You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘life’ tag.

It was October 1966, then, a young professed in our Academy. Stressed by intermittent knee pain and overwhelmed by teaching and surveillante responsibilities, I fingered a slim paperback in the pocket of my petticoat and ached for more of Abraham Heschel’s Man’s Quest for God – Studies in Prayer and Symbolism (1954). I had been forewarned to keep this book underwraps; its Jewishness smarted against acceptable norms in the Catholic world in which I lived.

But Heschel’s words shimmered off the pages and left track marks upon my psyche—I would return at a later time.

These words still shimmer, but integrated at a deeper level than decades before. Central to Heschel’s theology is what he calls divine pathos: God’s continuing need for us as co-creators in his multiple expanding universes—an understanding Heschel gleaned from his studies of the Talmud and kabbalistic and Hasidic writings.

No matter that the prophets and Jesus of Nazareth decried the hardness of heart they encountered along dusty Palestinian roads, natives filled with self-absorption, haughtiness, and stingy spirits. Similar avoidance of collaboration with Creator God exists today.

Yet, God persists in His offer.

Stripped of its religious trappings, co-creation again appears in the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. The handful that brings love, harmony, and peace where before there was none do experience shimmering life.

Such is the viable antidote for our world, no matter who is in power.

Within the dense viburnum shrub outside my study window, an orange-red flicker caught my attention until breezes hid it from view. I waited until the leaves again parted to reveal a female cardinal nesting her clutch. Beneath her long tail was the cone-shaped nest of leaves, stems, and twigs. She seemed content, her pointed feather crest bespeaking her authority as mother. For at least two weeks, her body warmth will facilitate the hatching.

This experience of nesting also recalled the Italian sonnet, “God’s Grandeur” composed by the mystic Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1877, the year of his ordination as a Jesuit. In the octet he discounts the evils of Liverpool’s Industrial Revolution dulling the sensitivities of the residents: “…all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil/and wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell…” Yet for the spiritually adept in the sestet, Hopkins images the Holy Ghost “…over the bent/World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings.”

In view of global disease and unrest challenging our way of life, these images afford critical protection and care, there being evil intent upon rocking our foundations and disseminating fear. No one knows the outcome of this upheaval, how it will look like or when it will occur. Within quiet cloisters of our hearts, we watch and wait and pray. In the religious history of the world, there has always been a remnant that has survived and told the story to those willing to listen. Perhaps this will be our experience.

However this crisis works out, we’re always sheltered from harm like fledglings warmed by nesting birds, both natural and supernatural. Such is our God-given faith.

 

 

Beauty’s imprint upon the imagination unleashes streams of shimmering lights: wordless joys that warm chilled places.

Such is my experience as I gaze out my study window that frames the Summer Snowflake Viburnum shrub: Even its name, a juxtaposition that enlarges its reality, draws smiles.

This is the sixth spring that I’ve been companioned by its serrated green leaves and showy blossoms upon pagoda-like branches. I marvel at its prodigious growth, originally a spindly trunk about three feet tall. Two hot summers required soaker hosings to keep it alive, together with our conversations about surviving. Given my health issues, I never knew if I’d see another spring. Our preening in the sun must have worked.

 

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: