Tuesday, August 31, 2010

9 Years

Nine revolutions around the sun since I put the cork in the bottle. I am extremely grateful today for all the people in my life and my God who made this possible in the first place!

I'm celebrating in my own way...relaxing in the den with some peach sorbet. I don't think I'm getting complacent in my sobriety, but each year, I get less and less surprised to be celebrating another one. I guess I ought to be grateful for that most of all; that sobriety is a matter of course and a way of life rather than something to continually sweat through.

As I've already posted today's Mass readings, I will instead post the very well-known (but officially untitled) poem by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, commonly called the "Serenity Prayer". This is the full version:

God, grant us the...
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless

A Hale and Hearty Amen!

On Retreat in Alvernia

I spent the day at a Franciscan Retreat house called Alvernia in Centerport Long Island for a day of reflection last year. The theme was Praying Always and All Ways. This has been playing over and over in my mind, especially recently (see my previous post)

One segment of the retreat was praying in nature. As Alvernia sits directly on the water in Centerport, surrounded by myriad flora and fauna, this was appropriate. St. Francis reminds us that all creatures and forces are our Brothers and Sisters; Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, Sister Water, Mother Earth, Sister Death. I began and and ended this segment's journey deep in a thicket of bamboo about 20yards from the front door of the retreat house - it may as well been 20 miles.

I wrote the following poem in the midst of this experience:

My Bamboo Temple,
Walls 30 feet and and twice as wide.
In it, I sit and prepare for my journey with and to You.
Our Swan, majestic and swift, flies in low,
How can such a thing be, to sustain such grace in flight?
I walk on our beach to your shore.
Your pebbles, rocks and silt suck gently at my feet,
Embracing them as your own, like a lover's deep kiss.
Dozens of geometrically perfect, wet-clear jellyfish lie at your water's edge.
They have chosen this place to die.
I remain in You as You remain in me.

Return to my Temple to phase back into...and out of...the World.


Daily Mass Readings
1 Corinthians 2:10-16
Psalm 145:8-14
Luke 4:31-37

Monday, August 30, 2010

Humility...and coming clean

The Mass readings yesterday emphasized humility. The Book of Sirach, Chapter 3 proclaims "What is too sublime for you seek not, into things beyond your strength, search not." Yesterday's Gospel exhorts us to seek the lowest place when invited (Luke 14).

I guess I ought to come clean - I can't say that I'm currently striving to be humble, at least in light of these readings. To be truthful, things do go a bit deeper than that.

I look for the sublime, the unknown to be made known. I've been attracted to the face of the Divine since I was a toddler. Recently this curiosity has extended beyond what is known to me through the lens of Catholic teaching. To be sure, I've gained a minimal understanding of God within the context of the Church over the years. This is becoming less and less...acceptable to me over the years, I guess one would say. It simply doesn't feel to be "enough". There's a huge world out there, billions of people with thousands of different ideas of what constitutes Deity. Are the majority of the people in the world, AKA non-Christians, wrong? If so, what does an all-loving God do with these deluded folks? Or maybe, do they have insights into the Divine that I simply haven't even considered?

Now, I suspect at least a couple of my relatively few readers will think this pluralistic view smacks of "the dictatorship of relativism" the future Pope Benedict XVI spoke of before the last conclave. Or perhaps that I've made this "all about me" and my feelings about God. Maybe I am just getting cold feet as I get closer to my profession. I suppose any/all that could be true. However, I can say that this specific struggle has been with me for quite some time. I've done a good deal of praying about it over the months, and really ought to sit down with my spiritual director for an overdue heart-to-heart.

This blog IS supposed to be about the angels I wrestle with, the potential stumbling blocks as I find my way along whatever this is that constitutes my spiritual path. Wanting to learn in depth about how other cultures and religions view and pay homage to Deity certainly qualifies. I will not de-emphasize or attempt to minimize this longing any further. St. Augustine tells us "Our hearts are restless until they rest in You." My heart is restless, and I won't pretend it isn't (at least not anymore).

I hope you'll continue to read in light of this little bloggish twist. Any prayers you'd like to throw my way would be appreciated.


Daily Mass Readings
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Psalm 119:97-102
Luke 4:16-30