POETRY: Let Me Be To Thee As The Circling Bird, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Let me be to Thee as the circling bird, Or bat with tender and air-crisping wings That shapes in half-light his departing rings, From both of whom a changeless note is heard. I have found my music in a common word, Trying each pleasurable throat that sings And every praised sequence of sweet strings, And know infallibly which I preferred. The authentic cadence was discovered late Which ends those only strains that I approve, And other science all gone out of date And minor sweetness scarce made mention of: I have found the dominant of my range and state— Love, O my God, to call thee Love and [...]

JESUS: To Love In Christ, by Hubert van Zeller

It follows logically from the foregoing that if we live Christ’s life we love with Christ’s love.  His life is all love; his spirit is all love.  It is not so much that his love “rubs off” on us but that it actually animates us and “informs” our every activity.  We breathe his spirit, and since his spirit is love we love with his love.  Our love such as it is, is nothing without grace, nothing without his spirit.  We have not invented what love there is in us; we cannot fashion charity as we can fashion a rose garden or an omelette.  The most we can do is direct it from him within us to him outside us.  Our love for others, provided it is in charity and not in worldly desire, is the response of [...]

POETRY: Non-Disparagement Agreement, by Mary F. C. Pratt

After David Weinstock If you won’t tell how I cried, I won’t tell how you left. You won’t tell my raging, either, how I blamed you for everything: my sister’s dying, the terrorists, war, cancer and pain, blindness, stupidity. So  you won’t tell how I slammed doors, broke goblets, made a fool of myself every time I remembered. And I won’t tell how quiet you were, how you wouldn’t turn back when I called. I won’t tell of the blank, the emptiness of the faceless winter sky with its perfect stillness of stars, the hollowness of the laughter at feasts, the blandness of Rilke and Bach. You mocked me with happinesses, with sunrises and hymns, but I won’t tell. You won’t tell how I [...]

POETRY: The Search, by George Herbert

Whither, O whither art Thou fled, My Lord, my Love ? My searches are my daily bread, Yet never prove. My knees pierce the earth, mine eyes the sky; And yet the sphere And center both to me deny That Thou art there. Yet can I mark how herbs below Grow green and gay, As if to meet Thee they did know, While I decay. Yet can I mark how stars above Simper and shine, As having keys unto Thy love, While poor I pine. I sent a sigh to seek Thee out, Deep drawn in pain, Winged like an arrow; but my scout Returns in vain. I turned another (having store) Into a groan, Because the search was dumb before; But all was one. Lord, dost Thou some new fabric mold Which favor wins, And keeps Thee present; leaving the old Unto their sins? Where is my God ? [...]

JESUS: He Weeps, by M. G. J. Beets

From The Wordless Voice Jesus wept. The Jews then said: “Look how he has loved him.” Some of them said: “Could this man who has opened the eyes of a blind man not have done something so that Lazarus would not have died?” (John 11:35-37) We assume, as a consequence of our approach to the gospel as a philosophical text of the highest importance which we are trying to understand in depth, that there is nothing we are told about Christ that does not have a special significance. In the verses 11:33 and 35 we are told that Jesus is distressed and that he weeps.  These words certainly mean that Christ shares with us our human emotion of grief and so, that he weeps becuase someone he loves has died and because of his [...]

CHILDREN: To Love The Lord, by Adrienne von Speyr

From Mark: Meditations for a Community Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. (10:14b-15) We will contemplate: 1. how the Lord wants to receive the children; 2. how the Kingdom of God belongs to them; 3. the condition for acceptance into the Kingdom. One: Let the children come to me, do not hinder them. The Lord knows that his influence will actually be greatest in children, children who are without complications, who thirst for love, feel his love, surrender themselves to it, and take it with them into their lives as a matter of course.  In doing so, they allow everything else, Christian [...]

POETRY: Solace, by Dick Allen

Newtown, CT December 2012 There are the fields we’ll walk across In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the fields we’ll walk across. There are the houses we’ll walk toward In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the houses we’ll walk toward. There are the faces we once kissed In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, There are the faces we once kissed. Incredible how we laughed and cried In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, Incredible how we laughed and cried. Incredible how we’ll meet again In the snow lightly falling. In the snow lightly falling, Incredible how we’ll meet again. No small hand will go unheld [...]

