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Separation

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“Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here.”
These are the opening words
of a prayer I learned as a child.

Today the media on radio, TV and print
is inundated with outcries of outrage and pain
announcing the separation being inflicted
on children and parents alike.
Echoes of fascism spill into today’s news
and flow into every broken heart.

As today we witness “man’s inhumanity to man”
through misplaced political force,
I join the chorus of outrage that overflows
from the conscience of the people.

I glance at the prayer card in my hand
and read the closing words:
“Ever this day be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Amen.”

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In My Father’s Name

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My father, Richard, love stories. In the evening, he would relax on the front porch and call out to neighbors, inviting them to join him and tell a story. Their stories contained many memories—memories that are now recorded on cemetery markers and baptismal records and in ancestral tales of things long past. Stories were also told about the first fall of snow, the red and golden leaves of autumn, and great ships that sailed the stately St. Clair River.

Stories activate memories of my ancestral roots, of the days when my family ventured forth to Canada from Ireland and France. As I reflect with family and friends on our story, I am grateful again today that all our journeys are reminders of who we are and the destiny we are called to fulfill. On this father’s day, I listen carefully with the ear of my heart and give great thanks for the ancestral grace that flows through our hearts and minds on this memory day.

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All Is Beauty

I hear wind.
I feel rain.
I see dark nights
and bright days.

Enthusiastic moments
follow doorways to despair.
I envisioned triumph,
ponder loss.

All is beauty now.
Yes, all is beauty.

Even in the wind and rain,
darkness and light
triumph and loss;
even in divisions,
all is beauty now.
All is beauty.

 

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Rose

I want to live like a rose,
without agendas or regrets.
I hear hidden voices say,
break the chains of conformity.
See the lilies in the field,
the cattle as they graze.
Listen my friend,
let the Earth teach you.
Heed the compass of your heart.

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Theater of Love

Birds proclaim their a cappella song.
A spider weaves its web.
Children celebrate
ring around the rosy.
Even the frog on the riverbank
jumps for joy.

Is not the world around you
a theater of love?
It is God’s new creation.
You are invited to
play your part,
sing your song.

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Imaginings

May you be seized by a dream,
be passionate about what lies
beyond conscious thought.

May your imagination soar,
your vision be a portal to new life.

Now is the time for aliveness,
to make the story matter
and the future real.

Now is the time to hope,
pray and struggle
at the doorway of a new tomorrow.

Meander through the lessons
of yesterday and bid the past goodbye.

Celebrate the divine nudges that bring hope.
Set your imagination free:
this is why you are here.

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God is a Verb

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Each day when we reflect on the gift of beauty manifest in the natural world, we arrive at a new emergent meaning for our planetary home.

With an indigenous mind, we are able to explore the root cause of species loss, the diminishment of topsoil, and the vast devastation taking place on our planet.

Thomas Berry offers wise advice: “The universe is a communion of subjects rather than a collection of objects.” Herein lies an insight into the devastation of our planet: in some indigenous languages, communication is primarily through verbs. Nouns exist as forms of a verb. In some Native American cultures, God is a verb.

In contrast, Western languages communicate mainly through nouns. This use of nouns encourages the perception of oneself as the subject and of an “other” as the object, rather than allowing the perception of everything as one flow of action.

I believe we can all learn from the indigenous mind and the way it communes with the natural world, the way it celebrates divine presence and listens to the Earth speak. I invite you to try it. Can you see all of life through the lens of a verb?

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Coffins and Cribs

What a story
this small twig can tell,
lying gently in my hand.

This offspring of an oak
that once stood stately on Earth,
wood became lumber.

Making shelter for the homeless,
cribs for the newborns,
coffins for those born again.

What a story
this small twig can tell.

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Meadow Time

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Earth is a sacrament,
a divine presence
that permeates your soul,
envelops your awareness.

Perhaps a memory
an engaging recollection,
has bathed you
in a living, energizing presence.

Sink deeply
into a sacred recollection
of when you felt touched
by the wonder of it all.

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Rosary for the New Story

Prayer is joy, emptiness, wonder, imagination.
Prayer heals the soul with acts of justice.
Prayer is following the guidance of Rilke,
who tells us to love the questions themselves.

Prayer is joy, sorrow, creativity, change.
Prayer is pottery, painting, drumming, tai-chi.
Prayer is the openness to be like Teilhard,
a pilgrim of the future who is returning from the past.

Prayer is an act of the true self.
Prayer is the new story arising in action.

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It Is Easter Again

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We have arrived at the defining moment Christians call Easter. These days, not only do we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth; we also remember and give thanks for this new moment in human/Earth history. We celebrate the emergence of the cosmic Christ, whose presence and creativity infuse a divine presence into every resurrection moment. At the same time, we celebrate that it is spring again, and we are grateful for each blade of grass, for each wheat field, and for each creature of creation that gives life to its offspring and cares for its young.

