Daily Riches: Listen to Your Insecurity (Alicia Britt Chole, Jeremy Taylor, Gerald May)

“[ A] religion without mystery must be a religion without God.” Jeremy Taylor

“Uncertainty is quite revealing. The unknown triggers different reactions in different hearts and exposes our souls’ defaults. Ambiguity reveals where we instinctively go to feel the illusion of security again. In response to a yet-unnamed but imminent storm, some hide, some run, some live in denial, some escape into fictional worlds, some feast, and some stake out their territory. The latter we see in John and James’s response to Jesus’ continued cross-talk. [Mark 10:32-40] All the uncertainty triggered something deep within the brothers. As they wrestled with the seemingly mixed messages of Jesus as Messiah and Jesus crucified, they reasoned it was time to take control. …To change our defaults we must first address our theology of uncertainty. And to address our theology of uncertainty, we must first befriend mystery. …Mystery is a given for relationship between the Infinite and the finite. As we follow Jesus into uncertainty, we are free, in the words of Gerald G. May, to ‘join the dance of life in fullness without having a clue about what the steps are.’ …Today, pay attention to avoidance mechanisms that surface when you face the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable, or unavoidable. Do you eat more? Sleep more? Domineer more? Disappear more? Why? Ask God’s Holy Spirit to sensitize you today to the existence of avoidance defaults in your life. Prayerfully consider what beliefs might underlie any avoidance that emerges when you are facing uncertainty. Return to John the Baptist’s words, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ (John 3:30 NASB), and consider what relevance John’s wisdom might have as a guide through the unknown.” Alicia Britt Chole

“Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.
If you wish, I will put up three shelters—
one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’”
Matthew 17:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • How do you tend to respond to uncertainty? Do you somehow try to banish it? …to take control? …to otherwise distract yourself?
  • Do you crave certainty when it comes to your beliefs, your relationships? What does your answer reveal about you?
  • Imagine how life with Jesus forced his disciples to learn to “befriend mystery.” Is something like that happening with you?

Abba, make we aware of when I’m simply attempting to avoid uncertainty, and teach me to befriend mystery.

For More:  40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. by Alicia Britt Chole

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

 

Daily Riches: Silence Shall Be My Answer (Oswald Chambers, John Keats and and Thomas Merton)

“When God gets us alone through suffering, heartbreak, temptation, disappointment, sickness, or by thwarted desires, a broken friendship, or a new friendship–when He gets us absolutely alone, and we are totally speechless, unable to ask even one question, then He begins to teach us. …Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.” Oswald Chambers

“Negative capability … is being capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” John Keats [In this regard] “I am reminded of a Zadie Smith quote on Shakespeare in her essay Speaking in Tongues, in which she praises Shakespeare for “understanding what fierce, singular certainty creates and what it destroys.” J. M. Coetzee

“Questions arrive, assume their actuality, and also disappear. In this hour I shall cease to ask them and silence shall be my answer.” Thomas Merton

“Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul;
Like a weaned child with his mother,
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Psalm 131:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you come to the place where (at least sometimes, in some measure) you can be “alone with God?”
  • Are you “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries [and] doubts?” …refusing to reach for the security of dualistic or binary thinking? …for the “security” of “fact and reason?”
  • How does certainty help you–what does it create for you? How does certainty hurt you–what does it destroy for you?

Abba, silence shall be my answer.

For More:  Entering the Silence by Thomas Merton

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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! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Music–The Best Therapy (William Cowper, Teresa of Avila, William and Randy Peterson)

“William Cowper, whose poems appear in most collections of great English literature, was beset with emotional problems throughout his life. His mother died when he was six, at school he was teased and ridiculed, and his father prevented him from marrying the girl he loved. Forced to study law, he panicked when he learned he would have his bar exam before the House of Lords–and tried to commit suicide. After a year in an insane asylum, he was released into the care of a Christian couple. It seemed that hymnwriting was the best therapy Cowper could get. But mental illness continued to plague the poet, and he frequently lapsed into deep depression. You can almost see his self-portrait [below] in the ‘fearful saints’ who need to take ‘fresh courage’ in the future blessings of God. Intellectually he knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” William and Randy Peterson

“God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense.
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

“His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

“Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain.”

