Archive for the ‘Lent’ Category

Nurturing the Barren Fig

February 25, 2013

Please see
Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 3 (year C), March 3, 2013
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

AlexanderMstrJHlsCrppWmnPrblBrrnFigKoninklijke BibliotheekTheHague1430CROPThen he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’” – Luke 13:6-9

Ruthlessness: the one uncompromising rule of gardening – pruning, chopping, weeding, deadheading, dividing, removing the weak and sick, throwing away the plants that inhibit or crowd the others. Out go the plants that don’t produce fruit or function as a helpful neighbor to another plant. Out go plants that do not offer beauty or scent or pleasure or visual interest. Alex, one of our interns last summer, observed that “When I imagined that I’d spend my summer gardening, I never thought that so much of my day would involve killing”[ – not only plants, but harmful insects and rodents.]

In Jesus’ parable the owner of the garden observes a barren fig tree. Reasonably, he orders it yanked out. But the gardener suggests that the owner give the fig another year. In the meantime he’ll break up the hard earth, aerating the ground around it so the roots can breathe and drink and take in nourishment. He’ll put manure around it, that golden substance which is the very ground of life and fertility – changing the very soil nurturing the fig tree.

What blessed good news for my soul! Not only do I have a reprieve, but in that time I will be loved, nurtured, brought back to a life of creative regeneration. The mercy of God may not necessarily reflect good gardening practice, but proves a boon for us clueless procrastinators and late bloomers.

But in the parable, mercy has an expiration date. You can’t let the garden languish full of weeds. Repent, says Jesus. You don’t know when some tyrant or madman will take your life, or even when some building will fall on you as you walk by. (Luke 13:1-5) The land owner will come yank out that fig sooner or later. Repent. NOW.

Most people live lives so crammed with responsibility it’s necessary to push repentance into the background, like many other beautiful and important things. I have all these emergencies to deal with immediately. They occupy my attention like demons screeching and jumping up and down on my desk. Our culture demands that most people live from emergency to emergency. Some day I’ll get some time off and go to the desert for 40 days to repent.

Repent, NOW, says Jesus. You do not know the day or hour. (Matthew 25:13)The sense of immanent of Death can shake priorities. Suddenly those daily emergencies shrink in fear and slide off the desk when the Great Emergency enters the room with hooded cloak and sickle. Welcome the apparition, say the saints. Day by Day remind yourself that you are going to die, said St. Benedict in the Rule. Anchorites dug a trowel full of dirt from their grave each day, or hemmed their shrouds or slept in their coffins, not for some morbid exercise, but to emphasize life! Breathe now. Look at beauty now. Let the holy in you rise and be fruitful now. Now. Now.

Lent offers the time to develop the habit of repentance in daily life. Lent is the time of aerating the soil and adding humble manure.  Time to develop habits of daily repentance. Lent is a time of taking care of things, while being taken care of.

And, to be fair, the detritus pulled from the garden goes to the compost pile. After decomposing it becomes that magic and holy humus nourishing the garden. Ultimately, you can’t lose. But you can be creative and fruitful now.

-Suzanne

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The New Jerusalem

February 18, 2013

Please see
Soulwork Toward Sunday : self-guided retreat
Lent 2 (year c), February 24, 2013
“Lament Over Jerusalem”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

So, this is longer than my usual posts, mainly because the meditation is obviously working its way toward a sermon. Hope you float through it happily…. -Suzanne

Part 1
Lament over Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! -Luke 13:34

Jerusalem is both a city and a concept. A place to leave from and return to.

During the exile in Babylon, Jeremiah laments,

How lonely sits the city
that was full of people!
How like a widow has she become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the cities
has become a vassal. -Lamentations 1:1

Meanwhile the exiles bitterly complain,

By the waters of Babylon,
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the wills there
we hung up our lyres.
for there our captors
required of us sons,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the sons of Zion!”

How shall we sing the lord’s song
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
If I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy! -Psalm 137 1-6

And when they returned they sang,

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the water courses of the Negev!
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy!
He that goes forth weeping,
bearing seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him. – Psalm 126

From ancient times Jerusalem became a metaphor for exile, longing, pilgrimage, return, and fulfillment. Throughout the world, in Diasporas ever since, prophets, saints, mystics, and communities could say with Rabbi Nachman of Braslav, “Wherever I go, I go to Jerusalem.”

Begin from Jerusalem,” said Jesus to the Apostles (Luke 24:47), as he sent them to the “ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Jerusalem would be for every missionary, a place for the heart to dwell, even while facing martyrdom. How fraught this image, then, of Jerusalem. No city can live up to these layers of metaphor, meaning, memory, and emotion. Jerusalem becomes something other than Jerusalem. Jerusalem becomes heaven itself.

Part 2
The New Jerusalem

John the Divine from his own exile in Patmos, sees or fore-sees the New Jerusalem:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” -Revelation 21:2-5

As the New Jerusalem descends, does the blessing settle like ash over the dwellings and lives of earth’s inhabitants? Or does the hovering New Jerusalem draw out the latent holiness already present but not fully realized in her prospective inhabitants?

Noah's Ark with towers - the church? Jerusalem? c.1400-1500

Noah’s Ark with towers – the church? Jerusalem? c.1400-1500

Many would have the New Jerusalem descend like a spaceship, taking only the ‘righteous,’ that is, the homogeneous likeness of any given group claiming the New Jerusalem as theirs alone, leaving a despoiled Earth behind. Who will be saved in this Noah’s Ark of exclusivity? Is the New Jerusalem a closed community with golden pavement defended by twelve pearl gates? This vision, like poor Noah, is foolish and flawed. Commentators lament ever afterward that while God waited for Noah to beg for mercy for his neighbors, Noah simply built the ark and saved himself. But after the ordeal, Noah planted vineyards and got drunk, not able to bear the guilt and shame of survival. [Zohar Hadash 22c-d, 23a, Midrash ha-Ne’elam]

Such an exclusive New Jerusalem dooms itself to inhabitants weighted with guilt, finding solace in drunkenness, and denial. Isn’t such a place actually hell?

If, instead, the vision of the New Jerusalem reflects the Gospel, the golden city is peopled with the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the possessed, eunuchs, widows, orphans, the insane, the unclean, the masses of broken-hearted people bearing caverns of loneliness. And, sinners- magnificent sinners and slight sinners. A whole Noah’s Ark of beasts of every kind. Plus, one would assume, the aforementioned ‘righteous.’

Is such a ship of fools foolish enough to float away without a plan for survival, a strategy for conservation of resources, an acknowledgment of mutual danger aboard this planet-boat? Such foolishness remind me of a famous joke:

A devout man fully trusted God would save him from any danger. When a flood surrounded his house he climbed out onto his roof waiting for God. A neighbor came by with a rowboat, but the man refused to be rescued, waiting for God. Next, the coast guard arrived, ordering him to come aboard, but the man refused again. A police helicopter came and dropped a rope ladder but the man stubbornly clung to the roof waiting for God. Soon, the flood waters swallowed his house and the man drowned. In heaven, the man met his Maker. “Why did you let me drown?” accused the man, “I trusted you to save me!” “What are you talking about?” said God. “I sent two boats and a helicopter!”

Waiting for New Jerusalem to descend is like the foolish man on the roof refusing rescue. Here is an impasse like the line of thinking in the joke – waiting for God to save while God waits for you to take responsibility, or like Noah building the ark while God waits for him to make the case for his neighbors. Meanwhile we humans waste our resources hoping the New Jerusalem will descend before we wreck the place, treating this holy planet like a carelessly broken toy which Papa will replace if we whine hard enough. As resilient as Earth is, she is still unique and vulnerable. What if this beautiful planet IS the New Jerusalem?

