Title page from the book of the same name by Alice Walker.
The lamps are different, but the light is the same.
Faith is not simply a patience which passively suffers until the storm is past. Rather, it is a spirit which bears things…with a blazing serene hope.
That day I saw beneath dark clouds
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.
Most people have come to prefer certain of life’s experiences and deny and reject others, unaware of the value of the hidden things that may come wrapped in plain and even ugly paper. In avoiding all pain and seeking comfort at all costs, we may be left without intimacy or compassion; in rejecting change and risk we often cheat ourselves of the quest; in denying our suffering we may never know our strength or our greatness.
~Rachel Naomi Remen
The only reason we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with.
Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.
(Updates follow article)
At Columbine, I have seen this before. But not up close. As a church pastor in Denver, I have worked as a chaplain alongside several police and fire departments. I was privileged to counsel parents just hours after the Littleton Columbine shootings. However, in this new tragedy at the Aurora Theater Dark Night shooting, one of the victims was a 22-year-old woman from my church, Petra Anderson (pronounced Pay-tra).
Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.
I hope this is true, because I’m in need of a miracle at the moment. The details aren’t really important, but I’ve been going through an especially difficult time the last few months. When things are stressful, I generally try to stay positive and keep the faith that things will work out—and most of the time, they do—but this time, unless a humdinger of a miracle shows up in the next few days, I’m facing a loss that will pretty much turn my life upside down.
Who knows? Maybe that’s what’s in the plan for me. A friend of mine shared with me on two occasions in the last couple of years (years that have essentially been a non-stop stress-fest) that, while she was meditating, she’d gotten an image of me as the phoenix rising from the ashes. It seems to me that I’ve already been through my share of ashes lately, but maybe not. Maybe this is the ashes part.
I hope not. I hope this is just another test of faith, to see if I truly believe the words of kindness girl…that I’m “being held, every step of the way.” In the meantime, if you have any spare miracles lying around, I’d be grateful if you’d send one my way.
The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.
My inner being
lies silent as the sands
while the waves of my life,
the waves of my breathing
rise and fall upon it.
…a quiet place of light
hidden but present…
~Ira Progoff, The White-Robed Monk