Daily Riches: Desert Spirituality (Belden Lane, Bruce Berger and David Douglas)

“The significance of desert and mountain is not who resides here, but what we ourselves have left behind in coming.” David Douglas

“One has to consider the surly, discourteous piety of the desert fathers and mothers. They were ‘resident aliens’ in a world that fostered gentility and comfort. They simply did not fit. As Bruce Berger observes, ‘the desert notoriously harbors the loner, the misfit, the only child.’ It attracts a people who are downwardly mobile, often cantankerous, ill at ease in polite society. Shun the city and all of it niceties, growled Jerome from his desert lair. His Christianity required the hard solace of open spaces. …The discipline of the desert was gradually acquired in the methodical weaving of palm fronds into mats and baskets, the practice of long exposure to desert loneliness, the reduction of everything in one’s life to a radical simplicity. Growth in the spiritual life came to be measured in microparameters, in how much could be give up, how much one could be emptied. …To use the provocative language of Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon, the desert Christians understood the church as an alien community no longer caught up in the anxious, self-interested preservation of the world-as-it-is. Their practice of indifference to the dominant social values of their age, exercised from the desert’s edge, stood in stark contract to the accommodating spirit of post-Constantinian, urban Christianity. …The desert as metaphor is that uncharted terrain beyond the edges of the seemingly secure and structured world in which we take such confidence, a world of affluence and order we cannot image ever ending. …[People like these desert fathers and mothers] are what the church has been summoned to be, a community of broken people, painfully honest, undomesticated, rid of the pretense and suffocating niceness to which ‘religion’ is so often prone.” Belden Lane

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers
to abstain from fleshly lusts
which wage war against the soul.”
1 Peter 2:11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Would anyone say of you that you are apathetic (indifferent) to many of your world’s values?
  • How dependent are you upon the “affluence and order” of our world for your sense of security?
  • These desert Christians viewed themselves as “aliens and strangers.” Would those words aptly describe you? …your faith community?
  • What are these desert Christians saying that you need to hear?

Abba, show me what to leave behind.

For More: The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Desert and Mountain Spirituality by Belden Lane

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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

Daily Riches: Desperation, Loneliness and Fear (Nas, Macrina Wiederkehr and Jim Palmer)

“Life …

I wonder,
Will it take me under?
I don’t know.”
Naz – “If I ruled the world.”

“My loneliness attracts me to the feet of Jesus. Like a magnet I am drawn there, longing to be all one with God. The separateness I keep choosing makes me desperately homesick, and so I am willing, at last, to surrender my divided heart. I am homesick to be one with God. Union with God is the only heaven there is, and it begins here on earth. …There is someone I must become. There is someone I must be grafted onto, and how lonely I am until it is accomplished. My loneliness blesses me because it shows me that I’m not enough all by myself, and so I am impelled to reach out my arms and heart to God and to others. My loneliness blesses me because it encourages me to allow myself to be vulnerable. My loneliness blesses me because it won’t let me hide in the illusion of my self-sufficiency.” Macrina Wiederkehr

“Fear, guilt and shame can be useful on your spiritual journey. When you experience these, follow the trail back to the idea, notion, belief or concept that was the source.” Jim Palmer

“Whom have 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 73:25, 26

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you wondered if “life will take [you] under?” Have you felt “desperately homesick?” …desperately afraid of something (or many things) out of your control?
  • Can you “follow the trail [of that feeling] back to … the belief or concept that was the source?” Pause now, and try that.
  • Is there a way that your desperation–your loneliness, your fear, your powerlessness–“blesses” you?

Abba, in my loneliness and fear may I turn to you.

For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

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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: Unperturbed In Jerusalem (Søren Kierkegaard)

“Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved Heaven and Earth leaves us completely unmoved. What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had the more truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge? What a vexation it must have been for the kings, that the scribes who gave them the news they wanted remained quiet in Jerusalem! We are being mocked, the kings might have thought. For indeed what an atrocious self-contradiction that the scribes should have the knowledge and yet remain still. This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite. We are tempted to suppose that such a person wishes to fool us, unless we admit that he is only fooling himself.” Søren Kierkegaard

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.’  When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. (Matthew 2:1-4)

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • The status quo surrounds us. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help us see our mistakes. Are you open to the voices of those from outside your usual circle? …even, as in the story, from outside your religion?
  • Everyone is wrong somewhere, and everyone is right somewhere. Are you more intent in pointing out the wrongs of others, of in learning from others where you might be wrong?
  • Could you be described as “sitting with all [your] knowledge?” What needs to change?

Abba, don’t let me fool myself about myself.

For more: Meditations from Kierkegaard translated and edited by T. H. Croxall

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

Daily Riches: Soldiering On In Ministry (Ruth Haley Barton)

“One of the occupational hazards for those of us in ministry is that it can become hard to distinguish between the times when we are ‘on’ and working for God and times when we can just be with God for our own soul’s sake. We might notice that Scripture has been reduced to a textbook or a tool for ministry rather than an intimate personal communication from God to us. Perhaps prayer has become an exhausting round of different kinds of mental activity or a public display of our spiritual prowess. When we repress what is real in our lives and just keep soldiering on, we get weary from holding it in and eventually it leaks out in ways that are damaging to ourselves and to others. Times of extended retreat give us a chance to come home to ourselves in God’s presence and to be with God with what is true about us in utter privacy. This is important for us and for those we serve. …on retreat there is time and space to attend to what is real in our own lives—to celebrate the joys, grieve the losses, shed tears, sit with the questions, feel anger, attend to loneliness—and allow God to be with us in those places. These are not times for problem solving because not everything can be solved. On retreat we rest ourselves in God and wait on him to do what is needed and we return to the battle with fresh energy and keen insight.” Ruth Hayley Barton

“My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:2

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you living/working “for God” without spending time “with God?”
  • Are you emotionally and spiritually exhausted? …running on fumes? …ready to melt down, blow up or burn out?
  • Are you living/ministering out of a place of emptiness? … “a parched and weary land?”
  • If your answers are “yes” to these questions, you’re in a very dangerous place. Can you make some changes? If not, what does that mean?

Abba, may my life and ministry flow out of a cultivated intimacy with you. Only you can do what needs to be done.

For more: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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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. 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: When You Want What This World Cannot Give (C. S. Lewis)

“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of longing, which just fades away in the reality. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.” C. S. Lewis

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
1 Peter 1:3-4

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Are you asking from your marriage, your family or your career something it can never give?
  • Can you be thankful for good things that are only “mirages” or pointers–even though they cannot help but disappoint?
  • Can you let those “echoes” do their work of encouraging you to “make it the main object of [your] life to press on to that other country” filled with realities only grasped at now?

Abba, my longings are ultimately for you. Let me look to you and be satisfied with you. You are enough. With you I have all that I need.

For more: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

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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. Thanks! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches – Publishing Changes

I’ve realized lately that it’s time for me to take a break from the daily publishing of this blog. I need to step back, rest, attend to some other things and other people, and give myself more time to live with the content before I publish it. I’ve resisted doing this for some time because of my love for the project, my sense of responsibility to my readers–and other things like ambition and worrying about what others would think–or how the project might lose momentum. I realize that I have to commit the fate of this project to God without regard to those things, and free up time to do more of what I have been writing about: loving well, resting and relaxing, slowing down, being less driven, and making space for contemplation. I always want this blog to be an overflow of what God is doing with me and never turn into something more like a deadline to meet. (It’s more work than I ever imagined to post something of quality six days a week.)