POETRY: Into Solitude, by Anna Kamieńska

We descend into solitude step by step further and further down stanzas of verses into depths never expected determined to live without poor substitutes in a cruel and impossible purity there at the very bottom to regain all those who huddle at the gate of this wide-open emptiness grandmothers aunts and uncles already forgotten strangers who once crossed a courtyard someone out of work who knocked on the window someone passed by on a footbridge the dead the living it doesn’t matter the beautiful boy who stood below the pulpit looking like an angel almost an angel and the one who hit me on the forehead with a stone where a mark still remains and the washerwoman who reappeared at our home like Kronos and went away bent under the weight [...]


From The School of Charity When we look out towards this Love that moves the stars and stirs in the child’s heart, and claims our total allegiance and remember that this alone is Reality and we are only real so far as we conform to its demands, we see our human situation from a fresh angle; and perceive that it is both more humble and dependent, and more splendid, than we had dreamed.  We are surrounded and penetrated by great spiritual forces, of which we hardly know anything.  Yet the outward events of our life cannot be understood, except in their relation to that unseen and intensely living world, the Infinite Charity which penetrates and supports us, the God whom we resist and yet for whom we thirst; who is ever at work, [...]

ADVENT WITH EVELYN UNDERHILL: Love Is An Orientation Toward God

From The Life of the Spirit and the Life of Today Christians, on the authority of their Master, declare that such love of God requires all that they have, not only of feeling, but also of intellect and of power; since he is to be loved with heart and mind and strength.  Thought and action on highest levels are involved in it, for it means, not religious emotionalism, but the unflickering orientation of the whole self towards him, ever seeking and finding the Eternal; the linking up of all behavior on that string, so that the apparently hard and always heroic choices which are demanded, are made at last because they are inevitable.  It is true that this dominant interest will give to our lives a special emotional color and a special [...]

THE SANCTITY OF LIFE: Things Seen And Unseen, by Sam Torode

From A woman in a white coat walked into the room and flipped on the fluorescent lights, jarring my wife awake.  Bethany had been asleep for about half an hour – the longest nap she had managed all day.  Though the doctor had ordered her to get plenty of sleep, nurses kept coming in every few minutes to take her temperature and blood pressure. The day before, we were invited to lunch at a Thai restaurant.  When we returned home, Bethany was bothered by a cramp in her side.  Blaming the food, she laid down in bed.  But after four hours of increasing pain, we left for the emergency room, thinking that it might be appendicitis.  We were right, after after a few hours the appendix was removed with no complications [...]

POETRY: Love Sorrow, by Mary Oliver

Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you must take care of what has been given. Brush her hair, help her into her little coat, hold her hand, especially when crossing a street. For, think, what if you should lose her? Then you would be sorrow yourself; her drawn face, her sleeplessness would be yours. Take care, touch her forehead that she feel herself not so utterly alone. And smile, that she does not altogether forget the world before the lesson. Have patience in abundance. And do not ever lie or ever leave her even for a moment by herself, which is to say, possibly, again, abandoned. She is strange, mute, difficult, sometimes unmanageable but, remember, she is a child. And amazing things can happen. And you may see, as the two of you go [...]

PRAYER: The Monday Wash, by Michel Quoist

From New Prayers As he walked the roads of Palestine, Jesus observed the life going on around him.  Especially the life of ordinary people: the woman making bread, the woman searching for a lost coin; the injured man who had been attacked on the road, the children playing and the widow weeping; the sower in the field, the good harvest, and the shepherd with his flock…as he observed, he was filled with wonder.  He saw the seeds of the Kingdom sprouting already through all this life. Jesus is still traveling our human roads today: “I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)  He beckons to us, unobtrusively.  Wherever there is the smallest gesture of genuine love, he is there: “Love comes from [...]

POETRY: Pomegranate As My Heart, by Gary Soto

I don’t have much to offer But this pomegranate, A fruit ancient as the Nile, A fruit that bleeds like a heart. I can only think of how beautiful you are. If I could crack open this pomegranate And share it with you, Would that be a nice gift? We could nibble these jewels, Smile red smiles. I wait at the curb, tossing the pomegranate From one hand to the other. Come out, please.  I’m waiting. How many times will I juggle This ancient fruit before it drops? If I do—and it splits open To reveal its jewels— I’ll give you the largest [...]

