Archive for July, 2006
Retreat directors are a sneaky bunch—they often give today’s gospel to people coming on a retreat as an invitation to ‘come away to a quiet place by yourself and rest for a while’—and they completely leave out the bit about not actually getting any peace or quiet when you get there. All the clamouring crowds have worked out where you are going and they’ve got here ahead of you—asking, needing, occupying, bothering. Retreat directors don’t mention that bit. We wouldn’t want you emulating Jesus paying attention to the crowding distractions.
But Jesus does—pay attention—you get the sense almost against his better judgment. Despite his plans he is moved to pity. He can’t ignore the crowd because he sees them like sheep without a shepherd.
July 23rd, 2006
Time to come out of the closet: I’m a CSI fan. (only the original of course…) Last time a scene struck me and stuck with me. A cop was talking about his wayward daughter. He’d been watching her on a street corner, drugged up, plying her trade as a prostitute. But he said all he could really see was the five-year old, her tongue sticking from the corner of her mouth with the effort of drawing a picture, sitting there colouring, absorbed, humming a bright tuneless song.
‘Let your peace come back to you’ – I like that phrase from the gospel – ‘if the house deserves it, let your peace descend on it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you’… Let your peace come back to you.
July 13th, 2006
I was ordained a priest 10 years ago today.
It hasn’t been the ten years I imagined it would be — marked more by failure than success, more by sickness than health — but, I realise reflecting on it, still good, very good.
I chose a phrase from St Ignatius and a fragment of a poem for my ordination card. In the Spiritual Exercises, Ignatius writes:
July 13th, 2006
‘I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love. I will betroth myself to you faithfully and you will come to know the Lord.’
For years now I haven’t been able to call Jesus ‘Lord’. The word worms uneasy in my mouth and in my heart I always know that when I call him Lord, our Lord, the Lord, I am evading something. Jesus is not Lord to me. Once he was. But at some point he slipped in closer, ducked under my guard, and planted himself beside me. Since then calling him Lord has felt like a diversionary tactic, a way of keeping him at arms length—not that it stops me, from time to time, from doing just that.
July 10th, 2006
‘When I am weak, I am strong’. Isn’t that a lie, a sweet lie? It sounds good, sounds holy, but it hides the fact that this world is run by the strong for the strong—and the weak, the weak have to get by with the crumbs from the strong man’s table.
Who bears the brunt of global warming but the starving poor of Africa? Who carries the cost of storm and hurricane but the weak that can’t get out of the way? Who pays the price of heat and cold but the old and neglected?
July 9th, 2006
While Lectio Divina seems naturally suited to praying with texts where words and their resonances are uppermost, other pieces of scripture engage us primarily as stories.
Stories have the capacity to draw us in. Almost without effort we find ourselves imagining the place and the people and the better the story the more we find ourselves moved by what we imagine. This natural capacity is the basis of the way of praying called imaginative, or Ignatian, contemplation.
July 2nd, 2006