Daily Riches: When Things Happen Too Fast (Carl Honore and Milan Kundera)

“When things happen too fast, nobody can be certain about anything, about anything at all, not even about himself.” Milan Kundera

“Speed has helped to remake our world in ways that are wonderful and liberating. Who wants to live without the Internet or jet travel? The problem is that our love of speed, our obsession with doing more and more in less and less time, has gone too far; it has turned into an addiction, a kind of idolatry. Even when speed starts to backfire, we invoke the go-faster gospel. Falling behind at work? Get a quicker Internet connection. No time for that novel you got at Christmas? Learn to speed-read. Diet not working? Try liposuction. Too busy to cook? Buy a microwave. And yet some things cannot, should not, be sped up. They take time; they need slowness. When you accelerate things that should not be accelerated, when you forget how to slow down, there is a price to pay. …For a chilling vision of where this behaviour leads, look no further than Japan, where the locals have a word—karoshi—that means ‘death by overwork.’ One of the most famous victims of karoshi was Kamei Shuji, a high-flying broker who routinely put in ninety-hour weeks during the Japanese stock market boom of the late 1980s. His company trumpeted his superhuman stamina in newsletters and training booklets, turning him into the gold standard to which all employees should aspire. In a rare break from Japanese protocol, Shuji was asked to coach senior colleagues in the art of salesmanship, which piled extra stress onto his pinstriped shoulders. When Japan’s stock bubble burst in 1989, Shuji worked even longer hours to pick up the slack. In 1990, he died suddenly of a heart attack. He was twenty-six. …All the things that bind us together and make life worth living—community, family, friendship—thrive on the one thing we never have enough of: time.” Carl Honore

“Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry”
James 1:19

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • How often do you realize you’re hurrying for no reason? Do you then slow yourself down?
  • Do you feel compelled or driven to be more productive? What does your answer say about you?
  • Does the way you live allow enough time for “community, family, friendship?”

Abba, in practicing more slowness may I discover more bountiful living.

For More:  In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore

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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 question/comment. – 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: 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: Where God Prefers to Live (Thomas Merton)

“God seeks Himself in us, and the aridity and sorrow of our heart is the sorrow of God who is not known in us, who cannot yet find Himself in us because we do not dare to believe or to trust the incredible truth that He could live in us, and live there out of choice, out of preference. But indeed, we exist solely for this, to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany. But we make all this dark and inglorious because we fail to believe it, we refuse to believe it. It is not that we hate God, rather that we hate ourselves, despair of ourselves. If we once began to recognise, humbly but truly, the real value of our own self, we would see that this value was the sign of God in our being, the signature of God upon our being.” Thomas Merton

“But God showed his great love for us
by sending Christ to die for us
while we were still sinners.”
Romans 5:8

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • God desires to live in you. That’s God’s choice, God’s preference. When you consider that, what feelings arise?
  • “We exist solely … to be the place He has chosen for His presence, His manifestation in the world, His epiphany.” Why would God do that?
  • Do you hate yourself too much to believe that in his love, God seeks you, chooses you–and desires to live in you?
  • Now imagine God loving all of God’s human creation in this way–with each person as God’s “epiphany.” How does that effect your thoughts about those who are different from you racially, in economic status or gender, in religious conviction or sexual preference–politically?

Abba, may I be transformed by a growing sense of your unfailing love for me.

