Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Diving into the Word

For a couple of months now I have been doing a 'read the bible in a year' daily reading plan.  When I started, I decided to go ahead and pick up where I was.  At first, I was doing this on my Kindle, but lately I bought a new, larger print, ESV and have been doing my daily readings there.  This allows me to make notes in the margins and underline things that pop out at me.  I know in a few years, this beautiful bible will be tatty and covered with chicken scratch.

One interesting side effect of my weekend of silence is that I am incredibly thirsty for the scriptures.  I have been reading quite a bit more than the standard daily plan... at least 2 or 3 chapters of the Hebrew scriptures, 1 or 2 of the New Testament, a psalm... and then some third book from Paul's letters.  So today, for example, I read 2 chapters of Daniel, psalm 126, a chapter of Revelation and 2 chapters from Paul's first letter to Timothy.  One great side effect of reading this way is that I am beginning to see themes emerge.  I noticed, for example, that the exact same phrase occurred in Daniel and Revelation.. that the people had gone astray by worshiping the idols of gold and silver, wood and stone.  If I hadn't read them on the same day, I might not have noticed the connection.

It is interesting to me that even as I am feeling drawn more deeply into liturgy, at the same time, I am being drawn more deeply into scripture.  For me, the supposed distinction between the two is a false dichotomy.  The actual word dichotomy implies that something is split into two parts that cannot overlap and are mutually exclusive.  My sense is that there is nothing BUT overlap.  They are two parts that weave into each other and are complimented by each other.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What is God asking me to do?

As I reread yesterday's post, I was struck by the simple question my spiritual director at the retreat asked.

-What is God asking you to do?

What, indeed.

And what am I willing to do?  Am I willing to carry the cross?  Am I willing?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


9 years ago, my spiritual mentor suggested I take a silent retreat.  I am not sure why, but I never did it until last weekend.  I can now categorically state that I will not wait another 9 years to do this again.  In fact, I want to make a 5 or 8 day retreat next time.

I went with very little expectation.  I truly wasn't sure what to expect.  For me, talking comes naturally and silence doesn't.  And lately, silence has been even more elusive than usual.  I have found myself distracted by many things.  I have avoided empty space and filled it with all manner of mindless (and, frankly, Godless) entertainment.  (Whole seasons of bad tv shows on Netflix comes to mind.)  So the idea of 32 hours of no distractions was a tiny bit intimidating.

But most of all, I was relieved.  I felt as though I was going to just fall into my Love's arms and let him hold me for awhile.  On the first night we met with our spiritual director for an orientation.  She shared some scripture about Jesus doing a healing.  'What do you want to ask God to do for you?' She asked us.  'And what do you think God is asking YOU to do?' I had no idea.  I didn't have an agenda at all except to rest.  And the greatest rest is with him.

After meeting with my director, I went to the Holy Ghost chapel to pray.  It is a huge church, and was in complete darkness except for the light behind the tabernacle illuminating a beautiful crucifix on the wall.  I sat up front and wondered if it would be weird for me to go right up to the tabernacle... but ended up staying in the pew.

In the church, in the darkness, just me alone, I began to feel the longing.  The yearning. Oh Jesus, how I long for you.  The box was there, behind the altar.  Tears began to fall.  And snot.  I didn't have a tissue.  Oh how I long.

The next morning I attended the Mass.  It was so sweet and lovely.  The center is an old Jesuit college that is now a home for retired Jesuits and a retreat center.  So at the Mass, there were many old priests, most of them wearing stoles.  They spoke the consecration words together, even as one priest was standing at the altar.

I wept through the whole service.  I do that at almost every Catholic Mass I attend.  And long to take communion.  Long for the Eucharist.  And weep.

I confessed this to my spiritual director.  The longing for the Eucharist.  The pain I feel that I can't take it.  She gently suggested that I might even be a little angry.  I am not sure about that. Mostly I feel as sense of deep sadness and... thirst.

And so it went for the weekend.  Moments of joy entwined with moments of bittersweet longing.  I ate alone.  I spent time alone.  I walked the stations of the cross in the Jesuit cemetery.  I was particularly taken with the image of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross for Our Lord. Would I be willing to do that, I wondered?  Am I willing to carry your cross, Jesus? I meditated on the crucifix.  I communed with the ducks and swans in the pond and napped in my little room.  I read Henri Nouwen and the scriptures.  James and Peter and Ezekiel and psalms.  I wrote in my journal and was surprised that I hadn't written anything about the intense pain I have been through this year.  I wrote and wrote and wrote.  Scribbling notes in the margins of my bible.  Savoring the words.  Seeing the world.  Resting.

And then, too soon.  It was over.  I packed my bags and loaded my car and came home to my family.  Yesterday I went to work and spent the day in the in-between place, trying to find a balance between the mystical otherworldliness of the weekend with the day to day demands of the work.  Today I am buying a turkey.  And giving Thanks. And savoring the twinges of longing that lie just beneath the surface.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Pro Woman, Pro Man, Pro LIFE

Now that I have voted, I will share that I voted pro-life... which for me, IS pro-woman.  And man.  And children. And culture.

Everyday, I see the devastation that is wreaked by abortion.  I see the women and men who have suffered for years.  I see the pain and agony, first hand.

Every day I see a culture that has decided that death is a solution for that which ails us.  A culture that has chosen violence to solve it's problems.  And I believe that our culture has been irreparably harmed by the choices we have made.

Many, especially those who disagree with my position, accuse me of being a single issue voter.  That is not precisely true.  BUT because of the gravity of this issue, it is a deal breaker for me if a candidate is pro-abortion.  Just like the abolitionists would never vote for a pro-slavery candidate, so it is with me.

I am not anti-woman.  I am not anti-gay.  I am not a person who wants to hurt the poor.  And I am not stupid or ignorant.  I am not evil or misguided... or any of  the awful things my friends have been posting for months about those who are voting differently than them.

I am a woman who works in the trenches with women and men who have been terribly damaged by a culture that has lost all respect for life. I am someone who believes that we, as a society, can do better.