Sunday, August 27, 2023


 A mysterious telephone call one night:

"Hello," I answer.

A woman's voice: "Precious?"

"Who would you like to speak with?" I ask.'


"You must have the wrong number."

"Oh, I'm very sorry."  

End of conversation.

This call made me wonder: how often does God call us "precious," only to hear us respond, "You must have the wrong number"?  What would it be like if we answered, "Here I am, Lord!" instead of, "Surely you mean someone else"?

Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you:
I have called you by name, you are mine.
. . .you are precious in my sight,
and honored, and I love you . . .

                                  (Isaiah 43:1b, 4a)

Friday, July 28, 2023

Our Call in a Broken World

Who are we called to be today in our broken world?


This is not an easy question.  But as we ponder it, we may well glimpse the call to be:

•    A witness to the goodness, love, and peace of God in a world torn by violence and hatred.

•    A witness to the goodness of creation where there is destructive unconcern with God’s good earth and its creatures.

•    A witness to the amazing reality that human beings can know God, even though God always remains mystery.

•    A witness to the fidelity and love of God, to the truth that it is safe to hand oneself over to God who always loves me, no matter who I am or what I have done.


And what a wonderful truth: we are created to be capax dei, capable of God, and we are called into communion with the God who is Known and yet Unknown.

“O my beautiful soul…you are capable of God.
Woe be to you if you content yourself with less than God.”
                                     -    Saint François de Sales


Monday, June 28, 2021

God Saw That It Was Good

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so 
God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:24-25 NRSV)


"God saw that it was good." 

Who are we, therefore, to act as if the earth is created only for human beings? 

And of course living in such as way as to make the earth's environment inhospitable to other creatures will in the long run make it unfriendly to us as well. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Why Must We Lament

Psalms of Lament make up 1/3 (or even more, depending on whom you ask) of the Book of Psalms. We read Psalm 42, for example, and we see that the psalmist is remembering the past:

These things will I remember
as I pour out my soul:
How I would lead the rejoicing crowd
into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving,
the throng wild with joy. (Ps 42:4)

But things seem to have changed for him. 

He remembers the past, and now laments—lamenting even in a way that sounds at times like complaining. 

We notice how the psalmist can move from praise right to lament: 

…by night I will sing to the LORD,
praise the God of my life.

then in the next verse:

I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me? (42:9, 10)

and then back again: 

Why are you cast down, my soul… ?
Hope in God; I will praise yet again,
my savior and my God” (42:12).


Why must the psalmist lament? And why may we also need to lament what is lost?  

1. First, we lament because we love. “Grief,” says N.T. Wright, “after all, is part of love. Not to grieve, not to lament, is to slam the door on the same place in the innermost heart from which love itself comes” (God and the Pandemic, Zondervan, 2020).

We grieve because we love and because we value what is past and what now seems to be lost. “When we lose the ability to lament, we lose an opportunity to share with our God the things of this world that are breaking our hearts…” (Ryane Williamson, "The Lost Art of Lament").

2. And, second, we lament because, without honoring the grief within us, it is likely that we would be hindered in fulfilling our call to move into the future. We may be unable to see beyond the dried winter leaf on the ground. We may remain stuck in unclaimed grief – or in a sterile and perhaps even unrecognized grief – unfruitful, as opposed to the loving lament that helps carry us forward in love. So we need to name our grief, for what one person grieves may not be the same as what another one of us grieves, even in a similar situation. 

We need to name for ourselves what it is that we grieve, and lament what we have loved and seems now to be lost. And in so doing we are helped to allow the new to be born. Lamenting helps make it possible for us to move into the future, even as the blessing of what we lament and will never forget remains in our hearts and nurtures the future, so that we can say, with the psalmist in Psalm 27:

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living. (27:13)


Psalm quotations are from The Psalms: The Grail Translation Inclusive Language Version
(London: HarperCollins, 2004).


Thursday, November 12, 2020

That You May Lay Hold of Me



My God,
that at every moment you may find me
as you desire me,
and there where you are waiting for me;
that is, so that you may take hold of me fully —
both by the within and the without of myself —
grant that I may never break this double thread of my life.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Divine Milieu


Mon Dieu, pour que, à toute minute, vous me trouviez tel que vous me désirez, là où vous m'attendez, c'est-à-dire pour que vous me saisissiez pleinement, - par le dedans et le dehors de moi-même, - faites que je ne rompe jamais ce double fil de ma vie.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Le Milieu divin


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Beauty in a Time of Sorrow


Where do we find the beauty and goodness of God during a time of so much suffering? Pandemic, storms, terrible fires do not tend to make us think about beauty or express gratitude for the goodness of creation. 

Where is the beauty that we find it easy to relish in calmer times?

According to Father Stephen:

"The great mystery of Beauty is that its most profound statement in all of human history is the crucified Christ. The human experience of that Beauty is well described by Isaiah:

Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. … But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (53:1-5).

Christ had “no beauty that we should desire him.” How is it possible that the King of Glory should have no beauty? This is itself the mystery of Beauty: it lies hidden beneath the sufferings of God

Father Stephen, “The Mystery of Beauty,” Glory to God for All Things 

In the beauty of the crucified and risen Christ, we see that pain doesn't have the last word; Covid-19 doesn’t have the last word; terrible fires do not have the last word; destructive storms do not have the last word. Fear and pain do not have the last word. No, the beauty of self-giving love does. 

It has been said that we become what we contemplate. Let us gaze on the beauty of Christ crucified; let us behold the beauty of Christ risen, even as we weep and grieve the losses of this painful time in which we are living.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

No Retribution

The resurrection of Jesus is a victory both of life over death and of forgiveness over the power of sin and retribution. It is a victory of love. And in this victory is a call to union in the life and the mercy proclaimed through the risen Christ.

On a very practical note, without the resurrection the disciples of Jesus would not have fully grasped their own forgiveness. With the resurrection, however, the despondent and probably guilt-ridden friends of Jesus begin to learn something new: they learn that the forgiveness Jesus has been preaching is an energy that changes lives, including their own. ...

Retribution would be a natural human response to being unjustly arrested, abandoned by friends, tortured, and executed, once one had returned in a body freed from earthly limitations. Instead the friends of Jesus experience that there is no vindictiveness in him, which means that there is none in God. In spite of any appearances to the contrary, love and goodness have triumphed. God is in control of the universe, and they themselves are forgiven.

[For more, see That God May Be All in All: Christian Life and Sacred Paradox, Chapter IV.] 


The photograph for today has little obvious relation to the reflection above, but I took it early last evening (Holy Saturday), and it delighted me. We don't ordinarily see rabbits in our courtyard, but here was one (an Easter bunny?) nestled in the grass, seemingly unafraid of the two of us who were there. He (or she) just wiggled its nose at us, followed us with eyes and a gentle shift of the head, but made no move to run off.  This morning she was gone.