For more: The Hidden Ground of Love 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. I appreciate your interest! Please leave a comment or question. –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Face Everything And Recover (David Benner)

“Shame lies at the core of our resistance to knowing and embracing our brokenness. It arises in response to a profound sense of vulnerability. It is being caught in God’s garden with your pants down and a half-eaten forbidden fruit in your hands just at the moment when you hear God calling your name and walking toward you. That’s naked vulnerability–something that is so intolerable and unstable that it quickly resolves into shame. What the Genesis story of the Fall tells us is that our fundamental problem lies in the fact that we want to be a god, not human. We hate the vulnerability that comes from being human. And when we experience it, we grasp anything available to try and cover our nakedness rather than embrace it. Shame and vulnerability make us want to run and hide. …The vulnerability I am speaking of is intentional, never circumstantial. It is a choice, a willing allowing of ourselves to remain undefended at a point of acute rawness and fragility. It is choosing not to run and hide from our nakedness. This is why it is a spiritual posture, not a personality trait…. It is choosing openness and trust. It’s a vote for our true self and is always, therefore, at the expense of our false ways of being in the world. …This [relates to] Henri Nouwen’s notion of the wounded healer–our capacity to help others not despite our own brokenness but precisely because of it. Wholeness doesn’t come from eliminating brokenness but trusting openness to life in the midst of it. In the same way, we don’t come to God by eliminating our sin but by receiving the joyful news of our acceptance by God in the midst of it. Paradoxically, our sin is a gift because it makes us aware of our need for God’s grace. In the same way, our wounds are a gift because they make us aware of our lack of wholeness and can be a threshold to healing and further wholeness. …paradoxically, we have to embrace our brokenness if we are to avoid being stuck in it. That embrace is not an embrace of resignation. It is an embrace of acceptance.” David Benner

They sewed fig leaves together
and made coverings for themselves.”
Genesis 3:7

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your goal to be vulnerable before God–”to remain undefended at a point of acute rawness and fragility” rather than hiding or blaming?
  • Are you learning to be “undefended” in other relationships as well?
  • Could accepting or embracing your brokenness be the next step to God’s healing you?

Abba, I renounce my disguises and excuses. Work your healing work in me.

For More: Surrender to Love by David Benner

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Thanks for reading/sharing my blog! Bill

Daily Riches: God Will Use You Anyway (Brant Copeland, Joachim Neander and Thomas Chalmers)

“The striking thing about the Twelve is their utter lack of qualifications. …The fact is, by the time Luke takes up the story of the early church, most of the Twelve have become bit players. Peter has a supporting role, but it is Paul and James, the brother of Jesus–not members of the original Twelve–who take center stage in Acts while the Twelve dissolve into the wings. …What strikes this pastor is the close resemblance between the Twelve and the folks in ordinary congregations. The Twelve might not impress, but they sure do look like church. …It is through intimate, day-by-day association with Jesus that these twelve misfits become the twelve apostles. They do not cease to be what there are …–but after having been with Jesus, they are sent out with power and authority to accomplish amazing things (Mark 6:7-13).” Brant Copeland

The typical and first response to God’s call is often “I am not worthy.” Think of Moses or Isaiah–or of many people asked to lead in the local church. Are you weak and unqualified? God will use you anyway. Are you “who you are”, afraid you many never change, you may never overcome that “signature sin” of yours? God will use you anyway. Does your church, your missions group, your outreach team resemble a “bag of mixed nuts”–a phrase my Pastor sometimes affectionately uses to describe our church? God will use you anyway. But, the God of heaven, in all God’s power, won’t automatically use you. God won’t do what God expects you to do. You have to do your part–show up, leave your couch, forget your comfort zone. God won’t do it without you, but God will certainly do it through you. After all, mixed nuts is a very nutritious snack. It’s not everything. It’s not perfect. But it works. God won’t be limited by you and me and our abilities, bad habits, bad track record–even by our besetting sins. God uses what (who) is available. Are you available?

“Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee.

Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,

If with His love He befriend thee.”

Joachim Neander

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • On judgment day, if you could only be praised for one thing–correct doctrine, powerful ministry, or love for Jesus–which would you choose? What does your answer say about you?
  • The Apostles could get by without qualifications, but not without “being with Jesus.” They had to know him (not necessarily understand him!). They would be defined, motivated and empowered by their love for Jesus himself. Are you spending enough time with Jesus for this expulsive power (of affection for him) to be transformative for you?
  • Have you settled for having a proper understanding of Jesus (orthodoxy), or even for serving Jesus (ministry), when Jesus is calling you to a deep love relationship with him?

