Tag Archive: sustenance


berrigan blog(photo credit: chedmyers.org)

(to the Plowshares 8, with love)

by Daniel Berrigan

Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.

Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,

Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.

Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.

“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”

“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

 

Reflecting these past weeks on the life and works of Daniel Berrigan who died 30 April 2016, he is now among that cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that ask us to ask of ourselves: “On what will you spend your life?”. I think it is fair to say that he knew something of endurance, on the cost of that he commented: “I think it’s kind of the price you pay for the bus ride”.

In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey suggests writing your own eulogy – what do you imagine you want to hear said about you by family, friends, colleagues… are you making the choices now… living the life now… that will lead you where you want to go? …that will see you develop and grow up to be the best you can imagine? I don’t imagine Daniel Berrigan did this exercise but I do not doubt he was effective. Why did he live as he did? Make the choices that he did?

“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

What will you live for?

What makes your life meaningful will give you a meaningful life.
Do not wait until you are dying to start.

One of nature’s cathedrals

17.12.14

Sharing Hospitality

This week Simon Holt came to the Spiritual Reading group and read aloud from the first chapter of his latest book.

Here’s a teaser… “The quest for meaning, intimacy and community seems ever more urgent.  The table beckons. It beckons because, at its core, the table is about such fundamentally human things as intimacy and family, identity and communication, reconciliation and romance, covenant and community, redemption and friendship, sustenance and celebrations, beginnings and endings. The table beckons because it plays host to so much more than biological necessity.”

We went around the group and shared ideas of table from our family of origin – dinner at my house was often cooked sometime in the afternoon then people ate where they liked, when they liked, what they liked (you could always have toast or 2-minute noodles if you didn’t like what was on the stove) – this was not normative of the group where the table was a place of sharing food and daily life together, there might be rules that you don’t leave the table without saying something you are thankful for/doing a bible reading/everyone is finished…

One idea I found intriguing was the idea of not being allowed to ask for anything – training in mindfulness – the only way to get anything is to be aware of others needs and for them to be aware of yours expressed by a need to care for one another: Would you like any…?  Can I pass you the…?

These days I have next to no regular rhythms of food sharing. We are sharing hospitality but it is irregular… if, as Simon says “eating is a social and political act of profound consequence, one that expresses tangibly our communty identity and citizenship.  And as one of the most routine activities of life – one that marks the rhythm and flow of everyday – eating is embedded at the heart of what it means to be human.”

How can we make who we eat with, what we eat and when, more intentional?

women of spirit 010

For prayers at community dinner last week we reflected on the Seeds query What does it mean for us to be the body of Christ? and the words of Joy Cowleys psalm…

Seeing

Dear God,
I need to see myself
as you see me.
My own vision is fragmented.
I try to divide up my life
and reject those parts of me
I consider to be weak.
I waste time and energy
in the battle of self against self
and Lord, I always end up the loser.

Dear God,
help me to see myself
as you see me.
I forget that you made me just as I am
and that you delight in your creation.
You do not ask me to be strong;
you simply ask me to be yours.
You do not expect me to reject my weakness,
merely to surrender it to your healing touch.

Dear God,
when I can see myself
as you see me,
then I will understand
that this frail, tender, fearful, aching, singing
half-empty, shining, shadowed person
is a whole being made especially by you
for your love.

Joy Cowley

follow your lights

follow your lights

they say encouragingly

trusting to some

innate inner knowledge

follow the way

that seems best to you

hurihinga to kanohi ki te ra

turn your face to the sun

tukuna to atarangi kia taka ki muri i a koe

allow the shadows to fall behind you

magi following a star

as ancient mariners

followed a north star

to shores unknown

in expectation of

what?

trusting to an inner knowledge

follow your lights

Dedication

To you
I have given
I want to be with you
along the way you have chosen
To work
to flow the vital current of my life
towards our high vision.
To be about you
holding your being that I have not yet touched
near to the untouched hiddenness of me.
I need the wonder of you
that I have known
on magnificent mornings
to be fresh upon me;
and the smell of summer
to be in my blood;
and the lark-song that we have heard
on dry hot days on mountains
to beat in me
forever.

Eithne Strong


Of all the virtues we’ve explored,
love is surely the most comprehensive,
the most all-encompassing,
and the most slippery of them all.

