The only thing to remember about prayer is to begin where you are. (Thomas Merton)

Deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie - I found that out. (Mark Twain)

If governments knew how subversive contemplative prayer is, they would ban it. (Desmond Tutu)

Pray as you can, not as you can't. (Father Ted King, Dean Emeritus of Cape Town)

So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray. (Mary Oliver)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Friday, 9 November 2012

Something about holiness

Like water, holiness has no colour or form of itself, 
And because of that, it reflects the sun. 
The whole universe is reflected in it, moon and stars, 
And we see ourselves as in a mirror. 
Holiness bears no description, 
Like water it moulds itself to the changing earth, 
It cannot be discussed or analysed, it simply is, 
And the mind awakes to recognise the real. 

-- Fr. Bede OSB

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, 12 October 2012

All are received joyously

If Anglicanism could be said to have a primary theologian, it would be Richard Hooker. This is very, very wonderful.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Repentance - the real thing

This is very beautifully and succinctly expressed:
The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change so that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger but in wisdom, understanding and love.
-- Jennifer Edwards

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Stop and gaze

The contemplative worldview is one in which we see everything as God-drenched:
Windows to the holy are all around us if we will stop and gaze. You need not go to the mountains or the seashore to find a piece of creation with which to pray. A houseplant will do, a single flower, or a fallen leaf. If a park is available, you might stroll slowly, gazing at the colors, shapes, and movement around you. You might prefer to find a bench and sit to gaze at the wonder of the world passing by.

-- Jane Vennard from The Way of Prayer

Saturday, 15 September 2012

A happiness weapon

"Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air - explode softly - and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth - boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap, either - not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with their imagination." 
I know everyone says that this sort of idea is sweet but fanciful. It would never work. The question remains, however, has it ever been tried? And if not, why not?

UPDATE: Here's something Thomas Merton said that seems to go along with the Fulghum passage:
"War represents a vice that mankind would like to get rid of but which it cannot do without. Man is like an alcoholic who knows that drink will destroy him but who always has a reason for drinking. So with war."
Something to think about as events on the world stage are worryingly getting more and more tense.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

All sufficient

I want to share with you a few verses from Genesis, chapter 49:
22 Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.

23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.

24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

25 because of your father's God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the heavens above,
blessings of the deep that lies below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
Perhaps you have heard the Hebrew words "El Shaddai" before -- maybe because of the Amy Grant song by that title. The usual translation is "Almighty God" but "shaddai" also means "all sufficient" and it is from a root that means "breast". God nurtures us as a mother nurtures her newborn.

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 131 which contains these words:
But I still my soul and make it quiet
Like a child on its mother's breast.
My soul is quieted within me.
Let us rest on the breast of God. Let us be nurtured by the breast of God.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The greatest adventure

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

People tend not to believe this if they haven't tried it:
"Contemplative prayer is the world in which God can do anything. To move into that realm is the greatest adventure."
 -- Thomas Keating 

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cleansing the soul

"Gallarus Oratory was built between the seventh and eight century and is the best preserved early Christian church in Ireland. It represents the apogee of dry-stone corbelling, using techniques first developed by Neolithic tomb-makers. The stones were layed at a slight angle, lower on the outside than the inside to allow water to run off.

"According to local legend, if a person climbs out of the oratory via the window, their soul will be cleansed. This is, however, physically impossible, because the window is approximately 18cm in length and 12cm in width."

Information found here.

Oh! And don't forget to notice the rainbow!

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, 16 August 2012


This, actually, is what I was taught in Sunday School as a child. (More and more I realize, with gratitude, what an excellent religious formation I had back in the day!)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

You can call it prayer, you can call it meditation; it doesn't matter!

I know I've posted this delightful little video before but I can't remember when or on which blog! So, here you go!

The only comment I would make is that I recommend not closing your eyes completely but, rather, lowering them and, maybe, half closing them. There are reasons for this but that's the subject of another post!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Simple. Profound. Very, very true.