Jesus, you have befriended me in your love. Draw me deeper into a new affection for you.

For More: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers

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Thanks for reading and following my blog! – Bill
.
Having just returned from a local missions outreach to the homeless, I want to dedicate this post to the “bag of mixed nuts” I was part of in that outreach, and to New York City Relief, whose teams of mixed nuts do it every day.

Daily Riches: Advent and Learning to Wait (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Celebrating Advent means learning how to wait. Waiting is an art which our impatient age has forgotten. We want to pluck the fruit before it has had time to ripen. Greedy eyes are soon disappointed when what they saw as luscious fruit is sour to the taste. In disappointment and disgust they throw it away. The fruit, full of promise rots on the ground. It is rejected without thanks by disappointed hands. The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity. …The greatest, the deepest, the most tender experiences in all the world demand patient waiting. This waiting is not in emotional turmoil, but gently growing, like the emergence of spring, like God’s laws, like the germinating of a seed. …Those who learn to wait are uneasy about their way of life, but yet have seen a vision of greatness in the world of the future and are patiently expecting its fulfillment. The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come. For these, it is enough to wait in humble fear until the Holy One himself comes down to us, God in the child in the manger. God comes. The Lord Jesus comes. Christmas comes. …But, not so quick! It is still in the distance. It calls us to learn to wait and to wait aright.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Rest in the LORD
and wait patiently for Him.”
Psalm 37:7

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you plucking the fruit “before it ripens?”
  • Do you know yourself “to be poor and imperfect?” Are you awaiting “something great to come?”
  • When you’re “troubled in soul” can you use that as a trigger to “wait aright?” …to “wait patiently” for the LORD?

“Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God.  …And make me holy and pure, despite my sin and death.”  Bonhoeffer

For More: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons edited by Edwin Robertson

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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. Thanks! – Bill

Daily Riches: Hooked On Productivity (Jan Johnson, Evelyn Underhill and Eugene Peterson)

“We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.” Evelyn Underhill

“My jabbering prayers have been full of what I want, what I think I should have, and what I want God to do. …Instead of fussing, striving, and monitoring, we surrender ourselves to God over and over again. For those of us who are hooked on productivity, this approach is radical. …Letting go of the need to perform for God sets our hearts on things above and turns our backs on self-importance. Instead of trying to have an accomplishment-driven relationship with God, enjoying God’s presence points us toward:

  • resting instead of productivity,
  • being silent instead of talking,
  • listening instead of giving advice,
  • empowering others instead of preaching to them,
  • asking questions instead of knowing answers,
  • surrendering instead of gritting your teeth,
  • giving instead of consuming,
  • striving for brokenness instead of upward mobility, and
  • gearing down to simplicity instead of gearing up to empire building.” Jan Johnson

“In our religious striving, we are usually looking for something quite other than the God who has come looking for us.” Eugene Peterson

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you “kept in perpetual unrest?” Are you “hooked on productivity?”
  • If so, what do these things say about your need to seem important to others? …to seem important to God? Could that be what you’re “usually looking for?”
  • The Scripture reminds us that God does not require or want our anxious striving. The list above spells out what a relaxed, trusting life might look like. Look at that list again. Is God speaking to you about anything there?

Father, May I rest instead of striving.
walk instead of racing.
receive instead of grasping.
listen instead of speaking.
endure instead of quitting.
May I trust instead of worrying.
appreciate instead of griping.
forgive instead of blaming, and
above all, may I love.

