“…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
Anyone out there afraid of the dark? When I was going through a tough time my grief manifested itself in anxiety. As soon as the sun went down the wolf, as I called it, began to hunt me, and I was terrified almost every night. I could not see clearly; all my thoughts were too muddled to see my way out of it.
There is a phrase soldiers use called ‘the fog of war’. Popularized by Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, it’s a term which refers to the clarity of vision that disappears when we must fight for our lives. It’s often used in recollections of warfare and battlegrounds, but the fog of war can begin its seeping journey into our homes and minds if ignited by fear or anger. It is the reason we cannot see our way out of “attacks” of the mind. So how do we remedy this and possibly cure ourselves of this affliction?
I experienced this in another form last week when they tore yet another perfect old home down in my neighborhood. I Facebook vented (something I never do) with pictures and words and received many comments from people who agreed with me. I then sent the whole correspondence and post to the City (names blacked out). In this moment I was fueled by anger and though I felt I was fighting for a certain justice, I found it hard to navigate with the compass of truth and love, and I know this because I began to think dualistically, them vs me, good guy vs bad guy. I think this is because I did not bring God/Christ into the fight with me, I sort of left God behind and went on my own fuel and thought I was alone in it or needed to do it alone. We must bring God/Christ into these fights with us, every fight, and by Him we will be guided and the fog, the darkness which blinds us will dissipate and we’ll see our way out.
“For we brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of it.” ( 1 Timothy 6:7)
We came into this world naked. Our souls encapsulated in a body not of our own choosing so we can learn lessons from the journey of that body and it’s DNA, lessons built only for us. And the body is privy to certain things of the world, but the soul always thirsts for God. The further from God the more sickly our soul becomes. The more we embed our lives with God the less time we will want to spend away from Him. But the less time we spend with Him the more we will push Him away, and by this time we have a tiny feeling he will reject us if we return to Him or we won’t enjoy our time with Him because He has become so foreign and incomprehensible. I think we must realize our nakedness and live into our nakedness with Christ. The wealth of the soul is all that matters, and this wealth is of things not of this world, invisible to the eye, and felt only in the heart
Needed me a little Robert Murray M’Cheyne this morning (19th century Presbyterian Minister—Edinburgh, Scotland). His pastoral letters supply a thirsty soul with living water. He knew the Bible so well and never failed to tie a small sermon into his letters.
To comfort a parishioner after the death of her brother:
“Are there any need to be brought off from the love of the world? Let them hear the voice of God from your brother’s grave, saying “What shall it profit a man though he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Your brother, though dead, still speaketh. To you he says, Lean on the Beloved as you come out of the wilderness. The Lord is at hand.” -Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Dundee February 28th, 1841
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We are halfway through the Bible! Since the Fall of 2019, I have been writing really brief reviews of the books of the Bible. They are my own contemplative thoughts that no one has to agree with, but I hope speak only truth and leave room for your own contemplation.
The order I have been following is the below. Given to me by a priest and a friend. .
Leviticus Galatians Numbers Colossians
Ruth Acts (of the Apostles)
2 Samuel Mark
2 Kings 1 Corinthians
2 Chronicles 1 Peter 2 Peter
Psalms (I SUGGEST READING ONE A DAY THROUGHOUT)
Ecclesiastes 1 Timothy 2 Timothy
Song of Solomon 1 John 2 John 3 John
Daniel 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians
Jonah 2 Corinthians
The absence of God leads to a life of vanity & vexation. This is the main theme of Ecclesiastes. What are we filled with when God is absent from our souls? Ego, pride, vanity—the ‘self’. When we are consumed with ‘self’ all we produce and put into the world is filled with ‘self’ and therefore false. Without God we are empty vessels with no foundation, empty because anything we put in our vessel falls right through the bottom and we spend our lives hastily trying to fill it up again with no success. I have watched people spend their lives this way, and any mention of God makes them laugh. God hasn’t yet touched them, and they have not yet touched God. It is a mutual reaching out. I like to think of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when I picture this union.
