Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Words are Windows (or They’re Walls) by Ruth Bebermeyer

I feel so sentenced by your words,
I feel so judged and sent away,
Before I go I’ve got to know
Is that what you mean to say?
Before I rise to my defense,
Before I speak in hurt or fear,
Before I build that wall of words,
Tell me, did I really hear?
Words are windows, or they’re walls,
They sentence us, or set us free.
When I speak and when I hear,
Let the love light shine through me.
There are things I need to say,
Things that mean so much to me,
If my words don’t make me clear,
Will you help me to be free?
If I seemed to put you down,
If you felt I didn’t care,
Try to listen through my words
To the feelings that we share.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Need to be More Loving

Almighty God,
I know so little of what love in its fullness can be.
My love is marred by jealousy,
    scarred by envy,
        limited by selfishness.
I withhold love at the slightest provocation,
and withdraw myself from involvement with others
    for fear of being hurt.

Still, I know something of what love can be like.
I can remember being forgiven generously and freely
    by someone I had wronged.
I can remember being comforted and cared for
    when, bruised and battered, I crept home.
I can remember being made strong
    by the realization that someone cared.
I am grateful for such experiences,
    for they tell me what love is about.
And if the Lord Jesus be right,
    to know what love is like
  is to know what you are like.

If we humans can manifest unselfishness and concern,
is it not because such experiences are of the very
    nature of that which is most important?
For out of the heart of the Lord Jesus
    came the evidences of his love
        for all kinds of people
    and his refusal to give up on any of us.
I am grateful for that love and for that refusal,
    for in him I have hope.
I can even hope
    that I may catch more of his Spirit in my life.
Will you help me to be more outgoing,
    less sensitive to slights,
    and more alert to the feelings of others?
Will you help me to be less quick to judge
    and less righteous in my indignation?
Will you help me to be more open to life
    and to other people?
Will you give me confidence enough to be less
    defensive and less ready to react to rebuffs?
Give me steadiness and firmness
    and true commitment to the life of faith. Amen.

—From A Book of Uncommon Prayer by Kenneth G. Phifer

Thursday, March 06, 2014


The more aware we become of the range of human need that surrounds us, the more overwhelmed we can become to the point that we end up doing nothing. The secret of the compassionate life is to focus our care on a few things that we can do something about, including in our intercessions those concerns that are beyond our reach. I know of one person who chose to focus all of his energy on dealing with the problem of Vietnamese refugees. He stayed with this until he felt he had made some genuine contribution, resisting the sometimes angry entreaties of friends to take on things which, to them, were more urgent. The ability to bring into focus the energy we expend is of critical importance to the Christian journey. It allows us to give to others without losing touch with ourselves. It reminds us that we are finite, with the freedom to say no as well as yes in the recognition that our particular gifts can be used in some ways better than others.

—From Mutual Ministry by James C. Fenhagen

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

What to give up for Lent

GIVE UP grumbling! Instead, "In everything give thanks." Constructive criticism is OK, but "moaning, groaning, and complaining" are not Christian disciplines.

GIVE UP 10 to 15 minutes in bed! Instead, use that time in prayer, Bible study and personal devotion.

GIVE UP looking at other people's worst points. Instead concentrate on their best points. We all have faults. It is a lot easier to have people overlook our shortcomings when we overlook theirs first.

GIVE UP speaking unkindly. Instead, let your speech be generous and understanding. It costs so little to say something kind and uplifting. Why not check that sharp tongue at the door?

GIVE UP your hatred of anyone or anything! Instead, learn the discipline of love. "Love covers a multitude of sins."

GIVE UP your worries and anxieties! Instead, trust God with them. Anxiety is spending emotional energy on something we can do nothing about: like tomorrow! Live today and let God's grace be sufficient.

GIVE UP TV one evening a week! Instead, visit some lonely or sick person. There are those who are isolated by illness or age. Why isolate yourself in front of the "tube?" Give someone a precious gift: your time!

GIVE UP buying anything but essentials for yourself! Instead, give the money to God. The money you would spend on the luxuries could help someone meet basic needs. We are called to be stewards of God's riches, not consumers.

