Daily Riches: Something More Important Than “Getting Things Done” Thomas Merton

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,
“you are worried and upset about many things,
but few things are needed—or indeed only one.
Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her.”
(read the full story) Luke 10:41-42 NIV

“We experience in ourselves a new and special kind of truth when we imitate Mary. We [who are monks] who have this particular call recognize that when we are agitated by all kinds of external concerns which do not touch us deeply at all we are less authentic, less real, less ourselves, less what we are supposed to be. We feel less faithful to the will of God than when we remain simply in an attitude of freedom and attentiveness to His word, His love and His will. This gospel text illustrates our experience that we are summoned by the Holy Spirit to make an act of preference. We are called to prefer the apparent uselessness, the apparent unproductiveness, the apparent inactivity of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him. We are called to prefer this over an apparently more productive, more active, more busy life. We quietly affirm that there is something more important than ‘getting things done.’ Together with this is another implied assumption: that this preference goes against the ideas of the majority of our fellow human beings at any given moment and especially today in the twentieth century. Our act of preference for ‘quiet’ is at the same time an implicit protest and defiance, a protest against and a defiance of the counter-opinion of those who are absolutely convinced that our [monastic] life is useless and who reproach us for it.” Thomas Merton

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Concern to get things done comes naturally to me–even when it makes me less authentic, less myself, less who I am supposed to be. Is it just me?
  • Are you, at least sometimes, able to prefer apparent usefulness, apparent unproductiveness, apparent inactivity–quietly affirming that something else (attentiveness to God) is more urgent than your “to do” list?
  • Many others will reject this invitation. Are you willing to join with Merton in defiance of a driven, busy life?

Abba, in each circumstance, may I wrestle to know and to choose what is best–shaped by your call rather than pressure from within or without.

For More: Contemplation In a World of Action by Thomas Merton.

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Borrowing the Eyes of God (Dorothee Soelle, Kerry Walters, and Robin Jarrell)

“Society’s conventional image of a mystic is that of a person who withdraws from the world in order to journey inward. . . . The mystic is stereotyped as a guru sitting in splendid isolation on a mountaintop, utterly unconcerned with the world’s affairs. But theologian Dorothee Soelle, herself something of a mystic, argued that . . . the mystic is uniquely motivated and qualified to respond to social and economic injustices. Genuine mystics . . . says Soelle . . . have been liberated from the three powers that typically hold humans in bondage: ego, possession, and violence. . . . The genuine mystic understands that his or her connection with the divine is likewise a connection to all other humans and, indeed, to all of creation—a relationship, as Soelle said, that ‘borrows the eyes of God.’ Patterns of opposition and resistance bred by the division of I and not-I [therefore] collapse to be replaced by ones of mutuality and community. . . . [Soelle] grew up under the Nazi regime and, like many Germans of her generation, never got over the shame of belonging to a nation that willingly collaborated with mass murderers. She was especially worried by the acquiescence of so many people who claimed to be Christian, and eventually concluded that part of the explanation was that they had compartmentalized their faith, transforming it into a private and ‘otherworldly’ thing. Convinced that such privatization is a perversion of faith, Soelle worked as a theologian to demonstrate the social responsibility of religion and as an activist to put her theology into practice. She became one of the Cold War’s leading anti-nuclear voices, a dedicated opponent of both [U.S.] involvement in [the] Vietnam War and Soviet-style communism, and a proponent of liberation theology. The spiritual fuel of these activities was her conviction that the mystical worldview is revolutionary enough to resist ‘powerful but petrified institutions’ that trade in oppression and violence.” Kerry Walters and Robin Jarrell

” . . . a person is considered righteous
by what they do and not by faith alone.”
James 2:24 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your version of Christianity address the powers of ego, possession, and violence?
  • What powerful, petrified institutions trade in oppression and violence where you live?
  • Imagine living with the guilt of “belonging to a nation that willingly collaborated with mass murderers.” Do you honestly face up to the shadow side of your country’s history?