I’m still planning to write Daily Riches, but I’m afraid the name won’t fit so well anymore–not as far as the “Daily” part. I’m still going to post, but only when I want to, and when I can without interfering with the things I’m mentioned that need more attention. Maybe eventually, like after a sabbatical, I will return to the regular schedule. Thank you so much, faithful readers and new friends for your support–many of you have been reading almost since the beginning over two years ago. I hope you’ll still stay tuned for Riches that will come your way–albeit less frequently. And certainly, and especially if you’re a more recent subscriber, you may want to work through the archives. There’s a lot of great stuff there–most of it definitely worth reading more than one or two times. I still believe this project is important and unique, and I have really appreciated the support and feedback from many along the way.

Please pray for me in the meantime, and for the continuing influence and success of this project. As always, I wish the best for you, as you seek after God, and as God seeks after you.

Bill

Daily Riches: The Mystical Vocabulary of the Saints (Bonaventure, Richard Rohr and Reginald Heber)

“We are each loved by God

in a particular and incomparable way,
as in the case of
a bride and bridegroom.”
Bonaventure

“Divine intimacy is always and precisely particular and made to order–and thus ‘intimate.’  …But which comes first? Does feeling safe and held by God allow you to deal with others in the same way? Or does human tenderness allow you to imagine that God must be the same, but infinitely so? I do not suppose it really matters where you start; the important thing is that you get in on the big secret from one side or the other. Yes, ‘secret,’ or even ‘hidden secret,’ is what writers like the Psalmist (25:14), Paul, Rumi, Hafiz, Bonaventure, Lady Julian, and many mystics called it. And for some sad reason, it seems to be a well-kept secret. Jesus praises God for ‘hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them only to the little ones’ (Matthew 11:25). Well, what is it that the learned and the clever often cannot see? The big and hidden secret is this: an infinite God seeks and desires intimacy with the human soul. Once you experience such intimacy, only the intimate language of lovers describes what is going on for you: mystery, tenderness, singularity, specialness, changing the rules ‘for me,’ nakedness, risk, ecstasy, incessant longing, and of course also, necessary suffering. This is the mystical vocabulary of the saints.”

“Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favor secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.”

“Epiphany” by Reginald Heber

.

“The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.”
Psalm 25:14
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Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • Does feeling “safe and held by God” make you want to deal with others so they feel the same way?
  • Does human tenderness at its best allow you to imagine God’s tenderness towards you, but “infinitely so?”
  • Is the “language of lovers” the best way to characterize your relationship with God, or have you settled for/experienced only something less? Instead of as God’s beloved, would you describe yourself as a hard-working servant? a skillful apologist? a diligent rule-keeper?

Abba, more than anything, let me lean into your intimate love for me.

For More: Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr

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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: Christ Knocks at the Door (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Edwin Robertson)

“Every day, a quiet voice answers our cry, gently, persuasively, ‘I stand at the door and knock.’ Should we tremble at these words, this voice? The Spirit that we have called for, the Spirit that saves the world, is already here, at the door, knocking, patiently waiting for us to open the door. He has been there a long time and he has not gone away. His is a very quiet voice and few hear it. The cries of the marketplace and of those who sell shoddy goods are all too loud. But the knocking goes on and, despite the noise, we hear it at last. What shall we do? Who is it? Are we afraid or impatient? Perhaps we feel a little fear, lest someone undesirable is at the door, dangerous or with malignant intent. Should we open? In all this fuss, the royal visitor stands patiently, unrecognized, waiting. He knocks again, quite softly. Can you hear Him? And each of you may ask: Do you mean He is knocking at my door? Yes. First quiet those loud voices and listen carefully. Perhaps He knocks at the door of your heart. He wants to make your heart His own, to win your love. He would be a quiet guest within you. Jesus knocks — for you and for me. It takes only a willing ear to hear His knocking. Jesus comes, for sure, He comes again this year, and He comes to you. …We fear that we are not ready for Him. Is our heart ready for His visit? Is it fit to be His dwelling? The dwelling place of God? Perhaps, after all, Advent is a time for self-examination before we open the door.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock;
if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and will dine with him,
and he with Me.”
Jesus in Revelation 3:20

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Have you quieted yourself enough to hear the “quiet voice” of the “royal visitor” at the door?
  • Perhaps he wants to “win your love.” …to “make your heart His own?” Do you have that kind of relationship with Jesus?
  • “Jesus comes, for sure …and He comes for you.” Can you do some “self-examination before you open the door” to fellowship with him? …are you ready for his advent?

