The Sacred Ordinary

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It was a scrawny excuse for a plant, relegated to an after-holiday sale at Home Depot.  Nothing distinguished it except that it was the only green promise on a frozen, white January day.

I bought that Christmas cactus well over ten years ago with at least some small hope that it might someday yield the magnificent flower from which it draws its lofty name. No such thing!  For ten years, it remained just green and alive, but otherwise unremarkable.

Then one day in its eleventh year, I noticed a deep red spot at its tip.  Hopeless as I had become about the disappointing plant, I assumed someone had dropped a little spaghetti sauce over its perch in our kitchen.  But to my delight the next morning, that “sauce” had blossomed into a luxurious flower — a soft, pink symbol of the sacred power of life hidden within the ordinary.

Cactus

Life is like that cactus.  If we are young, or when we once were, we often expect life to blossom quickly with some extraordinary design for our existence.  More often than not, the years teach us that our great promise wears ordinary clothes and that we will find our deep happiness within the mundane routine of life.

shells

We sometimes pass by the moments of our lives as if they were abandoned shells on a beach.  And yet, if coaxed open by the gentle attention of hope, each moment contains its own precious pearl, sometimes realized only after we have lost the opportunity to cherish it.

There are times in life when our jobs, our relationships, our dreams for our children, our dreams for ourselves take on the tone of those grey, abandoned shells.  We get so caught up in our ordinary lives that we lose the capacity to see their inherent power and extraordinarybeauty.

As we begin the long season of “Ordinary Time”, may we be blessed by our “Sacred Ordinary”.  Through the grace of attentive love and patient hope, may we find in our daily lives a Light to inspire and delight us.  May we discover the Love that gave us life and waits to blossom every day in our hope – that wants to make everything better

Music: These Ordinary Days – Jars of Clay

As the Shadows Lengthen…

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious

January 4, 2020

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CoverImage_Behold_the_Lamb_of_God

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel invites us to stand chatting with John the Baptist and a couple of his disciples. Jesus passes by us, on his way home for the day. John points to him and says to his two friends, “He’s the Guy…don’t miss this chance to learn from him.”


When I picture myself in this passage, it is the late afternoon. The shadows, even my own, have begun to lengthen across the landscape. There is a sense that time, and with it opportunity, may be passing by. 

It is a time of day like that described by Emily Dickinson:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –


We, like these disciples, are not neophytes. We have our lives; we’ve made our choices. Is it possible a New Call could come so far into the day? Is it imaginable that God could walk fresh right across the shadows falling around us, just as he did for the brave Elizabeth Seton?

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Our Gospel says Yes! Yes! Yes! Every single day – Yes!

Let’s go and stay with Jesus a while in prayer to see, like Peter, what new name he might call us today, even as the shadows lengthen.

Prayers and love to you, dear Friends!

Music: Shadowlands Suite – George Fenton

This glorious music video contains slides of the great movies for which Fenton has written scores. I fear they may be a bit of a distraction from prayer, but I couldn’t resist. You may want to watch some in the New Year. (Highly recommend Shadowlands with a box of tissues.)

New Year’s Eve – 2019

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new sunset

Today, in Mercy, we stand on the far western shore of the Year of Our Lord, 2019.

It is well near evening.  Our memories are silhouetted against the deep magenta sky as they sail beyond the shimmering horizon.  We have lived, laughed, lost and loved in ways never to be repeated, yet never to be forgotten.  The great turning of time goes relentlessly on, but we have written our story in its indelible trail.


With fireworks and reveling, popular culture will invite us to the brash celebration of our presence within this point in history.  But, at the altar of our hearts, we recognize this long evening of reminiscence as a time of quiet thanksgiving and petition.  It is a time of awe and trust.


 

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Like flint struck against the almighty soul of God, we have been given life.  We are God’s fire at this moment in time’s long unwinding.  Tonight, we turn our spirits to those beside us, behind us, before us and we pray in thanksgiving and hope for them.


 

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Together, we sink into the Dark Infinity of our Creator who sustains all life beyond our worries, fears and limitations.  With innumerable universes, God balances us in the Palm of Mercy.  As the midnight shadows fall, God closes the fingertips of grace and protection over us.

In the split moment between two years, we too become infinite – fire in God’s darkness, spark redeemed beyond time.


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In 2020, we will forget this transcendent moment.  The bright light of daily living will blind us to that piece of divinity shining in our souls.  But tonight, let us remember.  As midnight passes by, may our spirits kneel within us to the Awesome Mystery who holds us, as one, eternally within Itself.

A truly blessed New Year to you and your beloveds, my friends.

Music: Be Still My Soul – Kari Jobe

O Radiant Dawn

December 24, 2019

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midnight

Today, in Mercy, we pray:

O Morning Star,
splendor of light eternal
and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those
who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

dawn

O Radiant Dawn,
it is Christmas Eve.
We see the hint of your dawning
along the dark horizon
of our limitations.

How we long for You
to fracture time,
our fragile eggshell,
Eternal Love flowing
across our weary hearts.

