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Speaking of listening

October 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

“To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations.  True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known.   They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

“Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond.  Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings.  The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves.  Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality…”
Henri Nouwen


The year as a house

January 1, 2014 — 1 Comment

from a poem by Jan Richardson:

“The Year as a House: A Blessing

Think of the year
as a house:
door flung wide
in welcome,
threshold swept
and waiting,
a graced spaciousness
opening and offering itself
to you.

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“Let it be blessed
in every room.

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“Let it be hallowed
in every corner.

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Let every nook
be a refuge
and every object
set to holy use…

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“…And may it be
in this house of a year
that the seasons will spin in beauty,

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“and may it be
in these turning days
that time will spiral with joy.


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“And may it be
that its rooms will fill
with ordinary grace

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“and light spill from every window
to welcome the stranger home.”

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I was out walking in a field one moist morning, captivated by the beauty.
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I took some pictures, and then some close-ups.
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What I didn’t realize until I looked at the pictures later was how the drops of water held reflections.
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Who knew that something so small could hold something so big?

This one drop only shows a few trees from a single forest. Imagine trying to contain a reflection of the whole world in it. That would be as difficult as me trying to comprehend the all-powerful, all-loving God. He is too big for me to take in and I am much too small, like a mere drop of water that dries up in the noonday sun. My view is limited, and I’ll never be able to fully grasp who He is or understand Him completely.

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I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside and through the crack at the top of the door there came a sunbeam. From where I stood that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.

Then I moved, so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed, and (above all) no beam. Instead I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam, and looking at the beam are very different experiences.

C. S. Lewis


The practice of the presence of God doesn’t mean projecting an imaginary object in our mind and then seeking to realize its presence… “it is rather to recognize the real presence of the One whom all sound theology declares to be already there, an objective entity, existing apart from any apprehension of Him on the part of His creatures.

A. W. Tozer


In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.

Blaise Pascal

For the real amazement, if you wish to be amazed, is this process. You start out as a single cell derived from the coupling of a sperm and an egg; this divides in two, then four, then eight, and so on, and at a certain stage there emerges a single cell which has as all its progeny the human brain.
The mere existence of such a cell should be one of the great astonishments of the earth. People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell.

Lewis Thomas