Father, may I be a mystic who makes a difference in this world of people loved by you.

For More: The Silent Cry. Dorothee Soelle. Trans. Barbara and Martin Rumscheldt. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2001.

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“Indiscriminate Hospitality” (Dorothy Day and Robert Ellsberg)

For Dorothy Day . . . “spirituality and her social witness were equally rooted in the radical implications of the Incarnation. In Christ God assumed our humanity. And we could not worship God without honoring God’s image in our fellow human beings. We should feed them when they were hungry; shelter them when they were homeless. We should not torture them; we should not kill them. In the 1950s Day and the Catholic Worker took on a more activist profile. She was repeatedly jailed for refusing to take shelter during compulsory civil defense drills in New York City. In the 1960s her activities reflected the turbulence of the times—protesting the Vietnam War, fasting in Rome during the Second Vatican Council to advance the cause of peace. She was last arrested while picketing with the United Farm Workers in 1973 at the age of seventy-five. By this time she was widely honored as the radical conscience of the American Catholic church. But her life was not primarily occupied by activism or protest. She was a woman of prayer, beginning each day with meditation on scripture, attending daily Mass, and reciting the breviary [daily psalms, scripture readings, and prayers]. By and large, her life was spent in very ordinary ways, her sanctity expressed not just in heroic deeds but in the mundane duties of everyday life. Her ‘spirituality’ was rooted in a constant effort to be more charitable toward those closest at hand.” Robert Ellsberg

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement
give you the same attitude of mind toward each other
that Christ Jesus had . . . .” Rom. 15:5 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Imagine the cognitive dissonance required to claim faith in God, while at the same time torturing or killing creatures made by God, loved by God, precious to God.
  • The simple daily life of Dorothy Day was both “ordinary” and “heroic” because she practiced something “ordinary” (hospitality) in a “heroic” manner (indiscriminately). Can you be indiscriminate when it comes to hospitality?
  • Is there a quiet, prayerful side of your life that enables you to rise to the mundane duties of everyday life in a simple, and perhaps even sometimes, heroic way?

God, help me to honor those you love without any preconditions.

For More: Modern Spiritual Masters: Writings on Contemplation and Compassion. Ed. Robert Ellsberg. New York: Maryknoll: 2008.

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Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.

Daily Riches (CV Era): When You’re “Disappearing” (David Whyte, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Flannery O’Connor)

” . . . I can, with one eye squinted, take it all as a blessing.” Flannery O’Connor

“It might be liberating for us to think of our onward life being informed as much by our losses and disappearances as by our gifted and virtuoso appearances and our marvelous arrivals. As if the foundational invitation being made to us at the core of our continual living and dying is an invitation to participate in the full seasonality of existence. Not just to feel fully here and fully justified in those haloed times when we are growing and becoming, and seen to be becoming, but also, to be just as present and to feel just as much here when we are in the difficult act of disappearing, often against our wills, making way often, for something we cannot as yet comprehend. The great and ancient art form and its daily practice; of living the full seasonal round of life; and a touchstone perhaps, of the ultimate form of human generosity: continually giving ourselves away to see how and in what form we are given back.” David Whyte

“Everything helps me to God.” Jean-Pierre de Caussade

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it,
and if you let your life go, you will save it.”
Jesus in Luke 17:33

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Taking everything as a blessing definitely requires some “squinting.” As you witness the horrors of these days, can you also “squint”–struggling to see what less obvious good might accompany the losses?
  • I love Whyte’s humor referring to our “virtuoso appearances” and “marvelous arrivals.” It’s then, when I’m advancing and being applauded that I’m satisfied–and gratified. Whyte challenges me to participate in the “full seasonality of existence”–where I’m unnoticed (“invisible”) and frustratingly unproductive/unsuccessful. Can you do that?
  • Are losses and limits teaching you to accept what you didn’t chose? . . . to nevertheless look for good in a situation you hate, and can’t “comprehend?”