What is love?

The word is used so loosely,
widely and indiscriminately,
it’s hard to pin down.
so generic is ‘love’
its substance evaporates.

I love my wife,
I love my iPhone;
I love God,
I love coffee.

Love is all you need apparently.

Love rules,
love triumphs over all.

Love obligates,
love liberates;
love is fickle,
love is strong;
love is free,
love costs;
‘greater love hath no man that this,
that he lays down his life for a friend’

We fall in love,
we make love,
we search for it on-line.

We give it generously,
sacrificially,
resentfully,
inadequately,
tentatively.

We long for love,
we dream of it;
we crave it,
we weep for it.

Love compels us,
love eludes,
confounds and distracts us.
love fulfils us and makes us sad.

Love enrages,
infuriates,
intoxicates
and blinds us.

Love lets us down,
love fails,
loves end.
And when love is lost
it leaves an ache so deep it scars.

So love is many things.

But today we celebrate the love of God.

It is a different love, a holy love.
It is also a love of complexity,
but one of such depth
and breadth
and height
and length
it renders all other loves
insignificant by comparison.

At this table we hold love in our hands:
the bread and the wine,
the body and the blood of Christ.
it is a love of such pain
and cost and sacrifice,
it leaves us speechless.

It is a love that reaches into
the depths of human experience
in all its beauty and ugliness,
it glory and depravity.

It’s a love that knows no bounds,
no limits,
no exclusions.
There’s no fine print.

It is a love that confronts,
names honestly,
forgives completely,
heals and restores.

It is perfect love.

It is this love that
1 Corinthians 13 describes,
the perfect love of God.
It is this love
we are now called to emulate.
Quite frankly, it’s beyond us.

It’s a high calling,
a big ask, this love.
it’s always patient,
always kind,
never boastful,
envious or rude.
It’s eternally selfless,
without a hint of malice,
irritation or resentment.
It rejoices in truth and transparency
no matter what the cost.
It bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
It never ends.

All in all, impossible really;
yet possible in the smallest of ways.

We are not called to perfection,
but we are called to follow, to try,
to keep believing when we fail,
to rise again when we fall.

Through simple words of affirmation:
‘You are precious!’
Through warm embraces
and tender brushes of the cheek;
through daily actions of welcome,
surrender and service;
by giving preference
to the meek, and the poor and the sick;
by sitting with the marginalised
and the grieving;
by speaking against wrong-doing
and unfairness.

By cooking when we don’t feel like it
persisting when we would rather resign,
forgiving when we would rather keep a grudge warm,
serving others when we would prefer to sit alone.

In all of these ways
and a thousand others,
we give hands and feet to love.
Trifling efforts they may be,
fraught with mixed motives
and uneven results.
but in our feeble efforts
at love in daily life,
we touch a love so much deeper,
so much higher,
so much more all-encompassing
than anything we can conjure up ourselves.
‘For now we see in a mirror, dimly,
but then we will see face to face.’
‘And now faith, hope and love abide,
these three: and the greatest of these is love.’

Thanks for the blessing of these words Simon Holt, CSBC

The last Supper by Sieger Köder

– an excerpt from Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore, p.253-54…

Faith is a gift of spirit that allows the soul to remain atteached to its own unfolding.  When faith is soulful, it is always planted in the soil of wonder and questioning.  It isn’t a defensive and anxious holding onto certain objects of belief, because doubt, as its shadow, can be brought into a faith that is fully mature.

Imagine a trust in yourself, or another person, or in life itself, that doesn’t need to be proved or demonstrated, that is able to contain uncertainty.  People sometimes put their trust in a spiritual leader and are terribly betrayed if that person then fails to live up to ideals. But a real trust of faith would be to decide whether to trust someone, knowing that betrayal is inevitable because life and personality are never without shadow.  The vulnerability that faith demands could be matched by an equal trust in oneself, the feeling that one can survive the pain of betrayal.

In soul faith there are always at least two figures – the “believer” and the “disbeliever”.  Questioning thoughts, drifting away temporarily from commitments, constant change in one’s understanding of on’s faith – to the intellect these may appear to be weaknesses but to the soul they are the necessary and creative shadow which actually strengthens faith by filling it out and ridding it of its perfectionism.  Both the angel of belief and the devil of doubt play constructive roles in a full-rounded faith. The third part of the trinity is life in the flesh lived with deep trust.