GIVE UP judging by appearances and by the standard of the world! Instead, learn to give up yourself to God. There is only one who has the right to judge, Jesus Christ.

by Rev. Craig Gates, Jackson, MS

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


At one point during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu recalled a woman who asked him, "Who murdered my husband?" Tutu responded, "We do not know." She was insistent, however, and continued, "I must know who killed my husband." Again, the patient Tutu responded, "I’m sorry, but we may never know who killed your husband." Still her question persisted. Finally, Tutu asked, "My dear lady, why must you know who killed your husband?" She responded simply and quietly, "So I can forgive him."

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:43-44)

Monday, February 03, 2014

Communion or Union?

The early Church fathers had no shadow of a doubt that union with the Divine is possible for all:“God is the life of all free beings. He is the salvation of all, of believers and unbelievers, of the just or the unjust, of the pious or the impious, of those freed from passions or those caught up in them, of monks or those living in the world, of the educated and the illiterate, of the healthy and the sick, of the young and the old.” (Gregory of Nyssa)

The reason for this is to be found in their theology. The Greek philosophers, in particular Plato, were the first to formulate the idea of our having something essential in common with the Divine. They called it the ‘nous’, pure intuitive intelligence as distinct from rational intelligence. The early Church Father, Clement of Alexandria, saw the correspondence between the concept of ‘nous’ and the one expressed in Genesis of us being created in the ‘image of God’. The ‘image’ was for him comparable to the ‘nous’. Following him Origen, the Cappadocian Fathers, Evagrius and even later Meister Eckhart all saw this ‘image of God’ as proof of our orginal and essential unity with God. The reason why we can touch and be touched therefore by this ultimate transpersonal reality is because there is something within us that is similar to this reality. Having something like the Divine within us allows us to know the Divine, as the prevalent idea in early thought was that only ‘like can know like’. Our everyday experience also confirms that. Only when we have something substantial in common with another person can we truly relate to them, can we be one in mind and soul.

The same conviction we also find in Jesus’ words: ‘The Kingdom of God is within you and among you.’ (Luke 17:21) St Paul says in his first letter to the Corinthians: ‘Do you not know that your body is a shrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit?’ (1Cor 6:19). Meditation helps us to actually experience this reality, this living force as Christ within us, energising, healing, transforming and leading us to greater awareness, wholeness and compassion.

Similarity has always been accepted within Christianity – the soul as a mirror of God - but total identity has often been disputed. Yet we hear in the ‘Gospel of Thomas’: ‘Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that person, and the hidden things will be revealed to that person.’ In the ‘Gospel of John’ we find Jesus’ beautiful prayer of unity: ‘that they may be one, as we are one: I in them and Thou in me, may they be perfectly one.’ (John 17:21)Constantly, mystics who experienced this identity and spoke about it were viewed with suspicion. Meister Eckhart talked about the birth of the ‘Word’ in the soul, by which he meant the realisation of the consciousness of Christ within us, which is our link with the Divine: “Similarly I have often said that there is something in the soul that is closely related to God that it is one with him and not just united.” St Teresa of Avila talked in the ‘Interior Castle’ about the seventh dwelling place of the spiritual marriage as a permanent state of union beyond rapture, a total oneness.

Yet it is communion rather than union we are talking about in Christianity. It is not seen as a total merging, but “there is no doubt that the individual loses all sense of separation from the One and experiences a total unity, but that does not mean that the individual no longer exists. Just as every element in nature is a unique reflection of the one Reality, so every human being is a unique centre of consciousness in the universal consciousness.” (Bede Griffiths ‘The Marriage of East and West’)

(via The World Community for Christian Meditation)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Life & Death

We have a dead tree in our garden. Instead of removing it, we have hung a few Tillandsias (Aerophytes) and some brightly coloured ornaments on it, put a bowl with seed/water in it, and we also stick bits of fruit on it from time to time. The result is that this dead tree attracts a variety of bird life - it is a hive of activity. This morning I watched a bird feeding it's baby in the tree. This dead tree is teeming with life - it attracts life. But, it is still dead. 

Who would have thought that something dead could still attract life? 

No amount of decoration can change the fact that it is dead though. 

In the midst of death there is life and, in the midst of life there is death.