Thursday, October 26, 2017


If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.   Matthew 7:11

What is good does not always seem that way in the painful moments.

What baby, though cramped in the warm womb,
thinks being pushed through the birth canal is good,
thinks emerging into light and chill and noises loud and harsh is good?

Does the caterpillar wonder at the cruelty of having the build its own coffin,
the chrysalis that seems the end of its life of freedom?

Good can’t always be discerned, foreseen;
sometimes, often, it is entered into blindly.
It is not willingly chosen.

Transformation comes disguised as chaos, upheaval, disorientation,
fraught with questions beginning with

Sometimes good is only seen in hindsight,
as one flies on colorful wings,
or experiences the vastness of light and love.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Prayer to Know Myself

“. . . your Father knows what you need before you ask.”  --Matthew 6:8

You know me, God, inside and out,
better than I know myself.
You know my needs, and though I am often
blinded by wants,
you see clearly.
Draw me closer to you so I may see myself
as you know me.
Help me to parse wants from needs
that I may be content and grateful.
I want my prayer to be a song
sung to your secret tune for me.
Let my life follow your melody,
let my spirit resound with your song.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Prayer

I want to be as adaptable as
the mockingbird I saw today
in a drab part of town. I want
to be able to live anywhere
with even grace and joy,
with eyes that seek out beauty,
and a heart
full of fearlessness and laughter.
I know not the route my life
will take,
yet the destination is clear and bright
and that commands my faith and fills me
with peace.
Grant me the heart of the mockingbird
that I may sing
wherever I am planted,
for I rest in your heart O God.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

We Are Our Times

“The times are bad! The times are troublesome!” This is what humans say. But we are our times. Let us live well and our times will be good. Such as we are, such are our times. ---Augustine of Hippo

This quote in today’s liturgy for Common Prayer could not be more appropriate, and yet, its author, Augustine of Hippo, lived from 354-430, in a time and place far removed from us. To read this quote in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, and in a world that seems increasingly filled with violence and tension, I realize that there really isn’t any such thing as “the good old days.”

We are our times. . . Such as we are, such are our times. What we tolerate in ourselves grows. What we excuse in ourselves overtakes us. We are often quick to speak of what Satan is doing in the world. But evil isn’t simply “out there.” To blame evil on Satan keeps us from taking responsibility for our part in the perpetuation of evil.

The desert abbas and ammas, those early Christians who have much to teach us today, understood that spiritual growth and transformation happen only as we battle the demons within ourselves. The capacity for any kind of evil lives in each one of us. Why do you think Jesus stated that calling someone a fool was the same as murdering them? What we carry inside, what we allow within us is what determines the state of the times in which we live.

When we fail to understand our own capacity for evil, the seed of evil grows within us. What begins as a thought eventually is acted out through words or deeds—our judgment of someone who is different from us, our unwillingness to act for the common good because it will cost us something to do so, our sense of superiority over others—so the seed grows into a weed that we fail to even recognize as such.

Recognizing our capacity for evil is not the same as saying we are bad or saying “I’m only human.” These excuse us from taking the hard road of growth. Excusing our evil is like running a weed eater over weeds—it does not eliminate them but instead strengthens the unseen roots, causing the weeds to come back stronger than before.

Teresa of Avila understood that spiritual growth was not always easy or pleasant. In her book on spiritual growth, The Interior Castle, she uses the metaphor of a castle for the spiritual journey. She notes that when many people encounter the snakes and bugs of the basement, they turn away rather than persist through what is unpleasant within themselves. It is helpful to have a spiritual companion who will accompany us through the stages of growth, encouraging and challenging us. I have found spiritual direction a safe and grace-filled place to look at the parts of myself I’d rather ignore.

We may not have pulled the trigger in Las Vegas, but we have all wished ill for another. When we can acknowledge that, and see it for the evil it is, our world will begin to change. Such as we are, such are our times.