From where shall my help come? From you O Lord.

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 (Psalm 90:14)

Daily Riches: Loneliness and Fear (Robert Frost, Macrina Wiederkehr and Jim Palmer)

“Where had I heard this wind before

Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and the day was past.
Sombre clouds in the west were massed.
Out on the porch’s sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.”
Robert Frost, “Bereft”

“My loneliness attracts me to the feet of Jesus. Like a magnet I am drawn there, longing to be all one with God. The separateness I keep choosing makes me desperately homesick, and so I am willing, at last, to surrender my divided heart. I am homesick to be one with God. Union with God is the only heaven there is, and it begins here on earth. …There is someone I must become. There is someone I must be grafted onto, and how lonely I am until it is accomplished. My loneliness blesses me because it shows me that I’m not enough all by myself, and so I am impelled to reach out my arms and heart to God and to others. My loneliness blesses me because it encourages me to allow myself to be vulnerable. My loneliness blesses me because it won’t let me hide in the illusion of my self-sufficiency.” Macrina Wiederkehr

“Fear, guilt and shame can be useful on your spiritual journey. When you experience these, follow the trail back to the idea, notion, belief or concept that was the source.” Jim Palmer

“Whom have 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 73:25, 26

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Have you experienced the loneliness, the fear of being alone, with “no one left but God?”
  • Can you “follow the trail [of that feeling] back to … the belief or concept that was the source?”
  • Is there a way that your loneliness “blesses” you?

Abba, may loneliness carry me to you.

For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

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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: Love Turned Inward on the Self (Hannah Hurnard, Gustavo Gutierrez, John Bunyan and Julian of Norwich)

“Holiness is a most lovely word in the Bible sense. It means to be separated and set apart; separated, in fact, from all that is not love and set apart for one purpose only, that the Spirit of Holy Love may dwell in us and think in us and express himself through us. Holy people are people in whom holy love is incarnate.  …There is no evil except in the negation of love, which is the law on which God has founded his whole universe. Sin is love turned inward to the self, instead of outward to our Creator and to all mankind whom he has created.” Hannah Hurnard

“Liberation from sin is liberation from the refusal to love.” Gustavo Gutierrez

“Sin is the dare of God’s justice, the jeer of His patience, the slight of His power, and the contempt of His love.” John Bunyan

“God wishes to be seen,
and He wishes to be sought,
and He wishes to be expected,
and He wishes to be trusted.”
Julian of Norwich

“… love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Jesus, in Mathew 5:43-48

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • When you name your worst sin, is it “love turned inward upon itself?”
  • When you sin against God, do you think of it as “the contempt of His love?”
  • Can you sense God being disappointed and hurt by your failure to reciprocate his loving overtures? …by your “refusal to love?” …to “seek” him?

Loving Father, the only thing more astonishing than my sin is your loving grace. The only thing more predictable than my failure is your faithfulness. My sin is new every morning, but so is your unfailing love. Thank you for drawing me to you. Thank you for holding me there.

For More:  The Winged Life by Hannah Hurnard

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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 Prayer of Consent (Francis Fenelon and Thomas Keating)

“What God asks of us is a will which is no longer divided between Him and any creature. It is a will pliant in His hands which neither seeks nor rejects anything, which wants without reserve whatever He wants and which never wants under any pretext anything that He does not want. …Happy are those who give themselves to God! …placing our will entirely in the hands of God, we want only what God wants, and thus we find His consolation in faith and consequently hope in the midst of all suffering. …Happy are those who throw themselves with bowed heads into the arms of the ‘Father of mercies’ and the ‘God of all consolation’.” Francis Fenelon

