“The Goodness of God” (Thomas Merton)

To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything God has given us – and God has given us everything…

Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God.

For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience.


Pestering Prayer

Prayer is pestering.

Being a pray’er means being a pest.  Kayla McClurg, a shepherd with the Washington, DC-based Church of the Saviour, reminded me of this regarding the Lectionary readings from July 28, 2013.  It is the story from Luke’s gospel where the disciples asked Jesus how to pray.  And he tells them, in what has become one of the most oft-quoted and prayed prayers around.  But it is not simple rote.

The story reminds us that prayer involves closeness and intimacy with God, for we can call him “Papa” for that is what “Abba” means in the Aramaic and Hebrew, not ‘father’ as it is sometimes translated; father is too austere for the playful and proximate stance we have with God.

I remember when I was a kid being in the car for too long left me antsy and itchy, so of course I would squabble over and over again, “when are we going to get there?!” or the ubiquitous, “are we there yet?!” until my dad gave me an answer.  I am so grateful that God is not like my dad or I’d be in trouble for my dad’s answer sometimes involved a swear word and always involved that wearied parental frustration that came out not only in his tone but in his furrowed brow as well.

When I pray, I dare say, I am just like that to God.  I pester God.  I bang on the door; I knock until my knuckles bleed; I search until every stone is over turned and tossed.  I refuse to stop when I am hungry for more of God and God’s love and world.

Prayer is pestering God for more of God.

Prayer is persistence as well.  Prayer is like calling someone over and over again until they answer the phone.  Prayer is the persistent widow who would not take no for an answer.  Widows were the most vulnerable in those days, aside from orphans, and as women with no husbands they had no right to demand anything, so when Jesus likens the way we should pray to God the way the widow did, that was extraordinarily empowering.  It is extraordinary because Jesus is saying when we communicate with God, not just talk, we are communicating with the Source of all that is and we should do so with a radiant mixture of awe, wonder, love and child-like trust.

The trust we are seeking with God in prayer can be likened to that of the little boy sitting in front of me this morning at Mass who crawled up into his momma’s lap during the Eucharistic prayers seeking a comfort he knew would be there without any doubt or rebuke.  God is like that…Maternal like a mother hen who gathers her chicks.  And it is to this God we ‘pesteringly’ pray.

I said previously that prayer is about communicating with God which is more encompassing that talking, for words can fall so short when communing with the Divine Lover.  I communicate with my body, my mind, my spirit.  I communicate with God through nature, through love, through service.  I communicate in Silence.  I communicate when I am angry.  But regardless of form or function, ALL of it is communication and all of it is prayer to and with God.

Pester.  Pester.  Pester.  Because when we are pestering God, we are seeking God’s face, God’s heart, God’s very Being.  And pestering God is far better than not doing so, for in all of it God is the beginning of our prayers and God is the very end as well.

So, pester away prayerfully at God.

” Love After Love” (Derek Walcott)

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

…On Love…

God is Love. Plain and simple.

And it really is plain and simple…and profound and unutterable.  It is so simple children get it.  It is so simple adults are threatened by it (so much so we create dogma, doctrines, denominations and diatribes to control the very essence and definition of God’s love).

But God’s love is…and will forever be just that: Love.

We can do as we wish to it.  We can qualify it.  We can quantify it.  We can try and control it through the above mentioned ways. We can try and block it.  We can try and commodify it.

But God’s love is…unconditional.  And that scares the bejesus out of us.

We humans are so afraid of the utter brilliance and intensity of divine Love that we have to both qualify it and then quantify it.  We cannot truly believe God’s love is unconditional, as in absolutely unconditional, that we need to establish temporal conditions to that which is Unconditional.

What would happen if all the God Lovers simply sought love – to give and receive it?  What if all other dogma, doctrine and denomination burnt away as the dross that it is, and only God’s unconditional love reigned supreme in every being created by  this Loving God?

What would happen?

Divine Love is not a doctrine, or a sect, or a rule; far from it.  God’s love is a Reality, a Being, an eternal and infinite Presence that is pure and undefiled in its natural (um, er, divine) state of being.  But truth be told, I cannot handle that Truth so I have to place conditions on divine love.  I have to establish codes for this love…because I am afraid of what will happen to me, my world and my entire being if this Love actually came and consumed everything.

What would happen if we could understand Teilhard de Chardin’s urging to discover divine Love and thereby ‘rediscover’ Fire again and light the world up?

Divine Love is just that, divine.  And no human language or doctrine or dogma should ever try and tame such perfect wildness as the love of God.