For More: When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer by Jan Johnson

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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 Most Unhappy Man of All (Søren Kierkegaard, Thomas Merton, Brené Brown, Rainer Marie Rilke, Charles deFoucauld, Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” Swedish Proverb

“… he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all.” Søren Kierkegaard

“Strong hate, the hate that takes joy in hating, is strong because it does not believe itself to be unworthy and alone. It feels the support of a justifying God, of an idol of war, an avenging and destroying spirit. From such blood-drinking gods the human race was once liberated, with great toil and terrible sorrow, by the death of a God Who delivered Himself to the Cross and suffered pathological cruelty of His own creatures out of pity for them. In conquering death He opened their eyes to the reality of a love which asks no questions about worthiness, a love which overcomes hatred and destroys death. But men have now come to reject this divine revelation of pardons and they are consequently returning to the old war gods, the gods that insatiably drink blood and eat the flesh of men. It is easier to serve the hate-gods because they thrive on the worship of collective fanaticism. To serve the hate-gods, one has only to be blinded by collective passion. To serve the God of Love one must be free, one must face the terrible responsibility of the decision to love in spite of all unworthiness whether in oneself or in one’s neighbor.” Thomas Merton

“For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks….” Rainer Maria Rilke

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” Brené Brown

“One learns to love God by loving men and women.” Charles deFoucauld

“What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms?” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Romans 13:10

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Where do you need to practice a love “which asks no questions about worthiness?” Who do you need to take into your arms in compassion?
  • Is God teaching you to love him as you give yourself to “the most difficult of all tasks” – loving someone else?
  • Are you able to love yourself when you “least deserve it?” Can you extend to yourself the grace you extend to others?
  • Do you see “collective passion/fanaticism” at work in your religion or politics?

God of love for the undeserving, work you love in me.

For More: New Seeds of Contemplation 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 share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: An Hour Well Employed (Allen Verhey, Pete Scazzero, and Francis de Sales)

“Prayer is focused attention to God.” Pete Scazzero

“In learning to pray, Christians learn …a practice – and the good intrinsic to that practice. They learn, that is, to attend to God, to look to God. And they learn that not just intellectually, not just as an idea. In learning to pray, they learn a human activity that engages their bodies as well as their minds, their affections and passions and loyalties as well as their rationality, and that focuses their lives and their common life upon God. To attend to God is not easy to learn – or painless. And given our inveterate attention to ourselves and to our own needs and wants, we frequently corrupt it. …In learning to pray, Christians learn to look to God and, after the blinding vision, to begin to look at all else in a new light. In prayer they do not attend to something beyond God that God – or  prayer – might be used in order to reach; they attend to God. That is the good intrinsic to prayer, the good ‘internal to that form of activity,’ simple attention to God.” Allen Verhey

“How to meditate? Bring yourself back to the point quite gently. And even if you do nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your heart back a thousand times, though it went away every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.” Francis de Sales

“Lord, teach us to pray.”  Luke 11:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is your prayer aimed at “focused attention to God” or are you often easily distracted by your “inveterate attention” to yourself and your own needs and wants? If you’re easily distracted, can you forgive yourself, admitting you’re like everyone else?
  • When worries, fantasies, noises, sinful thoughts and the making of plans disrupt your attention to God, are you able to “bring yourself back to the point quite gently” – with no self recrimination, self-defense or further distraction?
  • Can you bring your heart back to attentiveness to God, even if in one session it’s “a thousand times?”

Abba, I’m encouraged that with each distraction, I have the opportunity to turn to you and attend to you again. I’m glad to do this over and over as long as I must, knowing you’re waiting for me there, eager for my return.