Ecclesiastes is a special book to me because it began my deeper journey with God. It was the moment God reached out for me, woke me up and unlocked the door on which Christ was perpetually knocking my whole life. You see, it all began because I had a dream. A woman came to me and told me to read the Bible, Ecclesiastes specifically. It was a profound dream and it changed my life, because I listened to the woman, I read Ecclesiastes the next morning and the rest of the Bible too. And now I write these posts for the public as evidence of His calling. Christ is always knocking, waiting, calling. It is the person who listens for His voice that gets called. Those who volunteer themselves for His work and pray: ‘I am listening. What is it you’re calling me to do? Use me as you wish for good in the world.’ Then listen carefully with the ears of your soul and watch carefully with the eyes of your soul. Then make use of time to discern what you are hearing & seeing is truth, denies ‘self’ and promotes love. If it does all of these then act on that nagging notion, because God is calling
“Truthful lips endure forever,
But a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)
. “Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
But those who promote peace have joy.” (Proverbs 12:20)
Most of Proverbs was written by Solomon, known to be the wisest man who ever lived. In Hebrew, the word proverb means to rule or to govern. This book is written in poetic couplet form and contains words of wisdom with which we should govern ourselves. Both proverbs above are about truth. The top one is understood if we look at it in a broad sense. The truth is we should love each other and promote mercy and empathy, the lying tongue is the one who tells us certain people should continue to be marginalized, this argument will not endure, because it is nothing but a frivolous lie coming from those who refuse to love with their WHOLE hearts.
The second proverb can be understood from an individualistic point of view. Like those who are protesting for peace and justice in the streets all over the world right now I’m sure feel joy in their hearts when they see how many others are doing the same, and they go home feeling uplifted and inspired because they know, with every core of their being, they are fighting for truth and for good. No part of their soul feels heavy or burdened by the lie, because the lie died with them, it went no further, it was barricaded by the truth they amplified. So, by this we could in fact change the world if we stop the lie when it comes to us and instead promote peace and truth. We all need a little more courage in that
Finished writing in an entire journal yesterday, and it’s time to begin a new one! These are my prayer journals, the worn one on the left is the old one. Took me a little over four months to fill every inch with essays on prayer and spiritual journeying. Also if you swipe you’ll see a little communion sacrament I made and gave myself this morning. Though our priest can not bless it, I said a little prayer and took it as a symbol of what we would do in church, which I feel is ok.
What are your thoughts on homemade communion during the stay at home order? .
I like to follow the breadcrumbs of authors I admire. If an author quotes another or happens to really like a certain book or person then I investigate whomever they suggest. St. John of the Cross is one of those breadcrumbs. I’m so excited to read his work. This book is 800 pages, not exactly something I can take to bed with me, however the task of reading it at my desk will feel very much like a joyful study. His writing is often quoted by some of the most inspiring theologians of all time including Thomas Merton and Saint Therese of Lisieux, so I’ve been looking forward to reading his work for a while now. Can’t wait to dive in!
Today is Good Friday! I feel so much joy today I can barely contain myself. My heart feels so full of love, as if it glows. The light of Jerusalem seems to be with me today.
Do you ever feel this way?
“Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”- Nehemiah 2:17
Before I received a book deal to write about the Poletown neighborhood of Detroit razed for a GM plant in 1981, I went around telling everyone the story of the neighborhood’s demise by the hand of GM and the City of Detroit, because I thought a memorial of some kind should be built. Some told me to leave it alone. But a couple others (like two people) encouraged me to explore the story and the people involved. I knew God was telling me to follow him into the story because the story haunted me for many months, and I mourned and wept for what the people had gone through while they fought to keep their homes and churches. From following God’s breadcrumbs, I eventually became so knowledgeable about the story that I felt confident enough to ask a publisher if they’d be interested in it. I felt like Nehemiah wanting to reconstruct the wall of Jerusalem. From this journey I learned to follow the whispering voice that sometimes plagues me to do something. For a year God taught me how to follow his voice, how to read signs and people, when to leave things alone and when to push. I will forever be His student. I still have a lot to learn. I’m still astounded by the ways God revealed the story to me piece by piece, and I am even more astounded by the way I dropped everything just to follow his lead, and I got a book deal out of it. Something for which I had been praying for a long time. This was no small miracle. Don’t ignore the inner voice telling you to do something or say something. If it has plagued you long enough, and it comes from a place of love and truth and does no harm to any soul, then follow the voice in your heart, in which dwells the living Christ.
Contemplative Vision by Juliet Benner is a book about contemplating religious art with prayer in mind and using it to expand our prayer life by gazing at the face of God through it, seeing His face and meditating about the art’s purpose/story, and the artist’s time creating it. The book discusses using art as a purpose to expand our faith and awe. For instance, the artists who create icons of Christ meditate on his face for hours while painting him. Just beautiful! .