POETRY: Vita Nova, by Louise Glück

You saved me, you should remember me. The spring of the year; young men buying tickets for the ferry boats. Laughter, because the air is full of apple blossoms. When I woke up, I realized I was capable of the same feeling. I remember sounds like that from my childhood, laughter for no cause, simply because the world is beautiful, something like that. Lugano. Tables under the apple trees. Deckhands raising and lowering the colored flags. And by the lake’s edge, a young man throws his hat into the water; perhaps his sweetheart has accepted him. Crucial sounds or gestures like a track laid down before the larger themes and then unused, buried. Islands in the distance. My mother holding out a plate of little cakes— as far as I [...]

MINISTERING SPIRITS: Raphael The Healer, by David Albert Jones

From Angels The story of the Archangel Raphael is told in the book of Tobit.  The book tells the story of a man called Tobit who is an Israelite of the tribe of Naphtali, but who lives in exile.  He is an upright man and risks his life to give a proper burial to bodies of Israelites who have been killed.  One evening, because it is so hot, he sleeps outside with his face uncovered and is blinded by sparrows’ droppings falling into his eyes. I went to the physicians to be healed but the more they treated me with ointments the more my vision was obscured by the white films, until I became completely blind.  Meanwhile, in a town some distance away, a relative called Sarah is afflicted by a demon.  She had been married to [...]

GOD 101: The Last Lesson

I was a young woman when the serious lessons began.  After my time of Rumspringa – or in my case, running away from God. Not long after I was hunted down and recaptured. Well, it wasn’t that dramatic.  But it adds a nice flourish to the story, don’t you think? It didn’t take me long to realize that the lessons weren’t like lessons in school: lessons I could apply myself to and learn easily and with a little time and effort. We’ll leave geometry out of the above equation. But, in spite of needing infinite time, patience, and the willingness to actually apply myself to these lessons, they just kept coming. The Lesson of Silence…. The Meaning of Patience…. The Lesson of Six…. The [...]

SERMON: Love Thine Enemy, by George MacDonald

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48) Is not this at length too much to expect? [...]

POETRY: Prayer (2), by Langston Hughes

Gather up In the arms of your pity The sick, the depraved, The desperate, the tired, All the scum Of our weary city. Gather up In the arms of your pity. Gather up In the arms of your love— Those who expect No love from [...]

POETRY: Live To Love, by Jeanne Guyon

Since Life in sorrow must be spent, So be it—I am well content, And meekly wait my last Remove, Seeking only growth in Love. No bliss I seek but to fulfill In life, in death, Thy lovely will, No succor in my woes I want, Save what Thou art pleased to grant. Our days are numbered, let us spare Our anxious hearts a needless care,— ‘Tis Thine to number out our days, Ours to give them to Thy praise. Love is our only business here, Love, simple, constant, and sincere, Oh blessed days Thy servants see, Spent O Lord, in pleasing [...]

POETRY: The Land Of Silence, by May Sarton

1 Time beats like a heart; we do not hear it But we are nourished as by sleep after pain. Death is so close to life that we can bear it. The smallest veins drink time and breathe again. 2 The horizon is inhabited by mountains, The foreground presents birds. In the morning I saw the gray dove In the bare trees, active as a mother, And in the evening without words The intense violet light Lifted the mountains away into night. And I knew I did not have to make a choice But only to look at each thing as it came, To look as one might listen to a voice Unknown, but calling a familiar name. 3 Now I am here in the land of silence, Of the near dove and the distant hills, I know that the surface is the essence, No stripping down to what is already [...]

LOVE: Where Is Heaven?, by Jacob Boehme

Men have always been of the opinion that Heaven is many hundred, no, many thousands of miles distant above the face of the Earth, and that God dwells only in that upward Heaven. Some have undertaken to measure this height and distance, and have produced many strange and ghastly devices to do so. Indeed, before my knowledge and revelation of God, I believed that the only true Heaven was a round circumference, very azure of a light blue color, which extended above the stars; and I supposed that God had deposited therein his peculiar being, and that he ruled in this world only in the power of his Holy Spirit. But when this notion had produced many problems in me and I, at last, found it repulsive, doubtless from the moving of the Spirit, [...]

POETRY: Substitution, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

When some beloved voice that was to you Both sound and sweetness, faileth suddenly, And silence, against which you dare not cry, Aches round you like a strong disease and new— What hope? what help? what music will undo That silence to your sense? Not friendship’s sigh, Not reason’s subtle count; not melody Of viols, nor of pipes that Faunus blew; Not songs of poets, nor of nightingales Whose hearts leap upward through the cypress-trees To the clear moon; nor yet the spheric laws Self-chanted, nor the angels’ sweet “All hails,” Met in the smile of God: nay, none of these. Speak THOU, availing Christ!—and fill this [...]