Jesus, you made the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, the blind to see, and the dead to live again. Do something strong in me in this time that seems so stagnant and unpromising.

For More: Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

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Daily Riches: The Sabbath is For Listening (Joe Liebermamn, Jonathan Sacks, and Frederick W. Faber)

“There are few things more consoling to men than the mere finding that others have felt as they feel.” Frederick W. Faber

“The Hebrew word shema is translated as ‘hear’ in most Jewish prayer books and in the Bible . . . . But in the translation of the Koren Siddur (Prayer Book) I have used–which is by Britain’s chief rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks–shema is rendered ‘listen.’ His explanation for this choice is instructive: ‘I have translated it here as “Listen” rather than the traditional “Hear” because listening is active, hearing is passive. The Shema is a call to an act of mind and soul, to meditate on, internalize, and affirm the oneness of God. Most civilizations have been cultures of the eye. Judaism, with its belief in the invisible God who transcends the universe, is supremely a civilization of the ear.’ The words of the Shema also remind us of the risks involved in being distracted or corrupted by visual images. As it say in the last section: ‘Remember all of the Lord’s commandments and keep them, not straying after your heart and after your eyes, following your own sinful desires’ (Numbers 15:39). There’s an important Sabbath lesson here, because the Sabbath is a day when we have the opportunity to listen to people in a way we don’t during the rest of the week. Our modern secular culture is very visual, often in unhealthy ways. Our eyes are constantly on televisions, video games, computers, email, websites, and all the rest. Many modern workers spend entire days interacting with a video screen. It separates us from the company of other people and from civil interaction and social conversations. The Sabbath forces us to pull our eyes away from the digital  flow and rejoin the natural world, where communication is accomplished mainly through human voices speaking and human ears listening. The genius of the Sabbath lies in the way it restricts us from certain activities and, thereby, frees us to experience others including conversations–big ones with God and less grand ones with our family and friends.” Joe Lieberman

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me
from among you, from your fellow Israelites.
You must listen to him.”
Deuteronomy 18:15 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you mostly active when speaking and passive when listening? Does it matter?
  • How often do you have a day that gives you space to really listen?
  • Is listening for God’s voice making you a better listener with others?

Abba, may others know they are heard by me.

For More: The Gift of Rest by Joe Lieberman

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Daily Riches: The Rhythm of Happiness (Thomas Merton and Richard Bandler)

“There is no such thing as failure, only feedback that what you’re doing is not working.” Richard Bandler

“We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling all the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life’s leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth. If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will seem silently to withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty. Let us, therefore, learn to pass from one imperfect activity to another without worrying too much about what we are missing. It is true that we make many mistakes. But the biggest of them all is to be surprised at them: as if we had some hope of never making any. Mistakes are part of our life, and not the least important part. It is by making mistakes that we gain experience, not only for ourselves but for others. And though our experience prevents neither ourselves nor others from making the same mistake many times, the repeated experience still has a positive value.” Thomas Merton

“We all stumble in many ways.”
James 3:2 NIV

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you trying to eliminate every silence in your life? . . . to refuse “less” and “slow” in order to experience more?
  • Is that working for you? Does it make sense? Does it seem like the path to happiness?
  • Are you surprised by your many mistakes? Can you forgive yourself for them? If not, what does that say about you?

Abba, help me relax about my projects and befriend my mistakes. Help me focus on joining the human race rather than winning the rat race.

For more: No Man Is An Island by Thomas Merton

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Sources: Merton, Thomas. No Man Is an Island. New York: Fall River, 2003.

