Thursday, September 20, 2018


You were seen with the eyes of perfect love long before you entered into the dark valley of life. The spiritual life begins at the moment that you can go beyond all the wounds and claim there was a love that was perfect and unlimited long before that perfect love became reflected in the imperfect and limited, conditional love of people.                                             –Henri Nouwen

We often have one of two reactions to wounds, both physical and emotional:  we either try to hide them or we become defined by them. To have a healthy relationship to our wounds enables us to be transformed by them. Our wounds are part of us, but we are more than our wounds.

Our wounds can make us stronger. Years ago, my younger son had surgery to correct a recurring spontaneous pneumothorax. The surgeon made scar tissue on the exterior of the lung so it would basically act like glue to hold the lung in place so it would no longer collapse. The wound of scar tissue corrected his issue.

Our wounds do not make us less than. As Henri Nouwen says, we are loved perfectly by God without any reserve, without any consideration of what we’ve done or what we fail to do, or what anyone has done to us. Just as Jesus rose with and was loved with his wounds, so are we.

Jesus did not try to hide his wounds. In fact, he used his wounds to identify himself to his disciples after his resurrection. They connect him to us; they are a sign that being human means suffering, and that in what is apparent weakness, God overcomes and brings new life.

We cannot see the beauty that comes from our wounds when we are in the midst of pain and hurt. Yet when we can live our wounds through, rather than ignoring them or becoming defined by them, God is able to bring beauty from even the darkest places of pain. And often that beauty is beyond anything we could have ever hoped or imagined.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

God's Abundance

“We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish.” –Matthew 14:17

 We have nothing here except. . . All day long Jesus has been with this large group of people. Their emotions ay have been mixed, as those of Jesus likely were. The news of John’s death at the command of Herod likely created an atmosphere of fear, heaviness and loss.

Into that scene Jesus proposes a shared meal. Symbolism and sustenance meet in this event. There is enough food for everyone, literally, as abundant leftovers are collected. God is not a God of fear, scarcity and small-mindedness.

Jesus had been healing the sick, but I expect the meal healed the fear of many present that day. Yes, John was dead, but God is not. God is in community, in bread and fish shared among all—disciples, questioners, the sick, children, women, men—no one turned away. God is a God of abundance, hospitality and community—found in the most ordinary of places, people and food.

There is always enough, plenty, more than enough. No need for fear, jealousy or greed. God’s economy is for all and in abundance. God’s work is larger than we can see or know.