For More: The Art of Loving God by Francis de Sales

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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: When You Return From the Monastery (Henri Nouwen)

“Perhaps the greatest and most hidden illusion of all had been that after seven months of Trappist life I would be a different person, more integrated, more spiritual, more virtuous, more compassionate, more gentle, more joyful, and more understanding. Somehow I had expected that my restlessness would turn into quietude, my tensions into a peaceful life-style, and my many ambiguities and ambivalences into a single-minded commitment to God. None of these successes, results, or achievements have come about. …It did not work, it did not solve my problems. And I know that a year, two years, or even a lifetime as a Trappist monk would not have ‘worked’ either. …I had known this all along, but still I had to return to my old busy life and be confronted with my own restless self to believe it. Those who welcomed me back expected to see a different, a better man. And I had not wanted to disappoint them. But I should have known better. Using the monastery to develop a ‘successful’ saintliness only makes me like the possessed man [whom Jesus described in Matthew 12.]* …These words of Jesus have often entered my mind when old and new demons entered my soul. I hardly had an opportunity to think that seven months as a Trappist monk had cleansed my heart enough to be pure for the year to come. It took only a few weeks of being back to realize that I was having some troublesome ‘visitors’ again. Without exaggeration I can say that some of my most humbling experiences took place after my return. But they had to take place to convince me once again that I cannot be my own exorcist, and to remind me that, if anything significant takes place in my life, it is not the result of my own ‘spiritual’ calisthenics, but only the manifestation of God’s unconditional grace. God himself certainly is the last one to be impressed by seven months of monastic life, and he did not wait long to let me know it.” Henri Nouwen

*“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none.
Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’
So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.
Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself,
and they all enter the person and live there.”
Matthew 12:43-45

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Nouwen’s painful disillusionment is intense. Can you relate?
  • What was the “illusion” he was dis-abused of?
  • Could you be as honest as Nouwen about your struggles?

God, I am cast upon your grace.

For More: The Genesee Diary by Henri Nouwen

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Thanks for following and sharing my blog! – Bill

Daily Riches: Remembering and Rising to Our Better Selves (Pope Francis and Thomas Merton)

“I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born.” Thomas Merton

“Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. …In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.” Pope Francis

“ Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Luke 6:31

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Is religion as you practice it, part of the problem (extremism, reductionism, polarization), or the solution (protecting freedom, fostering love, working against grave injustices, creating social consensus)?
  • Is the language of your religious leaders characterized by the moral courage, humility and hope that Pope Francis demonstrated before Congress?
  • Do you recognize both the “image of God” and the “image of the world” in yourself? Can you be gracious and patient with yourself accordingly? …with others?

Abba, may your image increasingly prevail in us as individuals and communities of faith.

For More: The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. Thanks for reading and sharing them. I appreciate your interest! – Bill

 

Daily Riches: Patience with Others … and Yourself (Shirley Carter Hughson and Eugene Peterson)

“I am sure than when St. Paul spoke of ‘the fruit of the Spirit,’ he had in mind such processes that as we find in nature. A tree which brings forth good fruit is able to do so because over many years it has been brought under the influence of cultivation, fertilization, sunshine, rain, caressing winds, [and] cleaning from blight, and so it acquires the power to bear good fruit. A farmer cannot get his result by suddenly becoming very busy for a season and doing these things.”  Shirley Carter Hughson

“The person … who looks for quick results in the seed-planting of well-doing will be disappointed. If I want potatoes for dinner tomorrow, it will do me little good to go out and plant potatoes in my garden tonight. There are long stretches of darkness and invisibility and silence that separated planting and reaping. During the stretches of waiting there is cultivation and weeding and nurturing and planting still other seeds.” Eugene Peterson

“first the blade and then the ear,

then the full corn shall appear”

Henry Alford

“He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season…”
Psalm 1:3

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Fruit comes “in its season”, and as a result of years “under the influence of cultivation” and predictable natural processes. Healthy growth takes both time and work, but is definitely does take time. Does your work honor the principle that God cannot be rushed?
  • Are you ever guilty of “suddenly becoming very busy for a season”, of impatiently trying to force things to change?
  • What might God be doing in you or your situation during “long stretches of darkness and invisibility and silence?”
  • With these things in mind, think about people on the journey of faith. What should be your attitude towards fellow pilgrims? What should be your attitude toward yourself? Can you relax and trust God’s timing? What would be the lessons for where you are now? that you may need to learn before you can move on?