FAITH: He First, by Father Andrew

From Meditations for Every Day We love him because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) There are some truths which make the whole difference to life, and the thought of the priority of God is one of them.  God is first in priority of time.  In the story of Genesis (and science tells us the same thing), the world was got ready for man before man came into it.  Beauty was fashioned before the eye was fashioned to see it.  The songs of the birds, the sigh of the wind, and the sound of the sea, were all there before the ear.  We live because God first lived.  The world of speculation that scientific people give us only puts the mystery a little further back.  They never can tell us of the First Cause.  There is no other answer but that [...]

HOLY SPIRIT: Knowledge Through Love, by Paul Tillich

From The Shaking of the Foundations Love never faileth; but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.(I Corinthians 13:8-12) Paul speaks in the famous words of our text, of things which are in part, or, as we should say today, fragmentary things, [...]

POETRY: A Song Of Praises, by Robert Siegel

for the gray nudge of dawn at the window for the chill that hangs around the bed and slips its cold tongue under the covers for the cat that walks over my face purring murderously for the warmth of the hip next to mine and sweet lethargy for the cranking up of the will until it turns me out of bed for the robe’s caress along arm and neck for the welcome of hot water, the dissolving of the night’s stiff mask in the warm washcloth for the light along the while porcelain sink for the toothbrush’s savory invasion of the tomb of the mouth and resurrection of the breath for the warm lather and the clean scrape of the razor and the skin smooth and pink that emerges for the steam of the shower, the apprehensive shiver and then [...]

JESUS: On The Love Of God And The Illumination Of The Blind Man, by Augustine

Love God. You will not find anything more worthy of love. You love silver, because it is more precious than iron or bronze. You love gold still more, because it is more precious than silver. Still more precious stones, for they are prized above gold. Last, you love this light; which all who dread death fear to leave. You love light, I say, as he loved it, with deep longing, who cried to Jesus: Son of David, have mercy on me. The blind man cries out, as Jesus was passing by. He heard he might pass by, and not heal him. And how earnestly he cried? Though the crowd rebuked him, he would not be silent. He overcame his rebukers, and held our Savior. While the crowd clamored against him, and forbade him cry out, Jesus stands, and called him, and [...]

HEALING: Skin Deep

All my life I have known that one of my greatest weaknesses – a downright stupidity, in fact – is the way I viewed my body. At most, even as a child, I saw my body as existing solely to house my brain.  It is here so I can think. That’s it. A body might receive a prayer of healing from time-to-time.  It may get the attention it screams for, but only because it is screaming. Because I have given birth, I do know that giving a body rest is essential for all to be well.  But only enough rest to get to the point when getting up and running around again is enabled. I have become something of a professional at being seriously ill.  With being faced with death.  And taking the moments required to straighten it all out. So I [...]

RESURRECTION: Always And Forever, the Final Word, by Richard Rohr

From Sick, and You Cared For Me “Think of what is above, not of what is on Earth.” Don’t you often wonder why so much of human life seems so futile, so tragic, so short, so sad?  If Christ has risen, and we speak so much of being risen with Christ, then why do most people experience their life as tragic more than triumphant?  Why is there nonstop war?  Why are there so many people unjustly imprisoned?  Why are the poor oppressed?  Why, even in Christian nations, is there a long history of deceit and injustice?  Why do so few marriages last, even among those of us who say that we believe?  Why are there so many children born with disabilities?  Why do we destroy so many of our relationships?  Why? What are you up [...]

POETRY: Banding, by Suzanne Underwood Rhodes

The nets of God hang in every wild place to catch the unwary migrant, one with the skull another to fall from the sky on the ten-thousandth mile, but when he holds one of those small, terrified bodies like a jewel between his thumb and forefinger and unfans the wing to measure it, secretly admiring the bars he conceived to catch his own hungry eye, and the little claw foot he rings with a coded band that numbers the feathers and weds him forever to the pulse in his palm that recalls his own heaving heart the day he flew into a net and hung there thirsting in the woods where only a wasp moved, flicking cobalt wings, when he lets go, when he flings what he has marked into emptiness, he follows the speck with his eye to South America and [...]