 

Daily Riches: Becoming A New Person In Jesus Christ (Rowan Williams and Augustine)

“… contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom—freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that come from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative prayer is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter. …To be converted to the faith does not mean simply acquiring a new set of beliefs, but becoming a new person, a person in communion with God and others through Jesus Christ. Contemplation is an intrinsic element in this transforming process. To learn to look to God without regard to my own instant satisfaction, to learn to scrutinize and to relativise the cravings and fantasies that arise in me—this is to allow God to be God, and thus to allow the prayer of Christ, God’s own relation to God, to come alive in me. Invoking the Holy Spirit is a matter of asking the third person of the Trinity to enter my spirit and bring the clarity I need to see where I am in slavery to cravings and fantasies and to give me patience and stillness as God’s light and love penetrate my inner life. …And as this process unfolds, I become more free—to borrow a phrase of St. Augustine—to ‘love human beings in a human way,’ to love them not for what they may promise me, to love them not as if they were there to provide me with lasting safety and comfort, but as fragile fellow-creatures held in the love of God. I discover … how to see other persons and things for what they are in relation to God, not to me. And it is here that true justice as well as true love has its roots.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love …”
Ephesians 3:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If you can, please read this again. Can you see why contemplation is so important and powerful?
  • Do you regularly practice contemplation?
  • If not, do you have another practice that promises the same results?

Abba, let me be rooted and held in your love for me.

For More: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Address…” by Rowan Williams

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Thank you for following and sharing my blog. I really appreciate it! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: How Things Get Better (Helmut Gollwitzer and Dean Stroud)

“Surely we today are familiar with the disgust we feel where evil is not simply evil but rather dresses itself up in a repulsive manner as morality, where base instincts, where hate and revenge, parade about as great and good things.” Helmut Gollwitzer (Nazi Germany, 1938)

“There are enough indications alerting us to the fact that the current fronts do not fall simply into categories of guilt and innocence, black and white. We have been trapped in the same great guilt and our faces also turn red with shame and we are afflicted by a common disgrace. It is inside us all; this truth that upright men and women can turn into horrible beasts is an indication of what lies hidden within each of us to a greater or lesser degree. All of us have done our part in this: one by being a coward, another by comfortably stepping out of everyone’s way, by passing by, by being silent, by closing our eyes, by laziness of heart that only notices another’s need when it is openly apparent, by the damnable caution that lets itself be prevented from every good deed, by every disapproving glance and every threatening consequence, by the stupid hope that everything will get better on its own without our having to become courageously involved ourselves. In all these ways we are exposed as the guilty people we are, as men and women who have just enough love left over for God and our neighbor to give away when there is no effort or annoyance involved.” Gollwitzer

“In everything do to others
as you would have them do to you;
for this is the law and the prophets.”
Jesus in Matthew 7:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can upright men and women turn into “horrible beasts?” Can you hear this as an unwanted but necessary warning to you? …to your nation, tribe, political party, religion?
  • As a Christian, is there a time not to “render authority to those who rule over you”–to dissent, to practice peaceful civil disobedience? If so, can you think of some examples of such a time? If not, how will you keep from being complicit in great wrongdoing?
  • Are you hoping “everything will get better on its own” without anyone needing to act courageously?

Abba, may I never offer you or my neighbors leftovers when the need is love.

For More: Preaching in the Third Reich by Dean Stroud (ed.)

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you.  I goal is to regularly give you something of unique value in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog.  Thanks for your interest! Please leave a question or comment. – Bill

Daily Riches: The Modern Prejudice Against Joy (Friedrich Nietzsche and Tom Hodgkinson)

