Dog is what I do

photo

I had a conversation with our dog the other day.  She was wandering off to another corner of the house and I asked her,“Hilda, what are you doing?”She responded with remarkable clarity, “Dog…dog is what I do.”It strikes me that dogs are utterly and completely at home in their dog-ness.  They aren’t redefined by any moment of activity.  They are what they are.But it isn’t nearly as simple for us human beings.We frequently let jobs and titles tell us who we are.  As a result, we … [Read more...]

The Spiritual Friend as Witness

MCJointheParade

Musician and singer Marc Cohn has me thinking this week about the spiritual value of friends who do more than “hang out” or spend time with us.  An important role in any spiritual friendship is the role of witness.  Someone who allows us to name our struggles, explore their interior, and testify to the efforts we have made to live with faith, courage, and integrity.That can be a lonely journey and it is easy to lose our way:We can be tempted to surrender to darker forces. We can lose t … [Read more...]

The Spiritual Dimension of Music

Music

Some years ago I had the privilege of chairing a search committee charged with the task of identifying a new professor sacred music.  As lover of music of all types (or most of them, anyway) and as someone who had been surrounded by the best of musicians and choristers at the National Cathedral, I accepted the responsibility with relish and enjoyed every minute of it --- not least of all, the conversations with the candidates themselves.We had great success.  We invited a fine musician to j … [Read more...]

The Unspoken Prayer

unspokenprayer

Formulas and language are so much at the forefront of our conversation about prayer, that the mystery of a conversation with the living God is all but lost.  Add our preoccupation with intercession and petition and the mystery disappears completely.  God has become like a stranger --- accosted on the sidewalk --- forced into our homes without prelude or introduction, without relationship or experience, gang-pressed into service, meeting our needs.Don’t get me wrong.I am not opposed to pra … [Read more...]

True Silence

SilenceImage

 Silence,true silenceIs not just about the absence of sound. That, in fact, is hard,If not impossibleTo attain. It is about the silence of the heart,A laying to rest,Of self absorptionAnd justification --- Of maliceAnd hubris ---Of the constant chatterWe suppose is grand, Framing our claimsTo virtue,Independence,Superiority,And control. It is a silenceThat … [Read more...]

Meditating on Words from Merton

Merton

My friend Paul McKay posted these words from Thomas Merton and I’ve been meditating on them ever since: In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’ Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves. The word meditate comes from the Latin, meditatio, which --- among other things --- means “to ponder.”As much as I like the word “ponder,” it is helpful think … [Read more...]

Men and their Fathers

WalkwithDad

 One of my favorite pieces of art is a linoleum print by New Mexico artist Jack McCarthy, entitled “A Walk with Dad.”  Based on the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac, it portrays a frightened Isaac held and muzzled by his father, a knife poised for the sacrifice.  Only the one eye betrays Isaac’s fear.  Abraham’s expression is without emotion.Over the years my conversations with men have convinced me that there may be no relationship that exercises greater influence on men than their r … [Read more...]

Life Prayers

Life Prayer

In our search for spiritual direction we often look for the exceptional and the extraordinary.  That is understandable, particularly in an increasingly materialistic world where what is most real is what we can sense --- see, feel, hear, touch, and smell.  It is also understandable, given our tendency to think of that world as a world devoid of God’s presence.Far too often we assume that if God does exist, God likely lurks just beyond the last material reality that we have discovered and und … [Read more...]

Mary, Men, and Women

Mary

Poor Mary.It’s not like being the Christ bearer wasn’t hard enough.  She has to tolerate our deeply mixed motives for loving her.For men, among others, it’s the need of a mother.  For women she’s a rallying point for women’s rights and empowerment.There are arguments to be made for both points of view, but she was and is so much more.There’s not a lot to go on in the Gospels and it’s hard to know how much another version of projected needs were already at work in the first telling … [Read more...]

Venomous and Poisonous

snakes

My wife is reading a novel --- a novel about Scots and the English.  So, the author cares about language and along the way he makes some pretty fine distinctions.  One of them, she tells me, is the difference between venomous and poisonous.They might appear to be the same, but they aren’t.  If something bites you and it makes you sick, it’s venomous.  If you bite into something and it makes you sick, it’s poisonous.  In one fairly humorous passage a snake escapes into the privy and there’s a … [Read more...]


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X