Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

All Things Are Possible



This low growing violet is a wonder as about two months ago it was under three feet of snow. When the snow melted I found it pitifully crushed and flattened without buds or flowers. And here it is now, this Memorial Day weekend, greeting those who walk along the bluestone path to the chapel.

As if they were hand-painted, notice the short black streaks radiating from the center of each flower and the watercolor like purple edge blending into the yellow. Lovely, heh?

Free association is the first thought or word that comes to our minds in response to some stimuli (what we've seen, tasted, touched, smelled or heard) For me: never say never, don't stay crushed, lean in, with God all things are possible.

Being crushed is something we can all relate to: some tremendous disappointment, worsening health, being over-whelmed with responsibility, the deep sadness of a great loss, exhaustion. The composer of Psalm 143:03 understands. We don't know who the enemy is being referred to here, but it sounds just awful. We can name the crushing enemy for ourselves, but I'd suggest we look deeper than the people around who might be trouble makers. Think inside.

An enemy is in deadly pursuit,
crushing me into the ground,
forcing me to live in darkness,
like those long dead.
My spirit is faint,
and within me my heart is numb with fear.

Poor fellow, we don't know what the burdening sin is in Psalm 38:08, but yes, sin can crush us as well:

My sins stand higher than my head,
they weigh on me as an unbearable weight.
I have stinking, festering wounds,
thanks to my folly.
I am twisted and bent double,
I spend my days in gloom.


But the snow melted, and the violet sprang to life. And for us, we survive and perhaps even flourish out of the crushing pain. Being crushed can make us bitter or it can soften and sensitize us. That's not to say it's easy - I'd suggest the little violet had to expend a great deal of energy to come alive again. I want to congratulate, compliment and honor it when I pass by.

Remember the Gospel account of the rich young man (Matthew 19:16-22) - he wanted eternal life (which starts here and now) but he felt the requirements of Jesus were too much to bear and he went away sad. He is the only person in the Gospel to leave Jesus disappointed. But that account is followed by this:


Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'In truth I tell you, it is hard for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Yes, I tell you again, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.' When the disciples heard this they were astonished. 'Who can be saved, then?' they said. Jesus gazed at them, 'Humanly speaking, it is impossible, but with God anything is possible." Matthew 19: 23-26.

Do I believe it? 

17 comments:

  1. Oh! I believe it. I see in some of my darkest hrs. It is often the smallest spark that lifts me from sadness, loneliness, rejection. Its a moment of light, that brings grace to rescue me and lift me up. Maybe, I pass these things by sometimes but those moments He makes me stop to look and appreciate. I know its a personal grace for me. God knows me and that's a good feeling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's one of the most powerful aspects of Christian living: We believe in a God who knows that I exist, for whom it matters that I exist. Isn't that wonderful?

      Delete
    2. I believe it! I believe in Him and that He cares for us each individually. I cannot imagine not believing in God. Thank you for affirming my faith and helping us to see that it is a worthwhile cause, to believe in Christ's way and to believe in ourselves.

      Delete
    3. Jesus always believed in his apostles even when they were weak or wrong headed. Even Judas! Jesus called him "friend" as Judas approached him in the Gethsemane Garden.

      Delete
  2. I would like to add further that I believe God is using you to bring to us these moments of light. Grateful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And aren't I blessed too - all along the way God has introduced me to people who lift me up and share a light. God is so good!