William Cowper

“Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away. God never changes.
Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, from her bookmark

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.”
Psalm 62:5-6

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Both Cowper and Teresa are “talking to themselves”–like the psalmist. Do you talk to yourself? What do you say?
  • “Intellectually [Cowper] knew the truth of these lines, but emotionally he was still trying to grasp it.” Isn’t that often our experience as well? And what would you say was the truth of those lines?
  • The story refuses a typical happy ending. Cowper still suffered. He still struggled. Is there space in your view of the life of faith for that? …for people like that? …for yourself, when you’re like that?

Abba, thank you for the therapy of music.

For More: The One Year Book of Hymns, edited by Brown and Norton

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: A Sense of the Mystery Beyond All Things (Einstein, Heschel, Maslow, Julian, Manley, Shakespeare)

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.” Julian of Norwich

“The world is charged with the grandeur of God.” Gerard Manley

“If you could understand a single grain of wheat you would die of wonder.” Martin Luther

“The earth has music for those who listen.” William Shakespeare

“Awe is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding, insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe. Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme. Awe is a sense for transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple: to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe. ” Abraham Heschel

“This is the gift–to have the wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” Abraham Maslow

“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy.”
Psalm 65:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your pace or your focus tend to make you oblivious to “the grandeur of God” all around you?
  • Are you trying to develop a sense–an appreciation–for the transcendent in your world?
  • It’s by God’s grace that we have the “capacity to appreciate … the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder and even ecstasy”–but it’s also a capacity we have to develop. What are you doing to learn to “behold” and to “listen” in new ways?

Abba, teach me to behold you in everything–and in everyone.

For More: Asked for Wonder by Abraham Heschel

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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: We Are Made By What Would Break Us (Krista Tippett)

“I’m not surprised by the fact that inexplicable and terrible things happen in a cosmos as complicated as ours, with sentient beings like us running the show. But I am emboldened by the fact that surprise is the only constant. We are never really running the show, never really in control, and nothing will go quite as we imagined it. Our highest ambitions will be off, but so will our worst prognostications. I am emboldened by the puzzling, redemptive truth to which each and every one of my conversations has added nuance, that we are made by what would break us. Birth itself is a triumph through a bloody, treacherous process. We only learn to walk when we risk falling down, and this equation holds—with commensurately more complex dynamics—our whole lives long. I have heard endless variations on this theme—the battle with illness that saves the life that follows; the childhood pain that leads to vocation; the disability that opens into wholeness and a presence to the hidden wholeness of others. You have your own stories, the dramatic and more ordinary moments where what has gone wrong becomes an opening to more of yourself and part of your gift to the world. This is the beginning of wisdom.” Krista Tippett

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
the one who gains understanding.”
Proverbs 3:13

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you experienced being made by “what would break” you?
  • In what ways have terrible difficulties in your life become “an opening to more of yourself?” How would you describe that new self?
  • Have difficulties or tragedies helped to shape your “gift to the world?” What do you understand as your gift to the world?
  • If you haven’t been shaped or made more valuable by great difficulties in your life, why is that?

Abba, make me a good student of the mystery and art of living.

For More: Becoming Wise: An Inquiry Into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

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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. 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: I Hit the Bottom and Escape (Nicholas of Cusa, Scott Cairns and Teresa of Avila)

Beyond all knowing and unknowing, disregarding the pain, confusion and doubt, I cast myself into the Great Darkness, sinking down through its waters into the depths of the very depths. In that place answers, explanations and expectations–having indeed become irrelevant, irreverent and without usefulness, have ceased to exist. And I exist without them–resting, sinking, abiding in that Darkness. And beside me, abides the Unseen One. And in the presence of that One, I nearly cease to be. I enter a death barely short of death, and a well of life otherwise out of reach. Beyond the reach of words, with nothing to choose but stillness, with no support of any kind–save the invisible, unsensed loving arms of the Eternal One, I come to rest on the bottom. And whereas I would have expected my destruction and death, I instead find new breath, new space and new hope. O God, who is beyond and above all things, who draws near in mystery and confusion and in the coincidence of opposites–cradle me, renew me, deliver me.