“Contemplative prayer is a deepening of faith that moves beyond thoughts and concepts. One just listens to God, open and receptive to the divine presence in one’s inmost being as its source. One listens not with a view to hearing something, but with a view to becoming aware of the obstacles to one’s friendship with God. …In contemplative prayer the Spirit places us in a position where we are at rest and disinclined to fight. …Little by little, we enter into prayer without intentionality except to consent… and consent becomes surrender … and surrender becomes total receptivity… and, as the process continues, total receptivity becomes effortless, peaceful.… It is free and has nothing to attain, to get, or desire … So, no thinking, no reflection, no desire, no words, no thing … just receptivity and consent.” Thomas Keating

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine being “pliant” in God’s hands, never wanting “anything that He does not want?”
  • Are you willing to listen in prayer “with a view to becoming aware of the obstacles to [your] friendship with God?” …becoming “disinclined to fight?”
  • Are you willing to enter into a kind of prayer permeated only by “receptivity and consent?” Imagine what that would look like.

Abba, draw me to you, so that I throw myself with a bowed head into your arms, surrendering to you – the God who loves me and desires only good for me – the God of all mercy and consolation.

For More: Devotional Classics by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith

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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)

Daily Riches: Mindfulness – “Now, Here, This” (Ruth Haley Barton, Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr)

“Discernment is first of all a habit, a way of seeing that eventually  permeates our whole life. It is the journey from spiritual blindness (not seeing God anywhere or seeing him only where we expect to see him) to spiritual sight (finding God everywhere especially where we least expect it.)”  Ruth Haley Barton

“The spiritual life can only be lived in the present moment, in the now. All the great religious traditions insist upon this simple but difficult truth. When we go rushing ahead into the future or shrinking back into the past, we miss the hand of God, which can only touch us in the now.” Cynthia Bourgeault

“Most of Jesus’ contemporaries missed the ‘Real Presence’ that was right in their midst, and most of them were religiously observant people…. They were looking for religion, and he was just a human being.” Richard Rohr

“He came into the very world he created,
but the world didn’t recognize him.
He came to his own people,
and even they rejected him.”
John 1:10, 11

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Which describes you – unaware of God, looking for God in expected places, or expecting God everywhere? (Is God ubiquitous or “everywhere present” for you?)
  • We confess God ‘s activity in the past and anticipate God’s activity in the future. Do you expect God to show up in the present? …to “touch you in the now?”
  • Imagine all the people who saw and listened to Jesus when he walked the earth – God in their very midst – who “didn’t recognize him” and even “rejected him.” I wonder how often we fail to recognize him in our day.
  • What practices can you adopt that would help you to be more mindful of the God “in whom you live and move and exist?” (Acts 17:28)

Abba, help me to really “stop, look and listen” as I go through my day. Teach me to be more present to myself, to others and to you.

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For More: Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton

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The “Daily Riches” from RicherByFar are for your encouragement as you seek after God, and as he seeks after 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. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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

 

Daily Riches: Seeking God, Escaping Illusion (Thomas Merton)

“This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; …to love all men as myself; to rest in humility and to find peace in withdrawal from conflict and competition with other men; to turn aside from controversy and put away heavy loads of judgment and censorship and criticism and the whole burden of opinions that I have no obligation to carry; to have a will that is always ready to fold back within itself and draw all the powers of the soul down from the deepest center to rest in silent expectancy for the coming of God, poised in tranquil and effortless concentration upon the point of my dependence on Him; to gather all that I am, and have all that I can possibly suffer or do or be, and abandon them all to God in the resignation of a perfect love and blind faith and pure trust in God, to do His will.” Thomas Merton

“So like a fish going towards the sea, we [monks] must hurry to reach our cell*
for fear that if we delay outside we will lose our interior watchfulness.”
Anthony the Great

“Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence.” Abbot Pastor

“Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” Abbot Moses

*an ancient term for a quiet, private place to be with God

“But when you pray,
go into your room [and]
close the door”
Jesus, in Matthew 6:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • What two or three aspirations in Merton’s words resonate most with you? Can you form a prayer around them?
  • The dessert fathers had a plan for escaping the grip of illusion, confusion and judgment, and for cultivating liberty, peace and “silent expectancy for the coming of God.” Do you have such a plan?