      Delete
  3. This is so inspirational Father. I needed this today more than any other day. Right now I have that crushing feeling and it is as though your words were put there for me to see. God knew they would help and they do. I know anything is possible with God, but to see the phase in black and white staring at me this morning is a sign to truly believe it with my heart. God doesn't give us more than we can handle.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, sometimes these things happen - probably more often that we detect - where God puts what we need right in front of us. You have to laugh; it's so wonderful!
    Blessed Sunday to everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I feel for the rich man who walked away sad and dejected. I fear that it will be harder than we think to enter the kingdom of heaven with our sins and our selfishness. I don't know if I could give it all up to pass through the eye of the needle. If I look at the lives of the saints, I know that I am not as dedicated to prayer or as humble or selfless as they. But we have to believe in God's merciful love, otherwise, where will we end up?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't think the saints are in our lives so we should compare ourselves to them, "Oh I'm not good enough...." We're to be our own kind of saint. They can spur us on - but be your own best self - the one God created you to be. Archbishop Anthony Bloom has written a fine book (short and an easy read) Beginning to Pray. I highly recommend it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I recommend this book also. As a way to learn to encounter God, even in the darkness that we feel as the sins crushing us. You'll develop a deeper relationship with God, learning to sit and be still which doesn't come naturally to us. It will take work, but he reward is great.

      Delete
  7. Beautiful picture of your flowers and beautiful thoughts here. I love so much to read the posts and the comments that follow. We have all been crushed at one time or another. And some of us end up flourishing like these violets and others remain feeling trampled and defeated. Why do some people rise above their problems while others wallow in them and let them be an excuse for their situation and bad choices?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, a long time ago, I was working with a therapist and I had a profound insight about myself. A great personal clarity. I said to the therapist, "Everyone should have this opportunity." She answered, "Most people would not be willing to do the work." I understand.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a beautiful post Fr. Stephen. I feel like this is the center of Christianity. I never thought of the Rich Man Who walked away Disappointed? This is something to think about, I think it is easy to miss the mark here and how some people think ohh you can't be rich and a christian. Because if this is true, then well all of us in this Country have a lot of rethinking to do. But yes it is true to be detached from materialism and finances; and it is harder to do the tif your rich. But I just thought of the other teaching here; it needs to be important as it is the only time it happens in the Gospel. I feel like Christ is pointing us here and I think (can be very wrong) but here is my attempt in explaining it. When I am doing 'well' or 'ok'. I don't lean and hang on to or cling to Christ. Those terms hold very true to me when I am Crushed or Spiritually Empty inside. OR when I am struggling with my own inner evils which are trying to kill and choke me; that is when I 'need' God, cling on to, hang onto God for my Own Dear Life and quite literally when I am in that state. It is when I am full of 'Riches' when unfortunately I do not lean on God as though I am dying and that He is my only source for Life but it becomes quite different. I either become Lukewarm, ungrateful, etc. I have for years been trying to Thank God when I am not having any trouble. Because I have been in so much trouble and I know that too well; so when I am free of struggle instead of being lukewarm which is the temptation I try to be Grateful, Thankful, Cheerful, Joyful, and continuously Thank God for the Peace he has given to me. And you have touched on one of the many beautiful ways that nature and the spiritual life intertwine in the similarities of how they work but it is When I am Dying to Myself that I May Be Born Into Eternal Life, that when I am crushed is when Christ rebuilds me and 'With God Anything is Possible' I am very thankful I have experienced this miracle in my own life. We do not understand why God Chooses whom he does, because Like you Father Stephen, I used to wonder that all the time. Why Me? Why not so many other deserving people? But that may be it; is that I couldn't with out Gods Help and some others just Can; and that is the real Cross for those who Just Can whole God gave that Eternal Richness too. Because If I did not Need God; I would have done it with out him. And there I thank God for this Poverty. The Poverty of Being incapable.

    This is for me the biggest Grace and Gift for which I am thankful for. I appreciate our friendship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you've got gratitude, you've got the whole of the spiritual life. You understand.

      Delete
  10. Sometimes things are not as they seem. With a little help and enlightening, all things are possible, even the changing of hearts that seemed hardened and unwilling to be turned around. Our lives are the sum of all our experiences with the people that come in and out of it. We cannot forget it is possible to gain insights from the most unlikely people. All things are possible with God's love if we let it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed! The most unlikely people. And you know it's said, "hindsight is 20/20" - that I can look back at my life with all the twists and turns, advances and setbacks and the people who have come and gone along the way and say, "Oh yeah, God was right there, working it all out for me."

      Delete