O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1, NRSV
I sip coffee, dark and smooth with a hint of cinnamon.
The wrens scold me as they carry food to their young the bird box on the front porch.
I lie in the lawn chair and watch clouds form, transform, and disappear.
I stack a smooth river stone to the pile on top of the bridge over Cave Creek.
The river roars in the canyon below. Its sounds lift my spirits, my heart.
I walk to the river at dusk and watch the ouzel hopping from rock to rock, stopping to preening its feathers before roosting for the night.
I smell the cool, earthy moisture by the river and the hot dustiness in the kitchen.
Vivid memories inhabit me. I breath them in with gratitude. In this place, I am surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.
Drink deep from the present moment. The living, healing Spirit lives here.
How strange and wonderful that I can wake up in the hot, humid south and go to sleep in the cool mountains of Colorado.
Today is my first full day of seven here in this beautiful place.
I took two naps after lunch and then walked down by the river to see what was blooming and what I’ve missed in my two-year absence.
I stopped to visit with my favorite wildflower. The shooting star by the river was still there, yellowing and dying back so that it can bloom again next spring.
What comfort to find this place of stability in a world that is ever-changing and often feels out of control.
Now I need to unwind, to let go of the chatter, to be let myself be fully present to this time of rest.
Dear Doughnut Fairy,
I don’t know who you are, but I wanted to thank you for this amazing gift you left for me this morning with the security guard.
The guard was so responsible. He did not eat the doughnut, but, instead, called me to come get it.
I am so grateful to know that Good Still Exists in this crazy world of ours. And yes, there ARE STILL Magical Doughnut Fairies spreading joy and doughnuts throughout the universe.
The writings of Henri Nouwen have been filling my meditation and challenging me to consider how we can spiritually survive our journey today.
“Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but our emotional and mental pain as well. … When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch or no record to play, and when we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again.”
-Henri J. M. Nouwen
Reaching Out (first published 1975)
Dear God, I am so afraid to open my clenched fists! Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to? Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands? Please help me to gradually open my hands and to discover that I am not what I own, but what you want to give me. And what you want to give me is love — unconditional, everlasting love. Amen.
With Open Hands (first published 1972)
When I put down my phone,
When I turn off the news,
When I take a break from the Netflix show I am binging,
When I try to get quiet inside,
My hands twitch towards my pocket or bag
As I try to find that smooth device that keeps me tethered to …
What is it I’m yearning to be tethered to:
Reality? Busyness? The avoidance of pain or fear?
What is it that I’m seeking to fill up the emptiness inside of me?
They say God created us with a God-shaped hole inside of us.
And then I put everything I can into that place
So that I don’t have to feel lonely or anxious or empty.
God is calling me to reclaim the disciplines that I have forgotten.
For me, they are sabbath, silence, and breathing.
What are the disciplines to which you’re being called?
We come into this world
With you on the horizon.
Sometimes you are close.
Sometimes you are so far away that we cannot see you.
But you are there – always.
Why is it such a surprise
When we see you at our neighbor’s door?
When we watch you walk down the hallway toward us?
There are those who have met you and found peace in your presence.
Those who seem to befriend you,
Not afraid of you or what you bring.
I want to be like one of them.
Help me, God of Life, to walk the path you have for me.
I am yours.
I left a small tip in my room for the housekeeping staff. And then, coming “home,” I met Gloria finishing up 215.
“Hello” and “Thank you,” I said. “Thank you for my tip,” she said.
And then we talked, strangers together, listening through the beautiful dance of too little of each others’ languages (my too-little Spanish and her too-little English.)
She told me that they moved here from Texas because the services are better for her son with autism. He is eleven years old , but his mental level is six. The tips are his — money for Christmas.
Her friendly sharing and her gracious gratitude stopped me in my busyness. A sacred encounter of strangers on a journey, separate and together. May I have eyes to see and ears to hear the stories of those whose paths I cross.
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Colmcille, the Irish monk who lived and walked in Ireland and then went across the sea and founded Iona.
Last year in July, we walked the Turas Cholmcille in County Donegal that people will walk today.
Let me bless almighty God, whose power extends over sea and land, whose angels watch over all. Let me study sacred books to calm my soul; I pray for peace, kneeling at heaven’s gates. Let me do my daily work, gathering seaweed, catching fish, giving food to the poor. Let me say my daily prayers, sometimes chanting, sometimes quiet, always thanking God. Delightful it is to live on a peaceful isle, in a quiet cell, serving the King of kings.
– Columba Celtic Fire: The Passionate Religious Vision of Ancient Britain and Ireland edited by Robert Van de Weyer