Photograph from Wikimedia Commons 

"No spiritual exercise is as good as that of silence."
— Saint Seraphim of Sarov 

Friday, 3 August 2012

Photo from Wikimedia Commons 

Let's think about this one for a bit:
"People only see what they are prepared to see."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

It will not surprise you, of course, to hear me say that meditation is a key element (if not THE key element) of that preparation.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The reality of heaven and hell

This is undoubtedly one of the best things Fr. Richard Rohr has ever said:

‎"You don't go to heaven, you become heaven. You don't go to hell, you become hell. And it's happening now."

 -- Richard Rohr 

 (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The importance of imagination

"This is a very good point indeed:
"…slight shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major efforts at change."
-- Thomas Moore (from Care of the Soul) 
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Scaling another mountain

I was very influenced by Elizabeth O'Connor during the period in which I was attempting to discern whether or not to enter the religious life. Here's something quite wonderful that she said:
"Every single one of us has a good work to do in life. This good work not only accomplishes something needed in the world, but completes something in us. When it is finished, a new work emerges that will help make green a desert place as well as scale another mountain inside ourselves."
I don't think by "good work to do in life" she means anything particularly grand as the world would evaluate such work. It can be very hidden indeed or really quite simple. Nevertheless, that good work is something that is truly needed and something that helps us grow interiorly as well.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Knowing God better

Here is one of the Spiritual Practices of the Day from the Spirituality and Practice website.
"Every human pleasure is meant to be a stepping-stone to knowing God better or to discovering some new aspect of God." 
— Thomas Keating in The Human Condition
To Practice This Thought: Acknowledge God's activity in that very moment whenever you are feeling happy. 
This is really a wonderful commitment to make and will go a long way both to alleviating whatever suffering we are prone to as well as being an act of compassion and witness to God's presence in the midst of others.

Monday, 2 July 2012

This floating world

Here's something from the Spirituality and Practice website that I think is utterly, utterly beautiful:

"Oh, that my monk's robes were wide enough to gather up all the people in this floating world."

To Practice This Thought: Meditate on this image and find a way to extend your compassion to those in need in our world.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

"God is in the details"

I do bless Providence for giving us this woman:
‎"Life is not made up of crises; life is made up of little things we love to ignore in order to get on to the exciting things in life. But God is in the details. God is what it takes in us to be faithful to them. God is in the routines that make us what we are. The way we do the little things in life is the mark of the bigness of our souls." 
 -- Joan Chittister

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, 25 June 2012

Not an abstraction

I've long loved this quotation from W. H. Auden's writings. It speaks to the particularity of love and of our connectedness with others.
"Don't tell me you will love me forever. Tell me that you will love me Thursday afternoon at four o'clock"
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Strengthen our hope

This is very, very beautiful, I think - a prayer I commend to us all.

It was posted by our Kathryn over on facebook.

O God, 
whose love restores 
the brokenhearted of this world: 
pour out your love, 
we beseech you, 
upon those who feel 
lonely, abandoned, or unloved. 
Strengthen their hope 
to meet the days ahead; 
give them the courage 
to form life-giving friendships; 
and bless them with the joy 
of your eternal peace. 

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A good reason for having a regular prayer life

This puts it quite succinctly:

"When we really need help, sometimes the comforter comes during our 'hour of greatest need.' It is best, however, not to wait for crisis in order to be in communication." 

-- Jon Mundy 

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Why we resist compassion

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” 

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Fleeing from suffering is a way of closing our hearts. Yes, it's difficult to keep them open. Worth it, however.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Allowing Pentecost to challenge our assumptions

When you think about it, the celebration of Pentecost is the ultimate antidote against discouragement. And so I like this excerpt from a Pentecost sermon very much:
[W]e have a call, a “stunning vocation,” Walter Brueggemann says, “to stand free and hope-filled in a world gone fearful…and to think, imagine, dream, vision a future that God will yet enact.” Mind you, we are not in charge, God is in charge, but we are called to imagine this future, to trust in it, and to live into it, participate in it, and to share it with all of God’s children. We might be tempted at times to give in to those same impulses we see around us – to build up our defenses, look out for ourselves, find security in our “stuff” and in our sure knowledge that we know best, but this wind of the Spirit – it blows through our lives and it turns things upside down. We want a faith that only consoles us, and instead, God challenges our assumptions, blows them over, and opens up our eyes to see things in a new way, opens our hearts to a new creation of possibility and hope.
I may well have quoted Kate Huey on this blog before. I'm starting to like her preaching very much indeed. She is a United Church of Christ minister, by the way.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Ascension of Our Lord