Abba, help me to abandon myself to you in the resignation of a perfect love.

For More: The Wisdom of the Desert 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: The Gods Are Dying (Frederick Buechner)

“The gods are dying. The gods of this world are sick unto death.  …Which gods? The gods that we worship. The gods that our enemies worship. Their sacred names? There is Science, for one: he who was to redeem the world from poverty and disease, on whose mighty shoulders mankind was to be borne onward and upward toward the high stars. There is Communism, that holy one so terrible in his predilection for blood sacrifice but so magnificent in his promise of the messianic age: from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Or Democracy, that gentler god with his gospel of freedom for all peoples, including those people who after centuries of exploitation and neglect at the hands of the older democracies can be set free now only to flounder in danger of falling prey to new exploiters. And we must not leave out from this role of the dying what often passes for the god of the church: the god who sanctifies our foreign policy and our business methods, our political views and our racial prejudices. The god who, bless him, asks so little and promises so much: peace of mind, the end of our inferiority complexes. Go to church and feel better. The family that prays together stays together. Not everybody can afford a psychiatrist or two weeks of solid rest in the country, but anybody can afford this god. He comes cheap. These are the gods in whom the world has puts its ultimate trust. …And where are they now?  …Where is the security that they promised? Where is the peace? The terrible truth is that the gods of this world are no more worthy of our ultimate trust than are the men who created them.” Frederick Buechner

“O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you …
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.”
Psalm 63:1

 Moving From Head to Heart

  • Science, politics and religion – each in it’s own way and time, seemed so promising. Have you seen the limitations of each? If so, does that affect your practice of any of them?
  • Do you ever think of shortcomings of “the god of the church?” If so, what are they?
  • Is your “ultimate trust” actually in something man-made?
  • Is your understanding of god obscuring your view of the God who is there?

Abba, we long to know you as you are – or at least we think we do.

For More:  The Magnificent Defeat by Frederick Buechner

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

Daily Riches: The Mystics and Prayer (Abraham Heschel, Macrina Wiederkehr, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Emily Dickenson, Soren Kierkegaard, and David Benner)

“Our need of Him is but an echo of His need of us.” Abraham Heschel

“I strain toward God; God strains toward me.
I ache for God; God aches for me.
Prayer is mutual yearning,
mutual straining,
mutual aching.”
Macrina Wiederkehr

“Closer is he than breathing
and nearer than hands and feet.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson

“The soul should always stand ajar.”
Emily Dickenson

“Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as he likes.” Oswald Chambers

“Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace. If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace.” Amy Carmichael

“Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, so the mystic longs for the moment when in prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.”  Soren Kierkegaard

“Just imagine how different your life would be if moment by moment you were constantly open to God. Think of how much your experience of yourself, others and the world would change if you were continuously attuned to the loving presence of God and allowed the life of God to flow into and through you with each breath. …It holds the possibility of helping us move from occasional acts of praying to a life of prayer.” David Benner

“For in him we live and move and exist.
As some of your own poets have said,
‘We are his offspring.’”
Acts 17:28
St. Paul, quoting Epimenides and Aratus

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you imagine a God who “needs” you? …who “aches for you?” (Heschel is an expert in the Hebrew prophets where these ideas recur.)
  • Can you imagine a God who is “closer than your hands and feet?” …in whom you “live and move and exist?”
  • Can the mystic’s aspiration to “creep into God” motivate you to deeper intimacy – to keep your “soul ajar?” … in “a state of expectancy?” …to “leave room for God to come as he likes?” …to “allow his life to flow through you with each breath?”

Abba, satisfy my longing for deeper intimacy with you.

For More: A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

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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.”