“Hence I observe how needful it is for me to enter into the darkness, and to admit the coincidence of opposites, beyond all the grasp of reason, and there to seek the truth where impossibility meeteth me. …And the more that dark impossibility is recognised as dark and impossible, the more truly doth His Necessity shine forth, and is more unveiledly present and draweth nigh.” Nicholas of Cusa

“O Lover embracing all unlovable, O Teacher
Tether binding us together, and binding, yea
and tenderly, Your Person  to ourselves,
Being both beyond our ken, and kindred, One
whose dire energies invest such clay as ours
with patient animation, O Secret One secreting
life anew into our every tissue moribund,
afresh unto our stale and stalling craft,
grant in this obscurity a little light.”
Scott Cairns

“The people remained at a distance,
while Moses approached the thick darkness
where God was.”
Exodus 20:18-21

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you experience God who is “far distant” and “most near?”
  • Can you go to that place beyond answers, explanations and expectations?
  • Do you have a way to simply be with God, where God can cradle you, deliver you and renew you?

“O LORD, Here in the gathering darkness I feel able to withstand the whole world, should it turn against me. For if I have you, God, I want for nothing. You alone suffice.” Teresa of Avila

For more: Idiot Psalms by Scott Cairns

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

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: Curiosity’s Own Reason for Existing (Annie Dillard and Albert Einstein)

“Down at the root end of things, blind growth reaches astonishing proportions. So far as I know, only one real experiment has ever been performed to determine the extent and rate of root growth, and when you read the figures, you see why. I have run into various accounts of this experiment, and the only thing they don’t reveal is how many lab assistants were blinded for life. The experimenters studied a single grass plant, winter rye. They let it grow in a greenhouse for four months; then they gingerly spirited away the soil—under microscopes, I imagine—and counted and measured all the roots and root hairs. In four months the plant had set forth 378 miles of roots—that’s about three miles a day—in 14 million distinct roots. This is mighty impressive, but when they get down to the root hairs, I boggle completely. In those same four months the rye plant created 14 billion root hairs, and those little things placed end to end just about wouldn’t quit. In a single cubic inch of soil, the length of the root hairs totaled 6000 miles. Other plants use water power to heave the rock earth around as though they were merely shrugging off a silken cape. Rutherford Platt tells about a larch tree whose root had cleft a one-and-a-half-ton boulder and hoisted it a foot into the air. Everyone knows how a sycamore root will buckle a sidewalk, a mushroom will shatter a cement basement floor. But when the first real measurements of this awesome pressure were taken, nobody could believe the figures.” Annie Dillard

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” Albert Einstein

“Then God said, ‘Let the land sprout with vegetation….” Genesis 1:11

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Do you have everything pretty much figured out–whether you’re an apologist, or an atheist?
  • Did you leave behind your wonder at the world with your childhood? Have you lost your “holy curiosity?”
  • What, do you suppose, is curiosity’s “own reason for existing?”

Abba, help me comprehend a little of this world’s mystery every day.

