Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

World Bee Day and Saint Gobnet

Today is World Bee Day. Bees are vital. Without bees, there are no fruits and vegetables. But bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and some people are not alarmed. Many kinds of bees have already gone extinct. There are increasingly few fields and meadows where bees can forage because "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique and a swingin hot spot."*  Our chem-lawns, gardens and agriculture fields are sprayed with stuff that kills any flying insect (other pollinators) including bees. 

But Europe has recently enacted legislation prohibiting chemical sprays that kill bees. My goodness, most jarred honey contains traces of chemical pesticides. The farmers and the producers of killer-chemicals are not happy, but an important step has been taken to ensure an alive planet for our children and grandchildren. 

Bees figure in our religion not infrequently. During the song to the Easter Candle on Holy Saturday Night we hear, "On this, your night of grace, O  holy Father, accept this candle, a solemn offering, the work of bees and of your servants' hands, an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church."

And Saint John Chrysostom said: "The bee is more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but because she labors for others." 

There is a lovely legend that on Christmas Night honey bees hum Psalm 100. But only those who are clean of heart are able to hear it.

O be joyful in the Lord, all you lands:
serve the Lord with gladness,
come before his presence singing for joy.

Know that he, the Lord is God.
He made us, we belong to him,
we are his people, the sheep of his flock.

Go within his gates, giving thanks.
Enter his courts with songs of praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name.

Indeed, how good is the Lord,
eternal his merciful love.
He is faithful from generation to generation.

The patron of bees and bee-keepers is Saint Gobnet (5th century) who was born in County Clare, Ireland. Having fled to the Aran Islands to escape a family feud, Gobnet built a church there but was instructed in a vision that this was not to be the place of her resurrection, but  rather another place, where she would find nine white deer grazing. So she came to southern Ireland, founded the church of Kilgobnet and eventually settled at Ballyvourney. There she built a nunnery and was guided by St. Abban. She was a skillful bee-keeper, using honey to cure illnesses and wounds. The site of her convent with its holy well is still a place of pilgrimage. Her feast day is February 11.

Holy Gobnet, help us to save our planet.
Holy Gobnet, that we may revere every living thing.
Holy Gobnet, that we may be generous in supporting life.
Holy Gobnet, heal us of our illnesses and inner wounds.
Holy Gobnet, may no living thing go extinct on our watch.
Holy Gobnet, that we would fall to our knees in wonder.

Want to plant a Honey Bee Garden? Here are the names of thirty plants known to be favored by bees. These seeds and plants can be found in almost any nursery. All you need is some good soil and at least six hours of sun each day. And the desire to put caring into living action.

Calendula (aka Marigold)
Cone Flower
Thrift (aka Sea Pink)
Sweet William
Monarda (aka Bigamist or Bee Balm)
Globe Thistle

*Big Yellow Taxi ~ Joni Mitchell 1970  And the last verse: 

Hey farmer, farmer, put away the D.D.T now
give me spots on my apples
but leave me the birds and the bees ~ please! 
Don't it always seem to go
that you don't know what you've got til it's gone...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Intercessions ~ Pentecost Sunday

Holy Spirit Flower ~ Panama

The Jewish Pentecost remembers the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai,/ fifty days after Passover./ May we remember Jesus giving us the new law of love,/ and live that law creatively and well./ We pray to the Lord. 

On Pentecost Sunday may the Holy Spirit keep us from the discouragement and cynicism that might overwhelm us./ May the Church be blessed with new gifts of wisdom and joy./ We pray to the Lord.

Today is World Bee Day./ We pray to know how to take care of the planet-gift God has given us./ May we have the courage and persevering energy to love this earth,/ even in the small details of the pollinating insects./ We pray to the Lord.

Dozens are dead and many thousands have been wounded in new fighting between Israel and Palestians./ We ask God to forgive this violence in what we call the Holy Land./ And may the world learn how to be peaceful and just./ We pray to the Lord.

We ask for the calming of voices and the attitudes which often insult and hurt people./ We ask to be thoughtful and insightful,/ gentle and always grateful./ We pray to the Lord.

We pray for the sick,/ those recovering from trauma and accidents,/ those who need inner healing or the healing of relationships./ We ask blessings for those whose efforts help to make our daily lives easier./ We pray to the Lord.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Trout Lily's Invitation to Hiding

This lovely native North American plant, with its nodding flower on the end of slender stalk, has the botanical name: Erythronium americanum. Its various common names are: Trout Lily, Dogtooth Violent, Fawn Lily. 

Trout Lily is expert at hiding. Its mottled leaves resemble a brook trout in a dappled stream or spring fawn in grass. It does not bloom for the first 4 to 7 years of its existence. In late afternoon, it assumes this heads-down position, while in the morning, growing under deciduous tress before they leaf out in early spring, the petals curve backwards, revealing a lemon yellow interior and anthers on thread like stamens.

