Only In Love…

“…then I can bury myself entirely in you, O mysterious God”

This morning my prayerful reflection was written by Karl Rahner SJ. It is a beautiful invitation into love, which is the presence and form of God.

God of My Life

Only in love can I find you,my God.
In love the gates of my soul spring open,
…..allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom.
…..and forget my own petty self.
In love my whole being streams forth
…..out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion,
…..which makes me a prisoner of my own poverty and emptiness.
In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward you,
wanting never more to return,
but to lose themselves completely in you,
since by your love you are the inmost center of my heart,
closer to me than I am to myself.

But when I love you,
when I manage to break out of the narrow circle of self
and leave behind the restless agony of unanswered questions,
when my blinded eyes no longer look merely from afar
and from the outside upon your unapproachable brightness,
and much more when you yourself, O Incomprehensible One,
have become through love the inmost center of my life,
then I can bury myself entirely in you, O mysterious God,
and with myself all my questions.

Christmas Stories

There are so many wonderful stories centered around the Christmas tradition. From The Little Drummer Boy to The Christmas Candle, authors have worked to capture the heart of the Christmas season. One of my favorite short stories is by the author Annie Dillard titled “God In The Doorway”  It de-scafolds so much and always places a smile on my face while I read it. So enjoy Annie’s Christmas glimpse:

God In The Doorway

One cold Christmas Eve I was up unnaturally late because we had all gone out to dinner-my parents, my baby sister, and I. We had come home to a warm living room, and Christmas Eve. Our stockings drooped from the mantle; beside them, a special table bore a bottle of ginger ale and a plate of cookies.

I had taken off my fancy winter coat and was standing on the heat register to bake my shoe soles and warm my bare legs. There was a commotion at the front door; it opened, and cold winter blew around my dress.

Everyone was calling me. “Look who’s here! Look who’s here!” I looked. It was Santa Claus. Whom I never-ever-wanted to meet. Santa Claus was looming in the doorway and looking around for me. My mother’s voice was thrilled: “Look who’s here!” I ran upstairs.

Like everyone in his right mind, I feared Santa Claus, thinking he was God. I was still thoughtless and brute, reactive. I knew right from wrong, but had barely tested the possibility of shaping my own behavior, and then only from fear, and not yet from love. Santa Claus was an old man whom you never saw, but who nevertheless saw you; he knew when you’d been bad or good. He knew when you’d been bad or good! And I had been bad.

My mother called and called, enthusiastic, pleading; I wouldn’t come down. My father encouraged me; my sister howled. I wouldn’t come down, but I could bend over the stairwell and see: Santa Claus stood in the doorway with night over his shoulder, letting in all the cold air of the sky. Santa Claus stood in the doorway monstrous and bright, powerless, ringing a loud bell and repeating Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas. I never came down. I don’t know who ate the cookies.

For so many years now I have known that this Santa Claus was actually a rigged-up Miss White, who lived across the street, that I confuse the dramatis personae in my mind, making Santa Claus, God, and Miss White an awesome, vulnerable trinity. This is really a story about Miss White.

Miss White was old; she lived alone in the big house across the street. She liked having me around; she plied me with cookies, taught me things about the world, and tried to interest me in finger painting, in which she herself took great pleasure. She would set up easels in her kitchen, tack enormous slick soaking papers to their frames, and paint undulating undersea scenes: horizontal smears of color sparked by occasional vertical streaks which were understood to be fixed kelp. I liked her. She meant no harm on earth, and yet half a year after her failed visit as Santa Claus, I ran from her again.

That day, a day of the following summer, Miss White and I knelt in her yard while she showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point. It burned; I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying. Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining, but I didn’t look back.

Even now I wonder: if I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm, and kindle that spot and let me burn?

But no. It is I who misunderstood everything and let everybody down. Miss White, God, I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid.

*Taken from…”Teaching a Stone to Talk” by Annie Dillard

Gotta Love Buechner: theological beauty

Blog-Frederick-Bueckner1

Frederick Buechner has always been one of those theological, pastoral voices that I have personally drawn from in my life. His writing is a unique language of poetry, theology and philosophy that creates a verbal canvas of grace.

He has written many books that I hope you would consider investigating. Below are some great thoughts from many of his volumes:

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“Go where your best prayers take you.”  ~Frederick Buechner

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” ~Now and Then: A Memoir of Vocation

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.” ~ The Alphabet of Grace

“Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving.” ~ Frederick Buechner

“Lust is the craving for salt of a man who is dying of thirst.” ~ Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC

“Many an atheist is a believer without knowing it just as many a believer is an atheist without knowing it. You can sincerely believe there is no God and live as though there is. You can sincerely believe there is a God and live as though there isn’t.” ~ Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith

“Maybe it’s all utterly meaningless. Maybe it’s all unutterably meaningful. If you want to know which, pay attention to what it means to be truly human in a world that half the time we’re in love with and half the time scares the hell out of us. Any fiction that helps us pay attention to that is religious fiction. The unexpected sound of your name on somebody’s lips. The good dream. The strange coincidence. The moment that brings tears to your eyes. The person who brings life to your life. Even the smallest events hold the greatest clues.” ~Lecture to a Book of the Month Club

“You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own.” ~The Sacred Journey

“Grace is something you can never get but only be given. The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you. I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”  ~Wishful Thinking

“Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past … to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” ~Wishful Thinking

“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” ~Frederick Buechner

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” ~Frederick Buechner

“You never know what may cause them. The sight of the Atlantic Ocean can do it, or a piece of music, or a face you’ve never seen before. A pair of somebody’s old shoes can do it. … You can never be sure. But of this you can be sure. Whenever you find tears in your eyes, especially unexpected tears, it is well to pay the closest attention. They are not only telling you something about the secret of who you are, but more often than not God is speaking to you through them of the mystery of where you have come from and is summoning you to where, if your soul is to be saved, you should go next.”  ~Beyond Words

“In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints.” ~Frederick Buechner

“In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. Today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.” ~Frederick Buechner

Waiting…

waiting

Waiting is the hard work of being human. Waiting is conjoined with patience creating beauty when they erupt into action at the right moment  with the right motivation. But this requires faith that believes that something awaits, hidden from view, that will make its debut.

The heart that cannot wait rushes around trying to find something, anything,. The fruitless search concludes that whatever it is that is being sought must be somewhere else. Each place they visit fails to deliver the beauty they seek, so impatiently, they move on, missing the moment searching for that something that hides in the rushing and can only be found in waiting.

To live the spiritual discipline of waiting is an active listening, looking, moving and knowing. True waiting is never passive but alive. Faith ignited to see the invisible and know the unknowable. But this comes by process; not a one-time divine zap. It is trust exercised in hope knowing that God is there and that God is always good.

Oswald Chambers noted:

“One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.” 

When I wait, I become aware of my shadow-
…I am thankful for grace.
When I wait, I realize that I too often place myself on God’s throne-
…I am thankful for mercy.
When I wait, I feel the anxiousness my heart carries-
…I am thankful for peace.
When I wait, I see the effects of my sin on others-
…I am thankful for forgiveness.
When I wait, I know that I live a rushed life-
…I am thankful for silence.

“Stand still” – keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.” ~Charles Spurgeon

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:30-33

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9


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