Sunday, November 27, 2011

Allowing God to be born today

This week we start the season of Advent. Every year I commit to set aside more time for quiet prayer during this season of anticipation and waiting and every year it doesn’t happen. Holiday celebrations get scheduled, last minute shopping looms and the everyday details of life need to be attended to. As I approached the season this year a couple different quotes have taken up long-term residence in my head… “What good is it that Jesus was born 2,000 years ago if he is not born now in your heart” (Meister Eckhart) and a song we sang at a previous parish “let me be your Bethlehem”. This year my intention is to reflect throughout the day how I am being Bethlehem for God. How am I preparing for God to touch the world through me? I know that readiness will not come overnight which is why we are given a whole season to prepare. But actually, God already is using me to touch the world…so my preparing will just be to become a clearer vessel.

What are you doing to prepare in this season of anticipation?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

God of Grace,
You humbled yourself, and became human
To show me even more how I can become like you.
In your humanness, you wept.
Selfishly, I wanted more.

God of Patience,
You lead me, though at times in my stubbornness,
I do not go.
I choose not to let go of what is tangible,
what is here.
But you patiently wait.
And in my heart, I wonder,
why can’t I just be comfortable with the question?

God of Light,
when darkness surrounds me,
please find the smallest crack
in my dryness to let your Light in.
Remind me to challenge the darkness,
and to not be comfortable in my own
understanding, but to strive for
something more.

God of Discernment,
I sit with Jesus in His Garden, and
in my heart, I wonder,
did Jesus ask if it was “really” time?
Did He wonder if He had done “enough”?
Did He think there was still more to do?

God of Acceptance,
I pray my hands will be strong,
and that my heart with long
to reach for the cup You lovingly want to give.
Help me to be comfortable with the question.
Help me sit with the emptiness of not having the answer.
You will tell me,
and only then will I know.

God of New Beginnings,
as the earth loosens around me,
help me to trust in the life that is to come.
I will be trampled.
I will be parched at times.
I will be overwatered.
But through it all, You will be with me.
You will make Your presence known.
In You will I grow.
With You, will I seek.
Through You, I will find my home.


Thursday, November 17, 2011


How's that old quote go... “You can choose your friends, but you're stuck with your family?”  Something like that.  Now, here's something for you to ponder --- what's the difference?

In part, we are defined by our relationships.  I am currently a member of the Biddle family (Hi, Mom!), a member of the Dominican Sisters of Houston (Hi, everyone!), a member of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate (I say Hi to them everyday, so there's no need to do so here), a member of the Intercongregational Collaborative Novitiate, a member of the Sierra Club, a member of the St. Louis Public Library System, etc.  Some of these are friends, some acquaintances, and some (more than one!) are what I would truly call family.  The definitions of family is a lot fuzzier than most of us realize.

A big part of this year has been spent interacting with and getting to know our extended Dominican family.  That's what our field trips are about (Chicago and Notre Dame, most recently).  We've also gotten a great chance to interact with the men of the Dominican Family here in St. Louis, including the student brothers of the Central and Southern provinces (Hi guys!).  We've got Dominicans from all over the US coming through our house all the time.  Some come to visit and/or teach us, some because they are in town for other reasons, and others are passing through on their way to bigger and better.  The Dominican family is so extended, it's impossible for us to truly know them all, but that doesn't keep us from trying.  After all, as the adage goes, we are stuck with them now – and they with us.

Here's one possible definition of family – the people that respond to one of your more inane blog posts!  So come on, people; drop us a line and say “Hi!”


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holy Saturday

Throughout my ministry education and career I have heard that the Liturgical Calendar of the Church often will not match the season that any particular person in the pew is experiencing. I have never known that to be truer than the last couple months. According to the Church we are nearing the end of Ordinary Time. In my life I have been traveling through Lent and Holy Week. It has been a time of stripping away old behaviors and ways of knowing and being. It has focused on introspection and self-reflection. It has been an individual journey alongside others making individual journeys that sometimes converge for support and fellowship. It has been a time away from the usual life, the typical life, the known life.
About a month ago, I entered Holy Week as I was dealing with medical issues along with the inner work that is expected in the Novitiate. Knowing and preparing for the something important that was coming while also trying to stay focused on what was going on in the present. Experiencing many emotions and changes. This last week has taken me through Good Friday and I am currently in Holy Saturday. I journeyed through the desert and the dying and I am now waiting in the in-between for the Resurrection. Honoring the past and also looking to the future while trying to stay present.

As I write this, it all sounds well and good, and like I have accomplished a great deal… but I know I will be traveling through this Lenten and holy season again this year. I have only been here for 2 ½ months and there will be many more chances to die to myself and look toward the new life to come.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Seed Within

On the corner of my desk is a card with the painting of the Trinity, with a bowl on the table and an empty seat waiting for me. As I look at this picture, I see a tree off in the distance, up on a mountain. Its leaves are a strong contrast to the sky behind it, but it is funny I never paid much attention to it before. I suppose it is my reminder of what is before me, what is behind me, and what is within me. I cannot see the future, and as silly as that sounds, it is also something I am struggling to accept. In the past, when I have begun school, I know I will graduate. Going on for my doctorate was my first educational attempt I never completed. I did not fail in that attempt, I know. When choices I have made lead me to question (doubt), I am always reminded of what I would have missed if what I chose was my will and not God's.

When a tree grows, it does not choose where it will be planted. Whether a bird drops a seed on just the right soil, or a person plants it to enjoy its shade, the tree has no choice but to grow if the soil is rich, or die if its roots have no where to go. It does not know how long it will live, if someone will find it in the right place at the right time, or if someone chooses to move it or God forbid, cut it down. It enjoys the sun when it comes, absorbs the rain when it falls, and provides a home for those who seeks its shelter.
As I continue to look at this picture of the "Old Testament Trinity", I am aware of the waiting that is happening. Both perhaps of the Trinity and its one empty seat, and the tree as its leaves reach toward the sun. How much the tree longs to stretch over the desert that appears to be between it and the Trinity. My desert is long, though many have told me that this year will pass quickly. It is busy, with small seeds of contemplative time that I must seek to find. I am struggling in my present, and while I remember the past, I recall the struggle I had then to believe that "today" would be here at all.

Our journey is an invitation from God to stop, look and take in the life that surrounds us. In the busyness of our days, may we take time to pause, to sit and listen, and to be open to the growth that is within, and around us.