Earth has born and thus has to bear the ultimate ship of fools – humanity. Will we take responsibility? Poor Earth, she carries within herself the seeds of her own destruction. O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, she laments, How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

-Suzanne

Whore of the Mundane (2)

February 11, 2013

Please See
Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 1 (year C), February 17, 2012
“until an opportune time”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

 The following is the blog for Lent 1 re-posted from last year.  It’s inspired by a quote from Karl Rahner which can be found below.

It’s a good thing that in meditation it’s important to gently bring yourself back to the Beloved, “without judgment or recrimination.” For one as passionate as I think I am, the humbling fact that the time I set aside solely for Divine Love fills up with mundane trivialities, makes me laugh at myself day after day. I usually end meditation with another cluster of laughs, saying aloud, “I REALLY DO love you, you know!”

David Roberts, St. Katherine's from the plain, detail

David Roberts, St. Katherine’s from the plain, detail

So goes my daily dose of desert.

After escaping from Egypt and before entering the land of their ancestors, the people of Israel sojourned in the desert for forty years. Here, once again, they became God’s people. Centuries later, Israel looked back at that time poetically as a honeymoon:

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. … And there she hall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, says the Lord, you will call me ‘My husband.’ …And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. Hosea2:14, 15b-16a, 19-20

I’m like Hosea’s prostitute wife, Gomer, in my meditation. From time to time it’s interesting to watch the sort of thoughts I try to let go of. All of them trivial, silly, non-sequiturs. Not even a profound idea here or a poetic phrase there that I’d want to cling to if one should come up. I’m a whore to the mundane. Nevertheless, may God reckon my distractions to me as righteousness!

It’s comforting to read the book of Exodus. The forty years in the wilderness was anything but a honeymoon. But I know from decades of serious praying that the experience of Presence is often perceived in retrospect and not in the moment. Perhaps, someday, I’ll look upon this Lent as a turning point; an intimate dedication to “the one thing necessary.” In the meantime, I’ll keep praying, meditation, and probably laughing.

Here’s the Rahner quote:

Therefore Jesus goes into the desert, therefore he fasts; therefore he leaves behind everything else that a man needs even for bare existence, so that for this once not just in the depths of his heart bu in the whole range of his being he can do and say what is the first and last duty of humankind – to find God, to see God, to belong to God to the exclusion of everything else that makes up human life. And therefore he fasts. Therefore through this cruelly hard act, this denial of all comfort, this refusal of food and drink, through the solitude and abandonment of the desert, through everything else that involves a rejection, a self-denial of the world and all earthly company, through all these he proclaims this fact: one thing only is necessary, that I be with God, that I find God, and everything else, no matter how great or beautiful, is secondary and subordinate and must be sacrificed, if needs be, to this ultimate movement of heart and spirit.

-Karl Rahner 1904-1984
The Great Church Year

a prayer from the crypt

March 19, 2012

see:
Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 5 (year B), March 25, 2012
“but if it dies…”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

I’m praying in the crypt at Holy Cross Monastery. A womb-like place to begin again. And again and again.

I used to write in my adolescent and early adult journals, “What shall I take with me into the new life?” Nothing particular on the exterior was in the process of changing, but I often felt the need for an interior shift. As I do now. What shall I take with me into the new life?

Let me take
what compassion
I have accrued to my credit.
Let my low and stagnant reserve
meet Compassion’s vibrant ocean.
Let me take
what shards of love
I’ve gathered.
Let me offer my broken pieces
to the magnitude of Love’s fulfillment.

Help me to save my life … by losing it in Thee.

-Suzanne

Cleansing of the Temple and Other Body-Work

March 5, 2012

see
Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 3(B) “the inner temple”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?  – 1 Corinthians 6:19

For the first time in my adult life, I’m not in chronic pain.

I can’t explain why I’m not in pain. I do know, however, that pain warps your world, your viewpoint, your relationships, your sense of self.  Not being in pain is like waking up in an unfamiliar but beautiful open field.

detail, The Expulsion of the Money Changers, Giotto

Last fall I decided to concentrate not on work, or community, or good works, or even earning money. Sapped of strength, I was desperate after a year and a half of debilitating gut issues, and decided to try to pay attention to my body. Other than the website, and only one retreat, I suspended projects, writing and speaking engagements.