For More: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

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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

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

Daily Riches: In Light Inaccessible, Hid From Our Eyes (Thomas Merton, Robert Russell, David Augsburger, Martin Buber, Walter Chalmers Smith)

“The division between Believer and Unbeliever ceases to be so crystal clear. It is not that some are all right and others are all wrong: all are bound to seek in honest perplexity. Everybody is an Unbeliever more or less! Only when this fact is fully experienced, accepted and lived with, does one become fit to hear the simple message of the Gospel–or any other religious teaching. The religious problem of the twentieth century is not understandable if we regard it only as a problem of Unbelievers and of atheists. It is also and perhaps chiefly a problem of Believers. The faith that has grown cold is not only the faith that the Unbeliever has lost but the faith that the Believer has kept. This faith has too often become rigid, or complex, sentimental, foolish, or impertinent. It has lost itself in imaginings and unrealities, dispersed itself in pontifical and organization routines, or evaporated in activism and loose talk.” Thomas Merton

“I am … reminded of the humility of those early theologians who knew that when we seek to speak of God we do so only out of the glimmers of understanding that sparkle amid the vast background of uncomprehended mystery, a mystery that nevertheless shines in nature and in the human spirit with unquenchable light.” Robert J. Russell

“Since nothing we intend is ever faultless, and nothing we attempt ever without error, and nothing we achieve without some measure of finitude and fallibility we call humanness, we are saved by forgiveness.” David Augsburger

“The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God.”  Martin Buber

“Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes”
Walter Chalmers Smith

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

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have the humility that comes with knowing how much about God is “hid from your eyes?” That in some ways you’re an “unbeliever” too?
  • Has your faith become “rigid, or complex, sentimental, foolish, or impertinent?” Has it “dispersed itself in … organization routines, or evaporated in activism and loose talk?” Has it become cold? Could you be suffering from your “own false image of God?”
  • In spite of it all, can you be “saved by forgiveness?”

Abba, thank you for your constant forgiveness.

For More: Faith and Violence by Thomas Merton

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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. 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: Trust the Fruitive Darkness (Leonard Sweet and John Donne)

“Churches are best for Prayer, that have least light:
To see God only, I goe out of sight:
And to scape stormy dayes,
I chuse An everlasting night.”
John Donne
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“The first step to seeing is knowing that you’re in the dark. If you don’t know you’re in the dark, then you need to turn on the dark. To turn on the dark is a metaphor for keeping an open mind, for resisting easy assumptions and automatic defaults in judgment, all of which I call light pollution. Less is more. Sensory deprivation is a blessing to those who need less distraction. Light can pollute dark, just as the dark can pollute the light. …In order to see the stars, it must be dark enough to see them. … [but] The brightest stars in the sky no longer come from the Milky Way Galaxy, but the night glow from our biggest cities. It’s called ‘sky glow’—light reflected off moisture and dust in the air. …In some Eastern cities like Seoul, South Korea, at night all the buildings ‘go dark.’ No matter how high the apartment complex or skyscraper, it is dark, enabling anyone awake to see the stars. But for most of the world, sky glow now outshines the moon for nearly half of each month. The biological effects of night pollution are only now being appreciated. Ninety miles from Las Vegas, the neon lights are lighting up Death Valley National Park. Many of the night creatures are dying because of light pollution. Certain nocturnal species and ecosystems require a nightly dose of darkness—for reproduction (snakes), for predation (bats), for food intake (zooplankton feed on algae in the dark), for growth and survival. Without dark they face extinction. …Darkness is the womb in which everything exists. To trust the dark is to trust those deep, underground forces—forces of the earth, the ocean, the genes—that would bring to life the seed that is your soul. God planted deep into the ground of your being the seeds of a one-of-a-kind soul. To grow our souls into the unique creation God intends us to be, we must trust the birthing that is going on inside and around us. We must trust the ‘fruitive darkness.’” Leonard Sweet

“And I will give thee
the treasures of darkness”
Isaiah 45:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you know you’re in the dark?
  • Are you able to trust the “fruitive darkness” at work in our world and your life?
  • How specifically would you do that?

Abba, help me discover the treasures of darkness.