“Even now one is ashamed of resting, and prolonged reflection almost gives people a bad conscience. One thinks with a watch in one’s hand, even as one eats one’s midday meal while reading the latest news of the stock market; one lives as if one ‘might miss out on something.’ ‘Rather do anything than nothing’: this principle, too, is merely a string to throttle culture and good taste.  …Virtue has come to consist of doing something in less time than someone else. …How frugal our educated—and uneducated—people have become regarding ‘joy!’ How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More and more, work enlists all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a ‘need to recuperate’ and is beginning to be ashamed of itself. ‘One owes it to one’s health’—that is what people say when they are caught on an excursion into the country. Soon we may well reach the point where people can no longer give into the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Well, formerly, it was the other way around: it was work that was afflicted with the bad conscience. A person of good family used to conceal the fact that he was working if need compelled him to work. Slaves used to work, oppressed by the feeling that they were doing something contemptible. ‘Nobility and honour are attached solely to otium [leisure] and bellum [war],’ that was the ancient prejudice. Nietzsche’s point is: if we managed to remove our collective guilt about enjoying ourselves, then the culture of only taking time off when we are allowed by some outside force or by some inner self-controller might be damaged. The word leisure, incidentally, comes from the Latin licere, meaning “to be permitted.” We have given responsibility for our free time to others, and we only have ourselves to blame.” Tom Hodgkinson

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:
for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Mark 6:31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • You can see the “ancient prejudice” against work. Can you also see the modern prejudice against leisure?
  • Do you feel you need to justify days off? …recreation? …taking a walk? …a nap?
  • Would you rather “do anything than nothing?” Do you keep moving out of a sense of guilt?

Abba, break my obsession with doing and my pride in rejecting joy.

For More: How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: The Rhythmic Dance (Wayne Mueller and Geri Scazzero)

“When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest–we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms…. To surrender to the rhythms of seasons and flowerings and dormancies is to savor the secret of life itself. Many scientists believe we are ‘hard-wired’ like this, to live in rhythmic awareness, to be in and then step out, to be engrossed and then detached, to work and then to rest. It follows then that the commandment to remember the Sabbath is not a burdensome requirement from some law-giving deity—’You ought, you’d better, you must’—but rather a remembrance of a law that is firmly embedded in the fabric of nature. It is a reminder of how things really are, the rhythmic dance to which we unavoidably belong.” Wayne Mueller

“Honoring our different rhythms involves respecting and negotiating our needs and preferences at work, with friends, at church, in our marriage, our extended families, and even our parenting. To begin listening to your inner rhythms, consider the following questions: Do you know when it is time to be with people and when it is time to be alone? Do you know when it is time to rest or time to play? What are your most optimal work hours? How much sleep to you need? When is it time to eat? Is it time for you to wait on something or is it time to move on? How does the pace of our life feel? What can you do to establish an enjoyable routine and healthy balance in this season of your life? And finally, what are the one or two changes you can make in order to get more in step with your God-given inner rhythms?” Geri Scazzero

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have “rhythmic awareness?” Are you listening to your inner rhythms?
  • Can you see this as a spiritual issue? …one measure of mature faith?
  • Have you “surrendered” to the rhythms built into our world, or are you bucking them?

Abba, help me to listen to what your world, and my body, are telling me.

For More:  I Quit! by Geri Scazzero

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Thanks for reading and following my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Renunciation That Is Passivity (Eugene Peterson and Emily Dickinson)

“Sabbath is the time set aside to do nothing so that we can receive everything, to set aside our anxious attempts to make ourselves useful, to set aside our tense restlessness, to set aside our media-saturated boredom. Sabbath is the time to receive silence and let it deepen into gratitude, to receive quiet into which forgotten faces and voices unobtrusively make themselves present, to receive the days of the just completed week and absorb the wonder and miracle still reverberating from each one, to receive our Lord’s amazing grace. ….waiting provides the time and space for others to get in on salvation. Waiting calls a time-out, puts us on the sidelines for a while so that we don’t interfere with essential kingdom-of-God operations that we don’t even know are going on. Not-doing involves a means of detaching my ego, my still immature understanding of the way God works comprehensively but without forcing his way, without coercion. The restraint of passivity allows for the quiet, mostly invisible complexities and intricacies that are characteristic of the Holy Spirit as he does his work in us, in the church and in the world for whom Christ died. ‘Renunciation–the piercing virtue’ is Emily Dickinson’s phrase for it. It couldn’t have been easy for the father to not go out looking for his son the way the shepherd looked for his sheep and the woman looked for her coin.” Eugene Peterson

“The Sabbath was made for man….”
Jesus in Mark 2:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you tried setting aside time “to do nothing”–with the purpose of receiving “everything” from God? Have you made it a regular practice?
  • We stop, rest, and quiet ourselves in order to open ourselves to receive–from others, from our day, from God–what doesn’t come otherwise. Is the constant motion of your life secretly impoverishing you?
  • Renunciation is hard work. The father didn’t go out to look for his son. Think about that. What is God’s word for you in today’s reading?

