Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Preparing for Holy Week

We are now embarking upon the most solemn, serious time in the Church calendar.  Because of this, I will be posting here less. I might put in a photo and Scripture verse once or twice, but most of the time I have for writing will be spent over at the blog The Cloistered Heart, which is at There, we are presently talking about the amazing love our God has for us.... love so great that the Father sent His Son to suffer and die to redeem us. If you have a minute, please join us there.

May you be blessed with a holy Holy Week, and a truly blessed Feast of Our Lord's Resurrection.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Glimpse of Wind

I cannot see wind, but I know when it's around.  I cannot see air, but I am sure of it.  

I spent part of Sunday in a park, snapping pictures of trees and new spring blossoms. Intent upon capturing close-up shots of early dogwoods, I didn't give much thought to what might be above me.  Until I heard the sound of distant laughter. 

Turning to look up, I saw the wind. 

"Bless the Lord,O my soul!  O Lord my God, you are very great! ....who makes the clouds your chariot, who rides on the wings of the wind...."  (Psalm 104:1 & 3) 

(photo N Shuman, 25 March 2012)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Microscope of Faith

Currently I am engaged in another “breadbox excavation” ... that is:  I’m rummaging through old letters and journal entries.  I just came across this written in 1992:

How hard it is to see things from our tiny perspective!  We peer and strain and turn every which way to make sense of it all.  Perhaps that's when the microscope of faith comes in so handy. 

Through the “microscope of faith,” we’re able to see things we could not otherwise detect.  We don't see God or angels or the Kingdom of heaven with our naked eyes.  Yet they are real, just as surely (and even MORE surely) than are tiny one celled creatures.  We believe in bacteria and viruses, even though no one ever saw them before magnification. 

We can believe in God, too, but not without the magnification of the gift of faith.  It is through this that we see things as they really are.     

"Now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then, we shall see face to face.   My knowledge is imperfect now; then I shall know even as I am known."  (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Trusting the Connection

From the breadbox, 1997:

My dear friend,

I was struck by your saying that you awake crying out 'I want to love you, God.'  What a heart-cry, and all the more powerful in aridity.

When I'm in spiritual aridity, I sometimes feel as though the 'phone lines' have all suddenly fallen silent and I feel disconnected.  Have you ever been speaking with someone on the phone when there's a problem and you can hear the other person perfectly but they can't hear you at all?  I think aridity in prayer is a bit like this, only we are the ones who cannot hear the other Person - God, in this case.  

I feel sometimes as though I am talking, praying, continually pleading 'hello?  Is anyone there?  Did You hang up...?'  And there seems to be no 'response.'  No sense of anyone being there at all.  Like all the lines have gone dead, or have been cut.  

Faith, I guess, is when we stay on the line even though we have no perception that He IS on the other end.  We stay connected nonetheless; we stay connected through the lines of faith.  Sometimes we plead for some sign, sometimes we put down the 'phone' to distract ourselves with something else for awhile.  But always we come back to speak again and say 'I trust that You are there!  I shall proceed as if I were deeply aware of Your presence, a presence I cannot at this moment perceive.'

 He is there.  He hears me, and He hears you, and I pray that when our faith again comes into the 'light,' we will find that there has been much, much growth in all our seasons of dark.
(public domain photo)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The power of His Name

"Nothing restrains anger, curbs pride, heals the wound of malice, bridles self-indulgence, quenches the passions, checks avarice and puts unclean thoughts to flight as does the Name of Jesus."  (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

"The more rain falls on the earth, the softer it makes it.  Similarly, Christs holy name gladdens the earth of our heart the more we call upon it."  (St. Hesychois)

"No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit."  (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

from a homeschooled grandmother

As a homeschooled grandmother, I graciously accept all the privileges to which my age and position entitle me, and I'm grateful for this time to settle back and learn.

I watch a two year old thoroughly enjoy a room filled with toys... until I set up safety-boundaries.  Suddenly it dawns on her that  she's not supposed to cross these, and then they become all she can think about.  I remember that God watches as I test the edges of His will.  I realize He knows more about what dangers are "out there and down the road" than I do. I think of the garden of Eden...

and thus I've had a lesson on "why there are commandments."