For More: Nudge by Leonard Sweet

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thank you for reading and sharing my blog!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: God … As He Really Is (Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen)

“So much depends on our idea of God. Yet no idea of God, however pure and perfect, is adequate to express God as God really is. Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about God.” Thomas Merton

“God cannot be understood; he cannot be grasped by the human mind. The truth escapes our human capacities. The only way to come close to it is by a constant emphasis on the limitation of our human capacities to ‘have’ or to ‘hold’ the truth. We can neither explain God nor his presence in human history. As soon as we identify God with any specific event or situation, we play God and distort the truth. We can only be faithful in our affirmation that God has not deserted us but has called us in the middle of all the unexplainable absurdities of life. It is very important to be deeply aware of this. There is a great and subtle temptation to explain to myself or others where God is working and where not, and when he is present and when not, but nobody, no Christian, no priest, no monk has any ‘special’ knowledge about God. God cannot be limited by any human concept or prediction. He is greater than our mind and heart and perfectly free to reveal himself where and when he wants. . . After having done everything to make some space for God, it is still God who comes on his own initiative.” Henri Nouwen

“He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Isaiah 53:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The disciples lived with Jesus for over three years and didn’t understand him, and the people of Jesus’ day misunderstood and rejected him. How often to you think you miss God or misunderstand what God is doing in our world?
  • How would you characterize yourself to someone else? Does you idea of God tend to reflect your image?
  • Think about your theology of God. How does it reflect the place and time in which you live?
  • Is there something beneficial to knowing that we know God so imperfectly?

Abba, give me great pause when I’m tempted to box you in, or think I can define you or explain you – to myself or to others.

For More: Show Me the Way by Henri Nouwen

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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: The Collective Arrogance of the Herd (Thomas Merton, Tim Keller, and Augustine of Hippo)

“There grows in me an immense dissatisfaction with all that is merely passively accepted as truth, without struggle and without examination. Faith, surely, is not passive, and not an evasion. And today, more than ever, the things we believe, I mean especially the things we accept on human faith – reported matters of ‘fact,’ questions of history, of policy, of interpretation, of wants – they should be very few. …I am still able to hope that a civil exchange of ideas can take place between two persons — that we have not yet reached the stage where we are all hermetically sealed, each one in the collective arrogance and despair of his own herd.” Thomas Merton

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body with no antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask the hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.” Timothy Keller

“Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.”  Augustine

“…what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Micah 6:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your faith make room for “doubt … only discarded after long reflection?” If you need to be able to explain everything, where does that come from?
  • Arrogance renders one ineffectual in reaching, correcting, learning from and loving others. No wonder the Lord wants us to “walk humbly” instead (“seeking the truth together”) when we disagree with others. Even though this is “required”, do you see it as a sign or weakness or compromise?
  • “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” As you’ve matured, does this resonate with you?

Abba, teach me humility before you and others.

For More: Raids on the Unspeakable 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 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: Transcending Obedience and Virtue (Walter Brueggemann)

“Job, and even more his friends, are models of ideological certitude. That kind of moral certitude, however, does not matter ultimately because we are not saved by our virtue. No one can stand in the face of the whirlwind on a soap-box of virtue. …Job learned what we all learn sooner or later. Virtue does not suffice. Integrity does not give life. Being right is no substitute for being amazed. Controlling will not substitute for yielding in awe and wonder and amazement. The shift to Job’s other language is practically urgent, as it is theologically imperative. The shift to doxology as a mode of life is theologically imperative because praise breaks our terrible idolatries. We live in a society of preferred virtues or convinced moralities, or exacting, relentless idolatries. As with Job, these idols of self-congratulations block healing, make us falsely at ease, prevent transformation, and reduce life to a set of slogans and technologies. The alternative good news of the poem [the book of Job] is that we are made for a second conversation that surprises us and that we can never anticipate. After our earnest behavior, we are invited to doxological yielding. The shift in language destabilized us, puts us at risk, debunks our control, eases our need to dominate, and lets us yield without pouting, submit without resentment, and receive as gift a new restlessness that is communion and praise. After the yielding lyric, we are like Job. We still must go home and live as virtuously as possible. We have, however, been decisively intruded upon, invaded, overwhelmed, reduced to stunned silence, taken seriously by eternity, and finally, like Job approved in our virtue (42:7-8).” Walter Brueggemann

“I take back everything I said,
and I sit in dust and ashes
to show my repentance.”
Job 42:6

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • If someone as admirable and exceptional as Job needed a “conversation” with God to change him and his perspective, how much more is this likely true of you or me?
  • Has your experience of God ever left you feeling “decisively intruded upon, invaded, overwhelmed, reduced to stunned silence?”
  • If not, are you open to an encounter with God that “destabilizes” you, and removes your sense of control, and where you “receive as gift a new restlessness that is communion and praise?”