I’ll spare you the list of expensive out-of-provider doctors and alternate therapies. What helps me most is massage, meditation, and yoga.

I’m not a lover of exercise. I live in my head. (If your body is in pain, how else do you manage?) But yoga began so gently, and the teachers made the practice interesting – explaining how muscles work, how certain poses stimulate, say, the nervous system, or lymph system. I began noticing a change right away and so I’ve kept at it, improving week by week. Not that I love to go… I’d still rather be in my head, but I do feel better. I’m utterly amazed how lithe I am already. And strong. Well, stronger.

The body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, Saint Paul says. I keep forgetting.

Not long ago I began having terrible experiences of overwhelming sadness and sometimes despair during my yoga practice. As these feelings come up, I attribute them to healing, and let them go.

I called my daughter Grace who has a long time yoga practice. “You carry old emotions and traumas in your body,” she told me. I’m not a lover of emotions either, but I suppose I’ve stored all kinds of horrors in places atrophied by my sedentary and purposefully un-integrated lifestyle.

This den of thieves is experiencing a shake up. Somebody’s overthrowing tables and freeing the doves. I am so grateful.

Thou, Whom I do not know, but Whose I am…

February 27, 2012

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 2 (year B), March 4, 2012
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

Rooting around in his book Markings early last week, I found this prayer by the beloved United Nations Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjöld. He wrote it eight weeks before he died in a plane crash in 1961.  It’s been my prayer these first days of Lent. It is “meditation three” on the website.  It’s worth repeating here. I hope you love it, too …

 

Have mercy

Upon us.
Have mercy
Upon our efforts,
That we
Before Thee,
In love and in faith,
Righteousness and humillity,
May follow Thee,
With self-denial, steadfastness, and courage,
And meet Thee
In the silence.

Give us
A pure heart
That we may see Thee,
A humble heart
That we may hear Thee,
A heart of love
That we may serve Thee,
A heart of faith
That we may live Thee,

Thou
Whom I do not know
But Whose I am.

Thou
Whom I do not comprehend
But Who hast dedicated me
To my fate.
Thou –

 

 

 
– Dag Hammarskjöld 1905-1961
Markings

Whore of the Mundane

February 20, 2012

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Lent 1 (year B), February 26, 2012
“the devil and temptation”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

St. Katherine's from the plain, David Roberts, detail

It’s a good thing that in meditation it’s important to gently bring yourself back to the Beloved, “without judgment or recrimination.” For one as passionate as I think I am, the humbling fact that the time I set aside solely for Divine Love fills up with mundane trivialities, makes me laugh at myself day after day. I usually end meditation with another cluster of laughs, saying aloud, “I REALLY DO love You, ya’ know!”

So goes my daily dose of desert.

After escaping from Egypt and before entering the land of their ancestors, the people of Israel sojourned in the desert for forty years. Here, once again, they became God’s people. Centuries later, Israel looked back at that time poetically as a honeymoon:

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. … And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, says the Lord, you will call me ‘My husband.’ …And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. -Hosea 2:14, 15b-16a, 19-20

In meditation I’m like Hosea’s prostitute wife, Gomer. From time to time it’s interesting to watch the sort of thoughts I try to let go of. All of them trivial, silly, non-sequiturs. Not even a profound idea here or a poetic phrase there that I’d want to cling to. Not a thought over starvation in Somalia or rape in the Congo or even of friends in distress. I’m a whore of the mundane. Of what I forgot at the drug store. Of the phone call I forgot to put on my “to do” list. Nevertheless, may God reckon my distractions to me as righteousness! May God transfigure my inanities!

It’s comforting to read the book of Exodus. The forty years in the wilderness was anything but a honeymoon. But I know from decades of serious praying that the experience of Presence is often perceived in retrospect and not in the moment. Perhaps, someday, I’ll look upon this Lent as a turning point; an intimate dedication to “the one thing necessary.” In the meantime, I’ll keep praying, meditating, and probably laughing.