One of the liturgies that we use at the Seeds table picks up some similar themes so I want to stick it in here so they’re read together –

It would not have been God’s table

On their own, the bread and wine are nothing.
To become a foretaste and a promise
of love made real and a world made whole,
they need a story and a blessing
and a people who believe…

It would not have been God’s table
if they hadn’t all been gathered around it:
the betrayer and the friend
the power-hungry and the justice seeker
the faithful and the fickle.

When Jesus poured the wine, and the bread was broken;
when everyone could eat –
the outcast and the beloved
the arrogant and the gracious
the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by –
the table became a foretaste
of love made real
and of a world made whole.

Your company at the table, [guest],
will include the betrayer and the beloved
the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by.

It would not be God’s table without them.

And the promise is
that when you are together,
when you tell the story and give the blessing
when you break the bread and pour the wine
you will discover a foretaste
of love made real
and of a world made whole.

By Cheryl Lawrie, Uniting Church Australia

When Mother Teresa was asked why she worked for the destitute and dying, she shocked the interviewer with the answer, “I do this to combat the Hitler in me.”

Mahatma Ghandi was speaking about much the same thing when he said, “When I see a man doing good, I seek to be like that man. When I see a man doing evil, I look to my own heart.”

Wise words. Unless we know and own, our own potential for evil, we are working with a grave handicap, for in the mystery of paradox, what is shadow in our lives, is the point of potential growth. Darkness is light unborn. Winter is preparation for Spring. Fear is always ready to be sacrificed to love. That is at the heart of the mystery that took Jesus to the cross and through to the resurrection.

It’s probably true that the poetry of metaphor and parable can make journey seem complex. I love story “sign posts” because I’m a writer, a dreamer. But the reality of our journey with Jesus is very simple. The tool of journey is love. The inhibitor is fear. The writer of the first letter of John put it succinctly. There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out all fear.

We know fear but as our capacity for love increases, so does the fear diminish. I find it useful to gauge my own actions and reactions with that measure. Does this come from love? Or does it come from fear? It’s a simple test and it usually works.

Here is an old Hassidic story about fear, which is a personal favourite. Some of you may have heard it before, but it is worth repeating. I find it very powerful.

There was once a holy man who went on a long journey. Unfortunately, he left his house open and while he was away a band of monsters moved in and made themselves at home. The man came back. He opened the front door and at once the monsters rushed at him. Quickly, he slammed the door shut. He prayed to God, took a deep breath and opened the door again. Once more the monsters came at him. As they did so, he bowed and acknowledged their presence. When he did that, half the monsters disappeared but the half that was left were the biggest. They snarled, showed their teeth and pounced on the man. He offered them hospitality, asked if he could get them food and drink. At that, all the monsters disappeared except the chief. Now this monster was huge, with enormous jaws and great sharp teeth. Moreover, it was not going to be put off. It lunged at the man, it’s mouth open wide. As it came close, the man put his head in the monster’s mouth. The chief of the monsters also vanished, and the man had his house back.

From time to time I sit with that story in order to find my chief fear and put my head in its mouth. It’s an ongoing exercise.

There is no perfection for us in life school. Thank God for that. Perfection has very little room for growth. We claim our errors and try to learn from them and our frailty, far from being a source of concern, is reason for gratitude. It is our God-given growing space.

We can summarise the stages of the personal journey more or less like this:

1. In early stages we can experience chaos as we are called to step into a larger space. 2. We can feel aloneness, vulnerability. 3. We become aware of remarkable God incidence, teachers, guidance, learning patterns, everything is there at the time when we need it. 4. We enter into the mystery of paradox. 5. We become aware that God’s word is all around us. We discover the parables of nature. 6. We have an overwhelming sense of the interconnectedness of everything. 7. There us a peace that comes with simplicity, a freedom, a lightness and enhanced sense of humour. 8. We have a knowing without words. 9. There is awareness that the foundation of the universe, is love. 10. We know that separation from God is an illusion.

The journey into paradox is one of true freedom and rejoicing. It is well expressed in this verse by American poet Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.


Joy Cowley