joy and sorrow

Joy and sorrow are never separated.  When our hearts rejoice at a spectacular view, we may miss our friends who cannot see it, and when we are overwhelmed with grief, we may discover what true friendship is all about.  Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy.  If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either.  Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen (Bread for the Journey a Daybook of Wisdom and Faith)

joy_sorrow

possibilities

My definition of possible has broadened remarkably, as has my ability to pursue those possibilities with calm assurance. In the past, I thought I could only bring one thing to the world, but now the world is welcoming me in other ways. My career is fulfilling, but so is finding a stray cat a loving home. – Stacey Grenrock-Woods, television comedy writer

Lost Cat Austin roof

Charm

Charm

Charm is very beautiful, and she is not afraid to wear her beauty on the outside. She works the late shift at the crisis center. She is a good counselor because she experiences her feelings completely. She has a way of offering solace that is subtle and light; she does not judge other people’s craziness at all.

When Charm walks into the room, I sometimes hear the whisper of a silver flute following her. She delights in pretty clothes, soft colors and bold textures and skirts that whirl around her ankles and beautiful rings. Even when she had to wear a grey uniform, it was as if she were surrounded by butterflies and lilacs. Charm loves the sexual dance and the shimmering heat of erotic intensity, but when she says goodbye, she takes all of herself with her.

Charm does not understand the separation between work and play. She is certainly not lazy, but she needs to sing. You must remember that she is Inspiration’s niece.

The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler

audry hepburn-balloons-hat

tension

We are also called to accept with compassion and humility the particular fragility, complexity, and incompleteness of each brother. Our diversity and our brokenness mean that tensions and friction are inevitably woven into the fabric of everyday life. They are not to be regarded as signs of failure. Christ uses them for our conversion as we grow in forbearance and learn to let go of the pride that drives us to control and reform our brothers on our own terms.
– The Rule of the Society of St. John the Evangelist

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humility

Preachers can clarify what Christianity distinctively says, but such clarification is most effectively made with the humility that comes from having heard – and honored – what other voices distinctively say. More often, in the postmodern milieu, our attitude is one of tolerance rather than humility. There is an important difference between the two. Tolerance can keep its distance: Competing ideas can be relativized, promoting polite agreements like ‘You have your view and I have mine, and both are of equal value.” Differences can be shrugged off, allowing misleading generalizations like “All religions are saying the same thing anyway.” Common ground thus gained rests on artificial supports and pleasantries; it cannot withstand the give-and-take of real exchange. Humility, however, requires engagement: One view is held in relation to another. Conversants hold a stake in a point of view for which they are willing to argue. Conversation goes back and forth; there is an exchange. With this exchange, viewpoints are challenged and honed. A robust teasing out of meaning comes through difference, engagement, and a willingness to have view revised. An attitude of humility requires a willingness to explore competing ideologies and to identify the fault lines and shortcomings of our own beliefs as well as those of others. – “Preaching Scripture Faithfully in a Post-Christendom Church” by Christine McSpadden. The Art of Reading Scripture edited by Ellen F. Davis and Richard B. Hays

theartofreadingscripture

Embodying Scripture

Whatever the rest of the Bible has to offer – narratives of God’s great deeds of the past, prophetic warnings, moral teachings, even foreshadowings of Christ – can be found, in poetic form, in the book of Psalms. What is distinctive about the Psalter in relation to other books is its more personal, emotional element, which allows the reader to identify the message with him or herself.

–  “Embodying Scripture in the Community of Faith” by L. Gregory Jones, The Art of Reading Scripture, edited by Ellen F. Davis & Richard B. Hays

the psalms

impulsion

A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction
and at such a speed . . .
It feels an impulsion . . .
this is the place to go now.
But the sky knows the reasons
and the patterns behind all clouds,
and you will know, too,
when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond horizons.
~ Richard Bach

clouds - 2

Grace

How to Recognize Grace

by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

It takes you by surprise
It comes in odd packages

It sometimes looks like loss
Or mistakes

It acts like rain
Or like a seed

It’s both reliable and unpredictable
It’s not what you were aiming at
Or what you thought you deserved

It supplies what you need
Not necessarily what you want

It grows you up
And lets you be a child

It reminds you you’re not in control
And that not being in control
is a form of freedom

butterfly-flower-ocean

The Bright Field
by John O’Donohue

I have seen the light break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great prize, the one field that had
the treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush. To a brightness
that seems as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Sunlit Poppy Field

criticism

Criticism was always the shortest kid in the class. He learned early to use words to defend himself. As a teenager, Criticism loved to take things apart. At that time he didn’t care if they ever got put back together. He retains a strong curiosity about how things work and a deep respect for tools. Criticism is a strict father. He adores his children, but he fears their spontaneity.