Abba, help me renounce my grasping, striving, rushing–my need for noise and company–and help me receive what you are always so graciously giving.

For More:  Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to regularly share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: The Whole Scripture In It’s Briefest Form (Martin Luther)

“Here it is seen that [Christ] loved us and did everything for our benefit, in order that we may do the same, not to him, for he needs it not, but to our neighbor. This is his commandment, and this is our obedience. Christ helps us, so we in return help our neighbor, and all have enough. …if you see your neighbor going astray, sinning, or suffering in body or soul, you are to leave every thing else and at once help him in every way in your power and if you can do no more, help him with words of comfort and prayer. Thus has Christ done to you and given you an example for you to follow. …What more do you need, if indeed you know Christ, as above set forth, if you walk by faith in God, and by love to your neighbor, doing to him as Christ has done to you. This is indeed the whole Scripture in its briefest form: that no more words or books are necessary, but only life and action. Let everyone examine himself in the light of the Gospel and see how far he is from Christ, and what is the character of his faith and love. There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service, and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon Earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him?”

“This is my commandment,
that you love one another;
even as I have loved you.”
Jesus in John 15:12

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would you have done better than the residents of Bethlehem?
  • Is the way you treat the “poor, miserable, sick, erring ones” around you evidence?
  • Take some time today to think of all that Christ has done for you–where you would be without him.

Abba, may I not look away from my fellow humans in need.

For more: Watch For The Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Reflections On Keeping a Solid Center (Maria Popova)

Three great insights from Maria Popova:

  • “Build pockets of stillness into your life. Meditate. Go for walks. Ride your bike going nowhere in particular. There is a creative purpose to daydreaming, even to boredom. The best ideas come to us when we stop actively trying to coax the muse into manifesting and let the fragments of experience float around our unconscious mind in order to click into new combinations. Without this essential stage of unconscious processing, the entire flow of the creative process is broken. Most important, sleep. Besides being the greatest creative aphrodisiac, sleep also affects our every waking moment, dictates our social rhythm, and even mediates our negative moods. Be as religious and disciplined about your sleep as you are about your work. We tend to wear our ability to get by on little sleep as some sort of badge of honor that validates our work ethic. But what it really is is a profound failure of self-respect and of priorities. What could possibly be more important than your health and your sanity, from which all else springs?
  • “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time. …it’s hard to better capture something so fundamental yet so impatiently overlooked in our culture of immediacy. The myth of the overnight success is just that—a myth—as well as a reminder that our present definition of success needs serious retuning. As I’ve reflected elsewhere, the flower doesn’t go from bud to blossom in one spritely burst and yet, as a culture, we’re disinterested in the tedium of the blossoming. But that’s where all the real magic unfolds in the making of one’s character and destiny.
  • “Don’t just resist cynicism—fight it actively. Fight it in yourself, for this ungainly beast lays dormant in each of us, and counter it in those you love and engage with, by modeling its opposite. Cynicism often masquerades as nobler faculties and dispositions, but is categorically inferior. Unlike that great Rilkean life-expanding doubt, it is a contracting force. Unlike critical thinking, that pillar of reason and necessary counterpart to hope, it is inherently uncreative, unconstructive, and spiritually corrosive. Life, like the universe itself, tolerates no stasis—in the absence of growth, decay usurps the order. Like all forms of destruction, cynicism is infinitely easier and lazier than construction. There is nothing more difficult yet more gratifying in our society than living with sincerity and acting from a place of largehearted, constructive, rational faith in the human spirit, continually bending toward growth and betterment. This remains the most potent antidote to cynicism. Today, especially, it is an act of courage and resistance.” Maria Popova

“Wisdom shouts in the streets.
She cries out in the public square.”
Proverbs 1:20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Where is God nudging you in what you just read?
  • Where have you forgotten the obvious?
  • Where do you need to practice “courage and resistance?”
  • Can you receive this “wisdom from the street” even though it doesn’t come with chapter and verse?

