Daily Riches: Jesus and His Convulsive Earthquake (Brennan Manning and Thomas Merton)

“Jesus Christ has irreparably changed the world. When preached purely, His Word exalts, frightens, shocks, and forces us to reassess our whole life. The gospel breaks our train of thought, shatters our comfortable piety, and cracks open our capsule truths. The flashing spirit of Jesus Christ breaks new paths everywhere. His sentences stand like quivering swords of flame because He did not come to bring peace, but a revolution. The gospel is not a children’s fairy tale, but rather a cutting-edge, rolling-thunder, convulsive earthquake in the world of the human spirit. By entering human history, God has demolished all previous conceptions of who God is and what man is supposed to be. We are, suddenly, presented with a God who suffers crucifixion. This is not the God of the philosophers who speak with cool detachment about the Supreme Being. A Supreme Being would never allow spit on his face. It is jarring indeed to learn that what He went through in His passion and death is meant for us too; that the invitation He extends is Don’t weep for Me! Join Me! The life He has planned for Christians is a life much like He lived. He was not poor that we might be rich. He was not mocked that we might be honored. He was not laughed at so that we would be lauded. On the contrary, He revealed a picture meant to include you and me.” Brennan Manning

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth!
I came not to bring peace, but a sword.”
Jesus, in Matthew 10:34

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is yours a “comfortable piety?”
  • Is the “convulsive earthquake” of Jesus continuing with you?
  • Do you need to reacquaint yourself with Jesus of the gospels?

Why should I want to be rich, when You were poor? Why should I desire to be famous and powerful in the eyes of men, when the sons of those who exalted the false prophets and stoned the true rejected You and Nailed You to the Cross? …My hope is in what the eye has never seen. Therefore, let me not trust in visible rewards. My hope is in what the heart of man cannot feel. Therefore let me not trust in the feelings of my heart. My hope is in what the hand of man has never touched. Do not let me trust what I can grasp between my fingers. Death will loosen my grasp and my vain hope will be gone. Let my trust be in Your mercy, not in myself. Let my hope be in Your love, not in health, or strength, or ability or human resources. –  Thomas Merton

For More: The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning

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Thanks for reading/sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Fearing God, Loving God (Thomas Merton, Evagrios of Pontos and Scott Cairns)

“If you come to know your own measure, you will taste a sweeter sorrow, and will say, as Isaiah said, I am a miserable wretch. You know you are impure, your very lips have been defiled, and you stand among a horde of scheming rebel ingrates. And yet, you dare to stand before the God of the righteous.” Evagrios of Pontos

“Fear [what the Fathers called ‘holy fear’] is the knowledge of ourselves in the presence of God’s holiness. It is the knowledge of ourselves in His love, and it sees how far we are from being what His love would have us be. It knows Who He is and who we are! But fear that is holy cannot fear love. It fears the discrepancy between itself and love, and flies to hide itself in the abyss of light which is God’s love and His perfection.” Thomas Merton

“When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’ The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.” Exodus 20:18-21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you manage to “fear God” and yet “not be afraid of God?” (Exodus 20)
  • Does “fear of God” work in your life to discourage you from sinning?
  • Have you seen clearly “how far” you are from being what God’s love would have you be?
  • When you sense that great distance, can you fly to hide yourself in “the light which is God’s love?”

Abba, work in me a proper, sanctifying fear of rebellion, of degradation, of alienation from you – and draw me, welcome me and shelter me in your love.

For More: Endless Life: poems of the mystics (Adaptions and Translations) by Scott Cairns

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to 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)

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

Daily Riches: The Quiet Member of the Trinity (Thomas Merton)

“It is generally safe to say that noise and turmoil in the interior life are signs that proceed from our own emotion or from some spirit that is anything but holy. The inspirations of the Holy Ghost are quiet, for God speaks in the silent depths of the spirit. His voice brings peace. It does not arouse excitement, but allays it because excitement belongs to uncertainty. The voice of God is certitude. If he moves us to action, we go forward with peaceful strength. More often than not his inspirations teach us to sit still. They show us the emptiness and confusion of projects we thought we had undertaken for his glory. He saves us from the impulses that would throw us into wild competition with other men. He delivers us from ambition. The Holy Spirit is most easily recognized where he inspires obedience and humility. No one really knows Him who has not tasted the tranquillity that comes from the renunciation of our own will, our own pleasure, our own interests, without glory, without notice, without approval, for the interests of some other person. The inspirations of the Spirit of God are not grandiose. They are simple. They move us to see God in works that are difficult without being spectacular.” Thomas Merton

