Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Mother of God ~ Who Is Like Dew

When I find an icon of the Mother of God without a title, I like to name her myself, bringing her forward here with thoughts and prayers. So I will bestow the title Mother of God ~ Who Is Like Dew on this 13th century Byzantine icon of Mary, un-named and seated on a throne. The English to French translator makes the title very beautiful. She is Mere de Dieu ~ Comme la Rosee.

And while we notice many details about this Mere de Dieu: her royal-red shoes, the double pillows, the printed fabric of her throne and admiring angels, we notice all the more, that instead of looking at us directly, Jesus and Mary are looking off to the side, as if to the margins. What's got their attention over there? Who do they see?

And while we're not shown who they are looking at, or maybe looking for, we're free to imagine. Perhaps in this disturbing election time they are looking at the margins of our nation where there is now so much estrangement, contention, division and un-pleasantness. I'll ask her to come down like moisture on the heat and the dryness of it all.

Mother of God, drop down dew: 
on the aridity of our discourtesy,
our vulgarity,
our passions.

Revive us: 
in our debating,
our arguing,
 our slander.

Enlivening dew:
in the desert of our unkindness,
 the desert of our cruelty,
the desert of our hatred.

Open, moisture-laden-cloud:
over the dryness of our resentments,
our insults,
our bigotry.

Mother, who is like dew:
to refresh our thinking,
our speaking,
how we see each other. 

Enlivening dew:
begin for us a new day of collaboration,
a new day of reconciliation,
a new day of loving each other.

comfort us in our sorrow,
in our instability,
in our anxieties.

Mother of God:
healing dew in the sickness of our distrust,
of our accusations,
 our self-degradation.

Mother of God Who is Like Dew:
in the wasteland of our party-spirit,
our demonizing,
and our blaming.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Pondering October Aspens

This is an Aspen Grove with snow on Soapstone Summit in the Uinta Mountains, Utah. It's said that Aspens are the largest living organism on earth because all the trees in a grove are really one, each connected to the others by lateral roots.

Aspens delight us twice when we're near them: each leaf attached to a long, flat stem, causes the trees seemingly to tremble or quiver in a breeze. This quaking of many thousands of leaves produces a clicking sound that is pleasant and comforting. Get-atta-here, there's even a name for this leaf-shivering: psithurism.

Maybe the Prophet Isaiah had groves of trembling Aspens in mind when he wrote this verse. 

For you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Isaiah, 55:12

When Isaiah writes, "You will be led out" he is thinking of the Jews being led out from their exile and brought safely by God to a new place. We might consider our own inner exile and discovering ourselves anew after some time of loss, disconnect or loneliness. 

Here's Gordy Thomas' audio/visual ode to Aspens. Nice song. Amazing photos of these wonderful trees: a piece of our paradise planet. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"Grip His pierced hand..."

Ole Hallesby was a Norwegian, Lutheran Theologian who lived from 1879-1961. He offers us this encouragement and invitation.

Jesus is moved every time He sees you appreciate what He has done for you. Grip His pierced hand and say to Him, "I thank you, Savior, because you have died for me." Thank Him likewise for all the other blessings He has showered upon you from day to day. It brings joy to Jesus.

Here's a stream of consciousness prayer while on last week's monastery retreat ~ thanking Jesus for the blessings.

Planted along the edge of the monastic cemetery,
   the brilliant maple glowing,
   like hot coals.

Hemlocks through the second-floor window,
   the bluest of skies between the branches.
   The top of the Aspen quivers ~
   the under-leaf is silver.

Ordination retreat here thirty seven years ago.
   Pierre, Bruno, Gabriel and John were monks then.
   Now Michael, Antonio, Justin,
   Francis Michael and Luke have joined.

Pre-dawn Matins
   Later ~
   Lauds in sunlight
   Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart ~
   hymns and psalms,
   silence at breakfast,
   honey and cider.

Morning tea and
   the wild orchard,
   the house full of guests.

Winter-wear sheep,
   hundreds riding green waves,
   the ram with curled horns,
   three donkeys for alarm,

April's lambs
   move with the sun,
   gathering in the dark time,
   like monks at Compline.

Some guests run out with cameras and phones
   to photograph the low,
   full moon
   which lights up the meadows
   as the sheep settle in.

Medieval Mary in the undercroft,
   holding me up these many years.
   For the longings of my heart.
   the strugglers I've met,
   for compassion-ated hearts.

For the animals and plants ~
   consolation when the humans have gone mad.

For the gift-ing of senses:
  Athos incense
  wet yellow leaves
  a tangerine at dinner
  the vesper bell
  taking hold of the chalice with the cloisonne base.

The Philippine monk of the Sunday sermon:
   Our life of prayer was set in motion
   when God blew breath into our clay.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Golden Leaf of Forgiveness

Benedictine Monasteries are known as such because they follow the 5th century rule of Saint Benedict. The fourth principle of that community rule is that the monastery must cultivate a spirit of forgiveness among the brothers. Forgiveness is the glue that prevents the community from devolving into divisions and even violence or dissolution. 

Does it matter whether monks live this way? For sure, as monks are supposed to be living examples that it's possible for all of us to live harmoniously and in the Gospel-way of Jesus. At the heart of Jesus' way is forgiveness, probably the hardest requirement of Christian living. That's why I'm calling it the Golden Leaf: in a nasty world, dropping resentments and getting on with loving people is golden

Forgiving the offender does't mean, "Hey, no problem, don't worry about it. Let's go on a cruise together." On the contrary, being cheated, slandered, abused, neglected, tricked, manipulated, lied to, ripped off (we get the picture) is a problem. So then what does forgiveness mean? 

Forgiving someone means: "From the bottom of my heart (and I may have to reach down as deep as that to find it) I simply wish you well. I wish you all good. I wish you health, peace, change of heart, growth in goodness, salvation, success..." To wish this for anyone is loving.

And if I can't do this, but at least want to be able to wish someone well, I have made a start. We grow, with God's help. It's important as well to remember, that I'm as vulnerable and as capable of error and folly as the next guy. Indeed, some of us have a keen awareness of our own errors over the years and having been the recipient of someone else's forgiveness. In which case, forgiving someone is just a variation on the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. 

The Golden Leaf: Dropping resentments and extending forgiveness: "I wish you well."