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *         *

Here’s the quote which inspired this meditation:

Therefore Jesus goes into the desert, therefore he fasts; therefore he leaves behind everything else that a man needs even for bare existence, so that for this once not just in the depths of his heart bu in the whole range of his being he can do and say what is the first and last duty of humankind – to find God, to see God, to belong to God to the exclusion of everything else that makes up human life. And therefore he fasts. Therefore through this cruelly hard act, this denial of all comfort, this refusal of food and drink, through the solitude and abandonment of the desert, through everything else that involves a rejection, a self-denial of the world and all earthly company, through all these he proclaims this fact: one thing only is necessary, that I be with God, that I find God, and everything else, no matter how great or beautiful, is secondary and subordinate and must be sacrificed, if needs be, to this ultimate movement of heart and spirit.

-Karl Rahner 1904-1984
The Great Church Year

Lingering in the Light

February 13, 2012

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Last Epiphany, The Transfiguration, February 19, 2012
“the soul becomes all eye”
http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

 

Brueghel, Temptation of St. Anthony, detail

I love Epiphany, the season of befriending the Light. I love the liminal days between the Transfiguration and Ash Wednesday. I can linger on the mountain as the light fades. Soon, too soon, I have to confront those grayish shapeless lumps in my character that obscure the Light from radiating throughout my soul. In Lent I must tend to the lumps.

An Orthodox teaching posits that hell consists of the unmitigated Light of God, like heaven. However, the torment of hell involves the slow burning of all that ego residue, unrepented sins, unformed lumps of deficient character, unresolved conflicts clung to in life. So the lumps of sin-stuff burn in the Uncreated Light of Presence.

Wednesday I’ve got to get to work on my heavy gray lumpish sins and wickedness, things done and left undone, the devices and desires of my own heart.* But lingering in this Tabor light, just for these few days, the last of Epiphany, reminds me why I need and want to work so hard in my Lenten repenting.

Lingering in light,
Suzanne

 
*phrases from the wonderful penitential resources of The Book of Common Prayer

Like Lazarus …

April 4, 2011

Lent 5 (year A) / for April 10, 2011
[take away the stone]
see http://edgeofenclosure.org

The Resurrection of Lazarus, Giotto, 1305-08, detail, removing the stone from the tomb

I used to think Lazarus might have been disappointed to be recalled from death. Perhaps Martha and Mary needed him for their survival – why else selfishly beg for Jesus’ presence, especially at the cost of Jesus’ own safety? I think now, though, that Lazarus, conformed to the will of God, may have been content with the inconvenience, accepting the new threat of violence to himself and his family as a result of Jesus’ action. Lazarus may have been willing to be a SIGN, if not a walking target, to prosper the enterprise of the Good News, despite any and all consequences.

Having died already, what would Lazarus have to lose? I’ve talked with people who have died clinically and been resuscitated, who are no longer afraid of death. It isn’t that. It’s Lazarus living for something much larger than himself.

I overheard on older friend once describe my religious conversion when I was a young woman this way: “She’s Lazarus come out of the tomb.”  But life demands successive deaths and re-births. Maturing, growing in consciousness requires painful re-engagements with life-cycles of re-birth, self-sacrifice, transformation, dying, and being born again. My successive conversions, awakenings, look more like a hermit crab moulting, I think, leaving behind its exoskeleton time after time.

I’m due for a moulting. I feel new life thrashing impatiently within my soul. Why? Is it because I just turned 60? Is it because the long-shaggy-dog-story of a spring in the Northeast drags on and on and the daffodils have not even yet bloomed?  Is it the anticipation of Holy Week, that depth-probe into the psyche without which time itself seems dead?

A grace of aging is knowing from experience whatever it is will come in its own time, and once the creative life emerges, you can’t go back anymore than you can change your mind about having a baby when you are in labor.  I know I’m called, like Lazarus, to come out of my tomb, to become fully alive. Whatever that might mean.