As new life and beauty triumph over the darkened days of winter, we welcome the fresh energy that rises across the land and expresses hope-filled anticipation. With joyful salutations, we welcome the wonders of the empty tomb, signified by the struggles and everyday experiences of loss, pain, and discouragement.

Together this day, despite the inevitable experience of Gethsemane moments, we dare to proclaim our alleluias to the world. Despite our disappointment and pain, we reclaim the image of the empty tomb.

Today, despite good Friday, we stand up as planetary people to protest the cosmic crucifixions in Syria and Iraq, the gun madness in the halls of learning, the loss of precious dreams and lives laid waste on the battlefields racial strife, economic imbalance, and the lack of gender justice.

Today, I ponder the Paschal mystery of the life, death, and resurrection of the historical Jesus and the coming of the cosmic Christ.

At this profound moment, I recall the prophetic journey of the soon-to-be-canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and his courageous proclamation to his people: “If they kill me, I will rise in the people of El Salvador.” His words are powerful and true. When I visited there every classroom, clinic, chapel, and home was adorned with the picture of this prophetic martyr of the people.

Inspired by Saint Oscar and others, I raise my voice and say on behalf of our endangered planet and all planetary people: “I will rise. I will rise in this era of violence and unrest to welcome the dawn of a new day.”

It will be a day of empty tombs, a time when this dark night will not have the last word. Rather it will be a time that welcomes the dawn of a new tomorrow, a time when wen joyful alleluias will echo across the land, as all planetary people proclaim, “It is Easter again, a time when all people and all of God’s creatures sing Easter alleluias with full hearts.”

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A Pilgrim’s Prayer

Creator God,
source of love and life,
be with us now
as we venture forth.

May all our days be flooded
with precious gifts
and great anticipation,
enveloped with fresh energy.

May we discover
new doorways,
opening to the unfinished journey
that awaits us.

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A Mysterious Invitation

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A mysterious call
echoes in your heart,
calls you forward
into an unplanned life.

In this a moment,
you are called to shake off
the inertia of life,
to awaken to new awareness.

Now is the time
to embark on untrodden paths.
Find a life aligned with purpose,
activate the summons
woven deeply into your soul.

This time of transition
calls you to return
to your early years.
With a beginners’ mind,
celebrate all that is promising and free.

Today embrace gratefully
what is still possible for you to do.
Through recollections,
struggle and fulfillment,
look back and begin again.

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Longing for Running Water

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Do you remember a time when you were thirsty, and what it felt like to take that first sip of cool, fresh water? Perhaps it was after a vigorous sporting event. Someone offered you a glass of water, and you rejoiced as the cool liquid trickled down your throat and quenched your thirst.

The gift of water may quench our physical thirst, but thirst comes to us in so many ways. We experience thirst as a deeper longing. Just as we long for food to nourish our body, for example, we long for friendship when we are lonely. We long to end pain and suffering. We long for meaning and purpose in our lives.

In the midst of our longing lies a consistent and enduring theme. This theme is notably found in the words of Brother David Steindl-Rast, who describes our seemingly unquenchable thirst as a search for “the More” and points out that “we will always want to have something else or something more.”

As I set aside my paper and pen and turn on the radio to listen to the news of the day, I almost unknowingly and without intention ingest the anxiety of our polarized world: the war in Syria; conflicts across the Middle East; gun violence in school classrooms; and the precarious state of the many undocumented, whose lives are soaked in uncertainty.

In the next moment, an unbidden awareness floods the landscape of my soul. I rejoice in the realization that today, as planetary people who live in the midst of turmoil, we can be reconciled and healed as we move forward to quench our thirst for “the More” as we take the balm of love that is like running water to the soul and mend what is broken, bring peace, overcome injustice, and renew the face of the Earth.

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Watershed Moment

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We live in uncertain and anxious times. Bullets ravage the lives of children as they plan their futures, determined to make our world a better, safer sacred place.

In the wake of the loss dear friends, they find their voice, speak out boldly to those who inhabit places of power—from the White House to state offices and more.

They rise up amidst their tears and broken hearts to speak out and take action against corporate greed, patriarchal power, cultural pathology, runaway capitalism. They call out to the nation and the world for a resurgence of beauty

We discover ourselves today at a watershed moment. We are at a crossroads between suicide and resurgence.

Let us join our hearts and minds with these young courageous ones who dare to transform greed into generosity, the destructive power of corporate elites into a fresh energy.

May every child’s dream, every parent’s prayer, and every new adventure overflow with abundant beauty and surprise.