The following is an excerpt from an Ascensiontide sermon by The Rev. Dr. Barbara K. Lundblad:
Not long ago I saw a wonderful picture of Jesus' ascension. It was a black and white woodcut print finely etched. In the picture Jesus is rising up as the disciples watch him disappear into the clouds. If you look closely at the picture, not in the clouds, but on the ground, you can see footprints on the earth. The artist has carefully etched Jesus' footprints down on the level where the disciples are standing with their mouths open. Perhaps the artist was simply imagining a homey detail that isn't in the text. Or, perhaps, the artist is pressing us with the old question, "Why do you stand looking up into heaven? Look at these footprints here on the earth." Jesus' muddy footprints are all over the pages of the gospels.

* Can you see Jesus' footprints in the wilderness? Each time he was tempted to claim earthly power and glory, he reached up and touched the words of Torah. One does not live by bread alone. Worship the Lord your God and serve only God.
* Can you see Jesus walking on the wrong side of the street with the wrong people?
* Can you see Jesus walking up to a sycamore tree, then looking up at Zachaeus, the tax collector, perched in the branches? "Come down, Zachaeus," Jesus said, "let's walk over to your house for dinner."
* Can you see Jesus walking, then riding, into Jerusalem?
* Can you see him stumbling toward Golgotha, loving us to the very end?
The book of Ephesians poses an interesting question: "What does it mean that Christ is ascended but that he also descended... and now fills the whole universe?" So this doctrine is really a teaching about the ubiquity of Christ. Christ is everywhere at all times. Christ cannot be limited. Ever. That's what this day is all about.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A helpful weariness

This was quoted on the Spirituality and Practice website today. I think it's quite wonderful:
Maybe one day we'll grow weary of whining and celebrate the rain, the manna, the half-filled glass of water, the little gifts from heaven that make each day bearable. Instead of cloaking ourselves in the armor of pessimism, maybe we'll concede that we are who we are: capricious, unfortune, wonderful, delicate, alive. Forgiven. 
— Mark Collins in On the Road to Emmaus

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Friday, 4 May 2012

Beyond the self

Photo by Cynthia Burgess
I lay on the bowsprit, facing astern, with the water foaming into spume under me, the masts with every sail white in the moonlight, towering high above me. I became drunk with the beauty and singing rhythm of it , and for a moment I lost myself - actually lost my life. I was set free! I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray, became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the ship and the high dim-starred sky! I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or the life of Man, to Life itself! To God, if you want to put it that way.
And several other times in my life, when I was swimming far out, or lying alone on a beach, I have had the same experience. Become the sun, the hot sand, green seaweed anchored to a rock, swaying in the tide. Like a saint's vision of beatitude. Like the veil of things as they seem drawn back by an unseen hand. For a second you see - and seeing the secret, are the secret. For a second there is meaning! 
- from Long Days Journey into Night, Eugene O'Neill
O'Neill is attempting to give words to the mystical experience which is, of course, ineffable. But still there is this painting, as it were, this struggle to offer a picture of what it is like. And, to the very great blessing of humankind, many saints and artists have tried to show us - and not only to show us but to draw us in. Deo gratias!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

So simple...

And yet so easily overlooked, ignored and minimized.
"You explore the spirit of God the same way you explore the spirit of another person: you spend time in God's presence, you examine your own heart and mind with respect to God. You watch the world for signs of the spirit." 

What would happen - really - if we truly were to watch in this manner?

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A candle to pray by

I know I've posted this before but I think it's time for a repeat.