Abba, lead me into a largehearted, constructive life, continually bending toward growth and betterment.

For More: “Brain Pickings” by Maria Popova

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Thanks for reading/sharing my (atypically long) blog! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Entering The Realm of Virgin Territory (Loretta Ross-Gotta)

“What matters in the deeper experience of contemplation is not the doing and accomplishing. What matters is relationship, the being with. We create holy ground and give birth to Christ in our time not by doing but by believing and by loving the mysterious Infinite One who stirs within. This requires trust that something of great and saving importance is growing and kicking its heels in you. The angel summoned Mary, betrothed to Joseph, from the rather safe place of conventional wisdom to a realm where few of the old rules would make much sense. She entered that unknown called ‘virgin territory.’  She was on her own there. No one else could judge for her the validity of her experience. She can measure her reality against Scripture, the teachings of her tradition, her reason and intellect, and the counsel of wise friends.  But finally it is up to her. …God asks us to give away everything of ourselves. The gift of greatest efficacy and power that we can offer God and creation is not our skills, gifts, abilities, and possessions. The wise men had their gold, frankincense, and myrrh, Paul and Peter had their preaching. Mary offered only space, love, belief. What is it that delivers Christ into the world—preaching, art, writing, scholarship, social justice? Those are all gifts well worth sharing. But preachers lose their charisma, scholarship grows pedantic, social justice alone cannot save us. In the end, when all other human gifts have met their inevitable limitation, it is … the bold virgin with a heart in love with God who makes a sanctuary of her life, who delivers Christ who then delivers us. Try it. Leave behind your briefcase and notes and proof texts. Leave behind your honed skills and knowledge. Leave the Christmas decorations up in the attic. Go to someone in need and say, “Here, all I have is Christ.” And find out that that is enough.” Loretta Ross-Gotta

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant.
May everything you have said about me come true.’”
Luke 1:38

Moving From Head to Heart

  • If you gave your “skills, gifts, abilities, and possessions” to God–how could that not be the ultimate gift?
  • Have you considered the “inevitable limitation” of any gifts you could give to God? …to others?
  • How could you practice ministering with an “all I have is Christ” approach this advent season? Would that be “virgin territory” for you?

Abba, help me to believe that Christ is enough.

For more: Letters From the Holy Ground by Loretta Ross-Gotta

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: You Give Them Something to Eat (Rachel Held Evans and Pope Francis)

“[Millennials are] tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for …not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask. …Millennials aren’t looking for a hipper Christianity …We’re looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity. …we’re looking for Jesus–the same Jesus who can be found in the strange places he’s always been found: in bread, in wine, in baptism, in the Word, in suffering, in community, and among the least of these.” Rachel Held Evans

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. …More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).” Pope Francis

“‘Send the crowds away
so they can go to the nearby farms and villages
and buy something to eat.’
But Jesus said,
‘You feed them.’ ”
Mark 6:35-36

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your church focused on “starving people” or mostly on blessing members?
  • Can people talk about difficult topics (religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, social justice)? Is conversation characterized by loving listening and allowance of diverse opinion? Is doubt permitted?
  • Are church people leaving their comfort zones to minister–and sometimes getting bruised, hurt or dirty in the process–or is there a culture of “playing it safe?”

Abba, help me find Jesus in all the “strange places”–as I meet him there anew.

For More: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. My goal is to give you something of real value in 400 words or less. Thanks for reading /sharing my blog. I appreciate your interest! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

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