Inner Space

I usually have at least 20 tabs open on Chrome on one of my monitors with 8 to 10 programs open on the other. I’m switching constantly between online and offline programs to accomplish tasks connected with maintaining and website, making apps, or facilitating digital publishing. At the end of the day my spirit is fragmented into as many splintered pieces as windows that flashed in front of my sight and soul during the day. I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the effect of internet and computer use on the human spirit. If I were out gardening all day I’d probably have other complaints, but being in nature would be healing and whole. Multi-tasking across a number of different platforms in front of a screen doesn’t quite have the same healing effect.

One thing I’ve been trying to do is to spend 15 or 20 minutes before I go to bed, in a darkened room, in prayer or reading. Candles or incense awaken my senses to beauty once more. My reflections or conversations with God reconnect me personally to the Infinite Mystery who hears and listens and speaks and touches and tastes and holds and cares. This restores me to myself. This restores me to him.

Do you have any small rituals you’ve developed to restore your fragmented or drooping spirit at the end of a long day?

Allow the Spirit

Pope Francis, in his document Gaudete et Exsultate, encourages us to allow the Spirit into our lives that we might “be saints for God’s greater glory” (no. 177).  Below are a few quotes I found to be powerful departures for contemplation on this Solemnity of Pentecost.

Every saint is a message which the Holy Spirit takes from the riches of Jesus Christ and gives to his people (no. 21).

Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make so as to discern its place in the mission you have received (no. 23).

Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world (no. 23).

Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God. Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness does not make you less human, since it is an encounter between your weakness and the power of God’s grace (no. 34).

Holiness is also parrhesía: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. To allow us to do this, Jesus himself comes and tells us once more, serenely yet firmly: “Do not be afraid” (Mk 6:50). “I am with you always, to the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). These words enable us to go forth and serve with the same courage that the Holy Spirit stirred up in the Apostles, impelling them to proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldness, enthusiasm, the freedom to speak out, apostolic fervor, all these are included in the word parrhesía. The Bible also uses this word to describe the freedom of a life open to God and to others (no. 129).

We need…to ask the Holy Spirit to liberate us and to expel the fear that makes us ban him from certain parts of our lives. God asks everything of us, yet he also gives everything to us (no. 175).

God’s love is irreversable

There is an irreversible vulnerability in God’s love that was first expressed “in the beginning” and continues to offer itself over and over again through the history and prophets of Israel, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, through each of our lives. God’s first offer of love still stands: I will be your God. Will you be my people? (cf. Ezek 37:27).

From the book Cherished by the Lord  

Evening Rituals to Restore Yourself

I have to admit, I usually have at least 20 tabs open in Google Chrome on one of my monitors with eight to ten programs open on the other. I’m switching constantly between online and offline programs to accomplish tasks connected with maintaining a website, digital marketing, or facilitating digital publishing. At the end of the day, my spirit is fragmented into as many splintered pieces as windows that flashed in front of my sight and soul during the day. And of course, there is the token YouTube video, the news, and my favorite blogs.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the effect of internet and computer use on the human spirit. If I were out gardening all day I’d probably have other complaints, like a sore back and hurting knees, but being in nature would be healing and whole. Multi-tasking across multiple different platforms in front of a screen doesn’t quite have the same healing effect. Using smartphones and tablets, now so much of our organizational and communication tools can have the same soul-splintering experience if we are not careful to preserve space for our spirit.

One thing I’ve been trying to do is to spend 15 or 20 minutes before I go to bed, in a darkened room, in prayer or reading. Candles or incense awaken my senses to beauty once more. My reflections or conversations with God reconnect me personally to Someone who hears and listens and speaks and touches and tastes and holds and cares. It restores me to myself.

Do you have any small rituals you’ve developed to restore your fragmented or drooping spirit at the end of a long day?

We are the object of God’s delight

God loves us as if we were the center of his universe! We who have died and risen with Christ, we in whom the Son abides, we for whom Jesus answered to his Father with his life and with his death—we are the object of God’s delight. O Love! You wash my feet and tend to my vulnerability every day! Give me eyes to see you.

A Sacred Moment from Cherished by the Lord

May I come to your house, please?

The Rabbi, surrounded by the crowd,
looked up into the tree

and he opened his arms wide
offered freely the treasures of his friendship

“May I come to your house?
Tonight?

Please?”

Perhaps there was a hesitancy
on the part of the one who
was out on a limb.

“Me?”

“Yes. You. I won’t take no for an answer”

Not a command–
a reassurance that the offer
was genuine
true
not dependent on all the “buts” that filled
the little man’s head
who knew himself unworthy
tax collector that he was
outcast
despised
unjust

Forgiven.

One of the most colorful stories in the Gospel of Luke is the story of Zacchaeus, the little man who climbed a tree in order to get a glimpse of Jesus as the rabbi walked through the city of Jericho. To his surprise, Jesus stopped when he came to his tree and, looking up, invited himself over to dinner. There were plenty of “good” people among the crowd that surrounded him that Jesus could have decided to dine with. Instead, he chose the most despised person in town, the tax collector known for being unjust, stealing their money, betraying the Jews by transferring his loyalty to the oppressive Roman regime.

Read Luke 19:1ff

Imagine yourself as a tree climber like Zacchaeus. Merge with this little man who is trying to hide his interest, perhaps feeling a tug of remorse or desire, embarrassed when the eyes of the whole crowd look up and see him perched on the limb of a tree. What does it feel like up there in the tree? Relate to Jesus as someone who is curious, or as someone who is attracted to Jesus’ message but not quite ready to commit. What areas of your life are you keeping from full commitment to the Lord and his way, his truth?

Jesus invites himself into your heart. Perhaps he knows there are areas of your life you are too shy or fearful to open to him. Jesus loves you too much to wait around till you muster enough courage to invite him into your life. So he invites himself! And he doesn’t intend to take no for an answer. Certainly, you could say no…that’s your option. But Jesus will be waiting for you around the next corner. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come to your house?”

Zacchaeus teaches us the value of stopping to notice, and what wonderful spirit-filled consequences such a simple decision can have. He left his money changing table and climbed a tree because he noticed that this Jesus was someone people thought was important enough to celebrate in the streets of Jericho. There are many things that can keep us from stopping to notice.

Name one habit you have that keeps you caught up in the everyday effort to survive and prevents you from noticing what is a cause for celebration.

Practice: Breathing slowly for a while in a quiet place, unconnected to a digital device. What does silence sound like? Feel like? What does the silence teach you about yourself?

Prayer: Jesus, I won’t give you no for an answer. I’m willing to go out on a limb for my belief in you. Come!