Wild Geese…a poem by Mary Oliver

This is a beautiful poem that speaks for itself and the first few lines are of particular encouragement for those tortured souls…you know who you are.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Who knew?…a post by Tom

The spiritual life is not easy. Our false self does not go down without a fight, and one to the death. This is a really inconvenient battle to wage when it is challenging enough to just live life.  Who really knew what we were signing up for in following Jesus and taking this journey seriously? Who really knew that the path would evolve and feel more like death and descent? The One Who guides us knows. Others who have gone before know. Be encouraged by the following quote from Joseph Benner an American Protestant mystic who seems to know.

You, My Beloved, who have consecrated yourself to Me, and are bending every effort to find union with Me, but instead have found apparently that every prop of the World’s support has been withdrawn or is being withdrawn, and that you are without money and without friends, and know not where to turn for human help.

Learn, My Blessed One, that you are very, very, close now, and that if you will only continue to abide in Me, letting my Word abide in you and guide you, resting and trusting absolutely in My Promise, I will very soon bring to you a Joy, a Fulfillment, a Peace, that human words and human minds cannot possibly picture.

For you have obeyed My Commands, and have trusted Me, and have sought first My Kingdom and My Righteousness, and therefore will I add all other things unto you, even those the World has denied you.

-Joseph Benner, The Impersonal Life

Empathy vs Sympathy…a video post by Tom

Check out the following short video illustrating the important difference between empathy and sympathy.  Now ask the question which one is God? Which one are you? Imagine how the quality of our relationships  would improve if we embodied this…and thus the quality of our lives.

 

Dark Night…a post by Tom

Jeremiah 20:7 (ESV)

                        O Lord, you have deceived me,

and I was deceived;

                        you are stronger than I,

and you have prevailed.

                        I have become a laughingstock all the day;

everyone mocks me.

 

This is not what the prophet Jeremiah signed up for. He was doing everything he thought he was supposed to be doing. He was following God. He was getting pounded in the process. I love Jeremiah’s unabashedly bold and emotional words of honesty. It is one thing to feel that Satan has deceived you but God? Wow. This is truly a place of ultimate defeat and undoing. God has won and there are no moves left. Check mate.

Real growth happens in the dark. The seed must shed its protective covering and venture out exposed and vulnerable into the unknown. Intuitively being led to the surface it must grow through the darkness, the decomposing plant material, manure, and bugs. Was this what the seed signed up for when it dangled in the beautiful tree dancing in the sun and breeze? What was known inside the safe cocoon must be set aside. It must evolve and change at all costs or else Life will not go on.

All of us establish ways of relating to God that work in the beginning. But then this gets dramatically shifted. The Bible reading, prayers, songs, and relationships no longer feed the soul. Is something wrong or is something right? For sure something is being shed and something is being solidified. We might even feel ‘deceived’ by God because we thought we were doing the right thing and now everything seems so wrong. This is what is so unnerving about the Dark Night. The equation for life changes at a very profound level. Something is happening and we don’t have the categories for naming it and I can no longer hold my present experience. I must now be held. “Into Your hands I commit my spirit.”

Christ, the Doting Father…a post by Joy

This past week-end we have been celebrating the 1st birthday of our grandson, Hayden. Having never been in this position before, we entered the occasion with delight! Travel plans to fly across the country were made, bags were packed, the camera and phones were charged to take lots of pictures and video clips and of course, a birthday gift was chosen, purchased and wrapped.

While participating in the preparations for the party, Jim and I were told that Hayden needed a playmate. We, or course, obliged! Watching him explore while crawling from place to place reminded me how far he has come since he first began. Stacking cups of different sizes, throwing and retrieving balls, knowing how to turn the pages of his baby books, taking stronger steps one at a time while holding onto someone’s fingers.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him! It’s true that as a grandmother, I have “fallen in love” with him! I held him as often as I could, laughed with him, played with him, sang to him, and helped with the other activities of carrying for a baby.

I kept thinking that Christ must dote over us the way that I am “foolishly” and crazily happy to be around my little grandson! It brings joy to me to just watch him in his process of constantly playing to learn new things and to keep going, especially in the crawling stage and now as he is exploring and trying to walk on his own 2 feet.

Christ loves each of us with this doting insatiable fondness. Sometimes we may think He doesn’t really love us that much in our day to day lives when we may feel shamed, or guilty, fearful, or angry. Yet, He Does! He loves us with that doting love right where we are in our journey……even when we are just beginning to crawl!

Two of my favorite verses are Ephesians 3:17-19.

“May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide,

how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will

never fully understand it.

Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. “

What Does Loneliness Tell Us about Ourselves?

Taken from The Relational Soul – Be it chronic or acute, slight or significant, loneliness is proof of our relational design. At the core of our being is this truth—we are designed FOR and defined BY our relationships. We were born with a relentless longing to participate in the life of others. Fundamentally, we are relational souls. We cannot not be relational. We cannot exist well without connection and communion with another. Relational reactivity and alienation is death for the soul.

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