly aware that he has been called to fulfill his vocation in suffering and death. In all of this, it becomes plain to us that God has willed to show his love for the world by descending more and more deeply into human frailty.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 93

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 26, 2021

Not If, But When

As I have often said, salvation is not a question of if, but when. Once you see with God’s eyes, you will see all things and enjoy all things in proper and full perspective. Some put this off till the moment of death or even afterward (“purgatory” was our strange word for this). Salvation, for me, is simply to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), which Paul describes as “making the world, life and death, the present and the future — all your servants — because you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God” (1 Corinthians 3:23).

Everything finally belongs, and you are a part of it.

This knowing and this enjoying are a good description for salvation.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 225

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Again and Again

This morning I meditated on God’s eagerness to forgive me, revealed in these words: “As far as the East is from the West, so far does God remove my sin” (Psalm 103:12). In the midst of all my distractions, I was touched by God’s desire to forgive me again and again. If I return to God with a repentant heart after I have sinned, God is always there to embrace me and let me start afresh. “The Lord is full of compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy.”

It is hard for me to forgive someone who has really offended me, especially when it happens more than once. I begin to doubt the sincerity of the one who asks forgiveness for a second, third, or fourth time. But God does not keep count. God just waits for our return, without resentment or desire for revenge. God wants us home. “The love of the Lord is everlasting.”

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, You Are Beloved, p. 87

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 19, 2021

Love and Suffering

In the practical order of life, if we have never loved deeply or suffered deeply, we are unable to understand spiritual things at any depth. Any healthy and “true” religion is teaching you how to deal with suffering and how to deal with love. And if you allow this process with sincerity, you will soon recognize that it is actually love and suffering that are dealing with you. Like nothing else can! Even God has to use love and suffering to teach you all the lessons that really matter. They are his primary tools for human transformation.

— Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, p. 207

Photo: Dunluce Castle, Ireland, July 2001

The Grace of Trust

We need the grace of Trust more than we realize. We want everything to happen now — right now — in our lives. And we want to recognize the sound of every footstep we hear. We have to stop wanting, wanting, wanting life to be what it will never, ever be — familiar, controllable, and wrapped around our personal needs. That impossible craving is what leads to attacks of stress, panic, and inner madness. Instead we must contact the grace of Trust. We must learn to rest easy in the mobius of prayer and trust, guidance and action. Rather than imagining greatness or humiliation, power or powerlessness. Your imagination is an engine of creation, a vessel through which your inside coordinates the outside of your life. Imagining greatness for yourself is rooted in the fear of humiliation. The end product is an ego full of hubris. Driven by fear, you will end up in the fog of panic and uncertainty. The discipline — and it is a discipline — is to apply the grace of Trust. Trust brings detachment. You do not have to interfere with heaven’s work. If you knew what was best for you, you would not need heaven’s help. Just Trust.

— Caroline Myss, Intimate Conversations with the Divine, p. 120

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 14, 2020