Daily Riches: Grace Makes Beauty Out of Ugly Things (Gerald May, Frederick Buechner, Bono)

“For Christians, grace is the dynamic outpouring of God’s lov­ing nature that flows into and through creation in an endless self-offering of healing, love, illumination, and reconciliation. It is a gift that we are free to ignore, reject, ask for, or simply accept. And it is a gift that is often given in spite of our inten­tions and errors. At such times, when grace is so clearly given unrequested, uninvited, even undeserved, there can be no au­thentic response but gratitude and awe.” Gerald May

“Here is your life.
You might never have been, but you are,
because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.
Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.
I am with you.”

Frederick Buechner

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“Grace, she takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name
Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that could change the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she’s got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She’s got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma, karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear the strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flue for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark no longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things
Grace finds beauty in everything
Grace finds goodness in everything.”
Bono

“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.
He did this, not because we deserved it,
but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—
to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:9

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Are you aware enough of God’s “endless self-offering” that you’re often filled with “gratitude and awe?”
  • Are you waiting well, as you look for God to make “beauty out of ugly things” in your life and world?
  • God looks for and finds unexpected beauty in hidden places–in unlikely people. How are you doing at that?

Abba, catch me up in your endless self-offering of healing, love, illumination, and reconciliation in this, my broken world.

For more: Addiction and Grace by Gerald May

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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)

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

Daily Riches: Practicing Attentiveness to the Divine Presence Within (Thomas Keating and Gerald May) *

“Contemplative prayer begins to make us aware of the divine presence within us, the source of true happiness. As soon as we begin to taste the peace that comes from the regular practice of contemplative prayer, it relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds,’ of aversions and desires that were based on emotional programs for happiness that might have worked for children, but that are, in fact, killing us.” Thomas Keating

“In one sense, quiet prayer is really nothing other than the practice of faithful attentiveness. I am not speaking here of meditation that in­volves guided imagery or scriptural reflections, but of a more contemplative practice in which one just sits still and stays awake with God. This kind of meditation is extremely difficult, especially in the midst of battles with addiction, because it gives us nothing special to do, no fancy ways to entertain our­selves or to escape from the simple truth of the moment. Attentive meditation can be a true ascetic practice. It is like fasting for the mind. One only sits there, inclined toward God, noticing the thoughts and sensations that come and go, adding nothing to them, subtracting nothing from them. The mind is allowed to be what it is, but it is seen. When properly practiced and truly graced, this kind of meditation—to the extent that we can bear it—can be very powerful in exposing and vaporizing mind tricks.” Gerald May

“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me, and I am in you. …
The one who loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Jesus in John 14:20-21

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Can you identify “emotional programs for happiness” in place in your life that are “killing” you instead?
  • Do you believe the words of Jesus that as God’s child, God dwells in you? How often are you aware of this “divine presence within” you? Can you simply be “faithfully attentive” to it?
  • The regular practice of contemplative prayer “relativizes the whole unreal world of demands and ‘shoulds’…” and gives us peace. The world’s demands are relentless, so it is any wonder that this relativizing work must also be “regular” or relentless?
  • Is your practice of contemplative prayer helping you find peace, and expose and vaporize “mind tricks?”

Abba, help me to recognize and reject my emotional programs for happiness, as I regularly spend time in your presence and you lovingly put the world’s demands and desires into perspective for me. Help me to grow in my awareness of your divine presence in me, and find my happiness there.

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For More: The Human Condition by Thomas Keating

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“There is nothing new except what has been forgotten.” (Marie Antionette) , and thus “Men more often require to be reminded than informed.” (Samuel Johnson) The purpose of Daily Riches is to return again and again to a list of critical concepts at the core of the spiritual life. “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you [may] already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.” (2 Peter 1:12)  I appreciate your interest! When you find this helpful, please share! – Bill

Daily Riches: Depression As a “Trapdoor” to God (Jim Palmer and Gerald May) *

“I used to be ashamed of my depression, but now I see it’s a secret trapdoor to God. When it hits, I sink down into that black hole and often find Jesus there. … now when I am asked [who Jesus is], I am most inclined to say, ‘Jesus is the one who sits down close to me in my black hole of despair, offering himself until it passes.’” Jim Palmer

“Grace is only truly appreciated and expressed in the actual, immediate experience of real life situations. Finally, it can only be ‘lived into.'” Gerald May

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it [Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”] away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you have some weakness, hardship, persecution, addiction or other difficulty that causes you to sink down into a “black hole of despair?”
  • Can you imagine Jesus “sitting down close to you” in that dark, painful place and “offering himself until it passes?” Do that now.
  • We often despise our weaknesses, and ourselves for being weak, but the apostle Paul says he is glad for his weaknesses and delights in his difficulties. The next time you visit your own painful “black hole” of trouble, can you wait there for God to make himself known to you in a new and saving way? offering you, not necessarily healing, but the gift of himself? a new sense of his presence? that he is enough?

Abba, thank you for desiring to make yourself known to me in the midst of my most painful experiences. Help me to notice, to listen and learn, to submit, to give thanks, to be comforted, to be changed.

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For More: Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God by Jim Palmer

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