Abba, help me to walk rather than to race, to receive rather than to grasp, and to relax rather than to strive. Help me to step into the flow of your divine life rather than living a frenzied version of my very human life. Help me focus on being with you and trust you for the timetable.

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For More: The Spiritual Letters of Shirley Carter by Shirley Carter Hughson

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek God, and as God seeks you. My goal is to give you something of uncommon value each day in 400 words or less. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it with others.  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Brokenness and Prayer (John Cassian, Dan Clendenin, Thomas Merton, Peter Traben Haas and Jonathan Martin)

“In prayer we seek what John Cassian (360–430) called ‘integrity of heart’ or ‘integral wholeness.’ But when you’re honest before God, that can feel far off. Here’s Cassian’s self-diagnosis in his Institutes and Conferences – lethargy, sleeplessness, unsettling dreams, impulsive urges, self-justification, seething emotions, sexual fantasies, pious pretense that masked as virtue, self-deception, clerical ambition and the desire to dominate, crushing despair, confusion, wild mood swings, flattery, and the dreaded ‘noonday demon’ of acedia (“a wearied or anxious heart” that suggests close parallels to clinical depression). Cassian further admits that ‘there are many things that lie hidden in my conscience which are known and manifest to God, even though they may be unknown and obscure to me.’ And this is a monk who had devoted his entire life to prayer!” Daniel Clendenin

“I get so tired of beholding my brokenness. But the deeper I go into the depths of it, the deeper I experience my belovedness too.” Jonathan Martin

“The man who does not permit his spirit to be beaten down and upset by dryness and helplessness, but who lets God lead him peacefully through the wilderness, and desires no other support or guidance than that of pure faith and trust in God alone, will be brought to the Promised Land.” Thomas Merton

“I belong to my beloved,
    and his desire is for me.”

Song of Songs 7:10

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • I can never help but smile reading Cassian’s list – it’s so familiar at points. Are you in touch with your “dryness and helplessness” like Cassian, Martin and Merton are?
  • Do you keep seeking God in prayer even when overwhelmed by your brokenness? …when you’re “beaten down?”
  • Have you attempted to let the experience of brokenness move you into a deeper experience of belovedness?

Beloved Silence: Thank you for listening to my confessions and failures. Under the shadow of your light, my darkness is no more. Amen. (Peter Traben Haas)

For More: Centering Prayers by Peter Traben Haas

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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. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

Daily Riches: The Soul in Darkness (William Cowper and Mother Teresa)

“Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.”  “Darkness is such that I really do not see – neither with my mind nor with my reason – the place of God in my soul is blank – There is no God in me – when the pain of longing is so great – I just long and long for God. … The torture and pain I can’t explain.” Mother Teresa

“The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow;
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine
A contrite heart or no?

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If aught is felt, ’tis only pain,
To find I cannot feel.

I sometimes think myself inclined
To love Thee if I could;
But often feel another mind,
Averse to all that’s good.

My best desires are faint and few,
I fain would strive for more;
But when I cry, ‘My strength renew!’
Seem weaker than before.

Thy saints are comforted, I know,
And love Thy house of prayer;
I therefore go where others go,
But find no comfort there.

Oh make this heart rejoice or ache;
Decide this doubt for me;
And if it be not broken, break –
And heal it, if it be.”
William Cowper

“Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:23-26

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you ever felt like the Christian faith worked for others but not for you?
  • Do you know how to “keep on” as one who “belongs to God” no matter what darkness may come?
  • Are you learning in the light, what you will need to know when darkness inevitably comes?

Abba, my heart, if it be not broken, break – and heal it, if it be. And may you be the strength of my heart even when my health fails and my spirit grows weak.

For More: Before the Door of God by Jay Hopler and Kimberly Johnson, eds.

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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. 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.”