Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pure affection.

The Lord is my shepherd and nothing is wanting to me. In green pastures He has settled me. Psalm 23:1

Meditating on the Cross

CAC's logo, an oval framing two intersecting arrows forming the cross of Christ, shows a collision of opposites. One arrow leads downward, preferring the truth of the humble. The other moves leftward against the grain. All is wrapped safely inside a hidden harmony: one world, God's cosmos, a benevolent universe. The Celtic cross also places the vertical and horizontal bars within a circle, embracing the suffering of Christ within our own human context and God's eternal love.

Spend some time meditating on an image of the cross. Allow your body, mind, and heart to be completely present to the suffering of Jesus. Welcome your own memories or sensations of pain, sorrow, grief. Hold them gently within the circle of God's presence--God's solidarity with human suffering. See if you can hold the suffering with God and, at the same time, rest in faith that from every death comes new life; in every wound there is the opportunity for healing and hope. –Richard Rohr

O God, You have taught me to keep all your commandments by loving you and my neighbor: Grant me the grace of Your Holy Spirit, that I may be devoted to You with my whole heart, and united to others with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And Jenny told me a story today of pure affection, of the gift of presence. And how, in the midst of busy rush rush during a busy rush rush trip to San Diego, Britta sat next to her. Silently. Being. Aware. Noticing.

And maybe the whole deal with the Falling Upward second half of my life will be this quiet charity. May it be the whole deal.

Shoving the checklists to one side.

Andres told us that his new life of love for God is listening. He loves God by inviting pilgrims up the stairs for a cafĂ© con leche and listening. And he doesn’t even need to tell his own story.

Richard Rohr has lots of thoughts to share on what this would look like.
Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change.

It’s a gift to joyfully recognize and accept our own smallness and ordinariness. Then you are free with nothing to live up to, nothing to prove, and nothing to protect. Such freedom is my best description of Christian maturity, because once you know that your “I” is great and one with God, you can ironically be quite content with a small and ordinary “I.” No grandstanding is necessary. Any question of your own importance or dignity has already been resolved once and for all and forever.

People who’ve had any genuine spiritual experience always know that they don’t know. They are utterly humbled before mystery. They are in awe before the abyss of it all, in wonder at eternity and depth, and a Love, which is incomprehensible to the mind.

We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.

So what does this new living look like?

I don’t know. And I have the reminder from Tom Hanks, “Aren’t you worried?” and the calm response from the guilty spy, “Would it help?”

So I woke up once in the middle of my fourteen-hour-sleep adjustment to the new time zone. And the song with which I rocked myself back to sleep was My Glory and the Lifter of my head.

And He is a shield to me. Against the darts of accusation and fear and self. All those lies from the enemy.

And I can sort of start daydreaming about what is going to be like to teach American history and physical science to eighth graders and Writing Workshop to language learners. And how it can be engaging and purposeful and I got a fresh perspective from wandering around Istanbul and Greece and Italy. Gianni told me a lot of stories about World War II in Naples. Twenty thousand Napolese fell victim to three years of indiscriminate allied bombing. But there was a four-day unarmed uprising against the German occupiers in which they were forced to abandon the city in before the arrival of the allied forces, for which the city was awarded a gold medal of valor. Gianni sort of described it as a scene out of Les Miserables.

Most importantly, I will look these fourteen-year-olds in the eye and pause. Silently. Being. Aware. Noticing.

The most common one-liner in the Bible is, "Do not be afraid." Someone counted, and it occurs 365 times.

One arrow leads downward, preferring the truth of the humble. The other moves leftward against the grain.

My Glory and the Lifter of my head.