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Imagine

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Imagine a world in which we cross over into a thundering new awareness, a time when we emerge into the flood of a vast new understanding.

Imagine yourself gathering among a cluster of colleagues who declare to our endangered planet, “We are your first responders. We are here as planetary people, to bring healing, to tell our story at this terminal phase of human/Earth history.”

Now is the time to look back and imagine how things came to be as they are, to see how they are now, and to move from diagnosis to becoming a healing people dedicated to respond to the cry of the Earth.

I invite you to imagine a wonderous future in which every sacred impulse will call us forth, to imagine a new world order where everything is holy, where every culture, language, color, rock, meadow, and tree can become a new paragraph in the great story.

When we ingest this joyful wisdom bubbling up from the recesses of our imagination, a fresh new ocean of grace will pour forth to accomplish whatever needs to be done. Beauty will call us forward as we are seized by the vision of a future not yet imagined.

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Grow Your Soul

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Flags at half mast,
children dying,
the pop-pop of bullets
shatter the silence.
Guns terrorize our land.

When will the madness end,
the guns be put away?

I hear the young say,
“Never again.”
Listen to their voices.
Let violence cease.
Grow a soul of peace.

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Young People, Rise Up

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I join the people of Parkland, Florida, as they mourn the loss of precious lives taken from their families and friends by the misguided, violent rage of a young man.

I share the tragic moment of a heartbroken mother who is asked to pick out a dress for her daughter’s funeral. Now she will never look forward to the day when she and her daughter pick out a wedding dress.

The students cry in one voice, “Enough!” Enough killing. Enough pain. Enough sorrow and loss. As they mobilize to march on Washington, their voices are heard around America.

"Never again,” I hear them say. How long must we weep over the stolen lives of our people because of the cultural pathology of gun violence in this country?

This plea for peace follows me into my sleep. In a dream, I met someone who was important in my life, but from whom I became estranged. However, in the dream, we reconcile. Forgiveness is granted, and gifts are given and received. It is truly a peacemakers’ dream.

The next morning, I feel moved all the more strongly to join with the hearts and minds of the youth of America, to listen to their courageous voices calling us to be a people of peace.

 

photo: Evan Vucci/AP

 

 

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The Call

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There comes a time in life when a mysterious call echoes in your heart and calls you forward. You are called to shake off all inertia and respond to the mysterious voice echoing in the recesses of your awakening soul.

This voice calls out to you, “Now is the time to begin again. With a resurgence of energy and hope, embrace the only life that is yours to live.”

This call, perhaps previously unrecognized, awakens a new awareness. Listen deeply to it at this uncertain time. Forge a new beginning that is aligned with the trajectory of your life purpose, which is woven into your ageless soul.

In this place of the great unfolding mystery, rest and imagine, and be prepared to begin again. Sensitive to the signs of this defining moment, plunge into the turbulent waters of your life. With your mind and heart immersed, venture forth into the fetal waters of your wondrous and unfinished life.

Now is the time for a great transition, a time to retrieve precious memories while anticipating your return to the land of your soul. Once again, take on a beginner’s mind. Celebrate all that is new, promising and free.

Listen, my friend, to the promptings of your heart. It is never too late to embrace what is possible for you to do. Embark on the untrodden path. You belong here. You always belonged here, in this place you call home.

 

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Quest for the Living God

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Today I ask, “What gives meaning and purpose to your life?”

When I reflect on this question, I surrender my tendency to believe that I can know God the way I can solve a problem in mathematics. I acknowledge that God is a mystery I can only grasp intuitively and ponder in my imagination—an oceanic experience beyond conscious thought that resides in deep interiority.

Yes, each of us and all that exists is enveloped in the divine presence. That presence is something we cannot see, feel, hear, or touch, yet it is fully present in everything we can.

As I reflect on the question of God, I remember the barn in our backyard and the chickens that lived there. Sometimes when I collected eggs for our mother’s table, I would feel a little chick pecking inside the egg shell. It was as if that chick had exhausted the available nourishment and felt motivated to discover new resources for its journey. Time to be born into a new world!

Or think of a tiny fly riding for its whole short life on the back of an elephant. Suddenly that fly overcomes its inertia and flies off the elephant. When it looks back, it sees the elephant for the first time with a fresh perspective—much like the early astronauts who looked back and saw the earth as a blue-green bulb, hanging like a Christmas ornament in the deep dark cosmos.

As we continue our journey, we realize that mystery is God’s other name. As we simultaneously explore our own deep interiority and the vast cosmos, an experience the living God is available to us in a mysterious burst of awe and wonder. It is only as wee come rest in the unknown yet felt sense of the sacred that we dare to discover meaning and purpose in our lives.

 

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