-Suzanne

My way, my life, my light

March 28, 2011

Jesus Heals the Man Born Blind, Duccio, 1308-11, detail

Lent 4 (year A)
The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41)
see http://www.edgeofenclosure.org

As I write, it’s late Saturday night and I leave at dawn for Santa Barbara to lead a retreat (and I’m running out of time). Instead of a further reflection on the Gospel based on the website  prompts, here’s the poem by Francis Quarles (1592-1644). I only posted the last verse on the website, but the full poem is lovely and sets us up for both the Man Born Blind and Lazarus, who appears, bound in gravecloths, in next week’s lectionary.
-Suzanne

Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? Oh, why
Does that eclipsing hand so long deny
The sunshine of thy soul-enliv’ning eye?

Without that light, what light remains in me?
Thou art my life, my way, my light; in thee
I live, I move, and by thy beams I see.

Thou art mv life; if thou but turn away
My life’s a thousand deaths: thou art my way;
Without thee, Lord, I travel not, but stray.

My light thou art; without thy glorious sight
Mine eyes are darken’d with perpetual night.
My God, thou art my way, my life, my light.

Thou art my way; I wander if thou fly:
Thou art my light; if hid, how blind am I!
Thou art my life; if thou withdraw, I die.

Mine eyes are blind and dark, I cannot see;
To whom or whither should my darkness flee,
But to the light? and who’s that light but thee?

My path is lost, my wand’ring steps do stray;
I cannot safely go, nor safely stay;
Whom should I seek but thee, my path, my way?

Oh, I am dead: to whom shall I, poor I,
Repair? to whom shall my sad ashes fly,
But life? and where is life but in thine eye?

And yet thou turn’st away thy face, and fly’st me;
And yet I sue for grace, and thou deny’st me;
Speak, art thou angry, Lord, or only try’st me?

Unscreen those heavenly lamps, or tell me why
Thou shad’st thy face; perhaps thou think’st no eye
Can view those flames, and not drop down and die.

If that be all, shine forth, and draw thee nigher;
Let me behold and die, for my desire
Is phoenix-like to perish in that fire.

Death-conquer’d Laz’rus was redeem’d by thee;
If I am dead, Lord, set death’s prisoner free;
Am I more spent, or stink I worse than he?

If my puff’d life be out, give leave to tine
My shameless snuff at that bright lamp of thine;
Oh, what’s thy light the less for lighting mine?

If I have lost my path, great Shepherd, say,
Shall I still wander in a doubtful way?
Lord, shall a lamb of Israel’s sheep-fold stray?

Thou art the pilgrim’s path, the blind man’s eye,
The dead man’s life; on thee my hopes rely;
If thou remove, I err, I grope, I die.

Disclose thy sunbeams; close thy wings, and stay;
See, see how I am blind, and dead, and stray,
O thou, that art my light, my life, my way.

-Francis Quarles

 Also, I highly recommend Bruno Barnhart’s The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center. Every sentence is nourishing and the vision of the whole is astounding. My copy is worn with love. If I were given to swooning, that’s what would happen every time I open the book. Here are a couple of quotes I didn’t post on the website this week.

Painters and poets find their religion in the seeing of what is around them, in the truth of visible reality.  Something is consummated between the tree, the eye and the mind.  Light itself is unitive, is communication.  All light is a vestige, a dew of the light of the Word.  The leaf, the tree, the face are revelations of God in the light that blesses us in them, that brings us together.  The light which creates a visible world around us is a beginning of communion. There is another light hidden within everything, which is the fullness of communion.

Compared with the light she is found to be superior,
for it is succeeded by the night,
but against wisdom evil does not prevail (Wisdom 7:29-30)

-Bruno Barnhart
The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center

When Jesus spits on the ground, makes clay and anoints the man’s eyes, he recalls once more the first creation: God’s molding of Adam from the moist earth (Gen. 2:7). Every healing seems to involve a return to this beginning; every healing occurs within this one great work which is the new birth, new creation within the Word which is Jesus.

-Bruno Barnhart
The Good Wine: Reading John from the Center