O Dayspring,
let us see beyond the darkness,
beyond fear,
and selfish calculations,
beyond doubt, despair, hatred,
even death…

…to know that, in You,
everything is Light
for those who trust
Your Rising.

We await your
Christmas Morning
in our world.
Maranatha!  Come, Lord, Jesus!

Music:  O Oriens – Gloriae Dei Cantores

O King of All Nations

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

December 23, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we pray:

O King

O King of All Nations,
Cornerstone
holding us as One,
Come, save us.

Now, so close to
your Revelation,
we ask ourselves
if it is really darkest
just before the Dawn?

Our shadow seems
to have gotten
so badly in the way
of your Generous Light.

Despite your Breath
that bids us soar
in shared and
sacred tenderness,
we stubbornly return
to selfish clay.

Rekindle us, selfless King,
on this eve of eves.

As You prepare
to hide your Godhead
in our flesh
for sake total love,
change us to Love.

May your Mercy
incarnate in our hearts
in an Eternal Christmas .

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Music: O Rex Gentium

 

Heart Cave

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Photo by Omer Salom on Unsplash

The Heart Cave

I must remember
To go down to the heart cave
& sweep it clean; make it warm
with a fire on the hearth,
& candles in their niches,
the pictures on the walls
glowing with a quiet light.

I must remember
To go down to the heart cave
& make the bed
with the quilt from home,
strew the rushes on the floor
hang lavender and sage
from the corners.

I must go down
To the heart cave & be there
when you come.
(Geoffrey Brown: Road of the Heart Cave)

Music: Sanctuary  – Secret Garden

PS: Sorry for the early posts today. I accidentally hit “AM” instead of “PM”

 

O Emmanuel

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

December 21, 2019

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O Emmanuel

Today, in Mercy, we pray:

O Emmanuel,
Who loved us so
You took our flesh,
come,
open our eyes
to see You here
ever near,
ever within us.

As Earth turns –
in so many ways –
to greatest darkness,
light the candle of
Your Indwelling
deep within our
longing hearts.

As Mary knew your
Closeness,
let us know You.

As Joseph held You
in mutuality of trust,
let us hold You and
be held by You.

Be born again
in the love that
we return to You
by loving one another
well and tenderly.

Cleave us to
Your Brilliant Light
though hidden in
life’s puzzling shadows,
God with Us,
God ever with Us!

O Emmanuel, come
be with us
on our longest nights.
Let us lean
soft into You
on our hardest days.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Music: Winter Cold Night – John Foley, SJ
(Lyrics below)

Winter Cold Night – John Foley, SJ

Dark, dark, the winter cold night, lu-lee-ley
Hope is hard to come by, lu-lee-ley
Hard, hard, the journey tonight, lu-lee-ley.
Star, guide, hope, hide
our poor, winter cold night.

And on earth peace, good will to men.

Lean, lean, the living’ tonight, lu-lee-lay.
Star seems darker sometimes, lu-lee-lay.

Unto you is born this day a Savior.

Pain, yes, in the bornin’ tonight, lu-lee-lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide
our poor, winter cold night.

O Key of David

Friday of the Third Week of Advent

December 20, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we pray:

O Key of David,

O Blessed Freedom,
Who unlocks the secret of eternal life
within our hearts!

Come absolve
the sad incarcerations
shackling us!

We hold ourselves
and one another captive
by our fears, our greed,
our terrible need
to control
Your power within us.

We are afraid of Love,
because once released in us,
Love asks for everything…

… for everything to be
unbound, unbarred
and given to Your
Unrestricted Grace,
in flesh named “Jesus”.

Love asks us to
become like You,
but we are locked
in smaller dreams.

O Key of David,
come free our dreams
with Yours.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Music:  O Clavis David

O Adonai

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 18, 2019

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O Adonai

Today, in Mercy, we pray:

O, Adonai,
we reach for your outstretched arm.

How we need to lean on You,
to be upheld by You,
to be embraced by You,

Compassionate Lord, who
leads us through a life
that can be unbearable
alone.

We pray, with longing hearts,
that You uplift all the fallen –
whether into pain, or loss,
confusion, or the sad distress
we inflict upon ourselves
and one another.

Adonai, Beautiful One,
set a fire before us,
as You did for Moses.

Lead the way for us
with Flame of Love
and Light of Faith
into your outstretched Mercy.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Music: O Adonai – Gloriae Dei Cantores

O Wisdom

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

December 17, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we pray:

O, Wisdom,
how we need You!

Around us,
and at times within us,
there is a foolishness
that has forgotten You.

There is a shallowness
that skims this
sacred well of life
on the thinest surface of
our pretenses,
our distractions, 
our frightened preoccupations.

Take us to the depth
where Your Wisdom
dwells within us.

There let us find
peace
undisturbed by circumstance;
justice
fed by lavish mercy;
Love
beyond boundaries,
beyond definition,
beyond imagination,
beyond time.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!


Music: Who Has Known – John Foley, SJ

O the depth of the riches of God;
and the breadth of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

A virgin will carry a child and give birth,
and His name shall be called Emanuel.

For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

The people in darkness have seen a great light;
for a child has been born, His dominion is wide.
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.