Trout Lily seems to know where it belongs and is rarely takes to being being dug up and transplanted from its wooded hideaway to someone's home garden. Even in a large colony of say one hundred plants, only one will carry two leaves and a single flower, the ninety-nine remain camouflaged with one one green-brown spotted leaf. 

"Guard me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings..." Psalm 17:8

"You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress." Psalm 32:7

"You are my hiding place, my shield; I hope in your word." Psalm 119:114

And of course, the Christian speaks of the "Hidden Years" of Jesus - after a few gospel reports from his Infancy, we hear nothing again of him until his adult appearance along the Sea of Galilee.

Christianity speaks so often of "tireless work" that we neglect the soul work that might take place in silence, solitude and hiddenness. Maybe this is a Trout Lily's spring time for us: Stop running away from hidden-ness. Stop apologizing for hiddenness. Stop thinking hiddenness isn't Christian.

Someone recently sent a very short essay written by the English Poet, David Whyte, titled: Hiding.  

Hiding is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Even hiding the truth from ourselves can be a way to come to what we need in our own necessary time. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practises of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snowbound internal pulse of the hibernating bear. Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother's womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named.

We live in a time of the  dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with too easily articulated ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others. What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

I've read these paragraphs many times in order to understand. And I'm thinking of the recent dust-up surrounding Facebook selling peoples' names and other information. And our asking, "What does privacy mean anymore?" Or of advertising that pops up on my computer screen - something out in cyber space "thinking" it knows me: who I am, what my interests are, what I need to own, what I need to read. It all makes me want to run to the hiddenness of my garden. We can stop defending or apologizing for our hiddenness. 

St. Edith Stein's collected works is titled: The Hidden Life. And there is a book titled: Halfway to Heaven - the Hidden Life of the Sublime Carthusians. We can stop thinking "hiddenness" is un-Christian.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

At Table With Jesus

The Last Supper ~ Joos Van Cleve ~ 1485 -1540

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus' disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks, 'Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me." They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I?" He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that one not to have been born."
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly  tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters; for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." (Mark 14: 12-28)

Do we remember earlier (Mark 11:1-2) when Jesus told the disciples they would find a donkey they could use for his Jerusalem entrance? Here he tells them to follow the man carrying a water jar. Jesus seems to have a knowledge of future events.  Notice too that a man carrying water is unusual; in the ancient world water-carrying is women's work. All of this in preparation for the upstairs dinner, a dinner he will eat not with his family, as was the custom, but with them. Jesus is forming a new family, bigger than blood relations.

Jesus is referred to as the teacher. We must pay attention to the lesson then, even in its details. After the bread is passed, is Jesus teaching us something new: instead of each disciple drinking from his own cup, there is one cup passed among them all.  

Jesus is preparing the disciples for his death. He speaks of betrayal, and denial. He makes a psalm-reference to an enemy and a divine curse which is really a claim that he will be raised up and delivered. The blessing words over the bread and cup foreshadow his death.

But there is more. This meal anticipates the meal (a heavenly banquet) which will take place when Jesus returns and brings in God's full reign over all creation. I knew a non-believing doctor who  worked in a Catholic hospital and who one night wandered into the hospital chapel and carefully observed the Stations of the Cross on the walls. "How ridiculous, a God who dies," he said. 

I suppose, instead of jumping to defend against that claim, one could accept it and come to love Jesus precisely because, as the world goes, he is ridiculous: Jesus, who told us about a shepherd who had a big flock of one hundred sheep and who left them vulnerable to go in search of the one that got lost. That's ridiculous. Or the ridiculousness of a woman who had ten coins, but who lost one and ripped the place apart until she found it. And here, the ridiculousness of Jesus, who is starting a new family, a new spiritual way that is sealed not with a kiss, but with his spent blood. And that spent blood he tells us is, "for the many," which is the Aramaic way of saying, for all. I mean, really: the folks who don't make the cut, who aren't on the honor roll, who don't win the golden whatever, who aren't on the A list, who don't merit citations - searching them out for love!?

This Last Supper scene isn't just about the twelve disciples, but it's about us. I'm invited to take my place at the table too. Jesus knows the betrayer and the denier are at the table. And the two disciples who argued about seats of honor at Jesus' left and right; they're there.  And Jesus' references that later that same night they'll all run away from him. So it's not a table of perfect people by any means.

In my meditation, where do I seat myself? Anywhere is fine really. But what matters is that the seat next to me is empty. Remember, I am sitting at the table of Jesus-the-Ridiculous. The table is my heart. Our country loves to talk about winners and losers, who's in and who's out, who matters and who doesn't. So who sits down next to me? Think of the news. Even think of what we call politics - which it isn't really. How do I feel? And do I care that I'll be labeled ridiculous or worse, even by other Christians?