I see a day bursting with spring. Tossing aside thoughts of  any "trouble" I might have to go to to do this, I grab the bubble-blowing toys and say "let's go outside!"  I settle into a lawn chair and watch a preschooler blow, chase, laugh, pop.. blow, chase, laugh, pop.  I notice early buds on trees, daffodil splotches of yellow against green; I hear the nearby cooing of a dove... 

and thus I've had a lesson in wonder.   

I observe the tenderness with which a five year old helps her toddler sister.  "Here's how you wrap your can have this dolly.... this is how we rock them, see?"  And the all important piece of advice:  "if you're the Mommy, you aren't supposed to have a binky in your mouth!!!"...

..and thus I've had a lesson in love.

"You can do nothing with children unless you win their confidence by ... breaking through all the hindrances that keep them at a distance."   (St. John Bosco)

"What was wonderful about childhood is that anything in it was a wonder.   It was not merely a world full of miracles; it was a miraculous world."  (G.K. Chesterton)

"Whoever does not accept the kingdom of God as a child will not enter into it."  (Luke 18:17)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

like the sound of a great amen

"Exult, you just, in the Lord ... sing to Him a new song; pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.."  (Psalm 33:1 & 3) 

I read this scripture with a sigh.  Loving to sing, I can't carry a tune in the proverbial bucket. Alhough I savor the sounds of harpsichords and pianos and cellos and harps, I myself am no plucker of strings. 

Even with no musical talent, however, I find singing to be a path into prayer.  I like to pray with psalms, using the words as a springboard to my own conversations with God.  "I will extol you." I read in Psalm 145... and so I do.  I begin to thank Him for His goodness and kindness and mercy (this can go on for some time before I turn again to what I'm reading).  And when I feel pretty sure no one is within hearing distance, I just might burst into song.  Sometimes using a tune I know, sometimes making up my own, I sing to God of His wonders.  I set thanksgivings and praises to music; I may even bring intercession into the song.  It somehow opens my heart to do this, and helps unlock the door to conversation with God. 

The psalms are a springboard into prayer for me.  And music, even if I keep my singing "on the inside," is my personal amen. 

"I do not know what I was playing,
Or what I was dreaming then,
But I struck one chord of music
Like the sound of a great Amen."  (A. Proctor)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Thousand Dimensions

I fell in love with the sea when I was seventeen.  Never mind that I'd never laid eyes on it.  Never mind that I was growing up in a landlocked American state, far from salty breezes.  I imagined crashing waves and windswept dunes and oh, such a wonderful smell!  

The first time I saw the ocean, that day when I was hit with the full impact of sounds and scents and gusts of wind for which I had only been partially prepared, I knew I'd had no way beforehand of picturing the scene spread out in three dimensions before me.  The constant roll of waves, that overpowering ROAR, the feel of feet being sucked down into wet sand.  Even though I'd dreamed of it and actually in some way loved it, there was no way I could have envisioned the totality of it all.  

Everything I'd imagined about the sea was true.  The only shock was in discovering how much MORE there was to it.  The three-dimensionality of it.  The engagement of senses I'd never thought would be called into service. 

Sometimes I compare my love of the sea to love of God.  Never having seen Him, I love Him.  I have true ideas of Him, and through His grace I can actually know Him.  Yet there is no way I can know Him in His fullness until I see Him face to face.  I cannot even envision such Totality, and I suspect such vision would overwhelm a human still in the flesh. 

Will there be, in eternity, sounds beyond anything we've ever heard here?  Colors not detectable to eyes of flesh?  A thousand dimensions spread before us, in every taste and shade, in every tone and depth, in every texture of Love.... ?

"Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love Him."  (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

so that I may carry out....

"Most high,
glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me, Lord,
a correct faith,
a certain hope, 
a perfect charity, 
sense and knowledge,
so that I may carry out Your holy and true command."  

(St. Francis of Assisi's Prayer before a Crucifix)