Abba, in the face of the whirlwind may I never forget the importance of virtue – or the limitations of it in my life with you.

For More: Threat of Life by Walter Brueggemann

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

Daily Riches: Beyond the God of the Gaps (James Martin and John MacMurray)

“Fear not; the things you are afraid of are quite likely to happen to you, but they are nothing to be afraid of.” John MacMurray

“As I grew older, the model of God as the Great Problem Solver collapsed — primarily because God didn’t seem interested in solving all of my problems. …My lukewarm agnosticism …coalesced when my freshman-year roommate was killed in an automobile accident during our senior year. Brad was one of my closest friends, and his death was almost too much to bear. At Brad’s funeral …surrounded by Brad’s shattered family and my grieving friends, [I] thought about the absurdity of believing in a God who could allow this. By the end of the service I had decided not to believe in a God who would act so cruelly.  …Why believe in a God who either couldn’t or wouldn’t prevent suffering? …Jacque had lived in the same dorm with Brad and me during freshman year. Though wildly different from Brad in outlook and in interests, the two became close. After an accounting class one day …I told Jacque how angry I was at God, and how I decided that I would no longer go to church. My comments were flung at her like a challenge. ‘You’re the believer … explain this.’ ‘Well,’ she said softly, ‘I’ve been thanking God for Brad’s life.’ I can still remember … having my breath taken away by her answer. Rather than arguing about suffering, she was telling me that there were other ways to relate to God, ways other than as the Great Problem Solver. …her words reminded me that the question of suffering … is not the only question to ask about God. …that you can still live with the question of suffering and believe in God — much as a child can trust a parent even when he doesn’t fully understand all of the parent’s ways. …Not until I entered the Jesuits did I begin hearing about a different kind of God — a God who was with you in your suffering, a God who took a personal interest in your life, even if you didn’t feel that all your problems were solved — that things started to make some sense. … it helped me understand the importance of being in a relationship with God, even during difficult times.” James Martin

“Take heart, because
I have overcome the world.”
Jesus in John 16:33

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you still relate to God as “the God of the gaps?”
  • Must your questions be answered before you can trust God?
  • Do you know the God who is “with you in your suffering?”

Abba, help me take my rightful place before you and in your world.

For More: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything by James Martin

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Daily Riches: Arise … And Quit Your Books! (William Wordsworth and Abraham Heschel)

“Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?
 .
The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.
 .
Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.
 .
And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.
.
She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless –
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.
 .
One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.
 .
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.
 .
Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.
“The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth
 .
“Amidst the meditation of mountains, the humility of flowers wiser than all alphabets … we are hating, hunting, hurting. Suddenly we feel ashamed of our clashes and complaints in the face of the tacit glory in nature.” Abraham Joshua Heschel
 .
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Ecclesiastes 12:12
.

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever been “wearied” by the endless amount of reading you have done, or want to do? We joke about being addicted to books, but even reading about loving well (for instance) can distract us from actually taking the time and making the effort to love well. Are you sensitive to this pitfall?
  • Even if you do your best to read broadly, it’s still you choosing the content. In experiencing nature, that is changed. Are you able to drop you agenda, put aside your goals and tasks, and “bring with you a heart that watches and receives?”
  • It’s not just the heavens that “proclaim the work of [God’s] hands” (Psalm 19:1), and not just the throstle which is “no mean preacher.” Can you put aside you love for propositions, “dissecting”, and “meddling intellect” long enough to “come into the light of things?”

Abba, help me to be present to your glory in all that surrounds me.

For More: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

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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.  I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)