“you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” John 14:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware of the seemingly universal tendancy to look for the Holy Spirit in what is “grandiose” and “spectacular?” What might be missed doing that?
  • Are you accustomed to the Holy Spirit telling you to “sit still?” Are you able to identify the dark side of “ambition?”
  • Do you minister and make sacrifices for others even when it will certainly be “without glory, without notice, without approval?”
  • How do you protect yourself from “noise and turmoil in the interior life?”

“Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.”

George Croly

For More: The Ascent to Truth by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to 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)

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

Daily Riches: Where Busyness is a Fetish (Mark Buchanan, Marva Dawn, Eugene Peterson, Tim Keller and Pete Scazzero)

“In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God: the rest he invites us to enter more fully so that we might know him more deeply. ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still. Sabbath is both a day and an attitude to nurture such stillness. It is both time on a calendar and a disposition of the heart. It is a day we enter, but just as much a way we see. Sabbath imparts the rest of God—actual physical, mental, spiritual rest, but also the rest of God—the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.” Mark Buchanan

“A great benefit of Sabbath keeping is that we learn to let God take care of us—not by becoming passive and lazy, but in the freedom of giving up our feeble attempts to be God in our own lives.” Marva J. Dawn

“If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re being too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week, and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything.” Eugene H. Peterson

“You cannot have a proper work theology unless you have a proper rest theology.” Tim Keller

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
‘Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.
In quietness and confidence is your strength.
But you would have none of it.’”
Isaiah 30:15

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you positioned to receive what cannot be obtained by pursuing? What might you be missing because of busyness and hurry?
  • Are you gradually being freed from your “feeble attempts” to be God in your own life? Are you learning to let God take care of you?
  • Do you have a “rest theology?” Are you running on fumes? How often do you bring your “best self” to the task or relationship?
  • Is whatever you’re doing now helping you “to know God more deeply?” Why not block out a day soon to “stop, rest, delight and contemplate” (Pete Scazzero), and see what a difference that can make?

Abba, help me live my theology of rest.

For More: The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath by Mark Buchanan

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and God seeks after you. My goal is to share something of unique value with you in 400 words or less. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. Please feel free to leave a comment or question. – Bill

Daily Riches: A Life Uncluttered By Ambition (Wayne Simsic, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, St. Francis)

“Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Responding to God’s presence like a child who trusted completely in a loving Parent, his relationship with God was spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation. Rather than promote his own agenda or hide behind fear, anxiousness, and other barriers to trust, [Saint] Francis humbly accepted the mystery of his life and relied on the guidance of the Spirit.” Wayne Simsic

“At some point when we’ve made ourselves available for service to God–for some kind of ministry or other–the question will arise, ‘Is this the best use of my time?’ It’s at the same time an unsurprising and provocative query. And just look at what underlies that question: ego, drivenness, a sense of hurry–striving. But in truth, as Francis demonstrated, it’s not necessary to keep busy. It’s necessary to ‘trust completely.’ It’s not necessary to accomplish anything. It’s necessary to ‘humbly accept the mystery of my life.’ It’s not necessary to be productive. It’s necessary to ‘rely on the guidance of the Spirit.’ My time is not so valuable. I’m not so necessary as I think. Any equation will be essentially unchanged by my absence. The way of St. Francis, ‘spontaneous, uncluttered by ambition and calculation’ rebukes my anxious way–my craving for an agenda, my insistence on significance. And Bonhoeffer’s insight is critical: ‘keeping quiet’–seemingly doing nothing, accomplishing nothing, producing nothing, is not only essential, but if ignored leads only to fruitlessness and folly. The ego always lurks nearby, insidious, subtly undoing the best intentions. Both St. Francis and Bonhoeffer insisted upon, and themselves lived, a contemplative life of faith–a life of ‘keeping quiet’ and ‘making time for God.’ Only such lives create a spaciousness where God can meet us in our folly, take us again into the clutch of his parental love, and purify us–making us useful after all.” William Britton

“I do not even judge myself.”
1 Corinthians 4:3
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • How often are you aware of unconscious forces that affect your behavior? (e.g., ambition, drivenness, ego)
  • Does your behavior show that you grant too much importance to being “productive?” (Are you ever hurrying, obsessed with “calculation?”)
  • How can you practice humbly accepting “the mystery of this life” and relying on the “guidance of the Spirit?” How might that redefine “success?”

Abba, in the midst of my folly, meet me in your love, and purify me.

For More: The Wisdom of St. Francis by Wayne Simsic

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Thanks for reading and sharing my blog! Please pray for God’s blessing on this ministry. – Bill

Daily Riches: Never a Man Like This (Dorothy Sayers and Sara Bessey)

“What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.” Dorothy Sayers

“Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were … last at the Cross [and first at the tomb!]. They had never known a man like this Man–there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them … who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unself-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about woman’s nature.” Dorothy Sayers

“After years of reading the Gospels and the full canon of Scripture, here is, very simply, what I learned about Jesus and the ladies: he loves us. He loves us. On our own terms. He treats us as equals to the men around him; he listens; he does not belittle; he honors us; he challenges us; he teaches us; he includes us—calls us all beloved. Gloriously, this flies in the face of the cultural expectations of his time—and even our own time. Scholar David Joel Hamilton calls Jesus’ words and actions toward women ‘controversial, provocative, even revolutionary.'”  Sara Bessey

“Women aged fifteen through forty-five are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined. One-third of women face abuse at home. …in most countries, between 30 and 60 percent of women had experienced physical or sexual violence by a husband or a boyfriend. Up to 70 percent of female murder victims are killed by their male partners.” Bessey

“So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.”
Genesis 1:27

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you automatically see a women first as “a member of a class and not an individual” …made in God’s image?
  • Does the kind of love-of-women Jesus demonstrated characterize your family? Is it a value preached in your church?
  • Men, is your goal to be “a man like this man”–like Jesus–who prizes and honors women?

Abba, help me be more like Jesus in my relationships with women.

For More: Jesus Feminist by Sara Bessey

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: The “Benedictine Century” (Joan Chittister)

“The Rule of Benedict was a spiritual document written for males raised in Imperial Rome. But to Roman men in the patriarchal culture who were trained that domination and status and power were their birthright and their purpose in life, the Rule insisted on new ideals: humility, listening, community, equality, and service. …Benedictine spirituality, then, is first and foremost a practical way to live the good news of the gospel today. This society is a complex, consumer society; we can be simple. We can reverence creation. We can refuse to have one thing more than we need. …We can refuse to keep anything we are not using. We can give one thing away for every one thing we receive. …This society exploits. It breaks the back of sugar workers; it destroys farm workers; it wipes out the working person; it discards the middle-aged and forgets the elderly. We can minister to the world by calling for justice. This society dominates and is selfish and has it’s own goals as the inner force of its life. We can be community. We can say by our lives that there are times when it is important for us to step back in life so that others can gain. This society depends on power. We can practice the power of the powerless who show us all how little it really takes to live, how rich life is without riches, how strong are those who cannot be owned…. We can be the voice of those who are not heard and the hands of those who have no bread and the family of those who are alone and the strength of those who are weak. We can be the sign of human community. Finally, this society is anxious and angry and noisy. We can be contemplative. In the midst of chaos, if the Scripture is in our hearts, if we are faithful to lectio, if we build the Jesus-life in our own souls, we can see God where God is. Everywhere. Those are the elements of Benedictine vision that saved the Western world over the centuries again and again and again. Then they can save us from ourselves once more.” Joan Chittister

“even more blessed
are all who hear the word of God
and put it into practice.”
Jesus in Luke 11:28

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Was God speaking to you at some point in this reading?
  • Do you long to be part of such a community of faith?
  • Have you adopted a “rule of life” which guides your practice of these ideals of Jesus?

Abba, change me as I rediscover and embrace these ancient ideals.

For More: Wisdom Distilled From the Daily by John Chittister

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Thanks for reading and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Left Only With Neighbors (Preston Sprinkle, Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King)

“The church believes in only one violence, that of Christ, who was nailed to the cross.” Oscar Romero

“For early Christians, enemy-love was the hallmark of what it meant to believe in Jesus. …Unless you love your enemy, you actually don’t love your neighbor. …When Jesus talks about His suffering on the cross, He often commands His followers to do the same: ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ (Matt. 16: 24). Jesus suffers injustice on a Roman cross to die for sin, but He also intends it to be a nonviolent pattern for us to follow. When Jesus washes His disciples’ feet—even the feet of His betrayer—He tells His followers to do the same: ‘I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you’ (John 13: 15).  …Jesus rebukes James and John for their thirst for violent retaliation (Luke 9: 51– 56), encourages His followers to endure patiently when violently attacked (Mark 13: 9– 13), and disarms Peter when he violently resists evil by hacking off the ear of a man trying to arrest Jesus. ‘Put your sword back into its place,’ …Nonviolence is the astonishing rhythm of Christianity ….The Sermon on the Mount constitutes Jesus’s radical kingdom ethic. Heads will turn as we turn our cheeks. Our inexplicable behavior will call attention to our inexplicable God. Light will beam across our dark world as we love the spouses who don’t love us back, keep our word when it hurts, judge ourselves rather than others, and—most shockingly—love our enemies who are harming us. When we are cursed, we bless. When we are hated, we love. When we are robbed, we give. And when we are struck, we don’t strike back with violence. A person who chooses to love his or her enemies can have no enemies. That person is left only with neighbors.” Preston Sprinkle

“Negroes who engage in the demonstrations and who understand nonviolent philosophy will be able to face dogs and all of the other brutal methods that are used without retaliating with violence because they understand that one of the first principles of nonviolence is the willingness to be the recipient of violence while never inflicting violence upon another.” Martin Luther King

“For all who take the sword
will perish by the sword.”
Matthew 26: 52

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think of nonviolence as “the astonishing rhythm of Christianity?” …as the way of Jesus?
  • Could you be “the recipient of violence” while refusing to inflict violence upon another?
  • Is enemy-love the “hallmark” of your Christianity?

Abba, grant me to have no enemies, only neighbors.

For More: Fight by Preston Sprinkle

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I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: Only Stopping Will Do (A. W. Tozer, Dallas Willard)

It’s not enough to believe in silence, solitude and stillness. These things must be experienced–practiced. And practiced often enough to be routine, to create new habits–new pathways. And so I come to a full stop. I sit quietly. Nothing else. I don’t petition God. I don’t give thanks. I don’t meditate on some problem, verse or divine attribute. I don’t count my blessings. I don’t look out the window in wonder–or any number of other important things I might otherwise do. Not now. Not yet. Because, unless I can somehow first remember that it doesn’t depend on me, unless I can remember that I can’t do what needs to be done, then all is lost. And until I actually do this every day, numerous times throughout the day, there is little hope that I will ever learn to do it at all. Everything argues against stopping: the to-do list, the desire to be productive, the expectations of others, ego, habit, and so on. And therefore, ruthlessness is required in establishing new habits, new intentions, new ways of understanding my day, my life–indeed, my importance. And I do have intrinsic importance. I have the potential to be used in this world in important ways–but I squander that potential by flitting from one thing to the next without stopping to push back illusions. After all, these kenotic moments are the most important of the day. Nothing else will be so formative, and informative, for my day. Nothing else will save me from myself. Nothing else will prepare me to attend to God and others, and to what’s going on with me throughout the day. Would it be more important to take these moments to love my spouse, to feed a homeless child, to memorize Scripture or engage in worship? No, for unless I first submit to utter inactivity, I cannot trust my actual activity to be of any use to anyone–including, and especially, God. No-one needs my hurried self–the one that to me seems so indispensable–my egotistical self that sees itself at the center–as essential. Something must be done. Only stopping will do.

“God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which he must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.” A. W. Tozer

“He who believes will not be
in haste.”
Isaiah 28:16

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “in haste?” If so, why?
  • Are you attempting to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life?” (Dallas Willard)
  • Have you established practices to insure that you stop as you should?

Abba, may my stillness release your divine action.

For More: The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer

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Thanks for following and sharing this blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: With Passion Withheld and Devotion Impaired (Margaret Clarkson and Walter Brueggemann)

In the course of her life, Margaret Clarkson became intimately acquainted with pain. She suffered initially with “migraines, accompanied by convulsive vomiting, and then arthritis—two ailments that accompanied her continually. In Destined for Glory, she related sadly that her mother told her that her first words were ‘my head hurts.’ At age three …she contracted juvenile arthritis and became bed bound. She recalled the pain as well as the bald spot worn on the back of her head from lying in bed so long.” …And that was just the beginning of a difficult life of loneliness, financial strain and disappointment. Through it all, Clarkson also developed an intimacy with God, and a transformative perspective on Christian ministry. Her hymn “So Send I You” has been called the greatest missionary hymn of the twentieth century.

.

“So send I you–to labor unrewarded,
To serve unpaid, unloved, unsought, unknown,
To bear rebuke, to suffer scorn and scoffing,
So send I you to toil for me alone.

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“So send I you–to bind the bruised and broken,

o’er wandering souls to work, to weep, to wake,

to bear the burdens of a world a’weary

So send I you to suffer for My sake.

.

“So send I you–to loneliness and longing,
With heart a-hungering for the loved and known;
Forsaking home and kindred, friend and dear one,
So send I you to know my love alone.

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“So send I you–to leave your life’s ambitions,
To die to dear desire, self-will resign,
To labor long and love where men revile you,
So send I you to lose your life in mine.

.

“As the Father has sent me,

So send I you.”

“So Send I You” by Margaret Clarkson

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“But we confess…
we love you imperfectly;
we love you with a divided heart,
with a thousand other loves
that are more compelling,
with reservation and qualification,
and passion withheld and
devotion impaired.”
Walter Brueggemann

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“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
Jesus in John 20:21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • I was trying to imagine how this hymn would be received in church today. Can you?
  • “To leave your life’s ambitions, to die to dear desire, self-will resign, to labor long and love where men revile you”–is there room in our idea of ministry for this today? What emotions do these words stir up in you?
  • Are we hoping to be useful to God “with passion withheld and devotion impaired”–as “a privileged people?”

Abba, may I give myself for you, as you gave yourself for me–without reservation.

For More: Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann

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

Daily Riches: Leaving Church? (Rachel Held Evans)

“Writing Searching for Sunday forced me to consider that perhaps real maturity is exhibited not in thinking myself above other Christians and organized religion, but in humbly recognizing the reality that I can’t escape my own cultural situatedness and life experiences, nor do I want to escape the good gift of my (dysfunctional, beautiful, necessary) faith community. This consideration made the writing process infinitely more difficult and infinitely more rewarding. I suspect it is having the same effect on my faith. The truth is, I am a Christian, which means I am religious. And I am an American, which means my Christianity is profoundly affected by privilege, by Western philosophy, by 17th century Puritanism, and by Psalty the Singing Songbook. My American Christian heritage includes both Martin Luther King Jr. and the white segregationists who opposed him–a reality that is both empowering and uncomfortable, but one I can’t escape, one I want to look squarely in the eyes. Loving the Church means both critiquing it and celebrating it. We don’t have to choose between those two things. But we cannot imagine ourselves to be so far above the Church that we are not a part of it. Like it or not, those of us who continue to follow Jesus will have to do so with our adopted siblings by our side. Yes, we are called to grow and mature, and yes, our convictions and denominational affiliations will likely change, but I’ve found I’m a better writer—and a better person—when I’m more focused on outgrowing the old me than I am on outgrowing other people in my community. After all, this is Kingdom growth. There aren’t ladders, only trellises.” Rachel Held Evans

“I will build my church,
and all the powers of hell
will not conquer it.”
Jesus, Matthew 16:18
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Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you decided you must either only celebrate or critique the church?
  • “Those of us who continue to follow Jesus will have to do so with our adopted siblings by our side.” Hasn’t this always been the hard but inescapable reality about the church? It’s often hard to bear with others–but then remember that old joke: “If you find a perfect church, don’t go there. You’ll only ruin it!” Are you trying to escape inescapable reality?
  • Are you focused more on “outgrowing the old you” than you are on “outgrowing other people in your community?” If not, why not?

Loving Lord who loves us, teach us to love one another.

For More: Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. I truly appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Galumphing at God’s Heels (William J. O’Malley, and Matt Groening)

“The big black Lab galumphs beside me as I walk,
tongue lolling, eyes intent upon the stick.
He’s submissive to my whistle, not my trifling talk,
nor well-wrought reasons, much less rhetoric.
He trots ahead and turns, impatient for the throw,
snaps off a bark, then lumbers halfway back.
He cocks his head and huffs to tell me I’m too slow.
I throw and off he goes, a blur of black.
The world exists for him: the stick, the roadside, me.
We’re here to serve his simple solipsism.
Except for unpredictable caprice, he’s free,
without the humbling need for baptism.
 .
“To save him from a truck, I choke his collar short.
What earthly link? That noise, this loss of breath?
He punctuates his protest with a snort;
until they meet, no need to ponder death.
What a narrow scope of truth his mind explores:
betrayal, hunger, curiosity.
He knows my mind about as I do yours;
my thoughts as closed to him as yours to me.
How humbling to confront one’s hubris, open-eyed,
to fathom what this big black mongrel feels.
I’d thought that you and I were striding side by side,
when all the time I was galumphing at your heels.”
William J. O’Malley
 .
 “When I was a child, I used to talk, think, argue like a child–who has
just enough grasp of the truth to be thoroughly confused.
When I grew up, I was somewhat better than that, but hardly perfect.
I still see God through a smear of distorting glass.
Ah! but then we will see God face-to-face!
Now I know God so incompletely; then,
I will know God through and through, as God knows me now.”
1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (O’Malley paraphrase)
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Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Remember when Bart tries to explain to “Santa’s Little Helper”, how his disobedience is leading to trouble? The dog wants to please, but just can’t understand. He hears only noise, thinks only of food. Imagine the challenge God has in explaining things to you.
  • None of us are “striding side by side” with God – just “galumphing at [His] heels.” Have you made peace with this sometimes painful reality?

Abba, I’m no longer thoroughly confused but I still don’t really understand myself or you. I look forward to when I will know you “as you know me now.”

For More: Daily Prayers for Busy People by William J. O’Malley

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

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

Daily Riches: Laughter and Taking Your Proper Place in the Universe (James Martin, Karl Rahner, and David Robb)

“If people don’t have some lightness in their lives then they end up taking themselves too seriously and are unable to move outside themselves. And a great deal of spirituality lies in putting yourself in an appropriate place in the universe. Those who can laugh at themselves can also look at themselves critically, but not harshly, a key element of emotional growth.” David Robb

“The truly holy are humble because they know their place before God. But how, with our accomplishments and our egos, especially in a culture that tells us that we have to be on top, to be number one, to be successful, do we keep that humility before us? Self-deprecating humor … is one way to do this. Laughing at yourself, not taking yourself too seriously, not making every situation about you, not demanding that life adjust itself to suit your needs, and laughing at yourself when you forget all this are good places to start.” James Martin

“Laugh. For this laughter is an acknowledgment that you are a human being. An acknowledgment that is itself the beginning of the acknowledgment of God. For how else is a person to acknowledge God except for admitting in his life and by means of his life that he himself is not God but a creature that has his times – a time to weep and a time to laugh, and the one is not the other. A praising of God is what laughter is, because it lets a human being be human.” Karl Rahner

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”
Psalm 126:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is laughter in your repertoire? If so, how does it help you keep things in perspective?
  • If you can laugh at yourself, you can look at yourself “critically, but not harshly [which is] a key element of emotional growth.” Can you laugh at yourself?
  • It’s not about you. You’re not in control. Can you laugh at yourself “when you forget all this” and let humor bring you back to your senses and proper “place before God?”

Abba, keep me from taking myself or others too seriously. As your people, may our mouths be filled with laughter.

For More: Between Heaven and Mirth by James Martin

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

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

Daily Riches: How the Poor Bless Us (Bob McCahill, Thomas Merton, Eduardo Galeano)

“The mask that each man wears may well be a disguise not only for that man’s inner self but for God, wandering as a pilgrim and exile in His own creation.” Thomas Merton

“It seems to me that the poor evangelize us by giving us various types of good example. They instruct us in patience by their patience under adversity. They edify us by their uncomplaining struggles. They inspire us by undergoing suffering without becoming bitter. They encourage us to face our own problems more bravely by grappling with the pain in their lives. They teach us about the simplicity with which one can live a human life. They offer us a good model for prayer life by their dependence on God: that is, in times of great need they look to God before all else. They do not appeal to God secondly or lastly after other possibilities have failed them. When we witness their efforts to survive with dignity amidst the hardships they constantly encounter, they help us to put into perspective our own overblown problems. Through the struggling poor we begin to understand how good God is to us and how stingy we are with our thanksgiving to God. If we think about them deeply enough, they put us to shame, for, though they are oppressed, they can still laugh and sing.” Bob McCahill

“I don’t believe in charity; I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it’s humiliating. It goes from top to bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.”  Eduardo Galeano

“You say, ‘I am rich;
I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’
But you do not realize
that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Jesus in Revelation 3:17

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have poor people helped you to realize how poor you are? …how good God is to you? …how “stingy” you are with your thanksgiving to God? What else?
  • Do you think of your relationship to the poor in terms of “solidarity?” What would that mean?
  • Jesus wandered as a poor man, in disguise among his own creation. Does remembering that help you love those who are poor?

Abba, use your poor to show me the way and to bless me as I attempt to bless them.

For More: A Dialogue of Life by Bob McCahill

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

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

Daily Riches: The Necessary Union of Contemplation and Activism (Pete Scazzero, Mother Teresa and Stephen W. Smith)

“Paradoxically, the ability to be alone is the condition for the ability to love.” Erich Fromm

“In Stephen W. Smith’s recent book, Inside Job, he cites the Rule of Life Mother Teresa laid down for her nuns in their work among the sick and dying in Calcutta:

The Sisters shall spend 1 day in every week, 1 week in every month,
1 month in every year, 1 year in every 6 years in the Motherhouse,
where in contemplation and penance together with solitude she can
gather in the spiritual strength, which she might have used up in the
service of the poor.

“Imagine 1 Sabbath day every week, 1 Sabbath week every month, 1 Sabbath month every year, and 1 Sabbath year every 7 years. …Every one of us ministers among the sick and dying. Yet we consistently underestimate how much emotional/spiritual life is flowing out from us. If we are going to have the kind of impact Mother Teresa had, it will require we do less, not more. …Remember, we cannot give what we do not possess….” Pete Scazzero

“God is the friend of silence. His language is silence. And he requires us to be silent to discover him. We need, therefore, silence to be alone with God, to speak to him, to listen to him and to ponder his words deep in our hearts. We need to be alone with God in silence to be renewed and to be transformed. For silence can give us a new outlook on life. In it we are filled with the grace of God, which makes us do all things with joy.” Mother Teresa

“But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster,
and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
Jesus in Luke 5:15,16

Moving From the Head to the Heart (Scazzero questions)

  • How aware are you of the life that is flowing out of you to others?
  • Our bodies are major, not minor prophets. If your body could speak, what would it be saying to you about the pace of your life today?
  • Are your daily rhythms sufficient for what God has placed before you (Mother Teresa’s nuns spend 3 hours a day in fixed hour prayer)?
  • What adjustments might God be inviting you to make in your weekly, monthly, and annual rhythms?  Often what worked for us in one season (e.g. last year) is not sufficient for the season we are in this year.

Jesus, may I live so that life flows into me from you and out of me to others.

For More: Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa

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If you liked this, please share it! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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