Thursday, 26 April 2012


I'd like to introduce you to a teacher and writer who is new to me. His name is Robert Benson and he is a member of The Friends of Silence & of the Poor, an international prayer community.

Here's something Benson said that I found to be particularly meaningful:
"Perhaps we are afraid that God does not regard us highly enough to speak to us anymore — a rather funny position to take for those who claim to be the children of God. Perhaps we are afraid that God no longer speaks to anyone much anymore or that we can no longer recognize the Voice. It could be that we are afraid that God does still speak and that we will hear and that the God of publicans and sinners and scared and scurrilous will want to make something new in us as well.  
"I am convinced that the Voice that whispered us into being still whispers within us and all creation. I am dead certain of it sometimes, terrified of it at other times, longing for it at all times. The silence that so often seems to overcome me is more likely a matter of my not trusting my own ears than it is a matter of the Voice having gone suddenly, inexplicably silent." 
(Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, 23 April 2012

Something about grace

Something I found today by an author who is new to me:
"You can call grace what you like, categorize it, vivisect it, qualify, quantify, or dismiss it, and none of it will make grace anything other than precisely what grace is: audacious, unwarranted, and unlimited."  
-- Cathleen Falsani in Sin Boldly: A Field Guide to Grace 

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

My apologies

Sorry I haven't posted for a while, dear people. I've been down with a very unpleasant cold and cough.

Be back soon!

Monday, 16 April 2012

To help us take heart

Something not to forget:
"We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew… Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truthful... and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things."
-- Desmond Tutu

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Living for Oneness

A fish cannot drown in water,
A bird does not fall in air. 
In the fire of creation, 
God doesn't vanish: 
The fire brightens. 
Each creature God made 
must live in its own true nature; 
How could I resist my nature, 
That lives for oneness with God?
Mechtild of Magdeburg, 13th century

(photo from Wikimedia Commons)


Friday, 13 April 2012



A top Vatican cardinal, who has been dubbed "Cardinal Rambo" by the Italian newspapers, has defended his rich collection of rifles and handguns.

"This passion for weapons is long-standing. I used to go to shooting ranges. Unfortunately since I've been at the Vatican I had to stop," Domenico Calcagno, head of the Administration of Vatican Patrimony, told "Il Fatto Quotidiano."

"It's innocent. What I like above all is repairing weapons," he said.

The 68-year-old cardinal owns at least 13 weapons including the famous 357 Magnum made by Smith & Wesson and a Hatsan shotgun. He was also a keen hunter and had several rifles.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

"He made me a holy man!"

This has been making the rounds on the internet the last couple of days. I want to urge you to listen to the end because that's when the big theological and spiritual point is made by the old man.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The light of your soul

I discovered John O'Donohue during one of my many trips back to Ireland where I once had the delightful privilege of living. It saddens me that I never got to hear him in person before his untimely death. But I have some of his tapes. They are all such an extraordinary celebration of life!

May the light of your soul guide you.
May the light of your soul bless the work
You do with the secret love and warmth of your heart.
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul.
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light and renewal to those
Who work with you and to those who see and receive your work.
May your work never weary you.
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration and excitement.
May you be present in what you do.
May you never become lost in the bland absences.
May the day never burden you.
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams,
Possibilities and promises.
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled.
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered and protected.
May your soul calm, console and renew you.

-- John O'Donohue

I love the line, "May you be present in what you do." Clearly the words of a contemplative, a meditator.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

It's a new day!

Here's a new template for this blog (chosen by our very own MadPriest! Can you tell?) and so I offer the following which has long inspired me:

I will love you more than me and more than yesterday,
if you can but prove to me you are the new day.
Send the sun in time for dawn,
let the birds all hail the morning;
love of life will urge me say,
"You are the new day."
When I lay me down at night knowing we must pay,
thoughts occur that this night might stay yesterday.
Thoughts that we, as humans small,
could slow worlds and end it all
lie around me where they fall, before the new day.
One more day when time is running out for everyone;
like a breath I knew would come
I reach for the new day.
Hope is my philosophy,
just needs days in which to be,
love of life means hope for me
borne on a new day.

- John David