Sometimes I want to write Criticism a letter and tell him to leave me alone. The problem is that when I don’t see him for a while, I start to miss him. Still, my conversations with him often make me nervous. I usually believe the bad things he says and forget about the good stuff. When we really disagree, I am upset for days and run around asking everyone I meet to reassure me. If I could trust him more, it would be different, but he changes his mind as much as I do. For all his sensitivity, it was years before he realized that other people also have feelings.

– J. Ruth Gendler, The Book of Qualities

letter C very pretty calligraphy

How to recognize Grace

How to Recognize Grace

by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

It takes you by surprise

It comes in odd packages

It sometimes looks like loss

Or mistakes

It acts like rain

Or like a seed

It’s both reliable and unpredictable

It’s not what you were aiming at

Or what you thought you deserved

It supplies what you need

Not necessarily what you want

It grows you up

And lets you be a child

It reminds you you’re not in control

And that not being in control
is a form of freedom

butterfly-flower-ocean

circumstances beyond my control

Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’ve not been able to attend worship services during this holiday season – and I have missed it.

I am grateful that I am a member of a Worship Community.

Human beings were created to bless and adore their Creator and in the offering of worship to experience their highest joy and their deepest communion with one another.  In our fallenness we continually turn in on ourselves to seek fulfillment without self-offering . . . Worship makes costly demands on our time and energies.  It calls us from the inertia of self-centeredness.

– The Rule of the Society of St. John the Evangelist

st_john_evangelist

reluctant prophet

cslewis

The relationship between Lewis and Tolkien is one of the most important of his personal and professional life. They had much in common, in terms of both literary interests and shared experiences of the battlefields of the Great War. Yet Lewis’s correspondence and diary make little save incidental reference to Tolkien until late in 1929. Then evidence of a deepening relationship begins to emerge. “One week I was up till 2:30 on Monday (talking to the Anglo Saxon Professor Tolkien),” Lewis wrote to Arthur Greeves, “(who came back with me to College from a society and sat discoursing of the gods & giants & Asgard for three hours).”

Something that Lewis said that evening must have persuaded Tolkien to take the younger man into his confidence. Tolkien asked Lewis to read a long narrative poem he had been composing since his arrival in Oxford, titled The Lay of Leithian. Tolkien was a senior Oxford academic with a public reputation in the field of philology, but with a personal and intensely private passion for mythology. Tolkien had drawn the curtains aside from his private inner self and invited Lewis into his sanctum. It was a personal and professional risk for the older man.

. . . We may safely assume that Tolkien breathed a deep sigh of relief when Lewis responded enthusiastically to the poem. “I can quite honestly say,” he wrote to Tolkien, “that is ages since I have had an evening of such delight.” While we must pause the telling of is particular story as we move on to focus on other matters, it is no exaggeration to say that Lewis would become the chief midwife to one of the great works of twentieth-century literature—Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Yet in a sense, Tolkien would also be a midwife for Lewis. It is arguable that Tolkien removed the final obstacle that stood in Lewis’s path to his rediscovery of the Christian faith—a complex story, which demands a chapter in its own right.

A God within

The Greeks have given us one of the most beautiful words of our language, the word “enthusiasm” — a God within. The grandeur of the acts of men are measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a God within. – Louis Pasteur

unknownartist

Christmas memories

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
– Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867 – 1957

1999 - matthes,savannah,darrin,jon,jessica,greg-b

intellectual curiosity

There are two kinds of educational experience you can have in college. One is passive and one is active. In the first, you are a little bird in the nest with your beak stretched open wide, and the professor gathers up all the information you need and drops it down your gullet. You may feel god about this—after all, you are passionately waiting for your information—but your only role is to accept what you are given. To memorize facts and later repeat them for a test might get you a good grade, but it’s not the same thing as baby bird--12having intellectual curiosity. In the second kind, you are taught how to find the information, and how to think about it, for yourself. You learn how to question and to engage. You realize that one answer is not enough and that you have to look at as many sources as are available to you so that you can piece together a larger picture – “Fact vs. Fiction” by Ann Patchett in her book of essays: This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage